South America is an incredible place to visit. There’s such an astonishing variety of cultures, environments and wildlife that it has something to offer everyone—especially those in search of adventure. Nowhere is this spirit of adventure better captured than the stunning region of Patagonia.
Located at the southern tip of the continent, and straddling both Argentina and Chile, it contains everything from glaciers and guanacos to petrified forests and pumas. Though a beautiful holiday destination in its own right, Patagonia really comes alive when you embrace the great outdoors.
So, get your packing list ready, book your flight, and then plan your itinerary. And to help you do that, here are just 5 incredible South American adventures that can be had in the region. Enjoy!
1. Discover incredible wildlife
Patagonia is home to such incredible wildlife that it would be a shame to miss out. Pumas, guanacos, penguins, elephant seals, Andean condors (which can have a huge 10ft wingspan!) and whales all call the area home and all are amazing to observe in their natural habitat. The best bit? Many of these incredible creatures can all be spotted whilst doing something else! Trek through the Torres del Paine national park and you might spot a prowling puma or the unmistakable silhouette of a giant Andean condor flying overhead. Hop on a kayak and you may well find yourself brushing oars with seals and sea lions. Of course, all of these animals have their hotspots and are well worth making the effort to see individually, but chances are that you’ll run in to many of them over the course of your adventure anyway.
2. Have a whale of a time
One animal you probably won’t run into while hiking through the Patagonian wilderness is the whale. However, with both fearsome orcas and peaceful southern right whales calling the area home, if your adventure takes you to the coast, a whale watching trip comes strongly recommended. Between April and December, whales come to the protected waters of the Peninsula Valdes for mating season and can be seen splashing about as they surface for air. Orca (or killer whales) are impressive enough, reaching lengths of over 8 metres (26ft) and weighing more than 6 tonnes, but it’s the southern right whales that are the real show-stoppers. These gentle giants can reach 15 metres (49ft) in length and weigh in at an astonishing 47 tonnes. Both types of whale can be easily spotted on dedicated whale watching trips although it’s entirely possible to see these spectacular mammals from the shore or while on a kayak. Speaking of which…
3. Travel by kayak
Gliding over Patagonia’s pristine lakes is an experience unlike any other. Not only is the kayak a great way to take in the scenery, it can also be used to access some of the regions more out-of-reach areas. Both the Torres del Paine national park and the Argentinian Lake District offer breathtaking, yet totally unique, kayaking experiences. Torres del Paine is packed with dramatic scenery as you can kayak among icebergs, giant glaciers and frozen fjords in calm, crisp blue water. The Lake District, meanwhile, offers more challenging routes—past forests and waterfalls on whitewater rapids. Not only is the kayak a great way to explore the region, but you never know, you might find yourself sharing the water with whales or sea lions.
4. Journey to icy Antarctica
While adventuring in Patagonia the last thing you’ll probably want to do is leave the region, but there is one other destination you might want to make an exception for. Being so close to the frozen continent gives you the perfect opportunity to voyage into both South Georgia and Antarctica. There are plenty of ways to see the continent, from short boat trips to extended cruises and the thrill of exploring such a remote, untouched land is unparalleled.
5. Trek through Torres del Paine
Patagonia is famed for its trekking and while you could conceivably trek just about anywhere in the region and have a great time, the Torres del Paine natural park is undoubtedly the place to be if you plan on roaming the wilderness. With snow-covered mountains, lush valleys and frozen glaciers to explore, Torres del Paine offers an environment truly unlike any other. There are all sorts of treks within the park for people of all experience levels and trekking can be combined with other activities like kayaking and horseback riding for a truly adventure-packed time. But for a simple way to experience Patagonia’s spectacular scenery and wildlife, a trek through Torres del Paine is unbeatable.
These are just a handful of the adventures you can undertake in Patagonia, itself just one of South America’s many incredible regions. For those in pursuit of adventure though, you could do far worse than these five suggestions.
This guest post was written by Kane Basterrechea (a Bristol based blogger who loves to write about travel), on behalf of Swoop-Patagonia, a website specialising in holidays and adventure travel in the Patagonia region.