The region of Patagonia covers both Chile and Argentina. Argentine Patagonia runs from the Rio Colorado (over 500km south of Buenos Aires) all the way down to Tierra del Fuego. Its spans over 1,000 miles from north to south and includes the provinces of Neuquen, Rio Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego.
Along the spine of the Andes (and the border with Chile) its landscapes are mountainous, glacial and verdant. The Atlantic coast offers beaches, dramatic cliffs and a haven for wildlife, especially whales. However the majority of the region lies in the rain shadow of the Andes and is steppe - hundreds of miles of semi arid desert, inhospitable to man and beast.
Here we'll help you find how to get there, places to visit, things to do and trips and tours to join.
Swoop's guide to Patagonia Argentina
Places to visit
Argentina has protected its most beautiful spots in Patagonia with Parque Nacional status. There are 10 National Parks in Argentine Patagonia and they include (from north to south):
Lanin National Park
The Lanin Volcano at 3,776m dominates the landscape in this National Park and for many hundreds of miles. It's possible to climb the volcano between the months of December and March. Lanin is accessed via San Martin de Los Andes and Junin de Los Andes (about 3 hours north of Bariloche)
Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi
Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi is the largest of the National Parks (approximately one third the size of Wales) and the first National Park to be established. It includes several vast lakes and the mighty Cerro Tronador (a 3 day ascent), and offers numerous trekking, kayaking, MTB and horse riding opportunities. Nahuel Huapi is accessed via San Carlos de Bariloche.
Los Alerces National Park
Los Alerces National Park, named after the Alerce tree, is an hour away from Esquel and offers some stunning boat trips on its lakes deep into the park as well as several different walking routes (from day hikes to a 3-4 day trek).
Los Glaciares National Park
Los Glaciares National Park borders the South Patagonian ice Cap which feeds the glaciers that give it its name. Most notably it includes the Perito Moreno glacier, the dramatic peaks of Cerro Torre and Cerro FitzRoy. It's mainly accessed via El Calafate and El Chalten, from where you can embark on several wonderful day hikes and expeditions onto the Ice Cap itself.
Tierra del Fuego National Park
Tierra del Fuego National Park. The end of the world, and famous for its wild and remote landscapes, as well as its history and cultural heritage. There are some great hikes out of Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city, as well as longer expeditions in the Cordillera Darwin and kayaking opportunities in the Beagle Channel.
Things to do
Argentina is famous for many things including its steak and Malbec, the Tango and of course horse riding and Estancias. If horses aren't for you then there are trekking opportunities for a range of different levels, as well as mountaineering, kayaking, mountain biking and white water rafting.
Our most popular trips in Patagonia Argentina include:
How to get there
All flights from the UK to Patagonia Argentina go via Buenos Aires - and what a wonderful city to see en route. Within Patagonia Argentina there are several airports you can use, including: (from north to south) Neuquen (NQN), San Carlos de Bariloche (BRC), Esquel (EQS), El Calafate (FTE), Ushuaia (USH).
See our guide for more information on flights to Patagonia and the airports in Patagonia.
If you're coming from Chilean Patagonia and travelling by car/bus the most popular crossing points are:
- the Dorotea Pass (connecting from Puerto Natales to Rio Turbio (and on to El Calafate) and a common trip for people wanting to trek around El Chalten AND Torres del Paine). It's a 5 hour bus journey from Puerto Natales across the border to El Calafate.
- the River Jeinemeni Pass (from Chile Chico in the Aisen region to Los Antiguos and the town of Perito Moreno (not to be confused with the glacier, some 500km to the south)
- Futaleufu Pass connects Futaleufu in Los Lagos region of Chile to Los Cipreses (and on to Trevelin and Esquel)
- The Cruce Andino provides a great option for connecting from Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas to Bariloche, using the Perez Rosales pass
- the Hua Hum Pass (connecting from Panguipulli to San Martin de Los Andes) is the chosen pass for a number of mountain biking and horse-riding trips that take people into both Chile and Argentina.
Combining with a visit to Chilean Patagonia
There are some excellent ways to visit Chilean and Argentine Patagonia in one trip, and many of our clients find themselves flying to one country and out of another. For example:
- Hiking the best of Southern Patagonia: hiking the W Circuit of Torres del Paine (Chile) then crossing the border to trek in El Chalten/FitzRoy. See Paine and FitzRoy trekking tours.
- Cruising from Punta Arenas (Chile) to Ushuaia
- Using the Cruce Andino to get from Puerto Varas (Chile) to San Carlos de Bariloche
- Horse Riding from Chile into Argentina, or white water rafting from Argentina to the Chilean coast, or crossing the Andes on Mountain Bike.
- Or you might consider joining a tour that takes you to the best of Chile and Argentina.
Example Itineraries in Argentinian Patagonia
The itinerary below is one of our suggestions for visiting several regions of Argentine Patagonia. We can fully tailor this to suit your budget, timeframe and interest. Also, take a look at our other inspirational itineraries which allow you to explore Chile and Argentina.
If you'd prefer to join a small group of like-minded travellers, then you can choose one of our group tours of Patagonia.
Argentina: Landscapes, Culture & Cuisine
17 nights, from USD $4,500 to $6,000
Experience the very best of Argentina. Drive through the multi-coloured mountains of the north, enjoy sun-drenched vineyards, hike, kayak and ride from an estancia in the lake district, and experience the dramatic wilds of Tierra del Fuego. Ideal for those wanting to experience the highlights of Argentina yet with time to delve a little deeper.