Patagonia is home to some of the world’s most pristine wilderness. Its towering, snow-capped Andean peaks, brilliant blue lakes, stunning fjords, and awe-inspiring glaciers have been immortalized by some of the greatest travelers, photographers, and writers in history. Yet the pure beauty of the place will still take your breath away when you see it for yourself on one of Wildland Trekking’s premium multi-day trips.
Located in the Southern Hemisphere, Patagonia is a sparsely populated area that encompasses 300,000 square miles. It follows the Andes Mountain range and spans both Argentina and Chile in South America. While there is no set northern boundary, many people begin their travels of the area in the Lake Region around Bariloche, Argentina. Tierra del Fuego – the farthest land-based point on Earth before Antarctica – is both the end of the South American continent and the Patagonian region.
Some of the highlights in the region are the famous W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park, backpacking the lesser-known Parque Patagonia, and witnessing the day-to-day life of the gauchos living on the steppe. This is an adventure lover’s paradise, and we invite you not just to see but truly experience life in Patagonia on a Refugio trek, lodge-based trek, camp-based experience, or an adventurous backpacking excursion.
When to Go
Like the region itself, the weather in Patagonia is wild and unpredictable. Strong winds and frequent showers are common. To account for the rapidly changing weather, most forecasts are updated every three hours. People in the area joke that you often get to experience four seasons in one day!
Knowing that, it’s not surprising that the summer months (late December to early March in the Southern Hemisphere), will increase your chances of having good weather during your trek, backpacking trip, or other Patagonian adventure. You’ll find that the Wildland Trekking Patagonia tours are offered during this time, for this very reason.
Still, it’s always a good idea to check the average temperature of the exact park or area you are visiting. This knowledge will help make sure you are prepared.
December, January, and February are the summer months and high season in Patagonia. You can expect plenty of sunny days, little to no chance of snow, and temperatures ranging from 45 to 65°F during the day and in the 30s at night. Even though it’s warmer, the winds can be record-breaking (up to 120 mph) and unexpected. Although generally short, occasional showers are also known to occur.
Summer is when the hiking trails will be completely accessible and wildlife viewing is best. Accommodations will be widely available and range from budget hostels and five-star hotels to refugios and glamping domes. But peak season means spaces fill fast. You will also see more tourists, especially at the most famous locations such as Perito Moreno Glacier, Mt. Fitz Roy, and Torres del Paine. However, you can often beat the crowds with an early start or by choosing to camp in the parks themselves. Multi-day hikes in Patagonia, such as the famous W Trek and O Circuit of Torres del Paine National Park, have become more popular in recent years. It’s recommended to book well in advance or with an experienced company such as Wildland Trekking to ensure you have bookings at the correct refugios or campsites during the summer.
March/April and October/November mark the spring and fall shoulder seasons of Patagonia. Tours during this time will offer a different glimpse of the mountains and surrounding steppe. The winds are not as strong, but the temperatures are colder, and snow or rain is more likely. However, the changing leaves in the fall and the colorful splash of wildflowers in the spring will offer up a visual treat everywhere you look.
Because of the changing seasons this time of year, average temperatures are more challenging to define, but you can expect temperatures to be between 35 to 60°F during the day. Early or late season storms may cause trail closures, and some roads may not be accessible. So, it’s important to check the weather conditions before you leave for your trip and confirm trail conditions each day with your guide and/or park rangers.
Due to the decrease in tourism during this time, many lodging options have lower rates, while others won’t be available. The lower prices are making spring and fall more popular with budget travelers, rock climbers, and backpackers.
May, June, July, August, and September are winter and, subsequently, low season in Patagonia. Snow blankets most of the region and some of the lakes will be frozen over. Winter in Patagonia offers its own breathtaking views and winter wonderland charm, but the weather is extreme. Temperatures range from 30 to 45°F during the day in May and dip to 25 to 40°F after that. In May, it’s a destination for only the most adventurous travelers seeking skiing or snowboarding.
Multi-day treks in May and September require careful planning and extensive backcountry experience. From June to October, travel is not advisable, trails may not be passable, and most will be covered in snow. Many parks (including Torres del Paine) will even be closed.
A Patagonia classic! There is a plethora of well-maintained refugios throughout its national parks. And many people consider hiking to and spending the night in one of these simply-appointed backcountry’ mountain huts’ a highlight of their trip. While doing the Torres del Paine W Trek or the Torres del Paine O Circuit, you’ll get to experience stunning vistas of the park’s famous granite spires and get up close to glaciers during the day. Then, each evening, you’ll have a warm meal in the communal dining room and a bunk bed waiting for you in the refugio.
This exclusive tour lets you see the rugged beauty of Torres del Paine National Park and kayak in glacial waters before retiring to a cozy Patagonian lodge along the picturesque Serrano River. You’ll have a semi-private bathroom and shared room (2-4 people per room) where you rest up for the next day’s adventures. We hand-selected our lodge to find a centrally-located place where you can experience most of the W Trek highlights, soak up the hospitality of the local Chilean people, and be surrounded by nature – without sacrificing comfort or needing to carry a heavy pack.
Few things are more quintessentially Patagonia than the countryside estancia, or cattle ranch. Live like a local gaucho, and ride horses along the steppe with views of granite peaks and glaciers. Then, eat traditional Chilean cuisine and sleep under the stars at night during our camping-based trip. Our team will provide everything you need – using premier outdoor tents and gear – to make you feel comfortable at camp, while fully immersing you in the traditional, everyday life on a working farm in Patagonia.
Step into the untouched part of Patagonia. During our backpacking discovery tour of Patagonia National Park, you’ll carry everything you need for a week in the backcountry and walk with one of our world-class guides as we show you the wilder side of Chile. You’ll be able to lose the crowds, see incredible flora and fauna, and learn about local conservation efforts while hiking in Patagonia’s newest national park. If you’re enticed by uncharted adventures, ready for a physical challenge, and open to learning more backcountry skills, this is the tour for you.
Need to Know
Primary Departure City For Patagonia Adventures
Patagonia is a big place, and each of our trips immerses you in different parts of this beautiful region. So, it’s important to check your tour’s specific pick-up point before booking your plane ticket and pre- and post-trek accommodations.
You’ll be starting in one of three places:
- Punta Arenas, Chile
- Puerto Natales, Chile
- Balmaceda, Chile
All of these can be characterized as small, mountain towns, with plenty of lodging and eating options. We recommend arriving the day before your tour begins to have plenty of time to prepare and get a good night’s rest. There are grocery stores and outdoor retailers in case you need any last-minute provisions.
You should also plan to stay in town one day after the tour end. Doing so will help you avoid rushing to catch a bus or flight.
Travel Advice for Chile and Argentina
Patagonia is one of our international trips, so a valid US visa is required for the adventure. If you do not have one, or your current passport will expire within a month of your trip, we recommend that you apply for a new one up to six months in advance.
Citizens of the United States do not need any additional permits or visas to enter Chile or Argentina. Upon entry, you will go through customs and receive a tourist visa stamp, which allows you to stay in the country for up to 90 calendar days.
Please Note: When you enter Chile, you will also be issued a document called a PDI (tourism card). Please do NOT throw this away. You will need it to exit the country, and nearly every lodge we stay in also asks for a copy.
Transportation and Lodging
Your accommodations before and after the trip – and your transportation to our starting city – are not included in the cost of your tour. Patagonia offers a wide variety of lodging options to every type of traveler. These options range from luxury spas to budget hostels and homestays.
If you are traveling during peak season, it’s best to start making your reservations as soon as you book your Wildland Trekking tour!
To get the quickest and most affordable international flight to Chile, we recommend beginning your search 1-4 months in advance. You can also search neighboring airports in the towns of Calafate (Argentina) and Punta Arenas (Chile) – both close to Puerto Natales. Or, if you’re heading to Balmaceda, the airport ar Puerto Montt (Chile) is also a nearby option.
If you arrive at a town that is not your trip’s designated rendevous point, you will need to arrange transportation via coach buses or small, local flights from there. However, these connecting cities may offer cheaper flights or could be a part of your extended travels before or after your trek.
Vaccinations and Medication
The CDC recommends that you stay up to date on all routine vaccinations – such as Tetanus and MMR – before any international trip. For Chile, they also recommend vaccinating against Hepatitis A and Typhoid, which are spread by contaminated food and water.
We recommend that you speak to your doctor at least one month before your trip to ensure you have the correct vaccinations and medications. Certain medications can be difficult to find once you arrive. Please bring with you any prescriptions you may need and some optional over-the-counter medications, such as Ibuprofen.
Have more questions? Send us an email or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453). We’re here 7 days a week from 9:00 to 4:30 Mountain Time to make sure your trip planning goes as smoothly as possible.
For more information about all your options, check out our Patagonia page on the website with the button below! Individual trip pages have detailed itineraries, trip specifics, travel information, and more.