People all over the world are fascinated by the trappings and unsanctioned wonders of nature and wildlife. It’s one of the reasons why Patagonia, the vast southernmost tip of South America shared by Argentina and Chile, is such an attractive destination to nature-minded explorers who are drawn to this region from all corners of the world.
The entire Patagonian region is known for its abundance of scenic mountaintops, a wealth of beautiful glaciers, and its wide array of wildlife that thrive in subpolar climates. Patagonia is a very large region near the southern tip of South America, comprising over 673,000 square kilometres of area that covers the most southern tip of the continent northbound to the Colorado River that spans most of the land between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Like much of South America, the continent was inhabited long before European explorers first ventured west in search of the new world. The Tehuelche tribes were the most prominent locals prior to European colonization as they traversed the northern desert-like regions of Patagonia along with the southern polar-like tips of the coast.
Bird-watching is a favourite activity of travelers visiting Patagonia as evident in this photo taken in the Beagle Channel. Photo: AdobeStock
Famed explorer Ferdinand Magellan was the first European adventurer to arrive on the shores of Patagonia and ingratiate himself with the locals, the wildlife, and the land itself. This discovery allowed more explorers to venture towards the region and establish trading posts that helped expand the prosperity of nations that rose up across the continent.
Today, Patagonia is politically divided amongst Argentina and Chile as both nations comprise the bottom third of South America.
Visiting Patagonia in March to May
Summer and winter in the northern and southern hemispheres are opposites. When it’s summer in the north, winter conditions cover the south, and vice versa.
Experienced adventurers recommend that people only visit Patagonia during the summer and early fall times of year. Roughly translated, this means people should attempt to visit Patagonia in March to May, while January and February could also work for travel, depending on how cooperative the weather conditions are at those times.
Cape Horn is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego, a much-celebrated stop on
expeditions to Patagonia. Photo: AdobeStock
The Chilean side of Patagonia is ideal for summertime adventures. There are a number of destination highlights in Patagonia you can experience, including a trip to the Cape Horn biosphere on the island of Cape Horn, south of the mainland. There, you’ll witness thousands of tiny plants, mosses and lichens that survive throughout the strong winds and powerful waves crashing all across the island’s shores.
Additionally, you can enjoy an adventure to Diego Ramirez Islands and the Beagle Channel, a historic waterway that reminds explorers of island conditions that were first encountered by the first European expedition teams to this part of the world.
Best time to visit Patagonia for photography
The land and the water that encompass Patagonia are incredible. You’ll come across some of the most photographic landscapes you’ll ever witness when you visit Patagonia.
There are experienced explorers who have traversed the region several times over, and their stories - both recorded and passed down through storytelling - can help you enjoy the best experience possible when you visit Patagonia. Read this guide on how to experience Patagonia on a glacier cruise, and you’ll get a more detailed idea of what to expect when you arrive on these southern shores. If you’re not pumped yet, you will be after reading that!
Best time to visit Patagonia glaciers
Patagonia is one of the most sought-after destinations in the world to view glaciers Photo: AdobeStock
Strong winds and powerful waves are prominent across Patagonia year-round. The Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern oceans convene off the southern shores of the region, which makes for powerfully strong elemental conditions at any time of the year.
For that reason, the summer months in Patagonia are the best time to visit the area as the conditions are more manageable for vessels and cruise ships to navigate safely through the region. You’ll be able to get reasonably (albeit safely) close to the glaciers that populate the seas surrounding the shoreline and witness the powerful waves crashing into the glaciers.
How to visit Patagonia
Your best option to visit Patagonia is by booking an itinerary such as Quark Expeditions’ Essential Patagonia: Chilean Fjords and Torres del Paine adventure. You’ll fly into Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego, and begin a 15 day journey that will take you as far north as Torres del Paine in the Chilean interior.
While on this adventure, you can book excursions to immerse yourself in the land and experience the majesty of the wild all across Patagonia. From flightseeing over polar glaciers and mountains to hiking and a polar plunge, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for the raw beauty of icy landscapes by the time you finish your adventure.
You can even join a Zodiac cruise to sail in between glaciers and islands throughout the many rivers surrounding the land. Chances are you’ll see whale pods and seabirds during your excursion, and you’ll also get to witness the most remote and isolated areas of the land only reachable on one of our sturdy Zodiacs that can take you where large vessels cannot reach. This will be an adventure of a lifetime!