“What is so exciting about getting lost far away? Because it is separated from the rest of the world – this is the reason,” British writer Florence Dixie explained the reason why 140 years ago she decided to stay in South America and live the experiences expressed in her book “Across Patagonia”. Time has passed since then, but the landscape that dazzled the adventurer is still there inviting visitors to forget their problems, leave their cellphones behind, breathe deeply, and enjoy this fabulous adventure destination.
Chilean Patagonia is unique in many ways. From natural attractions to a wide variety of climates and geographic diversity. The area spreads over 240,000 km2, but the population does not exceed one inhabitant per square kilometer. It is also basically untouched by man and more than 50% of the territory is under state protection. As such it is a perfect adventure destination for adrenalin junkies as well as nature lovers.
From north to south, Chilean Patagonia offers a wide variety of natural beauty. Ice fields, glaciers, mountains such as Torres del Paine and Cerro Castillo, vast lakes such as General Carrera or O’Higgins, rivers such as Baker or Palena, fjords, channels, forests. Visitors cannot get enough of it, which is exactly why Patagonia is ranked so high among tourism enthusiasts.
Northern Patagonia (Aysén region)
Northern Patagonia is a remarkable adventure destination located in the far south of Chile. The Aysén region offers an incredible diversity of landscapes. Visitors particularly enjoy the mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, and fjords that offer remarkable experiences.
Other than that, there are various climates and different environments. This gives tourists a great variety of possible activities. Trekking, rafting, horse riding, ice hiking tend to be the most popular activities among the visitors.
The Carretera Austral is considered one of the highlights of Northern Patagonia. It is widely regarded as one of the most photogenic routes in America. The landscape seen while traveling on the 1,200 km long road surely is spectacular and is a must-see in the region.
The regional capital Coyhaique is well known for its rural cultural traditions. Sheep shearing, horse taming and rodeo festivals are a big part of the city’s customs. Other than that, expeditions are held from the main city to various sites, for example the San Rafael Lake National Park. The area of the park is 1,742,000 ha and the park itself was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
The Northern Ice Field is one of the main highlights of the park. Mount San Valentín, the highest peak of Chilean Patagonia, is a part of the field. The mountain has its peak at 4,058 meters above sea level. Other than all these spectacular sites, the Aysén region is also home to the Cerro Castillo National Reserve. Its mountain is the main attraction of the reserve.
Southern Patagonia (Magallanes Region)
The region named after the famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan is also attractive to visitors. The Torres del Paine National Park is considered the highlight of Southern Patagonia and one of the top adventure destinations. The park has an area of 227,000 ha and stuns visitors with its remarkable ecosystems.
Glaciers, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, forests are all present to please the eyes of visitors. But the most appreciated part of the park are the granite towers. These give the Torres del Paine its name and make it one of the best natural formations on the planet.
The capital of Chile’s southernmost region is Punta Arenas. The city spreads from Cordillera del Paine on the north to Cape Horn on the south. It is a beautiful architectural venue with interesting historical background.
Visitors of the southernmost continental city in the world widely recommend Hotel Rey Don Felipe as a place to stay in the capital. The first-class hotel is located just two blocks from the city’s main square. It provides 45 large, comfortable and elegantly decorated rooms. Other than that, Hotel Rey Don Felipe offers lodging, buffet breakfasts, Wi-Fi access and free access to the hotel’s business center and spa along with free parking. Bilingual and courteous staff is guaranteed as well.
Another visitor favorite is Tierra del Fuego, also nicknamed “The Land of Fire”. It is the largest island in Chile with a 29,484 km2 area. It is also often called the land of oil drilling and sheep shearing. Karukinka Natural Park is one of the island’s main boasts, along with Blanco Lake, which is a popular trekking and adventure destination. Trekking and nature enthusiasts will also enjoy the Darwin Cordillera and the Victoria Island along with another of many lakes – the Deseado Lake.
All in all, despite the beauty of Chilean Patagonia, it is still a somewhat undiscovered area for many. Supposedly this is what Ms. Dixie enjoyed most about the naturally remarkable yet isolated southern region, and perhaps it is better this way. But one thing is for sure, Patagonia is one of a kind.