The Patagonia is Argentina and Chile’s most trekked area. There are stops at El Chalten, El Calafate, and Puerto Natales for Monte Fitz Roy to Torres del Paine.
The Patagonia is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. It’s famous for its impressive mountain views and changing landscapes. It’s shared between Argentina and Chile. There are three towns where people usually stay in during their treks — El Chalten, El Calafate, and Puerto Natales.
El Chalten is in the North, El Calafate is in the middle, and Puerto Natales is the South. El Chalten and El Calafate are Argentinian cities; Puerto Natale is a Chilean city. There are two airports that service the area. The Comandante Armando Tola International Airport (FTE) is 20 minutes away from El Calafate. The Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport (PUQ) in Punta Arenas, which is 3 hours away from Puerto Natales.
The dilemma would be where to start. I personally found flying into FTE the easiest. El Calafate is 3 hours from Puerto Natales and 3 hours from El Chalten. In addition, it’s a really cool town with a lot of great restaurants and bars. El Calafate is perfect for those short on time who want to do day trips to El Chalten and Puerto Natales. In addition, there’s a round-trip airport shuttle offered here.[irp]
In addition, the flights are pretty expensive. There isn’t much of a price difference between flying into Punta Arenas or El Calafate. Check out the latest flight Punta Arena routes here and El Calafate here. However, the good thing about the area is the bus transfer between towns. It’s really inexpensive to go from El Calafate to El Chalten, El Chalten to El Calafate, El Calafate to Puerto Natales, Puerto Natales to El Chalten, and so forth. Here are the must visit landmarks in the Patagonia:
- Perito Moreno Glaciers – The world’s largest glacier outside of Greenland and Antarctica. It’s definitely a sight to see since it’s 20 stories high. The glacier is constantly falling into the water; it’s accompanied by a loud thunder-like sound that fills the area. It stretches across a large portion of the Patagonia. Day tours are offered. I’m glad I took the tour because it offered insightful stories of the area. In addition, it was a round-trip ride with a boat ride included. Check it out here.
- Cerro Torre – The mountain peak is west of El Chalten. It stands at 10,262′, which is about a 1,000 feet shorter than Monte Fitz Roy. It’s location on the Chilean and Argentinian border makes it a contested mountain peak. It’s also the highest of the mountain chain.
- Monte Fitz Roy – Monte Fitz Roy stands at 11,020′ high. It could be seen from El Chalten. The Patagonia’s weather is highly unpredictable. It could be covered in the morning by the clouds then completely visible in the late afternoon. There are easy trails to follow and the climb fairly easy after the first 20 minutes.
- Torres Del Paine – This is Chile’s Patagonia side. The nearest town is Puerto Natales. It’s a 3.5 hour drive from El Calafate. However, there are day tours offered from El Calafate and they return you back to the comfort of your hotel. I highly recommend this tour for those who are short on time. Check it out here.
Those are the must visit mountains and landscapes in the area. My Patagonia trip has been one of my favorite trips. I’ve been to Port Campbell in Australia. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon. However, the Patagonia has something special about it. It’s untainted. Let us know where you decide to start your Patagonia trip in the comment sections. Safe travels!