A star-riddled sky and snarled grasses dwarf the rider on the steppe as his horse closes the gap on the horizon. In South America’s southern frontier, nature, long left to its own devices, grows wild, barren and beautiful. Spaces are large, as are the silences that fill them. For those who come here, an encounter with such emptiness can be as awesome as the sight of jagged peaks, pristine rivers and dusty backwater oases.
The paving of Ruta Nacional 40 (RN 40) is well under way, but it remains among the world’s loneliest stretches, a spellbinding road to nowhere that has stirred affection in personalities as disparate as Butch Cassidy and Bruce Chatwin. On the eastern seaboard, RN 3 shoots south, connecting oil boomtowns with the remains of ancient petrified forests, Welsh settlements and the spectacular Península Valdés. The map will tell you that Patagonia is a very large place, but motoring its distant horizons offers a whole other level of insight.
Then there is the other, trendy Patagonia: the tourist hubs studded with Ray-Ban shops and reggae bars, where you will meet a dozen other travelers before one local. El Calafate and El Chaltén boast spectacular sights, but they remain a world apart from the mythical RN 40.
Best places to stay in Patagonia
Chile & Easter Island - Southern Patagonia (Chapter)
Pounding westerlies, barren seascapes and the ragged spires of Torres del Paine – this is the distilled essence of Patagonia. The provinces of Magallanes and Última Esperanza boast a frontier appeal perhaps only matched by the deep Amazon and...
The best hiking in Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego
The south of Chile and Argentina is a hiker’s dream. The melange of craggy mountains crowned with glaciers and glistening with waterfalls, scrubland dotted with pale glacial lakes, flowering meadows, marshlands, and windblown cliffs that skirt the Magellan Strait present countless opportunities for exploration on foot...
Chile & Easter Island - Nothern Patagonia (Chapter)
For a century, Northern Patagonia has been the most rugged and remote part of continental Chile. Exuberant rainforest, scrubby steppe and unclimbed peaks crowd the horizon, but the essence of this place is water, from the clear cascading rivers...
10 things to do in Patagonia
Coastal treasures, ancient forests, dazzling glaciers and incredible wildlife - Patagonia's captured your imagination, but where do you start? We've cherrypicked a few Patagonian delights from the latest Argentina guidebook to get you started: 1...
Trekking in the Patagonian Andes - Central Patagonia (Chapter)
This is the Central Patagonia chapter from Lonely Planet's Trekking in the Patagonian Andes guidebook.
Become an adventurer in the Patagonian wilderness – one of the most remote and beautiful environments in the world. Visit the best of nature's attractions in Argentina before heading to Chile to marvel at Patagonia.
Paine & Fitz Roy Trek
Experience the best of Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks on foot
Walking amongst giants: dinosaurs in Patagonia
In Patagonia, there are little towns with very big bones. The fossilized skeleton of the biggest dinosaur ever to roam the planet was discovered near Plaza Huincul, in the badlands of northwest Patagonia...
Argentina - Patagonia (Chapter)
On South America’s southern frontier, nature grows wild, barren and beautiful. Spaces are large, as are the silences that fill them. In its enormous scale, Patagonia offers an innumerable wealth of potential experiences and landscapes.