Welcome to Southern Patagonia


Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is the region's star attraction. Among the finest parks on the continent, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, even some towing wheeled luggage (though we don't recommend that). Throughout the region, it's easy and worthwhile to travel between Argentina and Chile.


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Southern Patagonia activities

$160 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Magdalena Island Penguin Boat Tour by Boat from Punta Arenas

Dress warmly and get ready to join this tour which will start at a meeting point in Punta Arenas and then travel with the rest of the group to the pier. Climb aboard a large powerboat and head north for about 40 minutes on the Strait of Magellan. If you’re lucky, you may glimpse panda dolphins leaping out of the choppy grey waters. Arrive at the small and rocky Magdalena Island, also called Los Pinguinos Natural Monument, a protected nature reserve and park since 1982, and a breeding site for Magellanic penguins. Even before the boat docks, you’ll see thousands of penguins crowding the shores and hear their squawking. During the summer, approximately 120,000 penguins occupy the island. Disembark and spend about an hour here with your guide, keeping to the designated trail roped off for visitors. These curious birds, about 2 feet (61 cm) tall, will cross your path and may approach you, but you'll be instructed not to touch or feed them. On either side of the trail, see hundreds of burrows in the ground, about a foot (30 cm) in diameter, each populated by a pair of penguins. Watch penguins pop in and out of the holes, where eggs are laid, and others excavate new burrows by flinging aside heaps of dirt with their webbed feet. Your guide may point out cormorants and Andean seagulls on the island as well. Reach the highest point on the island and enter a lighthouse, which houses exhibits explaining the penguins’ habitat and breeding cycles, the history of the strait and the rich ecosystems of nearby islands. Then warm up with coffee and snack on biscuits (provided) before leaving the island. On your way back, if the weather permits, your captain may pass by Isla Marta, where you can snap shots of sea lions and elephant seals lounging on the rocky outcrop. After a marvelous morning with penguins, your tour will end in Punta Arenas at the same meeting point in the morning.

$230 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers Cruise from Puerto Natales

Private pickup from your hotel.Climb aboard the boat and begin your cruise northwest through Ultima Esperanza Fjord, or ‘Final Hope Fjord,' an inlet bridging Eberhard Fjord and Balmaceda Mountain. The fjord was named by Spanish explorer Juan Ladrillero, who hoped that crossing the sound would take him to the Strait of Magellan. Instead he arrived to find sheer walls of ice blocking his path.Today, your captain is at the helm for three hours to reach the same glaciers that thwarted Ladrillero. Enjoy a cup of coffee, tea or juice on deck. For something with an extra kick, sip a glass of whiskey or pisco sour mixed with ice broken off from Serrano glacier.Pass by forests and waterfalls trickling down green hills, and scan the sky for condors. As the boat hugs the coastline, spot dozens of cormorants on rocky outcrops that might be spreading their wings or stretching their slim graceful necks to a soundtrack of ducks and geese squawking nearby. Sea elephants may even lumber out of caves to lounge under the sun. When you reach the eastern face of Balmaceda Mountain, 6,676 feet (2,035 meters) high, see mists swirling around the ice-capped summit. Disembark for an easy hour-long hike through the forests of Bernardo O'Higgins National Park. Follow your guide to an overlook mere steps away from Serrano glacier — a wide frozen river of ice cascading down a crevice between hills. Then trek to the western side of Balmaceda Mountain and capture views of the massive hanging glacier. Here, sapphire- and turquoise-tinted floes deluge the rocky terrain and end at a lake.Head to local lodging at a traditional cattle ranch, where you’ll tuck into a Magellanic lunch of generous portions, typically featuring a rich savory stew and roasted lamb. (Vegetarian meal available upon request.)Your appetite for delightful sights and food satiated, climb aboard your boat for a speedy 90-minute return ride to Puerto Natales. Relax as you’re taken back to your hotel. Sample Lunch Menu (subject to change): • Carbonada (traditional hearty soup with meat and vegetables) • Roast lamb with potatoes • Salad • Dessert • Wine, soft drinks, water

$150 Day Trips & Excursions

Torres del Paine National Park in One Day from Puerto Natales

After hotel pickup in Puerto Natales, travel with your guide north to the mountain of Cerro Benitez and arrive at Milodon Cave Natural Monument.Walk inside a cave and encounter a life-size replica of a prehistoric giant sloth called the mylodon, which looks like a large bear standing on its hind legs. During a guided tour, learn about the 1896 discovery of this extinct creature, believed to be twice the height of an average human and to have inhabited the area more than 10,000 years ago. Then visit several stalactite-studded caves and a massive rock formation called Devil’s Chair (Silla del Diablo). Back in the vehicle, continue north and enjoy a break of coffee and snacks (own expense) at a villa in Castle Hill (Cerro Castillo), before entering Torres del Paine National Park, whose name means 'Towers of the Blue Sky.' Spanning more than 447,000 acres (181,000 hectares), this nature wonderland located in southern Chilean Patagonia was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978. Drive along the banks of Sarmiento Lake, created by a glacier and situated on the Patagonian steppe, and stretch your legs at a vista point to fully appreciate the lake’s deep blue center fringed in white formed by calcium deposits. From here, your guide points out snow-drizzled mountains of the Cordillera del Paine that cut through the middle of the park.Continue westward to Nordenskjöld Lake, where you’ll walk for 20 minutes and come upon the roaring Salto Grande Waterfall, the outfall of the river-fed lake. From this viewpoint, scan the panoramas for herds of guanaco, which may strike you as a mix of llama and camel. Then travel to the center of the park toward rustic Hosteria Pehoé, located on an islet in Lake Pehoé. Cross a footbridge to reach the hotel and dig into lunch in its inviting restaurant (see sample menu in Itinerary below). Afterward, stroll about in wonder at spectacular views of turquoise waters and what are referred to as the 'horned' peaks of the Cordillera del Paine. Following this leisurely break, head to the north end of Grey Lake. After an easy 30-minute hike, behold the glacier mass that feeds into the lake, nearly 4 miles (6 km) wide and towering 90 feet (30 meters) high. From a distance, the ice floes resemble an immense spread of frothy ocean waves frozen in time, their various hues of blue combining at certain points into a grey sheen, lending the lake its name. During your return to Puerto Natales, travel along Amarga Lagoon and capture views of the famous Paine Towers. Admire the three towers of granite with jagged peaks that spike skyward, the perfect image to finish a day of memorable sights. Note: Entrance fees to Milodon Cave Natural Monument and Torres del Paine National Park are your own expense.

$160 Outdoor Activities

Torres del Paine National Park Hiking Tour to Paine Towers

After early morning hotel pickup from Puerto Natales, travel by minivan with your guide north for about 70 miles (112 km) and enter the eastern side of Torres del Paine National Park (entrance fee at own expense). Located in southern Chilean Patagonia, the 447,000 acres (181,000 hectares) that make up the park abound with mountains, glaciers, lakes and valleys. With its broad diversity of vegetation and animal life, the park was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1978.The crown jewel of your guided hike is a close-up view of the three granite towers that give the park its name: Torres del Paine, meaning ‘Blue Towers of the Sky.’ To get there, tackle a moderately difficult trek full of wondrous sights.During the first 90 minutes or so, huff your way up a series of switchbacks over Ascencio Valley; your efforts are rewarded with views of pristine Nordenskjöld Lake. Then walk under the hanging glaciers of snowcapped Mount Almirante Nieto, reaching 8,760 feet (2,670 meters) above sea level. Your guide ensures you take plenty of breaks as needed along the way. The trail levels off eventually, but can dip and climb up to 200 feet (61 meters) as it snakes around a mountain, with the Ascencio River gurgling below. After several hours of hiking, enjoy a well-earned 20-minute stop at Refugio El Chile, where you can purchase snacks and beverages (own expense).Refreshed, return to the trail and enter a lenga forest. Experience a sense of well-being and calm as you trod on soft ground amid the tangle of beautiful beech trees. After about an hour in the woods, emerge onto a moraine, a mass of rocks piled on top of one another. Your guide informs you that your destination lies ahead . . . and up. Watch your footing on the gravel trail during this arduous ascent of switchbacks, lasting approximately 45 minutes. Suddenly, a glorious example of nature appears within sight: a turquoise-colored glacial lake, surrounded by the three jagged towers.
Follow your guide to the lookout point, and capture amazing views of the Paine Towers and Cerro Nido de Cóndor. The northern tower stands 8,530 feet (2,600 meters) above sea level, the central tower at 9,186 feet (2,800 meters), and the southern tower at 9,350 feet (2,850 meters). Plant yourself on a boulder in this majestic landscape and dig into the boxed lunch provided, which typically includes two sandwiches, a bar of chocolate and one bottle each of water and juice. During your quiet period of appreciation here, you may glimpse condors swooping high over thermal currents.Then take one more look at this nature wonderland before taking the same route back to reach the minivan. Relax your tired legs on the return ride to Puerto Natales, knowing that the trek was worth every sapping breath.

$160 Day Trips & Excursions

Full-Day Punta Arenas and Magellan Strait Tour

ItineraryThis is a typical itinerary for this productStop At: Parque Del Estrecho De Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Magallanes RegionThe Strait of Magellan Park is a protected area of almost 250 hectares. The main objective is the conservation and dissemination of the natural and historical heritage within it. The places of interest within the Park are: - Museum of the Strait (Interpretation Center): Sentinel of the landscape that in its 1,600 m2 houses cafeteria, shop, panoramic terrace and interpretive and multimedia sample. - MHN Fuerte Bulnes Site: Covering an area of 4 hectares is the historical re-construction of the first Chilean settlement in the territory. - Path of the Coast: Footpath of 1.5 kilometers of extension, of low to medium difficulty that crosses the forests and roqueríos around the Fort. - Forest of the Wind Trail: Pedestrian path of almost 300 meters in length, low difficulty leads to where you can see the passage of boats, birds and whales.Duration: 3 hoursStop At: Cementerio Municipal, Punta Arenas, Magallanes RegionThe Municipal Cemetery of Punta Arenas, officially Sara Braun Municipal Cemetery, 1 is a four-hectare cemetery located on Avenida Bulnes, in the northern sector of the city of the Magallanes Region, Chile.Its entrance is formed by a portico donated by the benefactress Sara Braun, that ends in a square that distributes the avenues of cypresses.It was declared a National Monument in Historic Monument Category by Decree 499 of November 26, 2012.Various international publications have cataloged it as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world.Duration: 1 hourStop At: Mirador Cerro De La Cruz, Punta Arenas, Magallanes RegionViewpoint that offers a panoramic view of the bay and the landscapes that surround the city.Duration: 20 minutesStop At: Plaza de Armas, Punta Arenas, Magallanes RegionMuñoz Gamero Square Duration: 15 minutesStop At: Museo Regional De Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Magallanes RegionLocated in the palace of the Braun Menéndez Family, inside you can visit collections of furniture and objects from the golden age of Magallanes, a historical exhibition and temporary exhibitions.Duration: 1 hourStop At: Tours Punta Arenas - Day Tours, Punta Arenas, Magallanes RegionThe tour starts after your pickup, and you will drive 60 km south of the city. The route runs along the Strait of Magellan to observe a variety of seabirds: seagulls, caiquenes, ibis, cormorants and others. The journey takes about an hour. Your first destination is the landmark that marks the geographic center of Chile, where you can take pictures, then continue to Fort Bulnes, only a kilometer from the sector.After an hour inside this fort, you will begin the return, but not before visiting another historical site, Mansa, which is located a kilometer and a half from Fort Bulnes. Here you visit the Rey Don Felipe City, founded in 1584 by Don Pedro Sarmiento and later renamed Puerto del Hambre. You can also take pictures and learn the history of this place. Now, return to the city of Punta Arenas.Visit Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the American continent, is a walk through the history of Patagonia. The first stop is at ‘Cerro de la Cruz’ lookout, where you get a marvelous general view of the city and its colorful roofs, the Strait of Magellan and at the back of the great Tierra del Fuego. Here, the local guide will give you important information about the city. The tour continues along the streets of the city, up to the main square, a place surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings. Also, you can see the monument to Hernando de Magallanes and buy some local handicraft. The last part of the tour includes a tour in the northern part of the city, allowing you to see the great amount of monuments, such as the monument to the shepherd, the Croatian square, the Antoine de Saint Exupery square and the different neighborhoods in Punta Arenas. Finally, you'll return to the hotel or port.Duration: 6 hours

$150 Day Trips & Excursions

Torres del Paine Mountains Advanced Hike in Patagonia

Start your journey with hotel pickup at 06:20am - 07:00am to meet your guide before heading to the national park (1.5 hours travel). Proceed with your park entrance ticket (not included) to another gateway just before the Hotel Las Torres, where your trek to Mirador Las Torres will commence. During the duration of this 18km trek you will see fantastic views of Lake Nordenskjöld and Almirante Nieto Mountain, as well as enjoy a downhill walk towards the Valle del Ascencio, until you reach El Chileno Mountain Lodge. The trial continues through a Millenial Lenga forest  until you reach the base of “ the moraine” where you will begin a challenging ascent (45 - 75 minutes). This will eventually take you to one of the most impressive places in the park. Capture images of the Base of Torres del Paine for panoramic views of Torre Sur, Torre Central, Torre Norte and Cerro Nido de Cóndor. Once you are done sightseeing and enjoying the beauty that Torres Del Paine has to offer, walk down to Hotel Las Torres. Relax and rest your legs as you are driven back to your hotel in Puerto Natales. NOTICE: The trek to the base of the towers is an advanced hike.  There is altitude gain on parts and uneven terrain for the majority of the trek.  We recommend that you are in good physical condition before undertaking this trek.  This is strenuous hike with steep inclines up and down. If you have, or have you ever been told by a doctor that you had: epilepsy, high blood pressure, heart or lung disease, heart murmur or pacemaker, asthma, colitis or intestinal trouble, ulcers or stomach trouble, diabetes, any significant back, foot, hip, or leg problems, or any other disease or condition,  or other significant illness, then you are not qualified to join the hike.  You need to contact costumer service first to clarify,  before booking. We require you to have travel insurance and to fill out one of our "smart waivers" before commencing the activity with us.

Southern Patagonia in detail