Patagonia tours and Southern Road Trips
In 2016 we drove from Lima to Torres del Paine, enjoying a spectacular 3-month,13,000 km road trip to a Mecca for Patagonia tours. On the 10th of February 2020, we crossed the Peru – Chile border with the same plan in mind. Covid meant that we didn’t get there, in fact, we didn’t get past Santiago this time and some 14 months later we are still in Chile and, at the time of writing, still unable to either get to Torres del Paine or home as all land borders are still closed!
Having given up the idea of getting to Patagonia in 2020, we haven’t given up getting there in 2021. Why still try you may ask? Well firstly, if we cant get to Patagonia then we certainly can’t get across the border to get home. Secondly, we want to see some more of the hotel options and new activities in the region for when our clients start to visit again in 2022, and lastly, we have come this far so we might as well try!
We have had more and more people asking about Patagonia tours in the last couple of weeks as people start thinking about traveling again, and some people are pulling the trigger, so to speak. So we definitely do need to check out fresh products or upgrades that our providers have added to their portfolios since we were last there. There are an increasing number of places to stay within or near the Torres del Paine park, and of course, knowing first-hand which place offers what allows us to fully advise our clients.
Patagonia is not a cheap place to visit, it is literally the middle of nowhere for a start, plus staying at any national park always carries a premium. Luckily there are ranges of prices for Torres so you do not have to sell a kidney to visit! Some of the hotel options that are on the edge of the park, but not actually within it, can have some very good prices for B&B accommodation, booking daily excursions as you go. If you feel you deserve the extra comfort and luxury then there are several options that will not disappoint, offering all-inclusive high-end packages, private guides and transport, and a wide range of activities.
The first thing we would say to clients looking at Patagonia tours is to try to avoid the very high season of January and February if you can, and also Easter week. South Americans are on holiday at these times and spaces will be fewer, hence prices will be higher. If you can travel at “shoulder” season times you have a better chance of getting what you want at better prices. October and November, or April and May, for example, would all be good choices as long as you don’t mind the weather being colder. You will be rewarded with lower visitor numbers and greater hotel and lodge room options.
The 2016 road trip we mentioned above was epic, hence our interrupted attempt to repeat it in 2020. But obviously, very few people can find the time for such an undertaking but anyone visiting the park will get some great overland experiences. Traveling from the airport in Punta Arenas for example involves driving through the Patagonian countryside for around 5 hours just to get into the park, there are some stunning views en route and on each of your daily excursions of course.
Another overland route that limited-stay visitors can enjoy is a combo with another “great outdoors” Patagonia destination. El Calafate in Argentina, plus El Chalten for those hikers among you. These two areas of outstanding natural beauty are reached in 6 hours or so from Torres del Paine, and linking these two locations is one of the best combinations in South America in our opinion. Glaciers, icebergs, mountains, lakes, wildlife, forests, great food, and wine. The beauty of these destinations, both on the Chilean and Argentine sides of the Andes is that you can really experience true wilderness areas but not have to “rough it” if you don’t want to. You don’t have to be under canvas, freezing your toes off. After a fantastic day kayaking on glacier lakes, you can enjoy Patagonian lamb and a Carmenere.
Some returning clients have booked a Torres del Paine visit for their group for February 2022, maybe they will get there before we will!