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Why Go To Argentine Patagonia

This region in the Andes mountains is nothing if not enchanting. Cobalt lakes, azure-tinted glaciers, emerald trees, and turquoise skies stretch as far as the eye can see. In fact, Argentine Patagonia's vistas are so sweeping that Charles Darwin once described the region as "boundless." Visit Argentina's Lake District and you'll discover villages brushing against snowy mountain peaks. Travel east and you'll find whales gliding through Peninsula Valdés' marine wildlife sanctuary. Venture to Southern Patagonia, and you'll stumble upon deserts extending into rugged estancias (cattle-ranges) and melting glaciers. And, if you continue downward to the Chilean border at Cape Horn, you'll come across an expansive horizon reaching out to Antarctica's frosty edge. Patagonia's beauty knows no bounds.

But don't let the frontier's vastness fool you: Argentine Patagonia's rapidly developing infrastructure grants visitors easy access to all major attractions. Rustic roads lead to dramatic natural wonders like Perito Moreno Glacier and Mount Fitz Roy. Look around this beautiful landscape and discover a region buzzing with life. Magellanic penguins and albatross mingle in the Punta Tombo wildlife reserve, while history survives on the walls of the Cave of the Hands.

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Argentine Patagonia Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best times to visit Argentine Patagonia are October through November (springtime in the southern hemisphere) and December through February (summertime). During these months, the weather is mild, and spectators can view natural attractions in their full splendor. You should make your spring and summer travel arrangements far in advance since visitors flock to Argentina for the optimal hiking conditions. Pack layers to combat Patagonia's heavy winds (especially if you're planning a visit to Southern Patagonia). January and February draw the largest crowds, but October, March and April are also good times for sightseeing, boasting sunshine and temperatures in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Weather in Argentine Patagonia

Switch to Celsius/MM
Average Temperature (°F)
70.7
43.5
71.2
42.3
66.2
39.2
58.3
35.2
50.2
33.1
44.1
30.2
43.5
29.5
46.2
30.4
51.3
31.1
57.2
34
63.1
38.3
67.5
41.7
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Average Precipitation (in)
0.87
0.85
1.15
2.11
5.28
5.54
5.07
4.55
2.28
1.53
0.98
1.26
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
See details for When to Visit Argentine Patagonia

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

  • It's big Argentine Patagonia comprises three districts: The Lake District, Atlantic Patagonia, and Southern Patagonia. You'll probably only have enough time to visit one or two areas, so plan accordingly.
  • Protect the landscape Despite commercial pressures to mine for gold, oil, and other materials, Patagonians advocate wildlife conservation. Be respectful and leave the land just as you found it.
  • Lakeside villages draw crowds Increasing popularity has transformed sleepy villages into bustling tourist havens. You'll want to avoid the high season (late-September through February) to avoid the crowds.

How to Save Money in Argentine Patagonia

  • Book your flights early Avoid paying high airline fees by reserving your flight several months in advance. Flights from the U.S. will most likely route through Buenos Aires or Santiago.
  • Visit during the off-season Come during March or April for comfortable weather and lower hotel rates.
  • Don't dial Chile Despite Chile's close proximity, the telephone rate from Argentina to Chile is roughly the same as the call rate to the U.S. (about $2 per minute). Travelers should confirm any and all travel arrangements before leaving home.

Culture & Customs

Argentine Patagonia's recent development has spiked the region's popularity with tourists. Still, Argentine Patagonia has a long way to go before it can compete with other South American hot spots like Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

Argentine Patagonia houses an eclectic mix of cultures. In the 19th century, British settlers arrived and shared the land with indigenous tribes, like the Tehuelche and the Mapuche. Today, their descendants do the same. Under the Lake District's snowy mountains, quaint towns are pockets of classic and folk music. In Atlantic Patagonia's more urban and Welsh-infused setting, traditional tea time persists as a part of daily life. And in Southern Patagonia, you'll find an assortment of tourists and locals savoring the fresh air, aquamarine lakes, and towering mountains.

Although the official language is Spanish, popular lakeside cities welcome thousands of English-speaking tourists each year. Hotels in these locales can connect American and European visitors with English-speaking guides. Travelers note some local tour guides are difficult to understand, so learn a few Spanish phrases. When it comes time to compensate your guide, the official currency is the Argentine peso (ARS). The peso is weak compared to the U.S. dollar: 1 ARS amounts to approximately $0.25 USD.

Seafood is a staple ingredient in Patagonian cuisine, but not all the food is fishy. Sink your teeth into some parillas (authentic BBQ) and sip some of the delectable wines fermented in Neuquen, a popular province located in Patagonia's Lake District. The cuisine has been influenced by the European palate; tea houses, chocolatiers, and pastry shops thrive here. Patagonians prefer to eat late, so you will find restaurants do not start serving dinner until at least 8 p.m. But most locales will dine closer to 10 p.m. Most restaurants add a small seating fee per person, and as far as tipping goes, 10 percent is considered polite.

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Getting Around Argentine Patagonia

The best ways to get around Argentine Patagonia are by car or plane due to the region's large size. Argentine Patagonia is divided into three regions: the Lake District, Atlantic Patagonia, and Southern Patagonia. You can traverse all three regions by car, but you'll find yourself spending a lot of time on the road. Unless you plan on staying longer than a week, you'll probably have to choose only one or two of these areas to explore. To save time, consider flying between regions. With several airports in all three districts, you can easily hop between cities. Buses are another reliable way to get around.

To reach Patagonia, you'll want to fly through Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) and then take a hopper flight to your desired Patagonian city. Alternatively, you could fly into Punta Arenas Airport (PUQ), Chilean Patagonia's main airport, and cross the border into El Calafate in Southern Patagonia. You can also rent a car or take a bus from Buenos Aires to Argentine Patagonia, but this will require at least one additional day of travel.

Entry & Exit Requirements

A valid passport is required for entry into Argentina, and tourists from the United States can stay for up to 90 days without a visa. Those arriving into Buenos Aires' Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) or Jorge Newbery Airport (AEP) with tourist passports are required to pay a $609 ARS (roughly $140 USD) reciprocity fee upon arrival. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. State Department's website.

Photos

Argentine Patagonia
Argentine Patagonia
1 of 19
Courtesy of Estancia Cristina

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