Southern Chilean Patagonia#1 in Best Things To Do in Chilean Patagonia
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Occupying the southernmost area of the country, Southern Chilean Patagonia (SCP) draws visitors looking to admire the breathtaking landscape. Most visitors flock to Chile's southernmost province—also known as Magallanes (named after 16th-century conquistador Ferdinand Magellan)—to admire Patagonia's breathtaking landscape. From Magallanes' capital city, Punta Arenas, you can journey to Torres del Paine to admire its striking jagged peaks or head to Isla Magdalena to snap photos of thousands of Magellanic penguins scurrying along the shoreline.
Southern Chilean Patagonia is beyond secluded—separated by the Strait of Magellan and two soaring ice caps—but that only adds to its mystique as the gateway to Antarctica. The best way to reach Southern Chilean Patagonia is by plane from Santiago to Punta Arenas. It's also easy to access this region from Southern Argentine Patagonia. Cancha Carrera is a popular border-crossing, located between Torres del Paine and El Calafate (Argentina). Just be sure to acquire a visa before crossing; you can do so at an Argentine consulate in Santiago or before leaving home. For further details on how to navigate Southern Chilean Patagonia, consult our guide to Getting Around Chilean Patagonia.
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#2 Torres del Paine National Park
Exulted as one of the most scenic hiking venues on the planet, Torres del Paine National Park draws admirers from far and wide. You'll marvel at jaw-dropping vistas at nearly every point along the trails—aquamarine lakes, lush forests, glistening Glacier Grey, and, of course, the soaring granite Cuernos del Paine (Paine Horns). While hiking, you'll also notice clusters of adorable guanaco (animals that closely resembling llamas), candor, and sheep.
The park's two most picturesque trails are the "W" route and the "Circuit." The "W" is a four-day trek that, as its name suggests, zig-zags in a "W" formation around dramatic peaks. If you opt to take the "W" trail, you'll want to start at Laguna Amarga and then journey west. On the trail, you'll reach picture-perfect vantage points of Los Cuernos (Paine Horns). Most travelers say that the actual hiking is less challenging than combating Chile's heavy gusts of winds. One TripAdvisor user suggests, "Allow 4 nights [and] 5 days for the "W". […] It is not easy trekking due to wind and rocky surfaces and is so beautiful that it shouldn't be rushed." The "Circuit" on the other hand, encompasses the whole park, but requires seven to 10 days and plenty of hiking experience.
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