The scenery in the Chilean Patagonia is transcendental, comprising bright-blue glacial lakes, plentiful wildlife and snow-capped peaks often shrouded in moody clouds. It’s clear why the destination tops the list for most outdoor junkies—but the excursions, which range from trekking to fly-fishing and horseback riding on a working estancia, are varied enough to please travelers of all ages and interests.
Despite its remoteness and the arduous journey required to reach it, Patagonia is home to several all-inclusive luxury properties, so there is no need to plan excursions in advance. After checking into your lodge, you’ll meet with your guide (most hotels employ locals who are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable). They will assist in planning your day-to-day outings, taking into consideration your special interests, preferences and fitness level. They also bear in mind the sequence and location of the excursions; for instance, you’d want to avoid two strenuous full-day hikes in a row, and it is ideal to cover most sections of Torres del Paine. There are an abundance of things to do in Patagonia, but here are some of Indagare’s tried-and-true classic activities.
Contact Indagare for assistance planning a trip to Chile. Our specialists can book you at the hotel that is right for you and create specialized itineraries that include our favorite excursions.
Take a boat
Whether you’re staying in the outer reaches of Southern Patagonia at The Singular or on the outskirts of the Torres del Paine National Park at Awasi or Tierra, getting on a boat is the best way to get up close to a glacier. At Singular, you should plan for a two-night stay just to ensure that you can experience the lodge’s boat outing through the Patagonian fjords to see the nearby Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers; lucky travelers may even spot cormorants and sea lions during this excursion. From any of the properties in or near Torres del Paine, travelers can enjoy a short boat navigation to Grey Glacier, which is over 3.5 miles wide and nearly 100 feet tall. More adventurous types can hike the massive icecap with a helmet and harness.
Related: Adventures in Chilean Patagonia
Ride a horse
In addition to taking in the awe-inspiring immensity of Patagonia from a new perspective and allowing travelers access to roads less trodden, horseback riding offers the bonus of a cultural experience. These excursions usually take place at working estancias (ranches), so there is the opportunity to learn about the local livestock business and interact with a beret-wearing gaucho or Patagonian cowboy. Rides range from easy scenic trails with glorious views to more advanced journeys down unmarked paths.
Related: Patagonia: Five to Know
Embark on a full-day hike
Challenge yourself with a day-long hike in Torres del Paine, such as the iconic Base of the Towers hike or Frenchman’s Valley, considered the best section of the multi-day W Circuit. Though these treks generally aren’t technical, bounteous stamina and good knees are requisites before attempting one of these demanding endeavors. And don’t forget to wear plenty of layers—it is often said that one can experience four seasons in a day in Patagonia.
Experience Patagonia in the wild
The Patagonia experience is all about the wilderness and never-ending landscapes, which feel particularly majestic to travelers coming from big cities. Despite its size, Torres del Paine can feel busy during peak season, so to really feel the great emptiness, be sure to sign up for an exclusive experience or two. These are offered by most of Indagare’s preferred lodges and usually take place on private properties to ensure minimal crowds. At Singular, enjoy the aforementioned boat excursion to see glaciers and fjords; hike Tierra’s backyard, which stretches all the way to picture-perfect Lake Sarmiento and is home to puma, condors, sheep and guanaco (a type of camel), among other sorts of wildlife; and venture to Awasi’s privately contracted hacienda for a horseback ride and a chat with a local gaucho family.
Related: Discovering Chile