Backpacking Around Narnia – Patagonia, Argentina

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Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 9/10

patagonia glacier

For many people Patagonia is a mythical land that they will read about in books but never get anywhere near in real life, rendering it a destination out of a storybook that might as well not exist in real life. And this doesn’t seem far from the truth even once you’ve arrived. It constantly delivers mind blowing sights, incredible experiences and a backpacking trip that you’ll never forget.

Patagonia is so big that it’s hard to put a finger on where it actually starts and ends – it stretches down from mid-Argentina to the very southern tip at Ushuaia as well as sprawling out and over Chile – but the majority of backpackers who visit will go to El Calafate, the destination of flights from Buenos Aires and the hub for many trips out into the snowy abyss. From there it’s possible to do everything you could want within a week if your time is tight, as it often is on backpacker trips. The jaw dropping Perito Moreno Glacier is the first spot on most people’s lists and it lives up to expectation; a giant monster of an ice sculpture that continues for ever up into the mountains and beyond view.

But that’s not the only glacier out there. You can visit any number of them, all of which have their own records whether it’s longest, highest, biggest mass (the list goes on!). The one thing they have in common is that they will blow your mind. And that they’re big lumps of ice of course. It’s even possible to see a few of them all in one day as there are boat trips around Lago Argentino which stop by 3 or 4 for you to compare and contrast. You’d think that once you’ve seen one glacier you’ve seen them all but this is the perfect proof against that theory. It’s a great way to see a lot of the area in one day and also allows you to get frighteningly close as huge chunks of the ice fall from the wall and splash into the water beneath. That’s a sight I won’t forget for a long, long time.

And it’s not all about the glaciers either. The environment right across Patagonia is awe inspiring and any trip out to the towns outside of El Calafate are well worth it. One I would recommend is the trip up to El Chalten. This is at the foot of the impressive Mount Fitz Roy and the trekking opportunities are abundant. As you wander around you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled through the back of a wardrobe and into Narnia. I didn’t spot any lions though…

You can go to Patagonia on an extensive trekking trip or just for a few days as a stop on your backpacking adventure to see the glaciers. Either way, I can guarantee you won’t leave disappointed as Patagonia is one of those places that gets under your skin and makes you hungry for more. The only problem is deciding where to go next that can live up to it…

You can try and find that next place on the itinerary from the other backpacking destinations in South America on here, or maybe you’re ready for all the details in a hard copy like the Argentina Lonely Planet Guide or the Patagonian Trekking Guide.

If you’ve got even more of your own tips on Patagonia it would be great to hear them all in the comments…

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6 replies
  1. Todd Mosher
    Todd Mosher says:

    To say Patagonia is big is an understatement. I had the pleasure of seeing a very small slice of it in 2007. It left me speechless and with fantastic memories. While I certainly could not even begin to do everything, a highlight was an overnight horseback trek from El Calafate into Chile. Just when I thought I had seen everything, we would come around another corner or over another ridge. Someday I will be back there to finish what I started.

    Reply
  2. Backpacker Boy
    Backpacker Boy says:

    Thanks for the kind words Tanya!

    Todd – totally agree, just when you think you've got everything out of it it deals you another great surprise. Amazing.

    Reply
  3. Andrew Hall
    Andrew Hall says:

    Thanks for pointing me toward this post Tom. Briefly worked on a cruise ship in Alaska and saw some awe inspiring glacier calving, but getting out into the landscape in Patagonia is near the top of my list. Will definitely keep the El Chalten trip in mind.

    Reply
  4. Cam
    Cam says:

    Looks amazing! We didn’t make it to Patagonia on our trip to South America, I still kick myself sometimes because we were so close. I guess it just means we’ll need to make a another trip south 😉

    Reply

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