Planning Your Time
Southern Patagonia’s highlights are limitless, but distances are great and flying is almost imperative for short-term visitors—overland transportation is too time-consuming to visit widely separated sights like Península Valdés’s wildlife and the Moreno Glacier.
Moreno Glacier visitors should make additional time—perhaps at least a week—to hike Parque Nacional Los Glaciares’s Fitz Roy sector and even Chile’s Parque Nacional Torres del Paine (dedicated climbers may wait the entire summer for the weather to clear at these latitudes). Many choose an extension to Tierra del Fuego as well.
For those with time, money, and a vehicle, the ideal way to see the region is to drive south on RN 3—all the way to the Moreno Glacier or even Tierra del Fuego—and return via RN 40 to Bariloche or beyond. Besides a sturdy vehicle, this requires at least a month, preferably two, and ideally three.
Coastal Patagonia’s best base is Puerto Madryn, which has the best services, and the best access to secondary attractions like the Welsh settlements of Trelew and Gaiman. For the national parks along the Andes, El Calafate and El Chaltén along with full-service estancias are the top options.
January and February are the most popular months, but also the most expensive. The shoulder months of November–December and March–April have lesser crowding, lower prices, and equally good (sometimes better) weather. By April the days are getting shorter, but winter whale-watching has become big business at Puerto Pirámides.
Overland transportation schedules change seasonally and annually, and they can be disrupted by weather.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition