My wife and I are in the process of planning a 14+ day trip to Patagonia (Chile-Argentina) in Jan/Feb 2013. We wish we could spend more time but are limited. What are some of the don't miss , once in a lifetime, locations and activities? There seems to be quite a lot to choose from; sea kayaking, cruises, zodiac excursions, the obvious hiking, horseback riding. Having traveled through a lot of SA we hope to avoid the cities and get right to the outdoors, but will probably have to lay over in BA and or Santiago. Any thoughts would be welcome.
El Calafate is going to be your transit hub (if you choose). Buses and planes in/out will be picking up in the jan/feb timeframe. have a backup plan. make sure to talk to the various travel agencies in el calafate for buses. the info online can be wishy washy.
Perito Moreno Glacier - Big Ice Trek
El Chalten - STAY HERE FOR A LONG WHILE. Do every hike! Do the one that no one else really does - - - you'll hear about it on the intro at the ranger station. This was our favorite part. I hope for beautiful weather for you.
W Loop in Chile - through Puerto Natales - do the W loop in 3 days. push yourselves or do the entire circuit. BOOK EARLY for the refugios or camp for free (buy all of your stuff - food/etc in PN) or rent via El Calafate vendors (they can pick up your gear from your hostel/etc if you rent)
Again, check on the transports in/out of the south. You never know.
Things to remember if you have not been to Argentina before:
Believe in small bills
No ATMs on Sundays
Double LL is sha
In Chile, don't miss the Torres Del Paine trek. I did dozens of trek around the world last year and it was one of my favorite. In my opinion it's superior than Fitz Roy. You can fin nice forest, superb walks with views over glacier and turquoise lakes. You can stay in Puerto Natales to organize the trip (very easy) many agencies in town. I can recommand you the W circuit that takes 5 days. Here are my favorite activities in Patagonia:
1. Torres Del Paine
2. Fitz Roy
3. Perito Moreno Glacier
Seems to me the best reason for going to Patagonia is to get a good look at the southern stars and constellations.
@rotch - I agree, can shut my eyes and picture it now! i loved Torres Del Paine. If you can do the whole "W" or "M" it is memorable. And the Glacier is just mesmorising - attack it from all angles, see as much as you can!!!
Also, if you go through Santiago - visit Pucon (climb the volcano), but "Bariloche" is really a great part of the world and not too far - worth making the time to visit.
I went as far as Ushuaia and it was expensive and too busy for my liking, could give it a miss if time is short - i wouldnt go again - but then it is "the end of the world"
have fun, stay safe!