Patagonia’s mysterious majesty and unmatched natural beauty are peerless. The southern border of South America is where regular tourists journey to become skilled explorers, offering everything from arid deserts and vast steppes to glaciated summits and clear rivers. It has expansive, huge spaces that beckon investigation with their stunning emptiness and deafening silence.
Those who had the good fortune to visit Patagonia for a month or less would testify that they would easily stay there for many more months if they had a chance. They mostly spent their time camping, hiking, and trekking before falling in love with Patagonia because it’s the kind of place that catches you by surprise when you don’t expect it to.
The most unforgettable Patagonia experiences, aside from outdoor trips, may be had in the small Chilean and Argentinean towns and villages. Whoever came across those was in awe for a long time. Here, you interact with natives over homestyle-prepared feasts and share travel stories with expatriates and other tourists, forming everlasting recollections and ties to this beautiful and wonderful region.
Below are our favorite five undiscovered gem villages, “pueblos” as they like to call them in Patagonia that you must visit if you’re thinking about going there!
Puerto Williams (Chile)
On Navarino Island (Isla Navarino), in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, Puerto Williams is positioned close below latitude 55°S parallel. Puerto Williams, which has a population of fewer than 3,000 and is known as the world’s southernmost city (it’s actually Ushuaia, but Chile and Argentina reached an agreement that it’s Puerto Williams) is frequently the last stop for travelers and scientists before traveling to Antarctica. Additionally, it’s a growing tourism hotspot and serves as the starting point for hikers taking the famous Dientes de Navarino path.
The people who call it home are the reason why it’s so near and dear to many tourist hearts and what truly stands out about this hidden gem town. Whether it’s the guide who takes you in at Refugio El Padrino or a person who runs the local tourist office, if you have no place to stay, they’ll go out of their way to make sure you feel right at home. If you ask anyone who travels to South America, they’ll tell you that Puerto Williams is always the one place they always miss the most and the first town they mention when they reflect upon their travels in this part of the world.
Puerto Toro (Chile)
Now, if you really want to get off the beaten road, a visit to Puerto Toro is essential! Whereas Puerto Williams is widely regarded as the world’s southernmost city, Puerto Toro, which is conveniently situated on the other end of Isla Navarino, is known as the world’s southernmost hamlet. In actuality, only 20 people, including a few carabiners, several fishermen and their families (not counting children), a scientist, and a few stray dogs, lived in Puerto Toro a few years back. It certainly hasn’t changed much by now.
The no-cost two-hour cruise ship that leaves Puerto Williams on the final Sunday of the month is the quickest and most convenient method to get to Puerto Toro. The only requirements are that you register with the carabiners a day in before by bringing your passport. It’s completely free. Remember to take the boat back, though, as if you don’t, you’ll be forced to wait one month for the next one to come (or you may walk back to Puerto Williams, but that would take you around two days).
El Calafate (Argentina)
Our next Patagonian stop follows a cross-over from the Chilean border to the Argentinean side. This nation has produced some of the best football players in history, like Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, and its citizens enjoy placing bets on the sport for which they have vast options presented here. El Calafate is renowned as an established base for tourists and adventurers seeking the excitement of the great outdoors, much like the hidden treasure stop No.4 (El Chaltén)!
When you visit Los Glaciares National Park (Parque Nacional Los Glaciares), you can be in awe of the majestic Perito Moreno glacier range, wherein large chunks of ice that weigh several tons apiece can be seen smashing into the lake below.
Did we mention that you could hike up to the Perito Moreno Glacier as well?
El Chaltén (Argentina)
El Chaltén is the capital of Patagonia if Patagonia represents the homeland of trekking. El Chaltén, the self-declared “capital of trekking” (“Capital Argentina del Trekking”), is an adventurer’s paradise with a variety of low-difficulty to high-difficulty hiking and trekking trails, beautiful sprawling landscapes with excellent camping areas, lovely lakes (Laguna Torre), and an infamous hike known as Mount Fitz Roy that’s both adored for its scenic surroundings and despised for the hike itself.
There isn’t much to do in this town of less than 2,000 people other than climb, trek, and camp (but isn’t that why you’re here, anyway?). However, La Cervecería is a fantastic microbrewery that’s well worth seeing. It’s always fantastic to cap off the day with a refreshing cool IPA and a discussion with other hikers after a few days of nonstop walking.
El Bolsón (Argentina)
This is the town for liberals, hippies, and creative types! El Bolsón, which is barely inside the unremarkable “border” of Patagonia, is situated about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Bariloche. With the help of the area’s craggy mountain ranges, mild microclimate, excellent soil, and remarkable diversity of organic farms, wonderful cheeses, fruits (including raspberries and apples), vegetables, and orchards have become commonplace.
It was simply divine to have the pleasant taste of fruit once more after spending many days in El Chaltén where there were hardly any vegetables or fruit to speak of, although meat, such as beef and chicken, was plenty in supply. If you go on a weekend, be sure to visit a craft bazaar called Feria Artesanal, where you may find delicious, nutritious food, and artisan goods.
Take the opportunity to stop by a rock formation located 7 kilometers outside of town called the Indian Head (Cabeza del Indio) that has the appearance of a man’s face. It’s a worthwhile excursion to see this unique location, and hiking there early in the morning will reward you with stunning views of the adjacent Rio Azul.
Do you have a favorite Patagonian town? Let us know!