Top Sites Argentina/Chile – Patagonia
Patagonia is a sparsely populated region located at the southern end of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile. The region comprises the southern section of the Andes mountains as well as the deserts, pampas and grasslands east of this southern portion of the Andes. For overlanders, Patagonia has always been top of the ‘must-do’ on
Patagonia is a HUGE place that incorporates both Argentina and Chile. Highlights are many. You could stay for ages but you’ll be pushed north by the short summer period, longing to the day you return.
Carretera Austral is the legendary name given to the official Ruta (Route) 7 in Chile. The road runs from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins. It exists entirely in the Patagonia section of Chile.
The construction of the road started in 1976 and was one of the biggest infrastructure projects at the time in Chile. Unlike Argentina, on the other side of the Andes Mountain range, constructing a road south into Chile was not easy. Argentina had the flat plains to run the road along when the mountain terrain became to difficult. This is seen in the famous Ruta 40 in Argentina, which mostly runs along the easier, flat lands away from the Andes. Chile dint have this luxury as the stunning terrain is full of steep mountains, fjords, forests, canals and glaciers. Apparently, 10,000 army personal were involved in the roads construction. When finished the road was completely dirt. Today work is underway to pave the entire length, a task that will take some time. Until then, enjoy the road before it becomes ‘too accessible’. Check out my post on the Carretera Austral.
Perito Moreno Glacier
The Perito Moreno Glacier is classed as one of the ‘Must Sees’ of a trip to Patagonia, and with good cause. Its incredible! Firstly the size, the photo below show the width of the section that is view-able from the platform. incredibility this is 5kms wide!! More amazingly, it is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field which has an area of 12,363 km2. Check out my post on this amazing site.
El Chaltén is a small mountain village in Argentina. These days it is solely based on tourism and its the capital for hiking and all mountaineering activities in Argentina. It is located inside the Los Glaciares National Park, meaning the surrounding landscapes are sure to please. The most famous peak, Mount Fitz Roy is located near the town.
Seven Lakes (San Martin de Los Andes to Bariloche)
As the name implies, this 107km road goes through several lakes in the Patagonian area of Argentina. This area is also very close to the border of Chile and has some very accessible crossings. As a generalization, the roads running parallel to the Andes in Argentina are less spectacular than Chile. This is mostly due to the fact that Argentina was more flat lands (Pampas) then Chile. Therefore, it is much easy to run roads on flat land than mountain ranges. This section is the exception, the road zigzags around the lakes before moving back on the flat lands both north and south of this region. Because of this, if you are heading north or south of this area, I’d recommend jumping across to Chile. Check out my post on the Seven Lakes Road
Cerro Castillo is a jagged rocky peak located on the Carretera Austral. At the bottom is the small town of Villa Cerro Castillo. There is a good day hike to a lake located half way up the mountain. Check out my post here.
Marble Caves (Carrera Lake)
The Marble Caves (Cuevas de Mármol) are located on a peninsula of solid marble. Lake General Carrera sits at the base… 6000 yrs of the lakes waves have formed this unique cave… add the blue glacier water from the lake and you’ll find a very surreal mix of cathedral caves with ice blue reflections. Check out my separate post here