Wild Frontiers' Charlie discovers the benefits of travelling to stunning Patagonia in the Autumn.
When I’ve been asked previously what the best time of year is to travel to Patagonia I have always responded with the standard answer of the Southern Hemisphere Summer, which covers the months of November to March. Having just returned from a trip to Patagonia in mid-April, I think I'm going to have to revise my usual advice. What met me as I travelled through this beautiful region was snow-capped peaks and the glorious golden and red fiery hews of the Lengas forests (Southern Beech), and I was lucky enough to have them all to myself.
As I landed in Ushuaia, the world’s most southerly city - usually only visited by those heading off on an Antarctic cruise - I witnessed the raw natural beauty you can only find at the end of the earth.
I would highly recommend the extra flight down to this most southerly point to anyone considering a trip to Patagonia. Even though it's cooler at this time of year, with the thermometer dropping below zero at night, taking a boat trip along the Beagle channel was an unforgettable experience. Looking back at the snow-capped peaks rising over the small city of Ushuaia reflecting on the inlet, you get the overwhelming sense that you truly are at the very end of the world.
A short cruise will take you to islands full of cormorants, which could be mistaken for penguins, and a loud colony of sea lions. The final leg of the journey brings you to the most southerly lighthouse in the world, which seafarers have been charting since Darwin sailed through here on the HMS Beagle, hence the name of the channel.
Whilst on Tierra del Fuego, a visit to the National Park named after the island, is an absolute must. Whilst there are fantastic trekking opportunities, a great way to see the natural environment is from the water via canoe.
Canoeing from lakes to rivers into the sea, you'll witness the full array of perfectly untouched wilderness and the numerous natural wonders of this stunning island. If you happen to be here during autumn, you'll be able to witness the impressive colours of the forests with far fewer people than during the busier summer months.
A quick flight north to El Calafate brings you into the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, which is undoubtedly the heart of Argentine Patagonia.
If you choose to drive a few hours even further North, you will get to El Chalten, a mecca for avid hikers and walkers. During the summer months here, thousands of people come to trek to Mount Fitz Roy to behold the famous granite peaks, familiar to anyone who has owned a piece of clothing from the brand Patagonia.
However, if you visit just a few months later, as I have, the trails will be much emptier and you'll be rewarded with peaceful views of the incredible peaks, without the distracting crowds. The changing colours of the Lengas forests from green, to gold and red, are equally a huge draw for visiting at this time, where you can drink from the crystal clear mountain streams, while gazing at the awe-inspiring views.
Before the season finishes at the end of April, you still have time to witness the calving of the immense Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate, which is one of the world’s last advancing glaciers, again with far fewer people and a backdrop of the picturesque autumnal colours. This is a must see on anyones itinerary.
I'm now convinced that this is one of the best times to visit this region. Just be prepared for changing temperatures and allow enough time to wait out inclement weather.
To visit Patagonia in the Autumn, view our Active Argentina Adventure tour.