5 things to know about Patagonia

by Belinda Wan (bwan@sph.com.sg)
published on 12 July 2016

Located at the southern end of South America, Patagonia is a sparsely populated region spanning Argentina and Chile.

With raw, beautiful landscapes and teeming wildlife, it is a great place to get close to nature.

Here are some facts about Patagonia.

1. There is plenty of room to explore
Patagonia comprises a massive land area of 1,043,076 sq km across Argentina and Chile, yet has less than two million inhabitants.  The Andes divides both countries.

Both regions offer different things. Steppes, grasslands and deserts are what you will find on the Argentine side, while the Chilean side features temperate rainforest and glacial fjords.

2. It is home to a multitude of national parks
There are no less than six national parks in Patagonia. Each comes with its own charm and distinctive features.

In Chile, you can head to Torres del Paine, Laguna San Rafael, or Alberto de Agostini. Choose between Los Glaciares, Nahuel Huapi or Tierra del Fuego in Argentina.
Torres del Paine National Park is one of the largest and most visited parks in Chile. Its many marked paths make it a great hiking destination.
3. Go whale spotting
June to December are the best months for whale watching.  There are two locations to see whales from – at the Valdes Peninsula and small town Puerto Madryn, which are both in the Chubut province of Argentine Patagonia.

In the earlier months, the whales are likely to be seen from near Puerto Madryn. From September, the whales are likely to be glimpsed from the Peninsula.
If you are lucky, you may even spot young whale mothers with their calves along the shoreline.

4. Unpredictable weather
It is best to visit Patagonia during the summer from October to March, as the days are warmer with more light.

During winter, there are less tourists, but some roads may be closed, especially if it is snowing. 

5. Walk where dinosaurs once roamed
Did you know that the Villa El Chocon area in the Neuquén province in southwest Argentina is where many dinosaur fossils were discovered?

One of the most important discoveries is the fossilised remains of Argentinosaurus Huinculensis, the biggest sauropod known to man. The 100-tonne dinosaur lived about 65 million years ago in the Plaza Huincul area in Neuquén.