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Should I Take A Guided Tour Of Patagonia?
Patagonia is a tourist hotspot and many tour operators stick to tried-and-true tours that don’t vary much from client to client. However, Patagonia is huge! From Buenos Aires to the pampas, there is so much to see and do on guided trips to Argentina. It’s definitely worth your time to find a tour company that is willing to travel off the beaten path. In fact, many of the best guided tours of Patagonia are the ones that take you to their favorite spots – not just the popular spots.
The best Patagonia adventure trips start with a question to the tour operator: where do YOU like to travel? The answer will help you tailor a trip that fits your interests and allows you to see things you won’t read about in a typical guidebook. A guided tour is typically 7-10 days so that you have enough time to explore at least two different regions of this massive country and have enough leeway to go explore areas not generally available on a fixed itinerary. But even if you are going to a place not usually visited by the average tourist, just remember that the biggest benefit of guided trips to Argentina is 24/7 support and assistance from a professional guide which allows you to travel worry-free!
Take A Walk On The Wild Side With Patagonia’s Wildlife!
Patagonia’s wildlife is phenomenal. Many of the best guided tours of Patagonia now include wildlife watching. Patagonia has its own “Big Five,” which includes the southern right whale, orca, Magellanic penguin, Andean condor, and the guanaco – a mammal that is related to the llama. The region is also home to alpacas, vicunas, deer, puma, foxes, tapirs, monkeys, armadillos, opossums, sloths, porcupines, squirrels, hares, bats, anteaters, and even the occasional jaguar! The opportunity to spot wildlife in its native environment while taking in Patagonia’s amazing landscapes are endless. Here is a list of the best locations for wildlife viewing on guided trips to Argentina:
Wildlife Viewing Location #1: Peninsula Valdés
Península Valdés’ main draw is its whale-watching boat trips. Two natural inlets can be found on the peninsula, which protect and provide a sanctuary for breeding southern right whales and orcas. Southern right whales can be spotted on a guided tour between September and December. Orcas are more difficult to track down due to their unpredictable nature, but they have been sighted as late as April.
What else makes Península Valdés the best wildlife destination in the country? Well, visitors can see Magellanic penguins setting up camp on the peninsula’s beaches, while dolphins play offshore and albatrosses fly across the sky. But what makes this destination so unique is that nearly all of the fauna can be spotted from the coastline! And since so many guest lodges have been built along the shore, you can see penguins and sea lions right from your doorstep.
Wildlife Viewing Location #2: Bahia Bustamante
Located 250 miles down the coast from Península Valdés, this location offers a similar cast of flora and fauna. Yet the landscape is more rugged and remote, and Bahia Bustamante is much more difficult to reach. To get there, you’ll take a four-hour drive along dirt roads from the Trelew airport. The barren, moon-like landscape runs along a jagged coastline, along which Patagonian foxes and rheas can be spotted.
Wildlife Viewing Experience #3: The Iberá Wetlands
If you are planning to see birds on one of the many guided trips to Argentina that are available to tourists, this is the location for you! Located in the northeast region of Argentina, the Iberá Wetlands are a bird lover’s paradise, with more than 300 species inhabiting the vast network of swamps, lagoons, and marshland. Visitors can spot kingfishers, snowy egrets, large-billed terns, and golden-breasted woodpeckers, as well as aimans, capybaras, giant river otters, and anacondas! You’ll definitely want to book one of the best guided tours of Patagonia through the wetlands – a boat and a guide are a necessity to safely navigate the spongy green waterways and densely packed weeds!
Wildlife Viewing Experience #4: Iguazú Falls
Some of the best Patagonia adventure trips start in Iguazú Falls. These world-famous waterfalls are located on both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of Patagonia. The falls are surrounded by spectacular national parks that are home to unique jungle ecosystems filled with monkeys, birds, and more than 2,000 plant species. Although the falls are one of the biggest draws of the park they are located within, visitors can see howler monkeys, capybaras, ocelots, tapirs, and giant anteaters in the under canopy of the surrounding jungle. A few lucky people have even reported seeing a jaguar hiding in the dense forest!
Guided Hiking Tours of Patagonia
If you’re considering which of the best Patagonia adventure trips to take, a guided hiking tour is a great option! Hiking is one of the most popular activities in Argentina, and visitors flock to the country’s well-maintained trails for adventure and exercise. From beginner trails to more advanced summits, Patagonia features amazing outdoor adventures for all. Here is a list of some of the most popular hiking destinations to include on guided trips to Argentina:
- Quebrada de Humahuaca – in the far northwest of Argentina, this geologically rich mountain valley stretches for 96 miles. The terrain is difficult – mainly deep canyons and ravines, swift-flowing rivers, and steep mountainsides.
- Parque Nacional Iguazu – one of the most accessible reserves in Argentina, this park features relatively short and flat trails that are perfect for all fitness levels. This is a walking destination for almost anyone, from children to older travelers.
- Cerro Aconcagua – the tallest mountain in the western hemisphere, Aconcagua is not for beginners! Although you do not need to have technical climbing experience to follow the mountain trails, you still need to be very fit and have experience hiking at altitude to make this climb. It is advisable to book a guided tour and go in groups if you want, just for safety’s sake!
- Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi is one of the most visited parks in Argentina and has many campsites and trekking lodges for rent, making it a great place for a multi-day hike.
- At the southernmost tip of Argentina is Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. This wild expanse of sticky bogs, thick beech forests, windswept tundra, lakes, and pebble beaches is a short drive from Ushuaia and has several easy-to-navigate trails that can be completed in a day or less.
- And last, but not least – Parque Nacional Los Glaciers offers some of the best Patagonia adventure trips for those who dream of exploring Antarctica! Strap on a pair of crampons and climb the tip of a 96.5-square-mile expanse of ice. As you walk past cracks, fissures, and caves, you’ll experience the glacier creak, groan, and shudder! And, if you’re lucky, you may witness the moment when a glacier calves and a house-sized chunk of ice separates and falls into the waters below.
No matter which trip you book, chances are adventure will be waiting around every corner! From the mountain peaks to the lowland jungle, there is something for everyone on guided trips to Argentina.