A Patagonia trip is a «once in a lifetime» experience for most travelers. You should tackle the journey in a well prepared and well informed manner. I would like to pass on my experiences and tips and hope that they are useful for your planning. As always, my focus is on landscape photography and outdoor adventures.
Finding the best photo spots in Patagonia is not too difficult. You will find enough inspiration on the known photo platforms such as 500px, Instagram, GettyImages, Fotolia, etc. and often GPS data will be provided as well. Along with Google Earth, photoephemeris.com (desktop or app) and a detailed map such as the Trekking Map 1:160’000 of terraQuest you can prepare yourself rather well and make important travel decisions in advance:
There are many beautiful mountains in the world and luckily I already had the chance to visit some of them. However, Mount Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy in Los Glaciares Nationalpark have something very special about them that I can not put into words. Above all, I simply felt an indescribable sense of happiness about being there with these two granite giants.
Right at the entrance to the village is the visitor center. From there you can reach the viewpoint Mirador de los Cóndores in about 20 minutes, which we visited at sunset and later again at sunrise. The view from there is simply terrific! You should include a 70-200mm lens with a Circ-Pol, ND graduated filter and a sturdy tripod in your baggage.
When we reached the „Camping de Agostini“ after a hike lasting several hours, we were amazed at how few people are traveling with a tent. Incidentally, no registration is required for this free campground.
Along the small creek Arroyo del Santo there are dozens of so-called «hidden spots». A small waterfall with Fitz Roy in the background is a special choice for a photo. Although the trail follows closely but not directly along the stream it is possible and worthwhile to make a detour through the bushes here and there. Smaller trails are easily visible, because such spots are quickly known among visitors.
If you are traveling alone and want to visit these spots at sunrise, you will find enough space for a small tent between the stream and the dense shrubbery. Wild camping is actually not allowed, but those that behave quietly, leave no traces in nature and don’t use gas cookers, should still be able to do it.
In various blogs you read about Park Rangers, who also like to delete memory cards. Unfortunately I do not know whether these stories are correct or not. During the high season between December and March, more Rangers will be on the road than during the low season in November and April.
The most famous National Park in Chile attracts thousands of tourists every year. Young hikers traveling around the world meet retired all-inclusive travelers.
A „normal“ permit is only valid for three days. There are exceptions for trekking friends who are doing the W- or O-Trek.
Those who claim to discover new photo spots in Torres del Paine will probably be disappointed (unless you go into the „wilderness“ and thus violate almost every park rule). For the explorers among you, the Los Glaciares National Park around El Chaltén is the better choice.
At the ship berth at the lake there is a small observation hill Mirador Lago Grey, on which you can actually find some unburned trees to photograph. These are perfect as a foreground for a panoramic photo of Lake Grey with floating ice floes in the background.
Along the road Y-150 there are several good vantage points and it would be a wise choice to rent a car, so you can schedule spontaneous stops yourself. Here the vicunas will not only pose nearby, but often on the street as well, not necessarily to the delight of the local fast bus drivers.
No Patagonian traveler wants to miss the impressive ice wall of Perito Moreno. The glacier belongs to Los Glaciares National Park and is designed for mass tourism due to the huge influxes of visitors.
There will be plenty of time after the tour to walk the well-developed boardwalks at the end of the peninsula. With a bit of luck you’ll be able to see how it looks like when a piece of the glacier breaks off and creates a small tidal wave. An impressive spectacle, which definitely has addictive potential: One would like to spend hours in this place.
You could spend many weeks in Patagonia, the distances are far and travelling takes time. Most travellers who reduce Patagonia to its highlights will eventually visit the following three regions and attractions:
Well, we had only two weeks available for our Patagonia trip.
The first panoramic photo I could already shoot from the plane – it had been worthwhile to insist on a window seat in the left row of seats. This is just an advice in case you also book a flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas.