A place far at the end of the world, and yet accessible by land, air and sea. Where nature still dictates the destinies of men, yet with the comforts of modernity. It's a destination both for slow travelers and adrenaline junkies.
It is a hotspot destination for tourists by excellence, as it hosts many attractions and exciting places. Here are five reasons why it's the preferred by thousands of tourists from all over the world each year.
1. Easier access. Not long ago, getting to Patagonia was an Odyssey on its own. Today, the availability of flights to and from Chile’s capital Santiago and Argentina’s Buenos Aires is broad, bridging the way for tourists from all over the world.
There are more connecting flights than ever towards cities in Patagonia like Puerto Montt, Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas on the Chilean side, and San Martín de los Andes, El Calafate, Río Gallegos, and Ushuaia in Argentina. In Chile, airline companies Latam Airlines Group and Sky Airline offer the most frequent flights, while in Argentina it's Aerolineas Argentinas. There are better highways on both sides (Carretera Austral and Ruta 40, respectively), ferry routes, and cruise docking ports as well.
2. There's plenty to do. It's a coveted destination for amateur and professional travel photographers, according to Forbes magazine, wildlife watching buffs, slow travel lovers, cruise addicts and outdoor maniacs. From hiking the blue peaks of Torres Del Paine park, watching chunks of millennial ice fall off the face of Perito Moreno glacier, getting chased by guanacos, or riding the Patagonian flats on horseback alongside rugged gauchos. Even foodies travel by the hundreds each year just to try the local cuisine, like wild boars cooked over an open fire or fresh trout from the fishing expeditions done early in the morning; an experience that can get very savory if the visitors stay at local estancias or ranches, according to Saveur magazine.
3. It’s open country. Regardless of why people choose to travel there, Patagonia welcomes all sizes and shades of travellers. From backpackers and hip tourists to luxury voyagers. From lone adventurers to families with kids, they all have a place at the end of the world. They all get to enjoy its one-of-a-kind sunsets, endless horizon landscapes, trek its ancient forests, or fish in its icy rivers, and have plenty of alternatives for lodging and transportation. No wonder 2016 was the best year ever for tourism in the area, with the average number of overnight stays growing from four to seven, according to Chilean government figures.
4. No vaccination needed. It’s free from Zika and other infectious diseases common to the tropics , compared with other rival hotspot destinations. Basically, Patagonia can proudly boast that the only thing its visitors can catch is a cold (given the cold weather, of course). It is especially good news for trypanophobics, as no vaccinations are needed to travel! However, the US’ Center for Disease Control (CDC) does recommend getting the routine vaccines any traveller should havebefore every trip, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and the yearly flu shot.
5. The safest destination in the Southern Cone. Granted, Latin America still has a bad rep given its political and economic history, regardless of tourism booming in the past decade. Tourists continue to hear horror stories of people trapped in the middle of gang crossfires in Mexico, being kidnapped in Central America, or falling victim to money scams in Brazil and Argentina. Luckily, Patagonia has always been detached from the rest of Latin America as far as crime goes. Like any other destinations, it’s got its petty thieves and occasional armed robberies, yet violent crimes against tourists are rare. Visitors just need to exercise common sense and be cautious with their personal belongings, avoid wandering alone at nights in rough neighbourhoods. Nonetheless, tourists continue ranking the South American region as one of the safest tourist destination on earth, according to Lonely Planet magazine.