Welcome to Chilean Patagonia
The most famous region of Chile, Chilean Patagonia offers all the dramatic landscape one would expect from the world’s ultimate land’s end.
In Patagonia the South American continent falls into the ocean in a dazzling explosion of islands, glaciers, icebergs and mountains. Chilean Patagonia is composed of two sub regions, the northern Aisen and to the south, Magellanes. Aisen is home to the National Park Laguna San Rafael while Magellanes hosts the incomparable National Park Torres del Paine. Isolated from the rest of Chile by fierce storms and impassable mountains, Magallanes can be reached only by air, or overland from Argentina. On the Pacific side of the Magellan strait is the city of Punta Arenas, first made prosperous during the California gold rush and later a centre for Chile’s wool industry. Among the region’s wondrous sights are the spectacular Torres del Paine mountain range, rising to 9000 feet, Cascada Paine (Paine Falls) at 6300 feet, the hypnotic waterfalls of Salto Chico and Salto Grande, the Grey, Pingo and del Frances glaciers, the Pehoe, Nordenskjold, Sarmiento, Pingo and Dickson lakes, and the Verde and Azul lagoons.
The fjords, glaciers and magnificent scenery of the Patagonian region are what attract visitors to this vast wilderness territory. The north, or Aisén region, can be likened to the Inside Passage of Alaska or New Zealand's Fjordland on South Island with its dramatic ice and waterway scenery. Southern Patagonia or Magallanes, is rugged, mountainous and stormy.
It was nearly 500 years ago that Ferdinand Magellan guided four ships through the treacherous passages that are still today thought of as the End of the World. Today Patagonia is inhabited by nearly 2 million people, but is still almost entirely made up of pristine and untouched nature.
Information & Facts
The Chilean Patagonia experiences much less severe weather conditions than one might think with the east slope featuring a warmer climate than the west. In the extreme south of Chilean Patagonia the weather is moderated by its proximity to the ocean and small variety in temperature from season to season is experienced. The months of April and May are the wettest with reliable snowfall from June through until September. The depletion of the ozone layer over the South Pole is a growing concern and is thought to be the reason for blindness and skin cancer in sheep in the Tierra del Fuego. Travellers visiting the Chilean Patagonia are advised to bring plenty of sunscreen, regardless of the time of year.
The official language is Spanish.
The local currency is the Chilean Peso (CLP), which is divided into 100 centavos. Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club and to a lesser extent, American Express, are accepted in most large shops and hotels. Travellers cheques, particularly in US Dollars, are welcome in major towns, where there are banks and cambiosoffering currency exchange services. ATMs are widely available.
Mainland is GMT -4 (GMT -3 from October to March). Easter Island is GMT -6 (GMT -5 from October to March).