In Patagonia it’s all about the wind. It can blow hard even on a nice summer’s day when temps hit a balmy 60 degrees, but the wind blows at 60 mph.
Weather here is so unpredictable that when tourists ask Torres Del Paine National Park rangers what the weather will be, they roll their eyes and say, “don’t ask us, this is Patagonia.”
If you love adventure trekking there is no more spectacular place on the planet than Patagonia. Don’t ask the question if you should go, but rather, when.
The better question is whether you should go to Southern Chile/Argentina in summer or during the shoulder seasons. Tusker’s answer is to offer shoulder season treks in November and March to Chile’s Torres Del Paine and Argentina’s Los Glaciares and Mount Fitzroy National Parks.
Patagonia lies close to the tip of South America where the Andes drop off into the Antarctic. It’s a land of immaculately wind chiseled peaks, blue glacial lakes and boggy pampas grasses. Patagonian winter is a no go; the wind is insane in July-August when snow closes most of the circuit loop trails in Torres Del Paine. If you like backcountry skiing then this is the right season for you.
Tusker opts to visit Torres Del Paine National Park in early November and early March which is the end of summer and fall respectively in South America. It’s arguably the best times to trek Patagonia as the winds are less fierce and constant while temperatures hover in the 50s.
The summer season (Jan.-Feb.) is when most people visit the parks and sometimes wind can blow up to 100 miles per hour. Compared to the United States most popular parks (Yosemite, Yellowstone) traffic is light given Patagonia’s end of this world location so don’t let summer season peak fears detour you.
Why November? Why March?
Tusker’s Nov. 5-13 trip to Torres Del Paine in 2018 is timed to take advantage of the diminished winds and the increasing spring colors. By November the Chilean Fire Bush trees have fully bloomed providing a startling contrast to the park’s grey rock/blue water/white glacier canvas. These trees are ridiculously red with their trumpet elongated tubes a dinner invitation to any hungry hummingbird.
If you like bright foliage when you hike, the fall trip in March is a full Technicolor trek. Patagonia’s hardwood forests change colors with bright yellows and reds that provide tremendous contrast to the granite and sedimentary cliff faces soaring above the forests. Birds are in migration and you are more likely to see wildlife moving about the park after the summer crowds have receded.
If you’re a photographer, pro or amateur, spring and fall is when you should be in southern Patagonia.
The good outdoor life
Trekking in southern Patagonia is a game changer. Sure it’s a cliché but we will say it anyway, there is no other place like it left. The combination of Torres Del Paine’s majestic throne like peaks offset by glaciers and lakes make it other-worldly. To have a network of excellent trails to explore this bounty and share it with the puma and guanaco is beyond special. If the wind isn’t blowing and the lakes are mirrors you better pinch yourself because you’re damn lucky you’re living the good outdoor life.