You are here

5 Alternative Stops in Patagonia

Published 17 August 2016

Kate Martin-Williams

Kate Martin-Williams

Often coined as ‘The End of the World,’ being only 761 miles from Antarctica, Chilean Patagonia is home to some of the world’s most extreme and varying landscapes. Far away from modern civilisation and the hustle and bustle of today’s hectic world, this part of Chile is filled with days to remember and scenery you'll never forget. The Torres Del Paine National Park is the region’s most famous attraction, with hikers and nature lovers flocking to complete the most popular ‘W’ trek in the summer months. To me though, the beauty of Chilean Patagonia is not just limited to this amazing national park; here are five alternative Patagonian destinations that I have visited, and you should too!

Marble Caves, Patagonia

Image: Kate Martin-Williams

Marble Caves

Caves are found all over the world but in my opinion the Marble Caves, or ‘Cuevas de Marmol’, found three miles from Puerto Rio Tranquillo and located in Lake General Carrera, are the ones you should go out of your way to see.

To reach the caves you will need access to a boat. My companion and I hired a boat and a driver from one of the many stalls on the Puerto Rio Tranquillo beach front, costing us 6000 Chilean pesos (about £7) for around two and a half hours. Once onboard, the 6000-year-old subterranean network fascinated us as we glided through the shimmering azure, floating not only around but also into some of the bigger caves. The most popular, and regarded as the most spectacular, is the Marble Cathedral, which you can glide right into. Trust me, it’s amazing!

The best time to visit is in the summer (November to March). With recent melted glacial water, Lake General Carrera will be the deepest blue and with more or less guaranteed sunshine you’ll never want to leave this magical underground kingdom.

General Carrera Lake

Image: Kate Martin-Williams

General Carrera Lake

Despite being the location of the Marble Caves, General Carrera Lake deserves a paragraph all of its own. Upon seeing the lake for the first time, my companion and I were so completely and utterly stunned that we had to stop for a few moments and get out of our car! This lake really is something special – even  on a grey and dreary day elsewhere in Patagonia General Carrera remains sunny due to its own microclimate; the waters are a permanent turquoise, forever glistening in a crystal-like fashion.

As the largest lake in Chile, some 1,850km2, General Carrera appears to go on and on forever; just staring into its depths contented me for hours. By far the best activity to do here, after a visit to the Marble Caves and the odd spot of trout fishing, is just to sit down and take it all in until the sun sets in the distant horizon.

Glacier Exploradores

Image: Kate Martin-Williams

Glacier Exploradores

If you're a fan of hikes and of glaciers then a day trip to the Glacier Exploradores is a must-do whilst you’re in Patagonia. We booked a guided tour, a good option both in terms of safety and because the guides are filled with fascinating information about the glacier. They also provide you with specialist equipment such as crampons and helmets, which are a must when hiking on such a terrain. To start with, we were guided through woodland and lowlands and scrambled over large rocks and boulders, and at one point I did wonder if I was ever going to reach the glacier. But eventually the ground became whiter and crunchier and I was soon putting on my crampons. The never-ending vast whiteness is a picture I won't be forgetting too soon. The round-trip hike is around six hours depending on your level of fitness and how many photos you take (hint: likely to be a lot).

Alerce Andino National Park

Image: Kate Martin-Williams

Alerce Andino National Park

If you are into big trees and have exhausted all that the sequoias and redwoods in North America can offer, a trip below the equator should be your next step. Alerce Andino National Park, created and named in 1982 and just a short distance from nearest city Puerto Montt, is the perfect destination tree enthusiasts and hikers of all levels.

The 800-year-old trees stand among a network of trails, each taking between approximately 20 minutes and three hours to complete.  If you are lucky you may even see a grey fox or a puma on the way, although sightings are rare, and even more so during the daytime.

Due to this part of Patagonia’s temperate weather conditions, trips to Alerce Andino National Park are possible all year round. Like always though, I’d recommend the summer months of November to March to guarantee drier ground and premium walking conditions.

Queulat National Park

Image: Kate Martin-Williams

Queulat National Park

A hanging glacier (a glacier which originates high on a glacial valley and comes to an abrupt stop as the ice reaches an edge, such as a cliff), should be on anyone’s bucket list, and I’m glad it was on mine.

To find one, I headed to Queulat National Park, a 30-minute drive from the fishing town of Puyuhuapi, and one of the few places in Patagonia which man has mostly left untouched. This means firstly that you won’t find yourself surrounded by a sea of tourists, and secondly that you’ll take a step back into a time-warp when nature really did rule mankind.

To reach the best view point of the hanging glacier requires a reasonable level of fitness and stability on your toes, and despite all information provided labelling this hike as easy, I would rather give it the title of moderate, as it entirely uphill. Even so, with the lush green of the forests and views to die for, you’ll be in your own dreamland before you realise that you are out of breath.

As well as being home to this stunning glacier, Queulat National Park also contains fjords, raging waterfalls and a bright green lagoon, plenty to keep you entertained.


To see Patagonia's mountains and glaciers for yourself, chat to your Expert about our tailor-made Chile or Argentina holidays.


You might also like:

5 Things to Do in Chile

5 Epic Hikes Worth Getting Fit For

Select an option below to contact one of our experts now, about anything you need

Alternatively, you can email us, request a call back, or live chat with a consultant

Call free on 0800 707 6010

We're open every day from:
9:00am to 8:00pm Mon-Fri
9:00am to 6:00pm Sat
10:00am to 5:00pm Sun and Public Holidays

We're open every day from:
9:00am to 8:00pm Mon-Fri
9:00am to 6:00pm Sat
10:00am to 5:00pm Sun and Public Holidays

Send us your number and we'll call you back.

Your details

When would you like us to call you?
Your details:

Your details

When would you like us to call you?
When would you like us to call you?
Add additional information?
Speak to us about:
Discuss a Trip List

Live Chat