The Best Time to Hike Patagonia (And What Seasons To Avoid) - Mountain IQ

The Best Time to Hike Patagonia (And What Seasons To Avoid)

Best time to hike Patagonia-Bridge

Since some of the best features of trekking in the wilderness can be the wildlife, or the remote and extraordinary scenery, we have included both these factors in our assessment of the best time to hike Patagonia.

Other factors which might influence your decision on when to plan your trip are the number of fellow tourists you can expect to encounter, as well as the option of other adventure activities, such as skiing.

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Best Time to Trek in Patagonia: Factors & Seasons

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In short, if you are coming simply to hike, the best time to visit is between November and March, when the weather is warm and comfortable – however, look out for extremely strong wind speeds.

You may want to hike in the shoulder months during spring and fall (September-October and April-May), when the wind has died down, the hostels’ prices are lower and the wildlife is more visibly active. This period is colder, but you will have access to some unique and spectacular scenery.

If you happen to be visiting during the winter, don’t miss seeing the Perito Moreno glacier, and visit the Bariloche for some of the best skiing on the continent.

Climate

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As mentioned above, because of Patagonia’s size, it is impossible to provide accurate weather predictions about Patagonia as a whole. Different regions within the area experience disparate microclimates, so you might encounter temperatures or rainfalls far outside the region’s average.

The Patagonian climate is dependent on the South Pacific westerly air currents which travel across the Andes and lose much of their humidity. By the time they reach the Patagonia, the air is dry and the wind speed is largely unpredictable.

However, Patagonia can be divided into two primary climatic zones – the northern and southern.

The northern region is generally warmer, sunnier and experiences less dramatic wind, while the more southern sections get a lot colder and experience heavy snow falls and frosts during the winter.

Taking these trends into consideration, it is important to check the annual climate statistics for the specific places that you plan on visiting before you decide when to visit.

Generally, however, summer is generally regarded as the best time to trek in Patagonia if you only consider the weather. The days are pleasant (around 20C) and the nights are manageable (around 10C) (although precautions must be taken for the significant wind chill factor).

There is, however, a fair case to be made that November and December are better months to travel to Patagonia in order to avoid the potentially devastating winds, which may reach up to 120 km/h.

We strongly advise against going between June and August, during the winter months, during which the temperatures are bitterly cold and many of the main trekking attractions are closed, notably Torres del Paine.

Crowds

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Because of the relatively moderate climate, it is most popular to travel in Patagonia during the summer. Thus, if you are looking for total seclusion, then you might want to look at visiting Patagonia during the shoulder months: from mid-November to mid-December and again from mid-March until the end of April.

These periods will require for you to bring along warmer clothing but will reward you with spectacular blooms in the spring, and gorgeous auburn colours and dazzling sunsets in the autumn.

As mentioned above, these months also have the advantage of not being so incredibly windy.

Another advantage to avoiding the crowded peak season is that the costs of the hostels are reduced during off-season. This will cumulatively make a significant difference, especially if you are planning to stay in the region for a while.

However, it must be said that even in the busiest summer months, the region is so expansive that you will never feel overwhelmed by crowds.

The hikes will always be relatively peaceful and you may actually enjoy encountering a friendly face every now and then. The only real crowd-related difficulty that you will experience during summer is the filled-up hostels, so just make sure that you book accommodation long in advance.

Wildlife Watching

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One of the highlights of visiting Patagonia is the opportunity to see a variety of exotic wildlife.

Rheas, guanacos, pudus, puma and condors are just a few of the incredible species that you might come across.

While most of the animals are technically active all year round, your best chance of seeing them is during off-peak tourism months when the shy animals tend to emerge.

This means that the shoulder months and the winter time promise a greater chance of glimpsing something exciting.

If you are keen to see the overwhelmingly populated pods of Southern right whales, head to Valdes Peninsula between the end of May and December. Here, you will likely also spot orcas, dusky dolphins and elephant and fur seals throughout the year.

Winter Options

trekking in patagonia

Although trekking Patagonia during winter is limited (because many of the trails are inaccessible) and logistically challenging, if you do happen to find yourself in Patagonia during the winter there are certain excursions which you should not miss.

The Perito Moreno glacier is located in Los Glaciares National Park, which is worth visiting even in isolation.

While in the summer months the park offers a sprawling variety of trekking options, the winter glaciers are also magnificent to behold. If you are in the vicinity, these are not to be missed.

Skiing is one of the most attractive winter options in Patagonia. The region around Bariloche is absolutely breath-taking, and it offers a wide range of activities.

Although you would have to wait for summer to experience any of the kayaking, mountain biking or hiking, during winter you will have access to the largest ski slopes on the entire continent. The town also offers some of the most delectable cuisine, including the best chocolate in South America.

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Summary of the Seasons

Patagonia-Torres-Del-Paine

Spring

Duration: Late September to end of November

Overview: Warm days and cold nights. Good for hiking. High winds and possibility of rain (particularly during September). Less crowded, better prices at hotels and hostels. Experience beautiful spring colours, high chance of spotting wildlife.

Average Temperatures: Lows around 36F (2C), highs around 64F (18C) (these figures vary) 

Rainfall: High chance during September and early October, average around 40 mm

Daylight: Between 12 hours and 17 hours each day

Wind speed: Generally, around 15 – 20 km/h

Summer

Duration: December until early March

Overview: Warm days and cool nights, good for hiking. Incredibly strong winds, possibility of rain, crowded hostels (book early) and lower chance of spotting wildlife.

Average Temperatures: Lows around 41F (5C), highs around 72F (22C) (these figures vary) 

Rainfall: Average between 60 mm and 75 mm

Daylight: Between 13 hours and 17 hours each day

Wind speed: Can reach up to 120 km/h

Fall

Duration: Late March until May

Overview: Cool days and cold nights, low wind, possibility of rain and even snow during May. Better time for spotting wildlife, fewer crowds. Better prices at hotels and hostels. Experience breath-taking sunsets. Still good for hiking.

Average Temperatures: Lows around 32F (0C), highs around  50F (10C) (these figures vary) 

Rainfall: High change of rain towards the end of the season, average up to 90 mm

Daylight: Between 8 hours and 11 hours each day

Wind speed: Generally, around 15 – 20 km/h

Winter

Duration: June until early September

Overview: Cold in the day and freezing at night, low wind speed, high likelihood of rain and snow storms. Not suitable for hiking – many tracks are inaccessible. Fewer crowds, good wildlife spotting. Visit Perito Moreno glacier, and Bariloche. Skiing is best during August and September. Logistically more challenging to travel.

Temperatures: Lows around 28F (-2C), highs around 43F (6C) (these figures vary) 

Rainfall: High chance of rain, average as high as 100m in certain regions

Daylight: Between 8 hours and 12 hours each day

Wind speed: Generally, around 15 – 20 km/h

References

Wiki, Britanica 

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About the Author Mark Whitman

Mark has trekked extensively in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. He founded Mountain IQ in 2014 with the sole aim to be the best online information portal to some of the most popular mountain destinations around the world. When not writing for Mountain IQ, Mark is out exploring the outdoors with his wife!

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