Argentine Patagonia vs Chilean Patagonia: What is the difference?

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Senior Latin America Travel Designer

Patagonia is a vast region covering both southern Chile and Argentina and we’re often asked if there is a significant difference between the two countries, or if one is ‘better’ than the other. We look at the similarities and differences in this quick guide.

Differences in Scenery

In terms of overall scenery, it’s somewhat similar throughout with extremely impressive mountain ranges, granite peaks, glacial lakes, icebergs and glaciers as well as vast flat open land, known as the ‘estepa’ or ‘Patagonian steppe’. The exception here is with the famous ‘Perito Moreno’ glacier, which is the largest glacier in Patagonia and is found near El Calafate, Argentina.

Argentina - Perito Moreno
El Calafate, Argentina
Chile - Patagonia - Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine, Chile

Infrastructure and Logistics

The difference between the two areas is more obvious in the infrastructure, logistics and cost for visiting the two areas.

For example, in Chile one of the biggest national parks in Patagonia, Torres del Paine, is extremely remote and accommodation consists of mainly all-inclusive lodges. Naturally, including meals, drinks, transport, guided excursions and accommodation, a stay here is typically more expensive than visiting a similar area on the Argentine side, known as the Fitz Roy National Park near the town El Chalten. While there is now one remote all-inclusive lodge near El Chalten, most of the accommodation here is in town and thus sold on a breakfast-only basis, and many of the hiking trails are well sign posted and start in the town centre, so there’s not as much need for guides and pre-arranged transport.


For keen hikers, a typical trip to the Argentine side of Patagnoia would include a few nights in El Calafate to see the Perito Moreno glacier as well as local estancias, followed by a few nights in El Chalten for some of the epic hikes available in the region.

For Chile, a typical route would involve a longer stay (usually 4-6 nights) in Torres del Paine National Park on an all-inclusive basis.


Final thoughts

Both of these places can be combined for a full Patagonia experience, starting in Santiago and finishing in Buenos Aires (or vice-versa). For an extended trip, consider visiting the Iguazu Falls and on to Rio for a few nights, or visiting the Atacama Desert before heading down to Patagonia. Finally, an Antarctic cruise is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the perfect Patagonia add-on to a guaranteed action-packed adventure with scenery you’ll never forget.

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