Driving to the end of the world is any road tripper’s dream. The route to the southernmost city in the world passes through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world through Patagonia and culminates at Ushuaia, Argentina. Any further south and you would be driving across the ocean to Antarctica. The awe-inspiring sights from north to south in Patagonia include the Los Glaciares National Park, Fitz Roy, Torres Del Paine and finally, the city of Ushuaia itself.
Most tourists begin a road trip with a car rental in Chile’s capital city of Santiago. From there, a popular route is to cross over into Argentina and pick up the famous “Ruta 40” (Route 40) which is very similar to the United States’ Route 66. Traveling south, the first popular tourist destination is to stop at is El Chalten; the gateway town to Fitz Roy. The clothing company Patagonia uses this mountain as their logo for good reason. The mountain itself is only 11,000 feet high but is nearly all vertical. Most of the visitors here do a three to four day hike that sees the best sights of the mountain mastiff. This includes waking up before sunrise to hike up to a lake that is at the base of the 6,000 foot vertical rock wall. In the end, a hike here is one that will never be forgotten.
After visiting Fitz Roy, the Los Glaciares National Park is a short 2-3 hour drive south from El Chalten. This glacier system incorporates 47 separate glaciers and is the world’s largest glacier system outside of Antarctica and Greenland. The most popular glacier to visit within the national park is the Perito Moreno Glacier. Tourists here can drive up to the welcome center and park their rental car. From there, boat tours are available and take tourists up to the glacier, which has an average height of 240 feet (73 meters) and is around 3 miles (5 kilometers) in length. When chunks of ice the size of 10 story buildings crash into the water will make anyone appreciate the power of nature.
After a day or two of exploring the glacier, many road trippers continue on south to Puerto Natales which is the gateway to the majestic Torres Del Paine. Tourists here have the option of doing a 10-12 day circuit around the mountain chain or to do a shorter trek, called the “W Trek” for the shape of the hike. A hike here is unlike any other on earth. During much of the year, wind speeds can easily approach 100 MPH (160KPH). Snow, rain, wind gusts and clear blue skies can all be had in an hours worth of hiking, which makes this one of the most amazing hikes in South America.
The final stop on the road trip is in the capital of Tierra Del Fuego, Ushuaia. This is the southernmost city on the planet. The only land south of the city is uninhabited wilderness followed by Antarctica. This is the closest city you can get to Antarctica. Many tourists to Patagonia arrive in Ushuaia hoping for last minute cruises to Antarctica, which can be greatly discounted. Besides last minute cruises, this town is very close to the Tierra Del Fuego National park, which is the southernmost national park in the world. Visitors here can also visit a penguin colony outside of town, which is a major tourist attraction.
In the end, Patagonia has so much to offer any lucky tourist that is able to make it to the end of the world. There is so much to do and so much natural beauty to be seen in southern Chile and Argentina. Glaciers and magnificent mountain ranges dominate the landscape; the most magnificent being the Perito Moreno Glacier, Fitz Roy and Torres Del Paine. Any great road trip either begins here or ends at Tierra Del Fuego’s capital, Ushuaia.