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Traveling to Patagonia in autumn can be risky but can also be the best decision you’ve made in your life. Sure, it’s colder, and the weather is statistically more unpredictable in the fall season.
But, when you lay your eyes on Patagonian landscapes sprinkled with bright red, orange, yellow, and pink trees, you’ll likely forget all about the temperature and be swept away by some of the most beautiful scenes you’ve ever seen.
Looking at a map of Latin America, you’ll find Patagonia in the far south – meaning that autumn happens in March and April, during the time the rest of the world is experiencing spring.
In my recent trip to Patagonia in autumn, I truly got the best of both worlds. During my W Trek in Torres del Paine, Patagonia bore her true self to us and presented so much snow, rain, and wind that at times we questioned if it was worth it.
But at the end of our trek when the weather cleared up, the beauty was so incredible it was overwhelming. Like, honestly overwhelming – it was a sensory overload in the best of ways. We got fantastic weather for the rest of our two week Patagonia itinerary, and felt so lucky to be able to walk among the most colorful forests I’ve ever seen (not to mention the most beautiful and dramatic mountains and sweeping panoramic views!)
So anyway, there’s an inherent risk in going to Patagonia in autumn – but there’s a weather risk here all year! I truly think Autumn is the best time to go to Patagonia, and I’ll tell you my five main reasons why here. But, in that there’s always a risk factor, I’ll also tell you five important things to know before you go!
5 Reasons to Go to Patagonia in Autumn
Patagonia in Autumn: Fall Colors
Well this one should be the most obvious! Patagonia is debatably one of the most breathtaking places to go in Autumn, due to the type of trees that grow all over the landscape. These trees all turn color in the brightest possible way. The trees turn every color from candy apple red to bright orange and deep yellow, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason which trees change color first. This gives you a speckled landscape of all different colored trees right next to each other, with dots of orange or yellow in a sea of red or green. It’s pretty spectacular!
I was so mind blown by the colors on one of my hiking days that I actually went up and picked leaves off a few trees. And it turned out my suspicions were correct – a single leaf could be up to three colors at the same time! The one I picked up faded perfectly from red to orange to yellow around the outsides, and I just put it in my pocket and laughed to myself at another of nature’s lovely creations.
Patagonia in Autumn: Less People/Less Crowded
If you visit Patagonia in Autumn, there are far less people than there can be in summer! So for those of you who hate crowds… this is your time. Depending on where in Patagonia you go, it can be more or less crowded, but as a universal rule it is MUCH more crowded in summer by people who can’t handle the cold. So if you can brave cooler temperatures, you will be rewarded by a LOT more of the mountains and viewpoints to yourself and less crowded hotels/hostels/refugio’s. That’s a win in my book!
Patagonia in Autumn: Incredible Views
If you get a good day, the views here can be absolutely, jaw-on-the-floor status breathtaking. Like, the kind of breathtaking that actually takes your breath out of your lungs. I was overwhelmed by beauty more times in Patagonia in two weeks than I can remember in my entire life, and you know what made those views that much better?
The red, pink, yellow, and orange trees. That’s right, fall colors enhance already-amazing views and make them…. a word that doesn’t exist in the English language. you’ll see what I mean. I promise.
Patagonia in Autumn: Possibility of Snow-Capped Mountains
If you’re in Patagonia in Autumn, chances are that some winter weather has already started making headway into the region. And this means SNOW! I don’t think it would really be Patagonia if there wasn’t at least a little bit of snow (I mean I got more than I bargained for, but hey…).
In Patagonia in Autumn, you may get some snow where you are depending where you go. But, there’s a better possibility that clouds will clear the morning after a storm and leave you with beautiful and picturesque snow-topped mountains all around you!
As a photographer I was obviously stoked when our tour guide told us all the snow at the top of the mountains had only just appeared. My photos looked amazing, and the snow only enhanced them! And snow topped mountains are other-worldly for sunrises, because they always turn pink as the sun comes up. Trust me on this and be up for a sunrise or two – which shouldn’t be hard because sunrise in Patagonia in Autumn is around 8:30am! If that’s not another selling point, I don’t know what is!
Patagonia in Autumn: You Get to Sleep In
Like I just mentioned, Patagonia in autumn has a bit less light than the rest of the year, being at the complete end of the earth and all 😉 In March and April, sunrise will be around 8:30am! So basically, you get to sleep in every day, but also don’t lose out on much hiking time because the sunset is still arounf 6:30-7pm. The daylight hours are plenty to get whatever hiking or adventures you need to get done, while also allowing you some extra time in the mornings.
There are also TONS of Tours to do Year-Round!
5 Things to Know Before You Go to Patagonia in Autumn
Patagonia in Autumn: Prepare for WET.
That’s right, if you get some weather in Patagonia in autumn, you might get some WEATHER. as I have always said, Patagonia is a beautiful creature, but she is NOT a gentle one. When her wrath is unleashed, you best be prepared.
Prepare for getting wet, and getting wet everywhere. I’m not saying it WILL happen, but it could. It happened to me. I would say the best thing you could have is a really solid plastic rain poncho, and wear it over a waterproof hiking jacket. Waterproof pants would be good (I didn’t have this, just a long poncho). DEFINITELY have a waterproof cover for your backpack, and extra plastic bags for valuables. Water will find a way in your shoes no matter what, but waterproof hiking boots would be a good move.
Patagonia in Autumn: Prepare for COLD.
Yeah, you’ll want to have plenty of layers at your disposal. The temperatures get very cold, and can dip below freezing at night. Wind also intensifies the cold.
For trekking, have a bottom layer that is water-absorbent. A down jacket would be good over that (if not one more long sleeve in between), with an all-weather waterproof jacket on top. I rarely needed all these layers (besides once in a really cold refugio during a trek when I wasn’t moving) but they’re good to have if need be! As far as bottoms go, I just wore long jackets and 1-2 pairs of tights. Many people wear long underwear as a bottom layer. Have gloves, a hat, and lots of socks if you need to double up.
I met a lot of people who had great weather trekking in Patagonia in Autumn, but you really don’t want to get caught unprepared here! Better safe than sorry… er, soaked.Patagonia in Autumn: 5 Reasons to Go and 5 Things to Know Click To Tweet
Patagonia in Autumn: Prepare for WIND
The wind is quite famous here in Patagonia. It’s relentless, strong, and loud, and has blown over LOTS of things, like people, trees, and even BUSSES – yes, I am serious.
You’ll get to know the wind when you get to Patagonia in Autumn, as it may even wake you in the night or shake the building you are it to the point of it being slightly concerning.
Our guide told us on one stretch of the W Trek in Torres del Paine that if a big gust of wind came, to duck and shield yourself until it had passed. This is because he has blown over multiple times and it’s safer to do this. So yeah, that might give you a good idea of the magnitude of Patagonian wind…. and if you think about wind like that blowing cold rain into your face… yeah. That could happen too. Preparation is key!
Patagonia in Autumn: Things to Think About for Camping
Depending on your plans in Patagonia, you may or may not have the option arise to camp on certain treks. It’s cheaper this way, but in my opinion, far more uncomfortable.
We ran into lots of camping groups on the W Trek and the Fitz Roy trek, And I honestly felt for them. If you consider below freezing temperatures, strong wind, and rain/snow, camping is quite the nightmare. If you do camp, just make sure that you have proper gear that is made for freezing temperatures and can buckle down into the ground well. Lots of campers put hot bottles of water into their sleeping bags at night to keep warm.
Then again, it might me a good idea just to stay in refugios, and do a tour like I did with ChileTourPatagonia where it was all set up for you. I was so happy I did! My tip would be not to camp in Patagonia in autumn – save camping for an eventual summer trip.
Patagonia in Autumn: Less Frequency of Some Transport
Sometimes, busses and transport run less frequently in Patagonia in Autumn. Most services will continue at least up until May, where services, accommodation, refugios, and many busses will drop off quite steeply especially in the Southern part of Chilean/Argentinian Patagonia.
This is not really a big deal, but maybe book your busses a few days in advance to make sure you get the spot you want. And if it’s May and especially June – the end of autumn in Patagonia – many people take their holidays at this time so places could get even more empty. I traveled through northern Argentiniatn Patagonia in May, and many places were like a ghost town. If you come to Patagonia in autumn, late March and April are the best months.
Hope you enjoyed these tips on Patagonia in autumn! Pin it if you did!