The weather in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego is a mix of sun, rain, snow, and wind. With the right planning, you can maximize your sunny, bluebird days and forgo trekking in the snow.
Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, aka the Southern Cone of South America, is famous for its remoteness, wild beauty, and, yes, crazy weather. But with a bit of planning, you can avoid the gnarly winds and snowstorms that scare away most armchair travelers, and hike under clear blue skies.
Unless you’re a skiier, you want to visit Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego during their non-winter months: October through April. If you’re planning doing a particularly challenging trek (like the Torres del Paine Circuit Trek or Cerro FitzRoy), you’ll want to be hiking between November and March.
Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Park (with Cerro Torre, FitzRoy, and Perito Moreno Glacier) all experience very similar weather. In the height of summer (December through February) temperatures can reach 75°F during the day and get down to 40 – 35°F at night. But this is a bit misleading, because in the Andes, weather can change unpredictable many times in one day. The saying goes that you can have all four seasons in one day. It’s not usually that dramatic, but it’s good to know that rain (and snow in the shoulder season) is always a possibility.
The day can also bring in, sometimes very powerful, gusts of wind and then turn back to bright sunshine with blue skies. But the weather changes quickly, so it’s easier (mentally at least) to continue hiking knowing that rain or wind may only last ten minutes. You may have to strip down to a tee-shirt and a baseball cap right after a windy spell. Also, if you absolutely abhor wind, try to travel earlier in the summer, like October, November, or early-December when wind is less of an issue.
Further south, the weather in Tierra del Fuego is also prone to fluctuations and quick changes. Still, the weather is not as severe as people think, since mountains and the sea temper the winds and the temperature. In summer, the average daytime temperature is is 64°F and 50°F at night. The average winter temperature (July/August) is 34°F.
For that reason, all trekkers and day hikers should carry a daypack with a waterproof/windproof layer or shell; a light fleece or sweater; and hat. Also, be sure to layer adequately so you can pare down your clothing when necessary. Thin, high-quality wool base layers are especially handy for keeping you cozy when it’s cold and aired out when it’s warm. Those walking around coastal areas should pack water-resistant or waterproof shoes — no matter what the weather’s like outside, dry shoes are always appreciated.
Overall, it’s best to plan a trip that gives you at least a few days in each area if you want the best views and photos. You’ll be awfully bummed out if you only scheduled one day to visit Torres del Paine and it happened to be socked in with rain. A 5 to 7 day trip to the Southern Cone should give you lots of good photo opps and time to enjoy the scenery (though longer is always better when visiting this far-flung destination).
Detour can help you plan your ideal Patagonia trip, from an expedition wildlife cruise to a multi-day trek, and provide expert advice along the way. To get started, just call us or request a trip from our Patagonia catalog.