December is generally a beautiful weather month in Patagonia. In central areas, you can expect daily highs to linger in the 60s. Further north, temperatures may creep in the 70s, while in the south, they may fall to the mid-50s. In other words, this an ideal time to travel throughout the region.
Keep in mind that summer is when Patagonia's infamous winds pick up, and you should always be prepared for a range of microclimates. It's best to bring some warm layers for chilly weather and waterproof gear in case of rain while out on the trail.
Crowds & Costs
Welcome to high season. Many international tourists wait until summer to travel to Patagonia to experience the best weather for outdoor activities, so you'll start to see more people this time of year, especially in the latter half of the month.
During this energetic time, visitors begin to arrive in droves to journey to Mt. Fitz Roy, Torres del Paine, Tierra del Fuego, and Cape Horn in Southern Patagonia, which held off a lot of tourism during the winter months.
You'll want to make your travel arrangements several months before your trip to beat the rush of tourist groups, especially if traveling over the holidays. Your best bet for avoiding crowds and high season prices is to come at the beginning of December.
Where to Go
Now that Patagonia is up and running for the summer, this is your chance to get here before the holiday crowds pop up. Torres del Paine—a UNESCO-listed park—usually ranks high on the list for travelers to Chile with staggering peaks, glaciers, and turquoise lakes, along with rare wildlife like guanacos and pumas. This is one of the most beloved places in South America, yet thanks to its remote Patagonian location and limited lodging choices, it receives only a fraction of the Machu Picchu crowds.
On the Argentina side, Los Glaciares is another UNESCO-listed park that can hold your attention for days. For those who want to accomplish both parks, there are plenty of trip options that combine the two, like this itinerary: Trekking in Chilean and Argentine Patagonia.
Beyond this, there are countless wild fjords, channels, and islands to explore below the park on the southern tip of the continent, and now is the time to do it. This is where the Andean mountains meet the sea for truly unspoiled surroundings like no other place in the world—a great option for unplugging. You can also join a cruise that sails through the Magellanic fjords and channels to glaciers in the Southern Ice Field, or hit the main attractions of Tierra del Fuego.
What to Do
Options are unlimited this time of year in terms of activities. You can choose between a range of spectacular hikes, glaciers tours, rock-climbing, kayaking, adventure sports, wildlife spotting, and relaxing sightseeing cruises, depending on where you travel.
This is also one of the best months to embark on a multi-day trek in Chile's Torres del Paine, like the popular "W" circuit with views of sharply-defined peaks, azure lakes, and vast ice fields. This is the most accessible trek in the park, while the more challenging "O" circuit beats the crowds on the remote backside. There's also a six-day tour through the Zapata Valley, where paleontology offers a glimpse into Patagonia's prehistoric life while getting closer to lesser-known glaciers and the Southern Patagonia Ice Field.
Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park has its own multi-day treks, like the Huemul Circuit with spectacular panoramas including Viedma Glacier, four times the size of Perito Moreno. You’ll enjoy a remote trekking and camping experience while getting closer to lesser-known glaciers and peaks. Speaking of Perito Moreno, you won't want to miss the chance to book an ice-trekking tour for a unique adventure, or a more relaxing boat tour that allows you to view several glaciers at close range.
In Argentina's Lakes District, Villa La Angostura and San Martin de Los Andes offer a slow pace and small-town charm with plenty of unspoiled natural landscapes for hiking and horseback riding. Also, make sure to take a short stroll through the streets of Bariloche for several famous chocolatiers. Meanwhile, the Chilean Lake District near Pucon offers fantastic adventures such as white water rafting, mountain biking, and hiking. For a special experience, you can also climb the Villarica Volcano and hike in the stunning Huequehue National Park.
Events in December
New Years Eve Fireworks & Street Parties. A staple of New Year’s Eve pretty much anywhere in the world, celebratory fireworks and parties are popular in major Patagonian towns, especially along either coast (Chile's Pacific; Argentina's Atlantic). For instance, head to Argentina's Puerto Madero on the banks of the Rio de la Plata to see fireworks shoot over the river.
Traveling to Patagonia in December? Check out these great itineraries.
Best of Southern Patagonia. Start with penguins, horses, and glaciers before entering Torres del Paine National Park for three days of guided tours. Then head across the border for Los Glaciares National Park where you'll go ice trekking and partake in several jaw-dropping trails near Mt. Fitz Roy.
Relaxing Adventure in Patagonia. This exciting 12-day itinerary explores key highlights of Patagonia (in both countries) at a relaxed pace. After a day in Chile's capital, fly south to Puerto Natales, a port city that acts as the jumping on/off point for Torres del Paine—one of the most famous national parks in the world.