Summer in Patagonia brings the warmest temperatures of the year, therefore January lures flocks of visitors to the region from all over the world. That being said, temperatures vary quite a bit given Patagonia's large size in both Chile and Argentina.
In Southern Patagonia, daily highs typically linger in the mid-50s, dropping the 40s at night, making this an ideal time to head to popular spots like Torres del Paine National Park, Los Glaciares National Park, Isla Magdalena, Ushuaia, and Tierra del Fuego. Northern Patagonia, for its part, can warm up to the high 60s or mid-70s during the day making this prime weather for hiking and lake activities in Bariloche or Puerto Montt.
Keep in mind that summer months are also when Patagonia's infamous winds pick up, sometimes without warning—it's best to bring some layers and light outdoor gear suitable for rain and wind.
Crowds & Costs
Summer in Patagonia offers the best climate for a slew of outdoor adventures, so you should expect to see the most crowds this time of year. That makes January an expensive time to travel and presents more challenges with hotel reservations—especially since there's fewer options in this remote part of the world—not to mention the potential problem of overbooked hotels.
All this to say, you'll want to make travel arrangements several months in advance this time of year, especially in Southern Patagonia, which tends to empty out during the offseason.
To balance it out, if you're flying in/out of Santiago or Buenos Aires, make sure to tack on a few days as January offers some of the best prices for both cities this time of the year while locals take summer vacations.
Where to Go
Travelers this month will benefit from longer daytime hours, especially in Patagonia's far south (about 15 hours a day). This is a great time of year to head to the attractions while the weather is in your favor. A major draw of in the Chilean portion of Patagonia is Torres del Paine National Park when you'll have a good chance at seeing wildlife, though bigger crowds may drive some species away to lesser-visited areas of the park. Meanwhile, the Chilean Lake District in Northern Patagonia offers scenic volcanoes, excellent hiking opportunities, and charming towns like Puerto Varas with German heritage.
For a lesser-known alternative in Chilean Patagonia, consider taking a road trip through the Carretera Austral. This quintessential route extends 769 miles long (1,240 km) from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins on a partially-paved, yet otherwise dirt-and-gravel road through lakes, jungles, glaciers, hot springs, snow-capped peaks, and wide open valleys. You can even take a detour to explore the Marble Caves—highly recommended, especially via kayak.
As for Argentine Patagonia, you'll likely want to consider the town of El Chalten—the perfect starting point for hikes with a number of trailheads just outside of town that offer wonderful panoramic views of world-famous peaks like Fitz Roy, Poincenot, and Torre. Closer to the town of El Calafate, you'll be able to day-trip to Perito Moreno in Los Glaciares National Park. Here you can see a range of glaciers from a number of different vantage points via the network of wooden walkways strategically situated in front of Perito Moreno. Meanwhile, the Argentine Lake District in Northern Patagonia offers excellent scenery as well as hiking and kayaking opportunities.
What to Do
There's are numerous activities to enjoy all over Patagonia during the summer months, including fantastic day hikes, challenging multi-day treks, glacier boat tours, and opportunities to play with penguins. Adrenaline junkies who seek activities such as white-water rafting, zip-lining, skydiving, and horseback riding will want to head for Chile's Lake District, especially near Pucon.
Argentine Patagonia also offers plenty of hiking, cycling, kayaking, in its Lake District, as well as and glacier-trekking, horseback riding, and boating through waterways and fjords near Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. In fact, a number of cruises are available in Patagonia's Southern Fjords—a great way to relax and unplug.
Events in January
Fiesta de la Cereza. This annual festival in Patagonia's Los Antiguos (Argentina) is held during the 2nd week of January and offers rodeos, live music and the crowning of the national Cherry Queen. Look for artisan goods and peñas folklóricas (folk-music concerts) that can continue until the wee hours of the morning.
Semanas Musicales. All month long in Chile's Lake District town of Frutillar, you can find prestigious international acts ranging from classical to hip-hop in the town's Teatro de Frutillar.
Festival Nacional de la Esquila. This Rio Mayo (Argentina) festival each January features guanaco shearing and merino-wool-quality competitions in preparation for the main event: the crowning of the national sheep-shearing queen.
Muestra Cultural Mapuche. This six-day festival in Chile's Lake District includes artisans, indigenous music, and ritual dance.
Traveling to Patagonia in January? Check out these great itineraries.
Trekking in Chilean & Argentina Patagonia. Experience the best treks in Patagonia on this 15-day adventure, including two UNESCO-listed national parks. Start off in Argentina's Los Glaciares with 13 major glaciers and the iconic Mt. Fitz Roy. Across the border, you'll take the "W Trek" in Chile's Torres del Paine for snow-capped peaks, thundering waterfalls, and turquoise lakes. Kick off the whole trip in Buenos Aires for some big-city culture.
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. Here, you'll hike and stay two nights at a luxury eco-camp before crossing the border for the best glaciers in Argentina.