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How to See the Southern Lights ARGENTINA & CHILE

southern lights argentina chile

Wondering how to see the Southern Lights Argentina & Chile? In this guide, we explain how, when and where you can see the southern lights in Argentina & Chile, plus a few travel tips and tour options.

Home to the most southern town in the entire world, Ushuaia, the region of Patagonia is often overlooked as an aurora viewing destination. This could perhaps be partly because the southern lights (aurora australis) is not a hugely touristy affair to begin with, or more likely because it is overshadowed by its status as a port for Antarctica cruises.

Regardless, Patagonia which comprises the southern tip of Argentina and Chile, does indeed experience the aurora australis and is a region well worth visiting if you are interested in taking a trip to the South American continent or surrounding islands. To learn more about seeing the southern lights in Argentina and Chile, including the best times and place to go, then read on.

Can You See Northern Lights in Argentina & Chile?

Although technically, you can see the northern lights in Argentina and Chile, they are not referred to as the northern lights in the southern hemisphere.

Instead, the natural phenomenon is referred to as the southern lights or the aurora australis. The southern lights can be viewed throughout the southern portion of Patagonia when the weather is good and solar activity is high. In fact, in just the right conditions it is possible to view the southern lights from Tierra del Fuego.

For the most part, people making their way to Argentina for the southern lights, are mostly heading to the port of Ushuaia to catch a cruise to Antarctica. However, if you plan on visiting Patagonia purely to view the southern lights, then you’re going to want to visit from May to July, and make sure you plan your visit for a period of high solar activity.

Ushuaia, Argentina is located at 55° S latitude making it the closest town to Antarctica (South Pole) in the world. However, due to the curve of the auroral oval (which curves away from South America) the distance from Ushuaia to the auroral oval is similar to the distance of Tasmania Australia and New Zealand to the auroral oval, as seen in this auroral map from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Therefore, your chances of seeing the Southern Lights in Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego is not necessarily any better than in Tasmania and New Zealand.

Where Can You See Southern Lights Argentina & Chile?

map southern lights in argentina chile

#1 Ushuaia, Argentina

One of the most popular destinations in South America for viewing the southern lights is Ushuaia, Argentina. It is considered to be the southernmost city in the entire world, and as a result, sees as much as 17 hours of darkness during the peak of winter. The city is also the top destination for cruises to Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, as well as South Georgia Island.

#2 Puerto Williams, Chile

Situated along the shorelines of the Straits of Magellan, you will find Puerto Williams, Chile. It is not far from Ushuaia to Puerto Williams, but the skies over the southern Chile city are generally clearer than they are in Ushuaia. Since the city is home to less than 2000 residents, the light pollution is also extremely low. As a result, it is an excellent destination for those looking to hunt for the elusive lights.

#3 The Falkland Islands

Although not technically in South America, the Falkland Islands are located 400 miles east of the southern tip of Argentina. The island group is home to about 2,500 people and is a popular destination for people looking to view the penguin population. Not only are you able to experience penguins and elephant seals up close and personal, but you are also able to clearly view the aurora australis from the islands. In fact, in 2010 a monitoring system was installed on the island for the exclusive purpose of monitoring the aurora australis. The best time for visiting the Falkland Islands is between April and August.

#4 South Georgia Island

Near the tip of South America, you will also find South Georgia Island. Known as one of the southernmost islands in the world, the destination is surrounded by icy seas for most of the year. However, in March, cruises head out to South Georgia Island on a regular basis. If you are able to withstand the bitter cold of the Antarctic winter, then you are bound to have plenty of opportunities to view the southern lights. Due to conditions, it is simply not safe to visit the island later in the winter than March.

When Can You See Southern Lights Argentina & Chile?

Winter (June – August)

The best time to view the southern lights is in the winter. While the winter season is from December to February and the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere celebrates winter from June to August. During this time of year, the nights are longer and provide ample time to hunt for the elusive lights.

Spring (September – November)

You may also want to visit Patagonia during the springtime which occurs between September and November. The weather during this time of year is much warmer, and therefore visitors require fewer layers of clothing in order to stay warm. Nevertheless, it is an excellent time of year to visit South America and view the many spectacular waterfalls created by the melting winter snows.

Summer (December – February)

During the summer, the further south you go, the longer the days get. Between the months of December and February, it is not advised to visit Patagonia for the purpose of viewing the southern lights. The days are just simply too long to provide any real time to hunt for the aurora australis. Instead, most people visiting the region during the summer, are headed to the ports to take a cruise down to Antarctica.

Autumn (March – May)

The autumn season is very similar to the springtime and occurs between the months of March and May. The weather is warmer during the autumn than it is during the winter, making it more hospitable. You will nevertheless still need to prepare several layers of clothing because it can still get bitterly cold during the nights.

Tours and Cruises to See Southern Lights in Argentina & Chile

The truth is, despite our searching, we could not uncover any tours or cruises for the southern lights in Argentina and Chile at all. Therefore, it seems like your only real options are to go it alone, or if you desperately want a tour, then take one of the Antarctica cruises departing from Ushuaia or Santiago. We understand that this is probably over-the-top for most readers, but if you are curious, below are a couple of the more popular Antarctica cruises departing from Argentina & Chile that will give you a better opportunity of seeing the Southern Lights Aurora Australis than you will from land.

Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica via Ushuaia

Imagine yourself visiting the pristine and untamed beaches of the Falkland Islands, covered with seals and penguins reaching out across the horizon.

This popular 21-day cruise takes you to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Island where you will have the opportunity to view nature as it was always meant to be. Here in this sub-Antarctica wilderness, you will find beaches covered in elephant seals, fur seals, and penguins as far as the eyes can see. You will even learn about the fascinating history of the Falkland Islands and the South Georgia Island which dates back to the 1800s.

Tour Highlights

For most, the Falkland Islands is seen as a barren and desolate location where only a handful of people live year-round. But those are the people who only see the glass as half empty. Instead, visit East Falkland and view the shops, pubs, and museums that are located in Stanley. From there, the cruise will head out to the Antarctic Peninsula where you will be able to view some of the most awe-inspiring bays along the shores of the Antarctic continent. Stop off at the historic whaling station, Grytviken, which is home to a whaling museum, and see the majestic whales as they feed along the frigid shores.

What’s Included
  • 20 Breakfasts
  • 17 Lunches
  • 19 Dinners
  • 20 Nights’ Accommodations
  • Ground Transport
  • Excursions
  • Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa
  • Loaning of Waterproof Boots
  • Pork Surcharges and Fees
  • Loaning of Expedition Parka
  • Transfers from Airport to Ship
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Digital Voyage Log
  • Daily International News
  • Wide Selection of Beverages
  • Pre-Voyage Hotel Accommodations in Ushuaia
Why It’s Popular

The Falkland Islands are known as the home to some of the most unique wildlife on the entire planet. Like something out of a National Geographic video, explore the fur seal-covered beaches and see elephant seals in their natural surroundings. The area is home to hundreds of thousands of majestic penguins, providing you with one of the most awe-inspiring scenes of nature. Not only will you have a guided tour through the history of the Falkland Islands, but you will be able to get up close and personal with the Antarctica wildlife over the course of the 21-day voyage.

Falklands – Malvinas and Antarctic Peninsula

The Falkland Islands is a paradise of natural wonders and beauty that attracts thousands of people to its shores every single year.

The Falkland Islands is known as a hotspot for birdwatchers. Not only are they home to a wide variety of different penguins, but they are also the breeding grounds for the majestic black-browed albatross. You have the opportunity to view Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins up close and personal, and will also be able to see them care for their young. All over the island, elephant seals are also bringing in a new generation of suckling pups. Take adventure to a whole new level as you head out on a zodiac into the untamed Antarctica wilderness where just about anything can happen.

Tour Highlights

The Falkland Islands are home to a wide variety of Antarctic fauna. When you take a cruise to the Falkland Islands, you will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the most magnificent animals on the planet. One of the more unique animals that call the Falkland Islands home, is the black-browed albatross which is known to breed on the island. You will also have plenty of time to view other wildlife such as penguins, sea lions, as well as fur seals. From the Falkland Islands, the trip will make its way to the Antarctica Peninsula. Here you will be able to witness the many stages of penguin courtship and experience the pristine beauty of Antarctica as you head ashore and get up close and personal with nature.

What’s Included
  • Pre-Embarkation Briefing
  • One Night Stay in Santiago
  • Onboard Accommodations during Voyage
  • All Meals
  • Coffee and Tea
  • Wide Selection of Beverages
  • Captains Receptions
  • Zodiac Excursions
  • Educational Lectures
  • Access to Medical
  • Loaning of Expedition Parka
  • Loaning of Waterproof Boots
  • Port Surcharges and Fees
Why It’s Popular

Explore the untamed wilderness of the Falkland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, as you head out into the snow-covered wilderness looking for adventure. While so many other trips take you close enough to view the splendor of nature with binoculars, nothing beats getting up close and personal with the icy surroundings. With the help of expert guides and good weather conditions, head out into the Antarctic wilderness as you engage on your very own expedition.

Final Thoughts on Southern Lights Argentina and Chile

This concludes our guide to seeing the Southern Lights in Argentina and Chile.

We hope you’ve found this a useful guide to help you start planning your travel. Chasing the aurora australis in Argentina & Chile is a relatively low-key activity, with no dedicated tour operators. So if your goal is to see the lights we recommend you plan very well ahead of time, including choosing the best time of year as discussed above and the best year to travel which is predicted to have high solar activity. This is especially important since this region is located outside of the auroral zone. Because there are no tours of the southern lights in Patagonia itself, you will be going it alone based on your own research.

But if you’re up for the challenge, then great! Make sure to enjoy the nature and culture of the region, local attractions, and have other activities booked in, just in case those elusive lights don’t show themselves. Good luck and happy hunting!

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