It’s been a rough year for tourism professionals trying to promote Chile’s Patagonia. Last winter’s ash-cloud eruption of Puyehue Volcano tangled flight schedules and undercut the ski season, starting things off with a fizzle. Then, the unusually hot, dry southern summer exploded into wildfires, temporarily closing Torres del Paine National Park.
Though most of the region’s conservation areas have reopened, smaller fires continue to burn, which have in turn ignited simmering political issues in the region. On the upside, bargains abound throughout Patagonia, usually unheard of this time of year.
Don’t expect them to last. Chile has plenty of experience successfully recovering from natural disasters, so you can expect Patagonia to rebound by next summer, no problem. After all, it’s only been two years since a devastating 8.8 earthquake decimated Santiago. But the national capital has already recovered its ranking as one of the world’s top destinations.