(CNN) – For travelers itching to go on an adventure, to reconnect with nature or to feel like they are the only humans for miles and miles, Patagonia is one of the last untouched places on Earth.
This remote region covers hundreds of thousands of square miles of southern Argentina and Chile, stretching across ancient forests, vast glaciers, deep fjords and the jagged Andes mountains.
Patagonia is home to diverse wildlife including cougars, penguins and parrots. There is kayaking, trekking, biking, climbing, rafting and snorkeling – even alongside sea lion pups.
Here are some of the must-see places at the end of the world:
Torres del Paine National Park is a paradise for nature lovers, hikers and climbers.
Ana Fernandez / AFP / Getty Images
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Torres del Paine National Park is a crown jewel of Chile’s park system. It has miles-long glaciers, turquoise-blue lakes, granite peaks towering up to more than 9,400 feet, stunning waterfalls and rare wildlife.
“There are very few places in the world that are so pristine, so unspoiled,” said Camilo Rada, a scientist and mountaineer from Chile.
This park is one of the most sparsely populated regions in the world, where wildlife must be resilient to survive its punishing and unpredictable extremes. There are condors, wild horses, rheas, guanacos and pumas.
It’s estimated that the park and surrounding area is home to hundreds of cougars.
Magellanic penguins stand on the beach at sunset at El Pedral, Argentina.
Valdés Peninsula and El Pedral, Argentina
The orcas, on the other hand, can be seen from the beaches of Península Valdés.
“It’s the best place in the world to see orcas,” Zaouali said. “If you go, you’ll be in real contact with the wildlife.”
Punta Norte, on the northern tip of the peninsula, is one of the only places in the world where orcas come ashore to hunt unsuspecting seals and sea lion pups. Only two orca pods know this ingenious hunting trick.
First, they swim sideways to hide their dorsal fins, then beach themselves to snap up their meal and finally maneuver back into the sea. This happens in March and April, and the risky feat is stunning to see.
In El Pedral, about 30 miles south, there is a growing penguin colony.
“If you’re there, you’re alone in a huge penguin colony. It’s the best place to stay if you want to experience Patagonia on a different level,” Zaouali told CNN, calling the spot magical.
There are over 12,000 Magellanic penguins, conservationist Popi Garcia said in CNN’s “Patagonia” series.
“One of the favorite penguins in this colony is called Clarita,” Garcia said, “We know that she’s about 16 years old. She was able to raise 14 chicks.”
September to April is the best time to see the penguins when these migratory waddlers come to breed.
View of the Perito Moreno Glacier at Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina.
RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP / AFP via Getty Images
Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
Located in the southwest of Santa Cruz province in the Argentine Andes, Los Glaciares National Park is defined by its numerous glaciers.
Zaouali compared the icy wonder to “The Wall” in “Game of Thrones.”
“It’s a huge spectacle to see,” Zaouali said. He recommends visiting in the spring and summer, when it’s melting, to see and hear the huge chunks of the wall breaking off in front of your eyes.
Horseback riding, kayaking, biking and climbing also offer panoramic views of the awe-inspiring park.
El Cóndor Spa, Argentina
After wintering up north, pairs of burrowing parrots return to the same nest every spring. Some of their nests stretch back ten feet into the cliffs. There are 37,000 active nests, conservationist Mauricio Failla said in the “Patagonia” series.
These green, yellow and blue birds are very social and vocal, which is why Failla loves studying them.
Other local attractions on the coast of the Río Negro province include the sandy beaches and the Faro Río Negro lighthouse.
There is kite surfing, windsurfing and sand yachting, which is a wheeled vehicle with a sail that’s powered across the sand by the wind.
The colorful houses on the water, known as palafitos, in the town of Castro on Island of Chiloé, Chile.
Kike Calvo / Universal Images Group / Getty Images
Chiloé Island, Chile
Chile’s Chiloé Island offers some of the best whale sightings in the region. The beautiful surrounding fjords are a magnet for wildlife, including sea lions, dolphins and the largest animal that has ever lived: blue whales.
“Seeing a blue whale never gets boring. It’s always a thrill,” oceanographer Susannah Buchan told CNN. “It’s always amazing and emotional and a complete privilege.”
There are 700 migrating whales that come to this region every year from January to April.
Buchan recommends whale watchers visit in February. But she warns it’s a vast and dynamic feeding ground, so sightings are not guaranteed. Sometimes she won’t see whales for a couple of weeks.
Two blue whales swimming in the Corcovado Gulf in Chile.
A trip to Chiloé Island is not complete without soaking up the culture. There is a large indigenous community, rooted in deep traditions. Fishing and tourism are top industries for locals.
The island is famous for its picturesque stilts, wooden houses on stilts above the water. There are even stilted hotels and restaurants that tourists can visit.
The area is also known for its delicious seafood. One of the traditional Chilean dishes is curanto, a feast of meat and seafood that’s cooked in a pit in the ground and covered by a large leaf. It’s one big communal pot of clams, mussels, sausage, potatoes, chicken and pork.
Buchan advises passing on Chilean salmon, which is not native to the region. There are no natural salmon in the Southern Hemisphere, so the local salmon is farmed. Overcrowding in the pens has led to disease among the salmon, she said, and big-scale escapes, damaging native fish communities and devastating the marine ecosystem.
Back on the mainland east of the island lies Pumalín Park, Chile’s largest private nature reserve. The park once belonged to North Face founder Douglas Tompkins but was donated to the country of Chile. This park is free to visit. This lush and temperate rainforest with crystal clear rivers is a stunning area for outdoor enthusiasts.
“You are escaping from civilianization,” Araneda said of the adventurous Carretera Austral drive.
Joel Arpaillange / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images
Carretera Austral, Chile
If you’re looking for a road trip through especially off-the-beaten-path parts of Patagonia, the Carretera Austral route takes drivers more than 700 scenic miles from Puerto Montt in the Lakes District south to Villa O’Higgins in the Aysén region .
The road, at times unpaved and requiring ferries, passes through small remote villages and enormously diverse landscapes on what many consider Patagonia’s finest road trip.
“This is one of the most unexplored places in the world,” Araneda said. “It looks like a jungle, like Costa Rica, but in a cold environment with the ocean and mountains.”
Puma tracker at Estancia Cerro Guido in Chile.
Stays throughout Patagonia
For a unique experience, ranches called stay offer traditional lodging throughout Patagonia.
Visitors can embrace the solitude of life as a gauchoa native horseman that personifies the frontier spirit.
Estancias offer the perfect opportunity to try authentic cuisine. One of the main staples is Argentinian barbecue known as asado.
“The puma and the gaucho have always been enemies,” gaucho and puma tracker Mirko Utrovicic said in the series. “I think the most important thing is to realize that times change. Look at what surrounds us. We have to give them their space back.”