Aurora Guide

The 4 Best Places to See the Southern Lights in Patagonia This Winter

Many of us have ‘seeing the aurora’ on our bucket list – and for good reason. To see the northern lights or southern lights dancing in the atmosphere, shades of green, red, purple, and white, is an unforgettable experience. It’s one of the most impressive space tourism activities you can enjoy.

For some aurora chasers though, a common destination like Iceland, Norway, or even Tasmania is just not enough. If you love the challenge and want to put in extra effort to see the aurora where most people won’t consider trying to see the southern lights in South America. Patagonia is a world-class adventure destination. For a lucky few travelers with the persistence, patience, and luck to try a winter trip in hopes of seeing the aurora australis, you might just be well rewarded with that unforgettable and rare experience.

Southern Lights in South America Featured

Read on to learn more about where you can see the southern lights in South America, including Patagonia. Plus read tips on everything else you need to know to plan an aurora trip to Chile, Argentina, or other parts of South America.

This post was originally published in June 2018, and was updated most recently in April 2024.

What are the Southern Lights?

Southern Lights in Australia - Jenne via Flickr
Photo credit: Jenne via Flickr

For those unfamiliar, the southern lights are the same phenomena as the northern lights – they just happen in the southern hemisphere. The top destinations to see the southern lights are the southernmost destinations in the world, including Tasmania.

The southern lights, also called the aurora australis, occur from solar activity striking the earth’s atmosphere. When this happens, these atoms light up and we can see the aurora phenomena. The aurora can be different colors, depending on the atoms that are excited: green, red, purple, or even white.

Can You See the Southern Lights in Patagonia? When?

Stargazing in Patagonia - John Stephen Chandler via Flickr
Photo credit: John Stephen Chandler via Flickr

Technically, yes, you can see the southern lights from Patagonia and other destinations equally far south in South America. On a good night for solar activity and when the weather is good, you may be lucky to spot the aurora over the mountains in Tierra del Fuego.

The best months to try and plan a trip to Patagonia for the aurora are the winter months in the southern hemisphere: May through July, and possibly in April or August.

Where to See the Southern Lights in Patagonia… and Beyond

Southern Lights in Patagonia

Seeing the southern lights from anywhere in South America is a pretty rare occurrence. But, it is certainly possible and can be done. Your chances of planning a short trip (1-2 weeks) when the southern lights are happening are honestly slim to none; if you’re going to be in the region for a longer period of time, here’s where you might see them.


The Patagonia region includes parts of both Chile and Argentina and you might wonder: can you see the aurora australis there? Yes – but you’ll need to make an epic quest to see the southern lights in Chile or Argentina’s Patagonia region.

Most travelers make their way to Patagonia to explore the region’s stunning mountain and glacier vistas. Based on the picture above, it’s not hard to see why Patagonia is one of the most beautiful regions in the world, a haven for adventure travelers, and astronaut Peggy Whitson’s favorite view from her time in space (skip to the 9:20 mark to see STG founder Valerie ask Peggy this question!).

If you’ve got the time and want to move a bit slower, book a stay somewhere like this ski resort cabin and hope for clear skies on a cold winter night. (Even if you don’t see the aurora australis, you can enjoy winter sports in the region!)

Ushuaia, Argentina

Most people know Ushuaia as the ‘End of the World,’ a jumping-off point for Antarctica cruises. As the southernmost city in the world, you can’t get much further south than Ushuaia – and it’s the most urban place you can base yourself for trying to see the southern lights in Argentina.

In the winter season, you can expect up to 17 hours of darkness in Ushuaia, meaning plenty of opportunity for viewing if the southern lights do appear. Ushuaia is definitely the best place to see the aurora australis in Argentina.

Southern Lights in South America

Falkland Islands

Though most people won’t journey this far just to see the southern lights, the Falkland Islands are generally considered one of the best places in the world to see them.

Geographically, you can see the aurora in the Falkland Islands between the months of April and August each year. Flights depart with some regularity from Punta Arenas in Chile and from Rio Gallegos in Argentina. But, they are typically only offered on the shoulders of the aurora season (March/April and August).

Base yourself from Stanely, and you can easily explore East Falkland by car or catch a ferry to West Falkland.

South Georgia Island & South Sandwich Islands

The last spot where you can see the southern lights from South America is from South Georgia Island and the South Sandwich Islands – far out in the Atlantic east of the Falkland Islands.

To be honest, it’s not easy to get to South Georgia Island and the South Sandwich Islands in aurora season. There is no airstrip on the islands and the only access is by boat. Most passenger boats or commercial companies only offer cruises that vary in length from 17-28 days round-trip. These only occur between late October and the end of March, the opposite of aurora australis season. In short, you’ll be hard-pressed to get the right timing to see the aurora while visiting South Georgia Island and the South Sandwich Islands.

If you’re sold on visiting anyway, check out these options:

  • Quark Expeditions offers an 18-day cruise to visit the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Island.
  • You can enjoy a 20-day cruise to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, and Antarctica with Poseidon Expeditions.

Is Antarctica on your list anyway? Visiting South Georgia Island and the South Sandwich Islands could be a great extension.

Aurora Alerts in South America

Southern Lights in South America

There aren’t any specific tools to check whether the southern lights will be visible on a given night. But, Sky Marvels has a helpful website that pulls data from OVATION, an NOAA/NWS space weather prediction center. This can give you a good sense of when there is a lot of solar activity and when the aurora might be visible.

No matter where you are trying to view the aurora, be patient. There is no way to 100% predict that the aurora will be visible, or what time they might appear.

Will you try to see the southern lights in Patagonia, Chile, Argentina, or elsewhere in South America? Let me know your questions in the comments.

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Valerie is the founder and editor of Space Tourism Guide. She grew up in Alaska, has lived across the U.S., and traveled around the world to enjoy the night sky from many different perspectives. Join her on this journey to explore space right here on earth.


  • Kevin Latin

    I’m interested to find out what the Aurora is today. The community Earth map space weather is showing an anomaly over the Falklands I’ve noticed it 2 days ago this in different places every day. It shows a rectangle of blue over the Falklands way away from Aurora over Antarctica. Maybe the ozone is very high did not check it.

  • mark r vogel

    i need help seeing the australis. i saw the borealis from yellowknife canada in 2019. i just returned from NZ and no luck in Invercargill or Dunedin and during those 5-6 days there with only 1 clear night no australis. is the best stop (in winter) Stewart island, Tasmania, Auckland/Campbell Islands, Falklands?

  • Lorraine Lander

    I’ll be sailing on an Antarctic cruise in March of 2023. I know March isn’t the best month from habitable places, but given we will be further south than the Falklands or Cape Horn for several days, are the chances good on a clear night of seeing something? How can I find a KP map for March to see how strong the aurora would need to be to be visible where I am since the ship will be moving?


    Hello, Jose Requena here from Warner Bros. Discovery. I am planning a production in Ushuaia in June and would like to get in touch. perhaps you huys can help us to figure out where would be most possible to see a Aurora Austral.


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      Valerie Stimac

      Hi, sorry, but I haven’t actually seen the aurora from Ushuaia, so I recommend reaching out to a local down there who can provide more guidance.

  • Ely

    Got a few friends from Tierra del Fuego and they have never seen the aurora in their whole lives! I went to Tromsø for 3 nights and I got to see it real nice haha! Beginner’s luck I guess. The southern lights are much much harder to catch, even for our bases in Antártica so I guess you can feel extra special if you do.

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      Valerie Stimac

      Hey, Ely! As I think I mentioned in the post, it’s really tricky to see the aurora in Patagonia – it’s definitely further north than ideal. Other places (NZ/Tasmania) are great for the Aurora Australis though!

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