13 Tips for traveling in Patagonia
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Traveling to Patagonia requires lots of plans. Here are tips for traveling in Patagonia.
Patagonia is a dreamy place, with some parts that have easy access to modern facilities, and others where Wi-Fi, restaurants and shopping malls, eating a proper meal is a luxury, and a warm shower is not available very minute. You may need to wait for hours in the middle of nowhere for a car to take you to your next destination, spend a few nights camping on the mountains next to a glacier, or walk for hours without seeing anyone. It is fascinating. It is remote and away from the rest of the world; it is challenging and rewarding.
The point of this post is not to sell you on Patagonia. I would love to tell you how beautiful and dreamy this place is (which is true), but for this time, I am going to piece together an informative list of tips and advice to make your trip enjoyable. For the ones who come to the most southerly part of the world, and for the ones who plan to venture into the most beautiful area, here is your guide.
13 Tips for Traveling in Patagonia
Speak Spanish well
I do not discourage anyone from traveling in Patagonia without speaking Spanish. I met a few travelers who did not speak Spanish. However, most of Patagonia is rural and a majority of people do not have a grasp of the English language. The hostel owners, restaurant employees, bus drivers, and tour operators will only communicate with you in Spanish.
So if you are heading over to Patagonia, take some time to learn Spanish. It will help a lot.
Take your time
I spent two months in Patagonia. For many, this is a long time, but for me, these eight short weeks were not enough. The most valuable take away was that I needed more time there. A year later, after I returned from Patagonia, I still work hard to plan my return trip there.
If you have come this far, give yourself plenty of time to explore the region. You do not want to spend weeks to get there and simply rush through it in a few days. Patagonia is a huge place and everywhere I visited was visually and culturally appealing. Traveling in Patagonia on a tight schedule will make you miss out a lot.
Bring warm clothes and trekking shoes
A parka and mud-proof trekking shoes will do you justice. Patagonia’s weather is famous for being unpredictable, and over relying on the weather report is not going to work.
On some days when I was in Patagonia, it was incredibly warm like spring and summer. Other days, it was windy and the temperature plummeted to nearly zero Celsius at night. The weather can be different depending on the hour of the day, the place you visit, and if you are on the sea or the mountains.
I believe it would be the best that you dress in layers so it is easy to adjust your outfit when the weather suddenly changes.
Patagonia is expensive
Patagonia is an expensive place to visit, and everyone I met agreed with this. If you want to travel long-term there, you will need to budget properly.
A shared room in hostel can cost you $15 to $35 per night, a three-hour bus ride is $15 to $25, and participating in a guided tour is another significant amount. There will be a way to travel on a budget, but there are places that can only be visited by following a tour operator and you do not want to miss out on the experience either.
My trip in Patagonia went way over my original budget, but I decided to fork over these amounts because it was so worth it. I have never regretted the money I spent. To this day, I still wish I had stayed there longer.
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Bring your camping gear
In Patagonia, you will trek a lot and spend lots of time in the wilderness. Hostels and hotels are expensive but there are dozens of great camping sites with minimal cost that allow you to sleep in beautiful natural settings, like next to a glacier. Many camping sites have access to showers and the kitchen so you can still get clean and make your own food.
Have a small emergency kit
Pharmacies and hospitals are not immediately accessible in most parts of Patagonia, so it is recommended that you bring a small and basic kit. That way, you can always come and be prepared for minor issues, like rubbing alcohol, anti-diarrheal medicine, vitamins, and bandage.
Stock up on perishable foods
Eating proper meals can be a problem in Patagonia. There is a shortage of stores and restaurants in rural areas. If you are lucky to find one serving the food you like, it is likely that will be expensive. I always stock some pasta, bread, nuts, fruit, and crackers with me in case I am on the road and need nutrition to refill my energy.
In most parts of Patagonia, tap water is drinkable, so bring an empty bottle and refill it every day with water. You can also drink water from some lakes and glaciers.
Patagonia is physically demanding, and if you want to see the best of it, you need to be prepared for multiple treks, meaning that you will be likely to trek every day or every other day. Furthermore, a lot of treks take multiple hours and several days to complete, and the trail can be steep, muddy, rocky and windy. And really, without a fit body and strong mentality, you will miss out on a lot of experience.
The scenery in Patagonia
Patagonia has some of the most beautiful places on earth. I have hardly found any other places in the world that are equally diverse and spectacular. It has the Andes mountain range, South America’s second largest lake General Carrera, deserts, grassland, coastlines, and icefields. Therefore, this region has some of the most appealing landscapes that will capture your heart.
People in Patagonia
The most enjoyable part of Patagonia is the people; they have a whole different level of hospitality and maturity. Instead of partying, drinking excessively, and taking lots of selfies, they speak multiple languages, trek on the mountains, take you on scenic rides, and welcome you to their place. You will even meet people who wanted to cross South America’s toughest border with you and you guys look out for each other like a family.
There will be lots of times where you will need to pay your food, accommodation, tours and public transport by cash. ATMs are rare but steadily growing in big cities, and in other parts, if there is one, it is no guarantee that it has a strong reserve of cash. During my two weeks on the Carretera Austral, I only saw ATMs twice, and in El Calafate, I did not see a single one. To relieve your financial burden, make sure to take enough paper money with you.
The best time to travel in Patagonia
I would say that the best time to visit is during the shoulder season that is the end of October to late November and March. December to February is peak season, so there will be an increasing number of people visiting and the price can be higher.
I was in northern Patagonia at the end of October and it was very warm and there were few tourists. Travel in that period is relatively easy because locals are welcoming and it is easy to find accommodation on a walk-in basis.
Have you visited Patagonia before? Share your tips below!
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