Patagonia in South America is an epic place to travel to and this 10 day Patagonia itinerary shows you all the highlights in both Patagonia Chile and Patagonia Argentina.
Planning a trip to Patagonia in South America but not sure where to start? This is how I felt when I first started playing with the idea of hiking Patagonia for a few days. After much research and given the time constraint (only 10 days in Patagonia) I’ve come up with a 10 Day Patagonia itinerary that will allow one to see all the highlights in Patagonia in both Chile and Argentina. This Patagonia itinerary involves a lot of hiking as well as rest days and sightseeing, so choose your activities for yourself as you see fit.
10 Day Patagonia Itinerary & Travel Guide
We started off our 10 day Patagonia adventure in Chile and finished in Argentina. You can totally do the reverse of what we did on our Patagonia trip. We did a total of 2 day hikes in Torres del Paine in Chile and 2 days hikes and 1 glacier trekking in Argentina. Due to time constraint and the desire to see both sides of Patagonia, we didn’t get to do the entire W trek, which takes 5 days and involves camping. Instead we rented a car and also had private transfer to Torres del Paine for day hikes and sightseeing.
If you have 2 weeks in Patagonia, then you can adjust the itinerary below and do the 5 day W trek in Torres del Paine in Chile before heading to Patagonia Argentina.
Patagonia Itinerary Day 1 – Arrival in Patagonia, Chile
The Patagonia Chile airport to fly into is Punta Arenas. This is also the spot for most departure cruises for Antarctica.
We took LATAM from New York, with a short layover in Santiago. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to leave the airport in Santiago but if you have more time, it’s the perfect opportunity to explore Santiago. If this is your first stop in Chile, you will need to go through immigration in Santiago, pick up your luggage, get scanned at customs and go back into the airport to check in/board your flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas. So you should make sure you have enough time during your layover.
Bus From Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales
Once you land in Punta Arenas (~3 hours flying from Santiago), board the bus for Puerto Natales (if you decide to stay in that town). Puerto Natales is the town most people stay in when they first arrive in Patagonia Chile. It offers restaurants, hotels, hostels, rental car services and super markets there. You can stock up for camping in Puerto Natales too before heading to Torres del Paine. The bus ride to Puerto Natales from Punta Arenas is another 3 hours and Puerto Natales is 2 hours away from Torres Del Paine. In this post, I explained the advantages of staying in Puerto Natales.
You can take either Bus Sur or Bus Fernandez from Punta Arenas Airport to Puerto Natales. I highly recommend that you buy your bus tickets online and print them out (there is no such thing as mobile ticket or mobile boarding). The bus tickets tend to run out if you decide to purchase in person (that’s what happened to us). One thing to note is that these buses are not very on time… they tend to be 15-30 min late, so adjust your expectations and don’t freak out if the bus doesn’t come on time.
After arriving in Puerto Natales, it would be a good idea to check out the local super market and stock up on food for your upcoming hike tomorrow. We mostly bought bread, sliced ham, apple, fruit juice, water, cookies, and chips.
Where to stay in Puerno Natales
In Puerto Natales we stayed in Hotel Vendaval which was brand new and very nice.
Where to eat in Puerto Natales
For Aldea and La Lenga, you should definitely make reservation otherwise you will not be able to get a spot. La Lenga serves traditional Chilean food with a modern twist. Starters include burned artichoke, pumpkin soup, scallop carpaccio, etc. The main courses that stood out was confit lamb, corn cake, gnocchi and roasted lamb.
Cafe Artimana only takes cash and the menu is only in Spanish. I really liked their sandwiches, skewers and lomo chicken chorizos. There are also many pizza places in Puerto Natales as well as bars.
Patagonia Itinerary Day 2 – Mirador Las Torres Hike In Torres Del Paine, Chile
Get up bright and early to catch your bus/private transfer/drive to Torres Del Paine for your day hike to Mirador Las Torres (2 hours away).
The hike takes about 8-9 hours round trip and mostly uphill. The view along the way is incredible and the view of Las Torres at the lake is even more amazing. It’s a strenuous hike to say the least and it gets even more challenging when the wind is 40-50mph, but the view at the summit is well worth the effort. It’s also a perfect spot to propose in Patagonia if you are planning to propose there.
For most detailed information on the hike and how to get to Torres del Paine, check out this post. In that post I wrote about the bus schedules as well as details of the hike by kilometer. You will need to buy an entrance ticket to Torres del Paine when you arrive at the administration office. For foreigners during high season (October to April), the entrance fee is CLP $21.000. During low season the entrance fee is about half. There is no ATM in Torres del Paine, so make sure to get money from Puerto Natales.
If you are driving to Torres del Paine yourself, after you buy your entrance ticket at the administration office, head towards the direction of “Laguna Amarga” towards Hotel Las Torres. The hiking trail to Mirador Las Torres starts at Hotel Las Torres.
If you want to catch the bus back to Puerto Natales, make sure to watch out for time so you don’t miss the last bus out. Note that the weather can be extremely windy and unpredictable so dress in layers and bring plenty of water, food and toilet paper. Also bring a trash bag so you can take your garbage back to town. I highly recommend bringing hiking sticks for this hike as well as a wide angle lens.
Patagonia Itinerary Day 3 – Explore Torres del Paine by Car (or Tour)
If you are not doing the W trek in Torres del Paine, you have a lot of time to explore the park and just take photos or do short mini hikes.
Many people choose to do day tours in Torres del Paine to the different view points and lakes or rent a car to explore Torres del Paine by themselves. We ended up renting a car from Puerto Natales and drove 2 hours to Torres del Paine. The rental car costs about USD$100 a day. There are many view points along the way, with amazing views of the towers. The great thing about driving is that you can pretty much stop anytime you see a pretty spot. Many of the best view points in Torres del Paine are marked with parking lots so you don’t have to randomly park on the road. There are also a lot of signs on the road pointing to Patagonia so you should not be able to get lost.
Once you get past the administration office to buy your ticket into Torres del Paine, don’t take the path down to Laguna Amarga as that goes towards Mirador Las Torres (from the previous day). Head towards”Pudeto” to explore other parts of Torres del Paine.
Salto Grande is a short “Hike” to see the best waterfall in Torres del Paine. You can continue to hike to the Mirador de Los Cuernos for about an hour, which gives you amazing views of the peaks in Torres del Paine. We didn’t get to go because the wind was about 60mph that day so it was a struggle to even walk to Salto Grande.
Patagonia Itinerary Day 4 – French Valley (Mirador Valle del Frances) Hike or Lago Grey
Another day hike in Torres del Paine that you can do is the French Valley Hike. To do that, you need to get the first Catamaran inside the Torres del Paine at 9am. The cost of the Catamaran (one way) is 40 USD. For more information on the Catamaran, check the official website here. You board the Catamaran from Pudeto to Refugio Paine Grande. You then walk 2.5 hours to Italian Camp, which is the entry point of the French Valley. This hike is highly dependent on weather and the upper part of the valley is closed when it’s really windy for safety reasons. If you are not planning to stay at a refugio there, then you need to catch the last catamaran back to Pudeto, so time your hike wisely. You probably will not be able to finish the hike (get to the best view point) in time, so expect to only go half way. One thing to note is that it’s not possible to finish the hike and then catch the bus back, the timing just doesn’t work. If you want to do this as a day trip, I would suggest either rent a car, go with a tour, or get private transfer.
Visiting Lago Grey
On the other hand, if you decide not to hike the French Valley (or if the weather is so bad that they either shut down the hike or shut down the Catamaran, which is what happened to me), then you can visit Lago Grey instead.
There is a boat tour of Lago Grey from Hotel Lago Grey, you can find more information on their website. We did not do this but we did do a short “hike” from Hotel Lago Grey to the shoreline and up an island for a nice view point of Glacier Grey. From the beach to the view point on the island is about a 20-30 minute walk, on the way back you can either go back down the same way you came up or go around the island for another 30-40 minutes.
Patagonia Itinerary Day 5 – Bus to El Calafate, Argentina
After 3 full days in Torres del Paine, it’s now time to travel to El Calafate, Argentina. There are daily buses from Puerto Natales to El Calafate. We took a 7:30am bus from Terminal Rodoviario Puerto Natales to cross the boarder into Argentina to El Calafate.
We used Bus Sur and there are 2 daily buses on Bus Sur. You can find the ticket here also. One leaves at 7:30am from Puerto Natales and arrives around 2:15pm in El Calafate and the other bus leaves from Puerto Natales at 2:30pm and arrives in El Calafate around 8:30pm. One reason the bus takes such a long time is because you have to stop by the Chile/ Argentina border.You first need to exit from Chile (and get a stamp) and then you have to wait at the Argentina border to get into the country. Make sure to have your passport with you at all times as you will not even be able to board the bus without your passport. Furthermore, all the buses in Patagonia give you an assigned seat so make sure to hold onto your ticket so you know which seat you get.
Where to stay in El Calafate
El Calafate is a pretty big town so there are plenty of accommodation options in El Calafate. We stayed in Hotel Kosten Aike which was really central and spacious. They provide breakfast everyday and you can pay for packed lunch to take with you for your day trip to Perito Moreno.
Once you get off the bus at the bus station, you can either walk to your hostel or take a taxi. We decided to not walk and took a taxi and it was only a 5 minute taxi ride to our hotel. Many backpackers just walked to their hotel/hostel near by.
If you want the ultimate luxury experience in El Calafate, Eolo is the choice for you. It’s located about a 30 minute drive from El Calafate but the view from the rooms are amazing. The price of the hotel is equally as astonishing and you are far from town so you have to stay near the hotel (or on hotel grounds).
Where to eat in El Calafate
There are many restaurants in El Calafate, some are traditional Argentinian food whereas others are pizzas and pastas and pubs.
Some of our favorite places include Isabel – Cocina al Disco (traditional Argentinian place serving large portions meat stew with ravioli (optional)) and they take credit card. Another amazing restaurant we liked was Mi Rancho (Argentinian food, REALLY good!) You definitely need to make a reservation for Mi Rancho and they only take cash. I really liked the meat and filled pasta at Mi Rancho.
Since we arrived in the afternoon, we just had lunch in Isabel-Cocina al Disco and walked around El Calafate.
Where to Exchange Money in El Calafate
We found out that you can exchange money both in banks and at Western Union in El Calafate. Since we arrived on a weekend, the banks, located on the main street in El Calafate, were closed. We tried our luck at the Western Union and they did money exchange for us. There are also ATM machines at the bank in El Calafate but apparently some machines have lower limits than other machines, so you will need to try several different ATMs in El Calafate to get the amount you need.
We didn’t have time to explore the whole city of El Calafate since it’s pretty big but we did spend a couple of hours just walking around the main street of the town. There are many souvenir shops, bars, cafes, restaurants, banks, and a post office.
Patagonia Itinerary Day 6 – Perito Moreno Glacier Trekking
The reason we decided to spend time in El Calafate is to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier located in the Los Glaciares National Park. I have heard about the glacier in Patagonia so I was really excited to visit. There are a few things you can do at the Glacier Perito Moreno:
- Big Ice: Big Ice is one of the most popular activities in Perito Moreno. You trek for about 3.5 hours on the Glacier itself. The excursion runs from mid September to end of April, weather permitting. From what I read it’s very physically demanding and tiring but you really get to see a lot of the glacier.
- Mini Trekking: as the name implies, this is a mini version of Big Ice during which you trek for 1.5 hours on the Glacier instead of 3 hours. The company Hielo & Aventura is the operator of both Big Ice and Mini Trekking and they are very legit and professional. They pick you up from your hotel around 7:30am in the morning. After about 1.5 hour drive you arrive at the port to take a ferry. The ferry ride is amazing because you get to see the glacier up close. After about a 20 minute ferry ride you get off to walk around and eventually walk up the Glacier with crampon on. It’s pretty tiring to walk on crampons on Perito Moreno so if you are not 100% sure you want to spend 3.5 hours walking on the glacier, this is a great alternative option. You also end the day walking on the Perito Moreno footbridge to get an amazing view of the glacier.
- See Perito Moreno by Boat: If you wish not to do any of the trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier, then you can always take a boat tour! The boat tour is all year round but between June and September (winter in Patagonia) there is only a 12pm boat. The tour takes about an hour and the boat will take you very close to the glacier where you can see ice falling off the glacier walls!
- Kayak Perito Moreno: I had not done this but apparently you can kayak near Perito Moreno. See more information here.
- See Perito Moreno from the footbridge: you can either take a tour or do it yourself to get to the footbridge, which gives you the best view of Perito Moreno. The Mini trekking included a visit to the Footbridge. However if you are on a budget, you can take a bus from the bus terminal in El Calafate to “Glaciar Perito Moreno” either at 8:30am or 9:30am. After a 90 minute ride, you will get off at the entrance of national park (and pay a entrance fee). The bus ride costs about USD$30 round trip and the entrance fee to the park is another USD$30ish. Bring cash to pay for your tickets! After you get off the bus you can either do a boat tour or walk up to the footbridge.
Patagonia Itinerary Day 7 – Bus from El Calafate to El Chalten & Day Hikes
After the adventure to Glaciar Perito Moreno, it is time to move onto El Chalten to start your Patagonia Argentina hikes. El Chalten is a very small town located in the middle of El Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and it’s located about 3 hours away from El Calafate. Unlike El Calafate, you can literally walk from one end of El Chalten to the other end in less than 30 minutes. Most of the hiking trails in El Chalten start at the end of the town (how convenient!). Some hiking trails start at the beginning of town and the Cerro Torre trail head starts in the middle of town.
Unless you have a car, most people take a bus from El Calafate to El Chalten. There are a few bus operators in Patagonia Argentina but the one we used was Chalten Travel. The bus can either pick you up from your hotel in El Calafate or you have to go to the El Calafate bus station. When you book the ticket online, generally it’s expected that you go to the El Calafate bus station yourself. However we found the Chalten Travel office on the main street in El Calafate and they said they can pick us up from the hotel. As with all the bus companies in Patagonia, your ticket have assigned seats and I highly recommend reserving your tickets online. There are 2 daily buses departing from El Calafate on Chalten Travel, one at 8am and the other at 6pm. We decided to do 8am so we have the rest of the day in El Chalten for some short day hikes.
Route 40 (Ruta 40)
One note on Route 40, which is the route that the bus travels from El Calfate to El Chalten. The road is the longest route in Argentina and one of the longest routes in the world. What’s also famous about this route is the view you encounter when you are close to El Chalten. Unfortunately we could not get off the bus to take photos, but fortunately we got front row seats on the upper deck of the bus (yay for purchasing tickets months in advance), we got some pretty nice shots along the way.
Once you reach El Chalten, the bus will take you to the visitor center to understand the history of El Chalten and Mount Fitz Roy, safety information, park information, regulation, etc.
Where to stay in El Chalten
Even though El Chalten is a small town, there are plenty of accommodation options such as hotels, hostels, and apartments. I even saw someone camping next to the road on the sidewalk.
We stayed at Los Cerros Boutique Hotel & Spa which was really nice. The front desk of the hotel displayed daily weather information and breakfast was included. The view from the restaurant at the hotel was amazing and the rooms were bright and spacious. However, internet didn’t really work in the town half of the time when we were there. the perk of staying at this hotel is that it’s actually on the way to the Cerro Torre trail head!
Where to eat in El Chalten
Since El Chalten is a small town in the middle of no where, there aren’t as many restaurants as in El Calafate or Puerto Natales. Our favorite restaurant was La Tapera and we went back there every night. You should go when they open because the restaurant gets full and I saw them turning away many people every night. Since we went there every night we pretty much tried all their dishes and they were all really good. I especially loved their homemade bread with dips as well as their vegetable soup and their pastas. Not only is their food delicious but the service was very fast as well, unlike some of the other places we tried in El Chalten! They also take credit card which was a major plus.
Short Hikes Near El Chalten
We arrived around 11am to El Chalten, and after checking into the hotel and getting lunch, we had an entire afternoon to explore the area.
There are a few short day hikes around El Chalten. One hike we did was 2 hour round trip waterfall hike called Chorrillo del Salto. To get to the trail head, just walk towards the end of the town (opposite direction of where the tourist office is). The trail head is the same trail head as Fitz Roy but you will see signs pointing to Chorrillo del Salto. You can pretty much walk on the main road (where cars go). The road is pretty flat and boring. After about an hour, you will come to a pretty cool waterfall.
Another famous short hike in El Chalten is the Los Condores and Las Aguilas Viewpoints. This hike is near the tourist administrative office. It’s a short uphill hike and offers really nice views.
There are small markets in El Chalten that you should go to stock up on food/ make lunch for your longer day hikes to Cerro Torre or Mt Fitz Roy.
Patagonia Itinerary Day 8 – Cerro Torre (Laguna Torre) Day Hike From El Chalten
We decided to do the Cerro Torre (Laguna Torre) hike because the weather wasn’t going to be as nice as the day after, so we wanted to do the shorter and easier one first during “bad” weather. I’m glad we did Cerro Torre first because if we had done the Fitz Roy hike first, we would probably be too tired the next day to hike Cerro Torre.
If you look at the Patagonia Argentina mountain outline, there are 2 major peaks that stand out. The taller and bigger mountain is Mount Fitz Roy and to its left there is a skinnier and shorter peak, that is the Cerro Torre. On Route 40, you can see both peaks but once you start hiking, you can only hike towards one peak at a time (and the other one wouldn’t be visible).
The Cerro Torre hike is a relatively easy hike because it’s not really steep and it’s much shorter than the Fitz Roy hike. Cerro Torre hike is about 18km round trip, takes about 6 hours. The hike is really flat except the first 10 minutes of the hike where you are hiking from the middle of El Chalten up to the official Cerro Torre trail head. Note there is no drones allowed in Cerro Torre.
Patagonia Itinerary Day 9 – Fitz Roy (Laguna de Los Tres) Hike From El Chalten
The Fitz Roy hike is perhaps one of the most iconic hikes in the El Chalten region in Patagonia Argentina. The Fitz Roy mountain range is the logo of the clothing brand Patagonia. It is no wonder that this hike is the most beautiful in the region. If you can only do one hike in Patagonia Argentina then the Fitz Roy hike is the one you must do.
I have previous written extensively on the Fitz Roy Day Hike, otherwise known as Laguna de Los Tres. It is a much longer and harder hike compare to the Cerro Torre hike, with a crazy steep climb in the end. The difficulty is comparable (if not more difficult) to the Mirador Las Torres hike in Torres del Paine, Chile. What makes the Fitz Roy hike better than the Torres hike? It’s the view along the way. For most part of the Fitz Roy hike, you can see the Fitz Roy mountain and the ground is relatively flat (except the first 3km and the last hour, which is a killer).
The hike is about 20.4km (12.7 miles) round trip, 8-9 hours. You should definitely bring packed lunch, a lot of water, hiking pole, and layers as weather changes rapidly in Patagonia. I’m very glad we decided to do this hike last because there is no way we would be motivated to hike Cerro Torre after this long and strenuous hike.
The trail is at the end of El Chalten and is also accessible by car (there is a car park at the trail head). I would recommend bringing a wide angle lens to the Fitz Roy hike because the mountain and the lake is just so massive (even more grand than Las Torres in Torres del Paine). Note that drones are not allowed on the Fitz Roy hike.
2 Day Cerro Torre & Fitz Roy Hike
There is an option for hikes to combine the Cerro Torre hike with the Fitz Roy hike. This hike requires you to camp overnight but the combined distance will be shorter than doing each hike individually. Camping is free in Patagonia Argentina so this may be an option for backpackers or those on a tight budget.
Patagonia Itinerary Day 10 – Departure from Patagonia, Argentina
After a perfect and action packed 9 days of your 10 day Patagonia itinerary, it’s time to say goodbye. To fly out of Patagonia Argentina you have to go back to El Calafate from El Chalten. We used Chalten Travel again and got on the 7:30am bus (there are 3 buses from El Chalten to El Calafate everyday, the times are 7:30am, 1pm and 6pm). If you are going directly to El Calafate airport, the bus actually stops at the airport first before making its way to El Calafate. You can just get off the bus at the airport (even if your ticket says you are going to El Calafate).
Short Layover in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Generally you will have to layover in Buenos Aires before getting on another flight home (or somewhere else in South America). We ended up having one night in Buenos Aires during the layver so we used uber to get around the city.
There are 2 airports in Buenos Aires. Aeroparque Jorge Newbery is located closer to city center (about 15-20 min Uber ride) and serves mostly domestic and regional flights. Your flight from El Calafate will be landing in this airport.
Ministro Pistarini International Airport (known as Ezeiza) is the international airport in Buenos Aires and is about an hour away from city center. If you are leaving Buenos Aires to go home, then most likely you will be flying out from Ezeiza. So when you book your flights, make sure to pay attention to which airport you are flying into/out of in Buenos Aires.
Where to eat in Buenos Aires
If you only have a short layver in Buenos Aires I would recommend going to Don Julio to eat steak since Argentina is famous for steak and wine. Don Julio (Guatemala 4699, 1425 CABA, Argentina) is one of the best steakhouses in Buenos Aries so you simply cannot miss it. There is always a long line but you can make reservation ahead of time. When you wait to be seated the restaurant will give you a glass of champagne which is nice. Don Julio has really good steak (we got T bones) as well as lamb sausage and blood sausage. The portions of steak is really big and well seasoned.
Where to stay in Buenos Aires
Since we only had one night in Buenos Aires and we wanted to eat at Don Julio, we decided to stay closer to the restaurant without spending a lot of money. We stayed in a private room at Malevo Murana Hostel (Russel 5050, Buenos Aires, Argentina). Even though it’s a hostel, our room was extremely clean and had a private bathroom, AC, and wifi. I would definitely stay there again if I visit Buenos Aires again. It’s also located in a really nice part of town and about 10 minute walk to Don Julio.
Hope you enjoy your Patagonia trip based on my 10 Day Patagonia itinerary. If you only have 1 week in Patagonia, you may want to consider cutting out some of the day trips to Torres del Paine. Similarly if you have 2 weeks or longer in Patagonia, then consider doing the W trek in Torres del Paine as well as the hikes in El Chalten.
Practical Information For Your 10 Day Patagonia Itinerary
Where is Patagonia? Patagonia is located in South America. Patagonia is a region in the southern part of Chile and Argentina. It’s about a 3 hour flight from Chile or Buenos Aires. Patagonia Chile is known for Torres del Paine and Patagonia Argentina is known for the Perito Moreno Glacier as well as hiking near El Chalten (Mt Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre, etc)
When is the best time to travel to Patagonia? The best time to visit Patagonia is December to March (summer in the Southern Hemisphere). The weather is warmer and trails are dry. It’s much windier in the summer time in Patagonia than the winter time however. Patagonia weather in November is probably the windiest time of the year and it can rain/snow all in the same day.
How Much Time Do I need For Patagonia? It really depends on how much time you have and what you want to see in Patagonia. Patagonia is a big region covering both Chile and Argentina. In Patagonia Chile alone you can spend as little as 3 days and as much as weeks and the same for Patagonia Argentina. The 10 day Patagonia itinerary below covers some of the highlights of Patagonia but you can always stay for much longer to see everything else. If you plan to do the W trek in Torres del Paine, then you will need a minimum of 4-5 days in Patagonia Chile. I will suggest to spend no less than 1 week in Patagonia.
Can I go to Patagonia in the winter (June – August?) You can definitely visit Patagonia in the winter in southern hemisphere, however, you will need a guide to do the hikes because snow will have covered the hiking trails. The snow will also make it harder to hike to many places so plan accordingly.
What’s the weather like in Patagonia? Weather in Patagonia is extremely unpredictable. Due to its location, it can be extremely windy especially in early summer (end of November/early December) and the temperature is high 70 and low 40s. To give you an example, when I went to Patagonia the end of November, I had to wear 1 sweat shirt and 1 sports jacket during the hike. Of course it gets warm during the hikes in Patagonia but you should have enough layers so you won’t be cold. You may also experience all four seasons in one day (sun, rain, hail, snow, wind, etc. The wind speed in Patagonia can be as much as 80 mile per hour, it is not safe to hike during those times. The catamaran also gets shut down when it’s that windy. If the windy speed is 30-40mph you can still try to hike, but use caution as the gusts can be quite sudden and powerful and can knock you down to the ground.
What is a good website for Patagonia Weather Forecast? We used mountain-forecast.com for all the forecast and it was great.
Torres del Paine: https://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Paine-Grande/forecasts/500
El Chalten: https://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Cerro-Fitzroy/forecasts/500
The website tells you wind speed by the hour so you can see if you should go hike on a certain day.
What to see in Patagonia without hiking? Is Patagonia worth going without hiking? You don’t need to hike to enjoy the beauty of Patagonia and I highly recommend adding some non-hiking days to your Patagonia itinerary. There are plenty of activities you can do in Patagonia without hiking. In Torres del Paine you can rent a car and drive around the park and walk to see waterfalls and Lago Gray. In El Calafate Argentina, you can take a boat to get close to the Perito Moreno Glacier to go to the observation deck to see the glacier up close. Many luxury hotels in Patagonia also offer full day tours to certain view points or to places where you can just walk and enjoy the scenery with no hiking required.
How much money should I budget for Patagonia? Patagonia can be done cheaply or extremely expensively, depending on your budget and travel style. If you want to do a budget travel trip to Patagonia then plan to camp and cook your own food, It would be $5-$20 a night for Patagonia budget trips; private rooms in guest houses can be between $20-$60 and hotels can range from $200 – $500 a night. Similarly if you want to take buses around, it will be pretty cheap but renting a car can cost about 100 USD a day or taking a private tour can cost between $150 – $200 a person a day.
Is Patagonia Safe for Solo Travel? Since Patagonia is so remote, people are mostly locals who work in the tourism industry or tourists/backpackers. I felt pretty safe in Patagonia so if you don’t mind hiking alone, then you can totally solo trip it. The most danger you will experience is probably getting lost or fall although the trails are very well marked so I’m not sure how anyone can get lost. Hikers on the trail are also very friendly and encouraging, so it’s pretty nice for solo travel. There are also many refugios (hostels) on the hiking trails in Patagonia so you can always make new friends hiking Patagonia.
How to get to Patagonia? There are 2 airports in Patagonia you can fly into. If you want to visit Patagonia Chile first, then fly through Santiago to Punta Arenas. If you want to visit Patagonia Argentina first, then fly through Buenos Aires to El Calafate.
How to get around Patagonia? There are bus companies that have affordable bus rides among different popular towns such as Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine in Chile and buses from El Calafate to El Chalen in Argentina (among other routes, read my post below). To see how to get to Torres del Paine, read my post here. To get from El Calafate to El Chalten, read this post.
What Camera lens should I bring to Patagonia? I highly recommend bringing both zoom lens as well as a wide angle lens to Patagonia. I didn’t bring a wide angle lens and it was difficult to take photos at Mirador Las Torres (Torres del Paine) and the Fitz Roy (Argentina) because the mountains were so big. Iphones are generally pretty wide angle but if you plan to use a camera with interchangeable lens, then I highly recommend a ultra wide angle lens for your Patagonia trip.
Can I use credit cards in Patagonia? Many restaurants and hotels in Patagonia accept credit cards. However, I would recommend getting cash from ATMs/Cash Machines at the airports if possible because not all places accept cash. There is no ATM in Torres del Paine or El Chalten, so plan accordingly.
Can I use drones in Patagonia? From what I read, Chile requires a permit to fly drones and the process is quite long. Also, it may not be a good idea to fly a drone in Patagonia since it’s very windy and the wind speed is between 20mph to 80mph depending on the season and the day. Your drone will probably crash in such turbulent weather. In Patagonia Argentina there are specific signs saying no drones are allowed, so please don’t be a jerk and disturb the peace and quietness for other hikers. Nobody wants to have a drone in their photo when they’ve hiked hours for the view!
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