Patagonia is as unique as it is enormous; a place where chunks of ice as large as double-decker buses break off vast glaciers into the ocean below. It is an untamed wonderland home to some of the few remaining uninhabited places on Earth and ecosystems and habitats that are rife with wildlife. For adventurous travellers, it is no wonder that it always ranks highly as a once-in-a-lifetime destination to visit. Those are our suggestions for travel essentials that will make your trip both comfortable and unforgettable:
- Citizens of most European countries, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand do not require visas for a stay of up to 90 days. If planning on travelling in one country for longer than three months, your visa can be easily renewed by “border-hopping” into neighboring Chile or Argentina and re-entering the country. This grants another 90 day stay, without charge.
- To enter Chile, citizens of Albania, Australia (if entering through Santiago International Airport) and Mexico must pay a reciprocity fee upon arrival into the country.
- To enter Argentina, citizens of Australia and Canada must pay a reciprocity fee online prior to arrival in the country. The reciprocity fee for citizens of the United States has recently been waived until further notice, but it is still worth referring to the latest notices from the Argentine immigration website before arriving into the country.
- In Patagonia, the local currencies are the Chilean Peso and Argentine Peso.
- Be aware that outside of the main cities in the region ATMs are limited and will sometimes not accept foreign credit cards. Taking out money from cash machines in larger cities can save a lot of hassle during your journey.
- You may receive a 5% discount in stores and on tours if you pay in cash.
- In national parks such as Torres del Paine you will not find cash machines or be able to pay by card. For Torres del Paine, ensure you withdraw enough money in Puerto Natales for your entire stay within the park.
- Mastercard and Visa are the most widely accepted credit cards. Diners Club and American Express are becoming more universally accepted.
- Travelers’ checks can also be cashed in both Chile and Argentina.
- Layers, including a range of sweaters, jackets, fleeces, t-shirts and long-sleeved shirts, and undergarments made of synthetic fibers, are best for the changeable climate of Patagonia.
- Thermal underwear is recommended for cold nights, particularly in mountain regions or the far south.
- A waterproof raincoat or parka is essential for protection against the fierce winds and heavy rains that are experienced throughout Patagonia. Waterproof overtrousers will keep you dry and warm during particularly rainy and windy weather and waterproof gloves are also strongly recommended.
- A firm pair of waterproof trekking or hiking boots, particularly ones which provide robust ankle and heel protection, will be best suited to the range of Patagonian terrain.
- A hat that protects your neck and ears, UV protection sunglasses and high-factor sunblock are indispensable for offering sun protection.
- A daypack with waterproof cover is also ideal if you are planning on hiking. Those which include an adjustable waist belt will help to manage the weight of the load on your back and make it more comfortable for trekking.
- Binoculars for wildlife spotting.
- A camera with a good zoom lens for taking photographs of wildlife from a distance.