As a top global destination for adventure tourism thanks to its acres of hiking trails, pristine wilderness and endemic flora and fauna, Patagonia tops many travel bucket lists.
The high season for travel in Patagonia this year might yet be a long way off, but it’s never too early to start planning your vacation. For help with the nuts and bolts of your trip, look no further with these five important tricks for preparing for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Plan your itinerary
It might sound obvious, but the first step for organizing your vacation is to plan your itinerary. Unfortunately, as a region that spans an enormous 402,704-sq. miles (1,043,000km²) and takes well over 24 hours to traverse from top to bottom, narrowing down your route can seem less than simple.
Let us help you:
Planning a wildlife holiday?
Whether you’re keen to visit Punta Arenas’ squawking colonies of Magellanic or king penguins or looking to see wild animals such as puma, guanaco or even the exceptionally rare South Andean huemul, we’ve got the resources you need: learn how to plan a wildlife holiday in Patagonia and the best times for seeing animals with our handy database of articles about traveling in Patagonia.
Torres del Paine National Park is the most famous – and most popular – of the hiking hotspots in Patagonia, but El Chalten is a true trekking paradise too. If you enjoy shorter walks but still want a full adventure, look into a Patagonian cruise, where you can combine sailing in the tumultuous Patagonian seas with on-shore hikes around creaking, ancient glaciers and through forests populated by rare native species.
Buy the equipment you need
Now you’ve decided the types of activities you’ll be doing, it’s essential to start planning the contents of your suitcase. If your trip revolves around trekking, you might want to look at this list of essential hiking equipment to pack.
Remember that the weather in Patagonia can change rapidly, and although you might be visiting in summer, you should be ready for all four seasons to make an appearance at some point. Sturdy shoes for hiking or outdoor activity are a must, while a windproof, waterproof jacket will soon become your favorite item of clothing – believe us!
A trip to Patagonia will never be anything but active. Whether you’re scouting out birds in the Patagonian steppe or fly-fishing in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, you’re going to want to be in good shape for your trip.
Get prepared with some gentle exercise in the months leading up to departure. Consider going out for a few hikes, particularly if you’re planning on embarking on any of the region’s longer treks.
Book accommodations and transportation well in advance
As one of South America’s top adventure destinations, Patagonia has seen a huge rise in visitor numbers. Although there are still plenty of accommodations to go around, savvy travelers can do no harm in booking lodgings a good few months before the dates of their stay.
Accommodations in places such as Ushuaia at the very southern end of Patagonia can book up fast and it’s now obligatory to reserve accommodations in advance for Torres del Paine National Park.
If your trip includes a road trip element, such as along the Carretera Austral in Chile or Ruta 40 on the Argentine side, get researching vehicle hire companies in the main Patagonian cities of Bariloche, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas or Ushuaia as soon as possible to ensure that you’ve got a vehicle ready for your adventure.
Learn some Spanish
Patagonia is a region of immigrants from across the globe where you’re likely to come across more than a handful of different languages. But the thread that weaves together the whole area is Spanish and travelers who arrive with at least a basic grasp of Chilean Spanish will find their trip goes somewhat smoother.
Practice with an online course, join a language exchange group or take some proper classes and enjoy using your new language when you finally arrive.