Hello fellow travellers!
Once in a while I need to get away from the hustle of the job and the big city. I usually travel alone and usually go to places that while not being too touristy, still offer a certain level of comfort and safety (I went to Sao Tomé last year, for example.).
Next on my list is Patagonia which has been a dream of mine for quite a while now. But I read that Torres del Paine can be crowded certain parts of the year.
So what areas in Patagonia could you recommend that are less busy and if you know any good tour operators I'd really appreciate that as well! :-)
Thanks for the help!
Here`s a quick list of the attractions in Patagonia that I´ve found, some off the main tourist trail:
San Martin de los Andes - winter ski, summer treks and lakes.
Villa la Angostura - attractive village, winter ski, summer treks and lakes.
Bariloche - winter ski, summer treks and lakes.
Esquel - winter ski, summer treks, steam train ride.
Sierra Grande - small town with a wicked lamb roast buffet (cordero cordoba) and a small beach resort called playas doradas nearby.
Trelew - welsh town with some museums.
Gaiman - welsh village with fossil beds nearby.
Puerto Madryn - One the main argentine tourist destinations to see whales, seal lions, and penguins. Also nearby Puerto Parimades nearby has a beach and scuba diving.
Sarmiento - visit the petrified forests
Perito Moreno - National park for trekking and caves called the Cueva de las manos
Puerto Deseado - beach, penguins, and dolphins.
San Julian - more sealife.
Monte Leon near to Piedrabuena - camping, sea lions and penguins.
El Chalten - Trekking and rock climbing near mount Fitz Roy. busy in summer.
El Calefate - Glaciar Perito Moreno
Ushuaia - Winter ski, summer trekking, sailing, boat trips to surounding fiords and Antarctica.
Coihaique - winter ski and summer trekking in nearby national parks
Puerto Natales - Torres del Paine national park. busy in summer and I've heard it`s now quite expensive at around US$40 - 50 entrance.
Punta Arenas - National park and small ski resort
Well there`s a few to get on with anyway. If you need more details on anything just ask.
Phew. Wow! That's a long list. Thank you!
Because I'll be travelling on my own and I don't speak Spanish (I know, I know...) I'm thinking about joing a group this time. It feels strange but might be the more sensible thing to do...
I think Steve covered most of the things you'd want to see. TDP can be "crowded" in the austral summer (Jan-Feb-Mar) but that's a pretty relative term when it comes to a massive national park. It's not like walking down the sidewalk in New York.
As for joining a group, up to you, but it is actually pretty easy to travel independently down there, even with just some basic spanish. If you spend a couple of weeks learning the basics (how to ask for hotel rooms, bus tickets, directions, countying, money stuff), you should be okay. If you want company, it's always easy to find a few other english speakers (heck, just hang out at the Navimag dock in Pto. Natales when the boat comes in...).
Thanks for your advice! You are really awakening the wanderlust in me. Now I really want to go. But that makes the whole planning process even more enjoyable.
I think I'll go with a group the first time. Some tour organizers seem to be pretty flexible in regards to what places to see, etc. And then I'll venture out on my own next time around. :-)
Personally I wouldn´t go with a group tour. If you`re worried about being alone, don´t. As long as you stay in backpackers hostels you´ll always meet other travellers who are on the same route as you and that have the same interests. While travelling I have found that actually it´s very difficult to be alone if you do want a day to yourself!
As for your spanish, most argies involved in tourism speak a bit of english, and if not then I´m sure you´ll get by with some basic phrases. Also you´ll most probably meet a travel companion that does speak the local lingo.
If it´s safety that you´re worried about, then outside of the biggest cities there´s no problem at all. Those big cities are quite safe too
you raise some good points, thanks. I agree and I usually would always prefer to go by myself. But I want to do some mountain trekking and I just don't know the region well enough to venture out by myself. Plus, for those kind of activities I don't like to go by myself anyway in case something happens and you need someone to get help.
I made it through Sao Tome in Africa with just a few bits of Portuguese so language isn't a main concern to me. I'll just use my hands and feet and the few phrases I learned in school.
Mmmh. I'm really torn now: I loved travelling by myself through Thailand. But it's easy there and I know the country. I just fear I'd miss out on some of the sites without a guide...
I could see hiring guides locally to help with treks and such, but travelling place to place, getting bus tickets and getting hotels isn't really a big issue. You could think about doing all the travel bits independently, and finding guides in the places where you want to head out and see nature.
I would and always do recommend the South and especially the Patagonia, in our summer months from November to April you will find it acceptable the weather. See this short video clip of mine of one of the interesting sights you can see there. Esquel and its antique steam engine train ….
Just left Patagonia in April and already found many things south of Puerto Natales are already closing down for the winter. Didn´t find the TDP particularly crowded (define ¨crowded¨?) but was apparently much quieter than even a month beforehand. If you want to avoid the tourist season, the upside is cheaper prices but the downside is a steep drop in the services available - this stretches even to buses (even before the roads start getting blocked off by snow, services run less frequently), and people in the tourism industry start getting grumpy once the trickle of tourist $$ slows down. Not sure how late the Navimag runs, but after ours was anchored for 2 days due to rough weather there were rumours going around of no more ferries til next summer... You can always fly in but bentivogli would have a word or 2 to say about that (plus if you can it´s nice to see the places Steve mentioned along the way - although the Ruta 40 bus trip from Bariloche to El Chalten is a whole lotta nothing). Chile and Argentina are incredibly safe (safety of person that is, not so much of property) and if you want to see everything, just get a good guide book or 3 and do the research before you go. Better yet, pester our friendly travel experts!