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Help on Travelling Patagonia

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Help on Travelling Patagonia

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1. Posted by A.Bozier (Budding Member 5 posts) 5y

A.Bozier has indicated that this thread is about Patagonia

Good day,

apology for this long essay of a message.

After spending 11 months backpacking around Asia and ending up back at my parents house working the same job
as before and doing the same thing I did before I left, I realized I do not want a pension plan just yet (im only 27)
I have decided that I am not ready to fall into the social grip of work, mortage, kids, pension that everyone sees as the "normal life" I need to see more of this amazing planet so many people take for granted. so in 2013 around June / July time I am planning a trek around south America for as long as possible I just needed help and advice on the if, buts, maybes and can and cant's.

this is my idea and I just need to know if its do-able.

fly into Santiago, visit Easter Island and then come back and travel south into Patagonia, Pucon, Ultima Esperanza, Puerto Natles, Ushuaia and if possible border cross into Argentina from down south so I can go to El Calafate, El Cheltan, Monte Fitz Roy on the way up to Peninsula Valdes, Puerto Madryn to see the Orca's and then into Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls and onto Uruguay, Brazil as far as Brasilia across into Mato Grosso, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, fly from Quito into Venezuela and then on to Cambodia. kind of wanting to spend 6 months in S.A.

I just need help on Patagonia, as its a place you don't want to go unprepared.

Am I able to get from Santiago to Ushuaia without doing these online week tours at £1000+ ? I just want to go from place to place independently and come and go as I please. obviously ill need a guide while im in Patagonia otherwise ill be in trouble and become lost, which is something I do not want. is it cheaper to get a tour organised in Santiago from a hostel or something ? also do I need to have any hiking experience ? as I don't, I did a little walking up and down mountains in China and the 12km walk along the great wall which is pretty much all I have done in recent years. I am also a smoker (trying to quit) and I like the odd beer and take aways from time to time, so im not in the best shape but i have started swimming and playing football again so im not fatty, so would I need to shape up and get healthy for the altitudes ill be going up ?

I realise that Patagonia is going to be a little chilly, so will need to bring waterproof & thermal clothes? I do plan to travel north into the tropics and I don't want to carry jackets and hiking boots with me so ill need to get rid of these items before I reach the warmer places. would I be able to get away with wearing jeans, hoodies and trainers if I went during the summer time or would it be a massive gamble, the thing is I don't want to buy £80 boots or a jacket for a few weeks and then give it away if I don't need it to start off with. also on the travels through Patagonia, do you sleep in tents on mountains or is there hostels in towns and cities and you visit the glaciers and mountains on a day trip ?

while im down in Ushuaia can I border cross into south Argentina and travel up to Buenos Aires ? can I get a flight to El Calafate and if so how regular are these flights ?

all the other places north of Argentina are easy to fing information about and ill just do things on a day to day basis. im just wanting information about backpacking through the mountains and lakes of the south.

i appreciate all help and advice and will take on board everything that is said.

thanks in advance

Ash

2. Posted by CascadaExp (First Time Poster 1 posts) 5y

Hey Ash, its great to hear you wanting to travel before settling anywhere, and Patagonia is a great place to continue your journey. Let me just say that Chile already welcomes you, and I'm not saying it because I live in Chile, but because I know we're warm and friendly people who love that foreigners come to visit.
I work for an ecotourism adventure travel agency named Cascada Expediciones that takes people around Chile with organized trips for the day or for a few.
If you're interested in Patagonia, we even run an ecolodge located right on the Torres del Paine National Park, called EcoCamp Patagonia.
As far as clothes are concerned, know that in Patagonia, whether its summer, winter or whatever season, the climate can be a bit chaotic, since there you can have all 4 seasons in just one day. It is pretty rainy too. So take that into account.
The closest cities close to the glaciers and Torres del Paine NP are Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales, but they could be far if you plan things like visiting the glaciers for the day. Besides our EcoCamp there are other hotels and lodges you can stay at in Torres del Paine and around, and then there are always camps you can stay at if you have tents.
If you want to check out Cascada, -snip-
or our Patagonia lodge in -snip-
Good luck and ask if there's anything else I can help you with.

Moderator comment: please see Forum Rules

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. Link to Forum Rules added. ]

3. Posted by Reece Sanford (Travel Guru 1368 posts) 5y

Forget tour companies travelling in Patagonia. You can do it all yourself or with other people you will meet on your travels.

I spent 9 months in South America in 2006/07 and it was amazing.

My plans though soon went out of the window. I flew into Lima and after a few days flew into Cusco although as you have to i had a tour booked for the Inca Trail.
After travelling around Peru it soon became obvious that i had to see Bolivia as so many travellers said DO NOT MISS IT, and WOW i was not disappointed. Cycling the most dangerous road in the world,swimming with dolphins in a river while i looked on at the alligators on the side of the river and thought about the piranha i had caught there the day before,while i heard monkeys howling in the distance. Then the amazing trip from Uyuni across the Atacama Desert into Chile was just mind blowing.
I then headed down to Pucon to walk/hike up Volcan Villarica (another must do) and from there headed into Argentina.

WOW my favourite country. I was only planning 3 months and stayed 6 months.

Anyway basically i eventually ended up in Buenos Aires and went from there to Puerto Madryn,and onto El Calafate (Perito Moreno Glacier),then down to Ushuaia and then up to Puerto Natales for my hiking in Torres Del Paine. In Puerto Natales i stayed at The Erratic Rock hostel and Bill the owner is awesome. They will help you out (hiring equipment,info etc etc) for your hiking. I took my boots with me over the whole trip. Although its fairly cheap to ship things home from Argentina. You take as less kit as possible. 1 spare of everything and thats it.I had 1 thermal top and a fleece and walking trousers that i took with me also.
Sleeping bag and tent you can hire from the hostel. the terrain is not bad going although you need to be fairly fit as i hiked it over 4 days (you can hike further if you want).

Then from Puerto Natales it was back to El Calafate and along trip by bus on Ruta 40 (check what time of year as the road in winter gets blocked). But its one hell of a trip onto Esquel and El Chalten before carrying onto Bariloche. Then you can continue to Mendoza and Salta (another amazing place) and i then went backwards and forwards between Buenos Aires and Mendoza about 4 times as i loved both.

Finally from BA i then went to Iguazu Falls and from there you could head into Brazil

Phew hope i didnt bore you and enjoy South America

Oh and check out Aerolíneas Argentinas for flights from El Calafate to BA.Although they can be abit pricey.Argentinians get the same flight cheaper though.

4. Posted by tricky (Respected Member 323 posts) 5y

-reece- speaks lots of sense. Did pretty much the same trip in the opposite direction. Fabulous stuff, especially Bolivia and Patagonia. I assume -reece- is talking about Rurrenabaque which is a must do in Bolivia.

Anyway, re: Patagonia.

My wife and I travelled into Chile from Bariloche arriving at Puerto Montt. We stayed nearby for a few days before getting on board tha Navimag ferry (google it). That cost us about $350US each but it was fabulous. It took 4 days/3nights or so to sail to Purto Natales (your gateway to the Torres del Paine national park). All meals on board were included as well as entertainments and talks about nature and the ways of the south.

To put it into a bus persective coming back would take 30-35 hours typically. We did it in 32 I think (Puerto Natales to Ossorno).

We had booked nothing for the TdP park until we got there and we went mid January 2008 (which is high season). The Rock rings bells but we stayed in a smaller hostel. There are literally heaps and heaps of shops selling bus trips to the park - it's a few hours away.

You can also organise accomodation from the town for x number of nights. Alternaively you can hire tents and everything you could possibly need.

I wore a semi decent pair of boots but by no means the best and was absolutely fine. Indeed I reckon good trekking trainers would be ok.

I put some pics on my blog if you are interested. The place is beautiful beyond words and an absolute must do for any traveller. Obviously it costs a little more down there for accomodation and food but fresh air and walking is free and the best time you will spend so enjoy it.

5. Posted by A.Bozier (Budding Member 5 posts) 5y

hey,

big thank you to all for your info and advice, im just starting getting myself organised and looking at dates, seasons, prices, hostels etc etc at the moment and what you all have said is a massive help. Reece you didn't bore me at all. you make me want to go even earlier after reading your message. i understand to take as little as possible, do i leave my bags in the hostel and go to TDP on a day trip with a tour or am i best to carry my bags with me ??

i suppose if and when you start getting up into the warmer tropic climate, i can just buy myself flip flops and shorts and do away with the thermals and jackets to other backpackers who don't have the items.

as said above a bus can take 30 hrs, i did alot of night buses in vietnam (10hrs) and that was painful enough, the boat trip or flights sound like a top idea as im not sure if the buses will be the same but im 6ft 2 and had differcultly getting comfortable in the beds on board. i think ill do as Reece said and meet people and do travel in a group rather then go alone.

the only reason why i want to start in Santiago is so i can work my way south and then north into Argentina and then east into Brazil and across into Bolivia, otherwise if i started off in Argentina id have to travel south into Chile and then Bolivia would mean going into brazil and then back across into Peru.

would it be better to start off in the cold climate (patagonia) then in the tropics ??
the only reason why is if im taking thermals and a warm wind proof jacket once im in the tropics i can get rid of and lighten my load.

thanks again, happy new year

6. Posted by tricky (Respected Member 323 posts) 5y

Some days I trekked in my shorts and t-shirt mate. Some days it's warm, but as I said, I went in January when the weather is at it's best. You need a wedge of sun cream though as the ozone is pretty thin down there.

Just get a thermal top and bottom and then add a few thin layers on top.

I too am 6' 2" ish. Some of the buses in SA are aweseome, others aren't. Quite random but if you go to the bus stations and look out for the good one's you will know which companies to book with. It's worth the extra 10 mins before you book!!!

Oddly I was talking with my wife about the Navimag only yesterday and the beds were so comfortable and we were in C class.

If I were you there is no way on earth I would do a day trip to the TdP. Go for a few days. 5 days will see you through the W trek comfortably. You can leave your big pack at a hostel safely no problem whatsoever.

7. Posted by A.Bozier (Budding Member 5 posts) 5y

hi Tricky,

im happy with the fact i can leave my big bag safely in the hostel allowing me to camp over in the TDP. ill proberly rent the camping equipment tho.

and as long as theres some good buses ill be happy riding them, at least ill get to see the countryside.

and as for the clothing, ill just take a few of each and go with the flow of what the weather will be like.

thanks for the tip about the sun cream.

8. Posted by Reece Sanford (Travel Guru 1368 posts) 5y

Quoting A.Bozier

hey,

Reece you didn't bore me at all. you make me want to go even earlier after reading your message. i understand to take as little as possible, do i leave my bags in the hostel and go to TDP on a day trip with a tour or am i best to carry my bags with me ??

i suppose if and when you start getting up into the warmer tropic climate, i can just buy myself flip flops and shorts and do away with the thermals and jackets to other backpackers who don't have the items.

as said above a bus can take 30 hrs, i did alot of night buses in vietnam (10hrs) and that was painful enough, the boat trip or flights sound like a top idea as im not sure if the buses will be the same but im 6ft 2 and had differcultly getting comfortable in the beds on board. i think ill do as Reece said and meet people and do travel in a group rather then go alone.

would it be better to start off in the cold climate (patagonia) then in the tropics ??
the only reason why is if im taking thermals and a warm wind proof jacket once im in the tropics i can get rid of and lighten my load.

thanks again, happy new year

Yes you leave your belongings at the hostel.
All i took around Torres Del Paine was a spare set of clothes (for getting into after a good days hike) then back on with your smelly clothes the next morning you were hiking in the day before.Then sleeping bag,stove,tent,roll mat,water bottles,gas canisters etc i hired from the hostel, and enough food to keep you going.

Check out The Erratic Rock Hostel website im sure they will have plenty of info.

I actually travelled from Mexico,Costa Rica,Panama and then into Peru (Inca Trail),Bolivia (Rurrenabaque Tropics),Chile,Argentina.
I packed a lightweight waterproof jacket (suitable for wearing at night everywhere),2 pairs of zip off craghoppers trousers,1 fleece and my hiking boots. I carried these for the 12 months. I also bought thermal top and bottoms while in Pucon.

Regarding the overnight buses.Travel full cama when possible.Seriously its luxury.Like 1st class on a plane.Companies like Via Bariloche,Andesmar,Flechabus in Argentina are the best.Pricewise its worth it.Choose a seat on the righthand side if your travelling alone as you get no one next to you. You can watch 2-4 films in English,food,wine,champagne.
I will message you some websites.

Regarding group travel. In south america you will never be alone.I would say in 9 months in Latin America i was alone 2 weeks max.

Happy New Year

9. Posted by A.Bozier (Budding Member 5 posts) 5y

just been looking at bits and bobs and am i reading the correct price for the entrance of TDP .
it says the entrance is $1500 for 4 nights camping ?

didn't realise it was going to be that expensive. was hoping it was the case of turn up and pay and once your in you can stay as long as you want, well within reason

this is takien off Erratic Rock
The 'W' - Patagonia's Classic Trek - 4 nights, 5 days
1750 USD 1-5 trekkers / 1580 USD 5-10 trekkers

is that a fair price or is that a cyber price

10. Posted by Reece Sanford (Travel Guru 1368 posts) 5y

Noooooooooooooooooooo hahahaha

Read it all mate.Thats them organising their tour for you