Everything You Need to Know Before Travelling in Patagonia

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Patagonia has an almost surreal quality to it so it's no wonder our Patagonia adventures are synonymous with intense rugged beauty and world-class hiking. You would struggle to find a more intensely beautiful, rugged and diverse countryside, from vivid green alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers, to glacier fields stretching as far as the eye can see.

 

Where is Patagonia?

 

 

Patagonia is a distinct geographical region at the base of South America spanning the lower sections of Argentina and Chile. On the Chilean side, it starts in the Araucanía region extending down to the extreme southern tip of the country. On the Argentine side, it begins in the province of Rio Negro and carries on all the way to Tierra Del Fuego.

The bottom of South America is also the closest landmass to Antarctica (New Zealand is the second closest), so it's a popular jumping off point for Antarctic voyages and cruises.

Area

 

The vast Patagonia region covers about 777,000 square kilometres (300,000 square miles) of Argentina, which is about a third the country, and another 340,000 square kilometres (131,275 square miles) or nearly half, of Chile.

Government

Both Chile and Argentina are democratic republics.

Population

Many regions of Patagonia have very low population density. The total population of Patagonia is about 2 million, which is in Argentina and Chile combined, with the large marjority living in Argentina.

Time zone

Argentina is three hours behind GMT. Chile is four hours behind GMT. From October to March both countries observe day light saving, putting their clocks forward by one hour. Basically this means that most of the time Patagonia is within one or two hours of USA Eastern Standard time. 

 

Language

The official language of Patagonia is Spanish but there are small pockets of indigenous communities within Patagonia who speak Mapuche. In larger cities, you're likely to meet locals who know some English, but in rural areas this is rare, so knowing basic Spanish travel phrases (or travelling with a guide that knows the language) is very helpful.

Main gateway cities

Punta Arenas (Chile), Puerto Natales (Chile), El Calafate (Argentina), Ushuaia (Argentina - Tierra del Fuego)

Currency: Argentina

The local currency is the Argentinean Peso (ARS) which is divided into 100 centavos.

Currency: Chile

The local currency is the Chilean Peso (CLP), which is divided into 100 centavos.

Climate

The summer season in Patagonia runs from December to March. The highest rainfall is during the Patagonian winter (June to September) but days are changeable and can be hot and sunny one day, to wet and windy the next year round. Summer season is definitely the best time to travel to this part of the world, as winter months can be harsh and inhospitable.

 

Vaccinations

You should have hepatitis A and tetanus vaccinations as well as chicken pox and measles if you've never caught them before. However, no vaccination certificate is required to enter either Chile or Argentina. Rabies and malaria medication is not considered necessary in the areas that we travel, but may be required if you are doing further independent travel.

Electric voltage

In both Chile and Argentina, electric voltage is 220 volts, 50 cycles (220v 50Hz). Most travel appliances, such as laptop computers, have an auto volt transformer (it will say '110v-240v' for example), but appliances or electric devices designed for 110 volts only will need a transformer and not just a plug adaptor.

Patagonia travel and visas

To really experience hiking in Patagonia, you have to do more than simply admire the views, and travel visas for Chile and Argentina are somewhat complicated, so it pays to work with an experienced travel professional to make sure you've got all the right paperwork and there won't be any nasty surprise fees. Please feel free to give us a call and we'll run through our Patagonia tours options with you!

 
 

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