20 things to know before you go to Patagonia

by 21 Mar, 2021Patagonia

😷  COVID-19 NOTICE: You can check out the latest information about travel restrictions and bans in Patagonia due to the coronavirus HERE for Chile and HERE for Argentina.

🗺️  ITINERARY: 
This post is based on our experience following a 10-day itinerary in Patagonia that you can check out HERE.

Are you planning a trip to Patagonia for when all this situation is over? I’m so jealous!! We did our itinerary in Patagonia at the end of 2019 (back in the old days) as part of our backpacking honeymoon and despite many of the things I want to point out below for the ease of planning such a trip, we have to say it’s ALL worth it! 🤩 Patagonia can be a challenging region at times, but it has been the most amazing trip we have ever done so far, no doubt!

Note that our itinerary focused on Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park and the Argentinian Patagonia around El Calafate, El Chaltén and Ushuaia (not covering the Northern region of Patagonia nor the Coast) and the following points (some are recommendations, challenges to be aware of, a few facts, etc.) are fully based on our own experience. (I think) these are really worth knowing before going to Patagonia as we learnt some of them the hard way (by spending more money, missing things out, etc.) and as any travel freak, I want you to enjoy your trip to the fullest! 🤗

Before spreading our limited wisdom, just to say that we only went there for two weeks (when normally many people go to Patagonia for three-four weeks at least) and therefore, some of the points below might not necessarily apply to your travel plans (basically, you will be more chilled than us). Now seriously, I mean that some time-sensitive points might not be such an issue for you in that case, but still read the below! 😜 There might be some other important points you would like to know…

Also noteworthy, here we provide some details of our trip to contextualise the below points, but in the coming weeks, we will be posting about each stage of our trip more specifically – in case you are interested in knowing our itinerary in detail for inspiration, what excursions and hikes we did, etc.

So here we go!👇

1️⃣ A classic one: WHEN is best to visit Patagonia 🗓

This is a very basic aspect of your trip that you have probably already figured out by now, but this question has many more implications than just the weather and links up with other considerations to have in mind…

Patagonia is in the South Hemisphere (no spoiler!), and therefore summer is from December to February. The high latitude of Patagonia makes the region prone to really cold winters 🥶 and many things might be closed during this time (notably between June and August). Therefore, people often prefer to go there during the Austral summer, and people aren’t just you and I but rather a bunch of tourists arriving at the same time in a very concentrated area.

But you might say, hmm, isn’t Patagonia huge? Yes, it is! It spans over 1 million km2 (about three times the size of Finland) while its population density is extremely low: 1.9/km2 (versus 16/km2 in Finland, EU’s less densely populated country). This means that Patagonia’s few urban areas are extremely sparse and are often the base for most tourists going to the region and any point in between is often visited by all.

To give you an idea, we started watching Long Way Up, Ewan McGregor’s latest motorcycle trip documentary, in South America this time (by the way, we really recommend the show!). While watching it, we were saying all the time: “Look! They stopped at the same petrol station as us”, “Look! They stopped at the same pension as us”, and so on…

This is to say that while Austral summer might be the most ideal time to visit Patagonia weather-wise (although I also heard it won’t guarantee you good weather), it can get full of tourists, specially in the most desired spots such as Perito Moreno. So many people (including us) prefer to go during the spring (September-November) or autumn (March-May).

In our case, we decided to go between the end of October and early November (late spring) 👉 this isn’t high season, but isn’t low-medium season either… Nevertheless, the amount of tourists was very manageable although the weather during a few days could have been nicer (but people travelling for longer told us that weeks before it had been extremely sunny, so we learnt weather in Patagonia is a matter of luck🌟).

2️⃣ PLAN your trip in advance💡

Ok, this sounds like the dullest advice to provide at this stage, but the reason we are saying this is because the time you need to plan your trip to Patagonia is often longer than for other places.

Take our case as an example, we planned our trip only two months ahead. That seems like a loooong time to plan any trip (see our itinerary in Slovenia, which was planned in just one week before going!), but that’s not the case for Patagonia, especially if you plan to go there during high season (or even during the spring).

If two months seemed like a lot of time for us to plan our trip to Patagonia during spring, it wasn’t! For instance, Torres del Paine National Park has very limited accommodation and the nearest city, Puerto Natales (Chile), is at least within 1h45-drive (one-way) from the Park…. and when we were looking for accommodation within the Park to start our hikes early in the day, we unfortunately didn’t have many options available that were reasonably priced and we had to book each night in different places (post about Torres del Paine and where to stay will be coming up soon!).

The same for our car rental… We decided to rent one from El Calafate and we had trouble finding options two months in advance already!! 🤯  (post about El Calafate here!)

But we found our way around all these challenges and all this closely links with the next point…

3️⃣ Patagonia IS expensive 💸

That said, you can still travel there with a limited budget. For that you need to plan things a bit ahead as recommended on our previous point and be mindful that the Chilean side is generally more expensive (e.g. you can plan to book most of your accommodation and activities in Argentina rather than Chile if possible, buy your picnic for hikes in advance and not in shelters, etc.).

Going back to our experience with Torres del Paine National Park, when I said it was hard to find reasonably priced accommodation within the Park, I mean options that were under 300 EUR/night for a double room (!!). That has been our highest threshold for accommodation ever (we usually aim for around 100 EUR/night max!), but in Torres del Paine for some nights that was just impossible.

However, you can book shelters and camping sites at a much more reasonable price (you can rent a tent too if needed), you just need to do it much more in advance than us and know where (there are specific sites for you to book certain shelters, etc. I will try to cover that in the upcoming post about Torres del Paine as it took us some time to figure out the booking system!).

And with car rental, the same can happen… but I will discuss this on point 6️⃣  If you rent a car….

So YES, Patagonia is a quite expensive region! Be ready to…

4️⃣ Patagonia is divided in 2 countries 👮

Duh! This is obvious as we have already spoken about Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia, but there are a few things worth highlighting here.

For instance, if you will be travelling across both Patagonia(s) you need to be mindful of the different entry requirements and, if travelling by car, whether your driver license is valid in both countries.

Moreover, given the scarcity of shops and restaurants between urban areas, you will most likely travel with some food supplies, but note you might not be able to cross the border with any food.

Also, take into account that border crossing can take a long time! You need to check out in one customs to then check in on the other one. In our case, when crossing the border in Rio Don Guillermo, they scanned all our luggage and searched our car, and we could see this was the normal procedure. It took us over 1h to go through both checkpoints. And if you cross borders with a rented car you will need a special document that we explain in more detail under point 6️⃣  If you rent a car….

5️⃣ Another classic one: HOW to get around Patagonia 🚍

Another important aspect of your trip is how to move from one place to another one in the region, this might depend a lot on how many days you have for your whole trip, your budget and what place you want to use as your base.

Many people decide to start their Patagonia adventure from El Calafate given it has an airport well connected with Buenos Aires and other cities in Patagonia and it’s the place to go in order to see the Glacier Perito Moreno. From El Calafate you have different options to go to other strategic places in Patagonia: El Chaltén, Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine National Park, or Ushuaia.

By car

Car rental (and driving) is relatively easy in Patagonia and, as long as you book it with some time in advance, you will have different options for different wallets. In addition, with a car you will have the experience of driving in an extremely remote area with nothing around you (this has obviously something special!) and you can stop wherever you want for some pictures, etc. It gives you freedom!

For this reason, we opted for renting a car to do El Calafate-El Chaltén (4h), then El Chaltén-Torres del Paine National Park (8h) and finally get back to El Calafate, and we weren’t dependent on schedules as we had limited days. Moreover, having a car to get around Torres del Paine National Park was extremely useful and made our returns from hikes very comfortable when we were arriving soaked and freezing and had dry and warm clothes waiting for us in the car!

Should you decide to go to Ushuaia from El Calafate by car, note it takes about 12h and you will need to take a ferry, the Primera Angostura Crossing, between Punta Delgada and Bahia Azul (Chile). We would have loved to do this if we would have had more days! But I doubt this is faster than the plane unfortunately…

By bus

These journeys can also be done by bus if you don’t need to make the most of every single day you have in Patagonia. It won’t take much more time than by car, but you need to stick to their schedule and it will give you less freedom. Plus in order to reach Torres del Paine National Park from El Calafate, it’s very likely you will have to go through Puerto Natales making a detour.

That said, when looking at the options we had, travelling by bus seemed a very cheap alternative (i.e. going to Ushuaia from El Calafate takes 15h with a transfer in Rios Gallegos and includes the ferry, costing between 20-45 EUR/person). Between destinations in Argentina, Taqsa Marga offers many journey alternatives for Argentina’s Patagonia, and to reach Torres del Paine National Park via Puerto Natales (Chile) you can check out companies such as Bus-Sur.

By plane

The last option, and that we recommend for longer distances if you are on a time-bound itinerary, i.e. between El Calafate and Ushuaia or if you want to go to Puerto Arenas (Chile), is taking the plane. This is what we did for Ushuaia and it worked very well for us.

All internal flights within Argentina, we did them with Aerolíneas Argentinas and we have zero complains, we barely had any delays and took three flights in total for Patagonia: 1) Buenos Aires-El Calafate, 2) El Calafate-Ushuaia, 3) Ushuaia-Buenos Aires; and each flight cost us in average around 70 EUR/person.

Views from El Calafate Airport in Patagonia (Argentina)

[Patagonia airports are small and usually have beautiful views, this is from El Calafate Airport where you can see the strong colours of Lago Argentino, there is no filter!]

✅  TIP: If you are backpacking as we did and are taking the plane, we recommend that you take with you strong tape to make sure that there are no straps or other things that could snag your backpack on something… Look at our style below!👇

Our backpacks for Patagonia!

6️⃣ IF you rent a car… 🚘

Now, if you decide to rent a car as we did (100% recommended) you need to take into account the following:

– We rented our car with Hertz in El Calafate (lovely staff) but do compare prices with other companies before booking your rental, as prices can vary very much between companies depending on the availability of cars they will have at the time of rental, etc.; in addition, if you don’t plan to return the car at the same rental office, some companies might penalise this more than others. This wasn’t our case, so I cannot really advise on this…

Don’t go for the smallest car/cheapest option if you can. That’s what we did, we rented a Nissan Micra (🙈) and although I wouldn’t have any issue in having this car for an urban trip (we have to say it fulfilled its role very well!), many roads in Patagonia aren’t paved and have significant potholes (especially on the way to Torres del Paine National Park and within the Park) and we would have preferred to have a more robust car (preferably a crossover 😅)

However, when we were looking at car options (late as always), there was very little choice and the next category above was three times pricier (!!). To give you an idea, for the 6-day rental of the Nissan Micra we paid ~21’000 ARS (about 200 EUR), quite reasonable, but maybe not three times more that price…

Our car in Patagonia, it was a small but resistant one!

[Our lovely car in the middle of nowhere, it was a small but resistant one, however, for areas like Torres del Paine National Park we would have preferred something like this👇]

– If you plan to cross the Argentine-Chilean border with your rented car, you will most likely need to ask for “a permiso de salida” (exit permit) for the car. For this, you need to specify the dates you plan to be in the other country, show the documents you will be provided by your rental company at the border, and there is an extra admin fee to pay for this. We had to pay on top 1’815 ARS (about 17 EUR as of March 2021).

7️⃣ Refill at each PETROL station you see ⛽

This is relevant if you are renting a car in Patagonia, but putting it separately in case you are going there with your own car or van (lucky you!).

There are very few petrol stations in Patagonia outside urban areas and there are none at Torres del Paine National Park, and therefore you need to make sure to fill up your tank at every single petrol station you see on your way. And you will see very few… actually between El Chaltén/El Calafate and Torres del Paine National Park you will have to refill either at Tapi Aike or La Esperanza  that’s it!

⚠️  BEWARE: We also thought about buying a bottle of petrol, but NO, be mindful that it’s forbidden carrying one…

Petrol station in Patagonia in the middle of almost nowhere

[The Tapi Aike petrol station where there isn’t anything else – you will stop here if driving to the Rio Don Guillermo border crossing, believe me!]

8️⃣ DON’T always trust Google Maps 🗺️

If you are driving in Patagonia, Google Maps won’t always be your best mate, and it’s preferable that you ask locals about what’s the best way to get somewhere before heading. For example, when going to Torres del Paine National Park from El Calafate (or El Chaltén as we did), we were heavily discouraged to follow route 40 all the way there and do a detour through Esperanza given that the last section of the route 40 until arriving to Chile is in bad shape and unpaved.

Therefore, instead of doing this (Google Maps recommendation), we were recommended to do this.

Less relevant maybe, but still confusing, be mindful that some distant places in Patagonia are called similarly and can be misleading when searching things on the map, i.e. it’s not the same Perito Moreno (the town) than Perito Moreno (the glacier) – they are in the same Province (Santa Cruz) but 700 km apart! Or Torres del Paine is also a town, not just the National Park, so be mindful when searching for accommodation as they are 1h apart.

9️⃣ Expect to run into WILD animals 🦊

Don’t be afraid, your chances to run into a cougar (puma), Patagonia’s predator by excellence, are very low (although we did in Torres del Paine National Park!); they are extremely agile and run away from people and cars. But expect to run into many guanacos (cousins of llamas, see below), small foxes, maras (similar to wild rabbits) and armadillos, and catch sight of condors.

Guanacos seen from the road in Patagonia

Therefore, be mindful of this while driving and most importantly, wild fauna in Patagonia is rightfully protected and no food should be given to them, even if you feel tempted DON’T! Their natural entourage should be preserved, even when they chase you like this fox (and its friends that joined us after…):

A fox seen from the road in Patagonia

1️⃣0️⃣ Independent travel is NOT always possible 😩

This was a bit of a bitter realisation once we were already in Patagonia… Unlike many other places, going on your own to explore natural wonders is not that simple nor always possible in Patagonia unless you do it through an organised outing.

For instance, on our way from El Calafate to El Chaltén we had a whole day ahead of us and I saw there was this interesting petrified forest near La Leona, and we thought to visit it. When asking about it, people laughed at our face as if we had said something hilarious. They explained the “forest” is within private property and therefore only accessible via an organised trip (you can learn more about this place here), and thus weren’t able to visit it at the end!

We figured that a big chunk of Patagonia is divided in private large estates; and in addition, certain National Park areas are highly protected such as the Glacier Perito Moreno in Los Glaciares National Park and are therefore only reachable with an organised excursion, i.e. if you wish to approach the glacier beyond the viewpoints and walkways and even do a mini-trekking on it, you will have to do it with a company.

We did the mini-trekking of Glacier Perito Moreno with Hielo & Aventura and we would fully recommend it to anyone that goes to El Calafate and the whole experience is also very educational (plus the staff was great, it was super well-organised and it included transportation).

That said, at Torres del Paine National Park, we saw many people doing some trekking with a guide/ranger and I think that might be a nice option if you are not comfortable going there on your own, but just to flag that Torres del Paine is very feasible on your own, you just need to be well prepared and have (compulsorily) some shelter/camping booking if you are doing a multi-day trek (you will be asked for booking proof). In our case, we did a couple of one-day hikes instead (more on that to come!).

1️⃣1️⃣ BOOK activities in advance 🎒

In addition to probably having to do many activities through organised excursions, we would highly advise you book them in advance to ensure your spot, specially if you are only a few specific days in a place.

For instance (we seem to have an example for everything, but again these recommendations are based on our experience), in Ushuaia, we wanted to see penguins as there is a large colony in Isla Martillo! Most tour companies offer the opportunity to spot them from a catamaran, but there is one excursion to the “penguin rookery” available (we wanted to do this one).

However, when we arrived to their desk with big enthusiasm they told us we couldn’t sign up for it as it was fully booked for the next 3 days and we were only staying in Ushuaia 2 days… It was a big disappointment although we decided to do the regular catamaran tour which is still worth it as an alternative!

The main reason for not booking in advance was not to overplan things, but I guess we should have done so! I know also some people are often reluctant to pay the booking fee with their credit card on small websites. I get that fear too… so what I do in these cases is I always book via websites that offer to pay via PayPal even if that means paying a small fee in addition.

1️⃣2️⃣ Have CASH with you 💵

Also related to money, it’s very important you always carry with you some cash and don’t rely on withdrawing cash from ATMs. This isn’t just due to the scarcity of ATMs in Patagonia but also because, in Argentina at least, many ATMs had strong restrictions on the maximum amount we could withdraw…

For instance, for a week, in all the ATMs we tried to get some cash from, we were only allowed to withdraw an amount of max. ~40 EUR (an amount that vanishes within a day in Patagonia) and for each withdrawal you of course have an associated fee that is not little (we presumed these limitations were a legacy of Argentina’s corralito mesures).

In addition, payments by credit card are not always possible, so YES, having some cash with you can be a lifesaver, you will have to break your piggy bank!

Moreover, if you are the kind of person who hates to have spare foreign currency at the end of your trip, what we would recommend is that you have all of your cash in USD ($) as this is a currency that is also accepted directly in some places (i.e. in Torres del Paine National Park) and you can be exchanging your dollars into local currency (pesos argentinos or chilenos) little by little.

Although exchange houses don’t always offer the fairest exchange rate, we didn’t found an ideal solution and this was the best option we could think of to handle our money while travelling in Patagonia!

1️⃣3️⃣ Buy (and activate) a local SIM card 📱

Wi-Fi in Patagonia wasn’t always available or working properly… and although you will often have no signal at all in the region, we appreciated having a local SIM card (in our case, Argentinian) to do some Google searches when needed, contact hotels (two days before a stay we had an email from the hotel saying we were being relocated and we were lucky to see this thanks to mobile data!), call a taxi or remis (a private car driving service), book Uber or Cabify in Buenos Aires (we were advised not to take taxis in the capital), etc.

We decided to go with Movistar Argentina, more specifically with a prepaid plan that included a certain amount of mobile data and minutes for one week and we renewed once (I think prepaid plans have changed since then as I cannot find the exact plan we went for, but it still looks like the best option).

We bought our SIM card (or “chip” as called there) when we arrived in Buenos Aires before heading to Patagonia and I am emphasising the need to activate the card, because this was an odyssey for us until we figured it out how to do it…

At least back in 2019, as a foreigner, you were only able to activate the SIM card via your Facebook or Twitter account and this is something we didn’t have (I wasn’t very present on social media until this blog…), so we bought the SIM, had to find a random Wi-Fi spot, create a profile (lol) and share the info asked by Movistar Argentina on Twitter via DM.

A bit crazy, but we had no other choice and after all, it was VERY convenient having our own local SIM card throughout the trip… (except for the Chilean bit where we survived without data and almost no Wi-Fi for 3 days, I kind of liked it to be honest!).

1️⃣4️⃣ Patagonia is VERY windy 💨

This is not an exaggeration and you will notice it as soon as you land in this amazing region of the world!

Furthermore, the wind there always tends to have the same direction (from North-West to South-East) and can sometimes be challenging for bikers and hikers. On the road, you will see many signs like this one (you can even buy it as a souvenir, as we did! 😂):

Patagonia is windy, things to know about Patagonia

And you will understand why it’s a factor to have in mind… with our Nissa Micra wind didn’t go unnoticed, and our hike to Glacier Grey in Torres del Paine was challenged by strong winds (will post about this soon!). There is nothing to be done about this, just be mentally prepared about it and have windproof clothes with you!

Actually, it’s thanks to the strong wind that there are these precipitations in the mountain ranges of Patagonia that continue contributing to the Southern Patagonia Ice Field – this is an overly simple explanation and the process is more complex than that but I am not a geography expert, and you will get more background when you visit! 😜

1️⃣5️⃣ DRESS as an onion a.k.a. with many layers (and technical clothes) 🧤

I guess this is a recommendation for hiking in general and specially in a region where weather conditions can change from one day to another; and therefore we would recommend that, despite having a limited space in your luggage, you foresee varied clothing and different layers for hiking: from some thin thermal tops that you can change every day, to different warm clothes that you can wear on top and that when you have warmed up you can remove.

The reason we are saying this is because we saw a lot of people either wearing a T-shirt or an extremely warm and heavy coat and that can get very uncomfortable if you don’t find the right body temperature while you hike up. The same happens if you don’t have technical shoes and protection for your hands

In our hike to Mirador de las Torres (more info on this hike coming up soon!), it started snowing and the way back was relatively steep and very icy. Some people wearing regular street sneakers were facing some difficulties in their descent and had to use their hands, etc.

Again, all these adventures in Patagonia, although challenging, are totally worth it! But one has to be ready…

1️⃣6️⃣ Have a final layer of windproof AND waterproof clothes ☔

So this links to our previous point about wearing many layers and technical clothing. Nonetheless, we thought it’s worth flagging separately the importance of ensuring you have a final layer that is 100% windproof and waterproof (as we fail at that ourselves despite having some good gear already and buying some extra clothes prior to the trip).

As briefly mentioned under point 1️⃣4️⃣ our hike to Glacier Grey in Torres del Paine National Park became very challenging due to strong winds. In addition to that, it started raining continuously throughout the hike and, despite wearing all our gear, when we arrived at Lake Pehoe, we were freezing.

We were not the only ones, and while queuing there to take a catamaran that would bring us to Pudeto, people were shivering and screaming of cold from time to time. We were SO thankful that on the other side of the Lake, we had our car waiting us with dry clothes! 🙏

This is to say that we learnt a strong lesson here, we had really good warm Gore-Tex jackets but after hours under the water, these were not enough. We should have invested in windproof and waterproof trousers for instance and have something that would have covered both us and our backpacks (yes, like an ugly long unbreathable plastic poncho).

H said next time he is also wearing a neoprene top underneath it all, otherwise…

And I won’t get tired of saying it, all this suffering is worth it if you love nature and hiking, we would do this trip over and over again, but it’s important these things are clear… Maybe you go, will have the best weather ever and won’t encounter any of this luckily (🤞 fingers crossed you do), but as we were told too, best to be prepared! And of course, we weren’t… 🙈

1️⃣7️⃣ ALWAYS have an emergency blanket with you 🥶

OK, this point also revolves around the need for hiking gear I guess, but although this seems like a small (maybe exaggerated) thing to buy (emergency/survival/thermal blankets, whatever you wanna call them, cost very little, ~3 EUR, see in Decathlon), this is an essential, and specially if you’re going to Patagonia!

We usually keep an emergency blanket in every backpack we have, in our car and even bring it to our travels anywhere (once in Edinburgh, we cut some pieces and put them between our feet and boots as our feet froze after hours and hours walking outside and the difference was huge; funny thing has been seeing Ewan McGregor doing the same thing in Long Way Up during their journey in Patagonia, so I guess it’s not that odd!).

At the Torres del Paine National Park, we had to use one of our emergency blankets, otherwise we wouldn’t have fallen asleep during our first night there. For that night, we had managed to book a tent in Camping Central, but given we had our sleeping bags, we didn’t ask for the bed set. That was a big mistake as we ended up having no insulation mat and we barely could sleep due to the cold… and until we didn’t open up the emergency blanket, we didn’t manage to rest properly.

Thanks blanket!

1️⃣8️⃣ Be open minded, you MIGHT need to change your plans… 🤔

This maybe sounds like a dull advice too, but we went through a situation where we had to stay zen and think fast, and I think this is an important attitude in Patagonia as weather conditions (sometimes just the wind not necessarily the cold) can change your plans last minute; and this can be extremely annoying if you have a limited number of days in a place.

At the Torres del Paine National Park, we could only stay 3 days so we weren’t able to opt for the famous W-trek (5 days) nor the O-trek (8 days) and decided to do different one-day hikes instead (we will give you some suggestions on that in our upcoming post about Torres del Paine).

One of these hikes involved for us to take the Grey III Navigation from Hotel Lago Grey leaving us at the Refugio Grey, where we would begin the hike I was most excited about (from Refugio Grey to the Paso ranger station), and we would then return to Refugio Grey where we would sleep (we had booked and paid for it already).

It turns out wind close to the Glacier Grey was very strong and the captain deemed necessary to cancel the navigation as it could push the boat towards the Glacier (no thanks, we fully respected his decision).

We could have waited for the next navigation (3h waiting in an isolated hotel…) and see if situation had changed with the risk of not… wasting our morning and we wouldn’t be able to do the full hike we had in mind, but most importantly, we were also meant to spend the night at Refugio Grey as there were no chances for us to find other accommodation in the Park on the day…

At the end, we asked for our tickets to be reimbursed (we had paid 400 USD for 4 one-way tickets as a return ticket didn’t allow to return on a different day, and we got our money back, uff!). You are probably thinking, wasn’t there another way to go to Refugio Grey? Well not really… there isn’t any road taking you there, and that was the only option for us to do the aforementioned hike.

But now our priority was to get to Refugio Grey so we could have a place to sleep that night and we found another navigation last minute (from Pudeto to Paine Grande) that would require us to hike up to the shelter and little more, but it was worth the trip (we saw Glacier Grey from great viewpoints)

My point here is be ready to change your plans when you depend on excursions or navigations as the wind (or weather in general) can let you down; if that’s the case, don’t give up! Think fast, identify and follow your priority, so you won’t feel like you wasted your day or experience!

1️⃣9️⃣ LEARN some history beforehand 🤓

This is just a brief point about Islas Malvinas (or Falkland Islands) as we knew about the war between the UK and Argentina over this land in 1982, but we weren’t aware this was still such an openly disputed archipelago, but it is… and according to Argentines, it belongs to the Province of Tierra del Fuego.

Therefore, if you plan to go to Ushuaia, the capital of the Province and the southernmost city in the world (although this title is disputed with Puerto Williams in Chile, a bit “sourthernmore” but a smaller settlement), pay attention to the plenty of references made to Islas Malvinas (don’t say Falkland Islands there).

Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can notice things like the name of Ushuaia’s airport, which is called Malvinas Argentinas Ushuaia International Airport, the many signs saying “Las Malvinas son Argentinas” or that they belong to Tierra del Fuego, and even in the 50-Argentine Peso banknote there is a reference to them!

2️⃣0️⃣ Funny names to FINALISE 💃

Another (light and last!) point to finalise with this list, and that we thought it was nice to flag for those who aren’t Spanish speakers, is the funny names that are given to certain places in Tierra del Fuego…

Patagonia’s mainland is divided from the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago by the Strait of Magallanes, and the Beagle Channel is the strait dividing the Isla Grande (Big Island) of Tierra del Fuego from the smaller islands of the archipelago. Both straits are home to many islands and some other geographical features that have been named in (nowadays) funny ways, although it’s not that evident when looking at maps in museums and parks as not translated!

Those that we can recall on top of our minds were Bahia Inutil (Useless Bay), we understand this was due to the fact that the bay wouldn’t provide much to navigators, and Isla Estorbo (Nuisance Island), maybe difficulting manoeuvres at sea?

Other names were just as simple as possible: Isla Redonda (Round Island), Isla Nueva (New Island); and there was also an H Island! (although that’s more of an internal joke…) 😊

 

We hope these tips, examples and facts will be of use to you while you plan an amazing trip to Patagonia… have fun!!

Did you find the above useful or have other recommendations for Patagonia?

If you like what you read, please feel free to share this post, leave a comment and/or find out more about travelling in Patagonia 👇👇👇👇👇

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