1. When is the best time to go to Patagonia?Patagonia is a rugged, mountainous area of southern Chile and Argentina characterized by glaciers, fjords, and windswept steppe. Weather is unpredictable with strong winds and sudden storms common. In the Magallanes and Tierra del Fuego areas, temperatures in summer average 52°F (11°C). Dampness and wind chill can make it feel cooler so be prepared by having a number of layers and good waterproof gear with you. The weather year-round is highly unpredictable, and in summer be prepared for incessant winds that do lessen in the winter. In the shoulder season months - November and March - you are likely to find the winds not as strong as they are during the peak of summer. Summertime (December through February) is the best time to visit as temperatures are generally warmer and trails are more accessible. Shoulder months, October, November, March, and April tend to have cooler temperatures, but also less wind and smaller crowds so these can be nice options as well.
See weather in » Punta Arenas | Puerto Natales | Ushuaia (Argentina)
2. What are the accommodations like?In Patagonia, we have selected a variety of charming accommodations ranging from remote hiking lodges to comfortable city hotels with all of the modern conveniences. In general, we use small, family-run accommodations that are locally owned and characteristic of each area instead of luxury chain resorts. For more information, check out our Patagonia Lodging page or click on the bed icons next to each day of the tour itinerary to view pictures of our standard hotels/ lodges.
3. Are meals included?Most meals are included on our Patagonia excursions as you will often be traveling off the beaten path where restaurant choices are limited. On the few afternoons/ evenings when you are in a larger city with a variety of restaurants to choose from, meals are not included. Your hotel staff can recommend some great restaurant options and will also provide a light continental breakfast on these days.
4. What are the tour leaders like?
All of our tour leaders are exceptional! They are fluent in English and Spanish. They are from the local areas where they guide and are among the very best guides available in each region. Our tour leaders treat our travelers like friends, showing visitors both the major highlights and the local treasures.
5. What type of transportation is used?Our Patagonia tours utilize a variety of transportation including private vans, comfortable tourist buses, boats, flights, etc. We use a mix of private/ public transportation to provide travelers with the safest and most efficient transportation in each area. Each tour itinerary page has a description of the transportation included on that tour. If you have additional questions, just ask!
6. What type of food is typical of Patagonia?Our Patagonia tours include a mix of regional and international specialties such as BBQ, sandwiches, pasta, fresh produce, etc. On the Chilean side, seafood is among the world's best. Fish is often fried but will be steamed or grilled upon request. Beef is central to the Argentinean diet. Barbecue grills and steak houses are common, often with 10-15 different choices of beef cuts.
7. Do I need a converter/ adapter for the electricity?Patagonia uses 220 volt, 50 cycle electricity. Travelers will require a voltage converter for 110 volt devices. Plugs are either two rounded prongs, two flat prongs (like the US), or three angled flat prongs so most travelers will want plug adapters as well.
8. What types of planes are used for internal flights?Most internal flights use 727s or similar size jet planes with a capacity of 80-120 passengers.
9. Are these trips suitable for kids?Yes and no. The Mare Australis cruise and Awesome Argentina tour can be great choices for families with school-aged children who have an interest in nature and wildlife. Most of our other Patagonia tours include multi-day treks that are generally recommended only for kids age 12 and above.
Our Family Travel Page has some helpful hints for making the most of your family vacation. We realize that you know your kids best so we will be happy to answer all of your questions and try to give you the most accurate impression of what to expect. However, please remember that these are adventure tours and flexibility is essential!
10. What is the typical age range for these tours?Our Patagonia tours tend to attract all ages. The more adventurous trekking tours tend to attract a slightly younger group, but we've had active 75 year olds do great on our trekking trips so no one should feel limited. Expect a wide range of ages and ask your adventure coordinator if you are curious about the demographics for a particular departure.
11. Do tour rates include international flights?Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You can purchase international flights on your own, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in international flights to South America.
12. How can I arrange internal flights?It depends. We can arrange internal flights within Argentina for you if desired when you book your tour. LanChile can arrange the internal flights that you will need in Chile. You can book these flights directly on their web-site at: www.lanchile.com. If you are arriving into South America with LAN, you may want to take advantage of The Visit South America Airpass, valid for travel within Chile. Travelers can purchase coupons good for one flight each (one way) for approximately $90 per coupon ($269 per coupon for Easter Island). And again, we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in South America flights.
13. How do I get to the hotel from the airport when I arrive?We can arrange an airport transfer for you or you can take a local taxi. Taxis are usually less expensive, though some travelers prefer the convenience of having someone waiting for them at the airport when they arrive, especially after an exhausting flight. Please let us know your preference!
14. How much should I budget for tips?Tips are not required on any of our tours. However, it is customary in Latin America to offer a small tip for exceptional service. Tipping amounts vary widely, though some travelers report that ~$2-$10/ day for your guide and ~$1-$3/ day for your driver is common. Other travelers opt to bring small gifts from their home to give to service providers along the way.
15. Are there any discounts available?Absolutely! We offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Travel Discounts page for the latest offers and on-going discounts.
16. How far in advance should I book?You can book your Patagonia tour at any time and generally the earlier you book, the better. Australis cruises (especially holiday departures) often fill up 6 months in advance or more. We usually recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that you book your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available. That said, we are often able to accommodate last minute travelers (some even departing in less than one week!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice tour may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip coordinator can probably recommend some other similar options that would be equally interesting! Many lodges will not hold spaces less than 30 days before departure so for last minute bookings, you may be asked to send your registration form and trip payment in right away to secure your spaces.
17. Are tour dates flexible?YES. Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed on-line. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of two travelers as long as lodges/ hotels are available.
18. Can I extend or change my stay?Absolutely! Check out our Chile Extensions and Argentina Extensions for ideas. Extra days can also be arranged in most areas if desired. Let us know how you would like to customize your trip and we will do our best to accommodate you.
19. What should I pack?You will receive a detailed packing list specific to your tour after you book. A water/windproof jacket, fleece, and sun protection are recommended for all Patagonia tours. Patagonia experiences an amazing variety of climates Snow and wet weather are common so fast-drying clothes that can be layered work best for these areas.
20. How safe is Patagonia?According to the US State Department, the potential for terrorism is relatively low as is the rate of crime against travelers. That said visitors should take the same security precautions that they would in any major city in the world, especially in the larger arrival/ departure cities. Check out the US State Department travel advisories for the latest information.
21. Is the water safe to drink?The tap water is safe to drink in most parts of Patagonia. To be sure, ask your tour leader or the hotel/ restaurant staff. Bottled water is readily available as well if desired.
22. Can I use US dollars or do I need local currency?Many restaurants, markets, and other service providers readily accept US dollars and these are easier to exchange than other foreign currencies or traveler's checks. The local currency is the peso. Check out a Currency Converter like, www.oanda.com/currency/converter/ for the latest exchange rates.
23. Should I bring cash or Traveler's checks? Are ATMs available? Can I use credit cards?Most travelers bring a small amount of US cash with them and withdraw from ATMs as they need it along they way. ATMs are readily available in the larger towns and cities. Travelers can withdraw US dollars or local currency at fair exchange rates. Traveler's checks are fine, but they can be more difficult to exchange and you will usually receive a poorer rate or be charged an additional fee. Credit cards are accepted only in the larger restaurants and stores. Although it is helpful to bring a credit card along for emergencies, don't count on using it for most purchases.
24. Can I use my cell phone?Check with your cell phone provider. Each company is different and they can give you the most up-to-date information.
25. Do I need a visa/passport?All visitors must have a valid passport and proof of onward passage to enter Chile or Argentina. Your passport should be valid for at least six months after your departure date.Certain travelers entering Chile must pay a reciprocity fee. The cost of this fee varies depending upon your nationality. There is no longer a reciprocity fee required of US citizens visiting Chile. This fee is valid for multiple entries during the validity of the traveler's passport and is due upon arrival to the Santiago international airport.
Argentina also charges a reciprocity fee. This include citizens from the United States, Canada and Australia. This fee must be paid online in advance of your arrival to Argentina. This includes airports, land border crossings, and ports. If one arrives in Argentina without showing proof that the fee was paid, he/she will not be able to enter Argentina.
*Payments can be made here: virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes/
This Argentina reciprocity fee applies to citizens of the United States, Canada, and Australia. Each traveler must the following amount:
· United States: $160 (fee is valid for 10 years - transferable to a new passport if you show your old one)
· Canada: $75 (valid for one single entry)
· Australia: $100 (valid for a year - and multiple entries for that year)
For all other nationalities, please consult with your nearest embassy or consulate for information on entry requirements. Entry requirements change with surprising frequency. It is each traveler's responsibility to check with the consulate for the most up-to-date visa information.