Patagonia Backpacking Itinerary: Three Weeks & Beyond Skip to Content
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Patagonia Backpacking Itineraries For Three Weeks & Beyond

As the most adventurous part of South America, Patagonia deserves some serious travel time. Previously on the blog, I outlined four Patagonia travel itineraries for one- or two-week trips, but this time I’m tackling planning a far longer route around this dazzling region.

If a short visit just isn’t enough (believe me, it’s not), then the following Patagonia backpacking itineraries for three weeks and beyond should be more up your street.

Part of the fun of backpacking is to see where the wind takes you; picking and choosing your destinations along the way, on a whim or based upon the travel plans of new companions you meet along the way.

Why do you need to have an itinerary before backpacking in Patagonia?

And while that’s certainly my favourite way of travelling, Patagonia is a slightly different beast for several reasons:

  1. Travel in Patagonia is expensive. Back in March 2017, a three-week trip to Patagonia, which included hiking the O Circuit in Torres del Paine, renting a car to explore Tierra del Fuego and staying in basic to mid-level accommodation (with some camping thrown in) cost around $592,830 CLP/$900 USD. We could have done the trip cheaper, but this figure should give a sense of how expensive travel actually is.
  2. During the high-season (December through February) demand for accommodation and transport can exceed supply, meaning that last-minute decisions can leave you in a tight spot, particularly in places like Ushuaia, El Calafate and El Chaltén (Argentina) and Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas (Chile).
  3. Patagonia is huge; 402,000 square miles huge. And it’s a region, not a country, so travelling here requires border crossings between Chile and Argentina. What you soon learn is that getting from A to B – particularly when a lot of the information isn’t to be found easily online – requires a serious amount of pre-planning.

Using these Patagonia backpacking itineraries

These are my top recommendations for backpacking in Patagonia:

  • Don’t try and fly from Chile to Argentina. It’s horribly expensive. If you’re not arriving in Patagonia by bus, always fly internally from Santiago or Buenos Aires and then use one of the long-distance (and generally comfortable) buses to cross the border. You will save a lot of cash.
  • LATAM (expensive), Sky Airline (cheaper) and Jet Smart (budget) are Chile’s main airlines. Check out their prices on Skyscanner and then book directly. If you book through LATAM’s US site, you pay 4x the price than if you buy it via their Chilean site. It’s in Spanish though, so find someone who can translate.
  • Patagonia is probably the safest part of South America. I’ve hitchhiked in Chile without problems and would thoroughly recommend this as a form of transport. (Get tips on hitchhiking in South America here).
  • Car hire is also an interesting and rewarding way of seeing Patagonia, although booking in advance during high season is again recommended. I recommend using Rental Cars and suggest you check out this complete guide to planning a Patagonia road trip for essential tips and tricks.
  • The shoulder seasons, October-November and March-April are far quieter – and cheaper – for backpacking in Patagonia. Accommodation and agencies in some towns are sometimes not running in October or April though.
  • Bus schedules vary depending on the season and change year-to-year. Always visit the bus station when you get to a new place to confirm timings and buy tickets for the next leg of your journey. It’s also important to plan additional days into your Patagonia backpacking itinerary in case you can’t travel on the day you had initially intended. For more information about this subject, check out this detailed guide about getting to Patagonia
  • Self-catering is by far the best way of keeping costs down on these Patagonia backpacking itineraries. Where possible, I’ve highlighted the best places to stock up on food. I’ve also written in more detail about visiting Patagonia on a budget
  • However, crossing the border between Argentina and Chile, you cannot take fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese or meat. It will be confiscated and if you don’t own up to it (particularly when heading into Chile), you may be fined.

Patagonia backpacking itineraries for three weeks of travel

Three weeks in Patagonia is the perfect amount of time for undertaking some of Patagonia’s finest hikes: hiking the O Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park, seeing Glacier Perito Moreno, trekking to Laguna de los Tres from El Chaltén, as well as driving to the ends of the Americas or even exploring the highlights of the Carretera AustralChilean Patagonia’s ultimate road or hitchhiking trip.

Planning Your Trip to Patagonia?

Save time, stress & money with a customized travel itinerary planned for you by a Patagonia expert

What previous clients have said:

Steph’s itinerary exceeded all expectations. She provided off the beaten path hikes, great restaurants and accommodations, and very helpful local contacts.

Due to the weather we had to deviate from our original plan, however Steph quickly responded to our email during the trip with further recommendations. Her service took all the guess work out of planning our vacation and lead to the most fun and unforgettable trip we have ever had!

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Catherine Bradley

Traveled to Chile and Patagonia in Dec 2019/Jan 2020

Patagonia backpacking itinerary for three weeks: Patagonia’s best hikes

Overview of this three-week Patagonia itinerary:

  • Day One: Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas
  • Day Two: Pack/plan for hiking the O Circuit
  • Day Three: Puerto Natales
  • Days Four-Twelve: Hike The O Circuit, Torres del Paine National Park
  • Days Thirteen-Fourteen: El Calafate
  • Days Fifteen-Seventeen: El Chaltén, hike Mount Fitz Roy
  • Days Eighteen-Nineteen: Ushuaia
  • Day Twenty: Bus from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas
  • Day Twenty-One: Fly from Punta Arenas to Santiago

Few places in South America have quite the same reputation as Patagonia when it comes to hiking.

Trekking in the Patagonian Andes from places such as El Chaltén, on the Argentine side, and in the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, Torres del Paine National Park, is a must-do on any trip to the region.

Luckily, this Patagonia backpacking itinerary covers the best hiking destinations and throws in a humongous glacier and the world’s southernmost city for good measure.

Patagonia backpacking itinerary
Glacier Perito Moreno near El Calafate.

This itinerary assumes that you’ll be starting in Santiago, Chile, mainly because internal flights in this country are cheaper than in Argentina thanks to competition between LATAM and Sky Airlines, the two main carriers.

As with most flights, booking a few months in advance can significantly reduce the cost of flying to Patagonia.

Required equipment for this three-week Patagonia travel itinerary

If you’re looking to travel on a budget in Patagonia or are just open to an adventure (wild camping is definitely my favourite pastime in South America), I would recommend you bring camping equipment.

Not only does this reduce the cost of accommodation (which can be very expensive, particularly in the main cities in Patagonia) but it gives you a lot more flexibility, particularly if you plan on hitchhiking or road tripping.

All of my camping gear and recommendations for what exactly you should pack in your rucksack for backpacking through Patagonia is available in my Patagonia packing guide.

Day One: Santiago to Punta Arenas

Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas in Patagonia with LATAM or Sky Airline (the latter is cheaper) (three hours 35 minutes, four flights per day).

Between December and February, LATAM offers direct flights to Puerto Natales from Santiago (twice weekly, three hours 10 minutes).


Where to eat in Punta Arenas

There’s plenty of excellent steak restaurants in town, including El Fogon De Lalo (Calle 21 de Mayo 1650), where you can try roasted lamb there – an ubiquitous Patagonia dish.

One the smartest restaurant with lovely views across the bay is La Yegua Loca (Fagnano 310). You can also try centolla (king crab – very traditional here) or local dishes such as roasted lamb in lavish settings. It’s also a posh boutique hotel if you fancy treating yourself

The dining room of La Yegua Loca in Punta Arenas, Chile
La Yegua Loca is a lovely place for dinner with a view.

Budget accommodation in Punta Arenas

Providing excellent value and cosy lodgings, Pardo & Shackleton ($37,000 CLP ($43 USD) double) is just five blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Breakfast is very good for the price and there is a large communal kitchen and a vast second floor sitting room.

Mid-range accommodation in Puerto Natales

Set in a grand old stone brick house, the charming eight-room Hotel Lacolet ($50,000 CLP ($58 USD) double) exudes a sense of peacefulness, with a sunny front garden and beautifully furnished bedrooms. Standard doubles can feel a little on the small side; it’s worth the extra cost for a superior with king-sized bed, although bathrooms are small across the board.

High-end accommodation in Puerto Natales

Swedish design-inspired Hotel Ilaia ($94,000 CLP ($110 USD) double) is an oasis of calm only four blocks northwest of the plaza. This serene eight-bed boutique hotel has larger than average bedrooms with equally sizeable king beds, plus slick new bathroom suites.

Breakfast is excellent – there’s no going hungry here – but the real defining feature of the hotel is its beautiful third-floor sitting room, where floor to ceiling windows grant views right across the city. Secure parking is available.


Day Two: Pack/plan for hiking the O Circuit

On Day Four, you’ll start hiking the O Circuit in nearby Torres del Paine National Park, so use today to buy your food. The supermarkets in Punta Arenas have more selection and are cheaper than those in Puerto Natales where most backpackers stock up.

Visit the ticket office of a bus company (Bus-SurBuses Pacheco or Buses Fernandez) and purchase tickets to travel to Puerto Natales tomorrow.

Free time can be spent visiting the Museo Regional de Magallanes (with its history of Patagonia’s indigenous people and the region’s once booming wool trade) or walking up to Mirador Cerro La Cruz for panoramic views of the Strait of Magellan.

Day Three: Puerto Natales

Get the bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales (three hours 30 mins). Upon arrival, buy return tickets to Torres del Paine National Park.

If you’ve brought hiking gear with you (plan what you need to bring with this packing checklist for the O Circuit), you can spend the day visiting the waterfront or just enjoying the town.

If not, visit Erratic Rock or one of the other agencies in town who rent out camping equipment.

Patagonia backpacking itinerary
Posing beneath a hanging glacier along the O Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park.

Where to eat in Puerto Natales

There’s plenty of good restaurants in Puerto Natales. For a heary dinner, opt for La Mesita Grande (Arturo Prat 196), a Puerto Natales institution named after the long, communal tables where diners eat together. There pizzas are excellent and many take the names of hiking routes in Torres del Paine, making this a great post-hiking, celebratory dinner type of restaurant!

If you like gin, Last Hope Distillery (Esmeralda 882) has the southernmost gin on the planet and should be selling their first few batches of whisky by now. Cerveza Baguales (Calle Carlos Bories 430) was also Chile’s first brew pub and has some great beers on tap.


Budget accommodation in Puerto Natales

For upmarket lodgings – at very affordable prices – stay at the characterful, vintage-style Vinnhaus ($13,000 dorm ($20 USD), $38,000-$50,000 double ($58 USD-$77 USD), where a 1920s house has been converted into smart, modern accommodation, with a comfortable attached cafe and grassy patio.

Mid-range accommodation in Puerto Natales

Friendly and English-speaking owner Marcela runs a tight ship at the spotless Big Bang ($48,000 ($61 USD) double). Rooms are set around a grassy garden and an ample breakfast of home baked bread, fruit and eggs, is served up each morning. Unfortunately, it can be a little noisy as the wooden floorboards and thin walls means sound carries between the rooms.

High-end acommodation in Puerto Natales

As I found during my stay, sunsets across the Seno Última Esperanza are nothing short of spectacular from the vast windows of Simple Patagonia ($127,000 double ($195 USD)), four kilometers north of Puerto Natales.

A bedroom at Hotel Simple in Puerto Natales, a must-visit destination for any Patagonia itinerary
A bedroom at Simple Patagonia, home to elegant, refined comfort.

Set within what looks like an original granero (barn), it combines modernity with astonishing views from the bedrooms (eight and 11 have the best) and living and dining area. They also offer up three-course dining in the evening, using local Magellanic ingredients to produce delicious, top-quality dishes.


Days Four-Twelve: The O Circuit, Torres del Paine National Park

At 7:15am, board your bus and travel to Torres del Paine National Park.

A hiker stands on a rock in front of Laguna Torres in Torres del Paine National Park along the W hike, a must-visit destination for any Patagonia itinerary
Parque Nacional Torres del Paine: a place of outstanding natural beauty.

Enjoy nine days of trekking through magical scenery, spotting wildlife such as owls, guanacos and Andean Condors and finishing with the sight of the towers at dawn.

Return to Puerto Natales in the evening of Day Twelve and enjoy a celebratory beer – you’ve earned it!

Read our complete guide to hiking the O Circuit before you begin your planning.

Moon Chile guidebook next to a cup of tea

Need more inspiration?

You’ll find even more detailed itineraries, off-the-beaten-path gems, hiking routes and accommodation, restaurant and tour recommendations to suit your travel style in my brand-new guidebook, Moon Chile.

Days Thirteen-Fourteen: El Calafate

Board the morning bus from the terminal in Puerto Natales to El Calafate (five hours including border crossing).

Check the timetable for buses back to Puerto Natales if you intend on returning to Punta Arenas. Buy return tickets to El Chaltén when you arrive in El Calafate.

A side view of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciers National Park in Argentina
El Perito Moreno, Argentina’s most famous glacier.

In the afternoon, visit the fascinating Glaciarium, with its range of informative displays, focusing on the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (including the nearby El Perito Moreno glacier). Downstairs, they even have an ice bar – although visits are limited to 30 minutes!

The next morning, get up early to visit Reserva Laguna Nimez (1km from town) to see over 70 species of birds, including Chilean flamingos.

To explore Glaciar Perito Moreno, rent a taxi for the day (if there are two or more of you) or take the bus from the terminal to Los Glaciares National Park and Glacier Perito Moreno (click for our complete guide) or opt for an ice hiking tour of the glacier.

Park entry is pretty cheap these days ($800 ARS/$12 USD).


Where to eat in El Calafate

For a combination of beautiful lake views and a feast of expertly-roasted Patagonian lamb to die for, don’t miss Parrilla Don Pichon (Calle Puerto Deseado 242). 

Another option is La Zaina (Gobernador Gregores 1057). They serve perhaps the best food in El Calafate with refined dishes reflecting Argentine dining, including lots of steaks and Patagonian lamb.


Budget accommodation in El Calafate

Albergue & Hostal del Glaciar Libertador ($18-25 USD dorm, $62 USD double) is one of the best hostels in town, with well-sized doubles and plenty of communal space.

Mid-range accommodation in Puerto Natales

A ten-minute walk or shorter bike ride and located in the converted main buildings of an old estancia, Kau Yatún ($77 USD standard double, $90 superior double) offers hotel facilities in a pretty, rural setting. Parts of the ranch are still in operation and you can take a free tour.

High-end accommodation in Puerto Natales

With incredible views of the lake, a good restaurant and indoor swimming pool, Design Suites Calafate ($115 USD double) is the perfect getaway. It’s a 10-minute drive into town (but there’s a shuttle bus for guests, but with access to a couple of short hikes and those views, you’ll be more than content staying on the ground.


Days Fifteen-Seventeen: El Chaltén

Take the bus to El Chaltén (four hours).

There are plenty of hikes to keep you busy for a couple of days, including to Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre, both of which offer the best views in town, or even up Mont Fitz Roy, a world’s top 100 travel adventure.

There are also multi-day hikes in the national park. Check out this website for full information about El Chaltén and where to hike in this part of Patagonia.

Patagonia backpacking itinerary
Hiking in El Chalten.

Where to eat in El Chaltén

Off the main road, so offering a great place to escape the crowds, La Ruca Mahuida (Lionel Terray 55) has huge pizzas and calzones that are big enough to share between two. Prices – and food – are superb and they have a beer garden in summer.

You also can’t miss sampling wine in Argentina, so head to the poky La Vinería (Av. Lago de Desierto 265), with really knowledgeable staff and plenty of cheese and meat sharing platters to nibble on as you sip.

If you’re planning on self-catering in El Chaltén, you’ll want to have stocked up in El Calafate, where there is more selection and cheaper prices. There are a small number mini markets around El Chaltén but don’t be surprised if they’re sold out of basics such as bread and eggs.


Budget accommodation in El Chaltén

With a friendly, young vibe, plenty of hot water and a very central location (although, to be fair, El Chaltén isn’t excactly large anyway) Patagonia Travellers’ Hostel ($25 USD dorm, $75-$105 USD double) has great dorms and decent-sized doubles.

Mid-range accommodation in El Chaltén

Offering truly excellent value for money, the friendly and cosy Nothofagus B&B ($49-$65 USD) also has wonderful Monte Fitz Roy views from some of its upstairs rooms. There are also plenty of living spaces around the guesthouse, plus a small cafeteria-style breakfast room downstairs.  

Monte Fitz Roy rises above Laguna de Los Tres in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, near El Chalten, Argentina
El Chaltén is home to Monte Fitz Roy, one of the most dazzling Patagonian mountains.

For self-catering, you can’t go wrong with Latitud 49˚ ($100 USD double apartment) and their modern apartments, complete with living room and kitchen. Owners Florencia and Lucas live next door and also have encyclopedic knowledge of El Chaltén, its restaurants and activities.


Days Eighteen-Nineteen: Ushuaia

Fly from El Calafate to Ushuaia (one flight per day, one hour 30 mins, around $140 USD if booked in advance). Visit the offices of the bus companies in town to buy your onward travel to Punta Arenas.

Spend the afternoon visiting the plethora of museums and cultural attractions in the world’s southernmost city, including Museo Marítimo y Presidio, a museum about the history of the region set in the old Ushuaia prison, which is so big you could spend days here.

Alternatively, get a taxi to the trail head for Glaciar Martial, seven kilometres out of the centre of town, which rises out of the Martial Mountains.

It’s a two-hour, three-kilometre trail climbs steeply across glacial moraine, following the route of a ski lift to reach an 825-meter viewpoint of the Glaciar Martial and the Beagle Channel if you look south.

The next morning, take the public bus to Tierra del Fuego National Park and hike the Cerro Guanaco Trail, an 8km (five-mile) route that ends at the top of a sheer mountain overlooking the Strait of Magellan and the rest of the national park.

Patagonia backpacking itinerary
Panoramic views from the top of Cerro Guanaco in Tierra del Fuego National Park.

There are also a number of shorter trails and entry into the park costs around $560 ARS/$9 USD.


Where to eat in Ushuaia

Most restaurants are very expensive in Ushuaia (mostly because it’s a spot where expensive Antarctica cruises dock), but Bodegón Fueguino (Av. San Martín 859) hits the spot. It’s best known for its Patagonian lamb dishes, although hearty salads combined with a meaty empanada (US$1.50) or pumpkin soup (US$4) are an excellent option for something nutritious and cheap.

It might not sound like it, but El Turco (Av. San Martín 1410) is a great place to sample traditional Argentinean sorrentinos (pasta filled will salmon or vegetables), although there is also a wide range of pizzas and grilled meat dishes.


Budget accommodation in Ushuaia

All of the large rooms at the backpacker-friendly Antarctica Hostel ($17 USD dorm, $65 USD double) share the two blocks of bathrooms downstairs. WIFI is fast, outlets are aplenty in dorms and communal areas, but the best bits are the open-plan living area, with a shared kitchen on a platform above, and the staff’s encyclopedic knowledge of activities in the region.

Mid-range accommodation in Ushuaia

My personal favorite is Galeazzi Basily B&B ($75 USD double shared bath, $100 USD cabin for two people) because of the welcome you’ll receive! It’s a top-notch bed and breakfast that has four simple but well-maintained bedrooms that share two bathrooms, plus three cabins in their large garden, complete with kitchens and spacious bedrooms. Fluent English is spoken by the staff; the owners have a wealth of knowledge about the local area.

Another affordable choice is La Casa en Ushuaia ($80 USD double shared bath) is a superb little B&B, with simply decorated bedrooms with crisp, white sheets and views out across the Beagle Channel. The owner is very friendly and welcoming and has a wealth of local knowledge.

High-end accommodation in Ushuaia

A 20-minute drive from the centre, Los Cauquenes ($398 USD double) has exceptional views of the Beagle Channel from its bedrooms, an on-site spa has a sauna, jacuzzi and gym, as well as a restaurant offering top-quality dining.


Day Twenty: Ushuaia to Punta Arenas

Buses leave in the morning from Ushuaia and it takes around 12 hours to get to Punta Arenas (including border crossing).

Day Twenty-One: Punta Arenas

Fly back to Santiago.

Changes to this Patagonia backpacking itinerary for three weeks of travel:

  • If you don’t need to return to Punta Arenas for flights, you can instead fly back to El Chaltén and take the bus to Bariloche (a hefty 22-hours but a good way of exploring more of Argentine Patagonia). From Bariloche, you can cross the border back into Chile to visit Puerto Varas and the Lakes District; alternatively, you can fly to Mendoza to visit Argentina’s wine region and take either a short flight or overnight bus to Santiago.
  • Only want to hike the W? Trim off three days from your Torres del Paine itinerary and instead use that time to see more of El Chaltén or you can visit Puerto Williams from Ushuaia.

Patagonia backpacking itinerary for three weeks: The Carretera Austral & Argentina highlights

Overview for this three-week Patagonia itinerary:

  • Day One: Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas
  • Day Two: Puerto Natales
  • Day Three: Hike in Torres del Paine National Park
  • Days Four-Five: El Calafate and Glaciar Perito Moreno
  • Days Six-Eight: Hike in El Chaltén
  • Days Nine-Ten: Hike the “no road” Border Crossing
  • Days Eleven-Twelve: Villa O’Higgins
  • Day Thirteen: Caleta Tortel
  • Days Fourteen-Seventeen: Cochrane and Parque Nacional Patagonia
  • Day Eighteen: Puerto Río Tranquilo
  • Days Nineteen-Twenty: Villa Cerro Castillo and Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo
  • Day Twenty One: Coyhaique/Santiago

If you want to see more diversity of landscapes in Patagonia and experience the ultimate in road trips (or hitchhiking adventures!), then this three-week Patagonia itinerary is likely more for you.

Sign for Chile's Carretera Austral
The Carretera Austral: one of my favourite places in Patagonia.

The Carretera Austral has gone from dusty backroad to top of many travellers’ itineraries – and for good reason.

Not only is it home to possibly the most picturesque glacier on the continent but there are wild camping spots galore and many an intrepid backpacker has enjoyed exploring this part of Patagonia a dedo – aka, hitchhiking.

If you fancy submitting to the hitchhiking gods and waiting for a lift by the side of Ruta 7, expect this itinerary to take more time – so give yourself at least an extra week.

Required equipment for this three-week Patagonia travel itinerary

For a true Patagonia adventure, camping equipment is essential. That’s not to say it’s not possible to go backpacking through Patagonia without a tent, but it seriously enhances the options available to you.

A tent pitched at Campamento Dickson while hiking the O Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
Camping in Patagonia is a great way of connecting with nature and saving money.

For my recommendations, check out my Patagonia packing essentials checklist and my review of Big Agnes Copper Spur, a lightweight backpacking tent.

At some points along this route, it is hard to get hold of food easily, so I’ve indicated which places are best for stocking up.

Day One: Santiago to Punta Arenas

Fly with LATAM or Sky Airline to Punta Arenas (3 hours 35 minutes, four flights per day). If travelling to Patagonia between December and February, LATAM flies directly to Puerto Natales from Santiago (twice weekly, 3 hours 10 minutes).

Punta Arenas is often overlooked in favour of getting directly to Puerto Natales, but it’s actually an interesting place to spend an afternoon.

You’ve got the Museo Regional de Magallanes (with its exhibits on the indigenous and colonial history of the region), Museo Nao Victoria with its life-size replica of the Nao Victoria, the first ship to circumnavigate the earth, or the fascinating Museo de Historia Natural Río Seco, which contains a macabre but fascinating collection of skeletons pertaining to false killer whales, sea lions, and albatross.

A Magellanic penguin looks at the camera in Argentine Patagonia
Isla Magdalena teems with Magellanic penguins, who come here to breed.

You can also add an extra morning here and head out on a morning tour to the Monumento Natural Los Pinguinos on Isla Magdalena in the Strait of Magellanes, which is home to tens of thousands of Magellanic penguins between November and March.

Go with Solo Expediciones if you want to avoid other tourists, who take the cheaper TABSA boat and descend on the island at the same time.


Where to eat in Punta Arenas

There’s plenty of excellent steak restaurants in town, including El Fogon De Lalo (Calle 21 de Mayo 1650), where you can try roasted lamb there – an ubiquitous Patagonia dish.

A basket of king crabs in Chilean Patagonia
King crab is a delicacy in Chilean Patagonia.

One the smartest restaurant with lovely views across the bay is La Yegua Loca (Fagnano 310). You can also try centolla (king crab – very traditional here) or local dishes such as roasted lamb in lavish settings. It’s also a posh boutique hotel if you fancy treating yourself


Budget accommodation in Punta Arenas

Providing excellent value and cosy lodgings, Pardo & Shackleton ($37,000 CLP ($43 USD) double) is just five blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Breakfast is very good for the price and there is a large communal kitchen and a vast second floor sitting room.

Mid-range accommodation in Puerto Natales

Set in a grand old stone brick house, the charming eight-room Hotel Lacolet ($50,000 CLP ($58 USD) double) exudes a sense of peacefulness, with a sunny front garden and beautifully furnished bedrooms. Standard doubles can feel a little on the small side; it’s worth the extra cost for a superior with king-sized bed, although bathrooms are small across the board.

High-end accommodation in Punta Arenas

Swedish design-inspired Hotel Ilaia ($94,000 CLP ($110 USD) double) is an oasis of calm only four blocks northwest of the plaza. This serene eight-bed boutique hotel has larger than average bedrooms with equally sizeable king beds, plus slick new bathroom suites.

Breakfast is excellent – there’s no going hungry here – but the real defining feature of the hotel is its beautiful third-floor sitting room, where floor to ceiling windows grant views right across the city. Secure parking is available.


Day Two: Puerto Natales

Get a bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales (three hours 30 mins) and take a wander along the fjordside. Buy tickets from the bus station for onward travel to El Calafate for Day Four.

Views across Seno Ultima Esperanza off the shore of Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales has a lovely fjordside setting.

Take a walk along the shore of Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound) for views of the dazzling countryside surrounding the town.

If you fancy having an authentic Patagonian experience, add an extra day in Puerto Natales and organise a trip out to Estancia La Peninsula, for a day of horseback riding and a traditional cordero al palo (roast lamb barbecue) at a still functioning sheep ranch.


Where to eat in Puerto Natales

One of the hottest tables in town is at Lenga (Bories 221), which is home to innovative takes on traditional Chilean food, with its chalkboard menu updated daily. It’s tiny, so bookings are essential.

If you like gin, Last Hope Distillery (Esmeralda 882) has the southernmost gin on the planet and should be selling their first few batches of whisky by now. Cerveza Baguales (Calle Carlos Bories 430) was also Chile’s first brew pub and has some great beers on tap.

Sunset over Simple Patagonia, a hotel in Puerto Natales and a must on any South America backpacking route
Sunset falling over the Seno Ultima Esperanza from Simple Patagonia can be quite something.

Hands down while the fanciest place in town for a sundowner and dinner is at The Singular Patagonia, a luxury hotel whose fjordside wine bar and restaurant are own to the public.

It’s also home to a fascinating museum dedicated to the town’s old abattoir (in fact, much of the hotel is built inside the former building), which you can visit for free if you buy a drink in the bar. A taxi here should cost only a few thousand pesos.

Budget acommodation in Puerto Natales

For upmarket lodgings – at very affordable prices – stay at the characterful, vintage-style Vinnhaus ($13,000 dorm ($20 USD), $38,000-$50,000 double ($58 USD-$77 USD), where a 1920s house has been converted into smart, modern accommodation, with a comfortable attached cafe and grassy patio.

Mid-range accommodation in Puerto Natales

Where to Friendly and English-speaking owner Marcela runs a tight ship at the spotless Big Bang ($48,000 ($61 USD) double). Rooms are set around a grassy garden and an ample breakfast of home baked bread, fruit and eggs, is served up each morning. Unfortunately, it can be a little noisy as the wooden floorboards and thin walls means sound carries between the rooms.

High-end accommodation in Puerto Natales

Where to stay in Puerto Natales: As I found during my stay, sunsets across the Seno Última Esperanza are nothing short of spectacular from the vast windows of Simple Patagonia ($127,000 double ($195 USD)), four kilometers north of Puerto Natales.

Set within what looks like an original granero (barn), it combines modernity with astonishing views from the bedrooms (eight and 11 have the best) and living and dining area. They also offer up three-course dining in the evening, using local Magellanic ingredients to produce delicious, top-quality dishes.


Day Three: Torres del Paine National Park

If you want to see Torres del Paine National Park but don’t have the time – or money – to trek (even though you can hike the W without a tour for cheaper than you might think), a day visit is an excellent alternative.

Patagonia backpacking itinerary
Views across Glacier Grey at dawn in Torres del Paine National Park.

You’ve got various options: organise a rental car and head out for self-guided day hikes or arrange a day tour. I personally recommend the former (and we have a guide to the 15 best Torres del Paine day hikes), but the latter is easy (if more expensive) to arrange.

Plenty of companies in Puerto Natales offer this service, with tours picking you up and returning you to the town. Expect to pay upwards of $23,000 CLP/$35 USD, plus park entry ($18,000 CLP/$27 USD).

Days Four-Five: El Calafate

Take the bus in the morning to El Calafate (five hours including border crossing).

In the afternoon, visit the fascinating Glaciarium, with its range of informative displays, focusing on the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (including the nearby El Perito Moreno glacier). Downstairs, they even have an ice bar – although visits are limited to 30 minutes!

Views of the impressive snout of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park with people stood on boardwalks beneath it.
You can get very close to the snout of Glaciar Perito Moreno.

The next morning, get up early to visit Reserva Laguna Nimez (1km from town) to see over 70 species of birds, including Chilean flamingos.

To explore Glaciar Perito Moreno, rent a taxi for the day (if there are two or more of you) or take the bus from the terminal to Los Glaciares National Park and Glacier Perito Moreno (click for our complete guide), where you can explore the boardwalks that get very close to the snout of the glacier.

Alternatively, opt for an ice hiking tour of the glacier.

Park entry is pretty cheap these days ($800 ARS/$12 USD).


Where to eat in El Calafate

For a combination of beautiful lake views and a feast of expertly-roasted Patagonian lamb to die for, don’t miss Parrilla Don Pichon (Calle Puerto Deseado 242). 

Another option is La Zaina (Gobernador Gregores 1057). They serve perhaps the best food in El Calafate with refined dishes reflecting Argentine dining, including lots of steaks and Patagonian lamb.


Budget accommodation in El Calafate

Albergue & Hostal del Glaciar Libertador ($18-25 USD dorm, $62 USD double) is one of the best hostels in town, with well-sized doubles and plenty of communal space.

Mid-range accommodation in El Calafate

A ten-minute walk or shorter bike ride and located in the converted main buildings of an old estancia, Kau Yatún ($77 USD standard double, $90 superior double) offers hotel facilities in a pretty, rural setting. Parts of the ranch are still in operation and you can take a free tour.

High-end accommodation in El Calafate

Where to stay in El Calafate: With incredible views of the lake, a good restaurant and indoor swimming pool, Design Suites Calafate ($115 USD double) is the perfect getaway. It’s a 10-minute drive into town (but there’s a shuttle bus for guests, but with access to a couple of short hikes and those views, you’ll be more than content staying on the ground.


Days Six-Eight: El Chaltén

Buses leave regularly for El Chaltén (four hours) from the bus station in El Calafate.

If you’re planning on self-catering in El Chaltén, stock up here as there’s more selection and cheaper prices.

There are plenty of hikes to keep you busy for a couple of days, including to Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre, both of which offer the best views in town.

There are even multi-day hikes in the national park. Check out this website for full information about El Chaltén and where to hike in this part of Patagonia.

Patagonia backpacking itinerary
The mountains around Argentina’s hiking capital, El Chaltén.

Where to eat in El Chaltén

Off the main road, so offering a great place to escape the crowds, La Ruca Mahuida (Lionel Terray 55) has huge pizzas and calzones that are big enough to share between two. Prices – and food – are superb and they have a beer garden in summer.

You also can’t miss sampling wine in Argentina, so head to the poky La Vinería (Av. Lago de Desierto 265), with really knowledgeable staff and plenty of cheese and meat sharing platters to nibble on as you sip.

A pizza at Ruca Mahuida in El Chalten, Argentine Patagonia and a must-visit place on any Patagonia itinerary
Pizzas at Ruca Mahuida are a great way of reviving enegry levels after a day of hiking!

If you’re planning on self-catering in El Chaltén, you’ll want to have stocked up in El Calafate, where there is more selection and cheaper prices. There are a small number mini markets around El Chaltén but don’t be surprised if they’re sold out of basics such as bread and eggs.


Budget accommodation in El Chaltén

With a friendly, young vibe, plenty of hot water and a very central location (although, to be fair, El Chaltén isn’t excactly large anyway) Patagonia Travellers’ Hostel ($25 USD dorm, $75-$105 USD double) has great dorms and decent-sized doubles.

Mid-range accommodation in El Chaltén

Offering truly excellent value for money, the friendly and cosy Nothofagus B&B ($49-$65 USD) also has wonderful Monte Fitz Roy views from some of its upstairs rooms. There are also plenty of living spaces around the guesthouse, plus a small cafeteria-style breakfast room downstairs.  

Looking over a forested wilderness to snow covered mountains under a blue sky. Best Hikes in South America.
Some accommodations have views of the peak of Monte Fitz Roy.

For self-catering, you can’t go wrong with Latitud 49˚ ($100 USD double apartment) and their modern apartments, complete with living room and kitchen. Owners Florencia and Lucas live next door and also have encyclopedic knowledge of El Chaltén, its restaurants and activities.


Days Nine-Ten: Border Crossing

Crossing from El Calafate to Villa O’Higgins in Chile, via Lago del Desierto, is the most adventurous border crossing in Patagonia, due to the fact that there’s no driveable road – so you can only cross on foot (with a little help from a handful of ferries).

If you’re carrying lots of gear, then this is possibly not a great option (see your alternatives below).

This route involves hiking and various ferry crossings and can take far longer than two days if the weather is poor and ferries are delayed, so budget in an extra few days into your trip, bring plenty of cash (both Chilean and Argentine pesos, although USD will serve, too), extra food and lots of patience!

Read a full explanation of the route here.

Days Eleven-Twelve: Villa O’Higgins

Explore the tiny little town of Villa O’Higgins at the very southern edge of the Carretera Austral, a place that was only connected by road to the rest of the highway in the late 1990s!

It’s a wonderfully remote place, home to fewer than a thousand people. Here you can take a flyover of Lago O’Higgins and check out Glacier O’Higgins with WINGS (contact pilot Vincente Beasley on 9/9162 5137 or 9/9357 8196) or hike some of the short trails around the area.

Inside of a light aircraft with views out of the window at the mountains surrounding Villa O'Higgins along the Carretera Austral
Flying over Villa O’Higgins’ magnificent landscapes.

Double check the time of the bus the following day to Cochrane (and be prepared for there not being a bus for a day or two).


Where to eat in Villa O’Higgins

Because of its size, there aren’t a lot of options for dining in Villa O’Higgins. One of the best is Lago Cisnes where you can chow down on traditional Chilean home-cooking in a spot popular among the locals. In the evenings, particularly on weekends, you can pop down here for live music or karaoke.


Budget accommodation in Villa O’Higgins

A meeting place for backpackers, cyclists and road trippers, El Mosco ($45,000 CLP ($52 USD) cabin or double, $9,000 CLP ($11 USD) dorm, $6,000 CLP ($7 USD) camping), has a range of different accommodations is suited to all budgets, with a large kitchen and attached living area perfect for self-catering.

Mid-range accommodation in Villa O’Higgins

The rustic cabins at Entre Patagones ($40,000-50,000 CLP ($47-$58) cabins, $65,000 CLP ($76 USD) yurt) range between those with a small kitchen and those with only tea- and coffee-making facilities, while two modern yurts are hidden away into the forest, with utter privacy from the road and views west across the mountains.

Both have beautifully designed circular bedrooms, up-to-date bathroom suites, a wood fire for heating and a fully equipped kitchen, plus a balcony and private hot tub.

High-end accommodation in Villa O’Higgins
Robinson Crusoe Lodge in Villa O'Higgins, along Chile's Carretera Austral
Robinson Crusoe lodge has a lovely setting on the outskirts of Villa O’Higgins.

For a slice of unexpected luxury in the middle of nowhere, the ambitious Robinson Crusoe ($166,000 CLP ($194 USD) double) is stylish and beautifully designed. All bedrooms have the comforts you’d expect at this price point, plus access to hot tubs looking west across the mountains.


Day Thirteen: Caleta Tortel

Catch a minibus north through some of teh msot remote parts of the Carretera Austral – which make them an excellent point to spot an endangered huemul deer.

You’ll cross a stretch of fjord before arriving a few hours later at Caleta Tortel, Chilean Patagonia’s most picturesque village.

An aerial view of the wooden boardwalks in Caleta Tortel, along the Carretera Austral
The wooden walkways of Caleta Tortel lend the town a magical air.

Part of its appeal is its spectacular location: the houses cling determinedly to the edges of a green-fringed hill, with the turquoise waters of the fjords lying below.

But it’s also charming in its uniqueness. There are no roads; instead, 10 kilometres of cypress-wood walkways stand in lieu of tarmac, crisscrossing the village.

There isn’t an awful lot to do here, but you can spend a day hiring kayaks to head out onto the fjords, organising a tour to two nearby glaciers, Ventisquero Steffens and Glaciar Jorge Montt or hiring a boat to take you to the fascinating, if a little macabre, Isla de los Muertos, where the original settlers of the village are buried, having died from poison or scurvy – depending on who you believe.


Where to eat in Caleta Tortel

Caleta Tortel is pretty tiny, too and dining options are limited (and mostly poor!). The best is El Mirador (Sector Centro), with great views and decent food. They have the best WIFI connection in the village and also serve their own dark beer on tap.


Budget accommodation in Caleta Tortel

There’s a dearth of good-quality accommodation in the village, too.

The wooden boardwalks and wooden houses in Caleta Tortel, along the Carretera Austral
You’ll need a navigate a maze of wooden boardwalks to reach your hotel.

On the far southern side of the town, Residencial Brisas del Sur ($15,000 CLP ($17 USD) per person) is clean and utilitarian, with pretty views across the bay. There’s no kitchen access but WIFI and breakfast is included in the price.

Mid-range accommodation in Caleta Tortel

Caleta Tortel’s most comfortable option is the modern Entrehielos Lodge ($103,000 CLP ($20 USD) double), with stylish rooms that each have rainfall showers and central heating. They prepare gourmet Chilean dishes for guests, with an impressive wine menu.


Days Fourteen-Seventeen: Cochrane and Parque Nacional Patagonia

Take the bus to Cochrane (three hours). Lying in a river valley and surrounded by the crystal waters of the breathtaking Río Cochrane, this is a small, agricultural town and an excellent place to stock up on supplies (they have the biggest minimarkets between here and Coyhaique north).

Guanaco in the grasslands in Patagonia National Park, along the Carretera Austral
Watch out for the guanaco in Parque Nacional Patagonia.

However, the reason to spend a few days here is its access to Parque Nacional Patagonia, one of the Carretera Austral’s most outstandingly beautiful – and well-maintained – national parks.

Originally set up as a private park b the late philanthropist Doug Tompkins, the national park now covers 304,000 hectares of land and is divided into three sectors. From Cochrane, you can visit Sector Tamango and Sector Valle Chacabuco.

Sector Tamango lies a few kilometres east of Cochrane and is home to a number of day hikes, plus a campground if you’ve got your own equipment. It’s an excellent spot for seeing huemul deer and glacier-fed Lago Cochrane, this sector’s centrepiece, is beautiful. Maps of the trails are found here.

Sector Valle Chacabuco is home to a sweeping valley of pampas grasslands and, at higher altitudes, spectacular glassy lagoons. You’ve a good chance of seeing guanaco (the place is swarming with them), and a slimmer chance of spying rhea (ostrich like birds) and puma, tall of which have been reintroduced to the area.

A lake along the Lagunas Altas hiking trail in Patagonia National Park, along the Carretera Austral
The Laguna Altas trail passes alongside dazzling lakes.

The trails here include my personal favourite, the Lagunas Altas (trailhead next to Los West Winds campground), a challenging but worthwhile hike into the hills for magnificent panoramas of the lakes and the valley beyond.

There are a number of other day hikes; information about all trails is available here.

All of the trails in Sector Chacabuco are only accessible via car and there is no public transport, although hitchhiking to the park entrance (16 kms north of Cochrane) and then either hiking or – if you’re very lucky – hitchhiking the final stretch (11 kms) to the visitor centre, is the only option.


Where to eat in Cochrane/Sector Valle Chacabuco

In Sector Valle Chacabuco, the only place to eat is El Rincón Gaucho, which serves sandwiches and salads or a gourmet evening meal. Prices are as expensive as you’d expect from a place so remote!

In Cochrane, the cozy La Isla (Pratt 100 B) has Patagonian roast lamb on weekend, plus a range of traditional Chilean home cooking.


Budget accommodation in Cochrane/Sector Valle Chacabuco

In Sector Valle Chabuco, Los West Winds Campground (Oct.-Apr., $8,000 CLP pp) is the closest to the visitor centre and restaurant, as well as at the trailhead of the Lagunas Altas trail. As the name indicates, the site experiences westerly winds that can be fierce, so it’s a good idea to camp on the eastern side of the low shrubs and trees that provide some protection.

Cypress trees in Los West Winds campground in Parque Nacional Patagonia and a good place to stop on a two week Patagonia itinerary along the Carretera Austral
Los West Winds campground in Parque Nacional Patagonia.

In Cochrane, When I visited, I stayed in the oh-so-homely Hostal Beraca ($25,000 CLP $34 USD) double), a very basic B&B fronted by the wonderful Marlen, whose family home she has converted. She makes probably the best breakfast along the Carretera Austral and is just a joy to be around – although she only speaks Spanish but will do her best to communicate if you don’t!

Mid-range accommodation in Cochrane

A little smarter and larger than most options in town is Lejana Patagonia ($30,000 CLP ($41 USD) double), with decent-sized bedrooms and kitchen access, although the whole building is made of wood so noise between the rooms can be an issue.

High-end accommodation in Sector Valle Chacabuco

If you’re looking to treat yourself, The Lodge at Valle Chacabuco ($500 USD double), is a luxury hotel right next to the visitor centre. Most of its 10 rooms feature sweeping views across the steppe, while the communal living area has floor-to-ceiling windows and a terrace for guests to appreciate the scenery. It’s a stunning getaway tucked into dazzling scenery.


Day Eighteen: Puerto Río Tranquilo

Take a bus north to Puerto Río Tranquilo, a settlement on the shores of the cobalt-blue water of Lago General Carrera.

Book a tour from the lakeside to visit the marble caves, an incredible series of colourful, sculpted rock formations that rise out of Lago General Carrera and seem to change in hue depending on the weather.

Patagonia backpacking itinerary
The marble caves near Puerto Río Tranquilo.

Alternatively, book a full-day tour to visit the San Rafael Glacier, one of the fastest retreating glaciers in Patagonia. The trip is costly but supposedly worth it.


Where to eat in Puerto Río Tranquilo

If you make it all the way to Puerto Río Tranquilo, there are several campgrounds. I really liked Camping Bellavista (they also have rooms with kitchen access). There are a small number of restaurants and minimarkets with basic supplies.

The Marble Chapel on Lago General Carrera near Puerto Rio Tranquilo, along Patagonia's Carretera Austral
The marble caves are made of rock veined in beautiful pastel colours.

Budget accommodation in Puerto Río Tranquilo

Hospedaje y Camping Bellavista ($5,000 CLP ($7 USD) camping, $12,000 CLP ($16.5 USD) dorm, $25,000 CLP ($34 USD) double) is both comfortable and friendly, with private bedrooms in their chipboard guesthouse and a huge field for campers. Kitchen access and hot showers are included.

Mid-range accommodation in Puerto Río Tranquilo

Overpriced but offering the nicest accommodation in town, El Puesto ($100,000 CLP ($116 USD) double) has 10 small rooms, although be aware that there’s only one with a double bed (all the rest have two twin beds). There’s no WIFI.


Days Nineteen-Twenty: Villa Cerro Castillo and Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo

Catch the shuttle to the next town north along the Carretera Austral, Villa Cerro Castillo (2.5 hours).

Cerro Castillo as seen from the Carretera Austral in Chilean Patagonia and a must-visit destination for any Patagonia itinerary
Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo is one of Patagonia’s most beautiful national parks.

This town lies on the edges of Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo, often dubbed “the new Torres del Paine” for the three-pronged mountain after which the park is named, which does share similarities with the towers in Patagonia’s most famous national park.

You’ll want a full day for hiking the steep, 14-kilometre, six-to-eight-hour trail known as the Sendero Mirador Laguna Cerro Castillo. This takes you up to Lago Cerro Castillo (which sits beneath the park’s namesake peak).

If you’re got extra time, you can instead enjoy the remote backcountry and glacier scenery of the four/five-day, 51-kilometre hiking circuit known as the Cerro Castillo Traverse


Where to eat in Villa Cerro Castillo

Villa Cerro Castillo has a paucity of good restaurants. They’re all fairly similar and most close around 9pm if they have no customers, so aim to get there earlier rather than later.


Budget accommodation in Villa Cerro Castillo

Accommodation is very, very basic at mountain refuge-style Senderos Patagonia ($5,000 ($7 USD) camping, $10,000 CLP ($14 USD) dorm). It attracts backpackers and hikers, making it a good place to swap notes on local trails with fellow travellers, particularly in the expansive kitchen.

Cerro Castillo National Park with trees in fall colours and snow on the ground
Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo is spectacular in fall.
Mid-range accommodation in Villa Cerro-Castillo

A smarter option is Refugio Cerro Castillo ($131 USD double), which has views of Cerro Castillo mountain from the bedrooms. The breakfast is also good and it has a homely vibe.


Day Twenty One: Coyhaique/Santiago

Take the bus in the morning to Coyhaique (two hours). From here, you can catch a shuttle to Aerodromo Balmaceda, for your flight to Santiago.

Wild horses run across the grasslands in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
Patagonia is a wild and wonderful place.

Changes to this Patagonia backpacking itinerary for three weeks of travel:

  • Instead of crossing on foot into Chile at Villa O’Higgins, you can take a bus from El Chaltén to Perito Moreno (where the incredible Cave of Hands if located) then onto Los Antiguos and cross into Chile at the Chile Chico border. You can then head south to Puerto Río Tranquilo, Cochrane, Caleta Tortel and Villa O’Higgins – but you’ll have to backtrack to end your trip at Aerodromo Balmaceda.
  • If you want see the northern stretch of the Carretera Austral, you can check out itineraries in our Carretera Austral article.
  • If you want to drive to Carretera Austral or drive through southern Chilean and Argentine Patagonia, check out our Patagonia road-trip itineraries.

Patagonia backpacking itinerary for one-month of travel: The Full Monty

If three weeks is still not enough, then spend an entire month exploring all of Patagonia’s spectacular corners.

I’ve put together a free ebook guide to spending a month in Patagonia, including travel tips, places to eat and stay and a comprehensive one-month itinerary.

I promise I don’t send spam: just tips, inspiration and the tools for planning off-the-beaten-trail South American adventures, straight to your inbox!  

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V

Friday 25th of October 2019

Hi Steph. Awesome article, i very much enjoyed reading it and I am still reading the rest of your articles about south america. I have one question if i may?

In couple of months, we will be hiking from Ushuaia / backpacking heading north mostly on the east side of Andes. This potentially involves multiple crossings between Chile and Argentina. We are Canadian citizens and as such don't need visa,can stay in each country for up to 90 days but how do you deal with crossing the borders legally in the backcountry please? We will be mostly off the beaten trails, meaning no buses , flights etc... It will take a long time indeed to hike , but do you have experience or recommendation for this situation please? Warm Regards. V

Steph Dyson

Thursday 7th of November 2019

Hi V, I imagine you will still have to find the official border crossings and make sure that you legally cross the border correctly. You could get into some bother if you don't do this. You can find a full list of border crossing on this website. Sounds like an incredible trip though - enjoy! Steph

David Diringer

Thursday 3rd of October 2019

Hi Your blog is the best I've seen when it comes to clear , comprehensive and useful information

Is it possible to arrange locally, on arrival or in advance, porter service for sections of the W trek ? We are a couple in our lates 60's who like to walk but are no longer willing to carry any more than a day pack Thanks

Steph Dyson

Thursday 10th of October 2019

Hi David, not that I'm aware of. If you don't want to carry your belongings, you can hire all tents and camping equipment at each campsite and get all meals included so you'll just be carrying your lunch and clothes and camera during the day. You can organise all this when you book the sites (it gives you the chance to choose a fully-equipped camping spot and full-board). I hope that helps! Steph

Ram

Sunday 13th of January 2019

Hi Steph - many thanks for your response, very helpful! I used your inputs to come up with the following:

From Córdoba (which will be my next stop) bus all the way down Argentina stopping at Mendoza, Ruta de los sietes Lagos, San Carlos de Bariloche, Perito Moreno town, El Chalten, El Calafate, Perito Moreno glacier. Hope all the bus routes along these places do not involve any border crossings - please let me know if my understanding is incorrect. Then as you recommended cross to Chile (1st border crossing) and do Torres del Paine. Head south to Punta Arenas and then bus to Ushuaia (2nd border crossing). Fly from Ushuaia to El Calafate and then follow your suggestions to Villa O’Higgins (3rd border crossing) and Puerto Montt and then continue up to Chile. Have I missed any border crossings particularly on the bus route from Villa O’Higgins to Puerto Montt? Kindly let me know.

Cheers!

Steph Dyson

Thursday 17th of January 2019

Hi Ram, that's true actually. If you take the plane between Ushuaia and El Calafate then you don't have to go through Chile! And no, from Villa O'Higgins up to Puerto Montt it's all through Chile. Have a great trip!

Ram

Friday 11th of January 2019

Hi Steph

Thanks for this very informative article. I am in Argentina now near Salta and plan to travel through Patagonia over the next 2 months. I have a somewhat unique problem - my passport is only left with a few pages which will allow me to make only 2 multiple entries in Chile and 2 more entries in Argentina. I have contacted my embassy in both Argentina and Chile and they will take literally forever to issue extra pages or a new booklet. Can you please recommend an itinerary for me to cover Patagonia to the maximum extent possible while trying to minimise border crossings. I am prepared to take longer bus journeys or worst case flights to achieve the same.

Cheers!

Steph Dyson

Sunday 13th of January 2019

Hi Ram, I suggest going through Argentina (either bus or flight) to El Chalten/El Calafate (could go via Bariloche and Puerto Madryn). You can then cross into Chile to go to Torres del Paine etc. Then back into Argentina at El Calafate and you can either do the El Chalten/Villa O'Higgins hiking crossing (which will get you to the bottom of the Carretera Austral in Chile) or you can bus it up to Perito Moreno (the town, not the glacier) and cross into Chile at Chile Chico (mid-way up the Carretera Austral), from where you can go south down to Villa O'Higgins and then back north all the way to Puerto Montt, or just go north up to Puerto Montt and continue up through Chile. You won't be able to go to Ushuaia as the trip there makes you cross in and out of Argentina and Chile several times. Hope that helps and enjoy your trip! Steph

Shadé Jaiyeola

Thursday 13th of December 2018

Hello, Thanks for these great itineraries. Super helpful! J Just wondering, the Atacame is not mentionned in this page, is there a particular reason for that?

Steph Dyson

Monday 17th of December 2018

Hi Shadé, yes, it's not in Patagonia! You can find it in this general Chile itinerary: https://www.worldlyadventurer.com/chile-itinerary/