Our Pategonia road trip started at the south tip in Chile via Argentina to Puerto Varas. Traveling in a van, wild camping in National parks, exploring remote villages and driving on endless dirt roads
South AmericaChile, Argentina13 days / March 2022
Highs & Lows
Having a shower with views you never forget
Chile can be expensive for groceries (compared to Argentina)
This once in a lifetime Patagonia road trip led from Punta Arenas at the south tip of Patagonia in Chile via Argentina to the north in Puerto Varas in Chile. Traveling around in a camper van, we rented a van that was converted is a camper. The van had a double bed which could be changed into a cozy dinner table, most of the times we had our dinners outside watching the stunning views of Patagonian mountains and plains. Ideal was that we had a one way trip which is common to do in Patagonia, you go either from south to north or the other way around. We chose this direction because we were at the end of the (summer) season and that’s how we had the best chance of nice weather. Summer runs roughly from mid November to mid march with national holidays in Chile and Argentina from half of December to end February.
Patagonia is ideal for a road trip and to camp in National parks but also gives you the freedom to camp wild in those parks or anywhere along the way. Next to the naturally and known national parks like Torres del Paine and glacier parks like Perito Moreno we explored remote villages and drove into (dirt) roads just outside of these parks in order to be all by ourselves.
In the beginning, you feel to see all famous national parks is your goal and hiking through them is what you need to do. After a while and because driving yourself all those long distances between the parks you come to a point that you will appreciate the trip itself as a destination. Driving on endless dirt roads accompanied with Guanacos (Patagonian lama) and in our case we were lucky enough to discover in Patagonia living wild Pumas.
We felt so much freedom having our own ‘home’ with us, we cooked, took a cold shower with bizarre backgrounds and we sang along with all our favorite songs while driving through astonishing landscapes.
You pay a fee to enter the park, we had a 3 day ticket but stayed 4 nights in the park before we drove out of the park to explore the surroundings. We parked and stayed for free overnight. We did a part of the W-track, we got up at 05:30 in order to avoid bustle of many (day) tourists. These tracks can become very crowded, especially in the afternoon. We heard the O-track is less crowded but takes a few days longer.
Exploring the peaceful area around El Calafate and its famous glacier. Camping for free and all by ourselves near Lago Roca and having a great all Argentinian Bife de Chorizo in the friendly town of El Calafate. Learning about history of this remote region (and enjoying amazing pie) at La Leona inn.
At the end of our road trip through Patagonia, we stayed in the area around Chaitén, especially the amount and choices of short hikes here is great. You will experience the presence of the volcano in this area, just a bit more than a decade away an eruption destroyed half of the village. A variety of sanderos (hike trails) in Pumalín Park will lead you to the crater or to spectacular viewing platforms. There are trails to hidden cascades (waterfalls) and there is a fun trail to ancient larch trees. At Santa Barbara beach you can find seals and dolphins at dawn looking for food, a playful spectacle in just a few meters distance from the beach.
Q & A
What would you have changed?We were traveling during the pandemic which meant lots of (expensive) testing (and waiting for results) at borders. You can’t drive from south Chile or Argentine to the north and not pass through an other country.
Anything go wrong during the trip?At some point the back door of our van couldn’t open anymore, inconvenient since the kitchen is only accessible from the back. We had to drive to one of the bigger villages in order to get the door fixed again, took us a day.
Restaurant recommendations?Cook the best dishes yourself! Chile is quite expensive in compare to Argentina, restaurants as well as groceries.
Tips you would give a friend?Try to relax and enjoy the trip, bring clothes for summer and winter, travel light though… Go off the beaten tracks and explore small (dirt) roads. Visit Cueva de las Manos in Argentina, ancient art in a spectacular gorge.
Packing tips?Pack for all seasons, hiking gear like water bottles and and daypacks are recommended to bring. Bring cash (dollars of euros) in case of emergency and/or to change in Argentina (do not use ATM’s in Argentina but change cash or use Western Union to take cash).
Transportation Tips?Rent a van, it is not cheap but worth it. You can rent in all bigger places like Ushuaia, Punta Arenas and Puerto Varas
Any surprises?Cueva de los manos , spectaculair and great story and guided tour