Patagonia - Tips and Hints

We took this trip in February 2016. Here's some things we learned:

Hotels - All were great - easily up to Tauck standards. The Singular Patagonia is unique and memorable.

Pace - Long days on this trip. Early morning departures and late dinners (finish 10-11pm) on many days. Be sure to pack before dinner on the nights before travel days.

Travel time - Lots of time spent getting places on this trip. Days 2, 6 and 9 are basically travel days with just a little sightseeing. Quite a bit of time will be spent getting to and from the parks, as well.

Weather and clothing - Buenos Aires and Santiago are warm with noticable humidity. Patagonia, on the other hand, is very changable and can be quite cold even in summer. They say that Patagonia has four seasons - all in one day! It's really true. High winds are common. A bus (not Tauck's) blew over in Torres del Paines park the day we were there. We had to cut our hike short for fear of being blown over (really!). We saw some warm days, some rain and people on the Condor walk got snowed on a little. For clothing I recommend a warm jacket (down or fleece would be good) and a waterproof shell you can wear over it (or alone as a wind breaker). Rain pants. Gloves and a knit hat. Waterproof shoes (we wore hiking boots, but any waterproof walking shoe woul be good). You will regret it if you wear sneakers that are not waterproof. Long underwear is probably not needed, but take it if you like.

Food - Some of the food is outstanding, some not so much. They tend to cook meat until it is dried out there, so ask for it "very juicy." You tour director will be able to tell you the Spanish for this.

Buenos Aires - Flights to the US from Buenos Aires leave in the late evening, so you will have the final day to sightsee on your own. Consider booking a tour on Viator or through the concierge.

I hope you find this helpful. Happy travels!

Comments

  • Would it be best to spend an extra day in Santiago or Buenos Aires?
    thanks
  • Sorry Ken,just saw your very informative note on the subject.It is very helpful.
    Thank you
  • Ken, enjoyed your recap of trip. We are going to Patagonia 1/13/17. Was wondering if there are any reasonably priced laundry facilities along the way or if it is best to pack enough to last the whole trip.
  • Regarding laundry, I would pack for the whole trip. 11 or 12 days is definitely doable, even with extra outerwear for Patagonia.

    If you did laundry, you would probably want to do it in El Calafate. None of the hotels have self service washers (that I know of) and while you can probably get laundry done by some of the hotels, I'm sure the prices are the usual outrageous hotel prices.

    I see that there is a new hotel for El Calafate, so I have no experience with that hotel. Looking at the map, I see that you're going to be a little further from the center of town than we were. While we could walk to town, it's probably not practical for you. There is a laundry in town according to Google maps - El Lavadero, but I have no experience with them and am not sure if the itinerary would allow you to use them. So based on my knowledge, I would plan to pack to the whole trip.

    By the way, I'm guessing they changed the hotel due to noise problems. When we were there, there was a festival in town that went late into the night with loud music. We were all issued ear plugs by our tour director! It could also have been changed for political reasons. The hotel we stayed at was owned by the former president. She has been suspected of corruption and Tauck may have thought it prudent to go elsewhere.

    Enjoy your trip!

  • Our trip starts Nov. 16, 2018. What did you do with that totally free day in Puerto Natales? Anything you would have done differently during the trip.
  • Our trip starts Nov. 16, 2018. What did you do with that totally free day in Puerto Natales? Anything you would have done differently during the trip.

    We did the cave tour (nothing special), visited the town (cute, but no big deal) and just wandered around the hotel taking pictures. I wish we had done the condor walk. Whatever you do, make up your mind and sign up early. The activities (and even the van into town) fill up and if you snooze, you lose.
  • hello, I am going to Patagonia and I wonder if climbing in nature does our shoes get very wet and is there any reason to buy a shoe dryer for a trip like this https://www.bestadvisor.com/boot-dryer
    And in general it is interesting to find out that such a thing can be taken useful for an active holiday, some trifle can be useful but can make my life easier
  • We did the cave tour (nothing special), visited the town (cute, but no big deal) and just wandered around the hotel taking pictures. I wish we had done the condor walk. Whatever you do, make up your mind and sign up early. The activities (and even the van into town) fill up and if you snooze, you lose.

    Ken - is this a sign-up list that the TD passes around the bus or something else?
  • Yes, I am wondering this because the green book says we have a choice of several things listed but the only thing we want to do is go on the Condor walk, it's one of the reasons Mr B wanted to do the tour.
  • Greetings from BA at the end of our Wonderful Patagonia trip! I encourage all to read Ken’s reviews on this trip as they are spot on! (Thanks,Ken). We agree with Kens comment on caves themselves, but we did enjoy the hiking in between the 3 caves as it was a lovely day.
    Condor walk does not guarantee condors, while horseback riders did see them. (We saw them in other places also). Your TD will explain all activities the day before when you can sign up. And, the good news is you can switch activities up to the last minute. We did not bring any special gear and we were fine with our “layers”, hiking shoes, gloves, scarfs and hats and rain ponchos. We had some WOW Glacier moments. Hope you will too. Enjoy!
  • BKMD wrote:
    Ken - is this a sign-up list that the TD passes around the bus or something else?

    When we did it, you signed up with the hotel. The hotel actually provides these excursions, not Tauck. As I recall there was an "Activity Desk" that you could call or stop by. So if you know what you want, sign up as soon as the TD announces it.

    British- you shouldn't have any problem signing up for the Condor walk. Because its relatively strenuous (high altitude and steep uphill) it didn't get too many takers.
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