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13 Things to Know: Visiting Patagonia and Hiking Torres Del Paine

1. Airfare: will run you a pretty penny. Look for deals. The first part of the trip was booked when I found a flight from NY to Santiago for $490. The flight stopped in Atlanta on the way and flying from Atlanta to Santiago was over $1600 and Delta does not let you miss a leg to get a cheaper fare – they will cancel your flight.

Now we needed to get to New York and from Santiago to Punta Arenas. The NY flight was around $250 (paid with miles) and the flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas was $300 per person. Again, not cheap.

Flights on the way down:

Delta 5893: 8:53 AM – 10:43 AM CMH to LGA

Delta 2210: 5:59 PM – 8:38 PM LGA to ATL

Delta 146: 8:50 PM – 5:38 AM ATL to SCL

Latam 283: 3:23 PM – 6:45 PM SCL to PUQ

Flights on the Way Back:

Latam 12:08 PM – 3:33 PM PUQ to SCL

Delta 147: 8:50 PM – 5:38 AM SCL to ATL

Delta 2933: 7:30 AM to 9:47 AM ATL to LGA

Delta 5888: 1:42 PM to 3:43 PM LGA to CMH

2. Transportation

Once you get to Punta Arenas, there are buses that will take you to major cities however there were a lot of little finds I wanted to check out so a rental car was the best option $450 for 6 days. Keep in mind limited rentals available so book early and renting a car for a day might be $200 and has to be returned by 6 pm so plan ahead (Europ Rental Car)

3. Plan ahead know what you want to do.

Day 1: arrival and driving 2.5 hours to outside the Torres del Paine Park. The Hotel CostaAustralis was perfect and absolutely a highlight to the stay. (This hotel is highly recommended)

The bus was perfect for day 2 as we rode and slept a lot on the bus and they stop for scenic things. Restroom and food options. The bus tour was from Chile to Argentina visiting Perito Mereno Glacier and seeing El Calafate

Day 3: from the hotel. We took a boat ride in the Patagonian Icefields and I loved every minute of it. It was a bit cold but beautiful. We were served a Chilean bbq. We were supposed tondo the Balmaceda y Serrento Glacier but there was a fatality so all zodiacs were cancelled but we did the boat ride that was quite lovely.

Day 4: We drove 2.5 hours to Hotel Torres – a beautiful hotel in the midst of Patagonia (Highly Recommended) . This hotel was not cheap but privately owned and absolutely stunning. The hotel had wonderful food and close parking to the trail for Torres del Paine. While here, did a horseback excursion in the afternoon and planned for Hiking Torres del Paine the next morning.

Day 5: we hiked Torres del Paine while mom went to the spa for the day. The hike was good – long- 13 hours of hard hiking. I am not kidding. Returned about 4 pm to the hotel and went for a drive to see the Grey Glacier.

Day 6: We drove around Patagonia inside the park for a few hours then headed out to Punta Arenas – a 6 hour drive from the Park. When arriving in Punta Arenas – one of the last places in South America before Antarctica – we visited a few of the cemetery markers – beautiful largeresting places. The city is quite lovely.

Day 7: Drove to the airport to catch flights home.

4. Weather

The weather can change on a dime so be prepared. April is considered a good- pleasant temperature time to go. 40-50s and at night 20-30 degrees. All I can say is we had the best visit and weather when we went. The winds can be extremely strong – come prepared for rain, wind, and cold – bone chilling weather.

5. So much to do in Patagonia

The list of things to do is plentiful. For starters – hiking and driving will consume a lot of your trip. For those reading this, I am really not a hiker – I don’t particularly enjoy walking in the wilderness while animals can potentially get me. You will not normally find me on a hike when back at home. The hikes in Patagonia are hard – they are for people who exercise (which I do) and have endurance. I found the Torres del Paine hike to be the best part of my trip. I was proud that I did it and so thankful that it was clear when we arrived. It was the hardest thing I have done and the half marathon I completed did not compare.

For those non- hikers, my mom found that the spas were nice and enjoyed reading, relaxing, and no cell phone service a welcomed part of the vacation.

Horseback riding, boating, guided tours of glaciers or tours of the landscape are some other options. Hotel Torres had a collection of options they provide and the list was incredible!

6. Food in Patagonia

The food is terrific. Barbecue is popular and culinary experiences are wonderful. The steak, mushrooms, lamb, seafood are all very popular. Sharing food is very popular in Chile and Argentina. People are family oriented and spending time barbecuing in the yard is popular. Three hours of cooking and tender meat will be upon you.

Many restaurants do not accept credit cards

Service is really slow amd dinner is late starting at 8 pm

If you see a large group- inclination is to keep movong on but instead join in – you don’t want to miss the amazing food

7. Language

Most people in Chile and Argentina speak Spanish but as a native English speaker, everyone we encountered in Patagonia spoke Emglish without a problem. The hotels had a lot of employees from New Zealand and Australia as well as Europe. Google translate can help

8. Cell Phone Service

Cell service is limited in parts of Chile and Argentina but when you have service – the Verizon cell phone only charges $10 a day for unlimited service but make sure you have this turned on before leaving the US

9. Things You Need to Bring

A. Sunglasses

B. Socks

C. Hiking Boots

D. Hat or Beanie

E. Sunscreen

F. Travel Insurance

9. It is expensive in Patagonia

I am pretty sure nothing was cheap in Patagonia – the food was expensive, clothing – expensive, wool- expensive, accommodations- expensive transportation – expensive

10. Patagonia is Huge!

A. Travel is slow, border crossing is easier said that done (unless your rental has the right paperwork; you cannot go) – you must plan the details because it can range 3 hours to 15 hours throughout Patagonia.

11. Patagonia is Environmentally Conscious

There is no trash on the side of the road or in the wilderness. Everyone is environmentally conscious and makes an effort to keep things need and organized. Wildlife is unique – views are incredible and everything is pristine

12. Come Prepared

You must come prepared with clothes, extra battery charges, food, snacks, water.

13. A recap of what you need to know:

– Patagonia is expensive

– well worth the visit

– The views are incredible

-Pick accommodations wisely

-Rent a car in advance

-Be environmentally conscious

– Weather is crazy

– internet? What is that?

– Bring warm clothing and put items in ziplock

– Sunscreen, sunglasses, hiking boots should be brought

– Patagonia is safe

– If hiking Torres del Paine – consider Hotel Torres when you do the hike

– Travel Insurance

Costs: for 3 people

El calafate: $311.94

Boat Ride: $432.89

Car Rental with Insurance and all Gas: $636.79

Bags: $168.16

Hotel Torres $940 (2 nights)

Food, Horses $225.73

Hotel Costaaustralis: $507.47 (3 nights)

Hotel Cabo Hornes $184.51

Travel Insurance per person: $81

$50 per person per day – maybe less depending.

Flight to NY: $386 per person

Flight to santiago: $579.03 per person

Flight to Punta Arena: $350 per person

**some of the costs were paid with miles**

$2,000 per person would include all food, car, hotel, excursions, and flights