Travel Guide - Patagonia Travel Tips

By Matt & Jody Pritchard

Please Note: It's been about 4 years since we wrote this guide. Since then it's been viewed a few thousand times, and we have received a lot of positive feedback. Much of the information is still relevant, but we've made no substantial efforts to keep it updated. At the very least, the prices are probably out of whack. Keep this in mind as you plan your trip. We hope you enjoy Patagonia.

Books

Lonely Planet's Trekking in the Patagonian Andes (Book) - This is by far the most targeted book for those planning a hiking/trekking trip to Patagonia. The 2nd edition of this book has earned a bad reputation for inaccuracy and out of date information. Despite these shortcomings, we still found it to be pretty useful when planning our trip. A 3rd edition of this book was released in November of 2003 (too late for our benefit) and is said to be a much improved version over its predecessor. This book should be available through any large online bookstore

Lonely Planet's Latin American Spanish Phrasebook (Book) - This is the only "language" book we brought and we found it to be very helpful. It is small enough to tote around throughout your trip, and it has most of the essential phrases and words that you will need. This book should be available through any large online bookstore.

Trekking en Chalten & Lago del Desierto (Book) - We were surprised to find such a detailed guidebook to this area of the park. This book is excellent, with a full English and Spanish version included. There are complete descriptions with elevation profiles for all of the popular hikes in the area. Also included is an excellent map and a CD-ROM. This book is available throughout El Calafate and El Chalten and may be available at www.losglaciares.com

Maps

A Note About Maps: The maps for the area are getting better, but might not quite meet your standards if you are used to USGS 7.5 or 15 minute maps. These maps are generally very small in scale (1:80,000 or 1:100,000) and while they claim to be topographical maps, the contour intervals can be as large as 100 - 200 meters. Below we have listed the maps that we found most helpful in our travels. The names of the maps seem a bit arbitrary, so we've included a small picture of each one that might be useful when shopping for them.

Torres del Paine Trekking Map (Map) - This is the best map that we came across for Torres del Paine. The distances of the trails are unfortunately marked in hours, rather than miles or kilometers, but it is still pretty useful. This map is available at several stores in Puerto Natales and may be available at the following website - www.patagoniainteractiva.com

Update 8/1/05 - The publisher of this map contacted us recently and sent an updated version of the map, which now shows trail distances in both miles and kilometers. This is a great improvement to an excellent map and should serve you well for your travels in the Torres del Paine area.

El Chalten Trekking Map (Map) - We were quite pleased with this map as it covered the popular areas in and around the Fitz Roy section of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. The map includes distances in km and miles and also has a handy street map of El Chalten. This map is available throughout El Calafate and El Chalten.

Patagonia y Tierra del Fuego (Map) - This is essentially a road map for the entire Patagonia region. While not necessary for hiking, it was a nice complement to our guidebooks to see where we were in the big picture. The map is published by Auto Mapa and is available through Amazon.com.

Websites

Viento Sur - www.vientosur.com - Punta Arenas area travel agency. This is where we booked our trip to Isla Magdalena.

Go to Latin - www.gotolatin.com - Santiago area travel agent. This is where we booked our flight to Punta Arenas

Andescape - www.andescape.cl - Torres del Paine concessionaire that operates several of the refugios in the park. The also offer guided tours of the park.

Fantastico Sur - www.fantasticosur.com - Another TDP concessionaire that operates several refugios in the park as well as Hosteria Las Torres.

El Chalten - www.elchalten.com - This site has everything you need to know about the town and trekking options around El Chalten.

Patagonia Interactiva - www.patagoniainteractiva.com - Source for maps to Torres del Paine.

Navimag - www.navimag.com - Operator of a cruise ship between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales. Site includes schedules and rates.

Lan Chile - www.lanchile.cl - The primary airline into Punta Arenas.

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