One of the most beautiful places to go camping is in the South American region of Patagonia. It’s full of sky-high mountains, blue glaciers, and a variety of wildlife. You’ll want to be prepared before you begin your trip though, so here’s what to know before camping in Patagonia.
Patagonia Camping Gear to Bring
You can’t go on a Patagonia camping trip without the necessary equipment. After all, it can be a very harsh place, so it’s wise to bring some decent gear with you.
Lugging plenty of gear with you just to go camping in Patagonia can be difficult, but that’s the more budget-friendly option. Otherwise, you’ll have to purchase all your gear from local shops, but you’ll be looking at three times the average price.
You can’t go on a Patagonia camping trip without a good backpack. A large and customizable backpack is the item you’ll need the most when you’re camping in Patagonia. You’ll want to research travel backpacks for women before you head out.
A 60L backpack is always a great option. You want to make sure that it has adjustable straps and ample space for everything you need.
The key for any Patagonia backpacking trip is to wear layered clothing. The Patagonian weather is known for being unpredictable, so this way you can easily dress up or dress down depending on what you need at the moment.
Rain is an essential factor to consider, as it often rains in Patagonia. A jacket that’s resistant to elements is also a must.
Depending on who you ask, everyone always has a different answer to this. Some prefer hiking boots, while others prefer something more lightweight.
Whichever one you think you’ll prefer, just make sure it’s of good quality. Your shoes will be under a lot of strain when you hike Patagonia. I recommend getting hiking shoes that are waterproof so you’re not left with soggy shoes at night.
If you haven’t heard of Swedish dishcloths, you’ll want to check them out to add to your packing list for Patagonia. These are the budget and eco-friendly solutions to paper towels while camping. In fact, one dishcloth is equivalent to almost 15 rolls of paper tolls.
You can hand or machine wash these so you can use them over and over. They take up hardly any room so you’ll be saving space in your bag while saving the environment.
Since rain is such an important factor for any Patagonia camping trip, keeping your valuables dry is a must. A dry bag is an absolute necessity for Patagonia, and you might even want more than one.
Storing items separately in dry bags can also help make packing easier, as you’ll have a different bag for a different assortment of things. You’ll enjoy your Patagonia camping trip more if you have a separate bag for your wet clothes so your fresh clothes stay dry.
Since you’ll be sleeping in the outdoors when you go camping in Patagonia, you’ll need to have a decent sleeping mat. Sleeping bags can also do the trick, but they can be more restrictive than mats.
Make sure it’s a comfortable one, as the rugged terrain can be uncomfortable when you’re sleeping on the ground. There are plenty that you can get that are supportive but roll up easily so you can travel with it.
Plenty of camping grounds offer a place to make your food. Instead of carrying dry food, you can prepare your food immediately this way. It’s much better to eat fresh, as you’ll need a lot of energy for when you hike Patagonia. Look at gear that’s collapsible to save room.
Don’t forget to pack a few extras that you might not think of. You’ll need an extra battery and charger if you’re taking pictures, as the cold will zap your battery. A head torch will also be helpful at night. You should also bring a book or a Kindle to entertain yourself at night.
Read more: The Ultimate Patagonia Packing List
Campgrounds in Patagonia
When you head out for your Patagonia trekking experience, you’re bound to witness some of the world’s most scenic locations. Hiking is one of the best things you can do there.
When you’re ready to settle for the night, you’ll come across some excellent camp spots. If there are reservations for the campgrounds you’re planning on staying at, make sure to book them at least several months ahead. Here are some campgrounds in Patagonia to consider stopping at.
Tierra Del Fuego National Park, Argentina
Situated right next to the Chilean border, this national park is one of the most beautiful spots in Patagonia. The park is almost entirely mountainous, and it’s filled with alpine lakes and gorgeous forests.
It’s a place where you can hike beautiful nature trails, most of which are relatively easy and very accessible. Some of the most famous trails are Senda Laguna Negra, which is about a kilometer long, and Senda Hito XXIV, which is about five kilometers.
The best hike, however, is the Glacial Martial, which offers some of the best views of the region. The camps here are mostly rustic and free, like Bahia Ensenada and Rio Pip, but they’re not as tidy as the paid Lago Roca.
Entry into the national park itself is ARS350 for foreigners, and the camp has a <b?$10 fee for foreigners plus $5 per tent. For that price, you get a clean camp that has hot showers, a store, a restaurant, and even a shelter that can accommodate up to 20 people.
Torres del Paine, Chile
One of Chile’s most sought after camping locations, this is a gorgeous location that’s ideal for sleeping under the stars. Not only that, but the hiking here is great. If you visit Torres del Paine when you hike Patagonia, you’re bound to see gorgeous sights.
Places like the Base of the Towers, which can take up to an entire day of hiking, or the French Valley, are just some of the many wonderful locations you can visit here. There’s an interesting diversity in the campgrounds in Torres del Paine.
There are free campsites which are run by the national authorities (CONAF), paid ones called refugios, and remote campsites for which you need a special license. Depending on which paid campsites you visit, the fee is from $8-18 per person, and have all necessities like bathrooms, showers, and cooking equipment.
Most of the free ones have rustic bathrooms and cooking shelters, but don’t have showers and are generally not as equipped as refugios. The remote campsites have almost no amenities, and the license is issued only by the CONAF. However, they’re an excellent way to experience the park.
Popular refugios are Las Torres, Chileno, Cuernos, Paine Grande, and Dickson. Popular free campsites are Italiano, El Paso, and Campamento Torres, while the remotes ones are Japones, Bader Camp, and Pingo. Just don’t forget that there’s a general fee for entering the national park, which is 21.000 Chilean Pesos.
Park Patagonia, Chile
This is one of the newer locations in Chile where you can go camping in Patagonia. It used to be private land, but it was gifted to the government recently so it could be used as a nature reserve. The amenities here are top notch, and the park itself is absolutely stunning.
While it’s not a national park, it’s a place for recreation, and many of its natural spots are great for exploring. Besides the lodge, which is the main hub of the park and tourist center, there are three campsites.
West Winds is the largest of the campsites, and it has bathrooms, showers with solar hot water, and several cooking shelters. Stone Ground Campground is smaller than West Winds but is equally charming, and it’s known for its picnic shelters.
Alto Valle Campground has several private shelters with modern amenities and a few picnic shelters.
Reaching the park is done by car, and a 4×4 vehicle is recommended for navigating the park itself. The camping fee for West Winds and Stone Ground is 8.000 Pesos.
The shelters are divided depending on how many people stay in the night, which for larger groups is the same as with the other two campsites. The camp is closed from May to September.
General Camping Tips
One of the best things about any Patagonia camping trip is the opportunity to be alone with nature. When you’re camping in Patagonia, you’re definitely going to see some of the world’s most fascinating natural sights, but it’s easy to simply focus on the nature part and forget about other details.
Patagonia is widely inaccessible, so everyone should be aware of a few extra things, especially if you’re going on a Patagonia backpacking trip.
Have all of your paperwork ready at all times. If you’re planning on crossing the border, you should have everything ready and available at a moment’s notice. Everything should be up to date and proper.
Have a budget because Patagonia can get really expensive. You don’t want to run out of food in the middle of you Patagonia camping trip just because you didn’t properly prepare how much money you’ll need in advance.
Always have cash on hand because most of the time cards won’t be accepted. Being denied access to a campground because you can’t pay means that you’ll have to travel to a bigger town just to get access to an ATM.
Have your vehicle’s gas tank filled any chance you get. Patagonia is large and traveling between camping spots can take a lot of time and gas.
Don’t carry produce and dairy products from Argentina to Chile because it’ll get confiscated immediately.
When you hike Patagonia, always make sure to have a map, or at least an offline map for your phone. Patagonia trekking can be difficult and getting lost is easy. Paper maps are more dependable since you don’t have to worry about your phone’s battery dying and not knowing where you are anymore.
Have all of your reservations ready at least four months ahead of time. In most cases, it’s a necessity because of local laws.
Don’t forget to dress in layers.
Read more: The Best Time to Visit Patagonia
Patagonia Hiking Tips
One of the best activities you can do in Patagonia is hike. When you hike Patagonia, there’s a very unique feeling that you get since the terrain is so beautiful and unique. Everywhere you look you’ll see something gorgeous, but make sure to be prepared for your Patagonia backpacking experience.
Don’t forget good footwear when you hike Patagonia. The Patagonia trekking experience may be amazing, but it can be cut short without the right equipment.
Layered clothing is a must because of the unpredictable weather. You should be covered if you’ve properly prepared for camping in Patagonia.
Hiking poles can be of immense help. The terrain is very rugged and difficult to navigate as it is, so poles can help with that. Simply redistributing the weight onto the poles can make the hike that much easier.
You can use powdered food instead of canned if you want to have a lighter load. You don’t want to lug around cans of food for days when you’re camping in Patagonia. Powders are an easy solution, and some people prepare entire meals with powdered foods and water.
Rain-proof everything that you can. If you’ve prepared thoroughly for camping in Patagonia, you should already be covered. Once you’re out and about on a hike, rain is a constant hazard. When everything is protected from the rain, you should have no worries about your stuff getting damaged. If you’re doing any Patagonia photography, make sure to get covers for all your equipment as well.
Carrying a headlamp at all times can really help with moving at night or in darker spots. Using your phone as a light can be useful, but that only depletes its battery faster.
Keep your phone charged as much as you can. Any opportunity that you have to charge your phone, do it, as you never know how much time you’ll spend hiking.
Don’t forget to bring a mosquito repellent – they’re known to come out at random times of the year.
The sun can get pretty strong when you’re out in the open, so make sure to lather yourself in sunscreen.
Best Seasons to Camp
If camping in Patagonia is your focus, and you don’t intend to spend several weeks camping, then late spring and summer are your best choice. The seasons in the southern hemisphere are the opposite from the northern, so late spring would be November.
Keep in mind that December and January are high seasons for camping in Patagonia, so you’re bound to meet a lot of people camping. Both Chileans and Argentineans are fond of camping, so you’re going to find them in Patagonia no matter the season.
November is great for camping in Patagonia because the winds are not that strong, the weather is warm, and there are no crowds. If you do like to find a lot of people the time around New Year’s would be the best.
Autumn is also a great choice because the crowds are starting to disperse, but the prices are starting to lower. Autumn begins in April, but from May on most of the campsites are unavailable.
When you’re prepared for camping in Patagonia, you’ll have an absolute blast. I experienced everything from gorgeous, sunny days to extreme wind and rain. If you have the right equipment, just go with the flow and enjoy being in one of the most scenic places in the world.
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