Fitz Roy M Trek, Argentina

Detailed Itinerary

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Introduction

The Fitz Roy M trek is the big hike for all walking fans to try when visiting Chalten.

This walk – named the ‘M’ for its route – takes in the best of Fitzroy National Park in Argentina, Patagonia.

You hike to Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, walk on glaciers and explore the lesser-known parts of Los Glaciares national park.

There is even the chance to learn some ice-climbing skills on a glacier, if you wish.

There is also the chance to bike, ride or paddle in the park, from our Chalten eco-camp base where this Patagonia adventure begins.

 

More on Fitz roy trek

We trek to the far corner of the national park for a view of the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap from the stunning Paso del Viento (windy pass).

At Viedma Glacier you have the opportunity to walk on the glacier and learn some basic ice-climbing.

Get close up to the Fitzroy massif, huge glaciers and stunning mountains with this itinerary, which can be adjusted to suit your exact requirements and dates.

Camping is in beautiful remote sites, well away from other people.

Trip Highlights

  • Full Fitz Roy M trek in Los Glaciares National Park.
  • Camp in remote spots, away from the crowds, nestled among the mountains.
  • Spectacular views over the Ice Cap, Cerro Torre and Mount Fitz Roy.
  • Chance to learn ice-climbing skills on glaciers.
  • Optional biking and kayaking available from our Chalten eco-camp base.
  • Join a group or design your own itinerary with our flexible approach.

Fitz Roy M Trek Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Chalten, transfer to Eco-camp (D)

On arrival in El Chalten we will pick you up and transfer you to the Adventure Camp set on the banks of Rio De Las Vueltas north of town. Please let us know if you would like buses organised fomr El Calafate.

There are great views of Monte Fitz Roy’s north face from camp.

Dinner and overnight at Eco-camp.

Day 2: Hike, bike or canoe, Eco-camp (B,L,D)

Today there is plenty to to choose from or time at leisure to relax by the fire, study the plants or wildlife.

1)  Mountain Bike: with guide, within the property of Refugio Laguna Condor or bike to Lago del Desierto and back.

2) Kayak in Laguna Condor: with guide, sit on top Kayaks

3) Loma del Diablo trek: 6 to 8 hour trek near the refuge with incredible views.

 

More information

Biking: If you would like to bike then we can organise some Mountain Biking, either guided or independent biking. The road from El Chalten northwards has very little traffic and there is a superb ride to the beautifully set Lago del Desierto.

Hiking: This is a hiker’s paradise, there are numerous options. We would recommend a magnificent hike up the Loma del Diablo, on to the ridge or on upwards all the way to the summit (1,800m/5,906ft).

We recommend a guide if you want a full day and to climb to the summit – as weather conditions may make it tricky.

Canoeing: Another good option is kayaking. River guides and kayak equipment are available to explore a couple of kilometres of Rio de las Vueltas, The views around are stunning – with Mt. Fitz Roy on the skyline.

Note: Options must be chosen at least three week before starting the trip.

Day 3: Trek to Laguna de Los Tres. Poincenot camp (B,L,D)

After a good breakfast today a short drive brings us to the trailhead. We ascend gradually all morning along the Rio Blanco to the climbers base camp, deep in the woods.

Climbers can spend many days, even weeks here waiting for a break in the weather before attempting the sheer grantie faces of Mount Fitzroy.

We carry on walking, now on a steeper path, that climbs a morraine from the old glaciers. We zigzag up towards the glacial lake of Laguna De Los Tres. From here we have close up views of the mountaineering routes on Fitz Roy and the adjoining peaks, weather permitting. We will take in the mountain view whilst restocking our bodies with food, from our packed lunch.

In the afternoon we head down to our camp. Poincenot camp.

Day 4: Trek to Lago Torre. Thorwood camp (B,L,D)

After breakfast we head out onto the mountain trail and start our trek towards Lago Torre. We walk along the Madre y Hija trail, passing small lakes with plenty of water birds, until we reach Thorwood camp.

En route, conditions permitting, we will have views of Mount Solo, the Adela range, Mount Cerro before arriving at our campsite, Thorwood camp.

Day 5: Trek to Rio Tunel valley, camping near Lago Torro (B,L,D)

After breakfast we cross the river by Tyrolean traverse and begin the long ascent to Paso De Las Agachonas.

As we climb higher, the views of the surrounding peaks get ever more dramatic.

Once across the pass we descend into the Rio Tunel Valley, with occasional views of tomorrow’s destination, El Paso Del Viento, the aptly named Windy Pass.

Upon reaching Rio Tunel, we follow it west to our camp just below Laguna Toro. This will be our camp for two nights, nicely protected in a small beech grove just below the tree line and far off-the-beaten-track.

Day 6: Day hike to Paso del Viento, camping (B,L,D)

After walking round the edge of the lagoon and wading across the river, we begin our walk northwards towards the Paso del Viento, gateway to the Southern Patagonia Ice Field.

Trekkers on the Ice-Field come off the Ice Cap and through the pass at the end of their trekking expeditions.

During the ascent of 900m/2,953ft or so, we have dramatic views behind us over Lake Viedma. From the pass there is a fabulous panoramic view of the Southern Ice Field.

We head back down the same way after lunch and overnight back at Base Camp at Laguna Toro.

Day 7: Today trek back to El Chalten, hosteria (B,L,D)

Today’s hike back to El Chalten is long, but easy in comparison to yesterday’s visit to the Pass.

The descent to town is gradual and easy on the knees. A hosteria, a shower and all the trappings of civilisation await!

Day 8: Tour ends (B)

After breakfast, catch the bus (not included) back to El Calafate.

Or you can take an optional trip to Glacier Viedma by bus and then boat and experience a walk on the glacier (not included). Return to town in time to catch an evening bus to El Calafate (please let us know if you would like this organised for you), and the tour ends.


What's Included?

English speaking trek guide (days 2 to 7); Cook and dining tent; All group camping and trip equipment; All meals and water on trek; Eco-lodge and camping accommodation; Private transport to and from the trek, meals as listed.

What's Not Included?

Flights (we can look for these), travel insurance; Sleeping bag; Items of a personal nature; Optional trips; Tips, meals not listed, alcoholic or soft drinks, porters to carry personal kit, El Calafate services, bus El Calafate-Chalten


Accommodation

The eco-camp is located on the west bank of the Rio de las Vueltas, 20 km North of El Chalten.

It has 8 small cabins, and each cabin has two beds with private bathroom, and is between a hotel and a campsite, meaning you get comfort while enjoying the feeling of staying out in the wilds.

The lodge also has a large, communal area with a cosy fireplace and a view to Fitz Roy, plus a hot tub to relax in after the hikes.

Electricity is generated using a hydro turbine in a nearby stream.

Tour Staff

We employ local, bilingual English-speaking and qualified guides for this trek.

Most have worked for many years in the area and know the park intimately.


Meals

We can cater for almost all dietary requirements – please enquire in advance.

The eco-camp offers plentiful meals with an emphasis on local produce, recipes and foods.

While out trekking, you usually wake early, around 07.00, and have a filling breakfast at camp. This is usually a mix of hot drinks, cereals, toast, eggs etc.

After breakfast, packs are prepared and your guide will explain the day’s walk, and you typically walk 3-4 hours in the morning before lunch, with a short or break or two en route.

Lunch, while out walking, will be sandwiches, energy bars, biscuits etc. Please bring some favourite snacks of your own, too.

After an hour or so for lunch – depending on weather conditions – you will continue your walk, usually 1-3 hours more, although some days are shorter or longer than others, and then relax before dinner at camp.

After eating, you can choose to socialise with team members, relax in your tent or take in the views.

It can get cold very soon after sunset (albeit days are often very long in southern Patagonia’s trekking season), so most people will fall asleep early and then rise early the next day, helping to conserve energy.

Activity Level

We have qualified this as a moderate trek.

There is no high altitude to worry about, the main challenge is the changeable weather in what is a remote area, and several consecutive days of trekking for 5-7 hours.

You need to have a good level of fitness for the trip, as the fitter you are, the more you will enjoy it.

Those with no previous trekking experience can trek this trek, although experience of hiking is beneficial.

The trip is open to anyone with a positive attitude who wants to walk in a stunning and remote part of the Patagonian Andes.



Practical Information

Introduction to Patagonia

For most people, Patagonia evokes a vast, windblown plateau, jagged mountains and the life of the gauchos.

The steppe that occupies much of southern South America is only one aspect of a magical region, jam-packed with amazing and contrasting landscapes.

Patagonia (latitudes 40°-55°, approximately) embraces a vast portion of southern Chile and Argentina, from the Rio Colorado in the north, to Tierra del Fuego in the south.

For convenience, we have divided the region into three zones: the Lakes District of northern Patagonian, central Patagonia and southern Patagonia.

Geography of Patagonia

Southern Patagonia (latitudes 49° to 55°), encompassing the southern Andes of Chile and Argentina plus Tierra del Fuego, has an altogether more vertical aspect than the rest of Patagonia.

As the continent tapers towards its southern point, the Andes take on new characteristics and offer some truly impressive panoramas.

Much of southern Patagonia is characterized by virgin landscapes where man’s hand has either not been present or, because of the scale of the landscapes, goes almost unnoticed. To the west of the semi-arid Patagonian plateau, mile-high granite spires – e.g. Cerro Torre and Fitzroy in Argentina and the Torres and Cuernos del Paine in Chile – rise abruptly from the Andean foothills, while vast blue glaciers, fringed by southern beech forest, gouge out thevalleys below.

At the heart of these magnificent landscapes lies the South Patagonian Ice Field, an utterly remote icy wilderness spanning hundreds of kilometers, whose glaciers – including the Perito Moreno and Upsala – are tens of kilometres long by severalkilometers wide.

Also characteristic of the southern Patagonian Andes are its turquoise, iceberg-filled lakes. To the west lies the southern portion of the Chilean Archipelago, comprising snow-capped islands and fjords.

Across the Magellan Straits from mainland Patagonia lies Tierra del Fuego which, like the rest of Patagonia, is divided between Argentina and Chile.

The north and east of Tierra del Fuego is flat, but flanking the Beagle Channel in the south, the tail end of the Andes provide very dramatic mountain scenery.

 

The Lake District (latitudes 40° to 45°) or the Araucania, is a region of dramatic conical volcanoes, evergreen, high-canopy forests and, of course, lakes.

It straddles the Chile-Argentine border, and also takes in Chiloe island, in the extreme north of the Chilean Archipelago. This region stretches from Temuco in the north to Chiloe in the south.

 

Central Patagonia (latitudes 45 to 49) is one of South America’s best-kept secrets. The vast wilderness area can be divided in two:

  • The dry band of Andean foothills and wind-blown plateau lying on the Argentine side of the Andes. This remote area is traversed north to south by a gravel highway known as the Ruta Cuarenta (Highway 40).
  • The Chilean portion to the west of the Andean watershed, often referred to as the Careterra Austral (after the little-used gravel highway that crosses it from north to south).

This huge region, embracing the sparsely-inhabited southern Araucaria and Aisén Region, features temperate rainforests, snow-peaks (often extinct volcanoes), lakes and, to the west, the Chilean Archipelago: a labyrinth of fjords and mountain-islands. This, the Chilean portion of central Patagonia, boasts the northernmost of Patagonia’s many giant, sea-level glaciers.

The San Raphael Glacier, probably this region’s most famous landmark, is an immense hanging glacier whose seracs calve into an iceberg-filled lagoon.

 

Find out more about Patagonia with our blog about its wildlife.

Weather

Patagonia weather changes as quickly as the wind sometimes blows.

Summer (Nov-March) see temperatures reach up to 20°C, when glorious light pours over the region for up to 18 hours. This is the best time to visit, nevertheless, spring and summer is also when the central and southern Patagonian regions sometimes get buffeted by strong, westerly winds.

Summer days in national parks can also bring sunny, windless conditions, and you may well find yourself hiking in shorts and t-shirt. Afternoons in Los Glaciares can be warm with lots of sunshine. (Note: Patagonian UV rays are very strong).

But because of the fickle – and localised – nature of the climate here, take nothing for granted. In a single day, all four seasons might be experienced, including a biting, wind-induced cold. It has been known to snow in camps in summer!

The in winter (May-Sept) temperatures typically range from -2°C in the winter, and there is only 6-8 hours of daylight. Winds tend to die down.

 

More information

In general, the further south you go, the cooler it gets and the further west you go – towards the Andes and Pacific coast – the wetter and less predictable the weather is. The further east – towards and across the Patagonian plateau – the drier and more stable.

On the South Patagonian Ice Field (average height, 1,500 metres), the appearance of lenticular clouds – signifying changing conditions – can translate into extreme winds (up to 150 kmh) and heavy snowfall. Here, summer pre-dawn temperatures commonly reach -20°C, with wind chill lowering temperatures even more. However, on sunny, windless summer days, you might get away with wearing just a couple of thin layers.

In Peninsula Valdes, the city of Puerto Madryn and the capital Trelew are all located in the province of Chubut, on the shores of three gulfs: San Matias, San Jose, and Nuevo. This area features a peculiar climate because of the effect created by the Atlantic Ocean. Although it does not rain much in the region on an annual basis, summers are usually mild, and the temperature sometimes gets very hot (touching 30ºC) and then eases off in the evening. The area does get very windy at times, especially on the peninsula, and warm and water/windproof clothing is recommended.

If you head to Ushuaia, due to its extreme southern location, temperatures may remain chilly during summer (Oct-March) the use of plenty of warm layers of clothing. Winter and Antarctic visits will require extreme clothing.

Visas for Patagonia

UK and USA citizens do not require a visa to enter Argentina or Chile as a tourist.

Please ensure your passport has at least six months remaining validity.

On presentation of a valid UK or USA passport you will be granted a 90-day stay in either country. Please keep any tourist card you are given safe – you need this to leave the country.

Australians have to pay a reciprocity fee to enter Argentina, and this must be obtained before travelling to Argentine.

Australians entering Chile at Santiago International airport must also pay a reciprocity fee, paying cash on arrival.

All non-UK nationals should check with their nearest Chilean/Argentine consulates for the latest visa and fee information.

All requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.

Vaccinations for Patagonia

We strongly suggest that everyone planning to travel to Patagonia visits their local doctor/travel clinic prior to departure for the latest vaccination information.

 

Recommended vaccinations

  • Up-to-date diphtheria and polio.
  • Tetanus or tetanus booster. (These three are effective for ten years.)
  • ‘Havrix’ for Hepatitis A. The course of two injections protects you for ten years. Gamma globulin is cheaper butless effective.
  • Typhoid vaccine is recommended by some doctors although it will not provide total protection and being careful about what you eat and drink is your best defence. It is given in two shots, four weeks apart and lasts for three years. Unless at exceptional risk, people over the age of 35 who have received four or more courses of typhoid immunisation need no more.
  • A pre-exposure rabies vaccination is worth considering if you are going to be in contact with animals or morethan 24 hours away from a reliable source of vaccine. Hikers are at some risk from rural dogs, certain of which carry rabies, and those visiting coastal or rainforest areas could be exposed to rabid bats.
  • Malaria is not a risk in Patagonia.

Kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

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Overview

When planning for the varied climatic conditions encountered in Patagonia, layering is the most practical and versatile clothing system.  It’s worth remembering that our clothing keeps us warm by retaining and isolating the heat we ourselves create.

To best maintain body heat, several layers of lightweight, warm and quick-drying clothing are far more efficient than one or two thick layers. Layers should have the following qualities:

 

  1. Breathability (able to wick away the humidity produced by sweat):
  2. Isolation (able to keep in the warm air our body produces); and
  3. Impermeability (able to impede the passing of wind and water).

 

First (base) layer: This layer wicks the sweat away from our skin, thus helping keep the body dry and warm. To this end, synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene should be used.

Mid layers: These isolating layers should also be synthetic (e.g. the known polar linings such as polartec or windblock, which are light and insulate twice as well as wool). Very important layers for retaining body heat.

Outer layer / shell: Finally, the vital layer which protects us from climatic adversities. A breathable, wind-proof and waterproof anorak, such as Goretex.

Give plenty of thought to kit selection, and try to keep weight down.

We also carry an extensive first aid kit & oxygen on all trips, but these are generally for emergencies only.

Below is a more detailed kit list.

 

Detailed kit list

  • Sleeping bag liner (optional), for hygiene purposes.
  • 2 pairs synthetic inner socks (e.g. polypropylene, thermastat, coolmax) and 2 pairs thick loop-stitch/wool socks for cold.
  • Trekking boots – should be well broken-in, waterproof and provide good ankle support.
  • Trainers/sandals for city-wear, evenings at lower camps & river crossings.
  • Base layer leggings (1 pair).
  • Thick fleece leggings (or salopettes) (1 pair).
  • Goretex-type over-trousers (or salopettes) (1 pair).
  • Gaiters (optional).
  • Trekking trousers (2 pairs).
  • Shorts – wear sparingly in early stages at altitude, as sun burns.
  • Thermal base layer shirts (2).
  • Microfleece mid-layer shirt (1).
  • Shirt/t-shirt 1 or 2 for lower altitudes. Long-sleeved, collared shirt protects against sun
  • Fleece jacket or similar (1).
  • Warm jacket (down or synthetic). For camp and upper slopes.
  • Waterproof Goretex-type jacket.
  • Broad-brimmed sunhat, essential.
  • Warm hat, fleece or wool. (N.B. Up to 30% of body heat can be lost through the head).
  • Sunglasses with UV filter.
  • Scarf for cold.
  • Bandanna – to protect neck from strong sun.
  • Light inner gloves
  • Warm gloves, e.g. fleece, and outer waterproof gloves or mittens (1 pair)
  • Mittens allow you to keep the fingers together, and better conserve heat (though they also make it difficult to perform certain tasks).
  • Daypack (at least 30 litres). Comfortable and with waterproof lining or cover.
  • Large rucksack or suitcase.
  • Pair of telescopic trekking poles (optional).
  • Water bottle (2 litres approx.) & purification tablets.
  • Personal first-aid kit to include: painkillers, plasters (band-aids), moleskin, anti-biotic cream, general antibiotics (ask your GP), after-bite (tiger balm), anti-diarrhoea tablets, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts & personal medication.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Towel & wash-kit.
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand-wash cream.
  • Toilet paper (1)
  • Sunscreen (factor 30+) and lip salve.
  • Head-lamp (plus spare bulb and batteries).
  • Penknife.
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Plastic bags – ‘Zip-loc’ & tough bin liners.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!).
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other for free time.
  • Binoculars.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Extra snacks i.e. cereal bars or favourite chocolate bars.

All non-personal trekking / camping gear e.g. tents, cutlery etc is provided.

 

Miscellaneous others

  • Money belt.
  • Passport.
  • U.S. dollars cash, mixed-denomination notes, undamaged and unmarked.
  • ATM cash/credit card.
  • Any inoculation certificates.
  • Personal & medical insurance certificates.
  • Presents e.g. Postcards from home.
  • Comfortable clothes for travel, smart clothes for night life.

Quick facts about Patagonia

Chile

Official name: Republic of Chile

Country population: 17,000,000

Capital city: Santiago (6 million)

Largest cities: Santiago, Concepcion, Valparaiso

Languages: Spanish (official)

Official currency: Chilean Peso

Major industries: Copper mining, agriculture, fish

Time zone: GMT-5 in winter (Mar-Sep) and GMT-4 in summer (Sep-Mar)

 

Argentina

Official name: Argentine Republic Country

Population: 40,000,000

Capital city: Buenos Aires (11 million)

Largest cities: Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario

Languages: Spanish (official)

Official currency: Argentine Peso

Major industries: Agriculture (Soy), motor vehicles, chemicals

Argentina: GMT-3

Flight advice

Andean Trails can book all your international and domestic flights for this trip and for UK passengers; we have full ATOL bonding and can book flights with most airlines.

International flight prices are variable and usually can only be guaranteed at the time of booking. If you would like to upgrade to business or first class, or even arrive at an earlier date/depart at a later date we can also arrange this for you.

Typically, you fly to a country’s capital city and then overnight there or make a connecting flight (if available) to your next destination.

 

Flight connections

Please contact us for flight advice especially if you do make a connection on the same day. It is important to purchase a through ticket and not separate tickets for connections, so that you are covered for any delays. Passengers with separate tickets that are delayed run the risk of having to buy an entirely new ticket to continue their journeys.

Please note all airline schedules are subject to change and are out of our control.

 

Tickets

Almost all flight tickets are now e-tickets. Any that are not will be handed to you on arrival in South America – this is most common for flights on smaller planes in Amazon areas such as Guyana/Bolivia.

The final travel instructions we send you some 2-3 weeks before departure will list the latest flight times, flight numbers etc as well as list your e-ticket numbers and booking reference code (6 characters i.e. GB75RK). This is what you will need to check in with.

 

How do I check in?

Depending on the airline, we can reserve some seats for you at the time of booking your international flights with us.

If we cannot reserve seats at the time of booking, you have to wait for online check in to open (usually 24-72 hours before departure).

To check in online you will need to go to the website of the airline you are travelling with, and have your e-ticket number/booking reference to hand. Click check in online, enter your details, and choose your seat.

Some flights will allocate seats at the check in desk at the airport and some may not allocate seats at all.

 

Help flying via the USA (ESTA form).

The United States (USA) has an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) which all travellers to and via the USA must complete BEFORE travel to/via its airports and shores.

More information can be found on their ESTA website.

Passengers who have not completed the form will be denied boarding.

Before you begin this application, make sure that you have a valid passport and credit card available.

This application will only accept the following credit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover (JCB, Diners Club).

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.

 

What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.

 

Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.

 

I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.

Be safe in Patagonia

Patagonia is a relatively safe region, but we still recommend that in large towns and cities you take certain precautions (see below).

Chile and Argentina are, overall, among the safest countries in South America.

However, in Buenos Aires and Santiago, muggings and opportunistic crime – although not common – do occur.

In Buenos Aires, ‘distraction muggings’ sometimes happen in quiet streets, in the daytime as well as at night.

We suggest that you take the following precautions:

  • Leave paper valuables in the hotel safe (caja fuerte), taking out with you only what you need for the day.
  • Carry a copy of passport (leave original in safe). N.B. When travelling, carry paper valuables in a money belt under clothing, not in a ‘bum-bag’.
  • Beware of distraction techniques, e.g. where X sprays you with mustard or similar substance, and accomplice Y comes up to offer to clean you off, but takes your bag or wallet while you’re distracted. If you do get sprayed, just walk straight on.
  • Avoid marginal areas and be alert in lonely streets in the day and at night. Also, always take special care in busy streets, around markets and in and around bus terminals; either avoid carrying a bag in such areas, or secure it, as bag-slashers and pickpockets sometimes operate.
  • NEVER leave your bag(s) unattended, especially in airports, bus terminals and hotel lobbies.
  • It’s best to use taxis at night, wherever you are.

Money matters

Foreign currency in Patagonia

Take US dollars with you (preferably new notes or at least unmarked and undamaged notes) in smaller denominations of 10s, 20s and maybe some 50s. Do not take USD 100 bills as they are unlikely to be accepted.

 

Argentina: Currency & Money Exchange

Argentina’s monetary unit is the “Argentina Peso”.

Argentina has had several years of economic instability and with a previous government there were tight exchange controls.

These have now been relaxed so payments with debit and credit cards are widely accepted.

However, there may be controls on ATM withdrawals (possibly a max of AR 1,000 / GB 50 per day and you may well be charged substantially for each withdrawal). ATMs can also be unreliable and we have had several reports of “empty” cash machines.  We suggest that you have enough cash to cover your needs, especially in more remote areas.

ATM debit/credit cards are now widely used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees).

On arrival to Argentina , at the airport/border, exchange US dollars so that you have some local peso. Some businesses, particularly in tourist spots may accept payment in US dollars – ask first.

Exchange rate: USD 1 = 25 Argentine Peso (approx.), June 2018.

Peso banknotes: 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 pesos

Peso coins: 5, 10, 25, 50 centavos, 1 peso, 2 pesos

Chile: Currency & Money Exchange

Chile’s monetary unit is the “Chilean Peso”.

Most businesses (unless a tourist shop/restaurant) will only accept Chilean pesos. Note that the Peso comes in very high denominations (see below), so you’ll need to get used to very big numbers on bills that are not worth very much.

ATM debit/credit cards are widely used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees). There are plenty of ATMS (hole-in-the-wall) cash machines throughout the country, however check with your bank to see if there is a daily maximum you may withdraw.

Exchange rate: USD 1 = 630 Chilean Peso (approx.), June 2018.

Peso banknotes: 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 pesos

Peso coins: 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 pesos

 

Tipping

Don’t forget to read out tipping guides for Argentina and Chile.

 

Eating and drinking

Argentina and Chile both have fantastic culinary and wine reputations.

There are more and more top-end restaurants almost everywhere, and you can easily spend USD 100pp and more on meals.

Prices vary greatly, below is a rough guide to what you can expect to pay in Argentina and/or Chile.

 

 

Local café/restaurant

Beer/soft drink: USD 4

Menu del dia: USD 10-15

Coffee: USD 2

Bottle of wine: From USD 15 upwards

 

Tourist style restaurant

Beer/soft drink: USD 5-7

Main dish: USD 20 upwards

Coffee: USD 3

Bottle of wine: From USD 20 upwards

Tipping

Tipping is entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received.

This is a rough guideline:

  • Airport porters: Minimum USD 1-2 per bag – compulsory.
  • Hotel staff: USD 1-2 per night, in the staff tip box.
  • Transfer drivers/taxis: Generally not expected.
  • Drivers: USD 10-25 per day total from the group.
  • Specialist guides: USD 5-15 per person, per day.
  • Assistant guides: USD 5-7 per person, per day.
  • Tour leaders: USD 10-15 per day total from the group.
  • Restaurants: +10% for adequate to excellent food and service.

Plugs and voltages

Electricity

220 volts (110v in some hotels), 50 Hz, in both Chile and Argentina.

Most cameras, phones and computers are dual or multi voltage and probably won’t need a convertor – please check before leaving.

Some items you may bring, such as hairdryers, may need a convertor. They may short if you use them without the correct convertor.

 

Plugs

If you go on a cruise boat in Patagonia, most boats take the two pin, round-pronged Type C plug show below.

Argentina uses Type i (I) plugs, although some Type C plugs can be found in older buildings and bathrooms.

 

Type I plug

Type i (I) plug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Type C plug

Type C plug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chile uses Type C as above and Type L plugs.

Type L plug

Type L plug

Communication

Internet in Patagonia

Most hotels, cafes, restaurants and airports offer free and generally good Wi-Fi. In some towns and cities, main plazas have free, public Wi-Fi.

Internet cafes are slowly disappearing, but most towns and cities will have some in the main centres.

 

Post

Head to the state-owned Correos de Chile for postal services.

Correo Argentino is the national, state-run postal service.

 

ARGENTINA

Dialling codes in Argentina

To call Argentina from abroad, or using your mobile phone in Argentina, follow these steps.

Example number: Buenos Aires (0)11 1234-5678, you would dial:

  • +54 is Argentina’s country code
  • 11 is Buenos Aires’ city code, minus the (0)
  • +54-11-1234-5678 is the final number you dial.

 

Argentina mobiles start with the number 15. If using your mobile phone to call an Argentine mobile, follow these steps.

Example number: Buenos Aires mobile 15-8765-4321, you would dial:

  • +54 for Argentina’s dialling code
  • Remove the 15 from the start of the mobile number
  • Add in a 9, and the area dialling code minus the (0) – in this example Buenos Aires, code = 11
  • +54-911-8765-4321 is the final number you dial.
  • From an Argentine landline or mobile, simply dial 15-8765-4321.

 

Mobile phones in Argentina

If taking a mobile phone with you, check roaming rates with your operator before leaving – they can be very high.

A good way to avoid expensive charges is to bring own unlocked tri- or quad-band phone to Argentina and then buy an inexpensive SIM chip with a local number. These are available in many kiosks and locutorios and offer ability to make cheap calls as well as affordable data for the internet.

 

 

CHILE

Dialling codes in Chile

The international code for Chile is +56.

Regions have dialling codes.

Not all smartphones will work in Chile, it’s best to check with your operator before you arrive. Roaming charges may be high – again, best to check.

 

Landlines in Chile

Chile’s landlines have 7 digits, apart from Santiago where they have 8 digits.

To call landline-landline in the same city, add the regional code and then the 7 or 8 digit number, e.g. Arica code is 58, to dial Arica-Arica, dial 58 – 1234567.

If calling landline to another regional landline/city, dial the area code (61=Puerto Natales) but eliminate the 0 e.g. dial 61 1234567.

If using your own mobile phone to call a landline, dial the country code, the regional/city code without the 0, and then the number, e.g. for Puerto Natales +56 61 1234567.

 

Mobiles in Chile

Mobiles have 8 digits.

If you are dialling a Chilean mobile from a Chilean landline, add 9 to the number, e.g. 9 1234-5678.

If using your own mobile phone to call a Chilean mobile, dial the country code, then a 9, then the 8 digit number e.g. +56 9 1234-5678.

If you wish call an Argentina mobile while you are in Chile, dial 9, then the area code without the 0, then the number (leaving out the 15 which most Argentine mobiles start with).

e.g. for Buenos Aires mobile 15 1234-5678

Dial: +54 9 11 1234-5678 (Buenos Aires code = 11).

 

 

Useful Spanish phrases

Learning a few words of Spanish can really ingratiate you with the locals you’ll encounter, adding to the enjoyment of your holiday.

Below are some basics to get you started.

 

Greetings:

Good morning                                         Buenos días

How are you?                                         ¿Cómo estás?

Good afternoon                                      Buenas tardes

Good bye                                               Adiós

 

Most frequently asked questions (theirs):

Where are you (plural) from?                   ¿De dónde eres (son)?

What time is it?                                           ¿Qué hora es?

Where have you come from?                    ¿De dónde vienes?

Give me (frequent, unwelcome question)    Dáme / regálame

 

Most frequent questions (yours):

How much is it?                                      ¿Cuánto vale?

What is this place called?                       ¿Cómo se llama este lugar?

What’s your name?                                 ¿Cómo te llamas?

Do you have a map?                                ¿Tienes un mapa?

 

In the street / places:

Where can I find a currency exchange?    ¿Dónde encuentro una casa de cambio?

Where is there a cash machine?                ¿Dónde hay un cajero automatico?

Where is the underground/subway station? ¿Dónde esta la estacion de metro/subte(Buenos Aires)?

Where can I find a taxi?                             ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi?

Where can I find a Supermarket?            ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un supermercado?

Where is the hospital?                               ¿Dónde esta el hospital?

Where can I find a restaurant?               ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un restaurante?

 

In the hotel:

What floor am I on?                                   ¿En qué piso estoy?

Where are the elevators/lifts?                 ¿Dónde están los ascensores?

How do I access the Internet?                 ¿Cómo puedo acceder a Internet?

How do I call for room service?                ¿Cómo llamo para el servicio de habitación?

How do I call down to the front desk?      ¿Cómo llamo a la recepción?

 

In the restaurant:

A table for two/four please                     Una mesa para dos/cuatro, porfavor

I would like to drink…                             Me gustaria tomar….

May I see a menu?                                   Puedo ver la carta/menu?

I would like to order..                              Me gustaria pedir…

Can you bring me the check/bill please.     Me trae la cuenta por favor

 

Emergency:

I need help.                                              Necesito ayuda.

I have lost my passport.                        He perdido mi pasaporte.

Someone stole my money.                    Alguien robó mi dinero

I have been robbed.                                Me han robado

I need to call the police.                         Necesito llamar a la policía

I need to call the (country) Embassy     Necesito llamar a la embajada de (country)

Help!                                                           ¡Socorro!

 

Responsible Travel - our ethos

Andean Trails believes in Responsible Travel and actively supports several community projects.

Please see Our Advice and Our Ethos for more, and learn about the Projects We Support.

We operate the Inca Trail, our treks and tours with local firms.

We make sure that on our tours and Inca Trail we employ local staff, who are paid fair wages.

With the Inca Trail, We provide free life insurance to all of our porters. Tented accommodation and meals are provided for all trekking staff as well as foam mats, sleeping bags and rain ponchos. We have also provided the staff with trekking shoes. We ensure our porters carry a maximum of only 20kg. We offer them backpacks and they generally use back supports.

Clean burning fuel is used to cook the meals on the Inca Trail and porters carry gas stoves and butane bottles. We use biodegradable detergents when washing the cooking and eating utensils. If any part of our tour or trek is operated by another company, we try to ensure that high standards are maintained.

Our additional support helps the Huchuy Yachaq project which supports children and families in one of the poorest communities in the district of Cusco.

Responsible Travel - travel tips

Responsible Tourism – Code of Conduct:

  • Find out about your destination – take some time before you go to read about the cultural, social and political background of the place and people you are visiting.
  • Go equipped with basic words and phrases in the local language – this may open up opportunities for you to meet people who live there.
  • Buy locally-made goods and use locally-provided services wherever possible – your support is often vital to local people.
  • Pay a fair price for the goods or services you buy – if you haggle for the lowest price your bargain may be at someone else’s expense.
  • Be sensitive to the local culture – dress and act in a way that respects local beliefs and customs, particularly at religious sites.
  • Don’t undermine the local economic systems – we recommend you don’t give gifts, especially sweets as there are few dentists in the Andes. Much better to spend time chatting, playing and showing postcards of home. If you would like to donate clothes and shoes etc we are more than happy to do so through the relevant channels. Your tour leader can do this for you and some of the projects we support can be visited.
  • Ask permission before taking photographs of individuals or of people’s homes – and remember that you may be expected to pay for the privilege.
  • Avoid conspicuous displays of wealth – this can accentuate the gap between rich and poor and distance you from the cultures you came to experience.
  • Make no promises to local people that you can’t keep – be realistic about what you will do when you return home.
  • Minimise your environmental impact – keep to footpaths and marked routes, don’t remove any of the natural habitat and reduce the packaging you bring.
  • Don’t pollute local water courses- use biodegradable products, and wash basins.
  • Slow down and enjoy the differences – you’ll be back with the familiar soon enough.

Our environmental policy

All our activities are governed by our respect for the environment and the people who live in it. We aim to make a positive impact both in the UK and in the Andean countries we work in (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina).

We agree with the principals of sustainable development and specifically promote environmentally aware tourism in the Andean countries, in order to preserve the heritage of the people who live there and to help protect their environment.

In the UK we use recycled paper where possible, recycle what we can and attempt to keep waste to an absolute minimum.

Throughout South America we work together with local people, paying them a fair price, and putting money into the local economy. We do this by using local agents, local trek staff and experienced and qualified local mountain and cultural guides who have an in-depth knowledge of their own country. Our porters on the Inca Trail are fairly paid, carry a maximum load of 20kg and are supplied with tents and food. In other areas we use donkeys or horses to carry loads.

We use locally owned services such as hotels and restaurants, wherever possible. We buy fresh local produce for all of our treks from markets in each departure town. We use public transport whenever possible and feasible.

We have ongoing contact with the teams that we work with and also with local families in the areas we trek through, developing relationships with them and donating goods such as clothes and shoes to their communities, through appropriate local agencies. We also support local Peruvian charities, specifically NIÑOS in Cusco, and CARE in the Huaraz area, plus Huchuy Yachaq.

If you have any suitable (warm) clothes and shoes that you would like to donate to Peruvian children please take them with you and give them to your tour leader, who will ensure they go to a suitable organization.

When out on tour we encourage learning about the countries we travel in, the local culture of the teams we work with and the areas we pass through. Our guides hold informal talks with groups to inform about and discuss with them all aspects of local life. This helps understanding of the area and appreciation of the people who live there.

Our group sizes are kept to a maximum of 16 people, and we encourage smaller groups where possible. This minimises the negative impact we make on the local people, the wildlife and the environment, and increases the quality time spent in contact with the local people and environment.

When trekking we adhere to a responsible tourism code of practice and are also involved in ongoing training of our trek staff.

Health and Safety

A full Health and Safety document will be sent to you at the time of booking and before you travel.

You can also read it on our website, or contact us for more information.

Travel Insurance

It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.

We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.

Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.

And lastly...

Many of our tours travel through remote areas.

We believe our clients should be aware that the remoteness of some of our tours so very special could also cause certain problems.

Thus, whilst we endeavour to minimise the chances of anything unexpected happening, it has to be noted that no itinerary can or should be rigidly adhered to.

This is the very nature of adventure travel and we expect our clients to be prepared for delays and slight alterations in our programmed events.

Also, shared tours may include travellers from all over the world whose native language is not English.

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