The following guest post about packing tips for Patagonia was submitted by Erica Root.
Last December, I spent a few days in El Calafate, Argentina which is located in the South American region better known as Patagonia. The trip was short, but gave me enough time to experience a few of the breathtaking excursions the region has to offer.
The trip down to Patagonia was long, as I flew from Puerto Iguazu, one of the northern most parts of Argentina, to one of the southernmost parts. Given my late arrival time, that first night was spent just exploring the town of El Calafate and walking along Lago Argentino.
The weather was a shock of crisp cold compared to the tropical climate of the Iguazu Falls. Even though it was December, summer in Argentina, it was brisk being that far south. The days stretched long, with the sunrise in the 5 o’clock hour and sunset around 10 p.m.
>>Read our female packing list for Argentina.
During the two full days in Patagonia I trekked the Perito Moreno Glacier and took a day trip to Torres del Paine in Chile. The fourth day was spent shopping in town before getting on an afternoon flight back to Buenos Aires.
What I learned is that you don’t have to be an expert hiker to enjoy the many wonders of Patagonia. In fact, it’s perfect for beginner adventurers. Those of us who want to be pushed a little out of our comfort zones but aren’t exactly ready to backpack through Nepal.
If you have a trip booked to El Calafate, Argentina, here’s what you need to pack:
Leggings: I liked to wear these under my jeans while walking around town, or exploring the Perito Moreno Glacier. With the whipping wind you’ll want to do everything you can to stay warm.
Two pairs of pants: It’s cold folks, so you won’t be needing beautiful dresses or anything really fancy. I’d stick to two pairs of pants, jeans if that’s all you have. A pair of jeans and some thicker/durable hiking pants if you have them (it’s okay if you don’t).
Layers: I guess this is really what I should emphasize. You can get warmed up walking around and want to peel off a few layers. Once the walking/hiking stops, you’ll want to put everything back on.
>>See which are the best travel pants for women.
Sunscreen: With the cooler weather sunscreen might seem like something you can go without. Don’t. The days are long and the ozone layer thin, making for plenty of opportunity to burn your skin. Make sure to reapply as well. This goes double for those of you who will be hiking a glacier during your trip.
Beanie and Gloves: Speaking of the wind and cold, make sure you bring a beanie and come gloves for your adventure. Now you don’t need to break the bank by going to REI if you are just partaking in the more touristy excursions the town has to offer. Your gloves technically don’t even need to be waterproof. If you have some layer of protection for your hands you will be just fine walking around town, hiking and ice-trekking on a glacier.
Warm windbreaker jacket: I picked one up from Target for $45 before my trip. It’s black, waterproof and has some padding to keep me warm. The jacket falls mid-thigh and the pockets have come in handy multiple times. The hood also had been a great feature to have. Again, as a novice hiker, I didn’t have any ski gear or big camping jackets, and with this jacket with me at all times, I didn’t need anything fancy.
>>Read the female packing list for South America.
Boots: I normally wear adorable boots to work, but those weren’t going to help me in El Calafate. So, I once again took to Target and bought some little snow booties. They had a rubber bottom that would keep water out, which was crucial for the glacier hike. I didn’t want to spend lots of money on new shoes, and fretted over what to buy. The $38 ones pictured below worked perfectly.
Small backpack: This is something I wish I would have brought instead of my purse on both my glacier hike and trip to Torres del Paine in Chile. While I have a great travel purse, a purse isn’t exactly something I want to have while hiking. A small backpack to transfer my necessary belongings would have been the perfect thing. Even if it’s just one of those simple backpacks people use when going to the gym.
>>See why stuff bags are great for travel.
Sunglasses: Remember, it’s bright out there. Don’t forget to protect your eyes.
Scarf: This is my must have travel item, no matter where I go. Pick a neutral enough color that you will be able to wear with any outfit.
Other items to pack for Patagonia
Your Passport: This might be obvious, but if you plan a day trip to Chile this will be a necessity getting over the border.
Extra cash money: Here is something I didn’t know before traveling to El Calafate: the ATMs frequently run out of money. This is problematic for many reasons, especially if your credit card stops working and you want to withdraw cash from your backup ATM card (I speak from experience).
Adapter: Argentina uses a plug Type I.
>>Check out the coolest camping gadgets for your next outdoor adventure.
Dramamine/Sea-Bands: As promised, many of your excursions will have you on the road in a car or bus for hours. If you are at all prone to motion sickness, come prepared with your anti-nausea method of choice.
Snacks: If you are visiting El Calafate you will likely spend most of your time out of town on day trips 4-14 hours in length. What this means for you is a lack of access to food when you are hungry. I packed a few Kind bars in my bag and ate those as needed. You aren’t allowed to bring fruit into the region to protect its ecology, but energy bars are fine. If you are able to, I’d suggest going to a grocery store in town and picking up some goodies once you are there.
Safe travels! This is going to be an adventure you’ll never forget.
Do you have any other packing tips for Patagonia?
About the author: Erica Root is a public affairs professional by day, travel blogger by night. When she isn’t planning her next trip, she can be found with a glass of wine (red, of course), her puppy Theodore and a good book. You can follow her adventures, and those of her traveling companion Panda, on Instagram and her blog, A Square Root in a Round World.