Patagonia is an amazing place where you will be amazed by the sheer size of the landscapes that surround you. As an Australian, we are not naturally used to towering mountain ranges that make you feel tiny standing next to them. Patagonia is both amazing in its beauty and in its vastness. It stretches from just under Santiago to the bottom of South America and covers just over a million square kilometres. Patagonia also stretches two countries, namely Argentina and Chile. Within this vast wilderness is the small town of El Chaltén. This is located nearby to the Fitz Roy mountain range and is used as a base for people to trek the local area. When I backpacked there with my friend we started the Patagonia leg of our journey in Santiago and travelled to El Chaltén before turning around and heading back to Santiago for our flight home. There were some amazing places which will be covered in a post soon. Whilst we were immersed in a cultural and natural experience that we had never known before there was also a massive shock which no-one tells you about before travelling to El Chaltén in the Southern part of Patagonia.
Everything is expensive
When we were there, we found everything to be extremely expensive. What had so far for us been a cheap trip had just turned into an expensive nightmare.
Transport is expensive
We had consistently travelled on long haul busses for under $20 AUD and now we were faced with prices from El Chaltén to Bariloche of around $180 AUD. And to make matters worse we found it very hard to find a suitably timed bus for us to travel on our way. On arrival to El Chaltén we entered this part of Patagonia from Chile and we hiked the short stretch over the border which is about 20km. This is amazing as you get a ferry from Villa O’Higgins to a small stretch of land and then embark upon another ferry to El Chaltén. We found that whilst this border crossing was expensive it was worth the money.
Accommodation and food are expensive
Unlike the rest of our trip, we found accommodation to be a lot more expensive and a lot harder to find. At past towns in the Patagonia region we had just door knocked seeking accommodation, but we found that when we arrived at El Chaltén that most of the accommodation was booked out. I recommend door knocking to find cheap hostels that can accommodate you especially if you have been unable to make a earlier booking. If you have the ability to cook on site, then make the most of this. Eating at restaurants in El Chaltén is very expensive and can be a big hit to your travel account. The supermarkets in El Chaltén are well stocked and we made the most of the cheap pasta, delicious sausages and the pasta sauce that was available.
All in all, despite the expensive costs associated with getting too, eating at restaurants and finding accommodation, El Chaltén is in a beautiful location and is unparalleled in its ability to offer some of the most amazing hikes I have ever been on. So, keep in mind that it is expensive and look for ways to save money and you will have an amazing time!