Vacation time is meant to be fun and relaxing. And if your idea of a vacation is to be at one with nature amidst glaciers, fjords, mountains, and oceans (to name a few), then Patagonia is the place you should head for.
Patagonia is not a country but a region encompassing the southern end of South America. It covers parts of both Argentina and Chile. The Pacific and Atlantic Oceans lie to the west and east of Patagonia, respectively. Smaller water bodies like the Strait of Magellan and the Drake Passage are also in the vicinity.
Today, apart from fishing and livestock rearing, tourism is a big contributor to the nation’s economy. If you plan to visit, you’ll have plenty to do and be in good company. But before you leave, be sure to purchase
travel insurance or
travel medical insurance
to stay financially protected against any unexpected accidents, injuries, or illnesses.
Things to Do for Travelers in Patagonia
Patagonia has a wealth of natural sceneries for you to marvel at. The massive mountains, crystal clear rivers, and the backwaters are each separate tours by themselves. It’s a combination of many worlds in one region. There is so much to see and do here that time will literally fly away.
Riding and climbing: The majestic mountains in the El Chalten area are perfect for some climbing activities. You can go for rock climbing, mountain traverses, and also horse-riding through the beautiful Rio de las Vueltas valley. Take a ride up to the Vizcacha hill and enjoy some succulent barbecued meat at one of the traditional ranches. Want some more adventure? Try your hand at ice-climbing and ice trekking.
Wildlife watching: The Parque Nacional Patagonia, which covers about 700 square kilometers (about 270 square miles) is an excellent wildlife zone. Known as the “Serengeti of the Southern Cone,” this national park – following its restoration in 2004 – is home to a variety of fauna like the flamingo, guanaco, and puma, among others. You will also get to see the endangered Andean deer huemul.
Trekking: The Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is a perfect trekking spot. The path will lead you through steppes and verdant forests to the granite mountains. Check out the Glacier Grey, or go kayaking on the Rio Serrano. You can also climb up the Paso John Gardner and get a bird’s-eye view of the southern ice fields.
Explore the caves: The Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. More than 9,000 years old, the caves contain some incredible rock paintings and imprints of human hands. Many abstract designs can also be seen. There are guides present who will provide detailed explanation of and insight into the paintings. These hourly guided walks are free of cost.
Watch whales: Puerto Madryn is one of the best places in the world for whale watching. The southern right whales come to warm waters along Golfo Nuevo and the Caleta Valdes coastline between June and December to breed. Watch these massive animals frolic around during your 90-minute whale watching trip.
Travel Risks for International Travelers in Patagonia
It would be nice if all travel experiences were totally carefree. However, certain incidents can occur while abroad that might sour the experience. Here are some tips for you.
Crime rates are low in Patagonia, and the locals are warm and friendly. However, certain areas like Puerto Natales in Chile and El Calafate in Argentina are exceptions. Keep your valuables under lock and key in these areas. Don’t carry too much cash with you, and keep your passport in the hotel safe when you go sight-seeing.
Avoid drinking tap water, especially if you have a sensitive stomach. Mineral water is readily available except in the remote countryside. Also, avoid drinking fountain or stream water.
Phone and internet connectivity is erratic in urban areas and almost non-existent in the countryside. That’s why it’s advisable to travel in groups or through an operator for the hiking and trekking trips – more so if you are going to Patagonia alone. And stick to the well-marked hiking trails.
It’s an exciting idea to check out the local food. Do so – but preferably from a proper restaurant. Don’t indulge yourself too much with the food from roadside vendors.
You would be flying to either Santiago (Chile) or Buenos Aires (Argentina) to enter Patagonia. At both these places, political and other demonstrations take place quite often. Don’t photograph these demonstrations or the police/military personnel present there.
Patagonia Travel Medical Insurance for International Travelers – FAQs
A medical emergency can strike at any time. And in a location like Patagonia, top-notch healthcare might not be readily available. In the bigger cities, healthcare will be expensive. Travel medical insurance is the best option to stay protected financially against high treatment costs.
Do I need travel medical insurance for Patagonia?
It is not mandatory to have travel insurance before visiting either Chile or Argentina. Having said that, it’s always advisable to have travel insurance before visiting any country.
Why buy travel medical insurance for Patagonia?
A vacation is not something that you do every month. A lot of planning and preparation goes into a trip to Patagonia. Nothing could be worse than if the vacation were ruined due to an illness or injury. Gorging on too much of the local cuisine can cause severe stomach problems, while all that hiking and trekking might cause physical injuries.
Medical treatment will be expensive when available. The same would be the case if you would need emergency evacuation. A much better idea would be to buy travel medical insurance and enjoy your vacation in peace. You would need to make sure that the policy has the necessary coverage.
Patagonia Trip Cancellation Insurance for International Travelers – FAQs
A trip cancellation – due to illness, inclement weather, political unrest, etc. – is a most frustrating event. All that planning (and all those advance payments) go down the drain. That’s why trip cancellation insurance is also critical.
Why buy trip cancellation insurance for Patagonia?
You have paid for your flight tickets in advance. You might also have made advance payments for hotels and package tours. A cancellation would mean a substantial financial loss. Cancellation insurance can protect you from such losses.
What all is covered under trip cancellation insurance for Patagonia?
Most trip cancellation policies cover natural hazards that derail a trip, a death in the family or of your travel companion, political unrest at the destination, and similar reasons. Trip cancellation coverage will take effect if you have to cancel for a reason listed in the policy’s certificate wording. Be sure to get more details regarding the coverage from the provider. But buy travel insurance to protect your money.
Before You Travel to Patagonia - Do This
You are sure to have loads of fun on your Patagonia trip. But don’t forget these basic safety points:
Read the travel advisories for the region.
Keep your passport in a safe place.
Do opt for travel insurance to enjoy your trip without any tension. Compare a wide variety of plans and select the one that best fits your own needs.