As a remote region in the far reaches of South America, Patagonia remains somewhat of a mysterious place despite being a popular travel destination for hikers and adventure enthusiasts. Naturally, this may cause those considering traveling there to question whether or not it is safe and tourist-friendly. The short answer is yes; Patagonia is one of the safest and most tourist-friendly places to travel within South America and around the world. However, to give you complete peace of mind about traveling to Patagonia, we have decided to address the biggest concerns travelers might have about the region in more detail. In this article, we consider everything from crime rates and environmental threats to the ease of solo and family travel before answering your other most frequently asked questions about Patagonia travel.
Is there crime in Patagonia?
While some parts of South America are known for their high crime rates, the continent’s tourism safety is actually highly underestimated. Chile and Argentina are considered particularly safe countries for travelers — and Patagonia is the safest part of them. This remote region is made up of small tight-knit communities separated by vast forests, desert, steppes, and mountains. Other than some petty crimes like theft, there is virtually no crime to report in these communities. It’s extremely unlikely you’ll run into any trouble when you have ventured deep into the parks either. As long as you practise all the usual safety precautions and keep an eye on your belongings, you can rest assured of your safety during your Patagonia trip.
Can I travel with kids in Patagonia?
Patagonia is a family-friendly destination in every way. It is extremely safe and you can allow your children to curiously explore rather than anxiously keeping them glued to your side. While it is typically knwon for its tough multi-day hikes, mighty mountainscapes, and intense outdoor adventure, the truth is Patagonia’s splendour is accessible to all ages and abilities. Families with young children can find the region just as fun and rewarding as seasoned solo hikers. You’ll find plenty of family-friendly hotels, lodges, and estancias throughout the region, many of which provide activities and excursions like horse-riding and hiking that can be tailored to your family’s pace and needs.
Can I travel solo in Patagonia?
Solo hiking, biking, and climbing adventures are rewarding ways to spend quality time with yourself and the nature surrounding you, but it can be easy to feel vulnerable when you’re alone in a remote and unfamiliar place. Luckily, crime is extremely low in Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia, making it the ideal destination for travelers looking for a solo adventure. In fact, Argentina is frequently ranked amongst the best country in the world for solo female travelers. The locals are so welcoming, friendly, and hospitable that they will go out of their way to make you feel safe and cared for. Knowing you can rely on the kindness of strangers should you need help when you’re traveling solo makes your trip all the more enjoyable.
Are there dangerous animals in Patagonia?
Have no fear, there are no dangerous animals here. Patagonia is free from poisonous snakes, spiders, and other precarious creatures that might hide in the grass, so you don’t need to worry about where you’re stepping during your hike. In fact, wildlife in Patagonia is quite sparse in general. The biggest mammals to roam the region are guanacos, the south Andean deer, and the South American gray fox, all of which often remain indifferent around humans. The only potential danger from the animal kingdom in Patagonia is the elusive puma. While they would theoretically hunt a human, the chances of crossing their path are very small and if you did, they are likely not to see us as a threat.
How safe are the hiking trails in Patagonia?
In Patagonia, hiking trails are kept as natural as possible so as not to disturb nature. Sometimes the terrain can be steep, rocky, icy, and obscured, but this is part of the fun and the challenge of hiking in the region. The trails are generally very well sign-posted and there are maps supplied by the parks and hotels in the area so the chances of getting lost are slim.
Often, the safety of hikers on Patagonia’s trails rests in their own hands. While it can be tempting to challenge yourself to a hike that is far out of your comfort zone, it’s good to recognise what your physical limits are too. To further ensure your safety, it’s really important to come prepared with the correct gear. If you don’t have sufficient clothing, footwear, or food supplies, your hike might not go to plan.
Does Patagonia experience adverse weather?
As a temperate mountainous region at the southern tip of Argentina and Chile, Patagonia experiences mild summers and harsh winters. During the winter, Patagonia is often buried by heavy snowfall which makes much of the region inaccessible and causes many of the national parks and trails to close until spring. In the cool but sunny days of spring and summer, conditions for outdoor adventures are ideal. In fact, the trails are still peppered with hikers from mid to late autumn. While the conditions for visiting Patagonia aren’t ideal year-round, the region’s weather patterns are generally very predictable and it’s unlikely that tourists will get caught in adverse conditions like storms or blizzards.
Read more about the best time to visit Patagonia here.
Is the food and water safe to consume in Patagonia?
Many assume that Patagonia’s tap water is drinkable because the region is home to vast glaciers and countless glacial streams, but this is unfortunately not the case. However, accommodation in Patagonia is very vigilant and will always provide you with clean and safe purified drinking water. Just be cautious about the source of the water you drink when you’re out and about and buy bottled water when you can.
Food from hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets in Patagonia are also considered safe for foreigners to consume. Hygiene standards in the region are high and the chances of getting an upset stomach after eating out are slim so there is no need to hold back from trying the delicious local dishes.
What are the healthcare standards like in Patagonia?
While Chile provides the highest healthcare standards in Latin America, Argentina comes in a close second, which means travelers can feel assured they are in good hands if medical care is needed. It’s true that the quality of medical care can vary slightly from one area to another, but since Patagonia is a relatively wealthy region with good tourist infrastructure, its medical facilities are generally of a good standard. Pharmacies are readily available and there are urgent care centres and hospitals in the more populated parts of Patagonia like El Calafate and Puerto Natales.
There is also ample medical care available in national parks. All the park staff are first-aid trained to deal with small to moderate injuries like cuts and fractures. In case of greater emergency, numerous Patagonian mountain rescue volunteer programs are set up across the region that can provide medical assistance and rescue where necessary.
Note: Healthcare is free to nationals and tourists alike in Argentina, but travel health insurance will be necessary if you are heading to Chile. There are no vaccines required for either country.
Top Patagonia FAQs
How do I get around Patagonia?
As a remote region in the far south tip of Argentina and Chile, Patagonia can only be reached by plane from Santiago de Chile or Buenos Aires Argentina. There are small airports in Patagonia’s main tourist hubs including El Calafate, Puerto Natales, and Ushuaia. From there you can arrange private drivers, hotel pick-up, car hire, and public transport to reach your final destination.
When is the best time to visit Patagonia?
Patagonia is a seasonal destination with preferable weather conditions from late spring (October) to early autumn (March). The experience you’ll have of Patagonia is largely dictated by the seasons and their effect on the landscape. To find out more about when to visit Patagonia, take a look at our month-by-month travel guide here.
How long do I need in Patagonia?
Since there are nine national parks in Patagonia, each boasting a unique landscape and atmosphere, you could easily spend months exploring the region. With a carefully curated itinerary that focuses on the Patagonian highlights and your personal areas of interest, it’s possible to do in two weeks or just 10 days. Click here to see what you can do on our two week and 10-day itineraries.
What are the best things to see and do in Patagonia?
Patagonia is such a vast and varied region it can be hard to narrow down the places you want to visit, but there are some places you definitely don’t want to miss. We have listed them here on our Patagonia page but to tailor a trip that suits you and your group’s interests more personally, speak to our Patagonia experts by emailing us here or calling toll-free on +1 855 217 9045.