What to Know Before your Visit

Updated: Oct 12, 2018

Travelling anywhere has its surprises and challenges. Here are a few things that can help you out with your trip planning so that you know the challenges (and opportunities) that exist here in the far South.

1. Expect the unexpected

Patagonia is famous for its weather- and for good reason. Our proximity to Antarctica, along with the interplay of the sea with the Patagonian Andes and winds coming off the South Patagonian ice sheet, mean that in any one day you can experience weather from every season. Come prepared for the elements, and keep a day pack with you at all times just in case the weather decides to change.

Be sure to check out our article on What to Pack for our tips on what to bring with you!

2. Safe and clean

While vaccinations are required to travel to many parts of South America, Patagonia is an exception. It's too cold here for things like Dengue, Yellow Fever, and Zika virus- and it's so windy that mosquitos and flies usually get blown away. Added to that, the water here is filtered and potable- no need to buy bottled (In fact, please avoid it, as it leads to unnecessary waste!). Keep a filled up water bottle with you at all times, and feel secure in the knowledge that you won't be exposed to any dangerous tropical disease during your stay here.

3. Cold, hard Cash

Though businesses are updating to recieve payments by credit and debit, the economy in Patagonia is mostly governed by cash transactions. Make sure to have some cash (Or "Efectivo" as they call it here) on you at all times.

For information on average prices here, check out our article on "What things Cost"!

4 . It's a dog's life

Thanks to a recent cull, wild dogs are not as much of a problem here in Patagonia as they were before. However, the streets are still full of dogs wandering around. Some of them are pets that the owners have allowed to roam free, and many, many others are pets that people have abandoned. This means that the majority of the street dogs here are affectionate and gentle. Some of them- especially those that frequent the plaza and downtown- are cared for by the communities they live in, and are extremely friendly. However, if you are nervous around dogs, it is best not to walk alone, especially in neighborhoods outside the plaza, as you may get a fright. Monitor the behaviour of any dog you meet before petting it, and always use caution when loving on street dogs.

5. Tipping

While in Chile, tipping is not expected or considered mandatory, Patagonians are a bit different. This region depends heavily on income brought in by tourism, and it is generally hoped that foreign tourists, at least, will tip their service providors. Don't feel obligated, but if your waiter, tour guide, driver, or other service providor does a great job, show them your appreciation by tipping them. It will make their day brighter and go a long way in augmenting their seasonal wage.

8. Don't flush the paper!

The waste water management systems in Patagonia tend to be antiquated, and cannot process solids like paper, tampons, and other sanitary products. When you use the loo, be sure to put your paper in the garbage basket to prevent an embarassing flood situation.

For answers to all your other embarassing bathroom questions, read our article on "Using the Washroom"!

1. Closed on Sundays

Southern Chile, though modern, still operates like a sleepy small town. Sundays are generally considered to be for family, and so the vast majority of businesses- including many cafes and restaurants- stay closed. Get around this by planning a day excursion for this day, and, if you're not travelling with us, be sure to buy and prepare your food the day before as lunch and snacks are usually not provided.

2. Lunch time siesta

Though here is isn't called siesta- just "almuerzo" (lunch), the logistics amount to the same thing. Between 1 and 3 pm (Sometimes 12.30 to 2.30, sometimes 1.30 to 3.30) almost every business- excepting large supermarket chains and restaurants- closes. This is so that the workers can all go home for lunch with their families. This means that the streets are full, taxis are hard to get, and any errands you might have been hoping to run become impossible. Do what the locals do and reserve this time for lunching and relaxing.

9. Language barriers

Though over the last 30 odd years Patagonia has greatly developed its tourism industry, it has been slow in the area of language education. While every year more and more people speak at least basic English in addition to Spanish, the majority of people speak only one language. Speakers of languages other than Spanish and English are difficult to find. Added to that, though in Patagonia they technically speak Castillian Spanish, the cultural influences here have greatly altered the language over time. If you speak Spanish, it won't hurt to brush up on your Chilean. Here's a great link for some Chilenismos you might encounter- and be sure to check out our article on useful phrases to help you get around!

10. Look both ways

We cannot stress this point enough. Crossing the street here can be dangerous. Drivers in Patagonia do not always stop for pedestrian, and often drive well over the speed limit. Avoid tragedy by waiting at intersections and cross walks until the drivers either stop and make eye contact, or put their hazard lights on- a sign that they have stopped to allow you to cross. If all lanes of traffic have not stopped, don't take for granted that they will. Proceed with caution and keep an eye on the cars around you.

Did we miss something crucial? Check out the rest of our posts to find out more information or, if you're still left wanting for information, drop us a line and let us know your questions! We will answer them for you as soon as we can.

#travel #tourism #traveltips #TravelChile #TravelPatagonia #Explore #Wanderlust #Health #Language #Weather #Trippreparedness #Languagebarrier #pedestriansafety #tipping #travelling #SouthAmerica #SouthAmericanTravel #Vaccines #Liveyouradventure

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