Planning and Budgeting for Backpacking Through Patagonia

Tentative Route Through Patagonia (3-4 weeks)

A large portion of the reason I am going to South America is to travel through Patagonia.  Being as south as it is there are only a few months that hiking the area is possible--Nov thru Mar, which is summer in the southern hemisphere.  One of the most popular destinations in Patagonia is Torres del Paine.  Hiking Torres del Paine can be done by either day-hiking backpacking.  I will not be carrying proper equipment to camp in the extreme conditions so I was left with fewer options.  I decided to rent camping equipment for half of the hike and stay in Refugios (dorms) for the other half.  Due to the popularity of his hike these things book up very early.  In order for us to be able to hike the "W" circuit (the desired 5-day backpacking hike) I booked the accommodations/equipment in advance.  Since hiking Torres del Paine is towards the end of our Patagonia route we will work backwards from there to figure out when and where we should be to ensure we give ourselves appropriate time in the other parts of Patagonia.  We would like to play things by ear as much as possible, but this element of the trip just had to be pre-arranged.  I would like to give credit to Dany from Globetrotter Girls for her very insightful experience in Patagonia.  We did not want to reinvent the wheel and used much of her route to formulate our own.  Please feel free to check her route commentary here.

Our Tentative Route Through Patagonia (3-4 weeks)

Summary Budget & Itinerary of Patagonia Trip

Summary of Itinerary

Our plan is to start in the north and work our way south.  By arriving at Pucón between the first and second week of November we should be able to  make it to our pre-booked lodges & cabins in Torres del Pain by Nov 27.  We'll be staying in the park for 4 nights hiking the "W" Circuit.  Following Torres del Paine we will spend one more day in Puerto Natales and then start our journey to Ushuaia.  We may decide to make a stop (or two) along the way, possibly to Punta Arenas.  We will spend the remaining time at our last Patagonian destination, Ushuaia.  From here we will likely take a direct flight to Buenos Aries.

Summary of Budget

In my initial budget the I drafted quite a few months ago I allocated ~$6,500 for Patagonia ($310/day for 21 days).  My preliminary estimates show that we are coming in well under budget with the entire Patagonia portion of our trip (Pucón to Ushuaia, including a bus from Santiago and a flight to Buenos Aries) costing $4,255 ($203/day) for 21 days.  Using a 4 week itinerary the cost is $5,075 ($181/day).

I took into account lodging (~$40/night), food (~$35/day), entertainment ($75/day), and transportation (buses, planes, ferries, and catamarans) ($ varies greatly based on distance).  The budget for Patagonia uses Santiago, Chile as a starting point and Buenos Aries, Argentina as a finishing point.

3 Weeks in Patagonia - $4,255

$203/day for 21 days

4 Weeks in Patagonia - $5,075

$181/day for 28 days

Detailed Budget & Itinerary of Patagonia Trip 

Detailed Itinerary

Part A Patagonia Route (see map above)

Part A Patagonia Route (see map above)

Part B Patagonia Route (see map above)

Part B Patagonia Route (see map above)

Part C Patagonia Route (see map above)

Part C Patagonia Route (see map above)


Detailed Budget 


Pucón - $350 / $490

  • Lodging: $30/night

  • Food: $35/day

  • Bus (to): $70 (from Santiago, 10 hours)

  • Entertainment: $75/day


Puerto Varas - $315 / $455

  • Lodging: $30/night

  • Food: $35/day

  • Bus (to): $35 (from Pucón, 4-5 hours)

  • Entertainment: $75/day


Chiloe - $225

  • Lodging: $45/night

  • Food: $40/day

  • Ferry (to & from): $40

  • Entertainment: $100/day


Bariloche - $370 / $530

  • Lodging: $50/night

  • Food: $35/day

  • Bus (to): $50 (from Puerto Varas, 6-8 hours)

  • Entertainment: $75/day


El Chaltén - $740 / $1,000

  • Lodging: $45/night (book early during high season)

  • Food: $35/day

  • Bus (to): $350 (from Bariloche, 27-30 hours, runs 2x/week)

  • Entertainment: $50/day


El Calafate - $280 / $390

  • Lodging: $40/night

  • Food: $35/day

  • Bus (to): $60 (from El Chaltén, 3.5 hours)

  • Entertainment: $35/day (free hikes)


Puerto Natales - $270

  • Lodging: $35/night (book in advance)

  • Food: $50/day (last meal before Torres del Paine hiking trip and first meal when back)

  • Bus (to): $50 (from El Calafate, 3-6 hours)

  • Entertainment: $25/day


Torres del Paine - $635

  • Lodging: $82/day (see breakout by day below)

  • Food: $25/day (packaged food for 4 days)

  • Transportation: $125 (includes transport getting to Torres del Paine and return to Puerto Natales, also includes catamaran journey within park)

  • Entertainment: $80 total (includes park entrance fee)


Due to the popularity of the "W" Circuit I needed to reserve shelters in advance.  We will be staying in shelters 2 nights and camping out 2 nights.  I was able to reserve all the camping gear at each campground.  CLICK HERE for our blog about this trek.


"W" Trek Torres Del Paine - Our Route


Night 1:  Nov 27, 2015: $80

  • Grey Shelter

  • Company: Vértice

  • Basic Bed ($29*/per)

  • Sleeping Bag ($11*/per)

Night 2:  Nov 28, 2015: $59

  • Paine Grande Camping

  • Company: Vértice

  • Campsite ($8*/per)

  • Sleeping Bag ($11*/per)

  • Sleeping Mat ($3*/per)

  • Tent ($15* total)

Night 3:  Nov 29, 2015: $120

  • Domo Los Cuernos

  • Company: Fantastico

  • Bed w/ Sheets ($60/per)

Night 4:  Nov 30, 2015: $67

  • Las Torres Camping

  • Company Fantastico

  • Campsite ($14/per)

  • Sleeping Bag ($9/per)

  • Sleeping Mat ($3/per)

  • Tent ($15 total)


 I saved 20% on Grey Shelter and Paine Grande Camping since I booked using Chilean Pesos.  I had to use the Spanish version of the Vértice website, but with the help of Google translate I was able to save ~$35.


Ushuaia - $1,070/ $1,260

  • Lodging: $50/night (book in advance)

  • Food: $40/day

  • Bus (to): $125 (from Puerto Natales, 14 hours)

  • Entertainment: $100/day

  • + Flight to Buenos Aries: $375

After spending 26 days in Patagonia and tracking costs I have generated the chart below outlining our daily spend:

Actual Daily Costs for our trip through Patagonia

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