Are you planning to travel slowly through this remote southern region? What must you know before planning your journey? What tips will make it even better?
We spoke to two Swiss travelers who gave us different advice and opinions on how to enjoy this beautiful destination fully.
Gabriella Hummel (28) and Sandro Álvarez (39) are a Swiss couple that has spent more than two years traveling around America. In their Vanabundos account on Instagram, they share some of their adventures on the road with “Luz,” an old van that they have made their home.
They practice “slow travel,” which allows travelers to experience travel destinations more in-depth. They take the necessary time to enjoy each place visited and to meet locals. Before setting off, they saved for two years and currently work remotely for clients in Switzerland.
The last part of their journey took them to Chile – the best country to visit in 2018 according to Lonely Planet magazine – from where they started a long road trip through Patagonia, allowing them to talk about this area based on experience. In this interview, we highlight the best tips to make the most of this incredible destination, organized into five topics.
1. Live the Slow Travel experience
Sandro: “We didn’t know we preferred slow travel. We only realized when we were in Mexico after one year and a half. Slow travel allows you to see and enjoy the place and people more. If you drive all the time, you’ll only see the road.”
Gabriella: “We decided to travel, but we never made an itinerary. We wanted to reach Argentina to visit my family, but they’ve been waiting a long time… we’re only now reaching Buenos Aires. This is the last stage. We fly back to Switzerland in April, but we will leave the van in Uruguay. It will wait for us until November when we’ll resume the journey.”
2. The attractions of traveling by ferry
Gabriella: “One of the best things about traveling by ferry through the fjords was seeing the whales and many dolphins. It was beautiful. We had a lot of luck although the weather wasn’t perfect.”
Sandro: “The ferry journey allowed us to relax and disconnect.”
Gabriella: “I also liked the people. The guides were always very attentive, and we loved the food. We are vegans, so it’s always a little tricky, but it was great because they had alternatives for us. I liked the fact the boat wasn’t new because it had character, its own history.”
3. Tips for enjoying ferry activities
Gabriella: “I liked the talks about animals and the route we were taking. It was also fun to play bingo, visit the captain on the bridge and, of course, to practice yoga.”
Sandro: “If you take the ferry, I recommend taking sea sickness tablets. Also, a warm jacket for the wind because it’s a little cold sometimes, and books to take advantage of the time and peacefulness to read.”
4. Road trip in Patagonia
Sandro: “Traveling with your home and bed gives you more flexibility and freedom. You can stay wherever you want. That’s what we wanted, and we thought the easiest way was to buy a van. But in large cities, we usually leave the van. It’s easier to park it and stay in hostels. We no longer have a home in Switzerland, we’re thinking of returning for three months, however we’ll have to rent.”
5. Differences between Chilean and Argentine Patagonia
Gabriella: For driving, I preferred Chilean Patagonia, the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) section. In that area on the Argentine side, there is nothing, only pampa. But I also loved the area around Bariloche with the lakes. It’s beautiful! Unfortunately, we didn’t go to Torres del Paine National Park because the weather was awful. That’s why we want to return. We were also in El Chaltén and couldn’t see Monte Fitz Roy for the same reason. But we’re planning to go back.
Slow travel allows you to get to know your destination more profoundly according to this Swiss couple who spent around six months traveling through Chilean and Argentine Patagonia.
One of the journey highlights was taking the ferry that navigates the Patagonian fjords between the cities of Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales.
This opportunity gave them the chance to see the region from a perspective that would have been impossible by any other means of transport. Moreover, they were able to take their van, their home throughout this long journey, on board the ferry.