How to live Patagonia like a local

Want to live Patagonia at its fullest on your next trip? Then, go local.

All cities and destinations in Chilean Patagonia have hidden secrets. You could be one of the few lucky tourists to discover them.

To live Patagonia like a local, plan your trip in advance. But rather than only focusing on its main attractions and destinations, learn about the daily life, lifestyles and customs of the wildest regions in the world.  

Thus, once you set foot on this vast, remote region, it'll be easier for you to pick up the pace and become familiar with their traditions and heritage.

Here are a few pointers in the right direction. Places you need to visit and experiences you must live that will truly make you feel like a Patagonian.

- 3 things you should know about the cultural heritage in Patagonia

3 ways of discovering Patagonia at a slower pace

Top 5 folk festivals in Chilean Patagonia

4 mouth-watering dishes in Chilean Patagonia that you must try

4 of the locals’ favorite places in Patagonia

- 5 excursions to live Patagonia like a local

- 5 best-kept secrets of Chilean Patagonia

- Four things you should buy in Chilean Patagonia

 

Experiences that bring Patagonia's cultural heritage to life

3 things you should know about the cultural heritage in Patagonia

Here are 3 facts about the cultural heritage Patagonia that you must learn before getting there:

1. Indigenous peoples of Patagonia

Given the wild and inhospitable climate of Patagonia, the lifestyle of its aboriginal peoples raises interest.

Between Chiloé and Cape Horn lived several groups of indigenous peoples rich in culture, which gradually disappeared during the 19th century due to the impact of Western civilization.

The natives that inhabited this area can be divided into two broad groups, mainly based on their location and features.

Between the archipelagos and channels there lived small groups of hunter-gatherers who traveled on canoes in search of food.

Their food sources were mainly sea lions, birds, fish and seafood. They spent their daily lives mostly in the water, surrounded by dense vegetation and heavy rain.

This group includes the Chonos, located on the islands between the archipelago of Chiloe and the Taitao peninsula; the Kawéskar, between the Penas gulf and the Strait of Magellan; and the Yaganes, between the islands south of Tierra del Fuego.

Meanwhile, in the extensive plains between the Strait of Magallanes and Tierra del Fuego lived indigenous people “twice as high as any man, robust and with large feet,” as Portuguese sailor Ferdinand Magellan first described them in the 1520s. In fact, the term Patagon comes from the fabled feet size of these natives.

Between the Santa Cruz River and the Strait of Magellan lived the Aónikenk, who lived of hunting of guanacos and ñandúes. However, the introduction of Western customs altered their way of life.

Then, in the plains of Tierra del Fuego lived the Selk’nam or Onas, known for their rich culture and rituals.

Although they had a simple social organization, their religious beliefs ran deep, and their rites were very elaborate. Traits by which this indigenous group still draws the attention of the Western world.

The Selk’nam, for example, had an exceptional resistance to cold. In fact, they only wore furs as clothing. They are also recognized by the body paintings they used in rituals; by mixing guanaco grease with clay.

If you want to learn more about the culture and traditions of the first peoples of Patagonia, make sure to visit the Martin Gusinde Anthropological Museum in the town of Puerto Williams, the Municipal Historical Museum in the city of Puerto Natales, or the Maggiorino Borgatello Museum in the city of Punta Arenas.

 

2. The Chilean gaucho 

It is said that the gaucho, a skillful horseman dedicated mainly to raising livestock, is characteristic of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. However, records of the Chilean gaucho in the Magallanes Region date back to the end of the 19th century.

In Chilean Patagonia, the Andes mountain range is not an impediment for the transference of cultural influences between one country and the other. Therefore, the Chilean gaucho is a fusion between the indigenous people living in the area and the Argentinean gauchos. 

Indeed, in this southernmost region, the relationship with the Argentinean gaucho was stronger and closer than with the Chilean “huaso” or countryman, characteristic of the central zone of Chile.

The settlement of Chilean Patagonia was led mainly by inhabitants of the island of Chiloé, who were more used to develop the local resources. Also, this area has a significant livestock potential, so settlers from Chiloé used to work in Argentinean ranches or estancias. Thus, they developed their own equestrian customs and conditions.

Regardless of nationality, a typical gaucho wears leather boots, a neck scarf, a clock or poncho with geometric designs, and boleadoras or a hunting weapon, which is legacy of the Aónikenk. They are also known for their somewhat uncouth personality although they are very hospitable.

Another gaucho custom is drinking mate, an herb infusion served in small containers with a metal bulb. Drinking mate is a real ritual, with strict rules. For example, only one person is responsible for preparing the mate for the entire group; the flask is passed just to the right; and, if someone gives thanks, it means it doesn’t want more.

 

3-Patagonian lamb 

Food is an essential part of the Patagonian culture. A classic preparation is the lamb roast on a stick. It is also a tradition in the south of Argentina that was integrated into the customs of Chilean Patagonia.

Climatic and geographical conditions in this area help breeding lambs of superior quality, with the meat of tender texture and delicious taste. 

The cooking is usually outdoors, takes several hours, and using salt as the only seasoning. Besides being a signature dish, the Roast Lamb on a Stick is an excellent opportunity to share a lovely time with family and friends; at the usual slow pace characteristic of the south of Chile.

 

To live Patagonia like a local, you need to take it slow. Leave your watch behind and mind only the wind and the beautiful landscapes that surround you. Here are a few alternatives that let you travel the region at a much calmer pace. 

Ways to discover Patagonia a slower pace

3 formas de descubrir la Patagonia a otro ritmo

Overland

  • Patagonia is extensive and traveling overland can be a great challenge. In addition to taking the right route, you need to consider that the distance between cities is long (even days apart), and many roads require a 4X4. The end of the world is the place to have adventures.

    For those who want to explore corners that not all tourists visit or just live a more daring experience in contact with nature, there are alternatives such as overland tours. These trips are done in off-road vehicles; a kind of motor home that lacks great luxury but counts on basic amenities. Accommodation is provided in campsites and hostels. Visitors need not concern themselves with anything except enjoying the tour. This is how tourists from all over the world experience the Carretera Austral, Torres del Paine or Tierra del Fuego.

    In summary, it is a good option for those who are unfamiliar with the area, do not have time to organize the trip, or want to experience Patagonia in a different way.

 

Ferry

There is nothing better than enjoying a destination calmly. Especially if it is a place like southern Chile where there are countless natural wonders and never enough time.

If you plan to travel through Patagonia by car or on foot, a ferry is a great alternative to comfortably move around. Navigating through the fjords and channels gives a completely different perspective of the area. In the case of Navimag, the trip is done on board a 1970s ship, similar to the one used by Jacques Cousteau in his travels. It will allow you to discover areas that are not accessible by any other means.

There are two routes: the first from Puerto Montt to Puerto Chacabuco and the second from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales.

 

Bicycle or motorcycle

For the most adventurous, it is also possible to tour Chilean Patagonia by bike or motorbike. Although it takes more time and requires greater physical effort, it is possible, since certain stretches can be crossed by boat.

The documentary Transpatagonia gives a taste of what it is like to do a long bike tour in Patagonia. It shows the journalist and adventurer Guilherme Cavallari traveling almost 6,000 kilometers through Chilean and Argentine Patagonia in six months.

For this experience, we recommend that you decide your route ahead of time. It should include details such as stopping places, gas stations, type of road and also information about repair workshops and places where you can buy spare parts. As we said, distances in Patagonia are huge and it is possible not to see anyone for many kilometers.

At the same time, prepare your clothes, which should be made to withstand the extremes of the Patagonian climate...

Local celebrations in southern Chile bring out the music, flavors, and traditions of its inhabitants. In your mission to live Patagonia like a local, make sure to attend one of these memorable festivals. 

 

Celebrate life at these Chilean Patagonia folk festivals

Top 5 folk festivals in Chilean Patagonia

1. Winter Carnival in Punta Arenas

In July, Magallanes region fills up with music, colors, and traditions due to the Winter Carnival in the city of Punta Arenas.

This celebration brings together different communities in the area to celebrate their culture and folklore.

The festivity extends several days before and after the main event with several activities, from sports to music. Among them, the Indigenous Expo, The Iceman Triathlon, concerts, a pageant show that chooses the Queen of the Carnival and night running race.

Perhaps one of the highlights of the event is when a group of brave people dares to dip into the cold waters of the Strait of Magellan.

Another attraction is the Floats Parade (themed each year differently), in which decorated floating platforms are escorted by groups of people who dance and encourage the public to join in.

The Carnival ends with a beautiful fireworks show on the shores of the Strait.

To learn more about how to get to Punta Arenas, click here.

2. Valdivian Week

On February 9, the city of Valdivia, in the Lagos region, gears up to celebrate the city’s foundation during Valdivian Week, which attracts about 150,000 tourists every year.

The celebration concentrates on the Waterfront and the Republic’s Main Square, where a firework show, concerts, and a crafts exhibit take place.

Without a doubt, the last night of the event is the most expected. Besides the pyrotechnic show in Calle Calle River, there’s a spectacular floating parade on the river of about forty floats made by the neighbors, businesses, universities, etc.

The best float wins an award and the recognition of the spectators.

It is said that this feast dates back to the 17th century. As the years pass, the production of the event becomes more sophisticated.

3. International Horseback Riding and Folklore Festival of Puerto Ibáñez

It is one of the most important festivities in Chilean Patagonia.

The Patagonian wild horseback riding by locally skilled horsemen known as gauchos takes place in the middle of January in the town of Puerto Ingeniero Ibáñez, in Aysen region.

The festivity usually extends over the weekend and brings together singer-poets known as payadores, folk singers, artisans and demonstrations of the area’s traditional food, and so much more. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about the traditions and customs of Chilean Patagonia; by about five thousand people attend each year.

It is an event at which the Chilean Patagonia gauchos demonstrate their skill above the "reserved" horse which means it’s difficult to tame.

The contest includes several categories that vary depending on the difficulty of the elements that are used to mount the horse. Riders from Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay also participate.

4. Chiloe Folk Festival

This celebration started in 1979 and became one of the most significant gastronomic events in the Chiloé archipelago and the south of Chile. It usually takes place in the third week of February at the city of Castro’s Municipal Park.

The latest editions have brought together more than 50,000 visitors and 150 exhibitors of several local produce.

At this festivity, attendees taste typical dishes, see local crafts, and listen to local musicians and comedians. It is ideal for children because it includes an educational farm and a ludic forest.

In parallel to the Festival, there’s a Biodiversity Fest, in which Chilote artisans show their crafts and products.

There's plenty more for you and your family to do in Chiloé. Check out these activities!

5. Cochrane Folk Festival

It's one of the oldest in festivals in Aysén region, which takes place in the second week of February in the city of Cochrane’s main square.

The festivities last for three days and the kickstarter is a great roast lamb on a stick that is shared among visitors.

The party includes ramadas (partially-enclosed shelters made of branches); live music; food tastings; a crafts exhibition; street parades, demonstrations of how to shear a sheep (as well as the whole wool process); wild horseback riding; milking displays, traditional games, and much more.

Also, there is a pilgrimage to pay homage to the first inhabitants that lived in the area.

Make sure to check the dates of these events when planning your trip to Chilean Patagonia.

Food is an attraction on its own in the southernmost region in the world. There are unique dishes and some preparations seem more like a ritual. Want to eat like a local? Prepare your palate. 

Mouth-watering flavors only a true Patagonian knows

4 mouth-watering dishes in Chilean Patagonia that you must try

Southern king crab

If you are going all the way to the end of the world, you deserve a bit of luxury. The centolla Magallánica or Southern king crab is considered a luxury for its unmatched savour and, at times, high price.

However, in the Magallanes region it’s more accessible than in other places.

This is one of the best Chilean shellfish and competes with the lobster in all property.

However, the centolla fishery is banned between December and July. Therefore, to find it you must have patience and luck.

Where can you try the Magellan king crab?

An alternative is the crab with kiwi sauce at Afrigonia, a restaurant in the city of Puerto Natales.

Another dish is the Magellan crab ravioli in Hotel Tierra Patagonia, also in Puerto Natales.

This food goes well with a delicious pisco sour made with calafate, a fruit that grows in Patagonia.

Lamb on a Stick

The roast lamb on a stick is an experience of the culture Patagonia that you cannot not miss. His cooking is done outdoors and takes a couple of hours at least.

While it cooks, diners can enjoy a good wine and spectacular views. It can also be cooked in a wood oven, although it takes about the same time.

Because of the geography and climate of the south of Chile, lamb is a meat of very good quality; tender texture and delicious taste. That is why the livestock is one of the main economic activities of Magallanes region.

You can try this delicious meat on the grill at Don Jorge restaurant, accompanied by baked potatoes with merkén (a local spicy curry), or in Estancia Puerto Consuelo, where you can also watch the cooking process. Both options are in Puerto Natales.

Curanto

This is a classic dish from Chiloé Island and is one of the most representative of the Chilean cuisine.

It can be prepared either in a pit or pot. The first option has a special mystique given that it takes some time to cook, like the roasted lamb.

The cooks begin preparing a hole in the ground of 1 meter in depth, approximately; the background is covered with stones and intermingle firewood and charcoal. So are heated stones whose heat cooking ingredients: seafood, sausages, ribs, chicken, potatoes, spices, among other things.

Some alternatives to try are the Chilote Inn, in the city of Ancud, or the cocinerias of the village of Dalcahue.

Guanaco

The guanaco became a boom in the kitchen of the south of Chile, incorporated from the mapuche gastronomy. The place that concentrates the highest population of these camelids is Tierra del Fuego; it is the only place where you do not have a natural predator. There, your hunting is regulated and permitted only in winter, by authorized personnel. 

Why is it so quoted in the local cuisine?

By its lean and tasty meat. At Hosteria Las Lengas, in the village of White Lake, the prepared roast, such as goulash or escalopa. Also on skewers marinated in herbs and rhubarb, a relative of the celery more acid and pink.

 

What better way than going "native" than going to places only locals know?

Locals' favorite spots in Patagonia


vivir la patagonia como un local 

Lago Blanco

Timaukel, in Tierra del Fuego, is one of the less populated communes in Chile. It hosts Lago Blanco, or white lake, the largest in the region, extending 36 kilometers long and 18 kilometers wide.

Its waters are known worldwide as a paradise for fishing (or fly-fishing). There, you can find different types of trout, like the Rainbow and the Brown trout. The lake is surrounded by Magellan forests that are born at the foot of the Fuegian range.

In the Three Brothers estate, you can watch colonies of King penguins. This capricious climate is also home to several types of birds, guanacos, wild horses, and beavers in river dams.

Peace reigns in this corner of the world. The locals are sheep farmers, and tourism has slowly developed over the past few years, due to the impressive and pristine landscapes that can be found there still.

Strait of Magellan Park

One hour from Punta Arenas is the Strait of Magellan. It’s a 4 kilometers drive where you can visit several attractions like

Bulnes Fort (National Historical Monument), which is a recreation of the first Chilean settlement in the territory, in 1983.
Wind Forest Trail (Sendero Bosque del Viento), a pedestrian route 300 meters-long where you can look for boats, birds, and whales pass by
Path of the Coast (Sendero de la Costa), another pedestrian path that’s a bit longer that crosses forests and rock formations surrounding the fort, hosting several viewing points.
The park also has a cultural center offering multimedia and interpretive displays about the natural and human history of the Strait of Magellan. And from its terrace, there is a beautiful view of Port of Hunger (Puerto de Hambre).

The Lighthouse of San Isidro

The Faro de San Isidro it’s 75 kilometers to the south of the city of Punta Arenas, located on the shores of the Brunswick Peninsula.

The Cape s surrounded by mountains and sub-Antarctic forests of coihues, canelos, mousehole trees, peat bogs, wetlands, alpine areas and rivers, lakes, and glaciers. , It’s common to see dolphins and other marine birds while visiting this attraction.

The history of this lighthouse dates to 1904, built to guide navigation towards Punta Arenas. In the mid-19th century, the Strait was a critical trading sea route. As traffic increased, so did accidents, so a navigational aid was required. It’s been restored, and it’s now a lodging.

Very close to the lighthouse is Eagle Bay, an ideal place for camping (as it is protected from strong winds) and for kayaking.

For the more adventurous, Cape Froward is further south, home to the Cross of the Seas, a large metallic cross that sits on the spot where the American continent ends.

To get there, you need to pass Fort Bulnes and San Juan, a beautiful corner where the locals often picnic during the day or collect calafate in March.

Blue Lagoon (northeast of Torres del Paine)

Torres del Paine is a classic destination in Chile and the eighth wonder of the world, no less. Tourists travel from all parts of the world to visit.

However, for those who don't like crowds and prefer to enjoy Patagonia more intimately, the northern part of the Blue Lagoon (Laguna Azul) is ideal.

From this point, you can watch the characteristic blue peaks while hiking and watch wild-horses (or baguales) roaming the Sierra Masle. You can also see mountains, valleys, estuaries, lagoons, and wetlands without bumping into many tourists. Given the path is a dirt trail, it’s necessary to visit with a guide.

 

Make sure to take your time to explore and try new routes in Patagonia. The following excursions will take you to places and live experiences only locals know about.

5 excursions to live Patagonia like a local


5 excursions to live Patagonia like a local 

1-Hike to Laguna Verde

The Torres del Paine National Park is one of the leading attractions in Magallanes region and Chilean Antarctica. Its blue peaks draw in tourists from all over the world. Nonetheless, the area is home to many other magical places and activities.

Among them is the hike to Laguna Verde. This circuit is low difficulty and crosses the Paine Mountain Range. The Toro hill is surrounded by lakes and valleys.

The hike starts in the Estancia Lazo and its spectacular views of the Sarmiento Lake and its intense blue waters. From here you’ll be able to see the southern face of the Paine Mountain Range. As you continue walking southwest, you can appreciate the incredible Green, Onda and Calafate lagoons.

The south-west face of the Torres del Paine National Park is characterized by its lakes and rivers in pristine conditions.

This hiking is quite soft, and the entire tour takes a full day.

2- Riding the Dorotea Hill

This mountain is a natural border between Chile and Argentina. The horseback riding to its summit offers different experiences every time. From the top, you can calmly watch the entire landscape, especially the city of Puerto Natales, the Almirante Montt Gulf, and the Ultima Esperanza Fjord.

This tour takes about 3 hours and is led by a local horse riding expert or gaucho.

If you are looking for a local experience, this is a perfect way to approach the life of the horsemen at the end of the world. The Magellan horses are used to the hostile Patagonian climate and the obstacles on the way. That’s why it makes the ideal tour for the whole family.

3- The Religious Procession

There are other exciting places around the city of Coyhaique, besides the Marble Cathedral. In particular, if you want to know how the locals live their traditions, the Religious Path is an excellent example.

The walk starts towards the West on Route 240, delimited by the Simpson River on the side (paradise for those who practice fly-fishing). Your path will cross grasslands that are lost on the horizon until you reach a passageway between hills and mountains surrounded by small forests of Lenga and Cypress trees.

The first stop is after 30 kilometers approximately at the shrine of San Sebastian, where many believers thank or ask the local saint for favors. This is a quiet and cozy that doesn’t get that many tourists.

There’s a second place of worship towards the city of Puerto Aysén: Grotto of the Virgin Mary. The waters of the Virgin Waterfall fall on the side, which forms a sort of crown around the structure. Here, on every February 11, the faithful come together to pay tribute to the Virgin with offerings and ceremonies.

4-Ascending the Calbuco Volcano

Puerto Montt is not only a stopover city to take the ferry to Puerto Natales. It also hosts several tourist attractions in the surrounding area. For example, for those who love mountain climbing, The Calbuco Volcano offers a significant challenge.

Although less standard than the Osorno Volcano, this hike is of medium difficulty and requires specific skills. Along the way, you will appreciate the evergreen forest and the consequences from the last eruptions.

The summit is more than 2,000 meters above sea level. The top offers a superb view of the Llanquihue Lake, the surrounding valleys and the Puntiagudo, Tronador, and Osorno volcanoes.

And if you need some rest, about 1,100 meters into the climb there is a Conaf refuge.

The climbing trips usually take place between October and March (high season). 

5-Sailing through the Mountains Fjord 

This is an alternative tour to make from Puerto Natales and that probably very few tourists have heard of. Only a few tour operators offer this trip, and it’s for the more adventurous. The itinerary is demanding, as it includes a sequence of excursions and sailing.

The adventure begins on top of a boat that crosses from Puerto Natales to the Antonio Varas Peninsula, through the Señoret Channel. From then on, the journey continues in small ships, 4x4 and trekking.

The route offers impressive views and attractions like the Resi Fjord, the Alacalufes Reserve, the Mountains Fjords, the Laguna Cliffs, the Bernal, Hermann, Kiara, Alsina and Paredes glaciers, and the Sarmiento Mountain Range.

This tour can take between 2 and 3 days. Among its key traits is that tourists spend the night in a shelter.

In every trip, locals are the best source of information, and Chilean Patagonia is no exception. If you'd like to know the B-side of this region, and want to avoid tourists, have the locals share with you their best-kept secrets. 

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 Best-kept secrets of Chilean Patagonia


5 best-kept secrets of Chilean Patagonia 

1-Monte Verde

It is a place that you probably won't find in any guidebook because it doesn’t have the necessary infrastructure to receive visitors. Even more, very few people know about this site since its discovery 40 years ago.

Monte Verde is approximately 30 kilometers southwest of the city of Puerto Montt. It could be the oldest archaeological site in America, where archaeologists discovered objects that are more than 14,000 years old.

American anthropologist and archaeologist Tom Dillehay made the discovery along with a group of Chilean scientists from Universidad Austral in 1977.

There, they found hunting objects, architectural elements, animal bones, fire remains and even some human footprints.

The finding, however, causes significant controversy until today because several researchers question its validity. The reason is that the discovery of Monte Verde forfeits the most accepted theory so far about human settlement of the American continent.

Before Monte Verde, there was a consensus in the scientific community about the first inhabitants in the continent: the Clovis. This group inhabited what is now the state of New Mexico (United States), and its origins can be traced back to 11,200 years ago.

Currently, the site of Monte Verde is managed privately, so you need to coordinate visits beforehand.

2- Sofia Lagoon

Where do locals from Puerto Natales spend their summer? Probably they do not want many tourists to know where they find a bit of peace during high season.

Sofia Lagoon is 30 kilometers north of the city, between the Señoret mountain range and the Benitez hill.

There, local practice sports, fishing or dive into the cold turquoise waters of the lagoon. And when winter comes, they to this area to go hiking to get the best view of the place and the condors that live there.

3-Curanto en hoyo

A classic dish in Chiloé island is the curanto in a pit.

This is a somewhat unique preparation: people make a hole in the ground and use hot stones, and steam to cook the food; seafood, meats, vegetables and potato preparations like the milcao (potato pancake) and chapalele (made of potatoes, flour, and water).

This technique takes some time. It’s almost a ritual. And it’s not an easy preparation; must be done in the open so only a few places offer this dish. What is more, a minimum of 5 people is required. This is the reason you’ll find that most restaurants cook the curanto in a pot, a simpler version.

For you to enjoy a delicious curanto in a pit go to the open kitchens in Dalcahue (25 kilometers north of the city of Castro), located inside a building shaped like a ship “floating” above the sea. There, you’ll find 20 eating open kitchens offering a wide array of hearty dishes.

Close to this food court is the Craft Fair of Dalcahue, where you will find miniatures of original Chiloe architecture like houses with wooden tiles and the churches.

4-Molino Machmar Arts Center

Only are few places are dedicated to the dissemination of the local culture in the city of Puerto Varas. One of them is the Molino Machmar Arts Center (CAMM).

Besides the art exhibitions, the place also stands out for its architecture; an old mill restored to house this Cultural Center.

Local musicians, artists exhibitions, and all sorts of workshops can be found here. It also hosts the only cinema in the city, where people go to watch films and documentaries. 

5-Petroglyphs

On the road between Puerto Guadal and the town of Chile Chico, there is a place where you can see remarkable petroglyphs.

The site is not part of any official tour itinerary nor is it marked with signs, so you'll have to resort to the help of locals to locate it.

They are located just 10 meters from the road, in a cave that supposedly housed the original inhabitants of the island.

The road to get there has many curves and cliffs, although it offers some of the most beautiful views of the General Carrera Lake.

 

Four things you should buy in Chilean Patagonia


4 cosas que debes comprar en la Patagonia chilena 

These are not typical souvenirs but truly original items that will remind you of a memorable trip.

Forget the usual magnets, keychains or t-shirts with the name of the city you visited. These are some of the things you should buy in Chilean Patagonia, all representing Patagonians’ everyday lives and made from native materials.


These handicrafts and products made from the area’s natural resources have a special value. In addition to supporting local production, you will find pieces that only exist in Patagonia.

Your trip to the end of the world should create unique memories, including the things you take back home. If you plan to return with more luggage, do it with authentic and distinctive souvenirs. Here we recommend four things you should buy in Chilean Patagonia:

 

 

Chilote woolen hat

It is a traditional accessory that’s even won a place in national folklore. A classic postcard of Chiloé depicts the typical fisherman going out to sea wearing his woolen hat.

These hats are usually hand-knitted by Chilote artisans from sheep's wool. They provide ideal protection from the usually cold and windy climate in the area.

You can find them in several markets or craft fairs scattered around the Chiloé archipelago. For example, the Dalcahue fair, Los Palafitos in Castro, or the Llauquil crafts fair in Quellón, among others.

Puerto Natales knitwear

If you like sheep's wool and want to wear something a little more sophisticated you can find exclusive designs at the Le Mouton Vert store in Puerto Natales. There, this garments are made in a completely natural way, in an aim to raise awareness of non-industrialized work.

It is located on Avenida Pedro Montt 16, Galpón Patagonia.

Also in Puerto Natales, you can weave your own creations at Krea-Noe. There you can take a weaving class and make your own scarf. There are also bed runners, ponchos, ruanas (oversized wraps), sweaters and many other clothes made from wool.

Salmon leather

Salmon is not just sought after to prepare delicious culinary dishes; it now has a second use. The skin that is discarded by most salmon farms is used to make exclusive handbags, shoes, wallets, and several other accessories.

You can find these products at the Melipulli crafts market (opposite the Puerto Montt bus terminal), at Chiloé’s traditional summer fairs, and at crafts fairs in Angelmó and Plaza de Armas, in Coyhaique.

 

Selk’nam figures

One of the things you need to know about Patagonian culture is the Indigenous peoples who inhabited this southern land, among them the Selk’nam. This group is characterized by its striking bodypainting done with animal fat.

One shop in the Puerto Natales crafts market sells small replicas of rheas made from rabbit skin and figures of Selk’nam men carved in wood made by artist María Guenchugaray, who specializes in rustic pieces.

Huilliche artisan Rosa Paillacar, inspired by Selk’nam rituals, also carves beautiful figures of this Indigenous people. She sells them in Rodemil Bitterlich No. 1650.

Conclusion

You will live a unique experience in Patagonia. Make sure you buy a special souvenir to take home that you find useful or meaningful, one that you will not find elsewhere in the world.

By buying a local piece of craft, you will be supporting local development and own a product with a story.

Also, make sure you are aware of your country’s entry restrictions on products with a vegetable or animal origin.

  

Conclusion 

If you don’t conform with the standard tourism alternatives that travel agencies offer, make sure that you speak with the locals and ask for the best travel tips as soon as you get to Chilean Patagonia.

All cities and destinations in Patagonia have hidden secrets only known by its inhabitants. You could be one of the few lucky tourists to discover them.