NOLS alternatives for adventuring in Chile
December 28, 2011 1:08 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way for a solo traveler to spend a week or two adventuring in Patagonia?

I'd like to spend some time backpacking, mountaineering, and/or horsepacking for a week or two in January or February. I've never been there, but Chile seems to be a good choice for these activites and my time frame. Google reveals many guided options for groups, but I'd be traveling alone. NOLS would be perfect but doesn't offer a trip that fits my plan. Can anyone suggest another guide, group, or plan of attack altogether? I'm a male in my 20s with moderate experience in the aforementioned activities, a flexible budget, and no Spanish ability.
posted by Bun to Travel & Transportation (2 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
if you want to use an outfitter / guide service, I've had pretty good experience with World Expeditions and a cursory look over their Patagonian itineraries, shows there are certainly 5, 6 and 10-day trips in January and February. Not exactly cheap compared to DIY but they're not as steep, as say, Abercrombie & Kent or Butterfield & Robinson. World Expeditions does group travel, but will bundle single travelers into a group with a bit of a supplement for your own room and what not.

On the other hand, when I was in Argentine Patagonia last year, I also found it easy to just walk into a guide service and see what trips were available at that time. Based in the town of El Chalten, there were a ton of guide services along Av San Martin that will take you out to glaciers or mountains around the Fitz Roy and Lago Del Desierto area. You could DIY the trekking parts and just walk into Parque Nacional Los Glaciares on your own, but you will need a registered guide for glacier or mountaineering trips. Lonely Planet has a Patagonia specific volume that is a great reference.

also, fwiw, I had very, very rudimentary Spanish and got by fine.

January is a bit of a peak time, so it might be worthwhile to do a little planning ahead, but also the weather in Patagonia can be so unstable that you're best advised to leave a little flexibility in your schedule.
posted by bl1nk at 2:52 PM on December 28, 2011

With a flexible schedule, you could just go to Puerto Natales in Chilean Patagonia and hook up with some local outfitters. Most of them have websites, so you can check them out and book before you get there. We did an online booking with a local service for our Patagonia tour a couple of years ago. Chile is a pretty law abiding country so I wouldn't worry too much about being scammed.
posted by monotreme at 3:53 PM on December 28, 2011

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