Know Before You Go | Patagonia Trek: Chile & Argentina | EF Ultimate Break
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Patagonia Trek: Chile & Argentina

Know Before You Go

For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.

COVID-19

For the most up to date entry requirements for this tour, please visit this page.

Travel Documents & Tour Preparation

Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 617-619-1411. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.

Travel Documents

  • Passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date.
  • Visa: U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a tourist or business stay of 90 days or less.
  • Travel Insurance: While travel insurance is not required, we strongly encourage all travelers to obtain coverage before departure. Check out cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers, here.

Tour Preparation

  • Talk with your doctor: It is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
  • Traveling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
  • Request a roommate: Double-check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
  • Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan for your mobile device so you can stay connected while on the road. Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
    • Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and it may be slower than in the U.S.
    • Wi-Fi is not available on the bus.
    • Expect to have very limited, if any, wi-fi access OR cellular service in the parks.
  • Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.

Arrival Information & Transportation

Flight Preparation
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. Using your 6-digit reservation code, you can reserve your seat (this is typically available 30 days to 24 hours before departure) and check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport that’s okay, too. Regardless, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.

Note: All flight information is online (e-ticket) via your account and the airline’s website. You will not receive a physical paper ticket from us.

  • If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
  • If you sleep in and miss your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.

Arriving in Santiago
Welcome to Chile! Now that you have #landed, you will want to grab your luggage and pass through customs and immigration. (Yay! Passport stamps!)

Your Tour Director will communicate through the EF Ultimate Break app, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is an important reason to make sure you have the EF Ultimate Break app!

Note: If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel. Accommodation details will be available in your online account 30 days prior to departure.

Getting from A to B
You’ll be traveling through Patagonia, and since teleportation hasn’t been invented yet, it takes time to get to each destination. All transfers between cities are via private bus or flights and can take anywhere between 2-6 hours.

Note: It’s a good idea to download a few movies or shows to watch sans Wi-Fi/ Cellular Data, bring a great book with you to read, or listen to music to pass the time.

Health

General Recommendations
Fact: Travel is exhilarating. And FOMO is real. So, we understand why you don’t want to miss a second of the action. But there’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:

  • Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon nap, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Be Prepared: We recommend bringing a small first aid kit including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
  • Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
    • Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
    • What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
    • Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.

Destination-Specific Information
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Chile or Argentina. However, we recommend you consult your physician or local travel clinic, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) at lease 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and vaccine / entry requirements.

  • Tap water is safe to drink BUT you may want to stick to bottled water if you have a particularly sensitive stomach since the difference in the water can irritate some people.
  • Take proper care with sun exposure. Even when temperatures are cooler in Patagonia, the sun can be strong.
  • Public restrooms in Patagonia can be quite bare. We suggest carrying bathroom tissue and hand sanitizer with you.

Safety

With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:

  • Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
  • Pick-pocketing is fairly common in bigger cities like Santiago and Buenos Aires. Always watch your belongings and keep an eye out for one another.
  • Protests are also common in Santiago and Buenos Aires. Though they aren’t typically large or unruly, it’s best to steer clear of them.
  • Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
  • Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
  • Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
  • At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi or Uber, and always have cash on hand.
  • Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411

LGBTQ+ Community

Chile and Argentina are considered to be at the forefront of acceptance in Latin America, with discrimination protections in place based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as legal same-sex marriage and adoption. Argentina in particular is considered to be a leader in LGBTQ+ rights not just within the region, but across the globe.

All that being said, these are still conservative Catholic countries, and not everyone is accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. Consider exercising similar cautions to those you might while traveling through less familiar parts of the United States.

Packing

Your airline ticket includes one checked bag but note that years of customer feedback tells us that the lighter you pack, the better. We recommend bringing one hiking backpack (approximately 20 liters is a great size), and one smaller suitcase or duffel bag approximately 22” x 14” x 9”. See more packing tips below.

Packing Suggestions

  • 1 waterproof jacket
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Waterproof shoes
  • 2-4 pairs jeans / shorts
  • 4-6 shirts / t-shirts
  • 1-2 nice outfits for Welcome and Farewell Dinners, or a night out
  • Underwear and socks
  • Toiletries, medicine
  • Insect repellant
  • Phone or camera
  • Passport
  • Debit / Credit cards and cash

Hiking Packing Suggestions

  • One hiking backpack, approximately 20 liters is best
  • Hiking boots with non-slip sole and ankle support. You should try to break in your boots for 2-3 weeks before the tour to avoid blisters or any discomfort
  • Active-wear clothes; quick-drying, non-cotton material
  • Long pants; quick-drying, non-denim or cotton material
  • Hat & gloves (wool is ideal for hiking)
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Hat/Bandana (sweat resistant)
  • Water bottle with 2-liter capacity
  • Moleskin and bandaids for blisters
  • Soft lunch box to keep lunch cold (optional)
  • Personal medicine

Note: Weather in Patagonia is infamously unpredictable – it’s often said that you can experience all four seasons in one day, even in the summer months. For this reason, we recommend packing layers you can add and remove throughout the day.

Electronics
In Chile the power plugs and sockets are of type C and L. In Argentina the power plugs and sockets are of types C and I. The standard voltage in both countries is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. You need a power plug adapter for sockets type C, I, and L plus a voltage converter. Amazon has combined plug adapter/voltage converters!

Money & Tipping

We at EF will help facilitate any testing requirements while on tour, however it is the travelers responsibility to pay for these tests and it is our recommendation that you budget roughly 150 USD total. Please note that non-boosted travelers may be required to do additional testing to enter places such as restaurants, and/or major attractions.

Budgeting
Budget around $60-$70 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities.

Remember that you know your spending habits best and not everyone’s spending habits are the same. These recommendations are based on a traveler who says yes to any and all activities while on tour.

Managing Money
The official currency of Chile is the Chilean Peso, and the official currency of Argentina is the Argentine Peso. You’ll need pesos for many restaurants, local shops / markets, and more, so we strongly recommend exchanging your cash into the local currency. Some restaurants and stores, particularly in larger cities like Santiago and Buenos Aires, also accept major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard). But again, cash is preferred. See more money tips below:

  • While these currencies aren’t impossible to find in the United States, it can be more difficult to exchange USD for them until you’re on your tour. Once you’re on the tour, ATMs are widely available in most major cities, and they’re the easiest way to get cash while abroad.
  • Cash is king in Chile and Argentina, especially small bills!
  • Take debit and credit cards with you to withdraw cash at local banks or ATMs as a backup option.
  • Let your bank and credit card companies know your travel plans ahead of time to avoid potential complications while abroad.
  • Unlike some other countries in Latin America, bargaining at shops and markets is not the norm in Chile or Argentina.

Tipping

  • We recommend tipping your Tour Director $48-$72 at the end of the trip, plus additional tips for local guides.
  • Tipping at restaurants is common. We recommend leaving 10% tip in both countries if it’s not already added to the bill.
  • For taxis, it’s typical to round up the fare or let them keep the change.

Language

It’s fun and helpful to try your hand at the local language, Spanish! Try out some of these popular words and phrases:

  • Hello: Hola
  • How are you? ¿Cómo estás?
  • Goodbye: Adiós
  • Thank you: Gracias
  • Please: Por favor
  • I’m (your name): Soy (your name)
  • I’m from (your country of residence): Soy de (your country of residence)
  • How much does this cost? Cuánto cuesta?
  • Where is the...?: Dónde está...
    • bathroom: el baño
    • bus stop: la parada de autobús
    • pharmacy: la farmacia

Chilean Spanish is particularly notorious for its slang. Even if you’re a fluent Spanish speaker, these tips may come in handy:

  • Po: This doesn’t actually have any meaning, but you’ll hear it a lot. It’s a filler that Chileans often use to punctuate the end of a sentence.
  • Cachái?: Meaning “Do you understand?”, you may hear this after a lengthy explanation from a guide, even though that explanation was in English.
  • Luca: This refers to the smallest monetary note, worth 1,000 Chilean pesos. So that cozy sweater knitted from local sheep’s wool might cost you 20 lucas, as opposed to 20,000 pesos.
  • Forget what you learned about verb conjugations in your Spanish class! Chileans love dropping the last letter of words, and the “s” at the end of many verb tenses is usually the first to go.

Note: Download Duolingo or some language-learning podcasts to practice your skills, and use Google Translate to help you while on the road!

Local Life

Locals in Chile and Argentina aren’t quite as known for their warmth as in some other Latin America countries, but that doesn’t mean they’re not very friendly and helpful! Having a go at the local dialect and making an effort to get to know the locals around you can go a long way.

  • Both Chileans and Argentinians often tend to ask more personal questions of people they just met than you might be used to. They don’t consider it to be rude; to them it’s a polite way of expressing interest in your life.
  • Be considerate when taking photos of locals, and know that some people might not want their photo taken at all, or will ask for a payment in return for the photo. When in doubt, just ask the person if you can take a photo of them.
  • Nightlife in Santiago and Buenos Aires doesn’t typically begin until 10 or 11pm. You’ll find lots of locals and tourists in the same places, dancing to reggaeton, electronic, and more! In smaller cities like Punta Arenas, nightlife is less common.
  • There may be more military presence than you typically find in American cities. This is completely normal.

Food & Drink

You’ll sample a variety of other local dishes on your trip, but read on for all the tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try.

  • Pisco Sour: Peruvians and Chileans like to argue over whose are better, but both countries mix pisco (a local version of brandy), egg white, simple syrup, lemon juice and bitters for a delightfully frothy and sharp cocktail.
  • Artisanal Beers: Like in many regions around the world, the craft beer scene in Patagonia is booming!
  • Empanadas de Cordero: Several Latin American countries have their own riff on empanadas, and in Patagonia, a filling of thick lamb stew is the specialty.
  • Chupe de Centolla: You’ll find Patagonian king crab in a variety of offerings across Patagonia, but the local specialty is this creamy chowder topped with seasoned breadcrumbs.
  • Cordero al Palo: Both Chile and Argentina are big fans of grilled meat, so it should be no surprise that arguably the most popular dish in Patagonia is lamb roasted on an iron cross over an open fire.
  • Filete de Guanaco: More adventurous eaters may wish to try this lean and tender cut of meat that comes from guanacos, which are similar to llamas.

Free Time

If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add-ons.

We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.

Bon voyage!

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