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Our Travel Budget In South America’s Patagonia Region

Patagonia is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The majestic mountains, bright turquoise lakes, and towering volcanoes cannot be fully appreciated just by looking at pictures. Visiting Patagonia was more expensive compared to visiting other parts of South America. Our travel budget in Patagonia was quite high, but well worth it.

Our Itinerary for Patagonia

More on expenses in a minute, but first let me explain the four areas we visited. We first spent 5 nights in Puerto Montt, which is located in Chile’s lake district. Although Puerto Montt itself is nothing spectacular, a short 30 minute bus ride takes you to the spectacular Lake Llanquihue. Say that 10 times fast! This area is surrounded by spectacular volcanoes, lake villages, farms, and waterfalls.

Orsono Chile Lake District Puerto Varas Chile Snail Travelers budget travel in Patagonia
Orsono Volcano dominates the skyline in Chile’s lake district.

Next we flew down to Punta Areans in the very southern tip of the continent, where we spent three nights. The highlight of our time here was an excursion to an island that is home to a penguin colony. It is home to thousands of migrating penguin parents nesting their newborn chicks.

Magellanic penguins Magdalena Island Chicks Chile Snail Travelers
Magellanic penguins come to Magdalena Island to raise their chicks.

After that we took a bus up to Puerto Natales for a six-night stay. Puerto Natales is the gateway to the majestic Torres del Paine National Park. This park contains breathtaking granite pillars that shoot up over the tundra-like terrain. It also has lakes that contain the most turquoise-colored water we have ever seen.

Patagonia Torres del Paine National Park Snail Travelers budget travel in Patagonia
The fabulous Torres del Paine National Park.

We finished our Patagonia adventure by crossing the border from Chile into Argentina, where we stayed four nights in El Calafate. This is the base for a visit to Perito Moreno glacier, one of the most magnificent sights in South America.

Perito Moreno glacier El Calafate Argentina Snail Travelers budget travel in Patagonia
The Perito Moreno glacier is about 250 feet high and covers an area about equal to the size of Buenos Aires.

Now let’s talk about our travel budget in Patagonia.

Housing: $579

We normally spend about a month is each location we visit and get a monthly discount on renting a private apartment. But Patagonia’s high expenses prevented us from our normal method of traveling slowly. And besides, we were traveling during Patagonia’s high season. To save on costs, we moved faster and generally rented a single bedroom in a shared house on AirBNB. Our total cost for housing for our 18 nights in Patagonia was $579 or about $32 per night.

Puerto Montt Chile Patagonia Snail Travelers budget travel in Patagonia
Our tiny room in Puerto Montt barely had enough room for a bunk bed.

Food (Groceries and Restaurants): $294

We also deviated from our typical food habits while traveling in Patagonia. We usually cook most of our meals in our private apartment. Since we were traveling frequently, we found it easier to often eat on the go. Because we ate out in restaurants more than usual, we spent about $16 per day on this category.

Punta Arenas Chile supermarket restaurant Snail Travelers budget travel in Patagonia
We saved a little money by getting the “menu del dia” at a supermarket cafeteria.

Activities: $636

Again, this category was much higher than typical for us, mainly because there were so many activities to experience! The two biggest expenses were the tour to the penguin colony ($189) and the escorted day tour of Torres del Paine National Park ($148). Then add in entrance fees, a visit to an estancia in El Calafate, and a few other activities. Our total cost ended up being our highest expenditure on activities in South America so far.

Estancia sheep El Calafate Snail Travelers Patagonia
Visit to an estancia in El Calafate, Argentina.

Transportation: $384

This total includes three flights on Chile’s low-cost SKY airlines. It included Santiago>Puerto Montt, Puerto Montt>Punta Arenas, and Punta Arenas>Santiago. We also traveled a lot of bus travel around the Patagonia region.

Miscellaneous: $30

It was super cold and windy in Patagonia, so we bought some gloves and an additional light jacket.

Total Travel Budget In Patagonia: $1,923

This puts our travel budget for Patagonia at a total of $1,923 for the 18-night/19-day period. Despite the high cost, our trip to Patagonia was an experience that was well worth the expense. Thankfully, we have been under-budget for other parts of our travels. This helped us balance out our expenditures for this leg of the journey. We expected Patagonia to be one of the highlights of our slow-travel journey through South America, and we were not disappointed.

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