Booking international flights to a place as vast as Patagonia can seem a bit daunting. However, it’s not as complicated as you’d think and it needn’t cause you a headache, especially if you plan your trip in advance and read our comprehensive guide:
“Booking early could save you hundreds of pounds”
Firstly, it’s definitely a good idea to look at flights sooner rather than later. If possible, find out the dates you’ll be doing your trek/kayaking/horse riding etc and then book flights around it, rather than vice versa. Some useful websites for booking and comparing flights are flightcentre.co.uk, kayak.com and Yapta.com. Remember that the earlier the better, if you’re really lucky you might be able to get a return for about £850.
BA or LAN depart the UK for Patagonia from London Heathrow and usually goes via Madrid (or sometimes New York or Lima) to either Santaigo or Buenos Aires.
London –> Santaigo, for Chilean Patagonia (Journey time: 17 – 28 hours)
London –> Buenos Aires, for Argentinan Patagonia (Journey time: 21 – 28 hours)
It usually takes a bit over a day and up to 35 hours to arrive right in the heart of Patagonia. Once you’re here, the time difference is only around three/four hours, so planning time to recover from jet lag isn’t necessary and the crisp mountain air will soon clear any cobwebs from your head after your flight!
To get to Puerto Natales for trips in Torres Del Paine National Park:
The most direct route to access Torres del Paine is to fly to Punta Arenas (Airport code: PUQ), the largest town from which one can access the Torres del Paine. The airport is pretty small, but does the job and Sky Airlines and LAN are the 2 companies operating here. The journey from Santiago is about 3.5 hours, and it’s actually quite enjoyable to fly over the mountains. We even saw the snow-capped Volcano Osorno in the Chilean Lake District and Mount Fitz Roy in Los Glaciares National Park as we flew over them.
Punta Arenas is about 1926 miles overland from Santiago, or 1429 miles from Puerto Montt, in the Chilean Lake District.
- Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas (3h 25mins direct or 4h 20mins, with a stopover in Puerto Montt. Flights are approx. £240 one-way, but again this can vary hugely depending on how much in advance the flights are booked)
- Travel by bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales with a journey time of 3 hours. There are bus connections in the morning and afternoon, and the bus can be booked for you by the operator.
- Puerto Natales is 2.5 hours/92 miles from Torres del Paine, and is the starting point for most treks into the park. It’s quite a nice town in itself, situated on the Last Hope Sound Fjord (great for a spot of kayaking upto the waterfall), and it’s well worth having a good rest before you start your trek. Usually you’re picked up from your hotel/hostal for the start of your adventure.
To get to El Calafate for trips in Los Galciares National Park:
There are regular flights from Buenos Aires, Trelew, Bariloche and Ushuaia to El Calafate International Airport (FTE). The airport is 14.5 miles from the centre of El Calafate, in the Santa Cruz province, and it’s quite simple to take a taxi or bus there.
- Buenos Aires -> El Calafate takes approx 3h20 direct, or 5h20 with a stop in Ushuaia. Flights usually cost around £90-100 one-way.
- From Calafate you’ll need to take a bus (public transport is very good in this region) or private transfer (from around $150-450 usd approx. £93-278 depending on no. of passengers) to the town of El Chalten (journey time of 2 hours). El Chalten is near to Mount Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and Laguna de los Tres, some of the highlights of Los Glaciares National Park. This town has nice restaurants and lovely hotels, it’s also quite young and still growing. It’s from here that most treks out into the park start, and most operators transport you on the first day of your trek to the start of the hike.
Buenos Aires has two airport options:
1. The Ezeiza Airport is normally for incoming and outgoing international flights. It’s located 22 miles southwest of downtown and offers connecting flights to other continents. The airport is divided into three terminals (A, B and C). Terminal A is largely used for international flights; Terminal B is for domestic flights; and Terminal C is for cargo.
2. The Aeroparque Jorge Newbery is located on Costanera Avenue just 15 minutes from the city center. It mainly handles domestic flights to the interior of Argentina and some border cities. You’ll probably fly from here if you’re going on to Calafate, Bariloche or Ushuaia. At this airport you can take advantage of a wide variety of services including restaurants, cafes, fast food, bars, shopping, banking, a Wi-Fi internet connection, pharmacies and more.