Most nationalities visiting Argentina and Chile will just need a regular driving licence to rent a car; however you will be required to purchase an international driving licence if your driving licence does not have a photograph. You may also be required to get an international driving licence if you have a licence which does not use Roman script (such as a Russian licence) or you have a photocard licence.
Although a lot of the highways and bigger roads in Patagonia are well paved, a lot of the roads (such as the roads into the National Parks) are gravel and dirt. Large parts of the famous Ruta 40 are unpaved, and so stretches of it will require a 4x4 in order to drive it. It is also important to give yourself a lot of time to get from one place to another as Patagonia's unpredictable weather has the ability to make your journey last a lot longer than you think it will!
It can be a very long time between petrol stations, and so it is highly advised that you fill up whenever you see one.
Patagonian roads are increasingly being paved. However, when driving in Patagonia you need to be ready for rough gravel roads as well as vast distances between towns.
Harriet Pike Trekking, Mountaineering & Cycling Specialist
Drinking & Driving
The legal limit for blood alcohol in Argentina is 50mg per 100ml of blood, and in Chile it is 30mg per 100ml of blood. For most people, one glass of wine or one beer will take them over this limit.
Minimum Driving Age
In Argentina, the minimum driving age is 18, and there are also age restrictions with some car hire companies. In Chile, the minimum driving age is also 18 but you will have to be at least 21 to hire a car, and you will probably still have to pay a young drivers' excess.
The speed limits in Argentina are as follows:
- 40kmh on residential streets
- 60 kmh on urban main roads
- 110kmh in the countryside
- 120 - 130kmh on highways (semiautopista and autopista)
The speed limits in Chile are as follows:
- 40 - 60kmh in town
- 100kmh on out of town highways
- 100 - 120 kmh on the motorways
In Argentina you must have two warning triangles, a rigid tow bar, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher and a red reflective sticker on the rear of the car. Hire car companies usually make sure these are included but make sure you check before you set off.