Although there is almost complete coverage in large towns and cities across Patagonia, cell phones are not recommended as a reliable form of communication inside National Parks and for treks as there is little to no signal in a lot of these places. There are a lot of black spots due to the general topography of the land, and even a gust of wind (which is not uncommon!) can cause problems with signal.
It can be expensive to use your data while abroad, so it may be worth buying a Argentinian or Chilean sim card while in Patagonia. You will have to make sure your phone is unlocked before you are able to do this.
There are a variety of companies to choose from, and if you are spending some time in a large city such as Buenos Aires or Santiago you should find lots of stores which will be able to sell you a sim card. It is normally quite cheap to add on data (Personal charges $0.18 USD per day for unlimited 3G data) so it is worth using a service such as WhatsApp to save you from spending a fortune on calls.
It is also possible to rent phones at the large international airports, and your calls will be automatically charged to your credit card. This means you do not have to worry about topping up.
Check with your phone provider before travelling to see how much it will cost you to use your phone abroad in order to avoid any nasty surprises!
The style of dialling codes in Argentina and Chile is completely difference, and it is far from simple. Read on to decipher their system.
International dialling code: 0056
- 2 - Santiago
- 45 - Pucon
- 65 - Puerto Varas
- 67 - Coyhaique
- 61 - Punta Areans & Puerto Natales
Calling a landline from a foreign phone or outside of Chile:
Chile International dialling code + area code + 7 digit phone number (e.g. The Singular, Santiago = 0056 2 2306 8820)
Calling a landline from within Chile:
0 + area code + 7 digit phone number (e.g. The Singular, Santiago = 0 2 306 8820)
Cell / Mobile Phones
Calling a cell / mobile phone from a foreign phone or outside of Chile:
Chile International dialling code + 9 + 8 digit phone number (e.g. Explora Patagonia = 0056 9 8999 8909)
Calling a cell / mobile phone from within Chile:
8 digit phone number (e.g. Explora Patagonia = 8999 8909)
International dialling code: 0054
Calling a landline and a mobile phone is exactly the same.
- 11 - Buenos Aires
- 2901 - Ushuaia
- 2902 - El Calafate
- 2962 - El Chalten
- 2944 - Bariloche
- 2972 - San Martin
Calling from a foreign phone or outside of Argentina:
Argentina International dialling code + 9 + area code + 6 digit phone number (e.g. Hotel EOLO, El Calafate = 0054 9 2902 492042)
Calling from within Argentina using a foreign phone:
Argentina International dialling code + area code + 6 digit phone number (e.g. Hotel EOLO, El Calafate = 0054 2902 492042)
Calling from within Argentina using an Argentinian phone, when in a different city:
0 + area code + 15 + 6 digit phone number (e.g. Hotel EOLO, El Calafate = 0 2902 15 492042)
Calling from within Argentina using an Argentinian phone, in the same city:
0 + area code + 6 digit phone number (e.g. Hotel EOLO, El Calafate = 0 2902 492042)
Preparing your gear for a trip to somewhere as remote and wild as Patagonia can be a bit of a task, especially when you'll be crossing borders between Argentina and Chile. We get lots of questions about kit lists, from the right sleeping bag to the best windproof jackets, but it's mostly about plug sockets and adaptors.
A Chilean plug socket has two cylindrical prongs. The voltage is 220V.
The Argentinian plug socket is a bit more unusual with holes for three flat prongs. However, the top prong doesn't have a function, so adaptors only include the bottom two prongs. However, some plugs support the two cylindrical prong plugs that the Chileans use. The voltage is 220V.
When travelling in Patagonia, it's usually best to buy a multi-adaptor which has adaptors for both Chile and Argentina in one. Amazon sells them for around £20/$25.