5 Guidelines For A Patagonia Road Trip

Aug 30, 2016 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)

Going on a road trip across Patagonia, Argentina, has some unique considerations. The stark but beautiful region is large and sparsely populated with long stretches of open road and small towns. Known for their ranchers and cowboys, Patagonia is the "Wild West" of South America. A road trip is the best way to get a feel for the area and with some planning and preparation, your road trip will be an adventure to remember. Dominated by the harsh peaks of the Andes, Patagonia is home to grasslands, deserts, pristine rivers, isolated oases, and world-renowned hiking. Travelers are drawn to the famed National Route 40 (Ruta 40 or RN-40) that runs the length of Patagonia from Punta Loyola to Rio Gallegos. RN-40 passes through twenty national parks including the pinnacles of Monte Fitz Roy and Perito Moreno Glacier, providing a perfect way to explore the natural wonders and hidden gems of Argentina. Alternately, you can also consider driving a portion of RN-3 from Buenos Aires to Rio Gallegos and explore the rugged coastline.

Check Your Vehicle Beforehand

Whether you are driving your car around Patagonia or taking a rental, you need to make sure that it is in good safe. In Patagonia, the towns tend to be spread apart from each other. This means that if something happens to your car, you could be 60 miles (100 kilometers) away from help. We recommend avoiding this scenario and provide for a thorough inspection of your vehicle, particularly if you plan to drive to the remote areas with beautiful vistas.

Bring Extra Spares

Normally, people suggest having a spare tire with you at all times. If you are driving through Patagonia, however, you should bring two along. Of course, they should be in good shape and fit your car. While you hopefully won’t need to use both of them, it can help if you have matching tires on the axle when there is still a large distance to cover. It also doesn’t hurt to have an extra spare considering the distances involved.

Pack Spare Parts, Tools, and Emergency Supplies

As with any road trip you take, you want to make sure you bring the necessary tools and spare parts with you. Make sure you have things like clamps, a spark plug remover, a hammer, a pincer, wrenches, screwdrivers, WD-40, wire, jumper cables, and even duct tape. The southern part of RN-40 still contains unpaved segments and is known for its rough roads, making these preparations even more important.

Be Friendly

Patagonians are very friendly while on the road, and you should try to be the same. Many people in the southern portion of the area will flash their lights to say “hello” during the day when they encounter cars driving in the opposite direction. It is also kind to ask if a stopped car needs assistance; you shouldn’t have to worry about being robbed as that type of crime is incredibly rare.

Be Prepared for Rubble

A unique tip for a Patagonia road trip is to be prepared for rubble roads. Most roads in the area are rubble. In other words, they were made with a combination of earth and stone and then smoothed by machine. To reduce the amount of small stones that fall into the windshield of the other cars on the road, pass each other slowly. You will want to stay below 70 to 80 kilometers per hour on rubble roads. The rubble also increases the risk of flat tires, which is why having more than one spare is crucial. This is part of the appeal of the southern half of RN-40. Drivers can look forward to a real adventure on the wild frontier of South America.

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