Private Journeys

Self-drive Argentina: Patagonia, lake district and Perito Moreno

16 days from £3,200pp

Argentina / Patagonia

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Essentials

Transport

3 domestic flights (longest 4hrs); self-drive in the lake district and southern Patagonia.

Accommodation

This holiday offers economical mid-range accommodation in Buenos Aires. In the lake district we have selected a mixture of modern and boutique properties in scenic settings. In southern Patagonia we’ve selected accommodation at an unusual variety of rustic estancia-style properties. Whilst not luxurious, what they lack in contemporary comfort is repaid with regional flavour.

Meals

Breakfast daily.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Summary Of Nights

16 days, 15 nights: Buenos Aires 2; Bariloche 2; San Martín de los Andes 2; Villa La Angostura 2; Viedma 1; El Chaltén area 2; El Calafate area 2; Buenos Aires 2.

Currency

The unit of currency in Argentina is the Argentine peso.

How To Take It

For our latest currency advice for Argentina please see our FAQs section.

Daily Spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50-70 per person per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants in cities and you will pay considerably more. In addition, you should budget a total of US$200 to cover the cost of fuel.

Tipping

Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 – 12% in restaurants.

Insurance And Documents

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Car insurance:
Argentina (your trip is based on a medium category 2WD vehicle): Limited collision damage waiver and vehicle theft protection (CDW/TP) cover is included, with an excess payable. Additional CDW/TP cover with zero excess can usually be purchased at additional cost. Please check the level of your coverage with us when making your booking. We strongly recommend you consider buying your own car hire excess waiver insurance policy before you travel: these are widely available from insurance companies in the UK.  All incidents involving collision, robbery and theft must be reported to the police and a report obtained. Let us know if the transmission (automatic or manual) is important to you, or if you prefer a different type of vehicle: although we cannot guarantee availability we will do our best to help.

An international driving permit (IDP) is officially required for Argentina. Since 2015 new regulations have applied concerning the paper counterpart of UK driving licences. Please check https://www.gov.uk/government/news/driving-licence-changes for further details.

You will need to return the car to the specified office at the end of the rental period. If you are leaving on a morning flight we advise you to do this the day before you depart.

Airport Taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey Grade

This predominantly self-driving holiday is for independent-minded clients seeking the freedom to explore without the support of local guides and drivers but with the security of pre-booked accommodation. You should be confident to navigate along roads outside the UK, driving on the right. Some Spanish as well as mechanical knowledge, for example the ability to change a tyre, is highly recommended. We advise you to let us know if you have a strong preference for automatic or manual transmission as vehicles supplied can vary. GPS equipment is not normally available but you will receive basic written directions and we will send you our Rules of the Road document with helpful tips specific to driving in Argentina.

Driving is along a mixture of paved and ripio (gravel) roads, more if you plan to go exploring on your days at leisure. A 2-wheel drive vehicle is sufficient to complete the route but a 4WD will be more comfortable (and is recommended) if you intend to venture off the beaten track or deeper into the national parks. Please speak to us if you wish to upgrade to a 4×4. Finally, petrol is usually easy to come by in the main towns but be sure to keep an eye on your fuel tank as you won’t find any service stations in the countryside.

Climate

Owing to the extremities of the weather in Patagonia in winter, this holiday is only available between October and the end of March, the southern summer.

In Buenos Aires, October to November and March to April see temperatures between 15 and 25°C and a good deal of sunshine. January to February is hot, with temperatures over 30°C. 

In the summer in the lake district (Dec-Mar) and Buenos Aires in the shoulder seasons the weather should be similar to a good British summer. The shoulder seasons in the lakes are more unpredictable, with possible cool periods and rain in April and October.

Southern Patagonia’s summer (Dec-Feb) has long, usually mild days, although you can be subjected to 4 seasons in one day and occasional snow flurries are not uncommon.  Mar/April or Sep/Oct can be sunny and clear, but it can be windy.

Clothing And Special Equipment

In the southern hemisphere summer it will be hot in Buenos Aires so take loose-fitting light clothing for maximum comfort. An umbrella offers good protection from tropical showers. You will need sunglasses and head protection. 

The further south you travel into Patagonia, the more unpredictable the weather, so you will need layered clothing including wind and waterproof outer shells.
 
If you plan to go to good restaurants or out on evening entertainment trips, you might bring something a bit smarter as well (although formal attire will not be required).

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: polio; tetanus, hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Country info

When is the best time to visit Argentina?

Argentina is so large it’s always a good time to go somewhere. The southern hemisphere summer is the reverse of our own, with Dec-Feb being high summer in Patagonia. Spring (Oct-Nov) and Autumn (Mar-Apr) can still be very pleasant and are quieter. While summers in the lake district are reliably warm and sunny, the further south in Patagonia you go the more unpredictable the weather. In Winter (June-Sept) some hotels in Patagonia close, while others stay open for skiers. Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Córdoba enjoy a Mediterranean-type climate, with cool winters and very warm summers. North-west Argentina (Salta and Jujuy) enjoy sunshine and warm temperatures year-round but are influenced by altitude and the high Andes, with occasional cold snaps (June-Sept) and a rainy season (Jan-Feb). Iguazú Falls and Misiones has a subtropical climate, although it can be chilly July-Sept.
For more detailed information visit our When To Go section.

What is the official language of Argentina?

Spanish.

What is Argentina's official currency?

Argentine Peso (updated Oct 2019)

Argentina is cash-orientated, although in Buenos Aires and main tourist centres cards are widely used. In remote areas you may find only cash is accepted. It’s best to take US Dollars cash and change these into Pesos within Argentina. This can be done at a Casa de Cambio (passport needed) and at some hotels. Many (mid-range and up) restaurants will also accept US Dollars for payment and give you change in Pesos. Tips are always paid in cash, even if you pay for a meal using a card.
Although ATMs are available in Argentina some clients have reported difficulties withdrawing cash so it’s best not to rely on them. Local ATM fees can be high and the amount you can withdraw is usually much lower than in the UK. When using an ATM with a debit card you may be offered a choice of account type from which to make your withdrawal. Select ‘credit card’ (not ‘checking account’ or ‘savings account’ options).
Check your insurance limit for carrying cash and avoid having lots of Pesos left over: these are accepted at the duty-free shop in Buenos Aires airport but outside of Argentina it’s hard to exchange unwanted Pesos.

What's the time difference between Argentina and UK?

GMT -3 hrs. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, from Sep/Oct to early Mar, but not every year.

Which other countries combine well with Argentina?

Chile, accessing the country by crossing the Andes over one of several scenic passes: from Salta in the northwest to the Atacama Desert, from Mendoza to Santiago, via the lakes crossing from Bariloche to Puerto Varas in the lake district and from El Calafate to Torres del Paine in Patagonia; Brazil, via the land crossing at Iguazú.

What are the festivals and other cultural or sporting events in Argentina?

Tango Festival: Buenos Aires, August.
Polo Open: Buenos Aires province, weekends in November.
Gaucho Festivals: The pampas, early November.

How do I adapt to the altitude in Argentina?

Whilst a typical holiday in Patagonia presents no challenges with altitude, Argentina’s north-western provinces offer a taste of the high Andes with some spectacular road trips on offer. Travel to high altitude can cause mountain sickness and even if you feel fighting fit it’s important to take things easy and stay hydrated (drink plenty of water, avoiding alcohol and caffeine) as you get used to the thin, dry air. You may initially notice a headache, dizziness or breathlessness and this usually improves with acclimatisation. If you are pregnant or taking the contraceptive pill, have a medical condition such as heart or lung condition, anaemia, asthma, high blood pressure you should seek the advice of your GP before booking.  We also recommend you check your travel insurance covers travel to high altitude.  If you’re taking the family, remember small children may be less capable of communicating altitude-related symptoms effectively: keep an eye on them too. Rest assured we will plan your itinerary carefully, taking into account any time spent at altitude. If you have any questions or concerns about altitude please speak to your travel expert.

Further advice on travel to altitude is available on www.travelhealthpro.org.uk

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport within Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Vehicle hire with limited insurance as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Guided walking tour along the Avenida de Mayo

What's not included in the price

  • International flights to Latin America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport within Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Vehicle hire with limited insurance as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Guided walking tour along the Avenida de Mayo

What's not included in the price

  • International flights to Latin America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

View Extraordinary Inspiration

Real Latin America Experts

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Consultant

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Escorted Groups team.

Meet the team