Campgrounds in Chile and Argentina

The company we rented the campervan from (Wicked Campers) recommended downloading apps called maps.me and iOverlander.

Maps.me allows you to download maps and directions so you can navigate offline, and iOverlander lists different accommodation options including hotels, hostels, established campgrounds, and wild camping sites. We used iOverlander to find most of the campsites where we stayed with the campervan and below is a brief description of each one (in chronological order). Fair warning, this is more for future reference than entertainment purposes.

Camping Laguna del Perro

This is a small campground just south of Pichilemu, away from the hustle and bustle of town for 8000 Chilean pesos per person per night. The host did not speak any English but used some other staff to help communicate. When showing us to our designated campsite, the host told Alastair to drive the van while he escorted me arm-in-arm. Amenities include good toilets and scheduled hot showers, and electricity and an outdoor light at each site. The setting is nice as it borders Lago Laguna del Perro and we were lucky to get a site on the quieter side of the campground, but had issues with an (attempted) early departure since the main gate is locked until about 8:00.

Laguna del Perro

Molco Beach

Located between Villarrica and Pucón, this place is away from the busy streets of the tourist towns and cost 8500 Chilean pesos per person per night. The owner is a very friendly Chilean who served a long career with the US Army and had just retired in November. There were not many other campers there as it was still early in the season and this was the owner’s first full season running the campground. Amenities include nice toilets and all-day hot showers, an outdoor light and electricity at each site, a pool, outdoor ping pong tables, and pretty grounds with a stream running through one end of the property. We also saw a rooster, chickens, dogs and oxen here!

Molco Beach

Hielo Hielo

This campground cost 9000 Chilean pesos per person per night and was only disappointing in its lack of available campsites with enough level/accessible ground to comfortably park the campervan. It also had minimally-defined sites which made it extra confusing to know where to park. There are a series of short trails which lead to views of the nearby river and a waterfall. Amenities include electricity at each site as well as decent toilets and (lukewarm at best) showers. The reception building also has a small store.

Hielo Hielo, with spin-out marks to the right

Camping Catrué

We chose this campground primarily for its proximity to the Chile/Argentina border which we wanted to cross early the next day. It cost 4500 Chilean pesos per person per night and each campsite was well-defined and private. There are a few series of trails leading to waterfalls, a volcano lookout, and other wonders of nature. Amenities include toilets and showers which were more rustic than previous places (it ties for least desirable bathrooms), and electricity at some sites. The reception building has a small restaurant and homemade beer (which we declined to try).

Camping Catrué

Pichi Traful

This campground is in a beautiful setting, nestled between a river and the north end of Lago Traful. It cost 180 Argentinian pesos per person per night and has a younger (i.e. rowdier) section near the lake and a more family-oriented (i.e. quieter) section near the river. We opted for quiet. Amenities include toilets, scheduled warm showers and supposedly potable water from the river (we already had plenty of bottled/filtered water on hand). The unfortunate thing about this campsite is that we had our clothesline and towels stolen when we went for a hike. Aside from that, it was a great place to stay.

Camping Los Coihues

This laid-back campground just outside of Bariloche cost 150 Argentinian pesos per person per night, plus an extra 60 for parking the van. There are no defined sites and it has a community feel with shared picnic tables, fire pits and power outlets. While the toilets are very basic, the showers are decent and there is hot water all day. This place also has an outdoor ping pong table, a man who sells eggs, and laundry services (washing machine, line dry) which was a nice surprise that we took advantage of! There is a constant stream of backpackers coming and going which makes for plenty of people-watching and this was one of the friendliest campgrounds, largely due to Lucas, the young campground host who seemed to be happy about everything.

Los Alerces

We stayed at this campground west of downtown El Bolsón mainly because it was quiet and next to a lovely river. It was also cheaper than our other option at 120 Argentinian pesos per person per night. The bathrooms have basic showers with scheduled hot water and the smallest toilet stalls I’ve ever been in (and ties for least desirable bathroom) but it was otherwise a fine place to stay. There are also shared electricity outlets at some sites. Even though we were gone during the day for hiking, we got a bit bored with this campground and decided to stay elsewhere for our remaining nights in this area.

Los Alerces

Camping Patagonico

We decided to spend our last night in El Bolsón at this campground which is just on the outskirts of town. It cost 150 Argentinian pesos per person per night plus an additional 70 for the campervan. The property is quite large and hosts a lot of backpackers, some more hipster than others. There are relatively defined sites and amenities include nice toilets and showers with hot water all day, plus shared power outlets at some sites.

Camping Patagonico

Free Camping – Las Rocas, Parque Nacional Los Alerces

This was our first experience at a free campsite which was located within a national park. There are defined sites with decent privacy but no amenities, and it’s hard to say how often the grounds are maintained. Many sites had garbage at them and previous visitors didn’t have the “leave no trace” or “pack it out” mentality. Considering it’s free, it’s still better than being in a pull-out on the side of a busy road.

Las Rocas

Wild Camping – Las Horquetas

Due to a lack of any campgrounds (or anything, for that matter) around the area during our long 2-day drive from El Bolsón to El Chalten, we decided to wing it at this small parking area along Rio Belgrano in the Las Horquetas area. There was constant wind with no shelter, but it was otherwise quiet and only a few cars drove the entire time we were there. It was nice being next to the small river and the surrounding area made for an amazing 360-degree view of the intense sunrise. Other than water supplied by the river, there were no ammenities (within a 70+ km radius).

Las Horquetas

Albergue del Lago

There aren’t many options for campgrounds in El Chaltén but this one suited us just fine at 150 Argentinian pesos per person per night. The property is not very large and there are no defined sites so the land gets crowded in the tent area but thankfully there was plenty of space to park the campervan in the vehicle lot. Amenities include nice toilets and decent showers with hot water all day, and a building to cook, eat, and charge devices in while staying out of the wind and rain. We stayed here for several nights and met a lot of interesting people including a few Germans (who were strangers to each other), an Irishman, and a woman who is a nurse in Seattle and lives down the road from Sean. There was little to no protection from the wind but that is the case with pretty much all of El Chalten.

Wild Camping – Ruta Provincial 23

We used a small pull-out beside the road leading to/from El Chaltén on the evenings before and after picking up Sean from the airport. There was no protection from the wind and no amenities available other than a small river, but it was free and a convenient place to stay just outside of town.

Ruta Provincial 23

Pingo Salvaje – Estancia Laguna Sofia

After a long day of driving and limited camping options around Puerto Natales, we treated ourselves to a night at this estancia for $18,000 Chilean pesos per person per night. The Patagonian style shelter had a small kitchen, two bathrooms with showers, a woodfire-heated hot water tank, a small living room, and 15 beds upstairs. Thankfully we only shared the place with a friendly couple from Austria (the man was originally from Ireland). It was warm, cozy, and felt quite luxurious. In the evening I got a gorgeous view of the stars through the large loft windows, and in the morning we got to watch the staff bring all the horses in from the fields.

Pingo Salvaje

Camping Serrano – Torres del Paine 

This is a well-maintained campground located at the southern entrance of Torres del Paine National Park and cost 8000 Chilean pesos per person per night. Some reviews referred to this place as “glamping” because it is clean, has sheltered picnic tables and electricity at each site, plus nice bathrooms and showers with scheduled hot water. It was a peaceful, quiet setting with a great view of the nearby mountains.

Camping Serrano

Guanaco Blanco

After our backpacking trek we decided to stay at a hostel in Puerto Natales instead of camping. This hostel hasn’t been open very long so everything was new and clean. We all shared a bedroom with a queen bed and bunk beds plus an ensuite bathroom for 55,000 Chilean pesos. The lady running the hostel was absolutely adorable; I’d bring her home with us if I could. The building has a few other bedrooms and a common room with a kitchen, tables and chairs, and a couch, plus secured off-street parking for the van. A filling breakfast was also included.

Free Camping – Parque Chabunco

This free campground is just north of Punta Arenas, located between Ruta 9 and the shore. Each campsite had a firepit and two-sided shelter over a picnic table (which was no match for the prevailing winds). There were no other amenities and, as with our previous free campground, there were bits of garbage scattered throughout the site.

Parque Chabunco

Wild Camping – The End of the World

For our last night with Michael Jackson we camped in a large field by a river, near the southern end of Ruta 9 (the southern-most road you can drive on the mainland). There were no amenities and no protection from the wind, but only one other vehicle was parked in the area which made for a quiet night.

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