Chile is an overwhelmingly gorgeous landscape of contrasts: mountains and sea, urban and rural, and, most famously, the Atacama Desert and Patagonia. When planning an epic adventure that encompasses these famous juxtaposing sceneries it is important to know how to pack effectively without taking your entire winter and summer wardrobes with you. We have gone ahead and done your homework for you and put together the best list and tips for what you should consider when packing for the Atacama Desert and Patagonia.
The key to packing the right clothes for the Atacama Desert and Patagonia, though very different environments, is layers. Both places have dramatic temperature changes that can occur very quickly, often without warning.
In Patagonia, having a good base layer with moisture wicking for trekking is an important start. You should always have a fleece and windbreaker/light rain jacket in your day pack as well for unexpected showers and the famous Patagonian winds. At night in Patagonia you will want a warmer jacket (such as a puffy) that you can layer on to stay warm if you go outside to look at the stars in Torres del Paine or to go into the small mountain towns in Argentina.
In the Atacama, though it is desert, you are at altitude. The days are usually warm but the nights are quite cold. Some of the typical excursions travelers do in the Atacama go to even higher altitudes (such as the Tatio Geysers) where you will definitely experience colder temperatures as well. I would recommend lightweight pants or shorts for your days in the Atacama (jean pants if you will be horseback riding) and lightweight long sleeve shirts for the days to protect your skin from the sun. For layering, I recommend a fleece and windbreaker as well. For excursions at higher altitudes, especially if done early in the morning, you will want an even warmer layer with you (such as a puffy). At night, you will want long pants a warm base layer top and warmer outer layers.
For both the Atacama and Patagonia, you will want to bring sturdy shoes for trekking (shoes with ankle support are best) and I highly recommend Smart Wool socks. Finally, make sure you have sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat of some sort for both destinations as well.
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Your friendly Chile expert,