If you plan to drive in Patagonia

You will be driving on paved or gravel roads in practically uninhabited areas. The absence of the stress imposed by city transit and the beauty of the places along the way will create an atmosphere conducive to traveling long distances with a reasonable effort.

When you plan the stages of your trip, remember that with the exception of the paved stretches, your average speed should not exceed 60 km/hr, and 40 km/hr on corniche roads with hairpin curves.

Whether you are driving a town car or a 4WD, certain basic safety rules must be followed.

Watch your speed. Most accidents on roads with little traffic are the result of underestimating the difficulties involved. Slow down before reaching a point in the road that is hidden from view by the terrain or some other element. On gravel, don't trust stretches that look good; drive on a minimum-adherence surface. On asphalt, watch out for raised culverts and shoulder drains. Pay attention to the wind.

Drive defensively. Somebody who thinks he has the road all to himself can suddenly pop up in that place you can't see completely. Stay on your side of the road whenever the visibility is poor for one reason or another.

On gravel, slow down to a crawl when passing a vehicle coming from the opposite direction. This will help you keep control of your vehicle and greatly lower the risk of breakage of your windshield and other windows by flying rock fragments.

If you have to overtake a slow vehicle, keep as far away from it as possible. Let the driver know you're there. Try not to kick up dust and rocks.

On backroads, don't leave the one you're on. Follow the dirt roads that look like they've been driven most recently. Some places can fool you, and not be as firm as they look.

In summer it rains very little. But if you find yourself on a wet road, keep to the high part in the middle, which is more compacted by the traffic. Clay is very slippery; try to keep off the shoulders, which are very soft. On dirt roads stay in the ruts if the suspension is high enough to allow this. And if you get stuck, don't force the motor; passing motorists will give you whatever help they can.

If your driving day includes a particularly isolated stretch of road, take along sleeping bags just in case. A burner, some water and food on board can turn out to be very useful it you have to spend a night out somewhere.

If you have to ford a stream, case it out first on foot. Take care: a swift current that reaches above mid-thigh is dangerous, and the water is always very cold. If you decide to use your winch, keep away from the steel cable.

Check the fuel and tires before leaving populated areas, and top off the tank whenever possible.

Remember to close cattle guard gates, and don't drive over fields unnecessarily. Help keep roads and paths clean by taking your wastes to the next ranch or town for disposal.

In southern Patagonia people are valuable and few. Be courteous on the road. If you see someone asking for help - which can turn out to only be a request that you take someone a message - stop.

What to take

A good road map.

Two spare tires, or at least extra inner tubes and tools if you're up to taking the tires apart.

A good flashlight and batteries.

Optional: a few simple tools, baling wire, 20 meters of 15-mm nylon rope, a collapsible shovel, a tire pump or small air compressor.

We do not advise taking along extra fuel in cans; it is unnecessary and risky.