Paddle Patagonia

FAQs

At the time of writing (Sept.2020) Argentina is still under quarantine restrictions.  The majority of COVID cases (85%) are found in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area.  

We are not taking any reservations for tours prior to 2021.  Going forward we will take tentative reservations but will not accept deposits until the Argentina government opens their travel restrictions.  

Feel free to contact us to request more information or to make a tentative plan for the future.  We are hopeful that international travel to Patagonia will stabilize in 2021!
Bike & Paddle Patagonia is a small family-run Canadian-Argentinean tour company.  The owners are Julián Tisato and Katie Hambly who along with their family, divide their time living between Canada and Argentina.

The business began in 2010, after many years working in the adventure tourism industry: Julian as a guide/instructor and Katie in various administrative and managerial positions. After establishing El Bolsón as our home-base, we began offering multi-day whitewater kayak and canoe tours. Since then the business has expanded to offer mountain biking, hiking and customized vacations.

Bike & Paddle Patagonia boasts unique and personalized tours based heavily on local expertise and connections. The aim is to offer authentic Patagonian experiences in our little-known region of Argentina.  We have forged some great partnerships with local families, accommodations and outfitters.  We also now work with several groups annually who use us as their in-country trip specialists.

Whether you are a solo traveler looking to join a tour, a family seeking the ultimate vacation or an organized group that wants to get off the beaten track, we hope you’ll trust us with your next active holiday adventure.

See you soon!

Katie & Julián
Patagonia is a region located at the southern end of South America and is a territory shared by both Argentina and Chile. It includes the Argentine provinces of Neuquen, Rio Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz as well as Tierra del Fuego. The Chilean portion includes the southern provinces of Valdivia, Llanquihue, Aisen and Magallanes as well as the Chilean portion of Tierra del Fuego. In total the region is over 1 million square kilometers.

Patagonia includes the Andean mountain range as well as huge plateaus that extend east of the Andes in a series of broad, flat steps extending to the Atlantic coast. The coastline is cliffed along its entire length and the landscape is cut by many rivers some of which have glacial origin in the Andes creating broad valleys and steep-walled canyons.
ARRIVING INTO BUENOS AIRES:

Most international flights to Argentina are going to land in the capital city of Buenos Aires.  There are two international airports in Buenos Aires, The first is Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) most commonly known as “Ezeiza.”  The other is Jorge Newbery Airport (AEP), most commonly known as “Aeroparque”.  There is a third airport called “El Palomar” (EPA) which is both a military and commercial airport where many low-cost domestic flights operate from. If you are booking a domestic flight or have a connection in Buenos Aires, be sure to verify which airport you are flying in and out of.  We recommend 4-5 hours between connections of any two of these airports.

HOW TO TRAVEL BETWEEN AIRPORTS & HOTELS in BUENOS AIRES:

Here are a few options once you land in Buenos Aires and need to get to your next destination.

  1. Transport Service: There is an official shuttle called “Manuel Tienda Leon” that has a shuttle departing approximately every 30min to the other airports. You can purchase a ticket from their booth after clearing customs (they have one inside and one outside at EZE).  They will direct you where to wait for the bus.  They also offer a “Remis” service (remis is a taxi) to other locations in Buenos Aires. www.tiendaleon.com.ar
  2. Taxi (known as a “remis" in Argentina): There are official Remis booths where you can purchase a standard fare after clearing customs. This is a good option if you are running late and cannot wait for the shuttle service or have a special destination in mind.
  3. Uber: If you are comfortable with the Uber app then this is a more economical option although you may or may not be able to pay with credit card and you will need to have an internet connection to order your vehicle.  Also, the Uber driver may not be able to pick you up at the airport doors, so you may need to walk to a meeting point.

*Please note, all services may charge you extra for oversized luggage.

ARRIVING via SANTIAGO, CHILE:
You may also look at flying into Santiago, Chile (SCL) and connect to Bariloche from there.
Most of our tours begin and end in San Carlos de Bariloche or El Bolsón in Río Negro, Argentina.  Some trips may begin in other locations.

We will make arrangements to meet you and drop you off at the airport, bus station or your hotel.
Getting to San Carlos de Bariloche (BRC).

There are a few options for getting to Bariloche.  If your international flight does not include the leg to Bariloche you can book that domestic flight separately.  Since COVID, the only airline operating domestic flights is Aerolineas Argentinas.



A few things to keep in mind when booking a domestic flight within Argentina:
  1. Luggage is not always included in the base price, you may have to add your bags on before purchasing and they can be very strict about the weight limits at the airport.
  2. There are 3 different airports in Buenos Aires. Take note which one you need to fly out of and make sure to give yourself plenty of time to transfer between airports.  There are taxis and shuttles available between each airport but traffic can sometimes be horrendous. We recommend about 4-5 hours between your international flight landing and your domestic take off.
  3. Allow for delays and cancellations.  If possible do not choose the last domestic flight of the day in case of flight cancellations.  Or better yet, plan on arriving to Bariloche a day earlier to arrive with plenty of time to settle in, tour around the town and allow for a cushion in case of flight delays or cancellations. 

Bus Travel to Bariloche:
The other more scenic option would be to take a long-haul bus. If you are coming from somewhere other than Buenos Aires or if you just have some extra time in your travel plans, then taking the bus to Bariloche could be a good alternative.  However, with the arrival of the low-cost airlines the cost benefit might not be much different. The buses in Argentina and Chile are modern, clean and comfortable (much better than greyhound in North America!) The trip is long (20+ hours) but very comfortable and a great way to see the magnificent landscapes of this country from your window! There are 3 kinds of seats to choose from that vary from just reclining to fully horizontal beds. The buses all have washrooms on board as well as attendants that serve complimentary beverages and snacks however it is a good idea to bring some food of your own.  Here are a few of the many websites you can search for prices and timetables.  If you are unable to book online there are many travel agencies and kiosks that can help you once you arrive in Argentina, you don’t have to go to the bus station to book your ticket in advance.

*Please note that the main bus station “Retiro” in Buenos Aires is well known for petty crime. Take extra caution with your belongings at all times and avoid traveling there at night if possible.

The Argentine Peso (ARS $) is the official currency of Argentina but due to economic issues in the country the Argentine peso is not always the most stable currency for you to purchase too much in advance.  You might consider buying around $50USD worth of Argentine pesos from your home bank to have on hand upon arrival in the country.

In general we suggest traveling with USD or Euros cash and exchanging as you need.  You may also choose to withdraw cash at an ATM in Argentina but be warned you might find you are paying significant withdrawal fees from both the Argentine bank as well as your home bank and you might have a daily limit much lower than expected. Not all businesses will accept credit cards and some may not accept USD so you will need cash in pesos at some point.  To exchange cash we recommend the convenience of a “casa de cambio” rather than a bank.   Your hotel in Buenos Aires or Bariloche can suggest the best place to exchange. On some of our trips, there will be limited access to ATM machines. Please inquire in advance about what kind of spending money you may need. Please note some rental gear and all gratuities must be paid in cash  (US dollars or the local currency).
Argentina and Chile are rated the safest countries in Latin America for tourists. Of course when traveling anywhere you will want to take precautions against petty crime and keep an eye on your belongings, especially in big cities and bus stations.
At the time of writing (January 2019) most nationalities did not need a visa to enter Argentina or Chile. Upon arrival you will likely be given a 90 day tourist stamp in your passport. However we cannot guarantee this information so please check with your local embassy to be sure before traveling!
Learning a few basics will help you communicate better but non-Spanish speakers can get by just fine and many people speak English. However be warned if you have learned Spanish in another country that Argentineans speak quickly and they use a slightly different dialect called “Castellano.” We are happy to give you a few lessons once you arrive!
The ideal bike for most of our rides is a full-suspension all-mountain or cross-country bike.  If possible and for your own comfort we do recommend you bring your own bike for our multi-day tours.

Traveling with a bike does not need to be complicated but you should purchase or rent a sturdy bike bag or case for air travel.  Review your airline policies on traveling with a bike and also ensure that you have adequate travel insurance that will cover your bike should it be lost, stolen or damaged during your trip.

Also if you are staying in Argentina for extra days before or after your trip we can help you make arrangements to store your bike or other possessions in a safe location during your trip.

Rental Bikes:
Our most current rental bike option is a hardtail Giant Fathom 29" with hydraulic disc brakes.  If renting you are also welcome to bring your own saddle or pedals and we can put them on your rental bike.

Please inquire for up to date models and pricing.  Rental is included in the one-day tours.
All of Paddle Patagonia’s guides are English speaking professionals with years of experience guiding and instructing in Patagonia as well as other regions of the world.

They are also fun people who are excited about sharing their passion for the region and the rivers with you!

Visit the About us page on our website for more information about our team.
Argentina is famous for its red wine and beef barbecues, which are certainly a highlight for many but there is so much more!

Unlike other Latin American countries, you will notice a very European influence in the meals that include fresh salads, pastas, grilled fish, baked goods and more. Where meals are included in your trip, we source freshly made local ingredients whenever possible and the food is not generally spicy or greasy.  Restaurants options are varied but many offer a mix of traditional and American dishes.

Being a vegetarian is no problem and we will do our best to cater to any other special dietary requests. Tap water is potable and there are no issues with drinking water throughout the country.
Our tours include stays in a variety of comfortable and clean hotels, hostels, lodges and cabins. Camping is an option on some courses and trips but not mandatory so you may not need to bring any bedding. 

Some places you will stay have saunas and/or hot tubs, which are a real luxury after a long day of activities!
Paddle Patagonia’s trips travel through several different mountain terrains and at anytime the weather can change often and quickly.

In general, the early season (Nov-Dec) may see cooler mornings/evenings with hot days (20+ C°). As we get closer to Jan-Feb, the weather stabilizes into warmer summer-like conditions (25+ C°). Rain and wind storms can happen at any time and the sun in Patagonia can be quite intense so a good sunscreen is advised.
Please contact us at info@paddlepatagonia.com to make your reservation.

Payment Schedule for multi-day trips:
$500/person deposit due upon booking 
Full balance due 60 days prior to trip

Payment Options:
A $500 deposit is required to confirm your trip.  The final balance is due 60 days before your trip departure date.  Payments can be made by US$ check, wire transfer, Visa or MasterCard.  Some gear rentals and all gratuities must be paid by USD cash (or local currency) in the country.

All trip prices are in US dollars and we charge in US dollars. If your credit card is not a US dollar card, your credit card company or bank will determine the exchange rate on the day of the transaction.

Mastercard/Visa:
An invoice will be issued by email with a link for you to pay via a secure website.

Check or Money Order
Issue to Paddle Patagonia Inc. and send by mail:
73 Roseneath Cr.
Kitchener, ON, N2E 1V8, Canada

Wire Transfer:
Bank of Nova Scotia
491 Highland Road West, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, N2M5K2
Paddle Patagonia Inc.
Swift code NOSCCATT
Bank account information:70086 002 00148 18

*Please read our cancellation policy before submitting payments.
Refunds and Cancellations:
90 days before trip: Full refund minus $50/person booking fee.
89-30 days before trip: Refund minus $500 deposit (read below about lifetime credit)
29 days before trip: Non-refundable.

Paddle Patagonia Cancellation Policy Details
If you need to cancel your reservation with Paddle Patagonia, please send your request by email to info@paddlepatagonia.com.  If received 90 days before your trip’s departure date we will refund you the full amount less a $50 booking fee per person.  If the request is received between 89 and 30 days before your trip your $500 deposit is non-refundable but $450 of that amount can be used as a lifetime credit towards a future trip.  If the request is received within 29 days of your trip there will be no refund but if we can find someone to take your place we will refund you everything except your $500 deposit.

There are no exceptions to these policies for any reason.  We will endeavour to help you solve any travel issues that might occur during your trip but we cannot be held responsible for acts beyond our control such as natural disasters, flight schedule interruptions, strikes, theft, vandalism, government changes to rules and regulations and more.

Lastly, although we will endeavour to keep to the itinerary provided, all of Paddle Patagonia’s trips could be modified or delayed by bad weather, road conditions, river levels, trail conditions, transportation problems, sickness, or other factors beyond our control.

We cannot issue refunds for late arrivals or early departures due to travel delays, flight cancellations or personal illness or injury.  If you are concerned about having to cancel your trip we strongly suggest purchasing cancellation insurance to protect your investment.

All clients must also have appropriate medical insurance and medical evacuation insurance. Any evacuation costs will be billed to the person that is leaving the trip. Your Trip Cancellation insurance should reimburse you for any unused portion of your trip should you need to leave early due to illness, accident or family emergency. If you have insurance coverage through your credit card please make sure it has adequate coverage for whitewater activities and remote travel.

Here is an example of a company that offers insurance packages for our type of trips: https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-insurance/
Whitewater Kayak & Canoe Tours
For whitewater canoeists and kayakers you should have experience paddling a variety of class III rapids for a class II-III trip and a variety of class IV rapids for a class III-IV trip.

For newer kayakers on our instruction-based trips, although we don’t expect a 100% bomb-proof roll, a solid roll in whitewater is recommended. Spending some time on your home river or local pool working on getting your roll perfected before you arrive in Patagonia can go a long way.

Pack Rafting and Whitewater Rafting
If you are joining us on a tour that includes whitewater rafting or packrafting you do not need any whitewater experience as you will be joined by a guide in your raft or led by a guide in your inflatable kayak at all times. For the packrafting tips you should be physically fit and swimming ability is recommended.