A Nomad’s Guide to Camping in Argentina

Offering breathtaking scenery and campsites that are among South America’s finest, camping is a big part of the Argentine national identity.

Photo © iStock/Agustina Camilion

Campgrounds are extremely busy during high season (January, February, Easter, and July), when booking ahead is highly recommended. Prices noted here are per person and discounts for longer stays will apply.

Private, Municipal, Wild, and Free Camping

Most of Argentina’s national parks are dotted with campsites of the Camping Libre ilk, which, as the name suggests, are free of charge and facilities – often just a latrine – but your reward is unspoiled scenery and solitude. A lack of running water at rustic sites can be overcome with a portable water filter.

Municipal sites also have limited amenities, but they’re generally well maintained and equipped with fogones (open fire grills). Private campsites rival the best in Europe and North America, with lots of amenities. Or for a very rustic experience, you can generally pitch your tent anywhere on public land. Wherever you camp, be sure to remove all trash.

Camping Gear

Ferocious Patagonian winds are more than just an urban myth – weather in Argentina changes fast, and clever packing is critical. If you don’t have your own camping gear, you can hire what you need from camping stores or outfitters in adventure travel hubs.

Salta and the Northwest

In Salta, Camping Municipal Carlos Xamena offers easy town access and amenities galore (US $3/$75 ARS per night). In Cafayate, Camping Luz y Fuerza is a convenient base for day hikes within the Northwest’s polychromatic canyons. In addition to a pool, hot showers, and WiFi, it’s within walking distance of several wineries; pitches US $2 ($50 ARS) per night.

Patagonia

Some 32mi (52km) from El Calafate, within Los Glaciares National Park, the private Lago Roca Campsite raises the bar with excellent camping facilities, well-equipped cabins, hot showers, and a restaurant.

Within striking distance of Mount Fitz Roy, the lively town of El Chalten is one of the top trekking centers in Argentina. There are three free campsites within a 90-minute walk (6mi/10km) of town: Campamento Poincenot, Campamento Laguna Capri, and Padre D’Agostini. Of the three, Campamento Laguna Capri boasts a stunning lakeside setting and incredible views of Cerro Fitz Roy.

Note that no camping is permitted on Peninsula Valdes.

El Chalten. Photo credit: iStock/StockstudioX

The Lake District

Richly endowed with lakes, forests, rivers, and mountains, the Lake District region is a camper’s paradise. With excellent public transportation connecting the main towns and parks, you can easily get off the beaten track.

Lago Gutiérrez has unusually warm waters, perfect for swimming, and a well-equipped private campsite right on the lake.

Some 11mi (18km) from El Bolson, Kumelen has an enviable riverside location and offers fully equipped cabins with kitchenettes (US$70/$1750 ARS), nice dorms (US$7/$175 ARS), or camping (US$9/$225 ARS), all with access to clean bathrooms with hot water and a communal kitchen. Around 4mi (6km) west of El Bolson, Camping Los Alerces is a perennial favorite with all the bells and whistles imaginable, including a café, fogones (fireplace), hot showers, electricity, soccer and volleyball fields; pitches US $5 ($125 ARS).

Lakeside camping. Photo credit: iStock/Agustina Camilion

Want to know more about Argentina? Listen to the World Nomads podcast. How drinking mate defines Argentinians, how to kiss properly when you greet someone, and meet Popi, the scientist who's saving penguins.

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