One of our major pleasures in Argentina was camping. It was fun at campsites or balnearios because there we met lots of other overlanders and spent many nights sharing travel tales, bottles of wine and barbecues with Argentinean beef. Argentina also turned out to be fantastic for wild camping: so much space, such fantastic landscapes. We loved it.
So let’s share some practical information on camping in Argentina.
Balnearios and Camping Municipal in/near Towns
Cities often have a camping municipal, a municipal campground which is sometimes called a balneario. Prices of these campsites range from free of charge to a couple of dollars for an overnight stay.
By the way, an interesting detail: in balnearios Argentinean priorities are immediately visible; whereas barbecues are always present and in good condition, this is not necessarily true for bathrooms.
In Argentina barbecues are called asados, which are extremely popular among locals and Argentineans like to visit balnearios or municipal campgrounds for the day or a weekend just for this purpose. Note that with the asados often comes loud music, which either you enjoy or don’t. Don’t count on a quiet stay here during high season (January/February, Semana Santa, July).
Having said that, municipal campsites have given us opportunities to meet and interact with locals, among whom many like to invite foreigners to their asado. Never miss the opportunity to enjoy an Argentinean BBQ – steaks simply don’t come any better!
Private Campgrounds in Argentina – Camping Privado
Privately owned campgrounds – camping privado – come for free of charge up to as expensive as an overnight stay in a three-star hotel. The absence or presence of clean bathrooms and other amenities are often reflected in the price. Private campsites are found in cities as well as in the countryside.
Camping Libre, Camping Agrestre and Refugios in National Parks
Campgrounds may be called camping libre, or camping agrestre, which means they are free of charge. Camping libres often lack facilities, which is compensated by the fact that they are often situated in the most extraordinary natural settings. A National Park – of which there are many in Argentina – is a typical place where you will find camping libres or agrestres.
Other accommodations in national parks are refugios. These are basic campgrounds, often used on multiple day treks. Refugios offer space to pitch a tent, they sometimes have a small kiosk to buy some snacks as well as a shelter to spend a cold evening or to cook a meal.
Argentina offers plenty of opportunities for rough camping. Many Argentineans enjoy a nomadic life during their holidays themselves, so nobody is surprised when you pitch your tent somewhere along a river or at the foot of a mountain.
Make sure that the camping spot is public terrain and not on somebody’s estancia (ranch). In case of the latter, always seek permission of the owner before pitching a tent. Argentina’s nature is abundant, stunning and in many regions untouched. Please keep it this way by taking out all that was brought in – including all garbage – and dig a hole far away from a water source before responding to a call to nature.
Tips for Camping in Argentina
- High season is January/February, Semana Santa (Easter) and July. Popular campgrounds may require a reservation and can be extremely noisy, especially at night. Bringing earplugs may (partly) solve the problem.
- Facilities differ greatly in terms of the availability of a cold or hot shower, a clean site, laundry service, BBQ equipment, the presence of a grocery store. In the countryside bring a meal or snacks for a day or two – the nearest grocery store may be far away.
- Argentina is a country of wind. Not only in Patagonia but also in the northwest the wind can be fierce. If you happen to pitch a tent (as opposed to sleeping in your vehicle), best bring a dome-style tent with rain-fly.
- If quality equipment is the norm, bring it from abroad. High-quality tents, sleeping bags, gas stoves and other camping equipment are hard to come by in Argentina. Cities that do offer some camping equipment are, among others, Mendoza and El Calafate (Patagonia).
- Some of Argentina’s roadmaps and road books also mention campgrounds.
Did you camp in Argentina? Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below.
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