Ohiggins hike stingy nomads
Chile Patagonia

Backpacker’s nightmare or life without a backpack

What can be worse for a backpacker than to lose his backpack?! And even worse, to lose it in the middle of nowhere, in Southern Patagonia, a place where you want to have all your warmest clothes with you. In my years of travelling I tried never even think of such a disaster but anyway it did happen to me. Luckily I wasn’t alone and for some time could use some of Campbell’s stuff e.g. sleeping bag, towel, some T-shirts.

Imagine, Southern Patagonia, Chile, two hitchhikers on the road, pouring rain, strong wind, cold, no cars. Suddenly a car stopped, pickup fully loaded with bags, suitcases, pots etc, family going on holiday. We got very excited! A man got off and offered us a ride all the way to the town we were heading. What a luck! We threw our backpacks on the back, on the pile of other stuff that was already there, covered it with a sailcloth and squeezed in the car. Our friendly driver introduced us to his charming family; his wife and 7 year old daughter with a beautiful name, Blue.

Outside rain and hail we sitting in warm car, wrapped in a kindly provided blanket and enjoying nice talk. The family was very fun, you’d never guess the parents’ jobs, both were prison officers. I’d rather think they worked in a primary school or so. Just couple of weeks before we were picked up by another very friendly and fun couple both worked for Chilean Investigation police. Hitchhiking you meet very interesting people.

Incredible scenery along Carretera Austral, Patagonia, Chile
Incredible scenery along Carretera Austral, Patagonia, Chile. Backpacker’s nightmare

Back to our story. After 3 hours of smiling and laughing we arrived at Coyhaique, the main town of the region. Our car stopped at the main square, we got off, took off the cover and saw only one, Campbell’s backpack in there. For the first 5 minutes we all were trying to find my backpack. We looked everywhere including under the car like if it was hiding from us! It took some time to realize what’d happened.

Luckily all valuable things including all my devices were in the small backpack. Sometimes walking with two backpacks, one behind and one in front I think how inconvenient it is. But that day I was very happened I had my small backpack! Basically I just (just compare to losing a passport for example) lost all my clothes, shoes, toiletries and sleeping bag (the main loss).

I hate losing things, none likes it but I get upset even if I lose a lipstick never mind a whole backpack. That time surprisingly for myself I was moderate upset, no real drama. I got really upset a few months later when we got to Brazilian beaches and I realized that all my favorite bikinis were gone! There was nobody to blame except for ourselves, we were too excited about being picked up and didn’t tight proper our backpacks. On the bumpy Carretera Austral (our article on Hitchhiking Carretera Austral)  it just slipped down from the car.

Anyway we went to the police a couple of times to check maybe somebody found it on the road and brought to the office but no luck, my backpack just disappeared.

Thanks to the weather, the day was cold and rainy so I was wearing my warmest clothes and trekking shoes, at least they weren’t gone. We stayed for 2 extra days in Coyhaique trying to fill the gap in my ‘closet’. We bought a couple of new T-shirts and some stuff in a second hand shop. Not too many options for me due to my XS size. Anyway in Patagonia nobody cares how you look, the main thing you want to be warm and comfortable.

That's how I looked after losing my backpack. Las Torres, Torres del Paine, Chile
That’s how I looked after losing my backpack. Las Torres, Torres del Paine, Chile. Backpacker’s nightmare

Our Chilean family was very upset, they even gave us their sleeping bag. It was huge more like a big blanket but having no other options we were glad to get it. Next month and a half we slept in one sleeping bag thanks to its huge size and were very warm just a bit uncomfortable. Campbell sometimes woke up at night feeling claustrophobic and climbed out of the bag but in general it was ok. During this epic Patagonian trip we didn’t sleep in bed even once for 2,5 months. If you have never slept in a tent for a while you’ll never understand a joy of sleeping in bed!

Me with a new backpack somewhere between Villa O'Higgins and El Chalten
Me with a new backpack somewhere between Villa O’Higgins and El Chalten. Backpacker’s nightmare

The funny thing is that I was saying for months that at the end of the trip I’ll throw away all my clothes (it wasn’t looking good any more). It just happened 3 months too early.

Now, few months later, traveling in hot South East Asia with a new backpack and clothes we often tell this story to other travelers. Like many disasters that never cool when they happen but after a while it became a good story to tell.

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  1. Wow, crazy story! I hitchhiked through the Carretera Austral and got picked up by some pickup trucks as well, and I was checking every few minutes if my backpack was still there, but luckily it didn’t fall, even though I forgot some stuff during my trip. Good that you managed well the situation and didn’t make a drama about it, I don’t know what would I’ve done if it had happened the same to me.

    • Stingy Nomads

      Hi, Arnau! It was quite a shock in the beginning I couldn’t believe it actually happened to me! Luckily it happened on the way to Coyhaique and not somewhere near Villa O’Higgins where you can’t get anything. Hitchhiking in Patagonia is an adventure on its own without taking in account hiking, kayaking and other things you can do there. We absolutely loved the area and the people I can go back any time! I hope you had a great time there as well!

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