El Gualicho Hostel in Puerto Madryn – Where Sleep is Optional (and Difficult)

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El Gualicho Hostel lounge area.Puerto Madryn is a small town, but not so small that a bed hungry backpacker shouldn’t be able to find a decent place to stay after a long bus ride. After stumbling down the stairs from my highly recommended Andesmar bus, I got my list of hostels from the information desk, threw my bag over my shoulders, and followed my navigational senses that told me to walk south. Within no time I was approaching a couple of low cost living hostels whose shady appearances discouraged me from even walking inside. So I forged ahead with high hopes and crossed fingers. Then, hanging out over the sidewalks on Avenida Marcos A. Zar, a bright orange sign pulled me in and I decided El Gualicho Hostel looked like the place for me.

The kitchen at El GualichoThere is a reason why people say you should never judge a book by its cover. El Gualicho appeared to have everything I was looking for. It is a nice facility, regularly cleaned, very organized with the town excursions, free breakfast is included, there are two internet ready computers, and even Wifi. The people who work and run the hostel are incredibly friendly and helpful and make an extra effort to remember a face and a name.

Why then do I sound cynical? Well there was one quality that was definitely missing from my visit to el Gualicho…sleep. Puerto Madryn is a common vacation spot for the Buenos Aires Porteños looking for a break from work. Not that I have anything against Porteños, or partying all through the night for that matter, but they have a tendency to take over every inch of the hostel property with a ruthless attitude.

The eating area at the hostel.The hostel set up is bad, the walls are thin, and the regulations on volume control are even worse. All of the rooms are arranged around the outdoor patio area where the all-nighters party into the wee hours of the night and early morning. Their laughter, yells, and drunken talk make the option of sleep nonexistent. Every pop of a wine cork, story from a drunk, or even whispers from the kitchen felt as if they were being screamed into my ear alongside my bunk. Every night the staff blared music over the loud speakers and keeping the door shut is a pointless request.

This social atmosphere has its upsides as well and there is usually something fun going on or some people to chat with late at night. However, after a couple of sleepless and frustrating nights, I have never been happier to leave a hostel in all my life.

The El Gualicho Hostel sign, culprit of the story.I will give the hostel credit for the building itself and the nice grassy area outside. The people who work there are wonderful and I was very comfortable during the days. If you are the type of person who doesn’t need to sleep much – it is not much easier during the day – and is looking for a party atmosphere, then El Gualicho could be just the place for you. Otherwise, I would learn from the experience of a fellow traveler and not let that orange sign pull you in.

El Gualicho Hostel
Marcos A. Zar 480
Puerto Madryn, Chubut
Patagonia Argentina
Tel. (054 02965) 454163
Prices. $8-10 per night for a shared room.
El Gualicho website


Bill on September 20, 07

I stayed at the El Gualicho hostel as well and had a similar experience. It’s a nice hostel but sleep wasn’t possible with the late night party that happened every night. Normally I’d just stay up and play along but taking tours out to see the sights requires getting up early.

The curious thing I found with both the staff and Argentine visitors is that they enjoyed making noise into the wee hours to keep everyone awake. Sort of like babies that cry for attention.

With better management, it could be a good hostel. Not that it matters since the place is usually full anyway. It’s famous for the late night parties I guess and I (along with a dozen other people) didn’t realize that before checking in.

Eta on January 25, 08

I stayed in this hostel and thought it was fantastic, the accommodation was great, clean and new. I didn’t experience the partying or noise. I suppose it can happen in any hostel it just depends on who is staying at the time. Generally everyone was getting up early to go on some trip the next day. It is a good place to meet people to share trips in the area. I would recommend this place to a friend, most definitely.

Sandy on July 17, 08

I was there for a week. It was nice and quiet. I had plenty of sleep. I wonder where is your room. All the roommates that came into my room were very considerate and quiet.

What Do You Think?