advice: patagonia tour, crossing into chile - y/n?
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Jul 7, 2013 11:59 AM Last Post By: chegatita
Jul 6, 2013 4:55 PM
advice: patagonia tour, crossing into chile - y/n?hola gente!
in a week i will be headed to bariloche for a few days with a friend (from buenos aires, where i've been for 1.5 months). there, i will be staying in a hostel and celebrating my friends birthday. BUT THEN i will be toodling through patagonia, and i have a few questions for those more seasoned south american toodlers:
this is where im going:
el calafate/glaciar park - 2 days? -- this is actually just an idea. is it cool? is it worth it?
ushuaia - a week or so, i'm meeting and staying with a friends brother and am really excited about this stop
puerto piramides - 3 or 4 days, i'm staying with a friend there who runs a whale watching tour company and will do all those touristy things for super duper discount and am really excited about this too
i guess ill be traveling by bus. these are my questions! :
for getting from el calafate (or bariloche or wherever) to ushuaia by bus, i have been told to avoid rio gallegos. HOW? through chile? what is the alternate, non-rio gallegos route?
is it fairly simple to enter chile? and if so, would you recommend puerto arenas or puerto natales? and if you recommend chile, do you recommend staying in either of these places for any length of time other than passing through? can i spend argentine pesos there (i assume not but cant hurt to ask)? do i have to pay a reciprocity fee? i dont mind going to chile, i should probably renew my visa in august-ish anyway.
and how do i eventually get to ushuaia ? by ferry?
i think i have to take a bus to puerto madryn and then get picked up to go to p. piramides, right?
in general, how common/safe/advisable is hitchhiking in this region? i have seen it done in towns in BA province ...
is there anywhere else you'd recommend me to go on this route?
also, i have no time limit, really. i mean, i leave for bariloche on the 16th july and have to be in san rafael, mendoza on the 20th august (but need at least a week in buenos aires before mendoza).
and THEN i spend three and a half weeks in san rafael, mendoza helpxing in a b&b... where do you recommend i try to go from there? i will have 28 days from the time i leave mendoza til my flight back to the US (:tears:).
thank you for reading this lengthy nonsense!! i appreciate all your thoughts and ideas! and, if anyone wants to meet up or travel with me, let me know!
PS for what it's worth, i am a mid-twenties female with passable basic spanish that i am building on.
Edited by: chegatita
Edited by: chegatita
Jul 6, 2013 7:46 PM
1el calafate/glaciar park - 2 days? -- this is actually just an idea. is it cool? is it worth it?
I thought the glacier was cool but it depends what you're interested in. You only need a day there. Would be a good place to break your journey as well. We flew from El Calafate to Bariloche to avoid the loooong bus trip. It was quite cheap with LADE.
for getting from el calafate (or bariloche or wherever) to ushuaia by bus, i have been told to avoid rio gallegos
Why? We only changed buses there so didn't spend any time in the town. I think the alternatives might involve a long boat ride. Not sure I'd want to get on a boat for any distance at this time of year; I don't particularly like sea travel in general though.
and how do i eventually get to ushuaia ? by ferry?
The bus goes on a ferry across to Tierra del Fuego. It takes about 20 minutes and is included in the bus ticket.
is it fairly simple to enter chile?
Yes. You can't take any fresh food products across the border though, and they do check.
would you recommend puerto arenas or puerto natales?
Puerto Natales is a pleasant place to stop for a couple of days. Most people go there to visit the Torres del Paine, which is definitely worth a visit, although the weather can be dreadful.
can i spend argentine pesos there
I don't think so, although actually I didn't try. Just get some Chilean money.
in general, how common/safe/advisable is hitchhiking in this region?
I wouldn't advise it. Apart form the usual safety concerns, distance between towns are long, traffic is sparse and you wouldn't wanted to be stranded by the side of the road in the middle of winter.
where do you recommend i try to go from there?
If you haven't been there already, head up North to the Salta area, then across to Iquazu Falls, maybe into Brazil for a while.
Jul 6, 2013 7:59 PM
2Just to add to the excellent post above; you won't be able to spend Argentine pesos in Chile. You might find somewhere or someone willing to buy some off you, as there is a lot of movement between the two countries in Patagonia, but the exchange will be bad.
Punta Arenas has a very interesting history and a few excursions which are nice in summer. In winter it really isn't worth much of a stop except to eat some really good fish and shellfish. Puerto Natales is very small but pleasant enough. The thing is that in winter everything will be very quiet. Try to do at least a day trip from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine park. It is really beautiful in winter. Much shorter days at this time of year, so go early.
Rio Gallegos isn't dangerous, just ugly and boring. As said, you usually just change bus there.
Jul 6, 2013 11:12 PM
3El Calafate to Ushuaia bypassing Río Gallegos involves getting from El Calafate to Puerto Natales via the Río Turbio/Avanzada Dorotea crossing, then to Punta Arenas. From Punta Arenas there is a (non daily) service to Ushuaia, which requires you to cross Primera Angostura by ferry (included in ticket price) and back across the border at Avanzada San Sebastián. It's a bit more involved. I'm not sure about which is fastest. I've done Ushuaia-Punta Arenas and it was about 10 hours, through often featureless Patagonian steppe. I've also travelled between Caleta Olivia and El Calafate via Río Gallegos - it's really not that bad. Its most unpleasant feature is that it's the hometown of Kretina...
Jul 7, 2013 4:15 AM
4thank you for your helpful replies!
polyglot (or anyone else): is the el calafate to puerto natales route to ushuaia more expensive than through rio gallegos? i dont need to pay reciprocity fee to chile if i enter by bus, right?
i think ive been told to avoid r. gallegos just because its boring and ugly, like mentioned. so i was thinking about going through chile for a day or two to avoid r. gallegos and get my visa renewed for argentina (otherwise i guess i have to go to colonia when i get back to BA, which looks like its getting more expensive, or pay the $300 pesos at the airport when i leave, which i guess isnt that bad, but ill be so close to chile ...).
yes, i would absolutely love to get up to salta/jujuy!! thank you for the recommendation!
Jul 7, 2013 5:02 AM
5Price-wise I would be surprised if there was a huge difference. With Bus Sur from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas last November (2012) it was about USD70. You would have to visit the website of various bus companies such as Bus Sur and Buses Pacheco to find out the El Calafate-Punta Arenas/Puerto Natales legs of the trip. For trips within Argentina, www.plataforma10.com can be useful for bus prices.
You don't have to pay a reciprocity fee to enter Chile by land. You do to enter Argentina by whatever means.
Jul 7, 2013 11:59 AM
6okay cool, ill look at the sites again. i was trying to check a few weeks ago and platforma10 was not really working. i ended up going to the bus company office here in BA for prices, but my trip has changed since then. so ill check the site, or maybe head to the office, or maybe just head to the office in bariloche or el calafate when i get there? if i give myself a few days notice, i should be able to get a ticket, you think? i cant imagine hoardes of people are trying to bus through patagonia right now.
fantastic about the reciprocity fee. yes, i already paid mine to argentina when i arrived here in may, so i guess i need to bring my receipt with me on this trip also?
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