I was hoping to get a helping hand on travelling info on Ushuaia, Arg. I will be heading to Torres del Paine NP in January 2007 and was thinking about heading down to Ushuaia afterwards.
Firstly i suppose i should ask whether Ushuaia is worth a visit? I know there are some great national parks like Tierra del Fuego, but is it worth the trek from Torres del Paine? If so, how long would it take to get down to Ushuaia and how do i get there and back? I will fly from the Torres del Paine area, Rio Gallegos or El Calafate back up to Buenos Aires - I know this is not the preffered way to travel, but considering i will have bused it all the way from the Pantanal, Brazil down to Ushuaia i dont want to back track and I reckon I will be pretty damn tired!
Thanks in advance for your advice.
Yes, Ushuaia is worth going, even after having seen Torres del Paine. The national park is completely different, but I liked it a lot. The connection between the two is a bit time-consuming, but definitely possible; it involves a few bus changes, but in total shouldn't take more than a full day. Consult the LP on Argentina for the details; they have an excellent section about getting around on Tierra del Fuego.
It's a pity that you have already made up your mind about flying back up; since you came down through Chile (you díd, I suppose?), that means you miss out on the depressing emptiness of Patagonia on your way back. But if you decide to fly anyway, you might just as well depart directly from Ushuaia, and save yourself the rather boring journey to Rio Gallegos. I found el Calafate a very skippable place; the glacier is just a glacier, only the Fitz Roy mountain range is absolutely stunning, but maybe doing three parks in a row is a bit much...
Thanks for your reply mate. I am actually going back and forth through Chile and Argentina on my way down to Patagonia. I will be travelling down through Argentina and crossing over into Chile (from Mendoza or Bariloche - do you have any ideas here?) to travel through the Lake District and then traverse back into Argentina to get to El Calafate and then cross back into Puerto Natales to get to Torres del Paine - i know this is a bit out of wack and all over the place - but my travels start in October in Santiago and the advice i got then was that it would probably be too cold to head into the Lake district in Chile so i decided to hold this back until i made my way down to Patagonia in January when it was warmer(what do you think?) Also do you have any advice as to hiking guides / companies for Torres del Paine - and is it expensive?
Cheers - thanks again for your info mate
Shaun, just did a lot of your trip in March. Getting into Chile from Bariloche to see the lakes region in Chile is very easy but the Lakes region is pretty huge. For about $30 a day you might want to consider renting a car (buses around there will cost you at least $15 a day) and you'll find you can get to great camping (really outstanding in the lakes area) and to places you won't be able to access by public transportation.
second it's a miserable bus ride from Torres del Paine to Ushuaia - fly if you can afford it (about $80-100) the scenery on the bus ride is monotonous and depressing but interesting for the first of about the 40 hours it will take to get to Ushuaia. I'm not supposed to plug my blog but if you check it you might find some useful information or you can e-mail me direct with any questions I might help with.
I bussed down to Ushuaia from Puerto Natalas via Punta Arenas. Like the others said, it´s a long uneventful jounrey through barren wilderness. I actually like bus journies, so I didnt mind it too much, but it took 17 hours from Punta Arenas....
I flew out of Ushuaia to El Calfate which cost me approx $80 and took just over an hour. Check out the Aerolineas Argentina website for fares...maybe you can get an even cheaper fare if you book in advance.
Ushuaia is fabulous and definitely worth the effort to get there. It´s a very dramatic setting and there´s heaps of stuff to see and do there.
Rio Gallegos is a HOLE! (just my opinion )
If you need any extra info PM me.
Doc's 40 hours either is a huge exaggeration, or he has just been extremely unlucky. It is bussable, not mention the environmental burden of flying. In general I don't understand people coming down to Tierra del Fuego to enjoy nature, only to destroy it before and afterwards by flying every inch of the way.
Re lake district; I don't know the Chilean side, but I've been on the Argentine side in september, which is not recommendable (cold; freezing at night, and some streams were difficult to cross). I went back there early january, which was much better. If you like to rough it, though, september may be more to your liking, and it's quieter, too. I did a couple of wonderful 3/4-day treks, leaving on foot from Bariloche, so I don't think there really is any need to go through the hassle of renting a car. Do take a good map and a GPS, though, because paths are not well-marked. Gear and maps can be bought in Bariloche, which has several decent outdoor stores.
Re crossing into Chile: best place to do that is Mendoza, or so I've heard. I don't really know about connections from Bariloche, but since it is a major bus hub, it shouldn't be too hard to find out.
Re Torres del P: best way of doing it is on your own, or in a small group (2/3). Having a guide along is not really necessary if you're a somewhat experienced hiker, but plan your days carefully since the opportunities for camping/hostelling are extremely limited.
Contact me if you need more information; I remember that there's a few Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego treks in the LP trekking guide to the Andes, as well.
....never been there, but I cannot wait to go to Tierra del Fuego, my greatest dream. I would like to fly to Buenos Aires, but than travel on my own, as this is the way I love it.
But some information ahead would be great. To get from Buenos Aires down to Ushuaia I prefer to take buses. How is it there when it comes to bus transportation? And how long will the trip take?
I do have a great knowledge about the "End of the World" down there already, as I have studied my dream land for many years now; still it can never be like I've been there.
So I'd love to see some replies from you, thanks!!
it is possible to cross over to Puerto Montt Chile from Bariloche by bus or via the lakes by different boats.
it is very beautiful going via the lakes.the gaps between the lakes you get the bus to the next lake where the following boat is waiting.it is a full day trip for the crossing.
by bus is nothing to wright home about.
As always, there's a couple of possibilities; direct-ish busses from Buenos Aires (which I don't recommend on such a long journey), or breaking the trip in a few shorter legs.
If you decide to do the latter, your first stretch could be either to Bariloche, or to Pto Madryn; the latter is boring, but if you do it during the whaling season, your experiences on Peninsula Valdez will make up for it. The Bariloche-route is only feasible in summer, since ruta 40 is closed (or at least hard to pass) over winter.
From Bariloche, it should be possible to drive ruta 40 all the way south to Rio Gallegos. This will probably take several days. I never did it myself, and back in 2002 when I tried parts of the road were still under construction, but nowadays the situation is different. From Rio Gallegos, there is only one route to Ushuaia.
From Pto Madryn, simply bus your way south along the coast. You'll probably get stuck in Comodoro Rivadavia or in Rio Gallegos; if you're extremely unlucky, you have to spend a night in both, as I had to. Both are utterly misseable places, but they contribute to the end-of-the-world feeling.