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Getting around Patagonia

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Getting around Patagonia

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1. Posted by paintingdreams (Budding Member 11 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Hello :)

I'm hoping to get some advice on transport through Patagonia.

These are the places we are thinking of visiting in order.
Ushuaia, De Tierra Del Fuego, Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine, El Calafate, El Chalten, Perito Moreno and Bariloche.

Can I get buses from these places to the next? What are the bus companies??

Can I book a bus to De Tierra Del Fuego from Ushaia, Patagonia ????

Any suggestions/advice on anything trading through here will be amazing !!!

Cant wait to hear from you. Thank you in advance:):)

2. Posted by paintingdreams (Budding Member 11 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!
  • Traveling :) not trading
3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5162 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Slight modification to the order: Perito Moreno is mostly done as a daytrip from El Calafate (though undoubtedly you can also stay longer in that vicinity), so do that before El Chaltén. I haven't been to Bariloche myself, but I think you can go there from El Chaltén without having to backtrack all the way back to El Calafate (the bus from El Chaltén to El Calafate should be able to drop you off on route 40, with the connecting one from El Calafate to Bariloche picking you up there; check with the bus companies, obviously, if this is indeed possible).

Similarly, but the other way 'round, a direct connection from Torres del Paine to El Calafate should be possible, but it's a lot iffier with timing from what I've heard. When I did it (5 years ago), I first backtracked to Puerto Natales, and took the direct bus from there to El Calafate.

El Chaltén is absolutely and truly hiking paradise if you love long (7+ hours) hikes. Absolutely amazing landscape, and of course the benefit of drinking straight from the streams. Even a full week was too short a time for me the last time I was there. (The ATM situation in El Chaltén was atrocious, though, with extremely low maximum withdrawals, and one or two of the ATMs refusing service to most people, depending on the card they had. Most restaurants and stores also only took cash. I hope that's a bit better with the new monetary policy, but take extra cash just in case.)

Oh, and I'm not familiar with "De Tierra Del Fuego", but if you mean "Tierra del Fuego national park": Yes, there's small busses taking people there hourly from the parking area just a block or two west of the information center, returning in the evening (though you can also stay and camp and go back some other day). It's an absolute dead end to the road though, so the way back always goes via Ushuaia.

[ Edit: Edited on 12-Jan-2016, at 23:41 by Sander ]

4. Posted by Tabithag (Full Member 106 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

We travelled southward in 2012, covering much of your route, but didn't do Bariloche (a volcano was spreading ash all over it at the time), or Tierra del Fuego. We took a bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate, which is where you go to the Perito Moreno Glacier from, then buses to El Chalten and back.

We took a bus and minibus transfer to Torres del Paine and a transfer from there to Punta Arenas. Our TdP trip was arranged through Journey Latin America and we stayed at the EcoLodge, which was excellent, and perfect for us as my husband does more trekking that I do, so we could go in different groups.

We took the bus from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia. We found all of the buses comfortable enough, but be aware that there can be protests and blockades that will delay buses, sometimes for quite some while, so it is sensible to leave a bit of leeway in travel time for anything major. We were going to Ushuaia to get a boat to Antarctica and were very pleased we left ourselves a spare day, as at one stage it looked like our bus from Punta Arenas would not go that day due to blockades. In the end, it was just a few hours delay, but we would have been beside ourselves had we not had the day to spare.

5. Posted by paintingdreams (Budding Member 11 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!


Thank you so very much for your replies. I need all the help I can get :) Its going to once in a life time so I want to do it properly.

I initially was going to fly from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and then make my way up to Bariloche, stopping at the places I mentioned above.

I could also fly into Santiago and work my way down to Ushuaia. What do you think would be the best option when thinking of transport etc??

How much in advance do you need to book the buses? I am planning to arrive in Santiago or Buenos Aries on the 29th of March from Australia.

Thank you so much for your help :) I really appreciate it!

6. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5162 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Definitely start in the south and work your way up to Bariloche. It'll be the very end of the season for Patagonia; I've seen snow in Ushaia around that date. Absolutely brilliant time for hiking, though; generally less windy, and gorgeous autumn colors. (For transport it shouldn't matter one way or the other.)

Booking 1-2 days in advance should be fine for most busses, though if you can make it more than that, probably not a bad idea, just in case. (And check for national holidays and the like, in which case definitely make it more.)

7. Posted by paintingdreams (Budding Member 11 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Thank you so much :)

What are the bus companies I can use???

What bus is it from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas? Shame I won't see the Penguins, I read they will be gone end of March.

Sounds like you have spent a lot of time in the area :) Lucky you !!!!

8. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5162 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Honestly no idea about the bus companies. It's South America, so you just show up at the bus station, look at the different company desks for prices and times, and pick one at semi-random from those who list that information and have someone sitting there. I've done Puerto Natales - Punta Arenas - El Calafate - El Chaltén like that. El Calafate - El Chaltén twice in each direction, even. Still no idea which companies I used for that stretch?. Cal Sur or something...? They had a red logo, that's all I know for certain. :)

I've never bussed in or out of Ushuaia (only flew in/out from/to El Calafate or Buenos Aires, or boated in/out from/to Antarctica ;)), so sadly don't know about the bus to Punta Arenas. (Don't even know where it'd depart from in Ushuaia unfortunately...)
You should definitely still be able to see penguins, though. A couple of years ago I took a tour to Isla Martillo from Ushuaia (minibus to Estancia Haberton, then zodiac to the island), on - *looks it up* - March 31, and there were tons of Magellanic penguins around, and quite a few Gentoos, too. (There's other tours which just circle the island, but this one included a landing, so quite worth it.)

Oh, and I don't know what your budget for accommodation is, but my absolute favorite place in Ushuaia was this B&B. Like staying with a favorite uncle and aunt. Totally worth the steep hike up the hillside to get there. No recommendations for places in the other towns that I've stayed at, since none were that good, but I've left reviews here on those that I've stayed at, so you might encounter those if you look around. :)

[ Edit: Edited on 13-Jan-2016, at 11:24 by Sander ]

9. Posted by Mattfozz27 (Budding Member 49 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

been looking into this myself but not until march 2017 once a i fly from new zealand. it will be part of my 1 year trip and 1 of the hightlights for sure

i was just looking at flying from BA to El Calafete and then back from Ushuaia to BA as i will continue overland from BA towards Cordoba, Mendoza and on to Santiago

I have been looking at a few tour companies for a 10 days thing (not cheap I know), so if anyone has any recommended companies which they have used, that would be great

I could just get buses to each place, as i no it will be cheaper in the long run, but will shall see


10. Posted by paintingdreams (Budding Member 11 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Thank you for all your advice ! It has really helped :)