Buses, ferries and boarder crossings...27-1 Dec.

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
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24
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Trip End May 28, 2011


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Where I stayed
Puerto Natales, Chile

Flag of Chile  , Patagonia,
Friday, December 24, 2010

Saturday 27th November

Where am I! Too many buses, ferries and border crossings ...but it's all worth it in the end...I hope.

I am now beginning to forget which country I am in, where I have been and where I am going. We are now heading back into Chile to the town of Puerto Natales to visit another must see – Torres del Paines.  Thankfully only 6 hours to PN, but that does involve another border crossing. At least I am getting lots of stamps in my passport.  There is no bus station at PN, it seems a pretty remote place, and we disembark onto one of the main streets. A couple of people approach us selling us their hostels andwe go with this friendly looking woman who offered us a free taxi to her place which was a bit out of town. The Hostal Patagonia...it was more like a B&B,  has proper tea and coffee making facilities unlike many of the places we have stayed in and hurray we have a room to ourselves with a private bathroom – luxury.  I get my washing done and I dye my hair...after more than a month too many grey hairs were showing. I feel like a new woman!

Sunday 28th November

The woman who runs the hostal is so sweet. I think she runs it on her own and she is constantly going backwards and forwards trying to pick up custom at the bus stop, it must be a hard way of life. The tourist season is relatively short, as it is pretty cold in the day and especially in the evenings, even in spring, so I can only imagine how freezing it must be in the winter...when it would just be too cold for tourists. I could never live in such a remote place as this. But the people are friendly.  So unsurprisingly the weather is not good, it is wet and drizzly. Thankfully we booked a bus tour rather than a trek, otherwise we would have got drenched.  We spend all day driving around the Torres which is pretty massive. We were lucky and managed about an hour of sunshine as we passed by the Blue Lagoon (the Blue Massif) and Lago Norden Skjold; both were stunning - showing off incredible shades of colour. We visit some waterfalls including the thundering and windy Salto Grande. It is so windy there they actually have signs warning you to be careful.  And it was easy to see why, it was hard trying to walk and not get blown over with the strength of the wind.  We saw lots of native wildlife such as nandu (small ostriches) and guanacos (relatives of llamas) plus lots of condors. And we also saw large icebergs at Lago Gres. The weather is getting worse by this point – it really is getting quite grey and grim. Unfortunately because of this and the low lying cloud we don’t get to glimpse the famous Mirador Los Torres.

Monday 29th November

Spent most of the day on a bus as we make our way back to Argentina, and the southernmost city in the world – Ushuaia.  A short ride from PN and we swap buses in the middle of the highway, we then take the 20 mins ferry crossing across the famous Magallanes Straits and head through the Tierra del Fuego (land of fire and hotly dispute territory between Chile and Argentina) to the border crossing. Only takes an hour and we don’t have to unload our luggage.  We then change at Rio Grande which is around 3 to 4 hours from our destination. This time we change onto a mini bus - to travel along a pretty bump, dusty road we arrive around 8pm.  I had booked a dorm in the Hostal Patagonia. A bit out of town, no-way we could have walked up the hill with our backpacks. We are sharing a dorm with 3 other guys.  Had an early night as tired from the bus rides, and begining to actually forget what country I am in....Argentina I think!

Tuesday 30th November

Ushuaia is the last major inhabited city in the world before Antarctica. It is 1,000 km away and about $3,000 for a 10 day trip.  Today we are booked on a short boat ride around the Beagle Channel. This is everything I would have expected from the Bariloche boat ride and half the price. The catamaran was comfortable, they had English speaking guides, there was complimentary tea and coffee and we got a certificate to say we had sailed on the Beagle Channel (Canal Beagle).  We only did the 2.5 hr trip for 155 pesos as we were so bored on the Bariloche boat tour, but we wish we had taken the longer one now.  We see hundreds of giant cormorants and dozens of seals; we also pass by the southernmost lighthouse in the world!

We book our next bus ticket ride. I need to be in Buenos Aires at the very latest by Sunday morning to catch my plane to La Paz...as distances are so vast in Argentina I really need to leave Ushuaia tomorrow to give me at least a day in Puerto Madryn our next destination to see Penguins...The first travel agent we visit says its bus is fully booked. This was my biggest worry of all coming this far south, that I would get stranded and not have enough time to get back to BA, let alone Peru to get my flight home. Once you get to the 'end of the world’ things slow down a tad, buses are not so frequent.

I panic a bit but Katharina reassures me it will be ok and we try another bus company. And success they have space but it’s not cheap.  It will cost us 573 peso which is over 100 and will take us 24 hours.  We will get there on Thursday, so that’s all that matters, but I am seriously running out of time. Another week would have been ideal and meant the last few days were not so rushed.  But I am still a little shocked that I actually made it this far down at all. I mean only a few weeks ago the most I could have hoped for was to get to Buenos Aires, instead I have visited Chile and transversed the whole of Patagonia. So yes I haven’t made it to Iguazu Falls, but I can do that another time, not sure I’ll ever make it to this part of the world again.

Wednesday 1st December

We get up at 4am, bus leaves around 5ish. We take one bus to Rio Grande and then change. It is particularly windy today, and for some reason we have to queue up outside to show some officials our passport. Not impressed. We then change onto a much nicer bus before we headed back through Tierra del Fuego and 4 border crossings.  Argentina – Chile (exit and entry)  and then Chile – Argentina (exit and entry)...So in the matter of a couple of hours we had 4 extra exit and entry stamps in our passports in  what I can only see is a puerile exercise between two neighbours who obviously hate each other.  Another  ferry crossing across the Magallanes Straits and what we thought would be our final bus change at Rio Gallagos for the last leg of our journey, but no, one more transfer at Trewlee just an hour or so from Puerto Madryn.  In the end we arrive at PM on Thursday afternoon 4 buses, 1 ferry, 2 border crossings, 4 passport checks and 30 hours later - I am beginning to lose the will to live!
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