Traveling south - recommendations?

EliA

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I am considering my options for trips south of BsAs. I know I want to go to Puerto Madryn, which is close enough to Bariloche that I could do them both in one trip, but other than that I'm concerned about cost. Does anyone have burning recommendations for why I absolutely MUST see El Calafate and/or Ushuaia? And, if so, are there package deals that include flights (or busses, though those would be some looong bus rides) between BsAs and any or all of these four cities?

Finally, I'd love bus company recommendations, since I will be bussing to Iguazú and most likely to Puerto Madryn as well. And, any other recommendations about these places (where to stay and what to do) would be very welcome, keeping in mind budget is the most important factor at this point.

Thanks in advance for your help!
 

leanuk

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Hi Elia,

I am Argentine and I have been to all those places. All of them are very beautiful and the decision on which ones to visit will depend on your personal choices. I do think you must absolutely do Bariloche because it is beautiful and you have lots of places to go around. El Calafate's main attraction is the Glacier but the city itself is small, although it has grown in size and options in recent years. So if you really want to see a Glacier you should go there but other than that...Ushuaia is interesting because of the landscape, the bay and the fact of being in the tip of the continent. So both El Calafate and Ushuaia have something to offer but I would not put them as a priority over Bariloche and Madryn.

Yes, you can do buses from Madryn to El Calafate and Ushuaia but it will take for ever. If you decide to go to El Calafate and Bariloche I would recommend you arrange a package leaving either from Bariloche or from Buenos Aires.

For the buses I would recommend you look at plataforma10.com where you have a lot of bus choices and prices.
 

Elizabeth

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I had an amazing experience in Bariloche. I only had a few days but I flew from BA and stayed one night at a budget hotel named the Hotel San Carlos V.

http://www.hotelclub.net/hotel.reservations/Carlos_V_Hotel_San_Carlos_Bariloche.htm

Then I hiked for three days on a private guided hike hosted by Sensa Limiti Adventures.

www.slimiti.com - ask for Luciano, he owns the company...I hiked with him and his friend Chino. They are awesome guides, very sweet, helpful, brought all of our food and were just all about making me happy. Which was exactly what I needed in that moment.

And, then after a long, hard hike...I rested for a night at the Panamericano Hotel, had a nice massage, took advantage of their pool and jacuzzi because I was completely exhausted from the hike.

It was an amazing trip.

http://www.panamericanobariloche.com/

If you take any of my advice, please write me about it...as I'm trying to write a blog about travel so that I can keep doing it all over the world with my fiance!

Suerte,
Elizabeth
 

elhombresinnombre

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EliA said:
I am considering my options for trips south of BsAs. I know I want to go to Puerto Madryn, which is close enough to Bariloche that I could do them both in one trip, but other than that I'm concerned about cost. Does anyone have burning recommendations for why I absolutely MUST see El Calafate and/or Ushuaia? And, if so, are there package deals that include flights (or busses, though those would be some looong bus rides) between BsAs and any or all of these four cities?
Patagonia is huge. Chubut province, which includes Puerto Madryn, is larger than the entire United Kingdom and it isn't the largest Patagonian province either. There's so much marvellous stuff to see and do but it is so spread out that, unless you have plenty of time available, I'd recommend that you pick just one region for this trip and promise yourself that you will come back again later to do justice to the others.
EliA said:
Finally, I'd love bus company recommendations, since I will be bussing to Iguazú and most likely to Puerto Madryn as well.
My personal choice would be Andesmar. They are not the cheapest but I think they are good. I've experienced over 100,000 kilometres of South American bus travel and have plenty of scary bus stories - including ones with Andesmar. But the crew were never the cause of the problem in any of the Andesmar situations and moreover they handled the problems calmly and professionally. I like that in a bus crew :)
 

syngirl

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You want to know why you absoutely must see Calafate? Because in about 10 years time none of that will exist! Glaciers are receding all over the world and there's very few places where you can experience them so easily. Don't miss Calafate, it is an experience to remember. Be sure to take the 3 glaciers boat tour as well, which takes you up to the enormous glaciers north of Perito Moreno -- you go past icebergs etc, any time the ice falls there are minitsunamis etc. You can also get crampons and do guided walks on top of the icefields, there's a tonne of activities. I also went to El Chalten for a few days of hiking.

Bariloche is beautiful but it does feel like Tahoe or the Okanagan. If you're from the Northwest, this is something you can probably skip it if you're short on days. If you do go though, try and book the daytrips ahead of time -- they take you out into the fjords and they are very popular so sign up as soon as you can. There's a great bike route along the lake, which you can also pretty much do by bus. There's decent rafting as well.

Puerto Madryn, just check the season, if you're there past the season not a tonne to see.

Andesmar is good service, spring for first class if you've got the cash and you'll get a nice big lounge chair like in first class on an airplane. 18 hours to Bariloche.

Calafate, you need to fly to pretty much. There is a once or twice weekly service that does the Ruta 40 from Bariloche down there, although it's pretty expensive and they take their time -- you stay at estancias along the way so i'm sure it's a great experience, but if you're short on time, take a flight Bariloche - Calafate.

3 years ago I got a flight BA - Bariloche - Calafate - BA for US$300... I wonder what that costs now!! Probably at least twice that, not sure. If you fly to Argentina on LAN perhaps they have a package, although I don't think LAN does the Calafate route, but they do go to to either Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales, can't remember which one it is that is access to the Torres del Pan national park.

This is another trip option, you could go to Calafate and then Torres del Pan, and then there is a boat that takes you from Puerto Natales through the islands, and stops in Puerto Montt. I have not done this trip -- some people say it's spectacular, but others sy if the weather shuts in, then you're basically stuck with not much to do. Puerto Montt leaves you basically directly across from Bariloche, and then I think the bus can connect you back, and then a boat from the Chilean side to the Bariloche side of the lake. You'd have to do a bit of research, but this might be a nice alternative to doing the loop and getting to see both places. And then bus from Bariloche back to BA... if you're into a backpacking style of trip, this could be a great experience and you'd meet a tonne of travellers along the way.

Have fun!

One other note: I went to Calafate in the middle of summer -- on the boat I still needed a fleece, ski jacket, toque, and gloves -- the wind seems to run through direct from the Antartic -- when you're not moving it's about 20 degres celsius, but the wind is biting.
 

syngirl

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btw -- if you want some recommends for hostels etc I can look up the places I stayed at when I did my trip -- the prices will have changed I'm sure, but dorm rooms in bariloche and clafate were very cheap -- and in calafate you often ended up with the room to yourself at dorm rate.
 

soulskier

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Syngirl, I lived in Tahoe 18 years before moving to Bariloche. We think Bariloche is like Tahoe on steriods, especially out to the west around Llao Llao, where we live.
 

EliA

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Wow, thanks for all the tips! Definitely a lot to think about... I'm not exactly a 'three day hike' kind of girl, but I do feel convinced that I should check out El Calafate. Would November be considered part of 'the season' in Puerto Madryn? I confess I mostly want to see penguins, and I hear there are whales until December. Also, does anyone know the best place to look for a package deal that could include multiple flight destinations in the south? Web sites, travel agencies, etc?

Also, this may be a weird question, but on the bus ride to Iguazú, which part of the trip is prettier, the first or second half? I have to decide if I want to leave in the morning or at night, which will affect which landscapes I get to see.

Thanks again for all your help!
 

elhombresinnombre

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EliA said:
...Also, this may be a weird question, but on the bus ride to Iguazú, which part of the trip is prettier, the first or second half? I have to decide if I want to leave in the morning or at night, which will affect which landscapes I get to see.
From BsAs? I prefer the part of the journey that goes through Misiones though YMMV. From elsewhere in Argentina? It depends. In any case, I'm a believer in arriving at a new destination in daylight when possible - not just because it may or may not be safer but because it usually makes things easier that way.
 
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