Travelling in Patagonia by bus – a photoblog

Due to budget and a sense of adventure, for our month in Argentina, we travelled mostly by bus.  Plus, we heard that Argentinian buses were lush.  Forget the recycled school buses of Panama (November 23rd post) or the simple bus fare offered in Ecuador (December 17th post), Argentina knows how to get the masses around by the road in style.  And they do big time.  When we went to the bus station in Buenos Aires to plan and book some of the journeys, there were over 200 companies to choose from – some serious competition.  And competition is great for the consumer. . .

Firstly, there’s the super comfy seats, which come in three different price ranges:

  • Executive, fully reclining (180 degrees) – obviously the most expensive.
  • Cama, mostly reclining (150-160 degrees) – mid-range price
  • Semi-cama, decent reclining (130-140 degrees – still better than a flight) – cheapest option

The first two of the above are only 3 across the bus, so plenty of width as well, whereas semi-cama is the normal 4 across.  Because of the seat cosiness, night buses are the norm in Argentina.  Despite our hesitations due to Jen having problems sleeping on overnight flights and then being exhausted the next day, we were going to go try them out.  Particularly as it also combines travel and accommodation costs – score!

In addition to the comfy seats, the buses also provide meals on board.  Albeit it’s not the best food, but it’s on par with airline fare – dinner even comes with wine.  There’s also Wi-Fi (although usually spotty/sometimes not working) and a personal entertainment system, with plenty of movies to choose from.

And finally, there’s the landscapes that you pass.  And that’s what this blog is really all about. . .

Buenos Aires – Mendoza (15 hours, cama)

For our first journey, we were just amazed at the comfy-ness of it.  This was the only bus we booked in Buenos Aires – partly because it would be an experiment to see how we coped with a night journey.  But it passed the test – after watching a movie and having dinner, Jen got a good night’s sleep!  She even slept through the storm outside!  We were converted – buses it shall be!

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However, as it was a night bus, there wasn’t much of a view – we did get to see a wonderful sunset though. . .

Mendoza – Bariloche (18 hours, executive)

Ah!  The bus journey that originally inspired this post!  While it was the longest of all of them, much of it was overnight – when we didn’t photograph anything.  But then the journey continued for the whole morning and it was gorgeous!  GOR.GE.OUS!  Naturally, Jen went completely photo crazy.

This journey also inspired us to put “Argentinian road trip” on our list of future travel destinations – that way Jen won’t have to take shots from the top deck of a bus going 60 mph.  Most specifically, we would want to drive along Route 40, which is basically Argentina’s version of Route 66 (throughout our journey, we met a few motorcyclists doing this journey).  However, considering how many times we’d stop for photo ops, I think we’d need a much longer time for that drive.

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Oh, and one more thing about this bus trip – in the evening, just before dinner, we had a rousing game of bingo.  Sadly, we did not win.  The prize was a bottle of Malbec. . .

Bariloche – Perito Moreno (12 hours, cama)

This was our first journey that was solely during the day.  And it was the whole day – we left at 6:30 am and arrived at 6:30 pm.  While at first we were bummed that we would spend an entire day on a bus, we were able to book front row, top deck seats!  The scenery was amazing and in the front row, it was like watching an Imax panorama screen.  Granted, our neighbour didn’t appreciate it as much and often had all the curtains drawn on his side – boo!

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With the great seats, and the many hours to kill (particularly as she can’t read on moving vehicles), Jen started her own little project of documenting the journey via foot selfies.  We won’t bore you with all of them, but here’s a selection. . .

She took some normal shots as well. . .

Perito Moreno – El Chalten (10 hours, semi-cama)

This was the only bus that was entirely overnight.  The bus left at 9.30pm and arrived around 7:30am.  Thus, we slept for most of it.  And even when we were awake, it was pitch black and you couldn’t see a thing.

However, we did wake up about 30 minutes prior to pulling into El Chalten and got a few early morning light shots.

But then the clouds rolled in.   As you enter the town, you are supposed to get an amazing view of Mt. Fitzroy, which looks something like this (photo taken from the interwebs).

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It was raining when we arrived, so sadly we did not see the mountain, however we did get a lovely rainbow. . .

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PS – even though this was only a semi-cama, Jen was still able to sleep – yay!

PPS – we found the beginning of the rainbow. . .

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El Chalten – El Calafate (3 hours, semi-cama)

The shortest of the journeys, but what it lacked in time, it made up for in beauty.

As the crow flies, the two towns aren’t very far, yet because of glaciers and mountains in the way, the route to take is around Lago Viedma and Lago Argentino and both are gorgeous.

El Calafate – Ushuaia (ok, we cheated and flew, 1.5 hours)

For this part of the trip, we were travelling with Jen’s sister, Linda and her husband, Lando (together they are Lindo).  As they only had a little over a week to travel with us, they weren’t keen on spending a full day on a bus.  Thus, the flight.  It still had some good scenery though – at least flying out of Calafate (where the airport is right next to the lake.

We arrived in Ushuaia under dense cloud, which only cleared just before we landed.  Pity we couldn’t see more as it’s also supposed to be a beautiful all around, as it’s right on the Beagle Channel. . .

Ushuaia – Punta Arenas (12 hours, semi-cama)

This was our first bus across a border (we planned to do it from Brazil to Argentina in Iguacu, but ended up taking a shared taxi instead).  Thus, we had the required everyone off the bus on the Argentinian side, drive a few miles, then everyone off again on the Chilean side.  Oh and sniffer dogs to go through everything. . .

It was also the only time of taking a ferry – which was pretty cool as it was to get across the Magellan Strait.

The landscape was flat and standard for this journey (or at least the part where Jen was awake with camera ready.  However, there were a few frontiersy type structures. . .

And finally, we’ll end with a some other shots from day trips on the road within the towns. . .

Within Perito Moreno. . .

Within El Calafate. . .

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Within Ushuaia. . .

Within Punta Arenas. . .

2 thoughts on “Travelling in Patagonia by bus – a photoblog

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