Tag Archives: travel

Buenos Aires Airports

Buenos Aires Airports

There are two different airports in Buenos Aires, and often people need to travel between them to catch connecting flights. We’ve put together some information and advice on the two airports and how to move between them, as well as some ideas on things to do should you decide to spend a night or two in Buenos Aires.

1. The 2 Buenos Aires Airports

Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE), also known as Ezeiza is 30km to the south of the main part of town, and is mainly used for international flights.

Jorge Newberry (AEP) is just to the north, and only a 10-15 min taxi ride from the nicest parts of the city; and is mainly used for domestic flights.

2. Travelling Between Buenos Aires Airports

Moving between the two airports can take 1 to 2 hours depending on traffic, and as customs and baggage reclaim can take a while we’d normally allow at least 5 hours between arriving into one and departing the other.

More info on moving between the two here:  http://blog.swoop-patagonia.co.uk/getting-to-the-airport-in-buenos-aires-by-bus/

Buenos Aires Airports

3. Spending the Night in Buenos Aires

It often makes sense for people, on their way into Argentina to fly into EZE, spend the night in Buenos Aires, and then fly south from AEP; with a short and simple taxi to the airport the following morning. Here’s a link to our most recommended hotels in Buenos Aires: http://www.swoop-patagonia.co.uk/hotels-buenos-aires/

4. Things to do in Buenos Aires

For a few more thoughts and ideas about things to do in Buenos Aires you can also read Sally’s blog post: http://blog.swoop-patagonia.co.uk/things-buenos-aires/ . Equally, should you decide to stop-over in Santiago then Sally’s Santiago walking tour may also be of interest: http://blog.swoop-patagonia.co.uk/things-santiago/

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Patagonia on the Web – 23rd May

Patagonia is all over the internet with bloggers, adventurers  and social media addicts posting all about their experiences and sharing their photographs.
Each one providing more inspiration for a Patagonian adventure!

Here are our pick of photos and blogs from this week:

Swoop’s Top 3 Photographs:

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 12.52.24This week the discovery of the ‘Titanosaur’ was all over the news.
Discovered in La Flecha, this epic creature could have weighed up to 77 tons.
Read more about this amazing discovery.

BnwI6N9CcAATX6kCopyright Worldland Trust

@worldlandtrust posted this great picture of a hairy Armadillo.
This picture was taken in their partners reserve in Patagonia.
Find out more about the Worldland trust.

BoHcj8sIMAAYxxFCopyright Arcteryx

A great photograph from @Arcteryx of @alpineartist & Marc Andre Leclerc on their latest climb in Patagonia.

Blog of the week:

25 photos that will make you want to hike Torres del Paine.
torres-del-paine-hiking-580x434
Backpacker Steve has some brilliant tips ,videos and advice for independent travellers and has a number of blog posts dedicated to trekking in Patagonia.

If you want to experience the same kind of trip with the help of some experienced guides take a look at  Swoop’s trekking page. 

2400

Pacific Solo Row – Elsa Hammond Interview

Yesterday afternoon we were lucky enough to have Elsa Hammond visit us in the Swoop office, and inspire us with her extraordinary plans: Elsa will row solo and unsupported 2,400 miles from California to Hawaii.
We thought people would be interested to hear about her challenge that lies ahead, her environmental goals and the opportunity to recognise an inspirational woman in their own lives.

Elsa, you’ve done a lot of exciting things, and visited lots of places. What are the top 3 most inspiring places you’ve been to and why?

Wow – that’s a difficult one to start with! I’ve been to so many different places that inspire me for lots of different reasons. There are a lot of amazing places in this world, so I’ve decided to pick three that both inspired me when I visited them, and continue to haunt my thoughts long afterwards.

New Zealand
For sheer variety and a sense of freshness and excitement. I spent two months travelling both islands back in 2005, and it wasn’t nearly enough. I felt completely at home and constantly excited at the possibilities this modest-sized country holds. From skydiving to kayaking with dolphins, black water rafting to home-made hot tubs, this was somewhere I felt welcomed, challenged and soothed. Of all the places I’ve visited, this is perhaps the one I’d like to return to the most.

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Lake District, UK
This has always been a very special place for me, even though I only visited it for the first time half-way through my life-so-far. For me the whole feel of the place is caught up with stories and poems  that I love, and I find it difficult to separate it completely from these. There is a softness about the light and the shadows, the rain, the shapes of the great hills, and the feel of the water. It’s brilliant for camping, hiking, climbing, swimming, kayaking, and sailing – adventure right on our doorstep.

I was recently looking through some old photos of me as a child growing up in Italy, and noticed that I had a couple of postcards of the Lakes up on the wall. Seeing them in the photo, I remembered those postcards well: I used to look at them for hours, imagining the adventure that lay behind the pictures. The Lakes were alive for me through Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons stories long before I ever went there. My first visit was when I was fourteen. We spent three weeks camping on the shores of Coniston Water and miraculously we didn’t have a day of rain.

Maliau Basin, Borneo
None of the pictures I can find of this place really manage to convey the sense of wildness, greatness, age, peace, noise, growth, damp, movement and stillness. It is a huge wilderness of pristine primary rainforest, a self-contained ecosystem that has never been permanently inhabited by humans. Plants grow at astonishing speed, and the insects are huge. The sound of gibbons making their morning call across the valley is something that still stays with me. I love the way the whole jungle sounds alive with insects, birds, animal noises, branches, rivers and rain. When it rains, it really rains. Rustles in the canopy above mean monkeys swinging through the trees, and flash-floods can increase the height of the river by six feet overnight. It is one of the busiest places I’ve been in terms of constant life, but also one of the most peaceful. You are continually surrounded by wildlife, but hardly ever see it – it is all sounds, rustles, calls, and breaking twigs, with the perpetrator remaining constantly elusive.

Lyme Regis 2014
You’re about to embark on a solo row across the Pacific Ocean. What’s involved and what are you most looking forward to? 

This June I’ll be starting the longest and most difficult challenge of my life up to now – rowing alone and unsupported across the Pacific Ocean from Monterey Bay, CA to Hawaii. I will be at sea for around three months, and will row up to 16 hours a day to cross 2,400 miles of ocean. This will be a different kind of rowing from the sort of river rowing I did at university – the focus is on endurance, survival, and keeping going for hours, days and months on end. My boat is different too – 24 foot long, with two small covered cabins (one to sleep in and one for storage) and enough space to store 3-4 months’ worth of food. People ask me about the fact that it’s a long, long way, and whether this is daunting. It is a long way, and in a very foreign environment, but I think part of appeal is learning to accept and even embrace the difficult parts, and slowly learn to thrive somewhere that I will initially find incredibly difficult. I’m also really drawn to spending a long time completely on my own, taking the time to appreciate subtle changes in the world around me.

Beyond completing the row, what are your goals for this adventure?

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I’m mainly aiming to challenge myself and learn to live in a difficult environment. It would be nice to be the first solo woman ever to complete this race. More importantly, however, I will be using this row to raise awareness of plastic pollution and to celebrate inspiration women. I’m supporting two charities: The Plastic Oceans Foundation and The GREAT Initiative, and will be fundraising for them once I have covered my core costs. In terms of practical action, I’m turning into a citizen scientist for the row, collecting samples for a microplastics study throughout the adventure. I will also be speaking about the adventure and the issue of plastic pollution in schools on my return. Finally, I’m also hoping to see each mile of the row dedicated to an inspirational woman, whether that’s someone’s mum, someone famous, or even someone fictional. 2400 miles is 2400 inspirational women – see below for how you can choose a mile to dedicate.

What do you know about Patagonia and what’s it like in your opinion?

I actually know very little about Patagonia, although I’ve always felt drawn to it. It sounds wild to me, bursting with nature, mountains, contrast and extremes, and on the edge of the great Pacific Ocean. One day I’d love to go there – perhaps on a bicycle and definitely with enough time to explore properly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA What do you enjoy doing the most apart from rowing? Ever tried hiking on a glacier or climbed a mountain?

So many different things, it’s difficult to think of them all! I’ve been lucky enough to hike on glaciers both in Norway and New Zealand, although never for long periods of time. I’ve also been up some fantastic mountains. I’m a real amateur in terms of mountain climbing knowledge and skills, but I’ve had some fantastic experiences, from climbing Mount Kinabalu (the highest mountain in Southeast Asia) to spending three days stuck up the Black Cuillin Ridge in Skye during a storm. I think my favourite mountain has to be Tryfan, in Wales – I was twelve on my first ascent, and have summited it about five times in all. Actually, thinking about it, I must be due another visit soon…

There are so many things I like to do – I don’t imagine I’ll ever be a specialist in one area. I love variety and trying new things. I’ve enjoyed adventures short and long on foot, by bicycle, swimming, up mountains, by unicycle, sailing, climbing and hitching.

Although I love the physical challenge and the freedom of undertaking an adventure under my own power, I also really do enjoy hitching. The sense of freedom is different but still very much there. The journey is an adventure, as you never know how long it will take, what route you will follow, who you will meet, when the next lift will come along. If you’re feeling at all cynical, hitching is a sure-fire way to reignite your faith in people’s kindness and generosity. Don’t be limited by cars, either – the longest lift I’ve had lasted a week and crossed an ocean!

So once you have finished rowing the Pacific, what’s next?

That is a continually tempting question at the back of my head, but also one I’m trying not to think about too much…at least, not until I’ve actually begun this one! I know how easy it is to get carried away with maps and lists and ideas, and I need to keep the focus at the moment, as it is mere weeks before I row into a huge ocean completely alone.

Ideas that have crossed my mind include some long-distance cycling, more hitching, kayaking, or maybe even a combination. I’ve always been drawn to the frozen wastes of the Arctic or Antarctic as well, but am determined that at least the next adventure will cost less than this one, so I might have to put snow and ice on hold for a while!

We understand it’s a solo endeavour, but is there any way we can get involved?

Yes! Go to www.2400women.com and dedicate a mile of the row to a woman who has inspired you! Her name will be on the website and will be written on the boat, and she will also receive a certificate of dedication. An ideal gift, with a twist of adventure.

Let all your friends know about the opportunity to dedicate a mile, and follow the adventure on Facebook, Twitter, and my blog.

For more information you can watch My TEDx talk about the row.

If you’re a business and reading this, please contact me on row@elsahammond.com to discuss sponsorship opportunities.

Black Cuillin, Skye (before the storm) 2011

Inma’s Guided W Trek in Torres del Paine

Inma recently returned from a guided W Trek in Torres del Paine, and here she tells us about her trip and provides some helpful advice for future visitors…

 How was your trip?

Overall I had a great time in Patagonia, met very nice people, had fun with my trekking mates, and the operator looked after us very well. Please note that any critical comment I might make is more to do with personal preferences/expectations than with the quality of the services.

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of the Torres del Paine portion of my trip was probably seeing the Torres during my W Trek.

Outside of Torres del Paine, the highlight was undoubtedly the ascent of Volcán Osorno in Los Lagos…very thrilling! 

Did you manage to visit anywhere else in Chile or Argentina on your trip?

Yes, I travelled in Chile for a few weeks, visiting Santiago, Los Lagos, Chiloé, Coquimbo and Vina/Valparaíso in addition to Patagonia.

How well did Swoop Patagonia do helping you plan your holiday, and finding the best trip or operator for you?

I found Swoop Patagonia very responsive when resolving the queries/doubts I had. Both Chloe and Luke were friendly and approachable, so it’s always nice to deal with people like that.

I found the little gift you sent me (a Swoop Buff) and card a nice personal touch. Unfortunately, I used the Buff on the day of the trek it was raining (going up the Valle del Francés :-(), so unfortunately I have no photos wearing it to share.

In terms of the holiday planning, I found that there was not much to organise as I had queried for a specific trip on particular dates so I was introduced straightaway to the operators of the trip in Torres del Paine.

How was the operator in Torres del Paine, and how were their guides on the trip?

They were friendly and responsive. The trip pre-arrangements were straightforward, apart from the payment process, which took a few attempts due to problems with their secure online payment link. But I suppose this is understandable when one tries a new system, as it was the case.

Payment

One thing I didn’t like about the payment process was that they pass on to the customer the charges that their bank applies to them. I would rather if they had included an allowance in their original price to cover those charges.

Cost

Talking to local people and from my own research online it appears that this particular operator were a bit more expensive than other operators, but obviously not having the experience with their competitors I’m not in a position to say if that apparent higher price is due to a higher quality service.

Guides

Our guide was correct and professional, although I would have expected him to manage the group mixed abilities a bit better. I also felt that with a good guide book I could have learnt more about the local flora.

Was there anything that you wish had happened differently or not happened at all?

I would have liked that the ferry on Lake Grey hadn’t been cancelled due to technical problems, but obviously this was outside everyone’s control. 

As the day walks were easy and straightforward I would have liked to have had more time observing and learning about the local flora.

Do you have any tips for other people who are planning a trip?

Flights

One thing I would suggest is to try to buy internal flights through a Chilean travel agency. I found that buying internal flights within Chile is significantly cheaper than buying them from the UK. This was confirmed when a UK Flight company quoted a flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas (with Sky Airlines) for £350, while I found a flight for the same dates (with LAN) through a local travel agency for £217 (and this included the additional charges of making an international transfer). It would be worth looking this to offer your clients better value.

Guided versus Self Guided

In retrospect, I personally don’t see the value of having a guide for the W Trek, as it is very clear and even in adverse weather conditions it is very easy to follow. Even if one is into flora and fauna, a good guide book would provide good information and would allow you to learn more by doing your own research rather than having someone telling you names. 

Obviously this is a question of preferences and some people want a hassle-free holiday where one booking gives them everything organised. In my case this was my first guided holiday and personally didn’t feel as involved in the planning and the experience. If one wants a bit more involvement and freedom, but still doesn’t want to go through the hassle of multiple refuge booking, I would definitely recommend a self-guided trek of the W (the operator Swoop put me in contact with offers a self guided version) as a better value (and maybe more “authentic”) option.

Xtine Hsieh 3

Swoop Patagonia News 13th December 2013

Welcome back

Xtine Hsieh 3

We’ve had dozens of customers return from Torres del Paine in the last few weeks, and many of them have shared their photos, experiences and tips for other travellers.

Ray hiked the W Trek.
Ainsley followed his trek with a 2 day kayak trip.
Thomas trekked in Torres del Paine in Winter 
Read more customer reviews of Patagonia.

Christmas escapes.

If you’re wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the Christmas period check out our last minute trips still running throughout December and January:

Torres del Paine Q&A

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We had our second Google On Air Hangout yesterday where Luke and Kerri discussed the most common questions people have about Torres del Paine.

Our next hangout will be on the 8th January so get thinking about some questions to ask!

Watch the Torres del Paine hangout here

Or you can join our Discovering Patagonia community to chat with fellow travelers and share tips and advice.

Reciprocity fee for entering Argentina (USA, Canada, Australia)

This one definitely falls into the boring-but-important category, and if you are a UK passport holder then you’re lucky enough to not need to read this.

If however you hold a US, Canadian or Australian passport then please get yourself a strong coffee and read on…

First and foremost this is a payment that MUST be made PRIOR to arriving in Argentina.

The lack of such proof of payment will generate the denial of entry of the passenger and consequent returning to their departure city by the airline. We strongly urge passengers to take the necessary precautions so that those passengers who travel to the mentioned airports with a scheduled arrival starting on November 1st, 2012 (Jorge Newbery) and December 29th, 2012 (Ezeiza) have the electronic receipt with them.

The National Immigration Agency has changed the method by which tourists and business visitors from the US, Canada, and Australia will be required to pay in order to gain visa entry to Argentina. The reciprocity fee will shortly no longer be payable at the airport upon arrival. Instead the payment must be carried out online, prior to arrival, using the credit card based Provincia Payment System.

How do I make payment?

1. Sign up here https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes/Registro.aspx. You’ll need your passport number. You’ll also be asked to create a password which you’ll need for….

2. Go to bottom left of this page to login: https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes/. This is where you’ll enter your credit card details and make payment.

3. Print the payment receipt, and present it to Immigration Control on arrival in Argentina

When does this take effect?

The system will be effective as of 31st October 2012 for flights to Aeroparque and 28th December 2012 for Ezeiza International Airport. A press release clearly states that “after these dates cash payments will not be accepted at the airport”.
The change in payment method follows a decision to increase the fee for US citizens from US$140 to US$160, which came into effect in April of this year.

 What if I’m entering Argentina by land or sea?

This fee is ONLY payable for international air arrival at the two Buenos Aires airports (Aeroparque and Ezeiza)for Canadians , Australians and Americans. It does NOT apply for international arrival by air at any other airport (such as Mendoza, Cordoba or Salta), and NOT to arrival by land, road or sea. Also it does not apply to any other nationalities.

How much is the feee?

Australians: get multiple entries for their $US 100 fee, but it only lasts one year from the first entry after payment, after which you need to pay again.

Canadians: get a single entry for their $US 75 fee.

Americans: get multiple entries for 10 years (transferable to a new passport if you show your old one) for their $US 160.

Ezeiza Airport

Getting to the airport in Buenos Aires by bus

There are two airports in Buenos Aires and it can sometimes be a bit confusing to figure out which one you need to go to.

The international airport is called Ministro Pistarini or Ezeiza for short given that it is located 14 miles from the centre of Buenos Aires in an area called Ezeiza Partido. British Airways flies to and from Ezeiza, so if you’re coming to or from London, this is where you’ll be.

For those flying on to Patagonia, you need to head towards the smaller internal airport, Jorge Newberry in the very nice Palermo district of Buenos Aires, about 1.2  miles from the centre.

If you’re doing all this in one day, Aerolineas Argentinas are now offering a free bus service to get you from one to the other.

This is valid for all passengers travelling with the airline internationally, regionally or with a domestic connection. Manuel Tienda Leon is the bus company chosen to provide this service and the conditions are as follows:

  • Transfer is valid for those passengers travelling with Aerolineas and on a same day connecting flight.
  • Buses run every hour and are free of charge.
  • Check in time at Ezeia is 2.5hours before departure whereas check in time at AEP is 1.5 hours before departure, the bus will get you there on time for this.

Find more travel tips and hints on our page Patagonia Guide: Getting there.

Books and films About Patagonia

So the trip’s all booked, you’re fantasising about the new trekking gear you should (or maybe could) get, and you’re hungry to find out more about Patagonia.

Here are a few recommendations that we think will inform and inspire you before your big trip, you may also be interested to read our Patagonia Guide.

Books

1. In Patagonia, Bruce Chatwin

Chatwin’s collection of stories about his journeys through Patagonia, written in 1977, is a literary classic. Whilst it’s not exactly an easy going travel journal with a clear view of places to visit and things to do, it does provides some wonderful stories about the characters that he met and their own history in the region. http://tinyurl.com/6w2ec6k

2. Patagonia – a Cultural History, Chris Moss

Chris Moss has lived in Argentina for years and provides an insightful view of Patagonia’s history right from the start. You’ll get a sense of Patagonia’s influence on everyone from its indigenous people to 19th century explorers, the Welsh pioneers and even Butch Cassidy. http://tinyurl.com/7dtzc76

3. Mischief in Patagonia, Bill Tilman

This is out of print, but you should be able to find a copy and I’d recommend it wholheartedly. Tilman sailed from Britain, through the Magellan Straits, and up the Pacific Coast. He then embarked on an expedition across the Patagonian Ice Cap east to west. A wonderfully understated account of what must have been a truly extraordinary journey. http://tinyurl.com/7p4yxqt

4. Trekking in the Patagonian Andes

For a more practical guide to hiking in the region this is an excellent refernce and, in fact, I still have my 1998 edition on the bookshelf from my first visit. http://tinyurl.com/7383yhl

Films & Videos

1. In Patagonia (2010)

In Patagonia charts the journeys of an elderly Argentine lady exploring her roots in Wales, and a Welsh couple visiting Patagonia . It is filmed mainly in northern Patagonia around the Chubut Valley with some beautiful shots of the steppe, and in Wales. It received mixed reviews, but the shots of northern Patagonia are stunning and we certainly enjoyed it. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1020559/. More about the Patagonia film on the Swoop blog. One of our partners runs a trip to all the top locations in the film – a great way to see the area.

2. Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race 2011: The Last Wild Race

The 10 day race may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this is a good one to enjoy from your armchair. The race is run in Southern  Chilean Patagonia every year, through both iconic national parks and areas that are very rarely seen. You’ll be wowed by the landscapes as much as by the endeavours of the participants of the race.
http://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/wenger-patagonian-expedition/id498965561

3. A story for tomorrow, Gnarly Bay Productions

We only came across this beautiful short video of Chile and Patagonia today, but Charlotte and I were both mesmerised. http://vimeo.com/36519586

 

Of course, this is just a selection. Please do add your own suggestions and comments below.

Tipping guides in Patagonia

We are often asked the question: how much should I tip my guide if they’ve done a great job?

Rough rules of thumb might be:

  • If it’s a group of 1 or 2 people then maybe $10-$20 per day
  • For larger groups a tip of $3 to $5 per day might be appropriate

Obviously it’s always at your discretion, but there are some great guides out there who are passionate, knowledgeable and really go the extra mile to make your trip as good as it possibly can be, and it’s nice to reward them.

If you have a different view then please let us know in the comments…

Getting to Torres del Paine in Patagonia

The Quick Answers

How long does it take to get to Torres del Paine? - 2 hours from Puerto Natales, 5 hours from Punta Arenas, 7 hours from Calafate, and 10 hours from El Chalten. From Puerto Montt I’d recommend taking an internal flight which takes about 3 hours.

Is there a bus? - yes, buses are the main form of transport. For more advice about buses, car rentals, boats and flights in Patagonia see our low-down here

What if I don’t speak Spanish? - If you don’t speak Spanish it’s advisable to get your tour operator to book the buses for you. This saves any chance of confusion and is quicker and easier as the operator prints off the vouchers and emails them to you before your trip.

What if I don’t have much time? – If you don’t have much time, it is definitely worth thinking about taking a transfer via car from place to place. Tour operators usually arrange this as part of their itinerary and the cost of a private transfer is normally included in the price. Taking a private transfer rather than a bus can save you hours of waiting around in bus stations and is also a lot more comfortable, you can have a snooze after a long hike and be delivered to your hotel at the other end.

Is there a plane? - There are regular flights from Santiago to Punta Arenas and from Buenos Aires to Calafate, from which you can take a bus to the park. There are irregular flights to Puerto Natales’ tiny airport, see Sky Airline’s website for details. You can’t fly from Calafate to Punta Arenas.

How much does it cost? - The bus costs between £6 and £10 for most journeys each way.

>> Also see our guide to getting to Torres del Paine on the Swoop Patagonia website.

I’ve been reading lots of forum posts in the Torres del Paine forum on Tripadvisor and many of them have a similar theme – how do I get to Torres del Paine? Information about getting to Torres del Paine is for some reason scarce and patchy on the internet so I hope that this blog post gives you a clear idea of how to get there, regardless of where you may be coming from.

I’ll start from the beginning, before you even step on the plane to Patagonia. You need to decide which order you’re going to do your trip in and which places you’re going to visit first, as this will depend on whether you fly to Chile or Argentina.

Firstly, there are numerous airlines that fly to this part of the world from the UK including TAM (Brazilian carrier), America Airlines, Delta and LAN Airlines, but I would recommend LAN Airlines from the UK. For people travelling from the UK, Patagonia isn’t as far away as you may think. Flights depart from London Heathrow and usually travel via Madrid, Spain, (or even New York, US or Lima, Peru) to either Santaigo or Buenos Aires.

London –> Santaigo, for Patagonian Chile (Journey time: 17 – 28 hours)

London –> Buenos Aires, for Patagonian Argentina (Journey time: 21 – 28 hours)

It usually takes about 17 hours or up to 35 hours (max) to arrive right in the heart of Patagonia. Once you’re here, the time difference is only 3 or 4 hours (which may vary slightly depending on day light saving), so planning time to recover from jet lag isn’t necessary.

It’s best to get your flights booked as soon as possible, and you may get return flights for approx £800 if you book in advance. If you’re going to Torres del Paine in November for example, get your flights booked in August as the later you leave it the more expensive they get and you could end up paying as much as £1500 for flights in December. For more information about internal flight prices, please read our article about flights to Patagonia.

From El Chalten

From Buenos Aires if you go to visit El Chalten and trek in Los Glaciares National Park, you are roughly a 10 hour bus journey from Torres del Paine National Park itself.

The bus from El Chalten to Calafate departs at peak season from 15th April to 15th October at 18:00pm. From 15th October – 15th December at 07:30am & 18:00pm. From 15th December – 28th February at 07:30am, 13:00pm and 18:00pm

The trip takes between 3 and 4 hours and costs $5 Argentinian pesos each way. We have some great trips that start in Chalten, some visit the the Perito Moreno glacier and trek to the base of Mount Fitz Roy before proceeding on to Torres del Paine National Park:

Patagonia Link

Pura Patagonia Winter Trip

W Circuit and Fitz Roy Adventure

Patagonian Wilderness

From Calafate 

Take the bus from Calafate to Puerto Natales (the nearest town to Torres del Paine). This bus journey takes approximately 5 hours and luckily, you can sit back and relax with: Turismo Zaahj, in August to October they depart every Tue, Thur & Sat at 8:00am and in November every Mon, Wed and Fri at 16:30pm as well.

After arriving in Puerto Natales it’s recommendable to have a good nights sleep in one of the town’s luxurious hotels, Hotel & Spa Indigo or a more simple hostel such as Hostal Amerindia, really whichever your budget allows.

The next day, take a private transfer into the park with Turismo Zaahj, a slightly bumpy journey that lasts about 2 hours. A private transfer for two people isn’t cheap, costing US$ 520 or approx £314 for a trip in November 2011.

Or, catch the public bus with Turismo Zaahj, this takes about 2.5 hours into the park and stops off at Cerro Castillo on the way to pick up other travellers.

From Punta Arenas

If, like many people you fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas (a distance of nearly 2000 miles), you can choose either to stay the night in Punta Arenas before heading off to Puerto Natales the next day (we recommend Hotel Carpa Manzana, a pretty standard hotel but you get a good nights sleep, it’s reasonably priced and in the centre of town). Or you can land at Punta Arenas airport, and get the bus straight to Puerto Natales (depending on what time you land).

  • From Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales go with Buses Fernandez. The journey takes 3 hours and tickets cost approx 4000 Chilean pesos each way (approx £6). The bus leaves from 745 Armando Sanhueza in town each day throughout the year at 08:00, 09:00, 13:00, 14:30, 17:00,18:30, 19:00 and 20:00.
  • From Punta Arenas airport we recommend Buses Pacheco, as they can pick you up from the airport. They run everyday at 08.00 – 11.00 – 15.00 – 18.00 – 19.30 leaving from 900 Avenida Colon in Punta Arenas. Please enquire to find out when they leave from the airport.

Buses Pacheco also run a service which takes you straight from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine National Park. This is a daily service and leaves Punta Arenas at 07:30 & 14:30 and returns to Punta Arenas from the Park Administration at 13:00 & 18:15. Bear in mind that this journey takes roughly 5-6 hours to complete.

If time is tight and you’re not willing to dust off your Spanish to book your space on a bus, we’d definitely recommend asking your tour operator to do it for you.

However, the following trips start in Punta Arenas and include the bus journey to Puerto Natales and into the park, essentially the hassle-free version!

Torres del Paine 5-day

W Multi-sport Adventure

Amazing Paine (W Circuit)

 

From Puerto Natales

If you are already in Puerto Natales and now just want to get into the park, you can take a private transfer (more comfortable and doesn’t stop in Cerro Castillo like some buses do) or you can take a bus. The journey from Puerto Natales takes about 2-2.5 hours and is primarily along a half-built road which the Chilean government ceased funding, so the journey is a bit bumpy (beware if you get travel sickness). However, you get a stunning view of the park on your way in.

Buses Pacheco runs the following itineraries:

  • Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine at 7:00am arrives at Laguna Armarga 09:15, Puedto at 10:15, Park administration at 11:15.
  • Return Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales at 13:00 from Administration, 13:30 from Pudeto, 15:00 from Laguna Armarga
  • Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine at 15:00 arrives at Laguna Armarga at 17:00, Pudeto at 18:00, Administration at 18:30
  • Return Torres del Paine – Puerto Natales leaves from Administration at 18:15, Pudeto at 19:00, Laguna Armarga at 19:45.

Note that Puerto Natales has a small airport about 4.5 miles from the centre called Teniente Julio Gallardo. In peak season Sky Airline flies here from Santiago twice-weekly.

We work with a whole host of trips operators whose trips start in Puerto Natales and include the journey to the park in their trip prices:

Torres del Paine Circuit Trek

Fast Track W Circuit

The Original Torres del Paine W Trek

W Circuit 7 days

From Ushuaia

An exciting way of getting from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas is by ferry. It takes 4 days to complete the crossing and on the way you see Cape Horn, Piloto and Nena glaciers, Magdelana Island to see penguins. Although this is quite a costly boat trip, you could save money by doing the self-guided circuit in Torres del Paine instead of paying for a guide. This would mean you get to do both and the boat trip would be a fantastic beginning to your holiday or a reward for your hiking.

Once the ferry lands in Punta Arenas, you simply take the bus straight to Torres del Paine or Puerto Natales with Buses Pacheco as above.

As you’ll see from the table of distances below, Patagonia is a vast place and the distances from town to town are great. This means that you could spend days wasting time on a bus getting from Buenos Aires to Calafate for example, and for this reason we don’t always recommend catching the bus.

A Map of distances between towns in Chile and Argentina and Torres del Paine

This is a screenshot of a Google map we prepared earlier..

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