GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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Air Travel. Flying is the best way to reach Patagonia from Buenos Aires—flights from other parts of the country also go through here. The most popular route is between Aeroparque Jorge Newberry in Palermo, a short cab ride from downtown, and Trelew's tiny airport, which is the gateway to Atlantic Patagonia.
Aerolíneas Argentinas (www.aerolineas.com.ar) flies (along with its subsidiary Austral) several times daily between Buenos Aires and Trelew, Comodoro Rivadavia, or El Calafate and once or twice a day between Trelew and El Calafate and Ushuaia. LADE (Líneas Aéreas del Estado www.lade.com.ar) connects Trelew and Comodoro Rivadavia to other parts of Patagonia, including Bariloche, El Calafate, and Ushuaia. Andes Líneas Aéreas (www.andesonline.com) has direct flights between Buenos Aires and Puerto Madryn three times per week.
Although Aerolíneas Argentinas offers cheaper tickets to Argentineans than to visitors, tickets with LADE are at one flat price regardless of nationality.
Bus Travel. Comfortable overnight sleeper buses connect Patagonia to Buenos Aires (and other major cities). However, as getting to even the closest city in Atlantic Patagonia, Puerto Madryn, takes 20 hours, most travelers feel it's worth the price to fly both to and within Patagonia. All the same, buses are a major form of transportation between destinations up to about 600 km (370 mi) apart. Don Otto (www.donotto.com.ar) is the most reliable carrier.
Car Travel. If you truly enjoy the call of the open road, there are few places that can rival the vast emptiness and jaw-dropping beauty of Patagonia. Be prepared for miles and miles of semi-desert steppes with no gas stations, towns, or even restrooms. Always carry plenty of water, snacks, a jack and tire-changing tools, with at least one spare. Take extra care when driving on ripio (gravel roads): it's easy to flip small cars at speeds over 80 kmh (55 mph). One way to prevent your windshield from being cracked by errant stones is to press your hand to it when passing oncoming vehicles. Fill your tank at every opportunity. If you're not driving, consider simply paying for a remis (car with driver) for day excursions.