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Dec. 2018 in Chile/Argentina: Need your help planning!

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Dec 28th, 2017, 05:05 AM
  #21
 
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I agree with Yestravel and Crellston above - with the parts that I have been fortunate enough to travel and from the reports and descriptions of friends (Porteno & foreign to SA)who have been fortunate enough to take this trip you are planning. Filmwill, from what I have learned and experienced...your plan is excellent. Were my DH in better physical shape, I would be following right behind you

My son and DIL are just now sending the most stunning photos and intriguing notes from the the boat/bus trip over the Andes from Bariloche to Puerto Montt. It is an amazing trip - takes all day. You cross several lakes, pass volcanoes, and see (and can photograph) amazing scenery. I cannot wait to see them in BsAs and to see and hear more details.

Enjoy every minute of it...and Have a Happy New Year !
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Dec 28th, 2017, 05:38 AM
  #22
 
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I couldn't agree more on the boat trip that both MarnieWDC and thursdaysd mention. If you dropped a day somewhere you could fit in the day long boat trip as you mode of transportation to go from Chile to ARG. It's one of the highlights from our trip.
http://www.visitchile.cl/crucedelagos2.htm
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Dec 28th, 2017, 06:16 AM
  #23
 
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I spread the bus-boat crossing over two days and loved it, but since it runs between Puerto Montt and Bariloche I don't see how to easily fit it into this itinerary.

I suppose they could fly Santiago-Puerto Montt, cross to Bariloche, then go to El Calafate and TdP, but they would probably need to go back to El Calafate to get to Buenos Aires.
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Dec 28th, 2017, 09:10 AM
  #24
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Yes, I agree, thursday...I just don't think that crossing--as great as it sounds--fits into our itinerary without some really wonky routings back and forth.

Definitely now looking at including the San Martin leg in, though, as well as the 7 Lakes drive via car rental in Bariloche. Would 2 nights for that suffice or too rushed? Thinking: arrive Bariloche airport, rent a car, stay in Bariloche 1st night, drive to San Martin on Day 2, stay there overnight, return to Bariloche on Day 3, return car, fly to Iguazu. Guess it'll all depend on flight times.
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Dec 28th, 2017, 12:39 PM
  #25
 
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I preferred Bariloche to San Martin. Not for the town, which is very touristy (but so is San Martin), but for the views, which I thought were stellar. I do think you need at least one full day or equivalent in Bariloche.

More info on the two in this excellent ongoing TR:

https://www.fodors.com/community/sou...mment-10146129
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Dec 28th, 2017, 08:21 PM
  #26
 
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I think your plan will work. It’s maybe a 3 hour drive so not so far. I preferred both the look of the town as well as the feel of San Martin. Bariloche does have nicer scenery, but SM’s scenery around the town is quite nice if you’re driving.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 05:27 AM
  #27
 
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Are you sure you can fly into Puerto Natales? Have you checked your dates to see if there are flights running then?

You can do Chalten as you have too many days in for El Calafate-there is not enough to do there besides Perito Moreno. If you are insistent on skipping Chalten then add the days somewhere else but four nights in Calafate is two too many:

DAY 8 Transfer to El Calafate (Hotel TBD)
DAY 9 El Calafate
DAY 10 El Calafate
DAY 11 El Calafate
DAY 12 Fly to Bariloche (Hotel TBD)

instead consider:


DAY 8 Transfer to El Calafate (Hotel TBD)
DAY 9 El Calafate (Perito Moreno trekking)
DAY 10 El Calafate (AM drive to El Chalten)
DAY 11 El Calafate (El Chalten)
DAY 12 Fly to Bariloche (drive to Calafate, drop car at airport)

The town of Bariloche is not so pleasant (I preferred San Martin by far) but the scenery if you stay on the lakes is stunning!
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 05:35 AM
  #28
 
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I needed two full days for El Calafate - one for Perito Merino (without trekking) and one for a lake trip visiting other glaciers. I would agree that three full days is one too many.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 06:33 AM
  #29
 
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I would try to visit El Chalten. We didn't and I still regret skipping it. We did spend 4 days in el Calafate, but we were on a much longer trip than you. I think 3 or 3 nights is plenty.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 05:53 PM
  #30
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Thanks, everyone. I appreciate your input!

@odie1, as far as Puerto Natales, I won't know for sure until local airlines publish their schedules for 2018 but, based on our our conversations with our hotel in TDP, if the airlines hold to the same schedule in 2018 as they have in 2017 and 2016, we'll be fine. They have traditionally had flights to Puerto Natales from Santiago on Saturdays and that's currently when we plan to depart. If they don't, then it simply means a longer car ride to TDP from Punta Arenas.

Also, please understand it's not that I'm "insistent" on skipping anything, but rather I'm just trying to piece together a travel planning puzzle based on the information I have at-hand -- and knowing what we want to see and do and the pace we like to travel at -- which hopefully results in the best trip possible for us.

@thursdaysd: 3 full days *is* too many, but consider that we're transferring (by car) from TDP to El Calafate on that first day. From my estimations, it's a 4-6 hour drive and that'll put is in El Calafate late that first day by the most optimistic of standards. That's why I have us there 3 nights, as 2 full days on-the-ground would translate to that, in essence.

That said, going with @odie1's suggestion of leaving for El Chalten the day after we arrive in El Calafate, seems a bit rushed. Also it would seem to indicate a lot of driving back and forth (not to mention the headache of renting cars and returning them) in a short amount of time between places that might not be conducive to the sort of R&R vibe we're trying (hopefully) to achieve this trip.

There IS another alternative: which is skipping Bariloche/San Martin completely in favor of time in El Chalten. Thoughts on that?

Thanks, everyone!!
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 05:36 AM
  #31
 
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If you stay at Explora (books up very quickly) they should include transfers from the airport in Chile and I think they can also take you to El Calafate on their fixed dates. Taking a rental car from one country to the other can be problematic.

Can't help much with the decision re dropping the Lakes, I chose to skip them in favor of more time in TdP/Natales/Punta Arenas. If you want to do a little lake cruising I assume Explora offers the excursion to Glacier Grey.
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 05:43 AM
  #32
 
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There are also buses between Puerto Natales and El Calafate, although they do fill up.

There are boat trips on the lake at Bariloche.
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 06:06 AM
  #33
 
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Agree that car issues are huge dropping in another country than the pick up country. Buses are ok to use in both Chile & Argentina.

Whether you go to el Chalten and drop the Bariloche & SMdlA depends upon what you like to do. If being outdoors and hiking is your goal, I would drop the lake as I think the hiking is much better & more scenic in el Chalten. OTOH if you want to forego hiking or don't plan to, then I wouldn't worry about missing el Chalten. I prefer a bit of a mix in activities and scenery when we travel. That's why we didn't go to el Chalten. Something had to give & it turned out to be el Chalten. I would not have wanted to miss SMdlA especially for el Chalten -- totally different experiences. And we did hike in Bariloche area and SMdlA.
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 07:38 AM
  #34
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Thanks for the perspective.

Also--should've specified. Our hotel does provide transfers from Puerto Natales and to the Argentine border. The remainder of the journey to El Calafate is provided via private transfer at an extra cost. We'll go this path as it's better for us than the bus. But wanted to clarify that we're definitely not renting a car and crossing the border ourselves for that particular leg.
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 07:51 AM
  #35
 
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This year only LATAM had flights to Puerto Natales. SKY also previously had them. Try booking on the dot cl version of the LATAM website when flights become available.
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 08:01 AM
  #36
 
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Emsa car rental does allow for drop off in Argentina. I do not know what the price is like.

@thursdaysd: 3 full days *is* too many, but consider that we're transferring (by car) from TDP to El Calafate on that first day. From my estimations, it's a 4-6 hour drive and that'll put is in El Calafate late that first day by the most optimistic of standards. That's why I have us there 3 nights, as 2 full days on-the-ground would translate to that, in essence.


According to your schedule:
"DAY 8 Transfer to El Calafate (Hotel TBD)
DAY 9 El Calafate
DAY 10 El Calafate
DAY 11 El Calafate
DAY 12 Fly to Bariloche (Hotel TBD)"


You have yourself in Calafate for 4 nights, not 3 as stated above. The days are extremely long over Christmas-it doesn't get dark until almost 11:00 PM, allowing for plenty of time to accomplish various activities.


"That said, going with @odie1's suggestion of leaving for El Chalten the day after we arrive in El Calafate, seems a bit rushed."

I suggested spending two nights in Calafate (Day 8 and 9) and then leaving for Chalten, not the day after you arrive:

DAY 8 Transfer to El Calafate (Hotel TBD)
DAY 9 El Calafate (Perito Moreno trekking)
DAY 10 El Calafate (AM drive to El Chalten)
DAY 11 El Calafate (El Chalten)
DAY 12 Fly to Bariloche (drive to Calafate, drop car at airport)

"Also it would seem to indicate a lot of driving back and forth (not to mention the headache of renting cars and returning them) in a short amount of time between places that might not be conducive to the sort of R&R vibe we're trying (hopefully) to achieve this trip."


I didn't realize you were looking for R&R. The last place I think I would ever suggest for that is Patagonia.
In that case, you are better off going to Bariloche and sitting by the lake. Considering you have even less days budgeted for Bariloche than you do Calafate and you are worried about renting cars and doing a lot of back and forth driving-I would certainly not bother doing the seven lakes route and heading all the way to San Martin-a far far longer and more tedious drive than the drive from Calafate to Chalten. Once you get to San Martin, you really don't experience the lake unless you walk down to its shores, unlike in Bariloche where you can enjoy the beauty from a host of different accommodations.
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 09:55 AM
  #37
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I think R&R can include hiking. That said, R&R, to me, is not driving back and forth one day here then the next day there and having to worry about rental cars and catching planes in time. That's stressful--and that's what trying to cram in El Chalten sounds like (especially since, like @thursdaysd suggested, we want 2 full days on the ground in El Calafate). Hiking glaciers and exploring the vast expanses of Patagonia is peaceful to me. Guess it's just different interpretation for each of us on what constitutes R&R. But thanks, again, for your perspective.
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 01:02 PM
  #38
 
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filmwill-thanks for your explanation of R&R. That helps. Given what you said reinforces my feeling that you should skip el Chalten.
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Jan 4th, 2018, 05:49 AM
  #39
 
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Yes, thank you for explaining that because I would never think to put rest and hiking in the same category. I do find long drives down deserted roads surrounded by scenic beauty and wildlife exceptionally relaxing, but to each their own.
With that said, and your concerns stated, then I would skip Chalten too, as well as not bother with the rental car to do the seven lakes route. It was pretty but not worth the hassle of it for the day or even for one night. The drive straight through without stopping is about 3 hours and then you will either have to return the same way or go back through Junin de los Andes which is more like four hours. I would do activities in and around Bariloche and the lakes region there. I am sure there are some tours you can take like to Isla Victoria and the Bosque de Arrayanes.
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Jan 4th, 2018, 06:23 AM
  #40
 
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It is also possible to pick up a day tour by minibus of the seven lakes and San Martin in Bariloche. I used one to get to San Martin - just skipped the return leg. And there are certainly tours on the lake, as I already posted.

Hiking can mean very different things to different people. At one extreme would be the full circuit at TdP, at the other a couple of hours with a light day pack.
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