Help with Argentina-Chile Itinerary

Old Dec 16th, 2010, 05:58 AM
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We spend three days in Ushuaia, we did two group tours with Canal Fun (really good tour guides), one around the lake in a 4x4, lots of fun, the other Estancia Halberton with a boat trip to see the penguins (on an island). Both tours were lots of fun. We then flew from Ushuaia to Puerto Arenas, were picked up by a private tour guide, to take us to Puerto Natalas and stopped to see the penguins in Seno Otway along the way. We then spent two nights in Puerto Natalas, with a full day in the park (took the boat ride on Lago Gray) with a private tour guide (left at 8:00 am, got back around 9:00 pm. In retrospect, I would have spent a night or two in the park at on of the Hosterias.

Anyway, regarding Bariloche, yes, downtown Bariloche is a bit commercial. We stayed at the Llao Llao on our first trip, it was incredible. The last trip we stayed in Villa Angostura, which I highly recommend. It really is a beautiful area.

Hope that helps.
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Old Dec 16th, 2010, 12:21 PM
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@ mlgb and owlwoman - you guys are awesome!!
We are almost there.

Last couple of things -

I went to the website

but it's not in English. I sent an e-mail listed on the web-site with no response. Do you know website in English or any other way to book one day cruise to see fjors? I contacted one lcoal travel agent in Chile but they are willing to work with us only if we book the hotels through them.

2. Do you know What would be the last ferry leaving from Punta Arena to Magdalena Island for Penguins? We are trying to combine the flight from Puerto Montt to Punta Arena and Penguine on the same day as suggested by you.

3. Lat on my plate to wrry but curious - Can we survive for 16 days without speaking Spanish? Also we are vegeterains and don't eat any meat or sea food.
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Old Dec 16th, 2010, 02:49 PM
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No there is no website for Turismo 21 de Mayo in English. You might try Comapa, who runs the Isla Magdalena tours but also can book Turismo 21 de Mayo's excursion to Balmaceda and Serrano.
Or, when you reserve your hotel in Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales, ask them to call for you and reserve.

I am not surprised you are having trouble with travel agents I basically ran into the same thing, the agents are extremely busy this time of year and many don't want your business unless they are booking everything. But don't let that discourage you. Especially if you have a car, you can be a little flexible.

The two lodgings I had were very helpful in arranging things that were impossible to do from the US. No problem with English at La Casa Escondida. However almost no English is spoken at Lady Florence Dixie! But there are fancier hotels in P. Natales where you will find English speakers.

Comapa runs the Isla Magdalena tours
There is a link on their website with info

Comapa also books the Turismo 21 de Mayo excursion, it is on their website under Puerto Natales excursions.

As far as not speaking Spanish, well, no one understands Chilean Spanish speakers anyways (!), but I do recommend bringing a simple phrasebook, which can be used both ways. I had fun on the Balmaceda tour, sat at a table of a Chilean family and we each found phrases in the book to ask each other questions and to answer.

I think you're going to have a bit of a hard time with food, but there is always cheese empanandas, pizza and ice cream.

I'm not sure what you're going to eat at the estancia lunch though!
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Old Dec 16th, 2010, 02:56 PM
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Sorry typo above link


"navigations" is the literal translation into English but they mean "cruise".

If Comapa does not respond to an email I would try the telephone.
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Old Dec 16th, 2010, 03:09 PM
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Also, watch out for travel agents who advertise widely on the internet. There are a lot of scammers out there and a few who have gone bankrupt or take deposits and then don't book anything.

Either use one recommended by a trusted friend or Fodorite! or just ask your hotel to book for you.
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Old Dec 16th, 2010, 10:10 PM
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Nick..we covered Chile from Santiago to Puerto Montt by auto in '94...the lake crossing is memorable...outstanding's boat-bus-boat-bus-boat...suggest staying overnight at Puella..much easier trip. Bariloche is ideally situated on Lake Nauhal Huapi...very are some old scannd pre-digital pix you give you an idea..wish they were better... you'll have to enlarge by clicking on pic..then click on magnifying glass icon and mouse-it around.
Best I can do for you...but if there's anything else about the region you'd like info on, please signify and I will try to help. At the time, we turned in our rental car in PM and we went on to Argentina, the falls, Rio and Manaus for a stupendous Amazon power-launch trip...I have not scanned those pix as yet.

Stu Tower
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Old Dec 17th, 2010, 06:26 AM
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You must stay more that just one day in Iguassu and a least 2 full days in Calafate. The easy way to go there is from Rio or Sao Paolo. From there you can take a cheap flight to Foz do Iguacu. The first day you can visit the brasilian side of Iguassu falls, the birds park and if you are not to tired you can go to Itaipu dam or to Cidad del Este (Paraguay). The second day you can visit the argentinian side of the falls. Very important- both sides are impressives. You must see both. The next morning you can take a plane from Iguassu airport -in Argentina and you can go to BA. My argentinian itinerary was Iguassu 3 nights, El Calafate 3n , Ushuaia 2n and BA 4n. You can include Bariloche and a trip by car from Calafate to Torres del Paine in Chile. If you want to see penguins you can take a day trip from Ushuaia to the Pinguineria (the penguins Island) and you will be near the birds. "Pira tours" is the only company that gets to land on the island to walk along the beach with penguins.
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Old Dec 17th, 2010, 06:32 AM
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We did the lakes crossing from Bariloche to Puerto Varas, Chile and it was enjoyable.
Its's easy to do and they transfer your luggage at each stop, delivering it to your final destination hotel. The scenery is very pretty, not breathtaking, reminded us of the Adirondack lakes. We stayed over night in Puella at Hotel Natura, a very nice lodge with excellent food.
Border crossings took some time;they went through everyones' luggage when we entered Chile.There are no fees to enter Chile by bus which is a plus.
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Old Dec 17th, 2010, 01:25 PM
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Thank-you all for sharing your experiece on this thread. I have travelled around the world - planning this trip seems most challenging so far mainly because there is so much to do.

I now have my internal flights on hold in LAN using south america LAN pass which I need to purchase ASAP. My fligt arrives in Punta Arena (from Peurto Montt) at 10:30 AM. I am not able to find any info on the ferry schedule for Isla Magdalena. I am trying to find if I can see the Penguine site the same day. It seems ferry schedule is published only for Dec. so far. I must have called at least a a dozen travel agents in Chile. They do have tours leaving in the morning and coming back in the afternon but they cannot confirm on the ferry which typicaly leaves at 3PM -Also does the ferry run everyday or only few days in a week?

Any help is greatly appreciated.
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Old Dec 18th, 2010, 10:41 AM
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Sorry...above I meant Domestic flights (not international)
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Old Dec 18th, 2010, 12:06 PM
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Leave Seno Otway as a backup since bad weather can cancel all sea trips. Book directly with Comapa. They are bad at updating their website, but once the cruise ships start arriving the places get booked up by the cruise lines. There is also a possibility of going in a zodiac but it is not so pleasant.
Comapa also runs a ferry three times a week between Punta Arenas and Porvenir, and the Barcaza Melinka, which makes thrice-weekly trips to Isla Magdalena (during penguin season)
>>Regular trip on board of the Melinka ferry, which operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 16:00 to 21:00. Capacity: 200 passengers. It includes a specialized bilingual tour guide.
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