Travel guide for South America

Exploring Argentina: From Colonia del Sacramento to Puerto Natales

Florianopolis, Brazil to Colonia, Uruguay

Joe Harrison & Stef Hacking are on an eight-month trip to discover South America, and graciously share their bus travel stories with us along the way.

Colonia to Buenos Aires

Colonia to Buenos Aires by bus

Company: SeaCat Colonia
Type: Economy Ferry
Price: UR$ 718 each
Duration: 1 hour

From Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay, the ferry is the most efficient (and cheapest) way to get to Buenos Aires, so after a short but pleasant stay we took the 1 hour ferry crossing from the port not far from our hostel. We had booked our ferry tickets online the day before with SeaCat (which seemed to be the cheapest of all the companies even though they all use the same boat!). The ferry was pretty big, with shops and a few small fast-food type restaurants, but unfortunately no outside deck. As the scenic seats were all taken we used the hour to nap and read and save our energy for BA. Once we arrived in the city, we decided to get a taxi (which are quick and cheap in BA) to our AirBNB apartment to save lugging our backpacks around. Public transport is the best way to get around Buenos Aires, and although the Metro is pretty limited for getting around, the buses are great, both to look at and to quickly get around the city.

Buenos Aires to El Calefate

Buenos Aires to Patagonia by plane
Buenos Aires to Patagonia by plane

Company: LAN
Type: Economy Flight
Price: AR$2800 each
Duration: 3.5 hours

After a bit of deliberation we decided to travel down to Patagonia by plane. We looked at bus options, but due to how long it was going to take (around 2-3 days) we opted for the time over money option for the first time in our trip. We booked the flight about 5 days in advance, and after 10 amazing days in Buenos Aires we headed to the nearby airport – Aeroparque Internacional Jorge Newbery – which was only a 10 minute cab ride from our apartment. The 3.5 hour flight gave us our first insight into how dramatic Argentina’s landscapes can be as we got out first glimpse of the Andes mountain range and the stunning turquoise lakes of El Calafate, Patagonia. We then took a small shuttle bus to the town centre, excited to explore the incredible landscape that Patagonia has to offer.

Aeroparque Internacional Jorge Newbery airport
Aeroparque Internacional Jorge Newbery airport

El Calafate to Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales by bus
Puerto Natales by bus

Company: Cootra Ltda.
Type: Comun con Aire
Price: AR$ 450
Duration: 8 hours

After an amazing day trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier, we decided to keep the outdoor activities going and head to Torres del Paines Nation Park. The gateway town to Torres del Paines is Puerto Natales, an 8 hour bus ride from El Calafate. As we took our seats on the coach we were happy to find there were comfy seats with decent leg room. There was a ‘No shoe taking off’ policy due to ‘trekkers-feet!’, so we knew we were heading into the wilderness. The scenery was a little bleak during the journey, but we got chatting to some fellow travellers who were doing a similar route to us and ate lunch on the coach that we’d prepared the night before. Toilets were a bit grim but needed as there were no stops, and made for a less then pleasant experience when using them due to the really bumpy roads!

Once we got to the boarder control we realised how strict Chile is with what is allowed into the country! It took at least 2 hours to get passports stamped and bags scanned for any produce (including nuts, fruit, meat or dairy). There were also several sniffer dogs, which felt pretty intimidating as large fines for ‘forgotten about food’ had been rumoured. We were relieved when we finally crossed the border and then set off for the final 2 hours to Puerto Natales, Chile. The buses were definitely not as slick as we had had in Brazil, and a little more expensive, but it’s the price you pay for the incredible Patagonian scenery.

Field on the way to Torres del Paines Nation Park
Field on the way to Torres del Paines Nation Park
On the bus to Torres del Paines Nation Park
On the bus to Torres del Paines Nation Park
Bus seats with Cootra Ltda. in Argentina
Bus seats with Cootra Ltda. in Argentina