3 ways to go from Bariloche to El Calafate
Both destinations are among the top picks for travelers that come to Argentina. Nevertheless, many times it’s difficult to find the right logistic to join them in an itinerary. Thus, we would like to share on this post some of the best ways to travel from Bariloche to El Calafate.
Where are they and what distinguishes them?
In Northern Patagonia, more precisely in the province of Río Negro and 1,500 kilometers south-west from Buenos Aires, Bariloche and its snowy and even Christmassy landscape holds a wild variety of activities. It’s the capital of the Lakes District, plenty of forests, lakes, rivers, mountains, and villages “Swiss” style.
Locally, it’s the mecca for the youngsters who travel in mass every year between October and December, to celebrate the end of their high school years. For families, is a perfect spot to connect with the wilderness and for adventurers, the number one place for extreme sports like skiing and snowboarding.
On the other hand (already in Southern Patagonia) in the province of Santa Cruz and 2,700 kilometers from Buenos Aires, El Calafate becomes the favorite place for all of those who are looking to contemplate the glaciers geography. It is also the Argentinean gate to reach El Chalten (Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre) and Torres del Paine, both trekking paradises.
Both Bariloche and El Calafate are next to the Andean range. The distance between both destinations is a straight line of 1429 kilometers, along the mythical Ruta 40.
Bariloche to El Calafate, by land.
You can do it by bus, doing a few stops, or you can do it by a self-drive tour.
Looking for a ‘slow burn’ kind of adventure admiring the surroundings? Then a road trip from North to South is exactly what you need.
Traveling from Bariloche to El Calafate takes about 17 hours driving on the almighty 40 route. This mythical road connects the entire country from North to South and, given the opportunity, follow through its entirety is a must for every travel lover.
Picturesque and mesmerizing Andean cities can also be visited throughout the trip. El Bolsón, right on the border with Chubut is famous for being a hippy town, while once entering Chubut, Esquel and Trevelin offer not only snow activities but also a very vast historical richness. These two cities were the last ones to be funded by the Welsh settlers back in the nineteenth century.
Los Alerces National Park, UNESCO site, is a must before leaving the lakes district behind. Then, starts the transition to another kind of landscape, with fewer forests and more steppe. Continuing down south you will reach Los Antiguos, the Cave Hands (where you can find impressive and very well preserved cave paintings).
If you have time, from Los Antiguos you can cross to Chile and drive along part of the Carretera Austral, visiting attractions such as the Marble Cathedrals.
Once in Santa Cruz, the small town Tres Lagos, allows visitors to access the San Martín lake. This amazing place, like most of the Andean towns, is located 400 meters above sea level and among its mountain peaks, massive turquoise and bluish water bodies, enchant those who are willing to hike by their shores.
Then, you will reach El Chalten: home to the Fitz Roy and Torre mounts. This area has an incredible variety of landscapes, from hanging glaciers to granite rock walls, and it’s the Argentinean capital for trekking.
Last, and just 2-3 hours south from El Chalten, you will reach the final destination, at the shores of Lake Argentino: El Calafate.
Bariloche to El Calafate, by air.
Fan of the heights and looking to save some time and spend it in comfort? Then the best way to connect these two cities is to jump on a plane. During high season there is one direct flight (on each way) almost every day, and it takes less than 2 hours.
Bariloche is one of the many cities in Argentina that has an international (and very active) international airport. Here it is possible to board the domestic airline, Aerolineas Argentinas, or Chilean Latam Airlines. Latam Airlines offers its flights usually through Buenos Aires (no direct).
Arriving at the Teniente Luis Candelaria International Airport in Bariloche is possible by car or using public transportation since its only 13 kilometers away from the city center. Once in Calafate, the only way to leave the airport located 22 kilometers from downtown, is by taking a tourist shuttle bus, or a private transfer, or renting a car. Taxis are always an option as well.
The tariffs to travel these two cities by airplane, as in 2019, varies from 100-180 dollars throughout the entire year.
Bariloche to El Calafate, by water, air, and land.
If you are not a ‘black or white’ type of traveler, another alternative could be to combine different kinds of transportations, by land, water, and air. Exactly like the one we show below:
The trip will begin in Bariloche of course, on the Argentinian side of Patagonia where you can hire the full day navigation called ‘Andean crossing’. This is an excursion that combines land transportation with navigations in different lakes across the Andes Range. This is very special because you cross the Andes through pristine lakes, virgin forests, and beautiful mountains lost in the middle of the Andes. It finishes in Puerto Varas.
You can also do it in 2 days, doing a stopover at a place called Peulla. Once in Puerto Varas, tourists can visit in guided tours, the always impressive Osorno volcano. Similar to the Mount Fuji in Japan, it’s famous not only for being settle at ‘the doorway’ of Chilean Patagonia but for its constant seismic activity.
Then, from Puerto Montt (next to Puerto Varas) you should board a flight to Punta Arenas, in the very South of the country. Latam, Jet Smart and Sky are the main companies that tour this aerial route and the tariff oscillates between 40-70 dollars during the entire year. The flight takes around 3 hours.
Once in Punta Arenas, you can either stay for one day to visit the penguin rookery of Isla Magdalena (from October till March) or travel to Puerto Natales (3 hours by land). Both destinations can easily be connected by private or public transportation.
Puerto Natales is one of the gates to reach Torres del Paine National Park (less than 2 hours away), which is a “must” on your way. It’s recommended to visit it for at least 1 full day, even though you can stay for 3-4 nights and combine scenic tours with hiking.
Then, the last lap: from Torres del Paine (or Puerto Natales) to El Calafate (back to Argentina). It takes around 5 hours by land, by public or private transportation. During the low season (from April to September) the public transportation is only available from Puerto Natales.
Travel through Patagonia with Beyond BA LATAM
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