Hello Everyone! Gerrod here again to talk some more about busing through South America. Welcome to the sequel and final bus voyage in Chile taking us from Puerto Montt, Chile to El Chaltén, Argentina.
Bus Three: Puerto Montt to Bariloche
If you have been following along so far this bus ride is the third of the series. We started our day at 6:30am and walked down to the bus station after checking out. We got ourselves a small breakfast at a stand in the bus station and made our way to the bus that was scheduled to leave at 8:15am. Everything was going smooth so far, but everything was about to change...
Lesson Three: Do Not Throw Away Anything From Customs
First we were asked for tickets, then our passports, then our “papeles” or “papers” in English. I immediately had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I thought maybe they were the receipts we received in the airport on arrival that I had tossed in our first accomodation. After Lauren spent time asking them what these papeles were, my worst fears were confirmed when a couple from Japan had the same confusing conversation, but after rifling through their passports they happened to still have them.
After a very frustrating conversation with the bus people trying to communicate that we threw it away and we don’t know what to do, one of the bus ticketing officer on the bus and were given very specific instructions on how to remedy the situation.
Basically the ticketing officer told us if we were to leave the station ASAP and get to the PDI (Investigations Police of Chile) Office in Osorno, where the bus had an extra long stop, we would have enough time to get new papers and board the bus.
The Race is On
First we grabbed a few hundred USD worth of Chilean pesos from a nearby ATM. Next we found a premium taxi service and explained our situation to them and asked if they could take us to Osorno which was basically two major towns north of Puerto Montt. So we hopped in the very expensive, 100 USD taxi ride and sped off to Osorno.
Once we got to the police office we got new papers for free after answering some very basic questions that they did not seem to concerned with. The taxi driver waited on us and then took us to the nearby bus terminal. We actually ended up beating our bus, and we were able to board with no issues and leave at 10:30am.
Resume the Trip
We continued the rest of the bus trip with no issues. When we finally hit the border along the mountains we were asked for our passports and papers. We did not have any bags checked and it seems like they could have just scanned our passports to confirm that we came into and then left the country, but wasting paper seems just as effective.
Finally in Argentina
We continued the ride through the mountains until we finally hit the Argentinian checkpoint. We went through customs where we did not receive random receipts that we would need to hold on to. They scanned our checked bags that were under the bus and then just looked at the top of our book bags to see if anything was suspicious looking I guess. I would say that it would have been super easy to smuggle something through the bus checkpoints if you really wanted to.
We finally arrived in Bariloche after a very pleasant bus ride with Andesmar, which we received drinks and snacks on.
Bariloche and the Search for Food and Money
We walked to our hostel, Lo De Max, since we had not yet had a chance to withdraw Argentinian Pesos from an ATM, and therefore did not have cash for a taxi. After checking in for the night we talked with the owner about an early breakfast and the best way to the bus station for a bus at 7am.
We headed downtown to try to get some money out at an ATM and get some dinner. The view from the city was amazing and we wished we could have spent another day there to really appreciate what it had to offer. The city itself was even beautiful especially the old square at the end of the main drag called Centro Cívico Bariloche.
We tried several ATMs as we walked around town and realized that none of them were working for us. I called my bank and it seemed they put a hold on my card after my withdrawal for the expensive taxi race in Chile. We tried again after removing the hold with no luck… At that same time we met someone from Germany having similar issues who would be joining us on the bus the next day. We joined up and looked for more ATMs until she found one that worked for her. I tried it and still nothing. I called Chase again and this time they said that maybe my card chip malfunctioned, so I could try cash advances with my credit card if I really needed cash.
Since cash advances hit you with tons of fees we decided we would try to do our best with credit cards only. We headed back to the hostel while keeping an eye out for places that took card for dinner. El Mundo Pizzas y Pastas was the place we ended up going to and it was great pizza and they accepted credit card. After eating we headed back to the hostel to pay with card, eating the 5% fee which was still better than a cash advance. We then prepared for the next bus ride that would take us to El Chaltén in the morning.
Bus Four: Bariloche to El Chaltén
We had another early start and a long walk down to the bus station. Our hostel owner left us some pastries and juice, so we could have some breakfast before we left. We boarded the bus with no problems after waiting in line with the girl from germany and a guy we met from Italy.
We started the 24 hour bus ride and realized very soon that we would not be getting any food again. Luckily we made many stops where we were able to purchase food and drinks with card along the way. The only other issue with the bus was the lack of entertainment (they had TVs, but never turned them on) and charging ports. So far the buses had USB ports so we could keep things charged, but this one had nothing so once our stuff died it was dead until the end of the journey.
When everything died all that we could do was try to sleep. We had front seats this time, so at least we could see the sights when there was things to see, and we got some extra leg room.
After a long ride we finally arrived in El Chaltén around 7:30 am. Stay tuned for the lovely hikes of El Chaltén in a future post!
Gerrod (and Lauren)