Journey from El Calafate to Ushuaia: Travelling to the Southern Tip of Argentina
The road to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina (and the world!), looked complicated on the map, passing from Argentina to Chile, then back again, then through water to get to the island of Tierra del Fuego. Having found no information online about what to expect, I thought I’d outline the details of the journey here, for some Ushuaia-bound traveller to stumble on.
The bus from El Calafate to Rio Gallegos left at 3 am, and arrived four hours later. We then waited in the bus terminal for our bus at 8:30 am. Soon before the bus was due to leave, a man walked around the waiting room asking who was going to Ushuaia, and told us to follow him to ticket counter, where we were given immigration papers, and told that they would be explained on the bus.
The papers were very straightforward; four copies of a Chile immigration form asking the usual (name, passport number, address at destination, etc.), and a customs form asking if we were importing food, merchandise, etc. We were given a needlessly long presentation about how to fill in these forms, first in Spanish, then in English. We finally set off an hour after we were due to, and drove for around four hours, to get to the Chilean border, where we queued up to get our passports stamped (on the way back a week later I almost entered Argentina without a stamp, as I managed to skip one of the counters). We then handed over our customs forms and had our bags scanned. I pointed out that I had ticked “yes” under the “food” section, as I’d heard bringing food into Chile can incur huge fines, but the customs official didn’t seem interested. The sniffer dog charged with seeking out drugs also seemed less than interested in his task, preferring instead to play tug of war with his handler.
After a short drive we reached the strip of water separating us from Tierra del Fuego, where we were to get a ferry. We were told it may be too windy for the ferry to run, but mercifully we were told to board a few minutes later. They weren’t lying about the wind- we had to crouch down and hold onto each other as we walked to stop ourselves from being blown over! Once the passengers were inside, the bus and other vehicles were driven on and our hairraising ferry ride began. The waves were massive, crashing into us as we pitched violently from side to side. After what felt like far too long, we reached the other side, and got back on our bus.
After another few hours, we reached the next border, and got stamped out of Chile, and, after another few minutes, we stopped again and got stamped back into Argentina. We then began our final stretch, through flat barren land and then through gorgeous snowy mountains, to our southerly destination of Ushuaia.