Bus lag and flat arse! Rio Gallegos to Ushuaia by bus and ferry

April, 2011

I’ve coined a new term: Bus Lag! This is how I am feeling on hopefully the last bus journey for a while, which is from Rio Gallegos to Ushuaia in Argentina.

If there is such a condition, whether amongst travellers or a medical term known as bus lag, then please let me know as I’d love to hear all about your bus experiences.

Not only am I feeling the pain in my butt but also a fuzziness in my brain, and there is still another 12-hour trip ahead until we reach Ushuaia. I almost expect to see and feel pressure sores or callouses forming from the endless hours of sitting on busses, during the last several days over some 3,000-plus kilometres…

Rio Gallegos, Argentina, UshuaiaTravel

As the hotel in Rio Gallegos would not indulge us in an earlier than 8 am breakfast (although breakfast was included in the room’s price), we had a coffee and croissants upstairs at the bus station’s restaurant. This quick snack was surprisingly cheap and very tasty. I always find it’s hit and miss with food at bus or train stations. Today, we were lucky.

The Marga bus company proved efficient although it is as if the 2 drivers are on a mission to make the fastest time to Ushuaia, with barely any stops, apart from the obligatory border crossings and ferry stop.

We made the journey in 11 hours, which is an hour early, even with the ferry crossing but with sore butts and very hungry!

There’s something magical about crossing the Strait of Magellan – a topic covered in my early school classes. The fact that this Strait was first navigated by the Portuguese explorer Magellan in 1520 with an expeditionary fleet of 5 ships, holds enough mystique for any blasé traveller. I have to admit, I am pretty excited to be crossing this historical passage, even though it is on a car ferry and not on Magellan’s Victoria – the 16th-century Carrack (sailing ship)!

Due to the passage’s narrowness but also unpredictable winds and currents, this stretch of water is considered to be difficult to navigate.
Strait of Magellan, Argentina, South America

A couple of films are shown on this journey and a small packaged snack is also provided. I suggest you bring your own food or snacks, especially as stops are rare and I did notice locals doing the same.

During this bus trip, you will cross from Argentina into Chile for a few hours, before crossing back into Argentina. The Chilean roads are gravel and much worse than in Argentina.

 

Most of the scenery is barren, flat, scrubby, and treeless but still unfolds a certain rugged beauty that’s been consistent with the past couple of bus journeys. Although, the vistas became breath-taking from Tulhuin onwards, which is about 1.5-hours north of Ushuaia. Driving down into Ushuaia is pretty special as it’s such a picturesque city.

Rio Gallegos, Ushuaia, Argentina

Barron plains…

Freshly snow-capped glaciers and narrow winding roads became an integral part of the journey nearing Ushuaia, which also provides something to look at, whilst swerving around bends.

If you suffer from car or motion sickness, then I suggest maybe taking something prior to the trip, which would be a good idea.

As there isn’t a bus station in Ushuaia, everyone is dropped off in the middle of the city near a fuel station. This we didn’t know. It pays to ask when buying a ticket and not to assume that all buses start and finish at a bus station. Although it wasn’t too hard catching a cab as there were several waiting for the bus to arrive, so this must be the ‘norm’ in Ushuaia.

Rio Gallegos, Ushuaia, Argentina

Early morning, somewhere along Route 3

Ushuaia, Argentina, South America

Gorgeous Ushuaia – a different vista

Sights

As Ushuaia and its stunning surrounds hold so much to see and a plethora of activities, I’ve written a separate post. And hiring a car for 3 days whilst using the apartment in Ushuaia as a base, proved a great idea as we explored national parks and Ushuaia’s surrounds.

Argentina:Ushuaia landscape, Argentina, South America

Ushuaia – another view

St Christopher aground, Ushuaia, Argentina, South America

Aground – St Christopher resting in Ushuaia Bay

Accommodation

Cabañas Candelas de Ushuaia (AR$230 Double)

Catching a taxi ($AR15) from the city bus stop, proved a pleasant surprise, which awaited us on arrival to this accommodation.

Don’t be deceived by the name “Cabañas” (Cabins) as the accommodation is not really a cabin but an amazing 2-storey apartment with central heating in every room, even in the downstairs 2nd toilet. You definitely need central heating this far south in the globe.

A fully-equipped kitchenette awaits the most eager of chefs but also a comfortable downstairs living area with an extra bed.

Francisco the Manager, is very accommodating and friendly, with contacts all over town.

Freshly-baked bread is delivered on a tray filled with ground coffee, Argentinian condiments, milk, and lovely morsels, by the very kind Francisco each evening, for your next day’s breakfast.

This new abode is extremely homely and comfy with loads of soap, towels, and privacy; and an easy walk for supplies to a supermarket. I can certainly get used to this level of comfort and stay here for a very long time.

This is the best accommodation yet in Argentina and I highly recommend you stay here when in Ushuaia.

Ushuaia, Argentina, South America

Home for a while – downstairs living

The apartment is only 3 kilometres from San Martin commercial avenue or a 20-minute (AR$2.40) bus ride, which you can catch from the block next to the apartment. The long walk will definitely warm you up especially during such cold snowy days.

Unfortunately, we only pre-booked 4 nights here and as it is the Easter weekend, Francisco’s accommodation is fully booked, so reluctantly, we had to find accommodation elsewhere and move. I get settled very quickly in any new place and everywhere is like a home to me.

Aijpel B&B (AR$260 Double + ensuite)

Our new home for 3 nights only is about 600 metres from San Martin commercial avenue or about 1.5 kilometres from the town centre.

The homely accommodation is very clean and the breakfast is wonderful. Although coming from our own apartment, we were now spoilt and longed for our privacy once more.

Following Easter, we checked back into the Cabañas Candelas de Ushuaia. Wanted to return to this place for another 3 nights as very impressed with this abode and Francisco’s accommodating Ushuaian friendliness; he’s so very helpful.

Dog Update

You’ve heard the saying “Every man and his dog”?

Well this stands true in Ushuaia as it seems that every man does indeed have a dog or two and they all do indeed bark (loudly)!

Actually, it is in Ushuaia that we first noticed dogs following us, everywhere. This is the first of my dog update in South America. I’ll keep you updated with my ongoing dog sagas…

Leaving Ushuaia for Puerto Natales, Chile

Although we missed the boat to Antarctica due to worsening weather and an early cut-off to the season, had a wonderful time waiting a while in Ushuaia, but still decided to push ahead.

The next destination is another long bus journey to Puerto Natales, Chile, which is to be the start of a 4-day journey through the Southern Patagonian Fjords. This town is where we hop on the Navimag Ferry for the next adventure. I’m really going to miss spectacular Ushuaia as there’s so much to do and explore here – a stunning part of the world.

The bus trip (AR$240) from Ushuaia is supposed to take about 15 hours on the Cootra bus company, across the Argentinian border and into Chile. The bus company advises that the trip also includes about a 3-hour wait and bus change in Punta Arenas.

We all know what can happen on these longer bus trips in South America when timetables go out the window, just as it did from Puerto Madryn to Rio Gallegos. What could possibly go wrong this time?

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Argentina at Image Earth Travel.

Argentina: Moonrise over the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia, Argentina, South America

Moonrise over the Beagle Channel

12 thoughts on “Bus lag and flat arse! Rio Gallegos to Ushuaia by bus and ferry

    • I thought it was apt after spending so many hours on buses.

      Ushuaia is unknown to many apart from locals or those with a burning desire to travel to the Antarctic. I’m so glad I have shown you somewhere that you’ve never seen before as this is what I try to do with my posts. You may like to also read what it’s actually like in Ushuaia: Wait-a-while in Ushuaia

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Fab trip Nilla. I have done 18 hours on a bus from Tamworth to Bundaberg, and I can tell you I definitely had bus lag after that! it was so cold in tht evening as well, I still remember shivering and not being able to sleep properly 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Looking back, it was a great adventure but not so much at the time.

      Wow, that’s a long old way also. I’ve driven through Tamworth many times en-route back to Brisbane or down to Sydney and sailed into Bundy many years’ ago; it’s a lovely sleepy town. I would have thought that the bus would have been heated at night and cooled during the day – not good at all for Australia.
      Did you like Bundy and Tamworth?

      Liked by 1 person

    • It wasn’t, it was freezing! I was a Jillaroo for 11 days in Leconfield, so didn’t really see much of Tamworth, other than the youth hostel I stayed at for 1 night and a bar or 2. Bundy I love as I have relatives there, so they have taken me to different places in the city and around.. It was the very first place I spent time in when I came to Oz for the first time. I am going back again next year 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

    • Not good for Oz.
      Wow, that would have been hard work. Did you enjoy the 11 days?
      Next time you’ll have to get out to Lady Musgrave Island and Fitzroy Reef. Well from Bangkok, you’re nice and close to pop in! 😉 x

      Liked by 1 person

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