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 Argentina’s Ushuaia.

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 is included in the room’s price), we buy a coffee and croissant upstairs at the bus station’s restaurant. This quick snack is surprisingly cheap and very tasty. I always find it’s hit and miss with food at bus or train stations. Today, we are lucky.

The Marga bus company proves 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 make the journey in 11 hours, which is an hour early, even with the ferry crossing but with sore butts and very hungry!

Strait of Magellan

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

Continuing on the bus trip

A couple of films are shown on this bus 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 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 do become breath-taking from Tulhuin onwards, which is about 1.5-hours north of Ushuaia.

Descending into Ushuaia is pretty special as it’s such a beautiful and 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 is 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 isn’t too hard catching a cab as there are 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


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, proves to be a great idea as we explore 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


Cabañas Candelas de Ushuaia (AR$230 Double)

Catching a taxi ($AR15) from the city bus stop and arriving at our accommodation, proves to be a pleasant surprise awaiting us on our arrival…

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 the 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 have 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 are now spoilt and longed for our privacy once more.

Following Easter, we check back into the Cabañas Candelas de Ushuaia. Wanting 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 own 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

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37 responses to “Bus lag and flat arse! Rio Gallegos to Ushuaia by bus and ferry”

  1. Carolyn Avatar

    Not bus-lag but 18 days in the back of a Bedford truck bumping it’s way across Sudan was pretty challenging. I began crossing my arms for a little support. Then there was the daily watch for Big Fly. You didn’t want that thing landing on you. Perhaps you should have invited the puppies to sleep with you. Could it have been any worse? Fleas, I guess. We had a lot of those in Sudan too. I was coming up in bumps weeks after we got back. Those mountains in South America….so splendid. Gorgeous photos and the stories are always entertaining.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      That would have been pretty tough especially back then…I would like to visit Sudan but not sure how safe it is right now.
      I would have invited the puppies but they were flea-ridden and a little sickly. Yeah, I get welts from fleas but also a really bad allergic reaction to bed bugs, which I’ve had several times now while travelling – horrendous!
      Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Abirbhav Avatar

    Lovely trip Nilla, though such a long bus journey is not for me.. 😛 I would prefer flying in this case.
    Ushuaia is on another edge of the world, just like Teriberka. It feels fulfilling to just stare at the Antarctic Ocean or the Arctic (as the case may be), admire the Fjords and let nature impress you over and over again.. 😊😊

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes, it was a very long journey.
      The Patagonian Fjords are incredible and did a 4-day boat trip through them – spectacular! Four days at sea through Chile’s stunning Southern Patagonian Fjords

      1. Abirbhav Avatar

        Oh yes, they are..!!
        Thank you Nilla for making me read about so many undiscovered places.. 😀 You are truly amazing.. 😊😊 Loved your experiences.. <3
        Now I shall read your article in the link.. 😊

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        No problem. Love to share new destinations with travellers and also arm-chair travellers. 😉

      3. Abirbhav Avatar

        Haha.. 😉 Right now both of us are arm-chair travelers not by our choice.
        We shall quit being arm-chair travelers pretty soon..!! 😀

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        So true. 😉
        For some reason I need to resurrect all your comments from either in my Trash or Spam folders – bizarre – really can’t work out Akismet!

      5. Abirbhav Avatar

        Arghh..!! WordPress at it again.
        Perhaps they don’t want us to interact. I don’t know why.. 😛

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Exactly! I’m not sure why it keeps doing this – very annoying.

      7. Abirbhav Avatar

        Hahaha.. 😛 True, it’s annoying. I make sure to check my spam folder on a daily basis lest I miss any of your comments..

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        That’s exactly what I do, don’t forget to check the Trash folder also… 😉

      9. Abirbhav Avatar

        Hehe.. 😂
        I believe my comments aren’t that bad though.

      10. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        No they’re not at all. 😉
        As you have a legitimate WP site and leave regular comments on my blog, I’m not sure why this happens.

      11. Abirbhav Avatar

        Let’s leave coding and programming, shall we? 😉
        However, if that’s your area of expertise, I shall be happy to listen to you.. ☺️

      12. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Nahh, not my area of expertise although I’ve been called a GID (Geek in Denial) occasionally. 😉

      13. Abirbhav Avatar

        Alright.. The GID term translates to “You are being modest”.. 😉

      14. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        No, my passion is Technical Writing (although these days it’s also “communicator”) and Usability. 😉

      15. Abirbhav Avatar

        Lovely.. <3
        Although if by technology you mean Programming or Coding, then that's Greek and Latin to me.. 😉
        Awesome..!! Perhaps that explains why you are able to hook your reader in your articles.. 🙂

      16. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, yes and me also… 😉
        Thanks for your kind feedback but I found it difficult making the transition from technical writing to creative writing – very different mediums. One “tells” the other “shows”, although the world of technical writing is evolving to be more of a “show” one.

      17. Abirbhav Avatar

        You are right, Nilla.. The world of technical writing is evolving and is gradually incorporating the elements of the “show” aspect as well. I mean if I write that a Wind Turbine sweeps an area of 39000 sq. m., then that wouldn’t be as appealing or impactful as the line “The Wind turbine sweeps an area equivalent to 5.5 Olympic Football Fields”.. The show aspect has to be there, though we cannot wish away the “tell” aspect from Technical writing.
        Had written a research paper long back. Hope to repeat that again some years down the line.
        Till then, I have an expert teacher who loves to build boats and adventure like “Popeye the sailor”, yet manage to captivate others through her creative writing.. 😊😊 I am sure she has hooked me on to Italy.. 😊

      18. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Exactly! These days online help is much more interactive, which I enjoy developing – it’s quite challenging.
        Ha, ha, I’ve never been called “Popeye” but it fits! 😉
        Happy to introduce you to new places in Italy, there’s so much more I’m yet to explore…

      19. Abirbhav Avatar

        Hehe.. It does fit, spinach is recommended and you might want to keep the cigar away.. 😉

        Yes, Nilla, there are challenges to developing an interactive online piece. But considering the olden times, I believe this is still manageable.. 🙂

        Absolutely, both of us have lots and lots to discover.. 🙂 Happy discovering.. 🙂

      20. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Love spinach!
        Good point.
        Hope to soon… 😉

      21. Abirbhav Avatar

        I Love spinach as well.. 😉

  3. Sartenada Avatar

    Bus lag – love this expression. Ushuaia is unknown to me, which means that I am grateful to You for this great post. Thank You.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      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

  4. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    I don’t think I’ve ever done a bus trip longer than 7 or 8 hours and that was more than enough. My long legs were not made for buses! Hahaha

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha that’s just an Aperitivo bus trip! 😉

  5. gillmorris Avatar

    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 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      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?

      1. gillmorris Avatar

        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

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        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

      3. gillmorris Avatar

        I loved the 11 days, it was such an experience. Yes, there is so much more to see in Oz. Closer than UK but I am still 12 hours from your coast! 🙂

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        You need to spend at least 12 months in Oz travelling around. 😉

      5. gillmorris Avatar

        I know.. It’s big…I packed in a lot in the time I have spent there, but I know I only scratched the surface. 😉

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        It is such a big country and expensive to travel around in, especially if you fly everywhere. Wait till I’m back in Oz then you can come and visit. 🙂

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