Bus Madness

Trip Start Oct 17, 2012
Trip End Mar 27, 2013

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Where I stayed
Punta Norte El Calafate
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Saturday, November 17, 2012

El Calafate is a quaint little tourist town popular for its glacier, Perito Moreno, that is supposed to be amazing - triggering not only your eyes but your ears. When there, one is able to walk along carved out steps while hearing crazy loud thunder noises as pieces break off and to top that off, it is the only glacier in the world that is not receding. Great news for us because it is also supposed to be en route to Torres del Paine where we will be volunteering in a couple of days.

We were told in El Bolson that there would be buses from El Calafate to Puerto Natales when we got into town. We decided that once we got to El Calafate we would attempt to take the latest bus to Puerto Natales (we were unable to book a bus from El Bolson) and, if there is time, go check out the famous block of ice. After a 26 hour bus ride, we get in at noon and the only two bus companies that make that journey leave at 8am. Ugh... why they opted to compete for the same time slot and give up on the rest of the days incoming business is beyond me. Thus is South America. So we would have to wait for tomorrow to get a bus out. Upside- we have time to see the glacier! Wrong again, it is noon and the bus companies only travel to the glacier at 11. Seriously, its called economics, where there is a void in the market, someone should come along and fill it.... not the case with Argentinian bus companies. They don't compete with pricing so every bus we take is extremely expensive and they don't compete with time slots. One person must have decided a certain time sounded good so the rest just agreed. Also, none of these companies have functioning websites! Its 2012, get with it people! Has anyone heard of such craziness?
An additional problem is that there is an employee bus in Puerto Natales that we are to catch mañana en la mañana so that we can get in to the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine for free and be there on the day our volunteer program starts. So we spend the entire day crisscrossing the city to find car rental places that were open (hint: mid day most are taking a siesta; and rental companies can't go across the border for their cars anymore). Then we spend some time trying to find a cab (too expensive). Then more time trying to call and email the volunteer program in Torres del Paine to get advice / inform them we weren't going to make it on time.
Exhausted and frustrated, we sit down for a pizza and a beer and grumble about how ridiculous everyones business plans are and how no one here seems to be able to give concrete advice - like the lady in El Bolson being positive there would be buses to Puerto Natales once we arrived. We found a decent enough, though expensive hostel and made arrangements for a place to stay in Puerto Natales the next day and a new way to get into the park since we would be missing our ride. We also walked back to the bus station for what seemed like the 10th time to get bus tickets for tomorrow at 8am. One good thing about this unexpected pit stop for the night is that we are able to do some much needed laundry!
No glacier for us but we did see the entire town, a few times, as we walked back and forth for hours with our 30lb packs on... A good work out, I suppose.
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