From Río Gallegos to the Chilean border it’s only a one hour drive. Passing the border, however, takes a little longer. Formalities are actually straight forward, you just can’t bring any fruits or vegetables or animal products to Chile. Cookies are no problem (good – our breakfast, lunch and dinner is save).
An elderly Argentinan couple however, didn’t have valid travel documents. The bus driver told them that this would be a problem (which they didn’t believe) but let them travel to the border anyway. As expected, the Chilean authorities didn’t let them cross the border and the bus had to drive back to the Argentinan side, drop them off and go back to the Chilean border where the luggage was examined. Meanwhile we waited in the bus, listening to 80s and early 90s music (to make things worse) and thinking that 1.5 hours to cross the border might just be normal.
Our Rough Guide Argentina says that on the Chilean side the road improves. Well, no. It doesn’t. At least not the road our driver took: It was fine for a few kilometers but then it was unpaved all the way to Tierra del Fuego’s Argentinan border. The landscape was amazing but I’m pretty sure a paved road wouldn’t reduce the beauty. It would, however, improve the travel experience (and my mood).
Nevertheless, I’m glad we didn’t fly to Ushuaia, we’d have missed some of the most beautiful and unique landscape of our trip so far. After crossing the Strait of Magellan, the Patagonian steppe becomes greener and softer, the hills higher and after Río Grande, more and higher trees grow, there are lakes, green meadows and, finally, snow-capped mountains. Sheep, cows, guanacos, nandus, Patagonian foxes and a lot of different birds – you can spot them all from the bus. I had to put away my book again and again because there was just too much to see outside.