After a horrible night’s sleep thanks to a terrible snoring man in our room, we left Ushuaia at 6:30AM. We headed towards the Punta Delgada Crossing, which is in Chile, to get off the island of Tierra del Fuego. This was the worst border crossing we had encountered on our entire trip. Leaving Argentina was easy, we just had to wait in line, but Chile was a mess. We arrived at the Chilean border control and there were so many people (probably all trying to get off the island). The first two stations were easy and we had no problems but when we got to the third station, customs, we were stopped. We had made the exact sandwiches that we made the last time we crossed the Chilean border (salame, cheese, tomatoes, and spicy mayo) but this time the woman denied us, so we had to eat all of the salame and tomatoes from our sandwiches…Lesson learned: every border control is different so be prepared to throw out food or consume it all! We were so happy that this was the last time we were entering Chile because we always had some sort of problem in this country. This time we were only going to be in Chile for a few hours to get off the island so we were more relaxed.
We drove until the Punta Delgada crossing, which isn’t a city, so you might think you’re headed in the wrong direction but you’re not. We arrived at 2PM and there was a line for the boat, but we got there just in time because right after we arrived the line grew a lot. Since the crossing is only 20 minutes across there is no need for (and they do not accept) reservations but since they don’t take them you have to wait in line until you can get on the boat with your car. We got on the boat at 3:30PM , after waiting for an hour and a half and arrived at Punta Delgada at 3:50. You buy your tickets after you park on the boat and prices are listed here. We combined both Chilean pesos and American dollars to pay for our ticket, but once again they only accept cash.
After the crossing, we drove towards Rio Gallegos and had to cross the border one last time, but crossing into Argentina is always much easier than going into Chile so we had no problems. We arrived in Rio Gallegos at 5:30PM and the weather was very rainy and disgusting. We had heard that Rio Gallegos was not a very nice city so we didn’t expect much but it was even worse than we anticipated. It was a very industrial city with a lot of graffiti and run down houses and buildings. We tried looking for the campsite that we found on the internet but it didn’t exist! We drove around the city a bit and found nothing so we decided to go towards our next destination, Puerto Santa Cruz, and hoped to find a campsite on the way.
So we started on Ruta 3, the main highway that runs parallel to Ruta 40 and on the Eastern coast of Argentina, and were excited in the beginning because this was the second famous route in the country. Our excitement soon wore off after we drove for a little while because there is nothing in between cities, just flat, desert-like land. So we didn’t find any camping on the way and when we arrived at Parque Nacional Monte Leon in the pouring rain at about 8:30PM it was closed because of the heavy rain. The ranger said it was too dangerous to drive in the park when it’s raining because of the bad roads and she told us of the city of Piedra Buena which had a campsite.
Piedra Buena was just about 20km away and when we arrived, the only campsite we found cost AR$100, which isn’t too bad. However, since it was so wet and we were just going to sleep in our car anyways, we decided to save our money and sleep in our car. There was a very well-lit parking lot under the bridge that we had crossed and it was in a really nice neighborhood so we decided to take our chances and sleep there for the night. We were a bit scared because we didn’t know how dangerous the city was but it seemed pretty safe (it was a fairly small town). We slept there with no problems from the police or people. It may not have been our best (or safest) idea but we saved AR$100 and it wasn’t so cold.
###Map: Ushuaia to the crossing
Crossing till Puerto Santa Cruz
- Left Ushuaia @ 6:30AM
- AR$480 = Hostel (AR$120/person/night)
- Arrived @ Punta Delgada Crossing @ 2PM
- CLP$7000 + $15
- AR$315 = Gas [AR$7.14/L]
- Arrived @ Puerto del Santa Cruz @ 8PM
- Total = AR$795 / CLP$7000 / U.S. $15