Patagonia and other adventure travel destinations

How to get from Puerto Natales to El Calafate

The vast region of Patagonia isn’t confined to one country. In fact, it actually stretches across most of southern Chile and Argentina. It’s almost impossible to see every part of Patagonia in a single vacation – but if you wanted to create a fairly comprehensive trip, you might want to visit both Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia. A good way to do this is to go from Puerto Natales to El Calafate, which takes you across the border and towards one of the most stunning attractions in Patagonia – the Perito Moreno Glacier. Here, we explain how to get from Puerto Natales to El Calafate by bus, along with some information about these quaint Patagonian towns.

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Puerto Natales: The gateway to the Torres del Paine

Once a small port on the banks of Seno Última Esperanza, Puerto Natales is now a hub for the Torres del Paine National Park. Therefore, if you want to see some of the most spectacular scenery Chilean has to offer, a stop in Puerto Natales is a must. Located about 155 miles northwest of Punta Arenas on Ruta 9, the town is also the most southerly terminal on a ferry trip through the Chilean fjords. As a result, this small town is a buzzing destination, filled with adventurers from all over the world. However, the town caters well for the year-round swarm of visitors, with boutique bars, great restaurants, and cozy lodgings.

El Calafate: A base for the Perito Moreno Glacier

El Calafate is in southern Argentina, approximately 170 miles north of Puerto Natales. The town is an important base for one of Argentina’s most impressive national parks, Los Glaciares. Within the park is a whole host of incredible sites, including the imposing Perito Moreno Glacier. Therefore, this quaint Patagonian town is a mecca for hikers. However, the town’s popularity with Buenos Aires residents looking to escape the heat means that it’s also a chic destination with plenty to offer those looking for a refined finish to a day’s exploring.

Traveling from Puerto Natales to El Calafate

If you’re looking to tie in trips to two of Patagonia’s most impressive national parks, traveling between Puerto Natales and El Calafate is a good approach. Not only will it mean you’ll get to see two of the regions most famous attractions, but you’ll also get a taste of Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. The best way to get from Puerto Natales to El Calafate is by bus. Compared to other Patagonian bus journeys, it’s actually fairly manageable in length – just 5 hours including the border crossing. Below are departure times, and more information about the bus operator, click here.

Departures from Puerto Natales to El Calafate:

8:00 am, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

7:00 am Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday

2:00 pm, Monday to Friday

An important thing to remember when taking buses is that the time frames can be a little changeable. Sometimes buses will leave a little early or late and the operator will calculate rest stops into the schedule. To avoid getting stranded it’s also useful to buy tickets in advance. Otherwise, for single people and small groups, bus travel in Patagonia is a comfortable, low cost, and convenient way to travel.

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