When it comes to traveling the 885 miles (1,425 km) between the mountain village of El Chaltén and lakeside Bariloche, you have a few options. The first and fastest is to transfer from El Chaltén to El Calafate and catch a direct flight to Bariloche. The second is to set aside some time to rent a car and take in the Argentinian countryside along RN40, which follows the Andes on its way up Argentina's western border. Another potential route comes from one of our travelers and while it isn't the most direct path, it makes use of public transportation to cut down on costs.
To get the most out of your visit to both El Chaltén and Bariloche, consider this 10-day hiking itinerary that includes both towns as well as El Calafate and Buenos Aires.
Duration: 7 hours, 35 minutes
Direct flights to Bariloche leave from the larger Patagonian city El Calafate. To get from El Chaltén to El Calafate Airport (FTE), your best bet is hiring a private transfer or shared shuttle from your accommodations in El Chaltén to the airport.
Otherwise, you can take the bus. Caltur, El Chaltén, and Tasqa/Marga offer daily departures between the bus terminal in El Chaltén off of Calle Perito Moreno and the terminal in El Calafate on Calle Antoine de Saint Exsupery. This route takes three hours, not including transfer from the bus station to the airport (which takes about 20 minutes).
Once you arrive in El Calafate, you can take a direct flight to San Carlos de Bariloche Airport (BRC). The flight takes about one hour and 45 minutes, and Aerolineas Argentinas offers a couple of flights per day. Upon arrival, you can take a private transfer or taxi to your accommodations in town, which is about 30 minutes from the airport.
Duration: 23 hours, depending on stops
RN40 takes you nearly all the way from El Chaltén to Bariloche, a journey that takes 23 hours without stops. Though you'll see Andean peaks and Patagonian steppes along most of the famous route anyway, consider turning onto RN259 near Esquel to enter Los Alceres National Park to see mountainside lakes and glacial cirques. Though most of the route is paved, keep in mind conditions may be worse in winter (June-September).
Duration: Approximately 23 hours total
Bus – El Chalten to Punta Arenas (Chile): Approximately 13 hr total with 4 transfers
- El Chalten to El Calafate - 3 hr / Estimated cost: $11-$28
- El Calafate to Laguna Amarga - 2 hr / Estimated cost: $5
- Laguna Amarga to Puerto Natales - 1 hr 30 min / Estimated cost: $6-$19
- Puerto Natales - Punta Arenas - 3 hr 15 min / Estimated cost: $10-$19
Fly – Punta Arenas (Chile) to Puerto Montt (Chile) - 2 hr / Estimated cost: $160-$230
Bus – Puerto Montt (Chile) to Bariloche - 8hr / Estimated cost: $44
Another possible route involves a bit more adventure and was submitted by one of our helpful travelers, who suggests a cost-effective way to get from El Chalten to Bariloche that involves hopping on several buses to Chile.
From El Chalten, grab a bus south to El Calafate, which will take about three hours. From there, you’ll transfer to another bus that will take you across the border to Laguna Amarga in Chile in a couple of hours. In Laguna Amarga, you’ll transfer to your next bus that will arrive in Puerto Natales in about an hour and a half. A final transfer in Puerto Natales will get you to Punta Arenas in a little over three hours.
Once you arrive in Punta Arenas, you can catch a flight to Puerto Montt that will take about two hours. Finally, a bus ride from Puerto Montt back into Argentina will get you to Bariloche in a little over eight hours.