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9 day trip around Bariloche and Chilean Lake District

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Preston, Lancashire
posts: 72
reviews: 313
9 day trip around Bariloche and Chilean Lake District

As part of a six week trip in South America we are planning to spend 9 days travelling around the Bariloche area also taking in Puerto Varas, Puerto Montt and rest of the Lake District in Chile. Originally we were planning to take the boat/bus trip from Bariloche to Puerto Varas and using public transport or excursions but having read the forums, we think hiring a car might provide us with more flexibility. Has anyone completed a similar trip? A number of questions spring to mind:

1. Will there be a problem in taking a car into Chile and back providing the car rental company are notified?

2. Are road conditions suitable for a normal saloon car providing care is taken?

3. Are there any parts considered unsuitable for driving?

4. Could anyone suggest an itinerary for the trip?

Any help that could be provided would be appreciated.

Terry

Preston, Lancashire
posts: 72
reviews: 313
1. Re: 9 day trip around Bariloche and Chilean Lake District

I forgot to mention we are travelling mid February

Terry

Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile
posts: 8,742
reviews: 22
2. Re: 9 day trip around Bariloche and Chilean Lake District

There is no trouble taking the car in as long as you return it to Argentina and you give the rental company time to prepare the papers. The road from Bariloche is fine with an ordinary sedan.

Do be aware that February is the busiest month for internal tourism in Chile and the lake district is a favourite destination. You really need to know where you will stay, at least the first night and, preferably, for your stay in the area. I would make Puerto Varas your first overnight stop.

The border crossings can get very busy in summer and Cardenal Samoré is the second busiest between the two countries. People tend to take fortnight vacations, so the borders are especially busy on or near the fortnight. Just get up early, take some drinks and snacks (no fresh food into Chile though) and enjoy the scenery. You might consider returning via another crossing. Hua Hum would be the easiest for return to Bariloche or Mamuil Malal if you go to Pucón. You would get to San Martin de los Andes with either, spend a night and then on to Bariloche (about 3.5 hrs away).

Preston, Lancashire
posts: 72
reviews: 313
3. Re: 9 day trip around Bariloche and Chilean Lake District

Thanks for the information.

We are hoping to have most of the accommodation booked in the next few days. The planned route is to spend two nights in Bariloche before leaving early on a Thursday morning by road using the Cardenal Samore crossing arriving in Puerto Varas early afternoon. Two nights in PV followed by two nights in Pucon crossing back via Mamuil Malal arriving in San Martin for two nights then one night in Villa Angostura before arriving back at Bariloche and onto the airport. We will have a car throughout so hopefully the time will be sufficient to see the main highlights and do some walking.

Do you think this is realistic?

Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile
posts: 8,742
reviews: 22
4. Re: 9 day trip around Bariloche and Chilean Lake District

Yes, it sounds very good. I am not sure if they have finished the last bit of paving on the Chilean side for Mamuil Malal but we have always crossed in a normal sedan even when the whole route was unpaved. You go through some excellent scenery on the way over, including a forest of auracaria (monkey puzzle) trees and Lanin volcano. Take something to eat in the car. There is a small café on the Chilean side but buses also stop there and its choices are limited. We always took sandwiches and a thermos and stopped somewhere on the way, often between leaving Chile and entering Argentina. Between the Argentine border and Junin de los Andes is Patagonian steppe and very dramatic scenery, totally different from the Chilean side. Take your time and enjoy the drive.

Darwin, Australia
posts: 2
reviews: 279
5. Re: 9 day trip around Bariloche and Chilean Lake District

My wife and I just completed a crossing the Andes tour starting at Puerto Montt and ending at Bariloche. This involved a mix of buses and ferries, most of which would NOT be possible with a hire car. Several of the roads just connect lakes and don't go around them. My suggestion would be to book a package for at least 5 days that takes you from one end to the other and then pick up a car at the end to do more if you want to. We stayed in some great hotels at Puerto Varas (Cumbre Patagonia), Petrohue (Petrohue Lodge) and Bariloche (El Casco Art Hotel). The latter was one of the best we have ever stayed at. Hopefully you'll have great weather like we did. Enjoy!

Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile
posts: 8,742
reviews: 22
6. Re: 9 day trip around Bariloche and Chilean Lake District

Conatus, the Cruce Andino, the bus and boat crossing, is one of two routes between Puerto Montt and Bariloche. It can only be done as a tour or by hiking the middle bit and not by car. However, there is a major crossing by road between Puerto Montt and Bariloche, which goes through some beautiful areas. It is used by cars, buses and trucks and is the second busiest pass, Cardenal Samoré, between Chile and Argentina.

Chicago
posts: 1
reviews: 48
7. Re: 9 day trip around Bariloche and Chilean Lake District

Your trip sounds great. Could you tell us which tour company you used, what you thought of the service and costs. My husband and I are planning a similar trip.

Thank you.

Darwin, Australia
posts: 2
reviews: 279
8. Re: 9 day trip around Bariloche and Chilean Lake District

We got our travel agent to organise things for us so it was therefore a mix of tours and transfers which gave us some flexibility. The lakes crossing part was run by TurisTur from memory but I can't tell you an exact cost sorry because it was part of an overall package. I was pleased someone else was doing the driving though!

9. Re: 9 day trip around Bariloche and Chilean Lake District

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Victoria, Canada
posts: 57
reviews: 24
10. Re: 9 day trip around Bariloche and Chilean Lake District

We rented a Renault Duster SUV from Villa la Angostura, they met us at the Bariloche airport and gave us the paperwork we needed to drive to Chile. The border is interesting and time consuming but interesting to drive past the volcanic ash past Puyehue. You have to park and get out of the car and everyone go inside at both the Argentina side and the Chile side. You stop at a little hut either way, the guy gives you the forms you have to get filled out. You have to go to each numbered office in numerical order, even though the offices are not arranged in order. You have to fill out agricultural forms to enter Chile. Chile will search your bags. After you go through both borders, you go to another hut and hand in the form. You have to do this whether you drive or take the bus, everyone gets out and goes inside at both sides of the border.

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