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El Calafate to TDP via bus? private transfer? car hire?

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El Calafate to TDP via bus? private transfer? car hire?

Solo traveller looking to sort out some logistics in travelling from El Calafate to Torres del Paine National Park next week. Looking to hike the circuit; carrying wheeled suitcase with hiking pack and gear inside so any suggestions on where to store luggage whilst hiking also appreciated (leave at refugio? hosteria? hotel? airport?)

With that in mind what is the best way to get from FTE (El Calafate Airport) to TDP NP? Bus? Private Transfer? Car hire?

I have previously hired a car to travel from FTE upto El Chalten for some hiking but thought it would be a waste to leave the car idle whilst doing the much longer TDP circuit. Unless there is any one-way hire possible. Most expensive option I think but certainly allows the freedom of travel. What about paperwork for border crossing?

Private transfer seems to be a possibility that avoids having an idle car, but is the cost prohibitive for a solo traveller? I cannot for mind find much in this space over the internet so if anyone has gone down this path (especially if recent experience) thoughts would be appreciated. Costs, reliability, etc., Ideally pick up from FTE airport, drive into town to pick up some supplies, gas cylinder, etc., then head straight to TDP. And possible return journey back to FTE airport (or El Calafate) from TDP. Bit of english preferred (but I'm sure I can otherwise manage with sign language!)

Bus is obviously the cheapest option but which provider? Again there is a bit to decipher over the internet but am looking for direct service (nothing via Puerto Natales) that is reasonably efficient (in terms of travel time). I'm getting the feeling that most regular services depart early morning - is there anything other than that? Otherwise flying in from BA to FTE would necessitate an o/night stay - not ideal given 2 week timeframe in Argentina (Also want to spend 2days in Iguazu).

Many thanks!

Santiago, Chile
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1. Re: El Calafate to TDP via bus? private transfer? car hire?

If you don't want to go through Puerto Natales, your options are renting a car (which you will have to return to Argentina) or taking Always Glaciers day tour to the park and arranging to return with them another day. I think that will come out about US$150 return. Not cheap, but cheaper than a private transfer, which would probably be double that. One thing you would need to check with Always Glaciers is if they do the trip at this time of year. There is no direct bus to the park from El Calafate, they go to Puerto Natales.

You can arrange to leave your bag in a refugio. Some refugios close for the winter and the date varies according to what the weather is doing. They should be open until the end of March at least, but check. Chilean customs are very strict about what food can come across the border, so no fresh food, no loose nuts and raisins (commercially packed is usually alright). You can arrange to eat in the refugios if you give them a few hours notice.

If you are hoping to do the full circuit rather than the W, check with the park authorities about the condition of the trails. It is always a good idea to remain flexible in Patagonia.

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2. Re: El Calafate to TDP via bus? private transfer? car hire?


Just got back on Sat. from BA via El Calafate after doing the TDP circuit.

Our trip got all muddled up due to the earthquake, so we had to quickly rebook from Santiago to go through BA and therefor no longer had all our transportation worked out....kind of had to figure everything out when we landed.

Transportation is very difficult, inconsistent, in efficient and if you don't speak Spanish, hard to arrange.

Private is likely to be the easiest, but not the most cost effective.

We wanted to go from Calafate to TDP directly and were told at the bus station that nothing went direct. So we ended up going through PN and staying a night. On the way back however, there was a bus that went direct back to Calafate. Tourismo was the bus company/tour company. Only found this out at the park. $50US. 4.5hrs depending on how long the border crossing takes. We were told it left at 4pm to go back to Calafate, it didn't actually arrive until 5pm and didn't leave until 5:30pm. Got back to EC at 10:30pm

Going from Argentina to Chile, many people had their meat and fruit taken away from them. 2 stops, on at each countries boarder.

We got into the airport late, so we didn't have the option of going direct to the part with buses.

If you can stay in El Calafate (we did the first and last couple nights) and they kept our extra bags for us. The Refuegios will but for a cost, but we never tried. Hosterias are very, very expensive - Grey was $400US per night/per dbl room.

El Calafate is a very nice lakeside town.

The circuit is great, but not easy. The refuegios have beds to rent (10-15,000pesos), meals are good, and large, meat and potatoes type for dinner. Grey was particularly good for a refuegios off the W.

Dickson was really nice too!

We camped most of the time and camping was $5-8,000 pesos.

Seron was not good. An outside tap, but no cover from the wind (and it was VERY windy). and not near a stream.

Good luck with Gardner pass now...it was brutal when we did a couple weeks ago. There will likely be a lot of snow up there now...there was the day after we did it. Knee deep.

We went from Hosteria Las Torres, up to camp Torres North. Hiked up to the Mirador then down and hiked at Camp Torres near the Hosteria.

Then went around the circuit to Grey, so we never got to finish the whole thing, but we were happy. Only took 7days for that whole trip.

I heard from many that the French Valley shouldn't be missed.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

Good luck.


buenos aires
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3. Re: El Calafate to TDP via bus? private transfer? car hire?

The best option to go to TDP is in a private service, are no so cheap, but are wonderfulls.-

I recomend facebook.com/4x4transfers

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4. Re: El Calafate to TDP via bus? private transfer? car hire?

There is a bus station in calafate - seem to remember services through to chile were at least daily - we just went to the bus station, booked the tickets for the next day to Puerto Natales and when we got there booked all the trip round torres and left our bags at the hostel we stayed at that night - bus picked us up to go to torres first thing in the morning.

5. Re: El Calafate to TDP via bus? private transfer? car hire?

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