There are a number of border crossings between Argentina and Chile. One of the most picturesque is the so-called “Lakes Crossing,” known in Spanish as the CruceAndino. It takes almost eleven hours and consists of three boat rides and four bus rides. They are as follows:
- BUS from San Carlos de Bariloche to Puerto Pañuelos on Lago Nahuel Huapi
- CATAMARAN from Puerto Pañuelos to Puerto Blest
- BUS from Puerto Blest to Puerto Alegre on Lago Frias
- BOAT from Puerto Alegre to Puerto Frias, where you will officially exit from Argentina
- BUS from Puerto Frias to Puerto Peulla on Lago Todos Santos, where you will officially enter Chile, and where you can stretch the trip to two days by staying in a hotel (I didn’t)
- CATAMARAN from Puerto Peulla to Petrohué
- BUS from Petrohué to Puerto Varas right past the Calbuco Volcano, which erupted three times this spring
I had thought that crossing the Andes here would involve altitude sickness, but it didn’t. I do not believe this route got much higher than 3,000-4,000 feet. Although while on Lago Frias, it seemed we were way up high, we weren’t. All in all, it was very comfortable and well organized, considering all the handoffs between buses and boats.
The only thing that was odd was that I never received a Chilean tourist card at Peulla, where I entered the country. When I left Chile from Santiago’s Benitez Airport, I had to go to another window so that the PDI (investigative police) generated one for me based on my passport stamps. In any case, it was worth the slight inconvenience.