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Published: October 25th 2009
Public transport in much of Patagonia is difficult but once off the beaten track it can become almost impossible. We tried to get from Esquel in Argentina to Chaiten in Chile and then by ferry to the island of Chiloe, it's doable but not practical - at least for us. It all started well, at Esquel we thought we were in luck, the bus to the border runs only on Monday and Friday, it was Friday - result :-) Crossing the border was simple and straightforward (it's not always like that between Argentina and Chile), only when we got to Futaleufu in Chile did things start to go pear shaped. There are bed and breakfast places but none are listed online so it's difficult to make a reservation in advance, as it's still early in the season we didn't expect this to be a problem. When we arrived at about 8H30 pm it was snowing like a bas***d and blowing a gale, just when we didn't need more unseasonal weather. The first two places we tried were both full, but the American woman who ran the second one told us the place round the corner normally had vacancies, not a good sign but it was dark and we were wet and cold. The people were really nice and friendly but the place had a strange feel to it, we made sure our door was locked when we went to bed. The guidebooks say there's a daily bus from Futaleufu to Chaiten but it seems it doesn't run anymore, apparently a minibus goes when there are enough people to fill it. To add to that problem the once per week ferry to Chiloe gets cancelled or delayed when the weather is bad, at the moment it's worse than bad. We could have waited a day or two in Futaleufu for transport to Chaiten then hoped the ferry would run on time, but there is nothing to do in Futaleufu - especially in the weather we're having, nowhere nice to stay, and no coffee shops so we bit the bullet and decided to go back to Argentina, which of course was a bit pricey as we had to arrange a special transport through the minibus company, head to Bariloche and then take the bus down to Chiloe via Puerto Montt. Neither of us are very happy, it feels like a bit of a cop out, but it's the best choice we can make.
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