Just after sunrise we arrived to Los Antiguos. It was the final destination for our full overnight bus from El Chalten. All passengers disembarked and almost 90% of them hopped directly on another waiting bus to Bariloche. Our plans were little different, we would hitchhike and cross the nearby border from Argentina to Chile. And indeed we got lucky pretty quickly! A woman who worked at the Argentinian border station gave us a free ride, but only thus far.
Walking from Argentina to Chile
The straight air distance between the Argentina/Chile border checkpoints was about 1km. However thanks to a river the real walking distance turned out to be 6.4km. We started walking with the hope for another free car ride. It turned out that none of the passing cars would stop for backpackers who walked along the way. And also certainly not for crossing animals. The death toll of the road were 3 rabbits and another unidentified species.
Right before the bridge were big welcome to our country signs. I ordered Jo to pose for a photo with the big blue Bienvenido a Chile sign. A minute before a border patrol car pulled over and two carabineros armed with UZI machine guns did the same at the Argentina sign. I had the opportunity to snap a picture of them but was too respectful at the end.
We marched for about two hours, crossed the border to Chile and hopped on a passing Taxi to Chile Chico. At the end it would have been possible, more comfortable but also more costly to take a taxi directly from Los Antiguos.
Camping by the General Carrera lake
Immediately after arriving to cozy Chile Chico we opted in for a breakfast and coffee by the General Carrera lake. The sun heated us from above while a fresh watery air breeze cooled us from the side. It felt like a perfect combination of clear water, warm weather and cozy town that made us wanting to stay and chill for a few days.
Our new home for three nights was Camping Kon-Aiken. Conviently located between the biggest supermarket and the lake shore. For a typical amount of 6000 pesos per person and night we got a place under a tree, semi clean facilities and stable wifi access.
Chile Chico Town
Chile Chico is built around one straight main road. A breezy hilltop on the end of town provides visitors with panoramic views over the town and the General Carrera lake.
A serious amount of peach trees was growing in the gardens and along the sidewalks. I had to climb a bit to collect some of these sweet little gems for free.
Chile Chico Beach
Next to eating free peaches we spent half a day doing nothing on the beach. Following the path by the shore to the east we found a wind shielded place behind a stranded fishing boat. As a sign “Playa no apta para bano” suggested, the stone beach was not suitable for swimming. We wondered why and concluded that it could only be because of the freezing +-15 degree water temperature.
Continue travelling to Puerto Ingenerio Ibanez
After three nights we had to get up with the early sunrise in order to board the car/passenger ferry over the General Carrera Lake to Puerto Ingenerio Ibanez. The ferry was the cheapest and quickest way to cross the lake. It was not going every day, the tickets were limited and we needed to buy them two days in advance. Other travelers preferred to travel along the scenic coast road and hitchhiked out of town. There were also busses which drove around the lake but they didn’t go directly to Puerto Ibanez.
From Puerto Ibanez we would continue travelling to Villa Cerro Castillo, the go-to town for those who like to do the Cerro Castillo Trek.