I decided to put all these into one post. The process is just too easy and straight forward to make a post for each. Park outside, walk in, stamp your passport, hand in vehicle permit, “cross border”, new stamp in passport, new vehicle permit, get back in the car, drive... End of story.
Or, well, there is actually one more step if you are going from Argentina to Chile. Chile has VERY strict rules about what kind of fresh food you can bring into the country. At the borders there is a third step in filling out a form where you either tick off for “no food” or “have food”. We always, I repeat ALWAYS (because we do have food), tick off for “have food”. If you say no, and they do an inspection (and they will! (and they are thorough)), where they find food, you could be fined. Many travellers tell us about problems with customs regarding food. However, it normally means that they have ticked off “no food”, and tried to hide some goodies. We have learned what is okay and what is not (mostly), and milk, cheese, butter, bread, alcohol, dry food, coffee, tea, juice, and even salami, ham and dinner left overs in a zip-lock, has been okay. They take away fresh fruits and vegetables, and at one border we lost a small glass of honey. So don’t stock up on fresh food just before going in to Chile.
We crossed between Chile and Argentina nine times. The two first crossings are documented separately in previous posts. The next six are:
Paso Hua Hum – Chile to Argentina in the Lake District
Futaleufu – Argentina to Chile in the northern end of Carretera Austral
Rio Jeinimeni – Chile to Argentina south of Lago General Carretera/Lago Buenos Aires
Paso Internacional Integracion Austral – Argentina to Chile in southern Patagonia
San Sebastian – Chile to Argentina on Tierra del Fuego
San Sebastian – Argentina to Chile on Tierra del Fuego on our way back from Ushuaia
On my way up from Patagonia to a place where I can ship the Patrol, I will have to cross back into Argentina = 10 times.
Hua Hum – Chile to Argentina
First crossing after the slow and slightly chaotic border on the main route between Mendoza and Santiago (last border post) was the quiet road over Hua Hum pass. Not like the passes we drove further north, this was more like a drive through the forest. Max elevation was something like 670 meters above sea level. This is a small border station and was very relaxed. I think there was two or three other cars on the ferry that continued on to Argentina. We had a quick lunch stop just after the ferry, so when we got to the border we were the only ones there.
Chilean customs. Checking out of Chile took probably less than 5 minutes.
A couple of kilometers further we stopped at the Argentinean customs. Here we were also the only “clients”, so the process was fast. As far as I can remember, I don’t think they even came out with us to check the license plate.
Futaleufu – Argentina to Chile
This is another of the small border crossings between these two countries, and it is also where you need to cross if you are coming from Argentina and want to drive south on the Carretera Austral. The road to the border goes west just south of Esquel.
Can’t find the picture of the Argentinean border station, but I’ll check with Head of Photography…
On the other side of the border, we stop at the Chilean customs. Papers are sorted out quickly. We have a copy of our first Chilean vehicle permit with us, and we use this as a template for filling out the import permit form. You have to fill out this form every time you cross the border to Chile. We ticked off for “yes, we have food”, and an officer came with us out and had a look in the fridge. I think we had half an onion, so we gave them this, and we were on our way.
Rio Jeinimeni – Chile to Argentina
There are several small roads crossing the border along the Carretera Austral. We went for the one between Chilechico and Perito Moreno in Argentina.
The Chilean customs are a couple of kilometers past the town center of Chilechico.
Just after the customs you go over a bridge which would mark the actual border. Keep driving and park outside the building “blocking the road”. We have not been able to figure out how exactly they meant for travellers like us to park while processing the paperwork, so we normally improvise and park as close to the entrance as possible. At this border we were asked in detail about our vehicle insurance. I never looked into if this is mandatory in Argentina, but judging from the questions at some of the borders, this is probably so. It took me a while to explain to the officer that Alessie (my insurance agent from Holland) is using an American underwriter, so when it say that the insurance expire 12/04/11 this actually means 4th of December. In Europe, well, actually everywhere else in the world, the date format starts with the day, then month, and year at the end. He thought my insurance had expired on the 12th of April, about six months earlier. I convinced him in the end..
Paso Internacional Integracion Austral – Argentina to Chile
Fast and easy. This is where you will cross the border if you are planning to take the “normal” ferry over to Tierra del Fuego. The border is about half way between the town Rio Gallegos and the ferry on Highway 3. Quite a bit more traffic here than on the previous borders, but it was still efficient. We must have been out and in in less than 20 minutes.
Chilean Customs. Same procedure as the other Chilean border controls, make sure to tick off for “have food”. No problems, and only a qick inspection of the fridge and the food drawer.
San Sebastian – Chile to Argentina
Half way down on the Tierra del Fuego you have to cross the border back into Argentina. We are getting a little bit tired of all these borders, as they feel kind of pointless in such a “small” area. No way around it, though, so we put on the big smile and go for it.
Checking out of Chile for the eight time.
At every border they always ask you where you are coming from and where you are going. I think this was the first one where they didn’t ask where we were going. Ushuaia is at the end of the road…
Going back into Argentina was no big deal. I don’t really think they worry about people sneaking across this border…
Argentinean customs. Getting windier as we keep driving south :-)
We were hoping to be able to drive back into Chile at another border crossing a little bit further south on the island, but according to the officers at the Chilean side on this crossing, there was no Aduana (customs) there. There is a road, but it is only used by locals. Maybe it could have been possible to cross and then sort out the paperwork later, but we didn’t really see the point as the roads were less than 100 kilometers apart.
After visiting Ushuaia and driving to the end of the road, we went back up Tierra del Fuego pretty much the same way we came down. We crossed at the same border.
The last crossing into Argentina will probably be in a couple of days, but then only for me. Malin is going to check out of Chile, but there will not be another immigration on the other side… How? Read the next blog post!!!