Taking a bus from Puerto Varas to Bariloche is easy. The problems we had were conversing in Spanish with the ticket agents and getting our pressing questions answered. However, we were able to get by with a few important Spanish words and with the help of Lonely Planet's Latin American Spanish.
Bus Notre, Cruz del Sur and Pullman are some of the bus companies you'll find in Puerto Varas. We were told all three belong to the same group. Bus Notre also known as Cruz del Sur charged 15,000 Chilean pesos per person from Puerto Varas to Bariloche. Pullman was 18,000 Chilean pesos per person. Both left daily at 9 a.m. from their own bus terminal in Puerto Varas. The thing is, Puerto Varas does not have a central bus station.
Bus Notre/Cruz del Sur leaves from their 1317 San Francisco Street office. Tickets can be purchased either at the San Francisco Street office or at Walker Martinez 239-B in the city center near Llanquihue Lake. Pullman's bus leaves from their office on Portales Street. We purchased the Bus Notre tickets at the San Francisco Street office two days before departure, after deciding not to take the Andean Lakes Crossing from Puerto Varas to Bariloche. The gloomy weather forecast helped us make the decision to go for the cheaper travel option: by bus.
Our luggage was tagged and handled with care by the attendant in Puerto Varas. Each luggage was given a tag along with a receipt for us to claim upon arrival in Bariloche. It is best to arrive at least 20 minutes before the scheduled departure. It is a non-stop ride between Puerto Varas and Bariloche. The only stop was at the border between Chile and Argentina.
Osorno bus terminal
The bus made a stop at Osorno, which means if you are in Osorno, you can take the bus at Osorno bus terminal instead of traveling to Puerto Varas. While waiting for other passengers to board at the Osorno terminal, I had the opportunity to see men selling coffee. They walked around with a thermos strapped in front and disposable cups at the side (see photo below).
Coffee and cookies
Coffee and cookies were served on board. The bus attendant was a joy to look at. He was smiling at all times and wearing a tie with a nicely pressed dress shirt and pants.
The lush greeneries of Lake District Chile were replaced by leafless tall trees as we traveled towards the east, to the partially inhabited interior part of Chile. As we approached Argentina's border, at a higher elevation, mountain and lakes became visible. Take a look at the photos taken on an iPhone of the changing vegetation.
Border crossing was fast. While we were there, we had to pay a reciprocity fee upon entering Chile in Santiago airport ($160 per person) and also in Argentina ($160 per person).We had to show our payment receipt to the immigration officer at the Argentinian border control office and when we purchased the bus tickets in Puerto Varas. I am happy to report that you no longer need to pay $160 cash per person to enter Chile. Argentina suspended the reciprocity fee until further notice.
Always check whether there are visa and or reciprocity fees before traveling.
Bariloche bus terminal
Upon arrival at Bariloche Bus Terminal, local men and women came rushing to the bus with their offers of accommodation and money exchange services. Some were selling food and drinks.
Beware of your luggage and belongings at the Bariloche Bus Terminal. It is not in the best part of the city.
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Updated: May 16, 2016
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