Río Grande (Argentina)
On the north bank of its namesake river, Río Grande (population 52,786) is 79 kilometers southeast of the Chilean border post at San Sebastián and 190 kilometers northeast of Ushuaia via Ruta Nacional 3, now completely paved (though some deteriorating segments south toward Tolhuin will soon need repaving).
Most visitors who stay in and around Río Grande, on the barren, blustery Atlantic shoreline, do so for the fishing. For the rest, it’s more a transit point than a destination, but thanks to smoothly paved streets, the huge dust clouds that once blew through this wool and oil town have subsided. There are limits to beautification, though, as all the trees in Plaza Almirante Brown are stiffly wind-flagged.
Bus schedules used to dictate that travelers pass the night here, but recent improvements mean quicker connections for Ushuaia-bound travelers. Still, services have improved, and there’s enough to do that an afternoon spent here need not be a wasted one.
Aerolíneas Argentinas/Austral (San Martín 607, tel. 02964/422748) flies daily to Río Gallegos and Buenos Aires. LADE (Lasserre 425, tel. 02964/422968) flies to Río Gallegos and, less frequently, to Comodoro Rivadavia.
Since the old terminal closed, bus companies now have their own offices, some of them shared. Lider (Perito Moreno 635, tel. 02964/420003) and Transportes Montiel (25 de Mayo 712, tel. 02964/420997) have multiple departures to Tolhuín (US$5) and Ushuaia (US$10). Bus Sur (Perito Moreno 635, tel. 02964/425644) goes to Punta Arenas, Chile (US$18, eight hours), on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 10 a.m.
Tecni-Austral (Moyano 516, tel. 02964/430610) goes to Punta Arenas on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9:30 a.m., to Río Gallegos (US$20, eight hours) via Chile daily except Sunday at 9 a.m., and to Ushuaia (US$9, four hours) daily at 4 p.m.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition