Yes, we knew that the border crossing from Villa O’Higgins in Chile to El Chalten in Argentina was going to be a little expensive. We bought our ferry tickets when we arrived in Villa O’Higgins. A not very interested lady sells the tickets in an overly heated tipi tent next to the company’s (Robinson Crusoe) brand new and somehow misplaced luxury hotel. Once you see this hotel you can imagine where the money from the tickets goes to.
Anyway, we paid 44.000 CLP per person for the first ferry and 18.000 CLP for the second ferry (together about €82). Later we found out that the prices had doubled in the last few years.
The company’s ferry was broken and so we did the traverse of the Lago O’Higgins on a little fishing vessel with a lot less comfort but more charm. Charging the same price seemed greedy though.
The first ferry was on a Saturday and the second ferry was planned for the Sunday at 6pm. We arrived at the Lago Del Desertio (where the second ferry leaves from) on Saturday evening, providing us a full day of rest. The next morning at 10am our fellow bikers kicked us out of our cosy tent saying that there was an earlier ferry at 10.30am. We rushed all our gear into our bags and onto our bikes and then waited until 12pm when the ferry finally turned up. It had actually been called by the friendly officer of the border control, given that there were a total of nine people waiting for a chance to cross the lake. Out of these 9 people 4 did not have a ticket yet and the boat personal requested 420 Argentinian Pesos from these, which is almost double the price of what we paid. But even worse is that they did not accept our ferry vouchers saying it was a different boat and even a different company. So we and one hiker decided to stay and wait for the 6pm ferry.
A bit later more hikers turned up and the border control officer called the ferry guys again. They asked for the same price as before and as nobody accepted it, they lowered it soon. Still no sign of accepting our voucher though, instead they said that the 6pm wouldn’t turn up at all since it was broken. This smelled as fishy as it gets and so once more we didn’t fall for their scam. As everybody else had boarded the ferry he suddenly came back for the remaining ones and said that now they would accept our vouchers. So obviously that was just so that they didn’t have to come back for us once more since it was the very same company and the broken 6pm ferry was a complete myth.
Well, thank you for giving us the worst first impression of Argentina one could think of!
As we arrived at the other side of the lake I found an employee of the ferry company that could speak some English and confronted him with their dirty strategies in front of a few other employees and a police officer. At first they denied that it was their usual strategy and as I dug deeper they just said they were sorry about it, but with no sign of regret.
Looking back at our few days in Argentina I’m happy to say that fortunately this was the only bad experience we’ve had.