A new year; time for a new country. Our Chilean visa was about to expire the 8th of January and we were ready for a new country. We really enjoyed our time in Chile and saw amazing nature, mammals and birds, but in the south of Chile we felt a little bit stuck. We wanted to go to Ushuaia but the borders were still closed for foreigners. The only open border in the south was the Austral Border. Each time, due to Covid, the Chilean government was expiring the opening of more borders and sometimes they closed borders suddenly without any warning. Therefore, we wanted to go as quickly as possible, as the other way ‘out’ of the south was taking a boat again to the other part of Chile (which was fully booked for months).
We had to arrange a PCR test in Punta Arenas. There were 150 free PCR tests taken every day, and we were lucky enough to get two of those. They told us we would get our results in 24 or 48 hours. Not the answer we hoped for, because it was already the 4th of January, but we had no other option then waiting. So, we did some birding around Punta Arenas, got a really big hamburger to takeaway and enjoyed a quiet camping place in a park near the sea. The next day we got a text with a link to a website. On the website we filled in our passport number and we could download our negative results. Five minutes after receiving the text we were on the highway to the border of Argentina.
Around 16:15, we arrived at the Chilean border and after waiting till 17:15 it was our turn. The lady at the counter said that we couldn’t cross, because it was already too late for tourists to cross the Argentinean border. They said we had to go back to Punta Arenas and come back tomorrow at 8:00. Of course, we didn’t want to drive back 2,5 hours, so we slept in our car at the parking lot a few meters before the border. The next morning, we stood in line at 8:30. They told us it was too early and we had to come back at 9:45. So finally, at 10:00 we’ve got our stamp and our paperwork for the car and went to the Argentinean side. At the Argentinean border, there were already a lot of people waiting in line. We asked if it was the correct line for us and it was according to the customs. So, we waited again. When it was our turn, the man behind the counter said that we first had to go to another building for our medical check. Alright, let’s go and wait in that line. When it was our turn after another hour of waiting, we gave our passports and he asked for our PCR test. We showed him the results and he said that it was not correct because our passport number was missing. He said we had to go back to Punta Arenas for another test, because now he couldn’t check if it was our test, even though our names were on there (and believe us, our names are not common here). We almost sh*t our pants. Luckily, I had a little bit internet connection and we showed the guy the text. He said we had to go to the website to show our result. I filled in my passport number and suddenly he was fine with it (yes, we typed it in ourselves!^^). Really strange, but we were really thankful. We were already afraid that we had to drive 2,5h back and wait again on another PCR test for 24-48 hours etc. Some more papers, checks and questions later, we were finally ready to get our ‘visa’ for the car as well. Finally, around 13:30 we were good to go. Almost 24 hours at the border! So we were happy we were finally on the bumpy Argentinean road.
We decided to start with something fun before we were heading to the city for necessities. We went to Cabo Virgenes. A 120km long bumpy road, but at the end of the road there is a Magellanic Penguin colony. I just love penguins. They are so fun to watch, clumsy and so human-like in their behaviour. There was one trail and there were penguins everywhere; under bushes with their chicks or walking along the road. Really cute! We stayed the night there, but first we went to the beach to watch some seabirds. It was (yes again) windy. So we didn’t see a lot. We wanted to drive away, but suddenly I saw a huge penguin standing far away on the beach. It was a King Penguin!! Really cool to find a King Penguin just on the beach instead of in the reserve. An awesome new species for this new country 😊
Are you curious where we are right now? Check out our Google Maps with all the pointers. You can see the places we visited and where we slept 😊