It’s not often that the journey to a border, over a border, and onward takes place almost entirely within a national park, but that’s exactly the situation when you cross from Patagonian Argentina into Patagonian Chile via the Paso Rodolfo Roballos border. Welcome to the 78th border crossing of our road trip.
From: Los Antiguos in Patagonian Argentina
To: Parque Patagonia in Chile
Date: February 20, 2020
Lay of the land: Most travelers cross from Los Antiguos, Argentina directly to Chile Chico in Chile. We chose to go off-the-beaten-path and make our crossing via the Paso Rodolfo Roballos pass instead. We approached this remote border crossing via RP 41 which passes through new additions of land to the ever-sprawling Parque Patagonia on the Argentina side. From the town of Los Antiguos, the gravel road was mostly in good shape with some sections of rock and holes and washboard (we drove 62 miles/100 km on RP 41 over the course of three hours). The route also included a bit of climbing to a high point of 4,757 feet (1,450 meters). We saw lots of condors and many workers building pull-out and mirador infrastructure for Parque Patagonia which now exists in huge chunks in Argentina and Chile as part of the Tompkins Conservation and Rewilding programs. We saw just a few other vehicles on the road and no one else was at the solar-powered Argentinean border facilities where it took about 10 minutes to stamp out and cancel our Argentinean Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for the truck. From there it took us about 15 minutes to drive 7 miles (11 km) to the Chilean border facilities where there were two other vehicles crossing. Here it took about 20 minutes to get our entry stamps and new Chilean TIP. The aduana official took a very brief, cursory look in the back of our truck and we were on our way into Parque Patagonia on the Chile side. Look for our sticker on the window of the Chilean border facilities.
Elapsed time: 50 minutes including the 15-minute drive between Argentinean border facilities and Chilean border facilities.
Days given: 90 for us and 90 our truck
Vehicle insurance: You must have third party insurance for your vehicle in order to drive legally in all countries in Latin America. We purchased a plan from Integrity Seguros, an insurance company in Argentina, which covers us in all MERCOSUR countries which includes Argentina, Chile, Perú, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia.
Where to fill up: Generally speaking, fuel is more expensive in Argentina but this route travels through many, many remote miles with no options for fuel, so fill up in Los Antiguos if you can (sometimes that station does not have fuel). A more reliable option is to fill up back on RN 40 on the outskirts of the town of Perito Moreno before taking the turnoff for RP 41 (which comes a bit further out of town). There is also a YPF station in Lodo Posadas, but we didn’t pass that way.
Need to know: Rural border crossings like these are usually not open 24-hours-a-day and may even be closed seasonally. You can check the status of border crossings in Chile here. And check the status of border crossings on the Argentina side here. And remember that you gain an hour in the South American winter when entering Chile from Argentina because Argentina does not observe daylight savings time but Chile does, so check the time. Once you’re over this border and into Chile, don’t miss the informative, simple, atmospheric, and authentic Casa Museo Lucas Bridges which opened in February 2020 just inside Parque Patagonia quite near the Chile border facilities. Workers renovated the home of Lucas Bridges who was an influential and fascinating pioneering character in the early days of Patagonia. All of the rooms in the humble house have been re-furnished and recreated as they would have been when Bridges lived there. The house is locked and unmanned, but visitors can peer into the windows. Everything is accessible for those with mobility issues including the new and modern bathrooms. And if you’re into camping, plan to spend a few nights in the Alto Valle campground in the park not far past the new museum. It’s a lovely location and there are also solar hot water showers, modern flushing toilets, charming wood shelters with picnic tables at each camping site, and trailheads at or near the campground (no reservations).
Duty-free: Nope, and there are no money changers, food, or vehicle insurance sellers at the Chile facilities or at the Argentina facilities either.
Overall border rating: This is yet another beautiful, easy, and efficient remote Patagonia border crossing between Argentina and Chile with the added benefit of taking overland travelers through areas of a wonderful new park on both sides of this border.
Check out the lovely scenery during this border crossing in our drivelapse video, below, using footage taken by our Brinno camera mounted on the dashboard of our truck.
Here’s more about travel in Argentina
Here’s more about travel in Chile
Hello Eric. I have been following you folks since you started your wonderful trip. I enjoy your blog very much. One question. What program do you use to get those wonderful frames around your photos?
Keep the great posts coming. Love them.
Thanks Mike, we’re glad you enjoy our posts and thanks for following.
I don’t use any program for those frames. The grey background and black border is something I coded into our WordPress theme, and they are automatically generated around all images.
I am so jealous of your journey around the Americas! My girlfriend and I travel around the United States in our Jeep Wrangler, and I told her it was my ultimate dream to be able to drive down to Argentina and check out how beautiful South America is!
Hey James – when travel becomes save and reasonable again we hope to see you and your girlfriend down here! Until then, we’ll keep showing and telling you about the beauty, adventures, challenges, and fun here in South America.
Hi, Good information. Have you done the Cochrane Chile thru Patagonia NP to Bajo Caracoles? My biggest concern is gas as it show 4 hours 15 min on google maps.
Be more concerned with distances as opposed to time which is not the limiting factor. The roads are slow, but the distances aren’t necessarily far. The drive from Cochrane to Bajo Caracoles is less than 200km. If you don’t have this kind of range you won’t make it between some gas stations in Argentina Patagonia.
Note: the gas station in Bajo Caracoles is not a YPF and has high prices. There is a YPF in Lago Pasadas which is less than 160km from Cochrane, as well as in Los Antiguos which is 190km, which is a beautiful drive but not the most direct route if your goal is Bajo Caracoles. However, if fuel is a concern I would consider this option. First off, if your timing coincides with frequent fuel shortages, these out-of-the-way places may be the first to run out — ask at the border about fuel status, though I’m not sure you will get a useful answer. The route is longer, but Los Antiguos stands a much better chance of having fuel over Bajo Caracoles or Las Pasadas. 60km from Los Antiguos you pass through the “big city” of Perito Moreno which offers the widest availability of fuel within 100s of km — to be exact the next towns of this size with this kind of fuel selections are Comodoro Rivadavia 400km East, Ezquel nearly 600km north, and El Calafate nearly 650km to the south. The pluses of this longer route are the beautiful drive on the Argentina side from Paso Roballos to Los Antiguos. From Los Antiguos you are on a good highway that skirts the border of the new Patagonia National Park on the Argentina side with some nice trails accessible at Portal La Ascencion. Then, from Perito Moreno, you have a big YPF and Axion on the highway as well as a small YPF in town, plus a big La Anonima supermarket if that is needed. Additionally, driving-wise it is easier to access Cuevo de Los Manos from here so long as you don’t mind the short but steep hike to and from the cave on this side. Another bonus, we saw a puma on the road between Refugio Posta de Los Toldos and the Cave.