Having travelled through over 80 countries, all 7 continents and worked in travel for almost 2 decades, Olly created APlanToGo.com to share his experiences. On this blog he creates free, highly-detailed itineraries for all budgets, with accommodation, transport and sightseeing recommendations, plus timetables, tips and links to book – perfect for those who like to travel independently.
The Old Patagonia Express by Paul Theroux is one of the most famous travel books ever written. You can still go to Argentina and ride the old carriages, albeit for a short journey and pulled by a new engine. The old engine now decorates a traffic island in the town of Esquel.
Further south, in the hiker heaven of Bariloche, you’ll find another train which comes close to capturing the spirit of the Old Patagonia Express. Tren Patagonico runs a weekly overnight service from the Andes to the Atlantic and back again – a service I’ve detailed on A Plan To Go as part of the Southern Argentina itinerary.
Tren Patagonico’s carriages and locomotive are modern, the twin cabins comfortable and the restaurant…adequate. This being Argentina there’s good wine and cheap steak on the menu, as well as friendly passengers to share a table with. Many, if not most, were locals.
I happened to be travelling on Mother’s Day and across my table was a son taking his mother to Viedma, where the route ends. Outside the vast spaces of Patagonia rolled by, interrupted only by the very occasional settlement or cluster of trees.
After a delicious meal and a lengthy test of my Spanish conversational abilities, I settled in to my snug cabin. With fresh bedding, a little sink and a wild view I felt very comfortable indeed and was gently rocked to sleep.
Unlike my dinner companions I disembarked at San Antonio Oeste to continue my journey south, where my next stop would be Pensinsula Valdez, one of the most remarkable whale watching locations I’ve ever visited.
In order to guarantee a cabin, I recommend that you buy Tren Patagonico tickets around two months in advance of your trip. Cabin tickets (cheap and considerably more comfortable than a seat) start at 2,476 Argentinian Pesos – dining car meals are extra. The train departs Bariloche on Sundays and Viedma on Fridays.
Timetable details can be found here and tickets can be purchased on the Plataforma 10 site (which is primarily for bus tickets – look for ‘Tren Patagonico’ in the Company column on the results page). For full details of this trip visit the Southern Argentina itinerary here.