This is a reminder to always check and double check your bus tickets! We must have been too relaxed a month into our one year adventure and thought the bus left at 8.30. So we left our hostel just before 8am and walked to the Pandaneria to get some breakfast and snacks for the bus. Just after 8am we saw a bus drive past and it was only a minute or so later that I pulled the ticket out and it said 7.30 for 8am that I realized we had seen our bus from El Calafate to Puerto Natales drive by. The only bus that morning and the afternoon service was booked out. Farrrrrk.
Luckily if this happens to you or if you don’t manage to get your bus ticket out of town you can do what we ended up doing instead:
Taqsa Bus has a daily service from El Calafate to La Esperanza (we were dropped at a petrol station) then got another bus to Rio Turbio (buy both tickets in cash at El Calafate).
From Rio Turbio we walked 3km to the border crossing, exited Argentina, walked a few more kms to the Chile border, then hitched a ride the 20kms or so to Puerto Natales with the kind help mof the Chilean border guards. It cost the same as the direct bus but took 7 hours longer! It was an adventure none the less! Plus we met some amazing people who we ended up hanging with for a couple of days.