From Iguazu Falls, should I go to Salta, AR or Montevideo, UY?
November 3, 2011 5:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm not the first to ask this type of question, but my situation is a bit unique. I have 10 days, starting at Iguazu Falls and flying out of Buenos Aires. My original plan was to travel down to Uruguay for a few days and then take the ferry over to Bs. As (for at least 4 days). I've recently learned about Salta, and it sounds really cool. Is it worth taking the long bus ride there and back down to Bs. As. or should I just let it go and head to Uruguay?

Not a whole lot extra info needed. I'd love to see the salt flats, and I've heard Salta and its surrounding areas are amazing. It's also a pretty big trek to Bs. As., where I fly out of. The question is, is it worth skipping the somewhat-convenient path to Uruguay from Iguazu to see the salt flats?
posted by andyn to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
I apologize for "wasting" your question, but have you asked over at Thorn Tree? Those people are masters at answering these sorts of questions.
posted by mykescipark at 6:03 PM on November 3, 2011

The buses in Argentina are slick; for not a lot more, you can get the top-of-the-line cama suites and cama ejecutivos, which are pretty well lie-flat beds, so you can take a moderate overnight trip and wind up feeling pretty decent at the other end. But Salta's a long ways away; it's a couple hours longer than from Iguazu, and those hours are eating into sightseeing time.

Montevideo is nice, but shares a lot of the same charms as Bs.As. Colonia was okay for a half day, but didn't blow me away.

Buenos Aires, on the other hand, is a massive city, with lots to do. Four days is pretty minimal.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:38 PM on November 3, 2011

Having recently[ish] done both of those bus rides, my vote is 100% in favour of Uruguay. Not because of the bus ride itself [long, but comfy], but because montevideo is an awesome city!
posted by Acari at 7:03 PM on November 3, 2011

I've never been to that part of the world, but I have traveled. Personally, I would probably skip a long side trip on a 10-day trip so I could immerse myself more in one or two locations, unless Salta has something you really, really would regret not seeing. That said, the if-it's-Tuesday-this-must-be-Belgium bolt around a country can also be fun and enriching, if it's very well planned. And the traveling itself will be an experience, maybe not a super-fun one, but you never know who you'll meet.

This is one of those occasions where lists and guidebooks can help you. Make lists of everything you want to or could possibly see and do in each place, and prioritize them. It'll help you decide how to spend your time budget. I think either way, you'll have a good time, though, so maybe just decide when you get there. Maybe the weather is going to be awful in BA for a few days, so you might as well get out of town. Or maybe it's gorgeous and you realize that there's a lot more you want to do than you thought. Play it by ear, stay flexible.
posted by elizeh at 7:42 PM on November 3, 2011

When I was studying abroad in Buenos Aires I flew to Salta for a few days. I didn't make it to the salt flats but we did explore the city and ride the Tren a las Nubes into the Andes. The city is pretty--lots of old Spanish-style architecture--and the train ride was impressive...until I started getting serious altitude sickness and had to make myself fall asleep. I didn't feel as though Salta was an absolute must-see place, though I'm glad I went.

As for Uruguay, I've only been to Colonia, and as noted above it's fun for a day trip but not hugely different than what you'd experience in B.A.

Since you have to choose between the two: Salta seems like it would be the more unique experience, giving you a bit of Gaucho and Andean influence you won't really find in the east.
posted by janerica at 8:26 PM on November 3, 2011

I've been to the salt flats. They're pretty amazing, but I flew into Salta and Jujuy from Buenos Aires and rented a car. I dont think they're compelling enough for the route you're describing. Feel free to memail me if you want more details.
posted by rabidsegue at 8:56 PM on November 3, 2011

The bus from Iguazu to Salta is the best part of 24 hours as is the bus to BsAs from Salta so that's 20% of your time gone already. Salta is in a beautiful part of the world, one that I think merits more time.

You could skip Uruguay and spend 3 or 4 days in the Iberas del Estero, the 2nd largest wetlands in S America after the Pantanal. It's on the way to Buenos Aires and has some great lodges and wildlife - capybaras!

I live in Buenos Aires and run a daily tour here, any other questions, let me know.
posted by jontyjago at 9:16 PM on November 3, 2011

That is a tricky question, I had the same one but with BA and the Ig. Falls. Even though the buses are relatively comfy and definitely cheap, those are precious hours that are going to be chomped up. And speaking for myself, I need recovery time after giant commutes. I went from BA to Uraguay after all and it was good. Not mind-boggling but good. Plus you have to leave some things out so that you have a reason to go back, right?
posted by bquarters at 3:41 AM on November 4, 2011

I would skip Montevideo if you're only there for 10 days. Ditto Colonia, which you can walk around entirely in like 40 minutes.

BsAs is a fantastic city and I would mostly hang out there, perhaps with a side trip to Tigre or something in the middle. You don't want to spend too much of your time on transport, and Argentine buses, while comfy, are also slow ways to get around a pretty large country.

PS: On one of your Sundays you should take the bus down to the Feria in Mataderos. One of the cooler outdoor markets I've ever been to. Although if you're only in town for one Sunday go to San Telmo, as it is more uniquely porteƱo IMHO.
posted by Aizkolari at 4:31 AM on November 4, 2011

Thank you all so much for the help. Sentiments seem much the same as mine: Salta may be a more unique experience, but 24hrs each way is a bit much when I'm only working with 10 days. I'm going to look into Iberas del Estero, that might be a good alternative on our way to Bs. As. Perhaps we'll just do one or two days in UY (half day in Colonia, down to Montevideo and maybe Punte del Esta) and bump up our time in Bs. As. to 6 or 7 days. I'll check in on Thorn Tree as well. Thanks again everyone.
posted by andyn at 1:09 PM on November 4, 2011

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