Argentine Andes
August 2, 2012 8:37 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to see the Argentine Andes/Patagonia? Specifically looking for tours we can sign up with or itineraries we can follow. We have about 7 days.

Specifically we are interested in Bariloche or the Mendoza region... what's the best way to experience these areas? We've found a few tours from American companies that range from US$2,600 - $4,500 per person which seems crazy expensive given the exchange rates with the AR$ (right?). Surely there is a cheaper better way to do this that will allow us to experience the region? Talk me through it! The trip would be in December of this year, over Christmas.
posted by annie o to Travel & Transportation around Argentina (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Driving from menodza to bariloche was an insane, insane journey through isolated lava fields, and took two days of extremely isolated driving on dirt roads where we saw guacho's on horses and no one else for hrs. I did this last August in their winter as part of a ski/road trip. I did a 3 week road trip with skiing with flight, suv rental and skiing for under 3k. The prices you are seeing might reflect holiday pricing, or luxiourious travel marketed towards americans. I'd look into the lonely planet guides to get a more accurate idea of pricing.

Keep in mind that Mendoza is a proper city with museums that happens to have wine as it's main industry, while Bariloche is a crazy tourist town. (It is a crazy town in a beautiful location and really boggled our minds)

If you do not wish to rent a car, I highly recommend traveling on the Chilean side of the border and taking the buses which are significantly more luxiourious than buses in the US, the roads and towns are a little bit safer (something to take into consideration if you are female, I am very glad I was traveling with two guys as there definitely were towns I did not feel safe in in Argentina, although I was traveling in winter). Additionally the bus from santiago, chile to mendoza is said to be magnificent (we were escaping a snowstorm so had to do it at night and I regret that).

Me mail me for further details. It was an insane trip and i'm glad I did it, but no amount of planning can really prepare you for a rural paper check by a toothless argentine holding a machinegun leveled at you.

The wine and vistas are worth it.
posted by larthegreat at 10:43 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

The above is more garbled than expected and I should not post at 2 am from my phone. My apologies.
posted by larthegreat at 10:45 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

You'll likely save 50% if you book with an local tour operator in South America. We used a Chilean operator and had a wonderful tour of the Torres del Paine. This outfit also ran tours from Santiago to Bariloche and other areas in the Argentian Andes. We picked the Chilean company after looking at a bunch of Chilean websites, emailing with questions and finally speaking on the phone.

I would be more cautious about doing this with an Argentian company, since Chile is much less corrupt than Argentina.
posted by monotreme at 11:23 PM on August 2, 2012

Three of us did this (well, similar) independently. It was no problem at all, definitely nothing exotic or risky. It's a lot like driving through the western U.S. -- big open skies, long highways, beautiful scenery. I really would not advise taking a tour. Just buy a Lonely Planet, rent a car through a reputable company, and have fun.
posted by Capri at 12:02 PM on August 3, 2012

Having lived in that area, I'm going to agree with Capri. Just remember that it's hard to hop back and forth across the border in rental car. The buses are safe and comfortable. Keep in mind that inflation has had a huge impact in Argentina in the last couple of years - it's now at least as expensive as europe or the usa.
posted by conifer at 2:31 AM on August 4, 2012

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