Argentina by bus
August 17, 2019 4:29 AM   Subscribe

Help me plan a trip through Argentina by bus!

Round about September 24, I'll be taking a bus from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina. I'll likely stay there for a couple of days; not a wine drinker so I'll be moving on shortly.

I'm thinking of wending my way northward and eventually eastward. Southward is the obvious direction as the weather gets warmer; that being said, a trip toward Patagonia will follow in January/February. I have no particular time constraints but I would like to get to Buenos Aires by, say, December.

I'm a middle aged cis woman travelling solo; I have a tricksy shoulder, so anything requiring "roughing it" is out, and that includes anything where I have to lug a 50 pound bag up full flights of stairs. So I'll likely be booking AirBnBs on my way. I'm armed with Lonely Planet's Shoestring guide to S America, which is a great resource, but I'd like to hear from MeFites.

Please advise me:
  • Are there any events or spring sights in October or November that I should try to get to?
  • Anything I should avoid?
  • Should I try for a hop into Brazil or Bolivia on my way? (I'm thinking of going to Carnaval in Minas Gerais or another smaller city next year.)
posted by Sheydem-tants to Travel & Transportation around Argentina (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Some thoughts that you are free to ignore:

Bus travel in that region is great. For what a North American would consider to be a really cheap fare, you can take night buses with beds and stewards coming to your seat with ham and cheese sandwiches.

Bolivia is beautiful, cheap, and really really poor. Spending time in bigger centres in Bolivia could be more stressful for this reason, and getting from Bolivia to Argentina required (a few years ago) a comical number of military checkpoints (presumably for smuggling)

The region between Northern Chile and Bolivia is like... Fake. Too beautiful to be real.
Highlands Vs lowlands in Bolivia is one amazing contrast.

Going to Brazil on a whim is possible. Getting a visa takes maybe a day or so. Crossing at iguazu falls is easy, and iguazu falls is amazing.

On your way south, punta tombo and trelew are good stops.
posted by Acari at 8:03 AM on August 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Chilean and Argentine busses are great, or were eight years ago in the north. The fancy ones add little but extra (oppressive) heat and stickier leather seats. The middle-priced ones were universally great. The views from Santiago to Mendoza are truly fantastic.

My only possibly useful advice is to consult the international fútbol game schedule and avoid big games. The degree to which every hotel can be booked, and the number of hours you'll spend at the border of you get unlucky and line up with a big game was a surprise to someone like me who pays no attention to sports. (To be fair, the fans, the border guards, and the hotel workers were awesome. It all worked out fine, though it required a flexible definition of "a room.")

Depending on where you're from, Brazil might be an unusually expensive hop. It's worth looking at visa requirements ahead of time. Be skeptical of stories claiming you can sneak in for a day on the local bus without documents.

Best of luck!
posted by eotvos at 12:37 PM on August 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

On the way to Mendoza, I'd recommend stopping for a couple of nights in the small town of Uspallata, about an hour past the border. The area is glorious, especially in the spring. I got a cabin at Camping Ranquil Luncay, which was basic but very peaceful.
posted by kelper at 2:26 PM on August 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

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