Why Argentina’s buses are the best in the world
If you’re planning to backpack your way around Argentina, you’ll be seeing a lot of buses. But if that thought conjures up long, hot and uncomfortable journeys from hostel to hostel, think again – Argentina’s buses are streets ahead of the ones you’ll find in most Asian and African destinations, and compare favourably to the ones in Europe and North America too. The country has an advanced bus network, with short- and long-distance services to all its provinces and into neighbouring countries. Sure, it might not be quite as fast as rail or air, but that just gives you more time to enjoy Argentina's remarkable natural scenery...
Comfy enough for an overnight
Many long-distance buses provide reclining seats and run during the night, which makes an overnight journey far more appealing. So instead of spending a whole day on travel, you can use the bus as a rolling hotel room – accommodation and transport in one. Bonus! On top of that, you get the pleasure of waking up to find yourself in a completely new place.
Long-distance bus services will fall into one of three classes:
- Semi-cama: Seats should be kitted out with cushioning and with arm and leg rests, and the bus should have air conditioning, a simple toilet and basic refreshments.
- Cama-ejecutivo: The same bus facilities as semi-cama, but with bigger, comfier seats that recline further. You might get an overhead TV too.
- Cama suite: Seats in this class recline almost flat, so they’re by far the best for overnights (though also the most expensive, obviously). You can expect a partition around your seat, and you might even get a personal entertainment system.
…and cheap too
Generally, the price difference between semi-cama and cama-ejectuivo is pretty small, so it’s well worth going for the next level up if you can, especially if you plan to get some shut-eye.
How much should you expect to pay? Well, you can do the journey from Buenos Aires to Mendoza (see below) in considerable comfort for 1,000-1,500 pesos (£50-£75). The lower price is for semi-cama on an average length route, and the higher for first-class cama suite on a fast route. Plataforma10.com is a handy resource for researching timetables and prices.
Salta to Buenos Aires
Although it's 18 hours, the bus journey between Buenos Aires and the city of Salta - the capital of the Salta Province - will feel more like a very long flight with a high-end airline. Travelling with a company like Andesmar, you'll be treated to tasty free meals, a good selection of beverages (soft and alcoholic!), and spacious, reclining seats that are optimised for long journeys.Salta
There are a number of stops along the way so you can stretch your feet and get some fresh air, or grab a snack at the bus station.
Salta is the location of the renowned Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (archaeological museum), which showcases the history of the Inca tribes and is adjacent to the picturesque cathedral.
Buenos Aires to Mendoza
Slightly shorter at 14 hours, the bus journey to the city of Mendoza – the capital of the wine-rich Mendoza region – is also particularly comfortable, and the price you pay will normally include plenty of food and drink. The beds here also recline, and first-class beds with a 180-degree recline are only marginally more expensive than standard.
Besides its vineyards, this province is also well known for the Parque Provincial Aconcagua, which is dominated by the striking 6,962-metre peak of Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside Asia.