Salta to San Pedro de Atacama

Company: Geminis
Type: Semicama
Price: AR$ 700 each
Duration: 8 hours

Details: Salta was a great launchpad to see many of the surrounding landscapes including the incredible 14 color mountain in Humahuaca, the Inca ruins of Tilcara and the beautiful towns of Purmamarca, where we decided to stay 2 nights. We used a local tour bus to get from Salta to Purmamarca. On the day of travel we sat on the side of a dusty road and waited for our bus to San Pedro de Atacama. The bus arrival had a window of an hour and a half, but luckily we had a great view of the 7 colour mountain as we waited at our pickup point in the morning sunshine.

Once the bus arrived we realised we had front row window seats that gave an amazing cinemaesque view of the Andes. We cut through the towering mountains toward the Chilean border, passing through salt flats, volcanoes and deserts. The border crossing was quick and painless, and after a basic lunch provided by the bus company we arrived in San Pedro, the gateway to the Atacama desert and the salt flats of Uyuni.

Mendoza to Salta

Company: Andesmar
Type: Cama
Price: AR$ 1665
Duration: 13 hours

Details: Mendoza had been a bit of a disappointing city for us (besides the great wine tasting) so we were excited to venture further north to the epic painted landscapes of the Salta region. We set off at 8pm on a full-Cama sleeper bus with luxury leather seats, amazing leg room, blankets and pillows. They served wine and food throughout, played films, and we even played bingo with the other passengers to win a bottle of wine! We managed to get a little sleep before we arrived at the Salta bus terminal at 9am. All in all it was a very pleasant and relaxing journey.

Valparaiso to Mendoza

Company: Andesmar
Type: Semicama
Price: CH$ 21,000
Duration: 8 hrs

Description: After a great couple of days exploring the colourful streets of Valparaiso, we boarded the bus at 7.45am and set off for Mendoza. We'd heard that the scenery would be particularly spectacular, so after a couple of hour sleep we watched from our right-hand-side Windows as the epic scenery towered around us as we wound through the Andes. It was time for another border crossing, which took a few hours, but there was a little restaurant, in the middle of the mountains that was selling a tasty Choripán (the classic Argentinean sausage sandwich). After all passport checks were finished we got back on the bus and watched the newly released Revenant which was a nice change from the dodgy Spanish films we had previously encountered. 

We arrived in Mendoza to warm sunshine, and looked forward to the wine tasting and bike rides in the hilly, green region of Argentina.


Bariloche to Puerto Varas

Company: Andesmar Chile
Type: Semicama
Price: AR$405 each
Duration: 6 hours

Details: After a 10 minute cab ride from our hostel to the bus terminal we boarded the top deck of the semicama bus to Puerto Varas, Chile. We had bought the tickets the day before, and the guy in the ticket office recommended we sit on the left hand side so we could take in the great scenery including the many stunning lakes and even a volcano!

We bought food with us as we weren't sure if we were going to stop on the 6 hour journey, but after 10 minutes they came around with sandwiches. Despite being semicama the seats were a little narrow and not particularly ergonomic, but were fine for the length of the journey. We stopped at the Chilean border at 12pm to get our Argentinian exit stamps, and then half an hour later we were stopped to get our bags checked by the sniffer dogs. The process was much quicker then before and after our passports had been stamped we continued on to Puerto Varas.

El Chalten to Bariloche (via Los Antiguos)

Company: Chalten Travel
Type: Economy
Price: AR$ 857.75 + AR$ 1,422
Duration: 11.5 hours + 13 hours

Details: The bus picked us up from outside our hostel (Rancho Grande) around 7.30pm and took us along a very bumpy road for quite a while. Seats were not too uncomfortable for day travel, but the bumpy roads made sleeping impossible. The air conditioning was minimal but luckily it cooled down once it got dark. We had one toilet stop at 12.30am, but there was no food offered or shops open.

We arrived in Los Antiguos at 6am, and after a very quick toilet stop (again, there were no shops open for food) we transferred to another bus at 6.15am. The bus was basic and a little run down but the seats still reclined and there was decent leg room. As it got light we noticed how straight the roads had become, and how baron and uninteresting the landscape was. We took the opportunity to catch up on some writing for our blog, and watched a couple of films on the laptop. We were given a Dulche de Leche treat to keep us going and around 3pm we pulled into another stop and this time there was food for sale. By this point everyone on the bus was starving so there was a polite scramble to get hold of the goods! It was also only a 20 minute break after having spent over 17 hours on buses, which definitely didn't feel like enough. Eventually, the scenery around us became incredibly lush and beautiful and we pulled into Bariloche at 7pm, feeling a little put out that we had had to spend so much money on a below par bus experience but excited to explore the beautiful lakes in the surrounding area.

El Calafate to El Chalten

Company: CAL TUR
Type: Executivo
Price: AR$ 420
Duration: 4 hours

Details: We boarded the bus at 8am with a sunrise backdrop looking out from the bus terminal. The bus was comfy, with decent leg room (reclining foot rests and seats). We took the opportunity to edit some photos from Patagonia during the 3 hour journey, as we'd taken quite a few over the past few weeks. We stopped off at a small service half way for a toilet break. Coincidentally, there was a vintage car rally happening on our route, and a series of beautifully kept classic cars and trucks pulled up next to our bus. We got a few quick snaps, then nearly missed the bus due to a long hot drinks queue and no formal on board passenger count. Luckily, we ran out just in time to stop the bus (that was taking off with all our belongings!) and we continued on our way to El Chalten.

Puerto Natales to El Calafate

Company: Tourismo Zaahj
Type: Economy
Price: CH $15000
Duration: 6 hours

Details: We had just completed the 5 day W trek in Torres del Paine, so were pleased to find the seats on our economy coach reclined enough to get a bit of rest. The coach was full of other tired trekkers who'd just completed similar excursions. The border crossing from Chile to Argentina was a lot faster (they are a lot less strict about bringing food across the border) so we were pleased to cross in under half an hour as opposed to the 2 hour crossing the other way around. We arrived in El Calafate just before dark and checked into our hostel.

El Calafate to Puerto Natales

Company: Cootra Ltda.
Type: Comun con Aire
Price: AR$ 450
Duration: 8 hours

Details: After an amazing day trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier, we decided to keep the outdoor activities going and head to Torres del Paines Nation Park. The gateway town to Torres del Paines is Puerto Natales, an 8 hour bus ride from El Calafate. As we took our seats on the coach we were happy to find there were comfy seats with decent leg room. There was a 'No shoe taking off' policy due to 'trekkers-feet!', so we knew we were heading into the wilderness. The scenery was a little bleak during the journey, but we got chatting to some fellow travellers who were doing a similar route to us and ate lunch on the coach that we'd prepared the night before. Toilets were a bit grim but needed as there were no stops, and made for a less then pleasant experience when using them due to the really bumpy roads!

Once we got to the boarder control we realised how strict Chile is with what is allowed into the country! It took at least 2 hours to get passports stamped and bags scanned for any produce (including nuts, fruit, meat or dairy). There were also several sniffer dogs, which felt pretty intimidating as large fines for 'forgotten about food' had been rumoured. We were relieved when we finally crossed the border and then set off for the final 2 hours to Puerto Natales, Chile. The buses were definitely not as slick as we had had in Brazil, and a little more expensive, but it's the price you pay for the incredible Patagonian scenery.

Buenos Aires to El Calefate

Company: LAN
Type: Economy Flight
Price: AR$2800 each
Duration: 3.5 hours

Details: After a bit of deliberation we decided to travel down to Patagonia by plane. We looked at bus options, but due to how long it was going to take (around 2-3 days) we opted for the time over money option for the first time in our trip. We booked the flight about 5 days in advance, and after 10 amazing days in Buenos Aires we headed to the nearby airport - Aeroparque Internacional Jorge Newbery - which was only a 10 minute cab ride from our apartment. The 3.5 hour flight gave us our first insight into how dramatic Argentina's landscapes can be as we got out first glimpse of the Andes mountain range and the stunning turquoise lakes of El Calafate, Patagonia. We then took a small shuttle bus to the town centre, excited to explore the incredible landscape that Patagonia has to offer.

Colonia to Buenos Aires

Company: SeaCat Colonia
Type: Economy Ferry
Price: UR$ 718 each
Duration: 1 hour

Details: From Colonia, the ferry is the most efficient (and cheapest) way to get to Buenos Aires, so after a short but pleasant stay we took the 1 hour ferry crossing from the port not far from our hostel. We had booked our ferry tickets online the day before with SeaCat (which seemed to be the cheapest of all the companies even though they all use the same boat!). The ferry was pretty big, with shops and a few small fast-food type restaurants, but unfortunately no outside deck. As the scenic seats were all taken we used the hour to nap and read and save our energy for BA. Once we arrived in the city, we decided to get a taxi (which are quick and cheap in BA) to our AirBNB apartment to save lugging our backpacks around. Public transport is the best way to get around Buenos Aires, and although the Metro is pretty limited for getting around, the buses are great, both to look at and to quickly get around the city.