One thing Rob and I wanted to do while in Argentina was seeing the countryside so we decided to travel to San Carolos de Bariloche. There are 2 ways to get there…fly or take a 20-24 hour bus ride. So we decided to do both! We took the bus down to Bariloche and will be flying back to Buenos Aires.
Yes, you heard it, we were on a non-stop bus from Buenos Aires to Bariloche for 21 hours!
For you fellow travelers who think a 20-24 hr bus ride is for you, I would like to share with you our experience, as there wasn’t a lot of information out there for us when we were researching.
Just to put the bus trip into perspective, Buenos Aires to Bariloche is around 1,000 miles, so to compare it to a trip in the United States, it is like driving from New York City to Memphis, TN. Except once you get outside of the Buenos Aires, there is nothing but wide open land!
Should you fly or take a bus?
A few questions to ask yourself when planning how to get to the countryside of Argentina:
- Do I have a time constraint?
- Yes - then a bus trip may not be the best for you as it is a full day of travel just one way. Depending on your time constraint you can always take a bus one-way and fly back another. Flight from BA to Bariloche is about 2 hrs
- No - the bus can give you a free nights sleep and a new travel experience. Bus ride from BA to Bariloche 20-24 hrs
- Do I have a tight budget?
- Yes, then traveling by bus can save you a few hundred dollars on travel! One way bus ticket cost 107USD vs. a one way flight cost 221 USD per person.
- No, then you can still take the bus to save some money, take a plane, or do both!
- Is this a last minute trip?
- Many times you can go to the Retiro station and buy a bus ticket for a trip that day! Although I would advice a few days in advance to make sure you get a good seat, but if that doesn’t bother you then you will be fine. Buses leave every 10 minutes from the Retiro station to travel all over the country. You can go to the Retiro website and see what time the buses leave to your destination.
How to book a bus trip from Buenos Aires to Bariloche (most likely applicable to other places in the country as well)
- Purchase tickets at the Retiro Station in Buenos Aires. You can purchase them online but to get the best conversion rate purchase them in person with pesos.
- Make sure you go to Terminal de Omnibus de Retiro. There is a train station as well but it is a walk away from the bus station, and the area is not the best to be walking in. This link is helpful in the directions to the station and planning which bus you are going to take. http://www.omnilineas.com/argentina/tips/retiro/
- Walk up to the second floor and then you will see about 200 ticket booths (most just repeats of the same thing). I recommend doing your research on the bus company you want to take. You will also need your passport number so be prepared
- We took Via Bariloche - Cama Ejectivo - Summary of the different classes are on the website http://www.omnilineas.com/argentina/tips/categories/
- The day of your travel, I would say get there no later than 30 minutes before the bus leaves. The bus terminals are on the first floor of the building. They normally do not announce what platform the bus will be at until 20 minutes before it leaves.
Bus Travel (Via Bariloche)
I can only speak for bus travel through Via Bariloche through Cama Ejectivo but would recommend you check out this website below for a some more information about general bus travel in Buenos Aires. http://travel-stained.com/2013/04/17/buenos-dias-buenos-aires-bus-travel-in-argentina/
Rob and I had the two front row seats of the top of the bus and we had a great panoramic view of our journey. The buses recline in between 45-60 degrees back with a footrest. Via Bariloche provided a thick blanket and small pillow for the trip.
Basic information to be aware of when traveling on buses in Argentina
- Bring plenty of snacks and water! Our bus left at 2:00pm and was not given any snacks or drink until about 5:30. The snack consisted of a pre-packaged packet of an alfajores, saltine crackers, jam and tea or coffee. We were lucky that we brought a lunch with us, otherwise we would have been starving!
- Dinner – We were fed dinner at 9:30, typical for Argentines, and the food consisted of another prepackaged meal. The meal consisted of 3 slices of ham with rice with a mayonnaise base (wasn’t too bad), more crackers, bread, dulce de leche, and flan. When we first received our meal we were disappointed there was not a larger “meal”. But after about 10 minutes later they brought us a hot meal that had beef and mashed potatoes.
- Breakfast – Breakfast was served at 9:00am and consisted of the same thing as the snack the day before, not very breakfast like.
- Bring lots of water, snacks/sandwiches/fruit.
- Wet wipes or hand sanitizer, as our bus ran out of running water.
- Ear Plugs! The bus plays movies and music on the speakers so if you do not want to listen to them then bring earplugs. You also don’t want to end up like me and sit next to a very loud snorer!
- Check your bus line before hand to see if they even feed or provide you blankets as I have read many do not, depending on the length and class.
- It is worth the experience to take the bus at least once, but if you can afford it, then flying is the way to go.
I hope sharing my adventure through Argentina Bus travel will help at-least one person in the future with their travel plans.
Make sure to look out for my next blog post about our adventures in Bariloche!