The main bus company in Argentina is Andesmar which runs services all over the country and was the company I used however there are numerous others to choose from. The best website is www.omnilinease.com which gives you all bus companies and timetables throughout the country and allows you to purchase tickets online, it even breaks it down into regional and metro services so you can get around cities as well.
My experiences within Argentina include:
Frontera Del Norte – Refer to Border Crossing – Chile to Salta, Argentina
Andesmar – Salta to Mendoza $1070.00 ARS ($121 USD) semi cama approx. 18hours. I caught the overnight bus which was uneventful. From memory it left on time and we got served a meal on board which wasn’t flash but it was eatable. It was on this bus I was also introduced to Bingomar where they give you a poker and a bit of paper with numbers on it. The hostesses calls out numbers and if you win you get a free bottle of wine – score! Unfortunately my understanding of numbers in Español is not the best so I don’t know if I would have won or not but was good practice for me if nothing else and helped pass the time. They also played the occasional movie on this service though everything was in Spanish.
Andesmar – Mendoza to Bariloche. $995 ARS ($112 USD) semi cama and was meant to take approx. 18 hours but actually took closer to 30 hours. Again I caught the overnight bus and it was meant to depart at 9.30pm. The bus didn’t arrive at the terminal until 9.45pm and by the time everyone was loaded we didn’t leave until after 10pm. Not a great start but half hour is nothing when talking about road travel in South America so sit back and enjoy as best you can. At around 7am there was a stop in a town I never found out the name of and we sat there for over 3 hours while they waited for a mechanic to fix the bus. Fortunately we were parked in a bus terminal so there were toilet facilities and a small kiosk which sold snacks and drinks so there was something to do until the bus was fixed. Eventually the bus started up again and with everyone back on board we proceeded as per normal until 7pm when the bus broke down again but this time on the side of the highway.
Since I was due to arrive in Barilochi at 5pm I wasn’t much impressed on the further delay but what can you do but sit back and wait for the mechanic like everyone else. We waited for over 2 hours for the mechanic from Barilochi to arrive to take one look at the bus and decide he didn’t know how to fix it. Andesmar then sent another guy and he didn’t know how to fix it either so they finally sent another bus to collect us which arrived at 1am. Being left on the side of the highway with nowhere to go and no facilities for either food or washroom made a lot of people upset so I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who was beginning to dislike Andesmar given their handling of the situation and lack of information to passengers.
We eventually arrived in Barilochi at 3.30am (did I mention we were meant to arrive at 5pm the previous day?) which was just in time as I was ready to rage at the guy who had snored behind me since Mendoza and the guy sitting next to me who had playing his music so load through his ear phones I could hear it perfectly even with mine in. When Andesmar were contacted for compensation they took over 2 weeks to respond after several follow up phone calls and emails and then refused to compensate with a refund or credit on future travel. As passengers we were never told what was wrong with the bus or kept informed about mechanics being sent from town or new buses etc. and were expected to just sit on board and wait – not great customer service and for this reason I wouldn’t choose to use them again.
TiendaLeon – If you’re trying to get from Buenos Aires to either of the Airports then TiendaLeon bus company is the best way. Catch a taxi or public transport (closest station is Retiro and then walk 200 meters) to their terminal in Buenos Aires and pay $130 ARS ($15 USD) to get a ride to Ezezia International airport (the other terminal is closer and therefore cheaper). Buses leave regularly and it’s a fixed price no matter what the traffic is doing or time of day which is not always the case with a normal taxi. Since I was attempting to get out there at 7pm I hit traffic and the trip took just over an hour by the time I got to my terminal so allow yourself plenty of time before your flight.
As a comparison I had previously caught a taxi from Jorge Newbery International Airport to Ezezia Airport at 6am and it cost me $520 ARS ($60 USD) for the one way ‘metered’ cab ride. I thought this rather expensive so was looking for alternate ways and discovered TiendaLeon which I would highly recommend.
- Make sure your electronic equipment such as iPod and cameras are charged before boarding buses. You never know what you might see and some of the scenery through Argentina is pretty amazing. You also want your iPod to last the trip to block out people snoring or listening to their music without earphones.
- For some reason Argentinians think painting your nails on a bus is perfectly acceptable so be prepared to get fumed out with the smell of nail polish.
- Snacks were provided on the buses I took though if you have your own food I would recommend taking it instead and if you have dietary requirements for sure you will need to source your own food.
- People say to never leave your bag unattended or out of sight so don’t put it beneath the bus. For sure it’s a risk but I had no problems or issues with bags being stolen or lost from the undercarriage.
- For longer duration journeys I found overnight buses best as you save on hotel/hostel accommodation. Where possible paying for the executive/cama option for overnights is worth the extra money to lie down though if you’re one of the lucky ones and can sleep anyway then save your money and go with semi cama.
- When purchasing tickets you get to choose your seat – gringos tend to choose the front seats first and if you have a panorama bus the very front seats offer the best view.