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Help getting to Patagonia

San...
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Help getting to Patagonia

I am having trouble getting from Buenos Aires to somewhere in Patagonia (open to suggestions) and then on to Mendoza to finish my trip. I have looked at LAN and AeroArgentina for flights between Buenos Aires and Patagonia (Bariloche, El Calafate, Puerto Montt) and then Patagonia to Mendoza. The flights are very expensive and leave at odd hours. Is there another (or better way) to get between these 3 cities/regions?

Edited: 17 January 2012, 23:13
Mentioned in this post
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Capital Federal District, Argentina
Patagonia
Patagonia
Argentina
Mendoza
Mendoza
Province of Mendoza, Argentina
El Calafate
El Calafate
Province of Santa Cruz, Argentina
Argentina
Destination Expert
for Buenos Aires, Argentina
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71 reviews
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1. Re: Help getting to Patagonia

No better way to travel within Argentina (IMO) than the plane, since it's a huge country.

Air travel is expensive in Argentina. You might try to get a quote for a Visit Argentina pass from Aerolíneas Argentinas (available only to non residents) which could be more convenient, pricewise.

www.aerolineas.com.ar/arg/main.asp…

Buses could be an option for Buenos Aires - Mendoza or Buenos Aires - Bariloche. Excellent buses, and cheaper than flying, but bear in mind these trips will be very long (20 hs approx to Bariloche, for instance).

Mentioned in this post
Argentina
Argentina
South America
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Capital Federal District, Argentina
Mendoza
Mendoza
Province of Mendoza, Argentina
San Francisco
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2. Re: Help getting to Patagonia

If you are flying to Argentina on United or a member of the One World Alliance (I am not sure of the group's exact name), you can get a South America Pass from LAN which would give some savings. Unless you fly to Argentina on the Aerolineas Argentina airline, if you are flying from the US, you are not eligible for their pass since Aerolineas Argentina flies to the US. (I discovered this later than I would have liked, after counting on getting the pass.)

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Argentina
Argentina
South America
Lunenburg, Canada
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for Saint John, Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu National Park
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3. Re: Help getting to Patagonia

Hi SF!

We rented a car and drove. It doesn't take all that much more time than flying, when you consider how much time you consume getting to, through, and onward from airports.

Here's an article I wrote here on Trip Advisor about this very question. I've edited it for you, and I apologize in advance to those who may already have read it.

David

We’ve visited Argentina three times. On each trip, we rented a car, and I wouldn’t travel any other way.

Suppose I were to ask you, how best to visit the USA? And you replied, fly to New York. Then, fly to Niagara Falls, then to Anchorage, then San Francisco.

The trouble with this way of seeing the United States, and of seeing Argentina, is that you’d miss everything in between. Many people are happy with an air itinerary, stopping at three or four four high points and seeing them in detail, while flying over everything else. I'm not, though, and I know many others feel as I do.

The way to see the real Argentina, instead of just the leading tourist meccas mentioned in the guide books, is to travel by rental car. When we did, we got to see Buenos Aires, Iguasu Falls and Mendoza (we haven’t made it to the far south yet) and a great many other wondrous places.

Here’s just a few of the places we liked a lot, but that plane travelers won’t see, except perhaps from 40,000 feet.

- Tandil, a small city at the foot of one of the southern sierras of Buenos Aires province. We loved it, and stayed in a cosiness pie hotel.

- Las Grutas, a seaside town in the northeast corner of Patagonia, famous for its long beach, its remarkably high tides and its internationally renowned shore bird sanctuary which you can visit.

- Punta Tombo, the world’s grandest penguin site outside Antarctica itself, with literally thousands of Magellanic penguins dotting the campo. You have to visit in season, during the austral spring and summer. It’s an hour’s drive south of the Chubut provincial capital, Rawson.

- Bariloche, South America’s greatest ski resort, and a charming city year-round, dotted with chocolate shops, clothing stores, and must-be a hundred accommodations places. It overlooks the great lake, it’s surrounded by mountains you can scale, and it’s not far from the famed but pricy Llao Llao resort, 15 miles away along the lakefront highway.

- Route 40, Argentina’s Andean highway, running from the Bolivian border to its southern end about 45 miles from the Strait of Magellan. This is where you see the grand mountain scenery. (But there are even better ways to see mountains in Argentina. I’ll come to them in a moment.) Much of Route 40 remains unpaved, which is a shame. Mendoza anchors the least interesting section of Route 40.

- San Luis, Argentina’s best kept travel secret. San Luis boasts hot springs and impressive mountain scenery.

- Cordoba, including the sierras of Cordoba and some rich historical sights. The main highway west from Cordoba passes over the sierras, with majestic scenery. I wish I had room to squeeze this route into my list of Argentina's top five. We stayed at a cabin in a quiet rural campground where I could pursue my passion: Southern Hemisphere stargazing.

- Salta and the northwest. This region possesses more hot springs that somehow never seem to make it into the guide books, as well as the best of Argentina’s Incan heritage. Salta has an in-town mountain with Swiss-made cable cars; and peñas, restaurants that offer a floor show of traditional colonial dances.

- The Parana River delta. Some visitors make the one hour drive from Buenos Aires to visit Tigre, where the Parana meets the sea, but this vast delta actually stretches more than three hundred miles inland, beyond Santa Fe. In fact, there’s an entire Argentine province named Entre Rios that sits on the east bank. The delta is crossed by long causeways and bridges.

And I’ve barely scratched the surface in this description of the Argentine “fly-over country."

I mentioned even better ways of seeing the mountains than taking Route 40. Here's my list of the top five mountain routes we’ve found in Argentina. All are fully paved highways, although by their nature they’re bound to be winding, often steep, and sometimes a bit narrow. We had absolutely no trouble on them, and neither will you!

1) In the Patagonian province of Chubut, Route 25 runs between Esquel in the Andes and Trelew, the former Welsh city in the east. From about 70 miles west of Trelew westward, the scenery along this river valley road is taken right out of Road Runner cartoons, with towering mesas, impossible pinnacles, fallen boulders and a deep canyon. Stop to eat at the Old Mill restaurant in Dolavon, west of Gaiman which in turn is west of Trelew. The restaurant is practically a shrine to Chubut’s Welsh heritage.

2) In the northwest, between Salta and Catamarca, skip the big city of Tucuman and instead take the route by way of Cafayate and Tafi del Valle. The wonders here are almost too numerous to mention in a single paragraph: the stunning rock formations of the Las Conchas valley, the Inca ruins at Quilmes (Argentina’s answer to Machu Picchu), the majestic vistas spreading from Tafi del Valle, the hairpin gorges of the Los Sosa River, and the wine country of the Calchaquies valley, where we overnighted at a very reasonably priced old wine chateau.

3) Few guide book writers, after drinking their fill in Mendoza, ever make it to San Luis, the next province to the east. Perhaps this is just as well, because you’ll want to be fully alert on the road from Trapiche (30 miles NE of the provincial capital San Luis) the fifty miles to San Francisco del Monte de Oro (aptly named: San Francisco of the Golden Mountain). And not just because it’s steep and winding. The views along the Cuesta of Los Algarrobos were enough to take our breath away. We overnighted at another wonderful thermal hotel in Balde, west of San Luis city.

4) Speaking of taking your breath away, the far northwestern highway to Chile, starting in the Inca town of Purmamarca, ascends by a boot-lace pattern of hairpin turns to the Altiplano, the world’s highest plateau outside Tibet. The summit point on this route is over 15,800 feet, and that’s pretty remarkable, but the really astonishing thing is that for more than 70 continuous miles this highway stays above 14,500 feet. (Lhasa, Tibet, is just 11,450 feet.) You’d do well to carry oxygen! I didn’t (and I have a heart condition), but I still managed to drive the whole way thanks to taking four Aspirin.

5) To see the true splendor of the Andes, follow the two hour drive west from Mendoza to Chile. You ascend along the Mendoza River, which has cut its channel by a sheer cliff. Snow covered mountains are all around, even in March. Check in with Argentine customs to ensure a smooth return, then continue up to Aconcagua provincial park. The parking lot is two miles high, and you can walk 20 minutes to the grand vista of the highest peak outside the Himalayas, 22,841 feet. If there’s no snow, cap your visit with a drive up a dirt road to Christ Redeemer, the statue atop the pass (not the tunnel) shared between the two countries.

Happy travels, and don't hesitate to write if I can be of further assistance!

David

capetien10@gmail.com

Mentioned in this post
Argentina
Argentina
South America
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Capital Federal District, Argentina
Mendoza
Mendoza
Province of Mendoza, Argentina
Las Grutas
Las Grutas
Province of Rio Negro, Argentina
Patagonia
Patagonia
Argentina
Cordoba
Cordoba
Province of Cordoba, Argentina
Salta
Salta
Province of Salta, Argentina
Tigre
Tigre
Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Province of Entre Rios
Province of Entre Rios
Litoral, Argentina
Esquel
Esquel
Province of Chubut, Argentina
Trelew
Trelew
Province of Chubut, Argentina
Chile
Chile
South America
4. Re: Help getting to Patagonia

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