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Long Distance Bus Reviews - Omnibus Reviews

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Atlanta, GA
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Long Distance Bus Reviews - Omnibus Reviews

I just finished my fourth overnight long distance bus ride in 5 nights. Knowing that I would spend several nights on the bus, I spent some time learning about the bus system. Here's a few tips that I have learned.

1. DO take the bus. Round trip to Iguazu for example was about 400 pesos or $120 US. It saved us a lot of money compared to what airfare would have cost us. And it is cheaper than some hotel stays - albeit not as comfortable. But it includes 2 meals and a couple movies too. Bring your headphones, though they are included sometimes.

2. Get the Cama Suite seats. They are slightly more expensive but well worth it. These are the wider ones that lay all the way down. Make sure they tell you 180 degrees. Other companies call it Cama Total or Tutto Letto. But the titles: Coche Cama, Semi Cama or Cama Ejecutiva are NOT full bed. If you sleep on your side at all, you will appreciate the flat bed. The Cama Suite seats come with pillow and blanket and they have a divider between your seat and the next one in front/behind you to have more privacy and no chance of getting your seat kicked while you are trying to sleep.

3. Ride in the front, on the upper level. We heard this was nice, but then a couple Argentine friends said it wasn't safe, because of the dangerous Argentine roads. Then two other Argentine friends said it was safe. One of our 4 bus rides was in the front and we thoroughly enjoyed it. All of the rides were safe, and the drivers are completely different than taxi drivers here. They drive so smooth sometimes you don't even realize you have stopped for something.

4. Bring a snack if you are a picky eater. The food is ok, but it is typical Argentine food. Argentines eat dinner at 10pm so that is usually when the serve it on the bus. If you need food earlier, bring some. Crackers and coffee and cookies for breakfast. I enjoyed the mate cocido which is yerba mate in tea bags. We were lucky to get medialunas on a couple bus lines. Dinner was usually some kind of warm meat with warm vegetables (eg. boiled carrots) a cold vegetable rice pilaf, crackers, and flan or fruit salad for desert. They provide sodas, water or wine for the meal, and usually provide whiskey or champagne during the movie. Sodas and water are avalable during the whole trip.

5. Do your homework at Retiro bus station if you have questions about what you are getting, especially if you know Spanish. If you don't, Argentine travel agencies can help you. I found a couple online travel agencies that were helpful. See my links below.

Links:

www.mawatravel.com - a travel agency found in Alto Palermo shopping mall and Galerias Pacifico. Some bus fares and schedules avaiable on this site.

www.omnilineas.com - a site that gives "omnibus", or long distance bus, travel info, schedules, fares, etc.

www.tebasa.com.ar - the Buenos Aires Retiro bus station website. It does not offer schedules or prices, but you can enter your destination, and it will list contact info of the companies that go to that particular destination. Then you can call them or search for their website.

Please add your own tips and experiences below on this topic. I am going to add my reviews of the three lines I took in a separate post. I think many readers will find this info useful since TA does not have a way to post reviews on specific bus lines in Argentina.

Punta del Este...
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1. Re: Long Distance Bus Reviews - Omnibus Reviews

I can't add anything, but this seems to be excellent and useful information.

Abilene, Texas
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2. Re: Long Distance Bus Reviews - Omnibus Reviews

Great summary with excellent suggestions, especially regarding class of service and the need to bring your own snacks!

Atlanta, GA
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3. Re: Long Distance Bus Reviews - Omnibus Reviews

Linea General Urquiza

First we went to visit a friend in La Falda, which is in the smaller mountains Northwest of Cordoba. It was so nice and quiet there. The only line that had Cama Suite service to La Falda was Linea General Urquiza. They had leather seats which did lay flat as advertized. Their blankets were thin and the pillows pretty small - smaller than the other two lines we took to/from Iguazu. There was not as much leg room as hoped for laying down. I am just a little over 6 feet tall and I couldn't quite lay flat. Breakfast was boring, no medialunas :( (we will have to join the 12 step program when we get home to the US because we are addicted to Argentine pastries). The service was professional, and pretty good looking too if that counts. The bathroom was very clean and nice. The movie was an Argentine, Spanish movie. We had the same bus, driver, and service person on both legs of the round trip. The return trip up top in the front was beautiful.

Via Bariloche

We used this one to get to Iguazu as the first arrival in this class of bus. Interesting that it does not leave first, but arrives first, so it has a shorter ride. The sales lady at Retiro was very helpful answering all my questions. This bus did not have leather, but cloth seats. The seats did not lay down 180 degrees in my opinion but close. Maybe 170 degrees. My wife said she kept sliding down and having to push herself back up. That wasn't a problem for me since my feet already touched the bottom anyway. The leg room WAS a little better this line than the others though, by about 3 inches maybe. The seats seemed wider too, and the blanket was NICE! It was a double thick fleece blanket, and the pillow was pretty big, bigger and nicer than the other two lines. Food was standard, except we were excited to have two medialunas with breakfast. The two movies were in English- "What we lost in the fire" and "August Rush". Bathrooms were also clean. Service was professional, and he even spoke English. None of the buses had more than one service person. Oh, and this bus was the only one of the three lines we used that had WiFi internet service. It was free, but it only worked near Buenos Aires. It was very nice to have for my laptop.

Rio Uruguay

We took this line back to BA from Iguazu. It was the last bus out, leaving at 4 pm. Again, we wanted to maximize our time in Iguazu. The salesperson in Retiro was not as helpful with this line. It was 10 pesos cheaper than Via Bariloche (about the same price). The seats were leather, and laid all the way down. The leg room was a little shorter again, and we decided that it must have been the same make as the bus we used with General Urquiza, but maybe just a little older. The blanket was a thin wool blanket and the pillow was ok. The blanket was not thick enough to do much because the Air Conditioning was COLD. I am warm blooded and I normally search out the coldest AC I can find wherever I go, but after a few hours I felt like I was about to shiver under my blanket. I think the sunshine was coming in the driver's window and keeping him warm and maybe that's why he had it so cold. After sunset, it warmed up again to normal temperature. We slept good. The service was overworked. This line passes out paper placemats, drinkes in glass cups, and real silverware, unlike the other two lines who used all paper and plastic. So the service lady was really working hard just to get out the food and refreshments. They gave out sodas in a plastic dixie cup too (except for meals), so she was moving a lot to keep everyone happy. She seemed exhausted all the time and I couldn't blame her. It looks like this company is small and tries to compensate by working their employees very hard, and maybe that's why the employees are less coordial. We had three movies, all in English including "Elizabeth" and "Jumper".

The bathroom was gross. It had a wet floor which the service lady had left a rag on to keep it from being slippery. The light did not come on right in it either - very dim. We could smell the toilet chemicals a few times on our trip too, unlike the other lines. One of our entertainment consoles wasn't working, so we had to share the reading light and use a splitter (which we had brought) on the headphones jack. The bus took 17 hours to get us back to BA. Maybe I should have added the tip to watch the estimated travel time as this took about 90 minutes longer than our trip up there. We didn't care though because we just wanted more time in Iguazu.

A side note: I'm sure that some of the lines have varying quality of buses. For example someone may have a better experience on Rio Uruguay than I did, with a happier service person or a newer bus that does not have minor issues.

Finally: The details matter on a 12 - 17 our bus ride. Some of these things sound trivial until you have to deal with it for hours on end.

Buenos Aires...
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4. Re: Long Distance Bus Reviews - Omnibus Reviews

Excellent ! Thank you! Full of SO much useful information..

Do you get car (bus) sick? That always worries me, since I am not a good back -seat -of- a- car- rider.. and I never ride buses..

Atlanta, GA
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5. Re: Long Distance Bus Reviews - Omnibus Reviews

No, we did not get motion sickness. Again, the bus is pretty smooth. However, we did not sleep quite as good as we would have in a real bed. The Ambien idea, and earplugs/eye cover ideas mentioned for overnight flights might be useful if you are a light sleeper. I brought my pillow from home - a body pillow that I lay my head on and I fold the other half over top of my eyes and ears with my nose and mouth out to breathe well. I knew I would need it for so many overnight trips because I am a light sleeper, but I probably got at least 6 hours of sleep out of 8 hours attempted on a bus ride at night. This is in contrast with the 30 minutes I slept on the plane to BA. Most of the trouble (on the bus) was falling asleep at first, then I tossed and turned when I would wake up from minor noises or when the bus would turn. I usually fell right back to sleep.

Boston...
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6. Re: Long Distance Bus Reviews - Omnibus Reviews

Hi, all -

I wrote two reviews of Via Bariloche and Crucero Del Norte, but tripadvisor said they don't allow reviews of transportation. So, here's my reviews:

Crucero del Norte

We just came back from Iguazu, and took Crucero del Norte to Iguazu, and Via Bariloche back. Both were cama suite service - the "first class" level with the fully reclining seats), but what a difference!

On Crucero, we were greeted with snacks, whiskey and wine. That was followed by a pretty good meal by airline meal standards, with more wine. After that, champagne was brought around.

The blankets and pillows were all wrapped in plastic and marked as being disinfected. They were plenty wide enough to wrap around you.

In the morning, we were greeted by a breakfast that included two rolls (one with dulce de leche), and then a hot medialuna with ham and cheese was delivered!

The worst part of the trip were the video choices, and the fact that you cannot turn off the audio. But, each seat had its own screen, so we could turn off the movie (which we DEFINITELY did during Apocalypto - not exactly breakfast fare!!!!)

I'll submit a separate review of Via Bariloche, but here I would say that, if I were ever lucky enough to get back to Argentina, I will definitely go with Crucero del Norte

Via Bariloche

I wrote another review of Crucero del Norte, which we took up to Iguazu. However, because of the timing, we chose to book Via Bariloche back - if I ever get the chance again, I'll go with Crucero del Norte and adjust my schedule!

This was a "first class" version of service, with the fully reclining seats. Unlike Crucero del Norte, the pillow and blanket were not sealed in plastic, so it wasn't clear that they were clean (though they appeared to be). The blanket was not very wide, so it basically just covered you - you couldn't tuck it underneath you. This was a problem because the leg portion of the seat was covered in plastic - I don't know about you, but sleeping with your legs stuck to plastic is not exactly fun! Also, the blanket was extremely thick, so you were sweating if you had it on!

But the real difference was the food and drink - particularly the drink! Unlike Crucero del Norte, on Via Bariloche we got no snacks or predinner drinks. Just one candy offered soon after we left. Then the only drink offered was hot presweetened coffee - just what you want for an overnight bus trip = caffeine!

Then he ran out of wine at dinner, so depending on where you were on the bus, you may not have received any. The dinner quality was similar on both lines, but the breakfast was better on Crucero del Norte - they offered a hot medialuna, while Via Bariloche's offered two cold minicroissants, and no hot option.

So, I highly recommend going with Crucero del Norte when you have a choice between bus lines - a far better experience for exactly the same price.

San Clemente...
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7. Re: Long Distance Bus Reviews - Omnibus Reviews

Thanks so much for all these great reviews on the buses to Igauzu. We get questions all the time about the bus and lately more questions because of the increase in airfares.

This information is so helpful to other travelers including myself since I have never taken the bus to Igauzu.

Atlanta, GA
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8. Re: Long Distance Bus Reviews - Omnibus Reviews

I was talking to some friends today in Quilmes about these three lines. Quilmes is a southern suburb of Buenos Aires. They have family that lives in Missiones, which is the province that contains Iguazu. They travel these lines somewhat regularly (Crucero del Norte, Via Bariloche, Rio Iguazu) and they said they like Crucero del Norte the best, but that the also liked Via Bariloche. Now I wish I had tried Crucero del Norte - the breakfast sounds wonderful.

Dublin
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9. Re: Long Distance Bus Reviews - Omnibus Reviews

Thanks for the info....The bus station website is great for narrowing down companies. I was trying to find a Sunday service to IGU all morning but now I have one comapny that has several scheduled departures.

St. George, Utah
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10. Re: Long Distance Bus Reviews - Omnibus Reviews

Bookmarking, thank you!