In preparation for our trip I have been researching topics such as potential accommodations, activities, landmarks, and transportation methods for each destination. I figure this will give us a better idea of the daily cost, and therefore help determine how long we will want to stay in each country. It will be interesting to see the difference between the ideas I have researched and what we actually do when we are on the road!
Click the small arrow button on the top left of the map header (left of where it says “Potential Destination”) to expand out additional details about many of the locations and activities described below.
U.S. Visa/Travel: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/argentina.html
Helpful Web Sites
It looks like accommodations in Argentina are going to be pretty low cost whichever route we go. You can find a private room at a hostel for $25-30 and dorm rooms for half that. If we sign up with Hola Hostels (http://holahostels.com/en) we will get an additional 10% off. It looks like we will be able to fine HomeStays and Airbnb’s for as low at $30-40 in major cities like Mendoza and Buenos Aires, which would be great for exposure to some locals who would be wonderful resources. We will also look at Trusted Housesitters (https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/us) as we get closer to see if we can land a place for free and get to have some snuggle time with a furry friend.
Bus travel will be our main mode of transportation through Argentina, like other areas of South America. The plan right now is to fly from Peru to Santiago, Chile or Mendoza, Argentina, depending on which flight is cheaper. From there we will hang out in Mendoza and San Rafael before heading over to explore Chile from North to South, then head up to Buenos Aires and the Iguazu Falls.
Other then the flight from Punta Arenas Chile or Ushuaia Argentina to Buenos Aires, we will become very very familiar with bus transportation. I found several online sites to purchase bus tickets such as Bus Bud (https://www.busbud.com/en) and Andestransit (https://andestransit.com). Some rides will be as short as 3-3.5 hours (Mendoza to San Rafael) and others as long as 18 hours from Buenos Aires to the Iguazu Falls. I think I may go slightly insane during an 18 hour bus ride, but hopefully all the beautiful scenery along the way will help. Another thing that will help is if we pay a little extra and get the oversized reclining seat (cama ejecutiva). It basically sounds like a twin bed size recliner. Sweet!
Metros and Trolley Buses
Along with the usual taxis and Uber, Mendoza has trolley buses, while Buenos Aires has buses as well as the Subte (underground metro). To use the Subte we will have to get a rechargeable SUBE travel card to charge credits to, which are available at the Subte stations, tourist assistance centers and even in some area corner stores (kioskos)
Borrow a Bike – for FREE
Buenos Aires has a great free bike program known as the 24-hour Ecobici bike share program. Any time of day you can borrow a bike for 1 hour during the week and 2 hours on the weekend. If that amount of time isn’t enough, all we need to do is bring it back to one of the 100 plus stations around the city, wait 5 minutes, and if no one else claims the bikes we can borrow them again. Will will have to register as users at www.buenosaires.gob.ar/ecobici/registro-sistema-ecobici or by downloading the BA Ecobici app.
I have a feeling we are going to spend a good amount of time in Mendoza just hanging out, exploring the cities plazas, parks and museums, maybe hiking the trails at Aconcagua National Park, and of course visiting the area Bodegas (wineries). Bike tours are highly recommended, averaging around $150 per person (http://www.kahuak.com.ar/english/gastronomy_wines/mountainbike_mendoza_wineries.htm). I found several other wine/bike tour companies that offer self guided tours as well. Not sure of the price difference of guided versus self guided due to the fact that you have to contact them via email to get pricing, which we will do when we get closer to our visit.
South of Mendoza, San Rafael is a smaller city with more opportunities for hiking and outdoor adventures around the areas famous canon, Canon del Atuel, and the dam at Valle Grande. We could do a several day stay to explore the area or do a Canon del Atuel Day Trip from Mendoza.
The southern most tip of South America, Ushuaia is part of Patagonia and full of outdoor adventure. One must do is to visit Tierra del Fuego National Park. It would cost about $10-11 per person for the bus ride there, then $11 per person for the park entrance fee. Tierra del Fuego has multiple hiking paths and tons of opportunity to see different animals and birds. There are tours that we may consider like “Tierra del Fuego National Park Hike and Canoe Tour” on TripAdvisor, but it is a bit pricey at $180. Another really exciting thing to do while in Ushuaia is to go to Martillo Island to see the penguins. I actually can’t remember if I have every seen a penguin first hand. There is a half day boat trip there which includes traveling through the Beagle Channel for $137 per person or “Walk with the Penguins in Martillo Island” tour for $175.
You can’t go to Argentina without going to Buenos Aires. I think the first thing we will do is take a free walking tour (http://bafreetour.com/blog) to get the lay of the land and check out some of the must see sights. Another must do is to check out the San Telmo market Sunday Fair in Plaza Dorrego which will have great food, performers such as tango dancers, antiques, and art. I read that if you hang around into the late afternoon and early evening, after the stalls begin to pack up, free impromptu outdoor Tango lessons are occur.
Speaking of Tango, If we time things right and are there in August, the International Tango Festival and World Cup will be going on. During the festival there are free tango lessons and concerts/shows including the Mundial de Tango which is the international tango championship.
It would be awesome to see a Fútbol game if we are in Buenos Aires. It sounds like the energy at these games is unbelievable and an experience you will never forget. It is hard to find out when the games will be taking place. The 2017-18 season is running from August 25, 2017 to May 13, 2018, but other years have gone from August to June of the next year.
A mere 18 hour bus ride north of Buenos Aires, Iguazu national park better hold up to all the hype. The national park fee runs around $26 US/500 ARS for the Argentina side and $18US/57.30R for the Brazil side, and you need to pay in pesos. There are several tours that look like potentials including one that covers both the Argentinian and Brazilian Sides of Iguassu Falls from Puerto Iguazú.
One thing I will be researching more is whether we will have to pay for a visa in order to take this tour since we would be crossing over the border into Brazil. As of March 2017 border control into Brazil is closed on the weekends and visa requirements are not enforced during that time, but this is not guaranteed. A recent article I read said the price for US citizens to attain a Brazil visa is in the process of dropping in price from $160 to $40, which is great news if we do decide it is worth the extra expense. If we don’t feel like dealing with the border crossing/visa situation there is a tour of the Argentina side only as well.
Any thoughts about our ideas above, or suggestions of “must see” activities/landmarks? Please include those below!