Mendoza to Salta road trip

The plan was to get a feel of the real Argentinian life, not just what’s going on in the big cities. Since the distances are enormous in Argentina we put together an optimum plan to see as much as possible in 7 days. The distance factor later actually forced us to add an extra day to our Argentina road trip. Because of the colder weather in the south at this time of season we decided to go to Salta and further north. Our route from Mendoza to Salta included the next overnight stays:

  1. San Agustin de Valle Fertil
  2. San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca (with Ischigualasto Provinical Park)
  3. Salta
  4. San Salvador de Jujuy
  5. San Salvador de Jujuy (with Humahuaca and Purmamarca)
  6. Salta (with Salinas Grandes)
  7. Belen (with Cafayate)
  8. Famatina (with Fiambala)

Buenos Aires to Mendoza bus ride

Before we started our road trip we first had to get from Buenos Aires to Mendoza. So after 2 days in Buenos Aires we headed to the local wine capital Mendoza. After some research in the Internet we chose the long distance buses for transportation. Depends on the carrier but usually they offer three types of seats: semi-cama (can lower seat back 120°), cama ejecutivo (160°) and cama suite (almost 180°). We chose the Cata International 13-hour night bus with the cama suite seats. Here’s a good tip that might save you decent amount of money: don’t buy tickets too many days up front. We went to the bus terminal one day before the departure and they gave us discount 20% off. The reason is that the locals are not using the cama suite possibilities much (it is relatively expensive) so the buses have many cama seats empty and they just want to fill them up before the start. Note: it might not be like this in a high season.

The ride itself was very smooth, way more comfortable than in airplanes. It also included a dinner and a breakfast (something like they offer during flights) plus even a champagne. Sort of an odd thing was that they asked passengers to close the curtains because locals sometimes throw stones to the windows. Really? Later we figured out it is because the poor living conditions outside of the big cities. Luckily nothing bad happened.

Below is a view inside of the bus. They have some multimedia system in it but if you don’t speak Spanish then it’s very little of use. Yes, you got it right, all the movies were in that language.

cama suite cata international

Cama Suite (pic: Walker)

A glimpse of Mendoza

We arrived to Mendoza in the morning. So we dropped the bags to our Airbnb apartment and headed to the city center for lunch and to find a car for rent. On our way was the Plaza Independencia which you can say is the center of the city. The square shaped plaza/park has also 4 smaller plazas/parks in every corner. Three of them are named after countries (España, Chile and Italia) and one is named after general San Martin. The squares are all well decorated with different art elements and the whole area is a very nice place to relax and enjoy the fresh air. Here’s a glimpse of the wall from Plaza España:

plaza espana mendoza

Plaza España (pic: Walker)

Car Rental

If you are planning Argentina road trip with a start from Mendoza then they have made it super comfortable. That of course if you don’t have your own car and need to rent one. By super comfortable I mean they literally have all the car rental companies on one short street – Primitivo de la Reta. This makes it very easy to visit a few (or all if you want) companies to find out what each of them has to offer. I’d suggest you not to settle with the first one but to check what’s the average price on the market. Also I’d pay attention to what type of insurances the offer includes, how easy it is to extend the renting period, what type of extras the car has (A/C is a must!) and so on. Plus most of them usually try to rent you the class higher car than you might actually need.

After considering aspects like the budget, insurances and the company’s reputation we went for Avis. And for the wheels we chose Chevrolet Classic which is something similar to Opel Corsa in Europe. I must admit we were little afraid that it could be too small for 4 people for such a long trip but it was actually quite okay (and had good fuel economy).

Where did I eat?

Beirut

Very cool place to grab a beer or why not even a lunch. It is located on the “Car Rental” street Primitivo de la Reta. So after spending an hour or two bargaining at the car rentals it is very comfortable to stop by. I had a fresh salad and fries there. Not so spectacular meal, I know, but still considerably well made.

beirut cafe in mendoza

Beirut bar/cafe

What experiences do you have with planning Argentina road trip? Please let me know in the comments below…