Right now, the best conditions and forecast in South America are all in Bariloche and guess what? The airport is still full of volcanic ash and completely closed. So, if you wanna ski pow, you’re headed to Buenos Aires and getting on a bus for 22 hours heading south to Bariloche. Here’s how to do it:
7 Steps to Getting there:
1 – From the airport, pay a cab driver 50 bucks to take you to the Retiro bus station. Be aware that it’s going to take 1 to 1.5 hours to get there, so use the bathroom! (it is also possible to take the 2 peso bus into down town, but once you step off the bus, good luck finding a cab to fit all your equipment to take you to the bus station or to a hostel)
2 – As soon as you make it out of the final security gate and into the Buenos Aires (EZE) airport, you’ll see McDonald’s to the right. Look left (opposite) of that McDonald’s and there’s an ATM that will allow you to pull US Dollars as well as Argentine Pesos. You can pull up to 1,000 pesos (about 150 usd). Do so.
3 – One of the few companies traveling to Bariloche is Via Bariloche. Have the cabbie drop you off at the Retiro bus station as near to Kiosk number 121 as possible. Then just cruise over to the window-counter and get your tickets. (note: tix can be purchased ahead of time and we recommend this. The bus co. websites rarely work, but you can do it over the phone, you’ll need someone who speaks fluent spanish to do so)
4 – Bus ticket prices will vary by season, but you can expect to pay around 500 pesos. We recommend the upgrade to full cama (fully reclining bed/seat) for only about $20 US. (Semi-comma is a doable option, but we speak from experience in saying it hurts a bit)
5 – Getting on the bus, it’s going to cost 35 pesos to check your ski bag, this is a normal fee. Hold onto the baggage receipt, you’ll need it to retrieve the bags upon arrival. The baggage handlers will be expecting a tip of about 2 pesos or more if you’re feeling generous.
6 – Upon arrival, reclaim your luggage. You will again be expected to give a tip of about 2 pesos
7 – Exit the bus station and find a cab that will accommodate your heaping mound of gear. Look for cabs that have racks on top, they’ll have straps.
Hit-list of essential items:
- Good Book (as if ski bums actually read books)
- Head Phones (preferably noise cancelling, see below)
- Laptop, cameras, and any other entertaining electronics
- Comfy Clothes (You’ll love your sweatpants/pj’s – ya ain’t trying to pick up chicks)
- SNACKS & DRINKS, lots of ‘em.
The most crucial aspect to making your bus ride as pleasurable as possible is most certainly snacks. Load your backpack, laptop case, pockets, and any other available space with all the food and drink you can. While there is a food and beverage service offered on the bus, it’s more than just a bit on the dainty side. Media Lunas (croissants) certainly will not satisfy you, the traveler who has now been on the road for an excess of 24 hours. The stomach can handle no more reheated low grade dog food airplane meals. So treat yourself and stop by one of the local markets on your way to the bus stop and stock up. Or, if you can’t stop in town be sure to hit one of the many shops in the bus depot – you’re in for a long haul.
Remember, no matter how grand of an idea your buddy makes it sound, getting drunk for the bus ride is a bad idea. Sure, the first few hours might be that much more enjoyable, but the tail end will hurt. Bad.
Pros and Cons of Bus Traveling:
- Comfortable – much more so than the Greyhound system of The States
- Takes you directly to your final destination
- No switching air ports/dealing with security
- Cama seating – enjoy a fully reclining seat, reminiscent of your dearly missed bed
- Multiple stops with people getting on and off the bus make it near impossible to truly rest
- If you get car sick, well…
- Freezing cold – bring warm clothes aboard! The AC is always cranked for some reason
- Dry and bland scenery – hope ya brought a picture book!
- Semi-cama seating – your partners seat will recline all the way into your lap
Power shall be your number one ally, or nemesis, on the following expedition into the wild unknown. Be sure to have the laptop, iPod, Smart Phone, camera, and any other small electronic device fully charged before embarking. Failure to charge can easily result in the catastrophic failure of your ability to act as a civilized human being.
In the worst case scenario of a dead iPod, Laptop, and all other entertaining electric devices, the bus will offer a featured flick or two, but they come with a catch. The on-board entertainment for the night will almost certainly start with Dora the Explora or some similar child catering film parlaying into a terribly dubbed Spanish Telenovela. To augment the experience, the video is blared over the bus’s speakers. That’s right folks, no dainty little headphone plugin if you wish to enjoy the movie. Everyone is blessed with hearing the movie at full volume.
Cue the noise cancelling headphones! Available from a number of manufacturers these babies will be well worth the investment. Tuning out the rest of the world can be invaluable, and your noise cancelling headphones will allow you to become absolved in your fantastic piece of intellectual literature you have brought along, or maybe just offer the piece and quiet to peruse Powder’s Summer Camp Guide or catch up on some much needed z’s. Regardless, they will be your best friend when blocking out the obnoxious video, that crying baby in front, and your snoring bench partner all in the same fell swoop.
Now that you’re prepared with the knowledge of South American bus travel, hop on Expedia and book your ticket down to winter today!