Buenos Aires , Mendoza , Puente del Inca , Aconcagua , El Calafate , El Chalten , Ushuaia
Argentina is the most expensive country in South America but also the most developed.
Most people are friendly and helpful. In the main tourist areas a lot of them can speak English. Theft are not common except some places in the capital.
Busses are comfortable, mostly punctual and the best to travel around. To popular destinations especially on weekend you should buy your ticket at least two days in advance. On some night busses you´ll get a blanket. Take care that you have it when the trip is over. Otherwise you have to pay because they´ll mention you have stolen it.
If you need a taxi in Buenos Aires at night order one by phone. Some of the taxis are stolen because the drivers want to rob their customers.
The ATM´s are quite tricky. Most of them have a LINK sign and will NOT accept your normal Visa or Mastercard. You need a Visa Plus or Master Cirrus card to fill up your purse. Especially in Patagonia you will get big problems to find a "normal" ATM and opening hours of the bank are short (10 AM to 3 PM weekdays). Travelers from Europe should carry their EC card with Maestro emblem which are accepted at most ATM´s. No joke!
No problems with cash Dollars. A lot of shops accept them but you might get Peso return (1:1). It´s more difficult to exchange other currency. You´ll get a bad rate and as far as you are from BA as worse will be the exchanging rate.
The airport tax for the international airport Ezeiza has risen to 31$. A taxi from Ezeiza to any place in the city center will cost 42$ for up to four persons with Agencia Ecuador. Vouchers are available just after the customs control and the driver will pick you up. There are shuttle busses to the domestic airport and return leaving every half hour. Calculate 10$ and 1,5 hours one way with bus company Leon S.A, Tel: 4383 4454. Some of them are stopping in the city center to pick up customers. Here you can leave the bus and save a lot of money. Ask the driver before entering.
The Hotel Lion D´or, Pacheco de Melo 2019, Tel: 4803 8992 charges 20$ for a single and 30$ for a double room with private bath. Rooms are tiny, dark and clean. Just round the corner is a small market, the cafe bar Media Luna Panadios at Junin 1359, the restaurant El Norte at J.E.Uriburu 1680 with daily meal for 5$ and it´s 10 minutes to the the subway station Pueyrredon (Line D).
San Telmo is a nice area to visit and stay. If you do so, the El Hostal de San Telmo at Carlos Calvo 614, Tel: 05411 4300-6899, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , start with 10$ for a dorm with cooking facilities, laundry, TV... All staff speaks English. www.satlink.com/usuarios/e/elhostal
The bus to Mendoza will cost you between 40$ and 55$ depending on the service. Some bus companies charge you extra for large or heavy luggages. Not at bus company Sendas (Desk 35). They have a comfortable nightbus for 55$ (Ejecutivo) or 70$ (Salon Real), leaving daily from BA at 7 PM and arrive in Mendoza at 10 AM.
Left hand side of the stairs in the basement of the bus
terminal is a left luggage service for 2$ per piece and day. It´s not
marked so ask around.
It´s a nice small city with a relaxing park area and a long traffic free shopping mall with lots of restaurants and pubs. The streets are full of trees and traffic is low on most streets.
At Hostel Campo Base, Mitre 946, Tel: 0261 4290707, E-mail: email@example.com, you can get a dorm for 8$. It´s a very nice atmosphere here but the rooms are tiny and beds are used. They have a locked garden area where bonita Silvia sometimes prepare BBC´s, cooking and laundry facilities, E-mail, cool drinks, left luggage service, rental bikes... www.campo-base.com.ar. They can arrange minibuses to Puente del Inca (120$-150$ for up to 6 persons) and mules (first 120$, second and third 60$ for 60 kg load each) from there to Plaza de Mulas. If you are lucky they can keep a nice house for up to 8 persons at Puente del Inca for 10$ p.p. with cooking facility and hot shower for you. Also parachuting is available for 70$ all inclusive. Map
The Savigliano Hostel, Pedro B. Palacios 944, Tel: 0261 4237746, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, is only 5 minutes from the bus terminal by feet. http://members.tripod.com/hostelmendoza . See Map
The Mambru restaurant at Av. Las Heras corner Av. Chile has a huge buffet with hundred of different meals and BBC as well. All you can eat for only 6,90$ (weekend 8$). Drinks are normal priced. Be there before 9 PM at weekend or make reservation (Tel: 4254482).
The permit office for entering and climbing in the Parque Provincial Aconcagua is located at Av. de Libertado in the Parque General San Martin, Tel: 0261 4257065 and 4252090. It´s open every day from 8 to 12 AM and up to 7 PM on weekdays. It was closed from 25.Dec.99 to 01.Jan.00 so be sure that it´s open when you come here next season!!! The climbing permit will cost you 120$. In low season till the 15th of December it´s 40$ cheaper. Map
Mountain equipment and white gas you can get at Pire store located at Las Heras 615, E-mail: email@example.com, Tel: 0261 4257699. Along the street are a lot of more mountaineering stores. Map
Victor Herrera at Mallku Expediciones, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 0261 4442538, can arrange minibuses, mulas and trekking for reasonable prices.
There is a night bus to Valparaiso for 16$ leaving daily
from the bus terminal at 11.45 PM but don´t count for a sleep because
you have to cross two borders and change the bus near Santiago. You´ll
arrive at 8.30 AM.
Puente del Inca
Most of this small village is occupied by the military and "no go area". The rest are souvenir shops, a sandwicheria where you can get beer and good burgers for 2 to 3,5$ and a basic grocery. The only hotel has lost their permission and was closed. If you need a room ask at the gate to the military area. They might have some left. To pitch a tent outside the village is no problem.
Mario has a left luggage service (10$ per piece) close to the grocery. He can drive you to the park entrance (5$p.p.) and arrange places to stay. He speaks English and is very friendly. Ask for him at the sandwicheria if he´s not in.
From here you can make nice day trips to the nearby mountains without permission.
The park entrance is 5 km away from the village.
Everyone going to climb this mountain knows the details I hope. That´s why I only give some basics.
A useful guidebook is "Aconcagua, a climbing guide" from R.J. Secor, ISBN 0-89886-406-2 for 17$. Also the book "Aconcagua" from Ernst Holl, ISBN 3-929528-15-0 for 17$ is a story about climbing the mountain solo but it´s only in German available.
Very good maps are available at the Instituto Geografico Militar, Cabildo 301 in Buenos Aires. 1 color or 4 b/w copies cost 10$.
At Plaza de Mulas is a large Hotel where you can get a dormitory for 17$, meals are 15$ and not that bad. It´s cold here because no heating. At the camping area are some pubs where you can get a small can of beer for 3$. They try to build up a "Ecotoilett" with normal toilets (20$ for the time of stay) and solar shower (10$ each use).
If you want to use a mule company to carry your gear don´t bring the white gas in 5 liter containers. They won´t accept them. Fill the gas in 1 liter plastic bottles which are normally used for soft drinks. Be sure they are really dry otherwise your stove may not work well with the mixture.
Here some informative links:
www.aconcagua.com.ar official web site of Mount Aconcagua
www.uweeberle.de in English and German
www.bielefeldt.de/acone.htm in English and German
http://home.t-online.de:80/home/Bernd.Busam/aconcagu.htm only in German
It´s not anymore so dusty here than before because they paved the roads in the center of the village. Most of the inhabitants income seams to be the tourism. Lots of souvenir shops and travel agencies are found here. And everything is quit expensive. At the time of travel there was no entrance fee to pay for the Parque Nacional los Glaciares.
The hostel Lago Argentino at Campana del Desierto 1050, is only 100 meters from the bus terminal and charge 9$ for a 4 bed room per person. You´ll get a locker on the floor. It´s clean and friendly here but you´ll miss the lattice windows for a real feeling like captured because it´s very narrow here. They can arrange day trips to the Morreno Glacier with a minibus for 25$ p.p. Map
An other cheap and comfortable place to stay is the Hostal del Glaciar at Los Pioneros 9405, Tel: 02902 491243, E-mail: email@example.com , homepage at www.glaciar.com. It´s not that close to the center of the village.
At Los 2 Pinos you can get a cheap bed or you can pitch your tent here at 9 de Julio 358, Tel: 02902 491271, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . They have cooking facilities and laundry. Map
Close by the hostel Lago Argentino at Campana del Desierto 1020 is Internet/E-mail available for 8$ per hour. It´s a radio and TV store.
Be sure to bring along enough cash with you because the "normal" credit cards are not working on all ATM´s (see above) and exchanging rates are very worse.
The bus to El Chalten is 50$ return.
Flights to Ushuaia are available at LADE, Av. del Libertador,
for 53$ one way. Airport tax is 4,60$.
Only 200 houses are located here but you have to walk 20 minutes from one end to the other of the village. It´s a boom village. Everywhere are construction areas to notice and in high season (Jan./Feb.) you have to have a reservation in a hostel before arriving otherwise you end up on a camping ground. No bank or ATM but two basic groceries and a gasoline station are here. More informations at www.elchalten.com and on the Map.
The albergue Patagonia at Av San Martin, Tel: 02962 493019, E-mail: email@example.com , is very nice and clean. Cooking facilities and laundry are possible. A bed in a 4 bed dorm will cost you 12$. Map
Albergue Rancho Grande is the largest hostel in El Chalten at Av. San Martin, Tel: 02962 93005, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . It´s friendly and clean but crowded. They offer cooking facilities and laundry and have also a restaurant. A bed in a dorm will cost you 12$.
Albergue Los Nires at Av. Lago del Desierto, Tel: 02962 493009, charges only 10$ for a bed in a dorm. It´s basic here but clean. Shower and cooking facilities are available.
The camping ground at the end of the village (Routa 23 to Lago del desierto) close to the hut with a yellow roof is for free. Close by is a Laundry service where you can get a hot shower for 2$.
All camping areas in the National park itself are for free.
It´s very touristy here. Everything is available but only cigarettes are cheap. All other goods are more expensive than anywhere else.
One of the best budget places to stay is the Albergue del Caminante at Magellanes 594 corner 25 de Mayo, Tel: 02901 35890. It´s 10$ for a dorm and 2$ for a great breakfast. It´s quite clean here and they have cooking and laundry facilities. Round the corner is a basic grocery. The staff speaks English, is very friendly and helpful. It´s fun to stay here. Map
The camping ground Club Andino Ushuaia at L.N.Alem 2873, Cel: 15568626 charge 5$ per person. They offer hot showers, laundry, a tea and dinning room and speaks English. Map
Here is a choice of other hotels: Map
The museo Maritimo de Ushuaia is located in the former jail at the Base Naval Ushuaia. It´s worth a visit if you are interested in the history of Ushuaia, navigation and jails. They close between 1 and 3 PM and charge 5$ or 3.5$ with student discount. Be sure to leave before 1 PM otherwise you could possibly be jailed at lunch break!
The half day trip with a catamaran to the sea lions and penguins islands with a stop over at Harberton is worth the 75$. The company Rumbo Sur is leaving Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 2.30 PM from the pier Muelle Turistico and return at 8.30 PM. Tickets are available directly at the pier. They offer also shorter and cheaper trips.
The only ATM I found which works with "normal" credit cards (see above) is at La Caja Bank corner San Martin 299.
A Cyber cafe is at Lasserre 124 opened from 8 AM up to 12 PM.
Flights to buenos Aires are available for 165$ eco or 195$
business class one way. Airport tax is 13$.