In operation from 1910 until its closure in 1984 following an earthquake, the Ferrocarril Trasandino Los Andes - Mendoza (Trans-Andean Los Andes -Mendoza Railway) was one of the great railway journeys of the world. A narrow gauge of 1 m with rack railway sections, the mountain railway joined the gap from Mendoza to Buenos Aires and Los Andes to Santiago. Now it looks as though it is set to run again in the not too distant future. Agreements have been signed between Argentina and Chile and work set in motion that hopefully will see trains on the tracks again by 2010. The timeline (and the estimated cost of US$460 million) may prove to be a bit of wishful thinking but whenever it is finished, it is going to be 150 miles of rail traveller's heaven, though whether it will run passenger services is yet to be seen - the last few years it was in service only for freight and competing with the highway and cheap buses may prove too hard.
Dramatic scenery all the way from Mendoza to the mile long Cumbre tunnel at 10486 feet, and then a dizzying descent of 7000 feet in just 35 miles wouldl make this one fantastic train ride. Meantime, the tracks and bridges, signals, tunnels and snow shelters of the old railway can be seen as you travel the RN-7 up from Mendoza.
Buses from Santiago to Mendoza every 10 minutes main bus terminal at the metro stop of "Univeridad de Santiago." The trip takes 6 hours and costs 10.00 US$.
Be sure to take water and a lunch as there isn't much in the way of stops for picking up food .
We took TurBus but there are many more companies. The top three being TurBus, CATA and Andesmar
Mendoza is 1040 km from Buenos Aires so if you want to save some money you have to know that the overnight bus will take about 14 hours. Of course it will cost less than the plane. I paid 155 pesos (31euros) for Andesmar’s bus.
The long distance buses in Argentina are great, big, fast and comfortable but there are some difference from company to company. From all the companies I’ve used I think Andesmar is the best (but the most expensive also).
The bus to Buenos Aires was a big surprise as they provided us with a meal in the afternoon and breakfast in the morning. We had a movie in the screen and a bingo game! They gave us some little papers with numbers and we started playing until one of us shouted out “bingo”!! I don’t know what was the gift from Andesmar (I think a wine bottle) but it was very funny.
The big bus station of Mendoza is called Terminal del Sol(tell the taxi driver “terminal de omnibus”) and serves many routes all over the country and it’s located in the city center. There are offices of all the bus companies that have routes to Mendoza and also some tourist offices with tours around Mendoza etc. Some small stores will provide you with water and food for the journey (although some companies like Andesmar provide this kind of stuff during the journey!).
I also found an office of Andesmar in the city center (there is one inside the bus terminal of course) where I booked my bus tickets in advance, for exable one from Santa Fe to Puerto Iguazu. The English speaking stuff was very helpful. Address:Las Heras 699 tel:0261-4253108
If you drive from Bs.As by car you’ll need 10 hours for the trip
Mendoza is 1040 km west of Buenos Aires and the fast way to get there is by plane:
The plane ticket costs 100euro and the ride takes 1,5h. The plane departs from the local airport of Buenos Aires and there are many direct flights to "El Plumerillo" airport of Mendoza with Lan Chile or Aerolineas Argentinas.
Both of them have daily flights but Aerolineas isn’t reliable the last years because of frequent delays, strikes etc
I used Lan Chile, the flight was pleasant because some funny chilian people next to me and the meal was just some bisquits & chocolates etc
Mendoza’s airport aint too far from the city center but you’ll need a taxi for about 15 pesos(3euros) to take you to the bus station or the city center.
Aerolíneas Argentinas, tel: 4204170 4487065
Lan Chile, tel: 4257900
If you're flying Aerolineas Argentinas to Buenos Aires from Miami (and other places, I'm sure), and BA is fogged in, you'll likely be diverted here to Mendoza. It's got a big enough runway for the jets that Aerolineas Argentinas flies. I think it was about an hour to an hour and a half back to BA when the fog lifted.
Not much to see or do at the airport. Mostly just snacks available.
This tip is actually about getting away from Mendoza and crossing into Chile by bus over the Andes, a seven hour journey to Santiago via the Los Libertadores pass at 10,000 feet on the RN-7, the Alta Montana Route. The scenery is stunning all the way - through the Upsallata Valley, past the gorgeous, multi-hued rock of the Sierra de Upsallata and the ski resort of Los Penitentes, on to Puente del Inca with its strange sulphur-encrusted rocks and deserted hotel. Arconcagua, the Andes' highest peak was in view for much of the way. Through the tunnel and out the other side and you are in Chile and in for a hair-raising ride down a seemingly interminable switchback road.
Argentina's border formalities are minimal , Chile's are definitely not. Very strict quarantine regulations mean all bags are x-rayed or searched. Make sure you have thrown away any fruit or vegetable matter you may have with you!
We chose Andesmar for our journey - there are several companies running the route and several buses each day. It's a very popular crossing and booking is essential. We booked 3 days ahead and got some of the last seats on our choice of bus - 12.30pm ex Mendoza. The fare was US$25 - an incredible bargain we thought, epecially when we were presented with a lunch box of sandwiches and cake (twice the size of the airline offerings we had been getting as we travelled around Argentina) and offered a cold drink.
It's an amazing journey, much more than simply a way of getting from A to B, a fantastic experience that I will never forget.
Driving yourself around the back roads and vineyards of Mendoza has its problems. If you are on your own or a twosome, it will be quite expensive. Another hazard is the poor quality of the maps available for all but the city centre, and almost non-existant signage. That said, we enjoyed the freedom having a car gave us and made the most of it. The roads are wide and generally quite empty. There are some gravels roads in the backblocks of the vineyards but those we drove on were well graded. Driving in the city was quite straight forward; parking was easy enough to find and reasonably prices and the central city grid was easy to navigate.
Driving up the Ruta Alta Montana was a fantastic experience and having our own car really gave us the freedom to enjoy the day to the full.
Having a non-drinker in our party meant skippering when we went winery touring was easy - without that you will need to appoint a designated driver.
Remises and taxis are very reasonable - they'll cost about $10 an hour but always get your hotel to arrange these for you - don't flag them down in the street.
Car rental will almost certainly be cheaper if arranged from outside Argentina. We used the Argentinian travel company Ripio Turismo for all our arrangement bar car hire because of this. Hertz and Avis have offices at the airport as well as down town
Just returned from a two week trip to Chile and Argentina. We were a group of six and wanted to travel independently to Mendoza, Arg. I tried many car rental agencies that I found on the web and was unable to secure a large vehicle that we could self drive with a drop off in Mendoza Arg. without alot of hassle and dollars. Instead I was able to arrange a charter bus for our group with COITRAM INTERNATIONAL. We had a downtown early am hotel pickup and leisurely drive through the scenic Andes to Mendoza that took about seven hours.
Our clean well maintained Mercedes minibus had room for 12-15 with luggage in the back. Our driver was prompt and good tour guide in Spanish. We filled out a border crossing form before we left with passports numbers and names etc. We wanted to have breakfast on the road but ended up at a gas station having a coffee and pasteries. As the driver said before we started there was not much food availble along the road being a Sunday Am.. So you might pack a sandwich or two. COITRAM INTERNATIONAL is located at Terminal Sur bus station which can be easily reached by the METRO. Call ROSA at 7761891 Santiago Chile to reserve a van or seat if you don't need the whole bus. She speaks spanish only. No credit cards accepted. Van cost 145,000. chilean pesos. Seat price for scheduled trip 12,000.chilean pesos. Road can be shut for weeks in winter due to snow. Earlier Am departure recomnded due to backup at customs later in the day.
Most of the car rental agencies are found on Primitivo de la Reta Street and inm the Airport, however, here's a useful link with e-mails, phones and addresses of most of the car rental agencies in Moendoza
This is the review that my friend Gery from Canada could do about the services of "El Rapido" and the Vendimia package she got from them:
1. They didn't tell me to bring my passport. Fortunately, I knew the number.
2. At the hotel, the lights in the corridor were turned off at night
3. Doors wouldn't lock properly. Once, I got locked in, and had to get a locksmith to get me out.
4.An older woman left her cell phone and medicine on the bus. She tried 3 times to get someone to deliver it to her. Another woman and I finally went to the Rapido office to get it for her.
5.No information about the Vendemia show itself. I dressed up for it,and wore open-toe sandals and got stones in my shoes from walking 20 minutes in gravel. I had no sweater for the cool evening.
6. On all our excursions, the guides didn't speak English although the tours were advertised as bilingual. When we asked, they said they couldn't speak it.
7. On the way from Mendoza to the top of Alta Montana, we had 2 buses. The first one had engine problems after 1 1/2 hours.There we waited for 4 hours while the bus company sent our driver to pick up the stranded passengers where they had been unable to proceed with the other bus.
8. On the way back to Cordoba from Mendoza, we had a huge problem with water. To begin with, the engine overheated. I was assigned to the last seat, and endured hot air blowing directly on me from the engine below for two hours. Our attendant was sleeping in the middle of the bus wth covers to protect her against the cold! The bus stopped for an hour to cool the motor and get it examined. On our way again, water began to drip on us. This was from the rain. Soon all the luggage was wet. We had to store our luggage there because there was no attendant to store it in the undercarriage when we got on. Those who sat on the upper level had to carry their suitcases there. Finally, the bus had to stop under a bridge until the rain stopped. When I finally arrived home, the clothes in my suitcase were all wet.
There are many was to get to Mendoza:
By plane: Lan Chile and Aerolineas Argentinas have got daily flights, the problem with Aerolineas is when the pilots and the rest of the personnel are on strike.
By bus: I recommend Andesmar above all the other companies, follow my advice and don't take a bus from the company TAC since they're having financial problems and recently their service is not good at all
By car: from B.A. you can take route 7 and then to choose to take route 7 or 8, it's around 10-11 hours by car and the roads are in good condition, however, be careful.
The road from Chile is a mountain road so you'll have to be very careful and mostly in the zone of "los caracoles" in the Chilean side.
One of the two tours included in our 4-day package air/hotel/tours deal for the Mendoza area included an all-day excursion to the high Andes. I arranged the overall 2-week Argentinian tour package from Canada by internet/email with Ripio Turismo and they made the local arrangements with Huentata Servicios Touristico. I simply told them where we wanted to go and for how long and they made the arrangements and fitted the pieces together. This part of our Argentina vacation cost US$500 per person for the flights, transportation, 4 nights accommodations, breakfast and our Winery/City and Andes tours.
We had a nice-sized airconditioned Mercedes-Benz minibus, with a great driver and two tour guides, fluent in both Spanish and English. The guides explained things to us as we were driving up the impressive Mendoza River valley toward the continental divide on the Chilean border. There were also rest stops for drinks or washroom facilities as well as several stops at the major attractions along this very scenic drive (see my 'Off the Beaten Path' tips for a glimpse of some of the things we did).
Altogether, it was a very pleasant outing for the 400-km (250-mile) round trip. All the arrangements made by Ripio for both Mendoza and Iguazu Falls worked fantastically well, and were reasonably priced too!
Busses from each destination within Argentina or chile (Santiago) will end in Terminal del Sol, Mendoza.
The bus termial ist huge, has spaces for around 80 busses to arrive at the same time.
Very well organized.
Located east of the city center of Mendoza.
Good website with at least some of the bus operators and phone numbers:
We had good luck using Aerolineas Argentinas for our four internal flights. They used older Boeing 737 jets for both of our excursions outside BsAs. Within Argentina, it is difficult to fly directly from one city to another - you instead have to connect through the central hub in BsAs. As a result, when we left Puerto Iguazu on an early afternoon flight, we flew to BsAs in order to connect with a late-afternoon flight to Mendoza.
When I checked-in our two big suitcases, I mentioned to the guy at the counter that we were connecting to Mendoza. He very quickly typed a few things up and put the usual tags on the suitcases. However, he then started writing away on a small piece of paper and seemed to be taking forever - at least two other sets of passengers were checked in at other counters during this time. Finally, he ripped the normal tags off and attached smaller tags. As he handed me our boarding passes with the luggage stubs I once again asked - 'checked through to Mendoza?" Yes.
We arrived in BsAs just under 2 hours later and went down to the luggage carousel with the other passengers. Argentina is strict about letting you take your luggage out of that area without first showing your stubs to a guard at the door. I showed the guard my stubs and asked 'do we have to pick our luggage up here or will these get it through to Mendoza?". No problem, the luggage is checked through. Great, we went upstairs and killed 2 hours in the departure lounge and then we were off to the Andes!
We arrived in Mendoza at 7:30 PM but our luggage did not! Luckily, our Huentatus Servicios Turistico guide was there to meet us. He quickly took us over to the AA desk where he spoke in Spanish and showed them our stubs. There was nothing that could be done that day, but our luggage would arrive in the morning. Off we went to our hotel, no emergency kits are supplied by AA. In the end, we spent that night and the next day with just the clothes we were wearing and the luggage finally arrived at 4 PM the next day - intact and undamaged!
Our pre-paid arrangements in Mendoza were handled locally by Huentata Servicios Turisticos, a very efficient and friendly bunch of people in our estimation. Right off the bat, on our arrival in Mendoza, Aerolineas Argentina had managed to lose both our suitcases as we flew from Iguazu Falls via Buenos Aires. No problem, Victor was there waiting for us and quickly took our baggage tags to the AA counter to arrange (in Spanish that they could understand!) the search before he drove us to our hotel. On the way into the city he provided us very useful information on a city map, stuff about restaurants and sights that we really appreciated in the next three days!
Our local tour (City sights & Winery visit) and the amazing High Andes tour were both handled by Huentata, with very personalized service, as Andrea accompanied us on both days - more attention than we had ever expected. At the end of it all, they were there at our hotel to deliver us back to the airport. A first class company with great personnel !