Crossing the Andes: Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina by Bus

Instead of flying from Santiago, Chile directly to Buenos Aires, Argentina I decided to take the scenic bus route through the Andes and stopping in Mendoza, Argentina to visit the wineries and olive oil factories (which you’ll hear more about next week). All I can say about the bus trip is WOW.

I booked my tickets online via the Andesmar (an Argentinian bus company) website and all I had to do was show up at the bus station the morning of my trip with my printed ticket, my reciprocity fee receipt (Argentina charges all those traveling on a U.S. passport a $160 reciprocity fee in order to enter the country, which you must pay online in advance), and my luggage and check in at the Andesmar desk. My advice: if at all possible choose the a seat on the top level and in the very front of the bus for the best views.

While 6-8 hours on a bus isn’t really anyone’s idea of a good time, the views of the snow-capped Andes were absolutely amazing. Please check out the video below to get an idea, but it doesn’t do the journey justice at all. It was incredible to see and I am so happy I chose to cross the border by bus instead of choosing the more convenient flight.

14 Replies to “Crossing the Andes: Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina by Bus”

  1. Did your Andesmar bus take you all the way from Santiago to Mendoza and waited while the passengers went through the border crossing procedures or do you have to transfer busses?

    1. Yes, the bus took as the entire way. They gave us the immigration and customs forms when we boarded and then we all got off at the border to go through immigration/customs and then got back on the same bus and continued on our way.

  2. Hi there I am visiting chile on 24 may and planning to take this bus tour. But I don’t have the visa for Argentina. Is it easy to get the visa on border? In case if I don’t get the visa how do I go back to Santiago? I am a pakistani national working in dubai as a flight attendant. I love visiting places full of nature. Could you please reply. Thanks so much 🙂

    1. I’m really not sure what the rules are for a Pakistani national. For US citizens, we don’t need a visa, just to pay a reciprocity fee. We cannot pay on the border, we must do it in advance, but it’s very simple to go online, make the payment, and print out the form proving you’ve paid and are able to enter Argentina. I’m not sure what the process is for you as we do not have the same citizenship. I definitely would not recommend you wait until you get to the border to get your paperwork in order though. In my case, they wouldn’t even let you on the bus if you didn’t have the form with you because they said the immigration station at the border did not have the capability to do it there.

      I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. Have a wonderful time in Chile and Argentina!

  3. What’s the altitude on this trip, I’m curious if a person with asthma would have trouble breathing, or possibly get altitude sickness?

    1. I believe it goes up to maybe 15,000 or 16,000 feet but I don’t know for sure. Nobody on the bus seemed to experience altitude sickness, which I have seen before when I visited Machu Picchu and some of the other high altitude spots in Peru, but I don’t know if any of the passengers had asthma.

  4. What was the customs process like at the border? I’m bringing a bunch of climbing gear for Aconcagua to include some dehydrated foods, and I am wondering how thorough they are regarding searches etc.?

    Thanks!

    1. It was pretty much luck of the draw. Everyone had to take their suitcases out of the bus for inspection but some got thoroughly inspected, others had to just open it for a quick glance and were asked what was inside, and others never even had theirs opened/looked at.

  5. How did you go sitting at the front on the top level? Get motion sick at all; particularly around those hairpin bends?
    Is the view really that limited on the lower level?

    1. I had read reviews so I knew I wanted to sit in the very front on the top and was just lucky that I was able to get that seat. I didn’t get motion sickness at all; with a big window like that you’re less likely to be motion sick. I’m not sure if the view from the bottom is limited or not because I wasn’t down there at all.

  6. Is this bus route passable throughout the entire year? We are heading this was in the Middle of June. Also, what are the chances of hitching a ride over the mountain? i.e. Hitchhiking.

    Thanks!

    1. I have no idea about your chances for hitchhiking as I didn’t try it. The bus route is technically passable throughout the year, however, if you go during winter there is definitely a chance that your trip will get snowed out, so you have to be willing to take that risk. I went during the winter and it was beautiful to see the snow-covered mountains and watch skiers zipping by, but had there been a storm I would have been stuck.

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