The Scenic Bus Ride from Mendoza to Santiago

by Dave on April 4, 2013 · 14 comments

Breathtaking scenery on the ride from Mendoza to Argentina-Chile border

Breathtaking scenery on the ride from Mendoza to Argentina-Chile border

I may have entered Argentina by plane, but my departure via the scenic bus ride from Mendoza to Santiago (Chile) was worth the extra transit time.

In Mendoza, I bought my bus ticket on Andesmar a few days in advance for just $35.90.

By comparison, flights cost several hundred dollars, and you miss some of the most beautiful landscapes outside of Patagonia.

The ride lated about 7 hours, including the time it takes to pass through Argentina and Chilean Immigration.

The highway passes by Puenta del Inca, but this natural geologic bridge can’t be viewed from the bus. My photo below was taken a few days earlier on a separate tour.

Another point of interest you can see from the bus, if only for a few seconds, is Aconcagua (6,960 m), South America’s tallest mountain.

I lucked out in that it was a beautiful, clear day. Thanks to the GPS on my iPhone, I was able to snap a photo of the cloud-shrouded peak as we passed it by.

A small complex of blue-roofed buildings offers space for corporate retreats far from the nearest city

A small complex of blue-roofed buildings offers space for corporate retreats far from the nearest city

At times, the landscape looks more like Mars than Earth

At times, the landscape looks more like Mars than Earth. An old railway line can be seen running alongside the road.

A ski resort nestled in a valley awaits the winter snows

A ski resort nestled in a valley awaits the winter snows

The Puenta del Inca

The Puenta del Inca is a natural geologic bridge once used by Incas to cross the river. In modern times, a spa was built under it to take advantage of the natural hot springs.

At 6,960 meters (22,837 feet), Aconcagua is South America's tallest mountain, as well as the tallest peak in both the Western and Southern hemispheres.

At 6,960 meters (22,837 feet), Aconcagua is South America’s tallest mountain, as well as the tallest peak in both the Western and Southern hemispheres.

An avalanche warning sign on the road through the Argentina-Chile border

An avalanche warning sign on the road through the Argentina-Chile border

Looking backwards at the mountain road, some sections of which are covered by a cement roof to protect against avalanches.

Looking backwards at the mountain road, some sections of which are covered by a cement roof to protect against avalanches.

Our bus parked outside the Chilean immigration office, which has the distinct look of a ski chalet

Our bus parked outside the Chilean immigration office, which has the distinct apperance of a ski chalet

One of many hairpin turns on the steep descent from the border crossing

One of many hairpin turns on the steep descent from the border crossing

A long series of hairpin turns lead down the mountain

A long series of hairpin turns lead down the mountain

A closer look at those turns!

A closer look at those turns!

The remainder of the bus ride to Santiago isn't nearly as exciting. As the highway leads you to lower altitudes, the landscapes are mostly dry and scrubby

The remainder of the bus ride to Santiago isn’t nearly as exciting. As the highway leads you to lower altitudes, the landscapes are mostly dry and scrubby. In this photo, you can see a red train making its way across the lower section of the mountain.

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Categories: Argentina, Chile, Features, Photos

14 Comments

Michelle April 4, 2013 at 9:54 am

Wow love these pictures!

Reply

Dave April 4, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Glad you enjoyed them Michelle!

Reply

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures April 5, 2013 at 10:11 am

Absolutely gorgeous! I would have been yelling at the bus driver to stop every five feet so that I could take a picture haha.

Reply

Sam April 5, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Wow! Just looking at these pictures makes me feel dizzy! I guess in winter the landscape must look completely different. Out of this world!

Reply

Virgil April 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Those pictures are sooo cool especially the one with all the turns. Glad you were in a modern looking bus!

Reply

mady rimbaud September 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Hello,
your pictures are incredible. I wonder if there is a problem on this road when you have altitude sickness ?
do you feel it in the bus ?

Reply

Dave September 9, 2013 at 10:03 am

Thanks Mady. No, I didn’t feel the altitude in the bus. Normally, a higher altitude is something you run into when when you’re exerting yourself physically, like walking or climbing up steps. Then you might feel a little out of breath. But sitting on the bus, you won’t feel any different.

Reply

guillermo January 15, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Solidarity net

two bike riders has lost one pendrive with pics of his journey in Chile.The Facebook link to track the device and recover it: “Guanaco Verde Limon ” webpage. Good Luck !

I have the pic of the couple

Reply

Andrea Verhulst February 13, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Were you on the left or the right side of the bus ? ;-)

Reply

Dave February 15, 2014 at 9:37 am

The bus wasn’t full, so I was able to take photos out of both sides. Puenta del Inca cannot be seen from the highway (if I recall). I had gone there separately on a day trip before the bus ride.

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Beth February 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Hey Dave,
Great photos! Those hairpin turns look a little daunting. When did you take the bus from Mendoza to Santiago, April 2013? What was the immigration check point process like? Getting of the bus, luggage check, document check, etc? Did you have to pay the Chile’s reciprocity fee or is that only at the airport? Any information you have would be great! Thanks

Reply

Dave February 17, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Hi Beth, thanks for reading. I took the bus May 20, 2012 and don’t recall having to pay anything upon entering Chile. The border process was quick and easy. Disembark, all luggage has to pass through a security check, get stamped out of Argentina, and stamped into Chile.

I left Chile a few weeks later via a tour through the Bolivian salt flats, and didn’t have to pay anything on exit that I recall. It may only be you need to pay if you fly in/out versus crossing by land.

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Beth February 17, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Great, thanks for the information Dave!

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Matthew May 3, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Great article. Biplane on doing this route soon. What are the buses like? Facilities? Stops etc?

Reply

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