In our opinion, the best way to reach Santiago from Mendoza is by taking a scenic 7 hour bus ride through the beautiful Andes Mountains.
While flights can cost as little as $50 USD per person, you would miss the beautiful scenery that the bus allows for. If you would prefer to take a flight, search skyscanner for the cheapest dates.
Which seats to choose?
In South America, there are generally three levels of overnight bus seat comfort. The perks also vary according to which level of comfort is selected:
- Semi cama seats – Seats that recline 120 degrees & that usually include a cold dinner, breakfast & drinks;
- Cama seats – Seats that recline 160 degrees & that usually include a hot dinner, breakfast & drinks;
- Cama deluxe suites – Seats that recline 180 degrees & that usually include a hot dinner, breakfast & drinks as well as individual tvs & wifi.
For overnight bus journeys, I would highly recommend purchasing the most expensive cama deluxe suites. However, for shorter journeys such as this one, a semi cama or cama seat for a bit more luxury is completely adequate. If you however, would like to book a cama deluxe seat for this route, one of the few companies that offer it is Cata International.
The range of prices of this particular journey are as follows in Argentinean pesos:
- Semi cama – 360 – 600 pesos;
- Cama – 700 – 800 pesos;
- Cama deluxe suites – 800 pesos +
Our Andesmar bus had comfy large leather seats. There were shared tvs that played one english movie for the journey. In terms of food and drink provided, you were given a light snack upon embarkment consisting of biscuits, a muffin and a hot beverage followed by lunch (ham and cheese sandwich) and a soft drink. No alcoholic beverages were offered. While the good was eatable, it wasn’t anything to particularly fave about.
The Border crossing between Argentina & Chile
Before going on the journey we read online that the border crossing can take hours. It only took us approximately one hour to complete the border crossing. Potentially, this could have been because we took an early morning journey (leaving at 7am) and arriving at the border around 11am.
When you reach the border, the entire bus is required to get off and firstly move through the passport control. This didn’t take long at all (around 30 minutes). After passport control, all passengers get back on the bus which drives a few metres down the road to border control where all passengers are required to get off the bus again for their bags to be scanned. Don’t worry, border control does all the heavy lifting or you, you aren’t required to get your own suitcases from underneath the bus and put them back inside. You wait inside border control with your carry on luggage while your suitcases are being scanned. A border control dog runs along the bench on top of all the hand luggage to check for illegal substances. What we found interesting is that all the South Americans were patting the dog and giving it hugs (something you would definitely get in trouble for in Australia as it may impede the dogs ability to do his duty). To be fair to the locals, I must admit, I did have the urge myself to pat the gorgeous golden labrador – he was so gorgeous!
Have you done this journey or are you about to complete it? We’d love to hear from you. Write any tips you have about bus travel in Chile, Argentina or generally in South America in the comments below!