INSURANCE: Be prepared to spend a few days searching for insurance. It took us two days but we met others who had taken one week to find some. There is a story that a overlander truck had a accident, when it was tested it failed on mechanical problems - making a insurance claim very difficult. Whether this story is true or not we don’t know but it does seem that most of the insurance companies do not want to give foreign vehicles cover. The usual excuses are - ‘We don’t insure campers’ , or ‘Your vehicle is too old / too big’.
We stumbled upon: Ana Ines Bonomi at LA HOLANDO, Sarmiento 309, Buenos Aires Tel 4321 7617
She was happy to issue insurance but only 3rd party and only for 6 months. It cost 1,172 pesos = £186.
Ask for Mercosur coverage as this will include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay and take some recent photographs of your vehicle with you. We were issued with insurance in one hour - English spoken.
There are several insurance offices in the city centre and it is just a matter of walking around and asking.
If you speak and understand Spanish then you could try calling these offices first:
LIBERTY SEGUROS Tel 0800 222 7854 or 4346 0400
Av L.N Alem 518 Floor 12
BERKLEY SEGUROS Tel 4378 8100
C. Pellegrini 1023
This company were happy to give one year insurance in January 2009 for 2,000 peso;
MERCANTILANDINA - ask for Martin Gonzalez
505 Paseo Colon Floor 1
For our insurance renewal La Holando were too expensive so we bought ours from LA SEGUNDA 2 - this excellent company has wide coverage in Argentina. A 6 month mercosur policy cost 1,098ps in 2011.
BUENOS AIRES CITY INFORMATION AND HELP
Car park stay overnight for 70 peso’s - 24 hour charge - safe and relatively quiet. GPS S34.59556 W058.36871 There is a blue concrete bollard with a fresh water tap, you can use the free wifi in Buquebus between 3-6pm.
A much better alternative is to park in the Puerto Madero area just down from Buquebus - it is a very wealthy dock area where the naval police patrol and stand guard. There are numerous drinking water points, chemical toilets (on Herman Girald) and public toilets on the bridges leading to the city centre (open 9am - 7pm).
There is a Carrefour express supermarket on the junction of Av. 9 De Julio and Rivadavia - walking distance from Buquebus and a 10 peso taxi ride back.
A huge Carrefour can be found on the way to Tigre. It is easy to get to from the motorway and you can park on the street outside. GPS; S34.45407 W058.57521 Norte Ramal a Tigre route.
And if you enter or leave the city via Route 8 then we can highly recommend stopping to shop at the Chilean owned stores of JUMBO/EASY (food and diy shops) GPS S34.44675 W58.86811 It has easy access and good parking for trucks plus a YPF with the cheapest fuel in the BA area.
Route 1 has a Carrefour, Makro and Sodimac store all beside each other - GPS; S34.58946 W058.51887 Close to where the General Paz Rp 1 crosses San Martin Av, B.A.
Route 4 has a Sodimac (very good DIY store) that is easy to access GPS 34.61998 W058.63387.
For all things electronic visit GALERIA JARDIN on Av Florida. For foam/ mattress visit Av Belgrano between Jujuy and La Rioja.
MOTOR HOME HELP AND PARTS -
Juan J. Melo lives in Buenos Aires, District- Ituzaingo, Street name - Soler Miguel E, Number 1502.
GPS; S34.64536 W058.67625 www.mhomemisangelitos.com.ar
Mobile telephone numbers - 0111551795284 or 0111564651200
Juan works from home and speaks NO English but is very friendly, can order parts and is generally helpful.
There is a experienced motor home builder in Corboda. We will post full information on this when we visit - see TRIP 6 below for full details.
MERCEDES TRUCK GARAGE and parts GPS; S34.65987 W058.61423 On Rp 4 route.
For all automotive parts and accessories you can’t beat Rp 4, Pte Av 99, Moron District. It is a very long route full of garages and all things auto car and truck, we also saw another motor home fabrication workshop somewhere along this route.
DRIVING - You must have reflective tape, yellow or white, on the side of your truck and red on the rear plus a reflective speed sticker and nationality sticker on the rear of your vehicle to be legal on Argentinean roads. Seatbelts must be worn at all times and headlights should always be on.
ATM MONEY - the cheapest way is to go to CITI Bank on Florida Av. Use the internal multi language ATM and you can get up to 1,500 peso withdrawal per day at a lower charge rate. Other machines charge 11 peso’s per withdrawal and give you a much smaller amount per day - on average 800 peso.
MOBILE PHONE - Claro and Movistar are the two main providers. Under 10 peso for a sim card but not cheap for international calls- around 12 minutes = 30 pesos. We have used both providers and Movistar definitely provides a far better coverage area than Claro.
Skype is your best and cheapest option as there is plenty of wifi over here.
CRIME - Bag snatching and pickpockets are daily occurrences - be VERY careful when walking in the city.
6.30 pesos =£1.00
Buenos Aires to El Calafate
July - October 2009
CAMPING IN ARGENTINA: It couldn’t be easier. Almost every town, even small ones, seem to have a Municipal ground that has BBQ areas, toilets and will allow camping - some even have a swimming pool and sports area. A few are free to use but we would imagine they get very busy on summer weekends.
If you are not completely self sufficient then you can book into a campsite. Prices have increased dramatically in the last year, for a hot shower and electric power point you will now pay between 10 - 25 peso’s per person per night.
Because life on the road is SO easy here we are only going to list our favourite places to stay.
PUERTO MADRYN INFORMATION
Dentist - ADRIAN GARCIA, speaks English, good clean clinic - on the Plaza on 28 de Julio.
Supermarkets - CARREFOUR - on Av Gales - GPS S42.77548 W065.04951
LA - on Felds - GPS S42.78021 W065.03681
Gas man - on Estivariz SW - GPS S42.77819 W065.04337
Computer repair shop - UNIPRINT - on the corner of Mitre and 9 de Julio.
Rubber man for seals, mats, belts etc - GOMATEX - on corner of Zar M A and Av Gales.
Vehicle parts shop - ROCAR - on AV Gales GPS S42.77438 W065.04490
Plug-in internet -CLARO - on the Plaza near dentist.
Electronics shop - LASER - on corner near San Martin and 28 de Julio.
Excellent mechanic - No name or sign - at the top of 9 de Julio - GPS S42.77378 W065.05027
Chemicals for toilet - KODAK - also sells sureflow pumps! On Av Roca near Roque Saenz Pena corner.
DIY store - Hiper Tehuelche - behind Carrefour.
ACA Camping - turn up, let yourself in and use the electric, hot showers and BBQ facilities for the day. Tell the owner that you are there for a shower and he will only charge 15 peso’s for the day. Great value.
FAVOURITE PLACES TO STAY CONTINUED.....
BAHIA BUSTAMANTE - S45.09686 W066.51772 Superb estancia with petrified forest, penguin and sea lion colony.
CIRCUIT CURIOSO - Lots of choices - here are our two favourites:
Camp 4 - turn down past the derelict buildings and park near the rocks to see commerson dolphins and penguins. S49.24675 W067.67069
OR Camp 6 - for a lovely beach side camping area. S49.26856 W067.71153
MONTE LEON - National park - you can park near the beach but there are only 9 places, you must register at the estancia first AND you can only stay between November and April. S50.33445 W068.88448
GLACIER MORENO - you are permitted to stay overnight in the top car park for one night only. Very lovely view.
EL CALAFATE - El Ovejero camping - Humberto has let the Lonely Planet go to his head and is now trying to charge 95ps a night!!!!!!! We were still laughing when 20 minutes later we were parked by the lake with gorgeous views for free - S50.30217 W072.31644
GARAGES NOT TO USE!
Trelew Mercedes - Try to use cheap and incorrect oil for servicing.
Comodoro Rivadavia - Charge almost double the price of other Argentina Mercedes garages.
Los Cipreses - Very friendly and easy. Food check was a glance in the fridge only. We were issued a 3 month visa but this time Nessie only got a 3 month import paper instead of usual 8 months.
Corentoso - No problems leaving this very well organised border.
CRIME - Bariloche is NOT the place to visit as an overlander. You are almost guaranteed to have your vehicle broken into and emptied of all valuables! We have heard of several victims and actually met one unlucky couple. They are convinced that an organised gang watch the main road into town, follow your vehicle to where you park it and then empty it. They lost everything. But worse than that - they went to the police and came away convinced that the police are somehow involved.
DO NOT leave your vehicle unattended in Bariloche city or the lakes car park.
Bariloche city centre is not an easy place to drive around, it’s best to park and walk to some of these places and for that reason we have named the streets rather than use GPS points.
Spare parts - for all things automotive go to E. Elordi street. This one you drive down to reach the city centre.
Insurance - All the main insurance offices can be found in Dr. A Gallardo street. We could only find one who would sell us a policy - La Segunda, they charged 831ps for a 6 month policy that included Chile, Brasil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru and Argentina.
Goma and superb herb shop - Goma man sells a good selection of seals etc and the herb shop sells excellent Indian spices, European mustards, Basmati rice etc. On John O’Connor street.
Gas man - top up or change your bottle here. On corner of Eldori and Albarracin streets. You can drive here also.
Truck tyres etc - Goodyear truck gomeria can be found on Cte Piedrabuena. Another drive to place.
BUDGET NEWS - £24.50 a day : 14 days and 728 km’s.
Fuel costs - Cheapest was El Bolson at 2.580 litre, most expensive was Dina Huapi at 2.990 litre.
Budget includes all costs, camping, meals out etc. Does not include truck upkeep.
BORDER CROSSINGS -
Paso Pehuenche - Small, friendly and easy. Closes at 6pm. 3 month visa for us and 5 months for the truck.
Cristo Redentor - Has a terrible reputation for being difficult and having sniffer dogs. We arrived at 8am to beat the crowds but we still had to wait in the non ventilated tunnel for 15 minutes because the queues were so large. The Argentine border for foreigners leaving is in the same building as the Chilean border point - at the west end of the Cristo Redentor tunnel. No problems leaving.
Favourite camping places ..........
MALARGUE - Municipal campsite. Excellent value - hot showers, electric and SLOW wifi. Only 10ps per site!
VISTA FLORES - Lovely campsite with a pool, shelters, electric, hot showers. 50ps S33.62373 W069.14823
MENDOZA - In 2010 a overlander van bushcamped in Mendoza. Late that night 2 men broke a window, opened their door and robbed the travellers - the husband was stabbed in the chest. Please use a campsite when visiting this lovely city.
Campsites in the city are expensive - we have listed 4 options for you -
PILMAYKEN - Has electric, hot showers and wifi. Helpful staff. 48ps per vehicle and 7ps per person. Can be very busy and noisy - they allow extra football traffic to park here during a match. S32.89086 W068.88350
MANGRULLO - A pool, electric and hot showers. 25ps per person. S32.85608 W068.89412. Some disco noise at weekends but very, very friendly owners who also sell excellent empanadas.
CHACHINGO PARK - Roughly 10 kilometres from the centre in the MAIPU district. A nice park with water canals busy during the weekend but quiet every night. S33.04968 W068.75442
VINAS DE VIEYT - A big sign saying -NO ENGLISH WITH ANIMALS is a poor welcome but this site has a pool and we assume all the usual facilities. 60ps for 2 people. S33.01516 W068.83607 Just off route 40 south.
POTRERILLOS - A pleasant lakeside area that is nice and quiet. S32.97085 W069.18037
Looking for anything automotive? Then drive to the MAIPU area of the city and along the MAZA and PENA streets. MAZA street is a very long road FULL of everything you could need - spare parts, garages, metal workshops, electrical shops etc etc. The junction GPS is S32.93694 W068.78039.
MERCEDES GARAGE - Av Bandera de Los Andes. Beside Rt 7 east bound. S32.90869 W068.77837
Chiropractor - A excellent clinic in the city centre, near the park. Avellaneda 840, Mendoza. Tel. 0261- 4239334. Guillermo Corvalan speaks some English and has 17 years experience. 50ps/session S32.88459 W068.86018
Palmares Mall - S32.95488 W068.85732 Just off Av Grl. J de San Martin. Excellent cinema complex.
Jumbo and Easy - S32.91525 W068.83862 Just off Av Costanera. Big food and DIY stores. EASY sells SIKAFLEX!
Makro - S32.92546 W068.82944
There are also Carrefour and Walmart stores in the city.
These have come highly recommended from other overlanders. We did not drive them.
Hermoso Valley, after Las Lenas follow a rough ripio track 20 kilometres north to this beautiful valley.
And a 4x4 track that takes you from Termas de Vilavicencio to Uspallata.
DO NOT expect to bushcamp with your vehicle in Parque Aconcagua - it has walking trails only!
BUDGET NEWS - £28 a day : 18 days and 1,585km’s.
Fuel costs - Average cost from YPF was 2.899 per litre.
Budget includes all costs, camping, meals out etc. Does not include truck upkeep and medical costs.
BUDGET NEWS - £18.75 a day : 80 days and 5,251 km’s.
Fuel costs - average was 2.5 litre.
We have included everything ; a dentist visit, new fleece top for Dave, food, camping, fuel, postcards, a haircut and the daily costs of truck insurance. We have NOT included servicing costs of truck - this will be on our NESSIE page.
We met a couple in a van who live on £8 a day - but it’s hard.
Cancha Carrera - it is a seasonal border only but was open in mid October when we used it. Staff were easy going and we had no problems.
Favourite camping places.......
RIO GALLEGOS - Not an easy place to camp so we have included this information to help you. On route 5 you will find this place - not great but good and quiet for one night. Pescazaike S51.62889 W069.61910
El CHALTEN - All free camping areas have been closed. We parked in the Sendero trail carpark - not ideal but okay. S49.32145 W072.89431 Hot showers are available in nearby Rancho Grande hostel for 5 pesos and you can empty your chemical toilet in the pit toilet at Campamento Confluencia - opposite the park ranger office.
NATIONAL PARK PERITO MORENO - It’s a LONG drive in on roads that are sometimes bad but IF you get good weather and if you LIKE isolation then this may be the place for you. Four wheel drive only. Entrance is free.
LOS ANTIGUOS - Municipal campsite. Excellent value for money. You pay 20 pesos for your vehicle only once then you are charged 5 pesos per person per day. Electric, hot showers and fire pits - limited sunny areas to park. S46.54405 W071.60901
Monte Aymond - Route 3 south of Rio Gallegos. Very friendly, we were issued with the standard 3 month visa and a 8 month entry for our truck. No-one checked the truck for food.
Los Antiguos - Very easy - no problems leaving Argentina.
SHOPPING - Stock up in Rio Gallegos, El Calafate, Gobernador Gregores and Los Antiguos. All other towns have limited and very expensive food stocks - especially El Chalten. Gas is available in Perito Moreno town.
Route 40 is still a mix of ripio and asphalt, some sections are pretty rough.
Route 39 and 41. We wanted to drive from Bajo Ceracoles to H Yrigoyen and then turn north following the border all the way to Los Antiguos. This route can be very difficult. Always ask locals of conditions before attempting, four wheel drive is required and some sections are narrow. We were told it was impassable, this was mid November, after a week of sun our friends in a Toyota Landcruiser attempted to drive south on it and had to turn around after 65 km’s. Ice, snow and holes in the road were the cause. Probably best attempted in December or January.
Rio Gallegos to Los Antiguos
July - October 2009
BUDGET NEWS - £18.10 a day: 28 days and 1,774km’s.
Fuel costs - Cheapest was Rio Gallegos 2.524 litre. Most expensive was Los Antiguos 3.298 litre.
As usual this includes everything except vehicle maintenance costs.
Favourite camping places .........
PARQUE NACIONAL LOS ALERCES - Free entry to park and lots of free camping areas on lake. Our favourite was
Punta Canero - driving north, go past the last guard post and take the second left track. We squeezed into a great spot right on the waters edge - S42.60699 W071.64571 We also slept at Punta Mattos and Los Rocas.
EL BOLSON - Camping Cerveza. Excellent facilities - wifi, electric, hot showers and a free washing machine. Plus their own micro-brewery! S41.94252 W 071.53683 20ps per person per night.
BARILOCHE - Truchas beach. Hidden from the main road and beside the lake. May be noisy on weekends.
DINA HUAPI - A good quiet lakeside spot if you don’t want to stay overnight in Bariloche.
LAGO TRAFUL - The only lakeside bush camp we saw was here. S40.64560 W071.43886
VILLA la ANGOSTURA - A quiet carpark by the lake. Good for one night. S40.78360 W071.65835
Trevelin to Bariloche
October - May 2010
Exchange rate :
6.13ps = £1.00
Malargue to Cristo Redentor
October - May 2010
Exchange rate :
5.99ps = £1.00
Mendoza to San Jose de Jachal
5.75 ps = £1.00
BORDER CROSSINGS -
Coming over the Cristo pass the aduana can be found in Horcones S32.82102 W069.92370 - we had no problems at all, the staff just wanted to admire Nessie. (3 months for us and 8 months for Nessie.)
The Agua Negra Pass was equally easy and friendly. S30.32795 W69.23616 We slept at the roadside a few kilometres after the aduana point - very quiet.
During the winter season only one camp site was open in Mendoza - Suiza camp - it is nearby Mangrullo camping.
On Rt 40 driving north of Mendoza there was a food checkpoint - beware! S32.24894 W068.50705
BUDGET NEWS - £27 a day : 7 days and 863km’s.
Fuel costs - Average cost from YPF was 3.599 per litre.
FUEL - Has been a big problem for us in this part of the country. From Rio Cuatro to Cordoba garages only sell 100pesos / 28litres of fuel per day to customers and more than a few have had no diesel at all. Fuel up in BA before you drive up Route 8, then use the YPF garage (the truck side) to fill your tanks again in Rio Cuatro. Diesel sold in the small village garages can be very poor quality so only use YPF or Petrobras garages.
ROAD TOLLS - There are road tolls from Buenos Aires to Salta but in total the cost was under 100ps.
Some of the places we stayed.....
Bahia de Lobos - Neuvo camping - 45ps PER DAY not per night. Electric, wifi, a small shop, restaurant and pizza cafe. The water quality is terrible - showers are salty and we would not recommend that you top up your tanks here. GPS S35.29194 W059.13553 This site also offers security garage parking with airport collection for overlanders. Storage costs 450 pesos per month and airport collection costs 250 pesos.
San Antonio de Areco - A gaucho town with a pleasant river. GPS S34.23967 W059.47852
Reduccion - We parked on the plaza for one night. S33.20278 W063.86227
Embalse - Playa Saturno - A very pretty lakeside area. There are signs all around this area saying no camping but you are permitted to stay here. GPS S32.20060 W064.42273
Va Rumipal - A fantastic lakeside area. Lovely views, quiet during the week. GPS S32.20189 W064.46320
Between Dique and Rumipal there are numerous lovely lakeside places to bushcamp.
V. Belgrano - La Florida - a German owned campsite that can also offer long term parking. Electric, slow wifi, good hot showers and a swimming pool. 30ps per person and 5ps for electric. GPS S31.97317 W064.54450 Very good place to meet overlanders and to source mechanics, parts or other help.
Molinos - Yet another great lakeside location. S31.78586 W064.53763
Alta Gracia - You have a choice of 3 places here - Reservoir - S31.65685 W064.43437,
Riverside - S31.65804 W064.44366, Esso garage - S31.64944 W064.40811
Carrefour - S31.45558 W064.16709 on the south side of the city with a Easy DIY store next to it.
Toward the city centre is a YPF that will give you all the fuel you want S31.43673 W064.16881
On Av Colon as you leave the city to the west side you will find a MAKRO, CARREFOUR, WALMART and a LA SEGUNDA 2 insurance office S31.39859 W064.23238.
For MOTORHOMES - GIBERT CAR builds and converts vehicle on a professional level. We did not visit the workshops but have met other overland vehicles that have used them. We are told they charge almost European prices for their work - standards look okay. WWW.GIBERTCAR.COM S31.48833 W064.25087
FOOD CHECKPOINTS - You will find fruit checkpoints in the Viila Union area. They ask if you have any but did not search the truck. And another 20 km’s north of Andolucas - it’s because of the vineyards and fruit flies.
Some of the places we stayed part 2
San Roque - Another lakeside place. S31.34572 W064.46261 There are many paying campsites and tracks leading down to lakeside places to stay for free. We chose this one for it’s easy access.
Driving north to La Cumbre there is a nice stretch of river just north of COSQUIN that has bushcamping and in La Cumbre there is a large open parking area near the bus station - surprisingly pleasant.
We drove the lovely ripio from La Cumbre to Ascochinga, highly recommended with 2 lovely places to stay on the way - Tres Cascades - S30.94189 W064.31805 - a open grass area with a waterfall and pools - don’t know what the cost would be to park overnight. Ascochinga picnic area - S30.95790 W064.29706 Free.
Valle de la Luna - Very quiet camping area by rangers office. Hot showers, toilets, wifi, lots of foxes and very dodgy electric - we’d advice you not to plug in! S30.16400 W067.84300 10ps per person.
Capayan - Another recommended lovely quiet place to stay beside some old ruins. S29.05025 W067.44350 Beware of heavy rain and long cactus thorns.
Andolucas - Outside of peak season this lovely municipal campsite closes all it’s facilities but leaves it’s gates open for free camping. A great riverside location. S28.50269 W067.13149
Belen - Another great find! We stumbled upon the towns picnic area by the dam - FREE electric hook up and water - nice and quiet. S27.61601 W067.01703
Quilmes - The indigenous folks allow you to free park for the night near this ancient site. Great location and very quiet - one of our favourites. S26.46726 W066.03297
Cafayate - Camping Luz y Fuerza. 30 pesos. Wifi, hot showers and good electric. S26.08045 W65.97703
The villages of Angastaco, Molinos and Seclantas all have Municipal camping areas - we did not visit them but they are clearly sign posted except for Molinos.
Cachi - Municipal camping. Very friendly with hot showers and electric. 15pesos.
Salta - Municipal. Hot showers and electric. 27pesos. S24.81294 W065.41935
Beware many overlanders have items stolen here. Do not leave your electric cable, tables, chairs or anything else unattended when you get the bus into the city centre. We were so unhappy about the risk that we drove Nessie into the centre and parked her in the street for our day of sightseeing!
Supermarket - Libertad - S24.83118 W065.42917
Mercedes garage - S24.81766 W65.42489
Gas bottle shop - Occina S24.79407 W065.42057 Extremely friendly and helpful. This is the shop that can supply you with adaptors for the rest of South America!!
City centre parking - We parked on the street by the gas shop - 1 peso per hour. No problems with safety.
Good mechanic - Works out of his house (a red/pink painted house on the corner). Cheap and VERY good. This mechanic fixed our sticky clutch when all the mercedes garages in Brasil, Argentina and Chile could not!! S24.80616 W065.39837
Autoparts shop - The best stocked Mercedes shop we have found in South America! S24.80370 W065.39830
The road to Paso Sico is ripio to begin then good asphalt until San Antonio de los Cobres where you can pick up free wifi from the hostel as you enter the village and you can find your last YPF fuel station. After the village the route becomes ripio again but very good condition. This pass remains open ALL year. There’s a lovely place to stay just before the Argentine border by Lago Rincon - 3,600 metres altitude.
BORDER CROSSINGS -
We entered Argentina via Buquebus from Colonia in Uruguay. We were given a 8 month import for Nessie and the standard 3 months for us, BUT BEWARE - your passport does NOT get stamped on entry - your Buquebus ticket is stamped when you leave Uruguay and THIS is your import stamp for Argentina. Be sure not to lose this ticket!!
We left via Paso Sico with no problems at all. Friendly and open year round. S23.87381 W67.15715
BUDGET NEWS - £21 a day : 94 days and 3,945km’s.
Fuel costs - Fuel costs were mixed. Cheapest - Buenos Aires - 3.33ps. Most expensive - Villa Union - 4.49ps.
Budget does not include truck maintenance costs.
Lobos to Paso Sico
Feb - Apr 2011
6.42 ps = £1.00
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