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For hitchhikers Argentina can be divided into two parts. The North, which is pretty okay to hitchhike, and the South on which opinions vary a lot: it may be difficult to hitchhike if you get into the lonely dirt roads of the Patagonia, because population is scarce. But if you travel southward to the end of Argentina, rides may be a little bit hard, but they take you a long way along.
Argentina has a reputation for variable to long waiting times. Several hours isn't unusual overall.
It seems to be much safer, faster, and informative to ask drivers at roadside stops such as gas stations and truckstops. Standing on the road with a thumb out can last for hours, and is really a last resort. If you want to go far, go with the truckers. They will carry you sometimes over 1000 km, and leave you at a good place to continue. Just keep asking. When you're looking for a ride at truck stops, keep an eye out for Brazilian and Chilean plates. Truckers from these neighboring countries are usually much more willing to give you a ride than the Argies, who will bullshit you about the transport company having sensors in the seats and harsh fines for taking riders.
It's considered normal to ask the people working filling tanks at gas stations to ask people for you. If you're a foreigner, do mention it! A Dutch guy mentioned that it seems to be a lot easier to get rides.
Even if northern Argentina has recently seen several cases of crime for both the hitchhiker and the driver, it's still easy to hitch there (unlike in Bs As). In 2011 two french female around Salta, Argentina, raped and killed by a local. And personal experiences of Chilean Truck Drivers, being drugged by an old lady he picked up, whom invites him to a Mate Drink. Unfortunately, 900 dollars was robbed. Since these problems are from the last 2 years, local Argentine drivers are scared of picking up people. Travelling by 2 or more is even harder. But once you get rides, it will be one of your most smoothest rides. And people are very friendly. They like to invite you to (not drugged) mate´s and even some of there local foods, like the empanadas.
Jujuy: Great landscapes and full colored mountains, you might wait up to 2 hours but you can be sure somebody will pick you up. Don't bother about Gendarmes and checkpoints, I hitched right next to them. A friendly policeman even helped me find a ride at the Juyjuy/Salta border checkpoint -Dr.Keith Take the 34. The 52 takes you across to the Chilean border and is great hitching as it is a major truck route and they are very helpful as a rule.
Salta: Really easy to hitch here, I got picked up in about 30 minutes. Greener than Jujuy
Tucumán: Harder than Jujuy or Salta, besides out of all northern provinces is the most dangerous... If you're heading to Bs As TAKE THE 45 PESOS train to retiro, even if their incredibly bad designed website says tickets are sold out arrive a couple of minutes before departure and tell them you must get there. CARRY YOUR OWN FOOD AND DRINKS and prepare for the heat and the really disgusting toilets hehehe...
Formosa: People are not used to tourist and will be asking really weird questions, cause they don't understand what are you doing there.. there's not a lot of traffic in the 81. But I never got stuck anywhere.. Beware of the extreme hot temperatures!!!!
Misiones: Platschi hitchhiked in a team of two through this area up from Uruguaiana to Iguazu and back and found its inhabitants extremely friendly and willingly to stop for hitchhikers. Except for night time and non-existing traffic at times, waiting times barely exceeded a few minutes. Be aware of the humidity and heat there, though, thus you need to drink a lot of water.
Don´t change your money at a bank or casa de cambio- they will give you the official rate set by the government, about 8pesos/USD. Better do it on the black market where the rate is about 12pesoes/USD. You can see the exact unofficial rate at http://dolarblue.net/ so you don´t get ripped off. In Buenos Aires you can change your money by going up to anyone yelling "cambio" on the street La Florida. Check the money carefully to be sure you aren´t buying counterfeits! In other major cities, walk down the main pedestrian road in the center and maybe you will find an "arbolito" ("little tree") who will change it. Otherwise, ask your host or friends if they want to buy your dollars.
There are quite some peajes (toll passages). In the South however, these are not so good and you will just be sent away after a while.
License plates are black, composed by three white letters and three white numbers. If you're in another country and hitching to Argentina, look for these plates!
A normal map is pretty expensive, but there is a road map containing many countries of South America for something like 10 pesos. Map24 (in Portuguese) has information about the whole of South America.
Buses are expensive but unbelievable nice. Fully reclining seat and food provided. If you take a bus, treat it as a hotel and save a night's hotel fees.
Trains are super cheap but only serve limited routes. They are an excellent way to see the countryside and come in contact with a different segment of the population than you'd encounter on a 1st class bus. Highly recommendable.
In cities, buses usually require the use of cards (tarjetas)- you cannot pay the driver directly. Some, like in Rosario, have vending machines on the bus, but only accept coins (save your peso coins!). But usually you can ask nicely to use someone else´s card, either waiting for the bus or once you get on. Offer them 5pesoes, though they will often flash you on without accepting your money.
Regions & Cities
Patagonia has a single very crowded road, which is the national ruta nº 3 that goes along the coast. It is your better bet when heading South. Although there are often many kilometers in between villages, it is a well travelled road.
There are also some East-West roads, some of them being dirt, some being pavement. It is easy to get a ride on the paved road but dirt roads, however, are much harder because of the lack of vehicles.
The national ruta nº 40 goes from San Carlos de Bariloche (South) is a road that gets frequently closed off because of the bad weather and is reputed to be hellish to hitch on - fewer cars, unpaved sections and some people have said they have gone days without seeing anyone. Winding, remote mountain roads and bad weather conditions in any season but summer make it less travelled by truckers and therefore is not recommended. Gas stations are generally your best bet, although roadside hitching is possible.
- In my experience, Ruta 40 is a moderate/difficult but possible hitch during tourist season. You'd be insane to try any other time. Your best bet on Route 40 (at least the southern bit) would be Chilean truckers. From Perito Moreno to Punto Gallegos, the Chileans use the Argentine roads for lack of similar infrastructure in their own country. Also Chilean truckers are way nicer than their Argentine counterparts.
For us (father, mother and two kids) hitchhiking in the so-called "Linea Sur" was great. There is indeed a hitch culture in Junin de los Andes, San Martin de los Andes, Bariloche, El Bolson, and Esquel. Local people do it and expect drivers to pick them up. You don't need to look a London City businessman to catch private cars, tourists, workers, farmers, and truck drivers both from Argentina and Chile. Our last pitch was from El Bolson to Rio Villegas, and there to the border at Paso El Leon (a.k.a. Manso Inferior), from where we walked up to Cochamo, Chile.
- Buenos Aires
- Gualeguay, Gualeguaychu
- La Plata
- San Miguel de Tucuman
- San Luis, San Marcos Sierras
- Villa Maria
One word of advice is that although traffic is much heavier in the north, the routes do cross major cities, and hitchhiking is much more dangerous near urban centers. It would be advisable, if possible, to get off at the nearest pueblo and take a bus into cities such as Cordoba, Santa Fe, Rosario, etc. The same can be said for leaving. In the south there are really no big cities, and the highways all have gas stations, and the people are much more helpful. No danger there.
Argentinian border crossings are pretty laid back. guaka crossed 4 times in 2006 and doesn't have clear memories about it (meaning it's not that a big deal).
You better avoid changing money at the border crossings though. See the currency section above.
To exit to Chile there is a first stop where they give the driver a piece of paper saying how many people are in the vehicule. If you are not going to go all the way with the same driver don't forget to ask for a specific piece that say you are crossing on foot or something. Also drivers can be reluctant to pick you up all the way through the border so a sign sayin' Fronteira or Aduana might help (then you can speak with them in the car)
If you are going to chile: it is forbidden to enter with any kind of organic stuff such as fruits, veggies, beans, seeds, cheese, etc you can try to pass them in your pockets. Just be sure to declare that you are passing with some organic stuff (rice, mate, polenta) so they can't charge you for lying and play dumb if you get caught. Worked for me with one bag of pine nuts (piñones) and one bag of seeds.
You can also only bring 2 packs of cigarettes, since they are much more expensive in Chile, or smuggle more.
In the north, most of the trucks will not pick you up because are afraid that Gendarmes can complains, eazy took a lift from a local truck and asked the driver to stop a Paraguayan truck for him.
Paso Jama is the northernmost pass across the andes from San Pedro, CL to Juyjuy, AR. Coming from Chile, Keith had to have his pack x-rayed. There are lots of Paraguayan trucks passing through here and few civillians. Keith waited 1.5 hours in San Pedro and 2 hours at the border. The border is at 4200m and can be extremely windy and cold, especially at night - be prepared!
Paso Internacional Los Libertadores between Mendoza and Santiago is probably the best option with lots of truck and civillian traffic. You will also pass Mt. Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the Southern and Western hemispheres.
At Paso Austral, you can possibly expect a needlessly complicated and long process once you arrive to Argentine customs if their X-Ray machine is broken (which it often is).They must do a manual search of your bags and tend to find silly, irrelevant things like tin foil that are apparently a matter of National Security. themodernnomad was once delayed leaving Argentina at the Paso Austral to Chile for several hours because of a 'suspicion' that turned out to be baseless. Fortunately, the Gendarmeria have poorly trained attack dogs who care more about playing with towels than sniffing for contraband.
Eating & Drinking
As a vegan you're down to fruits and veggies from the markets. No restaurant will serve anything vegan. As a vegetarian you're down to pizzas.
Accommodation & Sleeping
guaka slept next to a gas station once, without a tent, without being bothered by anything but mosquitos.
In 2010 themodernnomad squatted in an empty shipping container behind a gas station in Ushuaia for 45 days. He also has squatted up service stations from Bariloche all the way to Salta, with just a ratty sleeping bag and body odor. He would sometimes get free sandwiches from staff/passerby, and the occasional shower when he started to be mistaken for garbage.
Note that hitchhiking is usually much faster when keeping clean and when you mind your personal hygiene. YPF service stations in Argentina oftentimes have very cheap, or even free, shower facilities. A few of them even have low-price laundry services that are an excellent resource for any type of traveller.
In 2013 sebastienhh was host in the churches of San Martin de los Andes and Bariloche (a small franciscan church close to the entrance) and also found a family to host him asking for a place to sleep at the church of Zapala after their reunion.
Some villages have free municipal camping (sometimes with swimming pool)
I find that hitching on the road less traveled means quicker rides with the one or two cars that pass within the hour. YPF gas stations are great. Camped all over without any hassles. Hitching in the north should be done via gas stations. Yeah, it's less interesting, but that's how you're going to get the rides you want. - Chael
Hitchhiking at the Ruta 81 that crosses the entire Formosa Province, is hell. The heat is incredible, and people dont really know why they have to pick you up. Me and Patrick almost got shot from a local farmer, as we tried to get aid on water. A Truck intentionally tried to kill us at night while we walked. But out of that people are just lovely. Formosan chicks are really beautiful. Id recommend getting your rides at YPF gas stations. - fyrexia
Other Useful Info
In many hospitals around the country anyone can get FREE vaccinations such as ones for yellow fever, etc.
- Autostop Argentina (in Spanish)