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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 2 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. Take the 34
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!!!!
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 the cities you generally need exact change (coins, no paper money) to pay your fare, so hold on to those 1 peso coins.
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.
Ruta 81 starts goes form Embarcación to Formosa. (Border city with Paraguay)
Ruta 11 goes from Formosa to Corrientes/Resistencia (Border cities with southern Paraguay)
- Buenos Aires
- Gualeguay, Gualeguaychu
- 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.
If you're coming from or entering Chile in Patagonia, 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.
Northern Chile - Argentina
The better spot to cross from Jujuy, Argentina to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile is Purmamarca, you have to look for trucks with Paraguay license plate, many of those are carring cars or others goods and will probably go to Iquique in the north of Chile. Crossing in to the Borders of Jujuy, Argentina is not as easy as the other ones in the nation. Once you get to migrations at Paso Jama, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.. the officials will require you to fill in a documents, mentioning your transportation. And in the case of hitchhiking, you must fill in the name of your driver, and the driver must as well fill in HIS form with your name. This is due to the fact that they wont let you thumb nor walk at the Paso Jama. So you must first get yourself a truck driver, who is willing to take you and do all the papers. Once you arrive to Argentine Borders, and you happen to not be with your Truck Driver anymore, you must do the same thing here. The reason they will give you here, is that the distance from the border to the next town or city is to big, so they would not want you to try to walk your way to next town... which is at least some 200 to 300 km. 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.
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.
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
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)