I read several blogs online which said that when it comes to bus travel Argentina has got it figured out. With limited competition for the national carrier in the air and such long distances the bus is a frequent necessity for ordinary Argentines.
My first taste of this was a 20 hour trip from Puerto Iguazu in NE Argentina around Paraguay to Salta in NW Argentina with a two hour stop in Corrientes to change buses.
The buses themselves are big beasts – double deckers with space for about 50 people, onboard toilets and entertainment facilities.
There are usually two main type of seat – cama (full bed – about 140 degree recline) which are three abreast and semi-cama which are four abreast, don’t recline as much and generally have less space and comfort. Given the price differential I went for the cama option every time with no regrets.
On my stop in Corrientes I had the opportunity to buy some fine screw-cap Argentinian red wine which I duly drank from my plastic beaker while cracking up reading the occasionally laugh-out-loud funny book ‘The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared’. What the other travellers made of it is anyone’s guess.
Food and snacks were served although and were passable but wouldn’t win any culinary awards but the offer of wine with dinner was a nice touch.
Onboard there are TV sets around the cabin with rolling movies. It was unfortunate that in the evening we had a nice quiet film about a teacher rehabilitating poor kids through chess while the night movie was a bang-wollop-shoot-em-up with Keanu Reeves!
In later trips in Peru I would find some buses with airline-style mini entertainment systems in the back of the seat in front.
At least on the bus you get to see a little of the passing countryside even if that does involve being held up in a procession of the Virgin Mary, this is South America after all.
However it may resemble business class air travel there is one aspect that is unavoidable – it’s 20 times slower than plane and however many distractions doesn’t mean your ass isn’t numb after sitting for 20+ straight!