Hitchhiking in Argentina: La Ruta 40 and La Ruta 3

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South America » Argentina
April 6th 2014
Published: April 6th 2014
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In La Rioja Provincia, I met a group of French guys, who had been travelling in Chile and Argentina until then, and who told me that hitchhiking in those countries was safe and would be easy for me as a woman. Well, the buses in Argentina are really expensive so from the next day I decided to start hitchhiking from La Rioja Cuidad and see whether it would be easy for me to travel that way. Well, it was and I would then travel almost all Argentina that way –except 100km to Gobernador Gregores in my last day-. I am now very fond of this way of travelling. Some of you –those who never hitchhiked- would think: how could she love such a thing, it’s difficult, takes time and could be dangerous? Yes, if you are thinking that, I agree with you as well, hitchhiking is difficult:

- I will sometimes have to wait for hours along the road with no one stopping or with only a car driving by every 30 minutes and it won’t mean that those cars will stop

- I will be drop sometimes in the middle of nowhere and have to camp there for the night

- I will have to hope that a car will take me before the night because I almost have nothing to eat anymore (although I am used to not eating for some time, so it will never be a dramatic issue for me)

- I will have to wait for hours in low temperatures with windy weather

- I will sometimes be desperate, break down because of tiredness and ask myself why people are not stopping

But to all of those affirmations, I will answer you that it’s so much worth it!! Why is it? are you thinking

Well, it’s worth all the hassle because:

- I am meeting awesome and generous people every day

- I am improving my speaking and understanding skills of Spanish a bit more hours after hours

- I got to learn so much about the culture of Argentina

- I met people, that I am now considering as my friends

- With some people, I even got the opportunity to stop during the journey to take pictures of nice places

- I met other hitchhikers that way and sometimes, I have been travelling with them for some time afterwards

- It gives my trip so much more spontaneity and changes than with a bus: I know what’s my final destination but I never know, how long it will take me to get there or where I will be arriving for the night. It will depend of where the last car is going to take me 😉

- People will be dropping me off in front of the camping, hostel or the house I will be staying in for the night, instead of at a bus terminal, which most of the time is not close to anything

- Some people will be so generous that they will give me some food to eat during the trip but some food when they are dropping me off in case I am stuck on the road at night

- Some people will even invite me to their homes for the night

- It’s an excellent way of creating a personal and professional network

- You get the opportunity to see amazing landscapes

And yes it takes time to wait for a car and that car will sometimes not take you to your destination but on the other hand, a car is much quicker than a bus here. The bus will indeed stop every 2 hours or less for 30 minutes for a snack break. Moreover, the bus is in average driving at 80km/h, when a good car will drive 100km/h in average. For instance, from San Carlos de Bariloche to El Calafate, the bus will take 30 hours, which took me the same time by car but stopping in a hotel for the night and eating a good parilla in a restaurant for dinner.

To the last of your worries: “it is dangerous”, I have nothing to say against it. Because, well, I know it is but I am not living my life being afraid of things. So, in a sense it is, but on the other hand it’s also making me stronger every day, so I am taking that risk. And after hitchhiking thousands of kilometers,
Best hitchhiking experience ever: Best hitchhiking experience ever: Best hitchhiking experience ever:

with Lucas, Martin and Maury. Nice days in Bariloche
I never got any problem.

Here are some stories of my travel while hitchhiking.

I went with a car from La Rioja Cuidad in the direction of San Juan. They told me that they were going to another city, which was not on my way but I told them that it’s no problem they can just leave me at the crossroads so that I can continue in the right direction. Well, 1,5 hours later, I saw the sign “Welcome in Chamical”, which was their final destination… They indeed had forgotten to leave me at the crossroads, so it was making me kind of a detour of 200kms. But, it’s no big problem. I had a nice time with those guys in their Citroen –they were Citroen cars sellers- and I could have lunch in the petrol station, where they dropped me off. The rest of the trip to San Juan was pretty easy with 3 different cars and I arrived before sunset there.

From Mendoza Ciudad to Malargüe, it was very difficult because I had to hitchhike on a road, where vehicles were driving quite quickly… I waited for a long time. After some time, I decided to take a public city bus to move a few kms away to the next petrol station. Well, the bus left me also close to the highway, so I walked in the direction of the station. From there, a truck gave me a ride. This was very funny: the truck was very slow on the highway -30km/h- and he didn’t stop exactly at the petrol station but afterwards so I had to walk back to the petrol station along the highway. Not the best moment ever. There, at the petrol station, I waited for some time, as well. A truck driver talked to me but he was going back to Buenos Aires. He offered to come with them to Buenos Aires at the evening and then come to Malargue with them, as they would go there the next day. Well, I didn’t see the advantage of doing that –it could even turn to be dangerous-, so I refused. Afterwards, a couple of young people arrived and they weren’t going to Malargue but to San Rafael, which was another big city on the way. Well, that’s the spontaneity, I like now and it was already 5pm, so I said “ok, let’s go there”. It was great meeting them. They were my age and knew a lot about the countries where I will be going and about San Rafael as well, so they gave me good tips for my travel.

The next day, I decided to take the opportunity to be in San Rafael to visit the surroundings: I went for a wine tasting in one of the Bodega and I went to see a lake. It was a great unplanned full day.

From San Rafael to Malargue, I met a very generous couple, you could only give me a ride for 70 km but when they dropped me off they gave me some bread, some meat paté and some jam, in case I will get stuck for the night on the road!!

The next hitchhiking distance was the 1st very long one that I did: my plan was to reach San Carlos de Bariloche, which was 1000 kms more South. So, waking up at 7am, I started quite quickly to hitchhike from Malargüe. I got various cars you gave me lifts. Sometimes, for 300 kms sometimes just for 30 kms but anyway the most important is to go forward. I even got a ride with some fishermen, going to the lake on Sunday to fish 😉 This day had been my first cold day after 2,5 months of quite good weather, so it was difficult to hitchhike in the cold. But, I carried for weeks my cold clothes, so it was now time to use them 😊 One of my worst moments hitchhiking until now was on that day, when I got dropped off near a very small village with a very strong wind, which was moving the soil and small rocks and they were hitting me quite strongly… I couldn’t even look long on the left to see when cars were arriving because of it, or stand up as the wind was too strong… However, after an hour waiting there, I got 3 different rides and the last one took me 300 kms further, where the wind was not that strong and where I got a nice landscape.

From there, I learnt the lesson “never think that the grass is greener elsewhere, be satisfied with what you have”… I indeed got
On the road to El CalafateOn the road to El CalafateOn the road to El Calafate

1st view over Fitz Roy and Lago Argentino
a lift with a truck, which was moving between 40 and 60km/h, so at our next stop, I thought that it would be better for me to hitchhike again from there to get a lift with a car, which will be for sure quicker. Well, I got a lift with a car but it wasn’t quicker as the guy was also driving at 60km/h and was doing stops very often for his dog or to show me something. This guy was an old nice man but it was my worst experience hitchhiking. I was really afraid we would get into an accident. He couldn’t in fact see totally clearly, was driving close to the middle of the road, would sometimes do big and sudden moves on the right or on the left of the road… He would even once drive downhill on rocky path to go close to the river under a bridge to let his dog drink water and would get stuck there with no idea how to come back on the main road with his car... On that moment and at others during this ride, I feared for my life… I was so relieve when he dropped me off in Zapala! Then, I waited in the wind for an hour and finally a car stopped seeing me doing the gesture meaning “I am very cold” with my arms. This guy was only going to San Martin de Los Andes, which was 200 kms away from San Carlos de Bariloche but like last time, I decided “ok, let’s go there. Let’s be spontaneous and let life decide for me” 😉 I was looking forward to arriving there as I was tired and it was cold even in the car…

From San Martin de Los Andes, I got very lucky as I got a ride with a family, which was on holidays and they stopped on some places on the road to take pictures, drink some mate and enjoy the scenery, exactly what I love doing 😊 They were really nice people, working as an assistance car during Dakar and doing currently the trip with a motorbike and a car. They left me in Villa La Angostura, where I spent the afternoon before going to Bariloche.

To Bariloche, I got also lucky. It was one of my best encounters until now: I got a
On the way to Gregores in Los Tres LagosOn the way to Gregores in Los Tres LagosOn the way to Gregores in Los Tres Lagos

Here with Ignacio, we chose to continue until the sunset to go as further as possible
ride with 3 young Argentinian guys from Buenos Aires, who were spending one week holiday in Bariloche. We chatted a lot in the car and they offered me to go with them the next day for their excursion. I accepted and I spent in fact the next 3 days with them, discovering the area. After those days with them, it was very difficult for me to continue my trip as I wished I could stay with my new friends…

They drove with me to El Bolson and from there, I got lucky again: the guy, who gave me a ride to Esquel was going to the South of Argentina 2 days later –as I was supposed too-, so 2 days later, I didn’t need to hitchhike and got an easy 900 km ride to Rio Gallejos.

In Rio Gallejos, I got lucky again, as the woman, who gave me a ride, offered me to sleep in her house, as I didn’t know where to sleep for the night in El Calafate. So generous of her!!

The last part from El Chalten to Los Antiguos was the most difficult one for me:
Last night hitchhiking in ArgentinaLast night hitchhiking in ArgentinaLast night hitchhiking in Argentina

Meeting with Ignacia a few hours ago. Nice adventure between Los Tres Lagos and Gobernador Gregores
I waited on La Ruta 40 at a crossroad with another hitchhiker for quite a while with almost no car driving by. Then, we got a ride to Los Tres Lagos, which is a small village in the middle of nowhere. From there, we decided to try to go further as it was “only” 7pm. The ride we got, took us 70km further but still 100km before Gobernador Gregores, which was the next town. So, at 10pm, we arrived there, which was really in the middle of nowhere and after eating biscuits and drinking a tea for dinner, we camped there for the night. It was cold and windy, but that’s the adventure and I love it! The next morning, awake at 7.30am, we started to hitchhike but there was a very few cars and none of them stopped. The people, who were working to build the road there with whom we got the ride to there the day before, took us 4km further and gave us hot water, tea, coffee bags and biscuits for breakfast. That’s another reason, why I love hitchhiking: it gives you back some hope when meeting such generous people!! At 12.30pm, we were still waiting to get a ride, so when we saw a bus driving by, we took the bus for the next 100km to Gobernador Gregores, to not get stuck there. It was kind of a failure for me, as I had been hitchhiking since La Rioja Ciudad and didn’t want to break the chain of kilometers of hitchhike, but sometimes, it’s better to be wise.

In Gobernador Gregores, we got a ride after 5 minutes waiting, who took us directly to Los Antiguos at the border with Chile. It was my final destination of hitchhiking in Argentina but not the last one during this trip in South America, I can tell you 😉

La Rioja Cuidad – San Juan Cuidad: 500 kms. 9 hours of journey. 5 cars

San Juan Cuidad – Mendoza Cuidad: 200 kms. 5 hours of journey. 2 trucks

Mendoza Cuidad – San Rafael Cuidad: 300 kms. 6 hours of journey. 1 truck and 1 car

San Rafael Cuidad – Malargüe: 200 kms. 3,5 hours of journey. 1 car and 1 truck

Malargue – San Martin de Los Andes: 800 kms. 14,5 hours of journey. 8 cars and 1 truck

San Martin de Los Andes – Villa La Angostura: 100 kms. 3 hours of journey. 1 car

Villa La Angostura – San Carlos de Bariloche: 100 kms. 1,5 hours of journey. 1 car

San Carlos de Bariloche – El Bolson : 100 kms. 3 hours of journey. 1 car

El Bolson- Esquel: 150 kms. 2 hours of journey. 1 car

Esquel – El Calafate (stop in Sarmiento for a night): 1200 kms. 16 hours of journey. 2 cars

El Calafate – El Chalten: 200 kms. 3 hours of journey. 2 cars

El Chalten – Los Antiguos: 700 kms. 18,5 hours of journey. 3 cars and a bus

= 4400 kms of hitchhiking 😊


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