From Mendoza, Argentina we took a 7 hour bus ride into Santiago, Chile via CATA International. The bus systems here in Argentina, like trains in Europe, are the more affordable alternative to airplane travel. There are tons of bus companies who run all over Argentina and South America that provide a safe and reliable service. We paid an extra $20 pesos to get the “executive suite” seats which included; lunch, beverages, our own TV and a full-cama (aka chairs that fold down into a bed).
2 round-trip tickets from Mendoza to Santiago, Chile cost $420 pesos (or about $110 US Dollars). The flights via LAN Airlines that weekend cost around $450 US Dollars per person.
Even if the prices were comparable I would still recommend taking the bus. The majority of the trip was spent traveling through the Andes Mountains. From the rivers and lakes in Argentina to the snow-capped mountains as you enter into Chile, the landscape was breathtaking. Hats off to the bus driver who made the trip very smooth despite the incredible terrain (pictured below).
Although the magnitude of the Andes is captivating, it is a little unsettling going through customs in the middle of the mountains. They could do anything they wanted out there and nobody would know. However, they didn’t and we passed through just fine, giving me another 90 days as a “legal tourist” here in Argentina.