Bus Virgin – Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn (18-hour bus trip)

March, 2011

After haggling for a taxi (AR$30) from Centro in Buenos Aires, arrived at the Retiro Omnibus station for the 18-hour bus trip to Puerto Madryn, 2 hours earlier; told to be there an hour before departure – not sure why.

Our first taxi ride during the 9 days in BA, with the barely out-of-nappy wild-eyed driver with a Formula 1 attitude proved an exhilarating ride! Argentinians drive like they play football; with unrivalled passion and no rules! An excellent driver though and even returned my change after speeding off in the distance!

As Argentina has barely any trains, a bus is your main form of transport, especially for long distances. Roughly, flying costs double the bus fare, so if you’re away for any length of time, then zigzagging your way across Argentina through flight is best left for the rich or emergencies!

The Retiro is more like an overcrowded well-oiled airport. Buses come and go every few minutes; 75 platforms, loads of travellers with oversized luggage, and enough cafes/shops to keep you occupied during a long wait.

Relieved to see our bus arrive on time as the Arrival/Departure board displayed the time only 20 minutes before departure, our bags got loaded, and we boarded. Oh, the guy loading bags expects a tip; however, after he hurled our first pack upside down into the luggage compartment, there’s was no tip! Very impressed with the Class 2 ticket (AR$352) on the “Condor Estrellas” company; big comfy seats that recline 140 degrees and a small pillow provided! We were handed a cold dinner comparable to a plane meal and on our way. Worth mentioning is the Class structure on buses. Each company has its “version” of Classes 1 to 5, although the company needs to abide by Argentinian law; my understanding:

Class 1 – allocated seat reclining to bed
Class 2 – allocated seat reclining 140 degrees
Class 3 – allocated seat reclining 40 degrees
Class 4 – allocated upright seat (number of passengers for number of seats)
Class 5 – free for all bus transport, no passenger limit!

For more detail, check the Omnilineas times.

After a quick stop an hour later (passenger pick-up), stopped for a 20 minute coffee break at Bahia Blanca round 5am, then kept driving! It’s amazing how these drivers go for 8+ hours straight without a break and do an 18-hour run!
The landscape is unremarkable; golden pancake-flat plains, scattered patchy scrubs, with the occasional rising hill in the distance. So, if you can’t sleep on long bus trips, take plenty to read, play, listen to, or otherwise.

Only one movie for the duration of the trip but if you’re not good at lip reading, then you can simply plug your headphones in to listen…if it’s in English.

Argentina: Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn, 18-hour bus trip

On the Road

This trip provided a breakfast stop, which is paid for by the bus company. However, unless you understand Spanish you won’t partake in breakfast (a minor or major point, depending on how hungry you are); unlike us, make sure you take up the offer!

There’s also about 4 checkpoint stops or drive-throughs. If the bus stops, the armed Guardia Nationaciales walk through the bus looking for something, not sure what, just exercising their right to bare uniforms or justify their job perhaps?

Arrived at Puerto Madryn an hour late but found our Hostal Sentir relatively easy. Very clean and the ladies running it are very accommodating. A very well-equipped kitchen (refreshing change from BA’s Hostel), Wi-Fi in room, common room with PC, and loads of glorious hot water! At AR$160 (Dbl) a night, which was the cheapest available hostel at the time, I definitely recommend this place.

Only spent a couple of nights at Pt. Madryn as it’s out of season and we were pushing south before the winter. So, didn’t take up any tours, but spent a lot of time searching for accommodation and bus details for Rio Gallegos and Ushuaia.

Although, everyone advises it’s out of season, the price of food, accommodation, and transport is expensive – I imagine high season must be horrendous!

Visit my Nilla’s Photography Argentina Gallery for more images. More posts on Argentina at my Image Earth Blog.

30 thoughts on “Bus Virgin – Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn (18-hour bus trip)

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    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I’ll be travelling again at the end of this year (in the working/saving mode atm), then I will have more interesting things to add!
      A forum that I’ve connected with is Trip Advisor, which I find very useful for places to stay, prices, experiences. Thanks for dropping by:-)


  2. Hi to everyone that’s posted on my Blog!

    First of all, I really must apologise to everyone for not replying or commenting. The reason is that when I first started writing this Blog whilst travelling through Morocco and South America in 2011, I never received any responses or notifications that anyone read my Blog posts. So, I didn’t think anyone was very interested in the information I provided.

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    For those of you who are interested, I returned to Australia in December 2011 after 10 months travelling. Since last year, I’ve been working at my day job (Technical Writer), which pays for my passion. I did manage to squeeze in 2 overseas’ trips last year; one to Beijing (Birthday present) and one to Amsterdam (invited to the Global Art Exhibition). I’ve been working hard entering photographic competitions and preparing for the London, Amsterdam, and Italy exhibitions I was invited to in 2012 and 2013. It’s a lot of work but an amazing experience and a chance to meet some wonderful artists!

    If you’d like to see more of my work, please check out:
    Website: Nilla’s Photography
    Face Book: Nilla’s Photography
    Twitter: @NillasPhotos
    StumbleUpon: NillaPhotos

    I’d appreciate any feedback on my work and thanks for staying around!


    • Sorry I’m so late with a response. I started the Blog in May 2011 but for only a few months.


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    • Sorry for the late response. I tried to hook the RSS feeds with FaceBook back in 2011 but it didn’t work. I’ve provided all my links with most post today. I was trying to use this site as a Newsletter, but it’s not a very user-friendly site and I don’t know how people find anything here!


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    • I only ran it for a few months as I didn’t get any responses; thanks for your feedback!


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    • Sorry for the late reply and thank you for your feedback! I wrote the subject matter from my experiences; I didn’t pay anyone to write the content as I don’t pay for the Matador site – this is a free Blog/travel site.


    • Thank you and glad you enjoyed my Blog. Now that I’ve seen a few responses, I will have to make time to write again but I need to start travelling again…stay tuned, not too long now! 🙂


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