San Pedro de Atacama to Salta

cassiem13

Registered
Hi all,

I'll be traveling from San Pedro de Atacama, in Chile, to Salta in early/mid May. I've heard that bus tickets can be sold out for weeks in advance (a friend who was there in Feb. told me..). I also feel like I've heard that it's not possible to buy tickets unless you're there in person. I'll be getting there by means of a salt flats tour that starts in Uyuni.

So, two questions:
1. Can you buy tickets in advance?
2. Which bus company would you recommend?

Also, any recommendations of busses to take TO Uyuni? I'll be traveling alone and meeting a friend there, so I'm hoping there will be one that goes directly there; don't want to deal with changing lines, etc. How long does it take?

Thanks!!
 

elhombresinnombre

Registered
This could get complicated. The roads around Uyuni are terrible and the buses that go there look like something out of "Mad Max" because wimpy old Marco Polos could never handle the journey. Uyuni however was built by the railways for the railways and there are still regular but sporadic train services from Chile, from Oruro (half way between La Paz and Uyuni) and from Villazón on the border with Argentina and other places that I can't remember right now. So I'd say, consider getting a bus combinación from Buenos Aires to the border town of La Quiaca and a train the rest of the way - but allow enough slack in your timetable for the inevitable delays.

As far as I know, only one bus company - Geminis - runs between San Pedro and Salta and only runs a couple of times a week and can get booked up in advance. You are also getting into the season where you could (but, to be honest, are unlikely to) have problems over the mountain passes so try and include some slack there too.

I'm guessing that your salt flats tour goes from Uyuni and terminates in Chile and isn't one of the circular tours that can be booked in Uyuni that starts and finishes in the same place. If you would like to post the itinerary of the tour, I might be able to make other suggestions.

By the way, if you are not already a vegetarian, one look at the meat market in Uyuni will turn you into one. Be very careful what you put into your mouth while you are there.
 

cassiem13

Registered
Hmm.. good to know. I hadn't really looked into how I was going to get to Uyuni. My friend (who I'm meeting there) will be in Potosi first, maybe I'll go there and then we can head to Uyuni together. It seems like a much bigger place, so hopefully there would be a bus that goes directly there? Does anyone know?

I don't know the itinerary of the salt tour yet, I think we're going to book one once we get there and can check out the different companies and do some price checking. I do know that we're planning to do the one way Uyuni to San Pedro route, though.

Do you know if I can buy a ticket out of San Pedro from BA? Yes, I know Geminis is a company that does that route.. I'm wondering if it's the only one?

Thanks for the heads up about the meat market. Maybe I'll stay away from that; I like meat :)
 

SaraSara

Registered
Try checking the South American Explorer's Club, a sort of clearinghouse for students and budget travelers. My daughter relied on their information while backpacking in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, and was delighted. Members file trip reports about transportation, local scams, and tour operators. Plus, they can store stuff at its clubhouses.

http://www.saexplorers.org/club/home
 

cassiem13

Registered
Thanks, I'll contact them.

Still looking for some answers if anyone can help:

Can I pre-purchase a ticket from San Pedro de Atacama to Buenos Aires
and
What's the best way to get from Buenos Aires to Potosi? (I think I'll just meet my friend there and then we can go to Uyuni together)

Thanks!
 

elhombresinnombre

Registered
cassiem13 said:
Thanks, I'll contact them.

Still looking for some answers if anyone can help:

Can I pre-purchase a ticket from San Pedro de Atacama to Buenos Aires
and
What's the best way to get from Buenos Aires to Potosi? (I think I'll just meet my friend there and then we can go to Uyuni together)

Thanks!
I've never been to Potosi so I'll leave that question for others.

You could ask a bus company for a "combinación" between San Pedro and Bs As but I'm not hopeful. Try numbers from this site http://www.sanpedroatacama.com/ingles/ir.htm
or visit the ticket booths at Retiro bus station and ask the companies there what they can do for you.

Personally, I wouldn't want to lock myself into a pre-booked bus at the wrong end of an unpredictable journey out of Bolivia: I'd want to keep my options open. Unless you allow plenty of slack in your timetable, your pre-booked bus will likely be long gone before you ever arrive. I've already written on this site about a 30hr Bolivian bus journey I took that arrived 3 days late and that story is not untypical.

Personally, if I were making this trip, I'd wait until I got to San Pedro. If there's a bus to Salta with spare seats leaving sometime soon - great! If not, I'd hop on one of the many buses each day into Antofagasta and busk it from there.
 

lwfh

Registered
yes, and although I have no idea about Potosi, I have two suggestions about the first leg of your journey. I have heard that in general Argentine buses are nicer than Bolivian ones, and so getting an Argentine company to the border like elhombresinnombre suggests sounds like a good idea to me.

The second is that when I wanted to think about travelling through Bolivia I went to the Bolivian Consulate on Corrientes just down the road from Florida. There is a kind of tourist information section where they gave me some good advice about trains.
 
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