Is it worth buying the South Pass for Argentina?

south pass map

With South America having a complete lack of affordable flights and an extensive rail network being almost non-existent, the best way to travel by public transport (long distance) in the continent is by bus. This is none more so than in Argentina. Argentina is huge and thankfully they also know how to do long distance travel by bus very well, as I found out by surprise on my way from Buenos Aires to Iguazu recently. In that same article I also briefly wrote about the South Pass (www.argentinabybus.com) for Argentina, a bus pass which can potentially save you a lot of money if you’re travelling long distance around Argentina (and to some cities in neighbouring countries.) However, having travelled some more on the South Pass and used up almost all of my journeys, I wanted to look more in depth at it, compare the cost value to booking independently, the customer service, the functionality of the website, flexibility for travelling, and my overall experience using it. Essentially what I want to look at is does this pass save you money and is it worthwhile for you to buy versus just booking your tickets independently?

Price – Does it save you money?

The all important question so I’ll start with it first. Below is the minimum price I would have paid for each journey I took had I not had the South Pass, i.e. if I had just booked each ticket individually without using any kind of travel pass;

Buenos Aires to Iguazu Cheapest price found = 657 ARS (£70 / $112 / €83) Cheapest price found for the seat I took (the better ‘Cama’ seat) = 750 ARS (£80 / $128 / €95)

Iguazu to Cordoba Cheapest price found independently = 728 ARS (£78 / $124 / €92) Cheapest price for the better ‘Cama’ seat (which I took) = 830 ARS (£89 / $142 / €105)

Cordoba to Mendoza Cheapest price found = 265 ARS (promotional fare) (£28 / $45 / €33) I did not take the ‘Cama’ seat this time as there was none available for this length of journey.

Mendoza to Salta Cheapest price found = 705 ARS (£76 / $121 / €89) Cheapest price for the better ‘Cama’ seat = 810 ARS (£87 / $139 / €102)

Salta to La Quiaca (border town next to Bolivia) Cheapest price found = 150 ARS (£16 / $26 / €19) There is no ‘Cama’ seat available on this short a journey.

– In total without the pass I would have paid a minimum of 2505 ARS (£270 / $429 / €317) based on the journeys that I took. This does not include the free upgrade you get with South Pass to the Cama seats (when there are some available.) The South Pass cost me £236 ($368 / €274) and so in total I saved £34 ($61 / €43) versus booking independently at the cheapest prices available.

Other important factors to consider; I could have saved more money with South Pass if I had simply planned out my itinerary more. If I’d picked other longer distance journeys instead of taking the journeys from Salta to La Quiaca and Cordoba to Mendoza I could have easily saved myself some more money – which has to be noted. However, it also has to be noted that after Iguazu (my first destination after Buenos Aires) I really felt like going straight to Bolivia. The only reason I didn’t was because I had the South Pass and I didn’t want to lose out on any money which I’d paid for it. In the end I ended up going to a few destinations that I wasn’t really that bothered about visiting. I also ended up staying in Argentina much longer than I would have otherwise which is a much more expensive country than Bolivia (where I’m headed to next) – another thing which is important to consider but hard to equate into an exact figure of expenditure.

So would I advise you to buy the South Pass?

If you want to see a lot of Argentina then absolutely yes! The country is huge and you can cover long distances on this pass much cheaper than you could taking long distances independently by bus (or by plane for that matter!) However, if you’re like me and someone prone to changing your mind a bit about where you want to go, or you prefer to just decide on the day, then it’s probably not for you.

What about overall service from the South Pass team and website?

Whilst the South Pass website is not amazing in terms of user experience, it did do its job and allow you to book your tickets. It would have been useful if more journey tickets were available as online documents that you can print from your computer (only some are like this), but other than this I had no major problems with the service after I bought the pass. The only exception was how on the South Pass map it looks like they allow you to go to more cities than they actually do. For example, they mention La Paz on the South Pass map but don’t actually go to that destination. When I enquired about this they pointed me to the terms & conditions, but strangely when I booked my pass initially the terms & conditions document actually appeared blank (as a small blank box in the middle of the page) until after the transaction was made. I even took a screen shot of it at the time which you can see below as I thought it was so strange, but decided to take the risk and just book it. After the transaction went through though it magically reappeared… This was the only thing that really bugged me about the South Pass because initially I thought I would be able to save more money than I did by going as far as La Paz instead of just to the Argentine border town of La Quiaca.

terms and conditions south pass not showing

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3 Responses to “Is it worth buying the South Pass for Argentina?”

  1. Miro says:

    HI,

    at first thank you very much for sharing your experience.
    My was horrible. In my mind Southpass is more expensive than buying tickets byself. If you have a look at the website, the 5 ticket package cost 435 $ its a lot.

    Actually I bought 2 month ago the 7 package for 615$. If I compare this price with buying single tickets it is more than 100$ wasting .

    On the other hand the service is ok but it is really stupid to book everything online it took more time than going to a bus station and there you can choose your seats. I definetely do not recommend outhpass.

    Miro

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] – So these were my first impressions of Iguazu! Hopefully they were helpful to you if you’re planning on making a trip there soon, and if you liked this article you may also be interested in reading my first impressions of Buenos Aires or my review of the South Pass for Argentina. […]

  2. […] In Argentina I found the website Plataforma 10 useful for checking bus times and dates for all around the country. I believe you can also make bookings on there but I personally just used it for checking schedules as I had a bus pass. […]


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