After a recent vacation to northern Argentina, which involved some long driving days, I can 100% recommend the services of a local driver/guide. As a reasonably well-seasoned self drive traveller, I was so pleased that I took advice from Nicole, our own World Travellers consultant and gracefully bailed out of the idea of renting a car.
Rural Roads in Northern Argentina
Of course Argentina is a vast country, with long distances between major towns and cities. But it’s not a country where you can take it for granted that the main highways are well graded and maintained. Many are, but many aren’t – as we found out.
One road trip was between Posadas and Iguazu, a trip of approx 4.5 hours. This journey was reasonably straight forward, with a long, undulating sealed road all the way but with several police check points where the driver’s credentials were inspected and his passengers perused (!).
The rural speed limit is 110km/hour, the reality is more in the region of 120-130km/hour. Very kindly the road police put up a notice to warn motorists of a speed camera ahead, so, of course, everyone slows down, then speeds up again. The motorway speed limit is 120-130km/hour. In Argentina you drive on the right hand side of the road.
Double yellow lines are helpful to know when overtaking might not be a good idea, but drivers tend to make their own decisions about this, yellow lines or no yellow lines.
Route 40 travels the length of Argentina from the northern border with Bolivia to the southern tip so is a major road link for the country. However on the sector that we drove between Cachi and Cafayete it was no more than a very bumpy, dusty, dirt and gravel track. Yes, spectacularly scenic and worth every bump from our point view, but difficult and slow going for the driver.
City Driving in Northern Argentina
It became apparent fairly early on in our trip, in fact during our first half day private driver/guide Buenos Aires sightseeing tour, that lanes are only indicative of where a driver should be on the road. It is common for drivers to straddle two lanes so as to have the option of moving from one to the other without having to indicate.
The urban speed limit is 40–60km/hour, the reality is more like 60–80km/hour. Parking is a nightmare.
So when you are planning your itinerary I would endorse Nicole’s recommendation and urge you to tick the “private driver/guide” box, enjoy the journey and the benefit of a bilingual guide’s local knowledge of road conditions and driving tactics.