Back to Argentina | Project of our month through South America

 It’s been almost a year – and I can’t believe it! We can consider ourselves lucky that we managed to (almost) get to Level 12 of Jumanji… sane. [You know the joke, right?]

For all those in love with travelling and the world, here’s a small guide based on our last NORMAL trip. Hope that you’re going to find it useful while exploring Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile.


Part I (6 days) | Guarulhos to Porto Alegre

Route and transportation:

[Braşov – Bucharest (by car) + Bucharest – Istanbul (by plane) + Istanbul – Guarulhos (by plane)]

Guarulhos – Florianópolis (by plane, LATAM booked via USD 37; 1h25’ –the flight got delayed for more than 1 hour and nobody knew what was going on–


Florianópolis – Bento Gonçalves (by bus, Santa Cruz booked via EUR 29; it should take around 8h, but we got late and arrived in 9 hours – otherwise, pretty clean and decent bus ride


[as Parques Nacionais de Aparados da Serra – closed during the New Year holidays, we changed our plans and headed to Gramado and Canela]

Bento Gonçalves – Caxias do Sul – Gramado (by bus; tickets bought locally): R$ 13.50 + R$ 28; 1 hour + 2 hours


Gramado – Porto Alegre (by bus; tickets bought locally) R$ 65; around 2h30’


Campeche: Sagui Hostel R$ 500/3 nights (1 in the van + 2 in the en-suite double room); 2/10 I liked the location of the place, very much actually! Close to the beach and a short and pleasant walk away to shops and restaurants around. They also have a reconditioned van in which you can sleep - and this is also a pretty cool idea (and I preferred sleeping there rather than in our double room). But, this is where the good things seem to end. I didn't understand the hype surrounding this place or the high scores attached. My personal experience was that I stayed for two nights in a humid, small, and dark room, on an age-old mattress and linen full of holes. The level of security as to my things in the room seemed 'zero' to me (even if the door closes, the windows can easily open). Also, the double room is very close to the common area, so you get sleep probably at 3am (when everybody else does) and we were even woken up at 6:30am by the works carried around the premises. Friendliness of the staff? Only 1 person was friendly to us. And I felt harassed before arriving about my actual stay-- 'Will you come?' 'Will you pay?' 'Provide us with this and that...' ...but when I actually gave solutions and options, not one was followed through. It is such a shame, as the place has SO MUCH potential, could be better maintained, kept clean, and refurbished altogether.

Praia do Mole, Florianópolis, Brazil

Bento Gonçalves: Sonho da Serra Pousada R$ 300/2 nights, breakfast included; 10/10 By far the best accommodation of our month through South America. Charming, spacious, welcoming, so friendly... And the breakfasts were wow! We came for one night, stayed for two.

Canela: Hospedaria Provençal R$ 130/1 night, en-suite, breakfast included; 9/10 The location is very nice and quiet and I loved the hydrangeas all around and the feeling that you are actually staying in the middle of nature. Our room was spacious and the breakfast was truly rich and tasty. The place could be a tad better maintained.

Where to eat:

Bento Gonçalves: Regina Massasecia – Italian artisan pasta at its best

Canela: Containner Bistrot – a modern take on Brazilian classics and European success stories in terms of food

Not to miss: pineapple juice, fresh coconut water & sugar cane juice (Florianópolis), grape juice, wine & berries (Bento Gonçalves), açaí, pão de queijo, papaya [in my opinion – the best in the world]   


Campeche, Parque Casa na Árvore, Canela, Cascata do Caracol – you can read about all of them here

Casa na Árvore, Bento Gonçalves, Brazil

Part II (2 days) | Porto Alegre – Colonia del Sacramento

Route and transportation:

Porto Alegre – Montevideo (by bus, EGA booked via UYU 4250, around 12 hours –we were about half an hour late, but it was by far the best company we’ve travelled through South America with; they serve great snacks–

Montevideo – Colonia del Sacramento (by bus, COT): UTU 416, around 2h45’ –very comfortable ride!–


Montevideo: La Posada USD 27/night; 8/10 I liked the building in which the hostel is located and its overall style. The location is also superb - you have lots of places to discover around; it is full of shops during the day and the restaurants stay open until late. Both the owner and employees are friendly and helpful - we were given our room earlier to the regular check-in time simply as a nice gesture (we were very tired following the overnight bus ride). The only thing that I didn't like is the fact that the place could be better maintained.

Where to eat:

Montevideo: Alvarez Bar – traditional Uruguayan food, delicious passion fruit smoothies, value for money

Not to miss: Uruguayan wool products   

Highlights: Montevideo’s Ciudad Vieja, the vibe of Colonia del Sacramento – we spent only a short while in Uruguay, but we liked the country and the people very much. Both laid-back. Staying in Ciudad Vieja was one of the favourite memories of the trip, while walking around Colonia, enjoying its art (check out some of painter Daniel Barbeito’s works), or having a meal on a terrace were all lovely and seemed timeless. Tip: You can leave your bags at the bus station – against a fee; they only accepted cash at the time of our visit. 

Montevideo's Ciudad Vieja, Uruguay

Part III (3 days) | Meeting our friends and time spent around BsAs

Route and transportation:

Colonia del Sacramento – Buenos Aires (by ferry, Colonia Express): ARS 2686, 1h15’ –nice crossing!–

From Colonia to Buenos Aires, to see our friends ❤️


Muñiz: [we didn’t want to intrude too much, although our friends did offer to have us; anyway, we only spent time apart while we were sleeping] Lo de Hugo USD 102/3 nights; 10/10 I liked this apartment a lot and felt at ease here - it's new, clean, and well-maintained. The property's neighbourhood felt friendly and safe.

Where to eat:

San Miguel: Allu Pastelería Artesanal – your place for bakes and all things sweet [my dear Nuria’s cake shop – she delivers]

Nordelta: Le Pain Quotidien – perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch… delicious pastries and vegan dishes

Not to miss: dulce de leche, conitos de dulce de leche, dulce de leche liqueur, pizza Fugazza, art and handmade jewellery and bags (Recoleta, Buenos Aires) + accessories and incense sticks (San Telmo, Buenos Aires)

Highlights: the reunion with our friends, Nordelta + Tigre, boliche night, Buenos Aires


Part IV (5 days) | Andean Northwest

Route and transportation:

Buenos Aires – Salta (by plane, flybondi): ARS 2229; 2h10’

Around Salta (by car, Salta Rent a Car booked via – USD 170/4 days; deposit: USD 400 | OK, but they took some time to return the deposit.


Cabra Corral: Terrazas del Lago USD 40/night/en-suite, breakfast included; 7/10 The location is beautiful and the hosts are nice. Some issues should be settled regarding the property. Although pretty clean, it is not that well maintained and there is a certain clogged smell all around the building. Plus, under some heavy rains, we woke up to water on our bed and on the floor. So, a pretty high rate for what it offers.

Salta: Ama respira y vive USD 28/night/en-suite, breakfast included; 9/10 Neat and colourful house, with nice energy. Very welcoming and friendly host. Stunning garden. The breakfast selection could be improved. 

Juella: Casa de campo entre frutales y cerros de colores USD 120/2 nights; 10/10 Marcel and I loved the house! It is superb, with all those nice touches and old, colourful items! The area is also tranquil, we cooked ourselves and enjoyed the environment and the great hospitality of our hosts!

Where to eat:

Salta: La Verbena – a cute bistro in the middle of nature  

La Verbena, Salta, Argentina

Cafayate: Heladeria Miranda – the place to taste wine sorbetto

Not to miss: drinking mate and buying some for back home (if you like it very much – and a bombilla, of course!), at least a glass of Torrontés (Cafayate), oranges and orange juices (Salta), lemons and lemonades (Jujuy), alfajores, Rogel, corn, avocados, quinoa, handmade crocheted items, coca leaves (to chew for altitude sickness relief and to make tea -> not to transport to other regions of Argentina)

When to eat avocados--
Delicious quinoa salad in Tilcara, Argentina

Beautiful little girl and lovely handmade items @ Viaducto de La Polvorilla, Argentina

Highlights: the roads to Cafayate and San Antonio de los Cobres, rafting down Juramento River (ARS 2900, lunch included –vegetarian option available upon request), seeing llamas, Salinas Grandes 

Llama afternoon near Humahuaca, Argentina

To Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Whilst I didn’t enjoy the northwest as much as other parts of Argentina, Marcel and I did make some wonderful Bolivian friends, rode stupendous roads, saw many animals in the wild, and ran in the rain around the salt flats located at 3450m.

Rain & cold at Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Selfie @ Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Tip: If possible, avoid Tren a las Nubes; it is overrated and very expensive (ARS 6500).

View from Tren a las Nubes, San Antonio de los Cobres, Argentina

Part V (7 days) | Patagonia (via BsAs)

Route and transportation:

Salta – Buenos Aires – Bariloche (by plane, LATAM booked via EUR 64: Salta – Buenos Aires; 2 hours + Buenos Aires – Bariloche; 2h15’ –pretty pleasant flights–

Bariloche – Esquel (by bus, Via Bariloche booked via EUR 15; about 6h15’ The worst bus company used by us in our entire trip. Nasty personnel, very impolite (the bus attendant and I engaged in some swearing following a very rude gesture that he did towards me)... bottom line, we arrived late in Esquel and lost our bus to Chile, having to pay for a taxi to the border (we barely made it). But, nah, some people don't care about your time and efforts, they don't even bother to keep the bus clean.

Esquel – border (by taxi): ARS 2000; about 1h20’

Border – Futaleufú (by foot + hitchhiking)

Entering Chile by foot, accompanied by Doggy


Futaleufú – Trevelin (by private transfer, arranged at our accommodation): CLP 40000; about 1h30’

Trevelin – Esquel (by bus, tickets bought locally): ARS 120; about 45’

Esquel – Puerto Madryn (by bus, Don Otto booked via EUR 42; around 10h30’ –we waited for the bus for more than 1 hour; consequently, we arrived 1h30’ late; the food was bad and the bus was pretty dirty–


Around Puerto Madryn (by car via USD 86/2 days | One of the best experiences in terms of car rental of my traveller's life. The guys at AVIS were extraordinary: fast, professional, very friendly... and helped us with extra suggestions.


Buenos Aires: Departamento 2 amb. en Núñez, luz y vista al río USD 36/1 night, entire apartment; 8/10 Good area, friendly owner and friends, close to Aeroparque.

Futaleufú: Outdoor Patagonia & La Yunta CLP 80000/2 nights, breakfast included; 6/10 I wish I could be able to review the restaurant and the hostel separately because it would be fair to do it this way.

As it is not possible, I will try to explain my rating.

The food at this place is in my Top 3 best I've had over the 1-month trip through South America. I loved it to death! So, it clearly deserves 10 stars.

The accommodation, however, is one of the Top 3 worst I've had over the 1-month trip through South America.

The rooms are basic, the basic of the basic (comfy beds, however) and really overpriced. The common space downstairs is rundown and the bathrooms... some of the most disgusting I've seen. I tried to limit my trips to the loo and I actually wanted to move after the first night, but then I said to myself 'OK, I'll try to hang on (for the sake of my boyfriend)'.

Breakfast is also very basic, delicious though, and the entire energy in the hostel is off... The staff is great, kind, and helpful... but the owner is only interested in money, trying to shove as many activities as he can down your throat. If you resist, he will make sure to make you feel guilty over it.

Aaah, and don't rely on the transfers to Argentina or on the bikes at the reception (some are of very bad quality).

So, 1 star for the hostel.

10+1=11 11/2=5.5 :D

[The same company organised the rafting session for us; the guys who accompanied us on the river are true professionals.]

Walking around Futaleufú was terrific!

Puerto Madryn: Shai Shai Hue USD 129/3 nights, breakfast included; 10/10 A very comfortable place to stay in Puerto Madryn (and use it as a base for your travels around the area). Welcoming and kind hosts, beautiful garden, clean room and bathroom. Good selection for breakfast - just what we needed to start our days.

Where to eat:

Futaleufú: Café Mandala – delicious homemade cakes and delightful owner

Gaiman: Ty Te Caerdydd – exquisite Welsh cakes to take home and munch  

Not to miss: raspberry smoothies, orange alfajores, and pichanga (Futaleufú), chipas and empanadas (Argentina), handmade jewellery and accessories to take home from Chile and postcards from Argentina  

Highlights: Bariloche [I fell in love with this town, it was my favourite urban settlement of the entire trip!], Argentina/Chile border crossing [it was one of the most adventurous border crossings of my life, I told the story here in Romanian], rafting down Futaleufú (CLP 60000/Puente a Puente + CLP 15000/Macal; lunch included), walking and biking around Futaleufú, swimming with sea lions (USD 85) and the animal encounters around Punta Loma [free entry], Península Valdés (ARS 850 + ARS 120/car), and Punta Tombo (ARS 550), the Welsh community in Trelew and Gaiman and Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio [for a dinosaur close-up] 

Snorkelling with sea lions around Punta Loma, Argentina

Punta Loma from above, Argentina

Penguin love @ Punta Tombo, Argentina

Penguin love @ Punta Tombo, Argentina

Penguin love @ Punta Tombo, Argentina

Penguin love @ Punta Tombo, Argentina

Penguin love @ Punta Tombo, Argentina

Part VI (4 days) | Return to BsAs, goodbye Brazil, hello Istanbul

Route and transportation:

Puerto Madryn – Comodoro Rivadavia (by bus, Central Argentino booked via ARS 860; around 6h30’ –we were quite late; the company has friendly staff, but the conditions are not the best

Comodoro Rivadavia – Buenos Aires (by plane, Aerolineas Argentinas booked via gotogate): EUR 93.21; 2h15’

Buenos Aires – Guarulhos (by plane, flybondi): ARS 8038; 2h10’

/return to Romania, via Istanbul/


Buenos Aires: Becka’s Tango House USD 23/night; 8/10 The building itself is superb and so are the rooms. The area is safe and central and our host was friendly and welcoming. However, the premises could be better kept and maintained.

Guarulhos: Casa dos Gattos R$ 108/night, en-suite; 10/10 The common areas are simply wow, the neighbourhood is very safe and vibrant to explore, and you feel welcomed the right way. Other pluses? The short ride to the airport (GRU) and the fact that you can be picked up from there and dropped off (against a small fee); the snacks that you get upon check-in; the fact that you have a dedicated and secure spot to leave your bags if you need to explore some more after check-out time.

Where to eat:

Guarulhos: Macaxeira – traditional Brazilian food (with a twist); City Bread – not only a great breakfast option, always packed

Not to miss: caipirinhas (Guarulhos); Garoto, cashew nuts, açaí powder, cocoa, and tapioca pearls (to take home); simit (Istanbul)  

Highlights: meeting Nuria and Telemaco again ♥ [they picked us up at the airport], eating in Guarulhos [Brazilian cuisine is still one of my favourite in the whole world; they know how to cook!], rediscovering Sultanahmet – a few notes here—

We recalled our time spent around this beautiful part of Istanbul – a city that we love with all our heart – 8 years before. We walked, we felt the fresh and cool air, Marcel had pomegranate juice, I discovered Supangle, we ate outside and felt joy. Havaist buses provide a fast and reliable connection from Istanbul Airport downtown.

At night around Istanbul, Turkey



Buying a SIM

In Brazil, you need that CPF [a national number], but at Claro you can get a SIM without it.

In Argentina, we were helped by our dear friend Telemaco to buy our SIM cards and we did need to provide identification proof to register them, but it worked and we were able to charge them online.



We used Uber in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay and, while it was a bit more expensive around Montevideo, the rates were very low even outside towns in Argentina and Brazil.



While the small part of Chile that we travelled around and Uruguay felt very safe, we did get insights from our friends as to possible robberies at gunpoint around San Miguel (on the way to Nordelta). As expected from our previous trip, locals did warn us that ‘we were in Brazil, so everything could happen’… even in the south (and especially in ‘Porto Alegre’). The only weird vibes I felt were in downtown Florianópolis. We travelled at various times of the day, but never felt threatened. A good tip of mine is to trust people and be kind. In the back of your mind, however, stay cautious, never look flashy, and always seem like you know what you’re doing [even if you are not].     


Happy travels!

[and if they don’t return, we will!]


*Rates are listed in the currency used at the time of booking.

**All the recommended restaurants also serve vegetarian dishes.  

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