Driving from Bariloche to Mendoza

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
52 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
South America
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 250
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
283rd/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 80% SUMMARY RATING: Worth doing


So if you’re heading through this part of the world where the distances are vast and the flight timings just aren’t working for you, I’d recommend driving from the lake region of Bariloche up to the wine region of Mendoza.  Chances are for these regions you may have rented a car anyway, so its a question of if you’re prepared to pay the car relocation fee

The drive is a long one at roughly 14 hours.  It includes the famous Seven Lakes route (see Driving the 7 Lakes from Villa la Angostura to San Martin for more details), but quite quickly after that you transition from luscious grassy mountains and lakes to more barren volcanoes / mountains, deserts, scrubland, with very few people and a part of the world that has little written about it – some key ingredients for an unexpected driving adventure

Google maps kept changing its mind whether to take the R40 or the more inland 237/151/143 route.  We went for the R40 and were glad we did as the combo of the Andes range to our left and desert / plains to our right was a pleasantly beautiful surprise.  Make sure you do keep an eye on the navigation though as it is very easy to get lost, which happened to us a few times.  That feeling of having to choose between continuing to head down the dust path you hope will soon change to highway or to cut your loses and drive back the way you came for an hour isn’t that much fun . . . even less so the second and third times!


#1 Driving through this vast, sparse and little known part of the world

#2 Seeing the gorgeous changes of oranges to pinks and purples as the sun set on the desert . . . middle of nowhere

#3 Stopping at various points to take photos of the far distant volcanoes, such as Lanin Volcano

#4 The Seven Lakes route from Villa la Angostura to San Martin de los Andes

Travel Tips

  • Renting a car isn’t too bad in Argentina at roughly USD50 / day, but it is the relocation fee you have to weigh up.  We’d already decided to rent a car as we wanted to have one for the driving around the lakes and the wine regions, plus there was 4 of us to share the cost around so it made sense to have this rather unexpected adventure.  However, I can understand that for many the roughly USD350 relocation fee would be prohibitive
  • Start from Bariloche or San Martin de los Andes, depending on your travel plans.  Follow the R40 all the way up to Mendoza, stopping for lunch and to sleep in one of the various towns along the way depending on your travel schedule
  • Stay anywhere that makes sense with your driving schedule, but be prepared for little to be shown on some of the typical hotel sites like booking.com and, if hotels are, they’ll be in relatively poor condition from what we saw.  We stopped somewhere around 3 hours out from Mendoza that we didn’t remember the name of and wouldn’t recommend
  • There is a stunning crater to drive around and catch glimpses of the Lanin Volcano near where the 234 and R40 meet
  • We stopped in places as we saw them for food.  With having the car we were flexible.  Non particularly stood out for recommendations!

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone