I am planning a loop around Northern Argentina and I could use some advice from seasoned veterans!
Here is what I have come up with so far:
We will be in Buenos Aires for 10 days and then we will take a bus to Puerto Iguazu, where we will stay for 3 or 4 days. Then we will go to the Bolivian Salt flats for 3 days, Salta AR for 3 days, Cordoba for 3 days, Rosario for 3 days and back to Buenos Aires to fly out.
1. What would you do to better our itinerary?
2.Have we chosen the "best" places to visit (we will see Mendoza from Chile later). We are most interested in the natural, beautiful and unique places.
3. Is there a bus that runs from Puerto Iquazu to the Salt Flats of Bolivia?
4. What is our destination if visiting the salt flats?
5. Are there places to camp in any of our stops?
6. Are there buses that connect all of our destinations?
7. What are the prices of the connecting buses and how long are they between each place?
8. Is it necessary to have a Paraguay and Bolivian visa to get to Bolivia from Puerto Iguazu (we are American).
Does your time schedule include travel time? In that case it is VERY tight; too tight, I'd say.
1. Drop Iguazú. It's wonderful, but it's also extremely touristy, and a major hassle in view of the rest of your schedule. It'd take at least 48 hours travel time to get from Iguazú to Uyuni, not counting the time you loose waiting for busses etc.
2. Everything's beautiful, unique and, to some extent, natural. The question is how much you like the company of other tourists. If you don't mind, stick to your own plan, but it wouldn't hurt to stray off the beaten track a little (mind you, that does take some time). I wouldn't skip Salta, but I would substitute Rosario or Cordoba for a longer stay in the northwest. I can warmly recommend Jujuy, for instance, or Antofagasta de la Sierra if you have time.
3. No. You have to make a very adventurous (but extremely time-consuming) journey through Paraguay (via Ciudad del Este/Asuncion/Pozo Colorado), or a very hot and rather boring alternative through Argentina (via Posadas/Corrientes/Resistencia/Salta). There's no telling how long it will take you; count on 3-4 days in total to be on the safe side.
4. Uyuni. It has the best services.
5. Camping in Argentina imo is not worth the hassle outside natural parks. Camping near big cities is downright dangerous.
6. No; Iguazù-Uyuni is gonna be a problem. The rest is beaten tourist track, so you should be fine. Keep in mind that, if you're going during austral summer, you need to book your busses for the next destination asap (i.e., as soon as you arrive).
7. Prices are roughly ARS10 per hour on a regular bus (servicio semicama). BsAs-Ig is 18 hours; Ig-Uyuni 4 days total; Uyuni-Salta 20 hours approx; Salta-Cord 15 hours approx; Cord-Rosario 6 hours approx
8. Check with your consulate to make sure. Afaik, neither Paraguay nor Bolivia has entry requirements set for US citizens
Of course Iguazu is touristy - it's absolutely stunning!
Make sure you go there, the falls are gorgeous. Do both sides of the border.
You are going to be be spending a lot of time on buses! Consider flying from BA to Iguazu and back, or getting a flight from BA to nearer the Bolivian border.
Argentine buses are great, the roads are smooth and you can watch as many old Nicholas Cage movies as you like.
BA to the Bolivian border is a long, long way. Look into breaking it up. Salta is nice and Cafayata is a great wee town with about 10 wineries!
i would not skip the falls!! i´m in buenos aires right now and i took a 22 hour bus to get there and it was 100 percent worth it. its like a whole different universe. skipping something like that bcuz other people are there is a really silly reason in my opinion, it doesnt take away from the experience. you can get off the beaten path there too just like anywhere else- on the island we skipped over a fence and did a little climbing and found our own personal waterfalls and pool and swam in them, all by ourselves, and it was paradise.
also, you definitely DO need a visa to get into bolivia as americans. it is $100 u.s., it has to be cash, and there are a couple other things you have to have and you should check the website for the embassy for that kind of info. i have a weird feeling that i maybe remember you need one for paraguay too but that one i´m not totally sure about. i AM totally sure about bolivia.
one thing i would change for SURE is the amount of time you want in iguazu. at the most you need two days. i did almost the entire thing in one day, and i felt satisfied. i had a time thing though, i would have liked to stay for two to finish the one part i didnt see. and you cant do the brazilian side unless you want to pay $100 for your visa for spending two hours in brazil, so really you just need two days to do the argentinian side properly. check thoroughly to see what time your hostel allows check-in in pto iguazu, ours wasnt til 2pm. we took an overnight bus from BA (thru Kurtz E.T.A. or something like that, it was the cheapest busline) and got in to iguazu at like 1, and then did some safari thing in a jeep bcuz everyone said it was too late to go to the falls. after i did the falls the next day i felt like we really could have done SOME of the falls the day before, but the reason they didnt recommend it is there are trains you can take between spots at the falls and they stop running at certain times and the park closes at 6. but you could do part of it i think, just do your homework about the times and stuff. also you have to take a 1/2 hour bus there unless you stay at the sheraton, which is the only hotel located in the falls i´m pretty sure, the rest are in the city. so if you get there around 2, leave right away. and then make sure you get your ticket stamped on the way out and then you get in the next day at half price. also, bring your passport (you need it to get stamped for some reason) and a ton of water and sublock. it is HOT.
also, i dont know if you need ten days in BA. its a really cool city and ten days would be great if you had more time. but you dont, so i think you could do it in a week.
i met some people in iguazu that had just done the salt flats, and they were talking about how some people had to turn back bcuz they never acclimated to being so high up in the mountains. you´re supposed to spend like 5 days or so in bolivia getting used to the elevation before you do the salt flats or that can happen to you, you can get sick. so thats why i would cut out time in B.A. i´m gonna do the salt flats as well, and since you mentioned being into nature type stuff i would suggest cutting time out of the city part, when will you see bolivian salt flats again in your life? right?
if you need anything else let me know!!