Argentina is a fantastic place for a road trip: the vast distances and unique windswept scenery are some of the most drive-worthy on the planet. If you're heading to the Lake District, or Mendoza or Córdoba province, for example, try to spend at least a little time driving around.
If you don't fancy dealing with driving yourself, you can also hire a remis con chofer (car and driver) in most cities. You can arrange this through hotels or local taxi companies. For trips to and from a specific destination, you pay a pre-agreed-upon flat fare. Otherwise most companies charge an hourly rate of around 50-70 pesos (sometimes with a two- or three-hour minimum) to have a driver at your disposal all day. Rental companies also offer this service, but are more expensive.
Some major highways are maintained by private companies, others by provincial governments; surface conditions vary greatly. Many national highways (rutas) have only one lane in each direction; you get two or three lanes on an autopista (freeway), but these only connect some major cities. Local driving styles range from erratic to downright psychotic, and the road mortality rate is shockingly high. Heavy truck traffic can also make some routes slow, frustrating, and dangerous for passing. Don't count on good signage leading to the estancias. Do as the locals do: pull over and ask directions. In towns, intersections without traffic lights or signs function like four-way stops: a car approaching from your right has right of way.
Your rental car agency should have an emergency help lin; the best is usually through the Automóvil Club Argentina (ACA), which can dispatch help to nearly anywhere in the country within a reasonable amount of time. In the event of an accident, stay by your car until the police come. Head to the nearest police station to report a stolen car.
American Automobile Association (800/564-6222. www.aaa.com.)
Automóvil Club Argentino (11/4808-4000; 800/777-2894 emergencies. www.aca.org.ar.)
Dirección Nacional de Vialidad (11/4343-8520. www.vialidad.gov.ar.)
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