Argentina Travel Guide


Argentina Adventure Travel Guide: Ideas and Inspiration

PureTravel Says: “Argentina is a vast country, the second largest in South America and the Argentine Republic shares land borders with Bolivia and Paraguay in the north, Uruguay and Brazil in the northeast and Chile in the south and west. While the people are welcoming and often wonderful, you will sometimes feel as though you have the country, or at least the countryside, to yourself. There is no simple description of this country. One day you may be walking through sub-tropical forests to admire the awesome force of Iguazu Falls only to find yourself trekking a glacier later in the week. Even with the Andes running the entire length of the country, the foothill landscapes vary from cacti sewn deserts to areas rife with lakes. This is to say nothing of the second largest urban population in South America, the capital Buenos Aires, a logical base for your Argentine adventure”

Holiday Highlights

Walking & Trekking – Argentina encourages you to walk around. There is something for walkers and trekkers of every level to make your trip truly unforgettable. From the glaciers and lake areas of Patagonia, to the confused rock formations of Parque Provincial Ischigualasto in San Juan province. Argentina boasts the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere but affords trekking and climbing opportunities throughout the length of the Andean range.

The one thing that most travellers agree on is the sheer diversity in scenery and opportunities to explore. Camping is de rigueur and indeed almost expected in this part of the world. While the entire continent boasts adventure, no country can compete when it comes down to the sheer volume of activities available to visitors.

Culture – The people of Buenos Aires, perhaps with good reason, view themselves responsible for the ‘Argentine Culture’. With nearly thirty percent of the nation's population residing in the greater area, it is the birthplace of the tango and has architecture reminiscent of some of the grandest European cities.

Buenos Aires, a melting pot created by twentieth century immigration policies, is not terribly indicative of the Spanish influence that is seen throughout the rest of the country. Cordoba, Argentina's second largest city, shows the traveller a different side and houses over thirty universities, as well as a plethora of architecture steeped in Spanish Colonialism.

Rafting – Argentina has no shortage of rivers, hundreds of miles suited to rafters of all skill levels. Though most tours rarely exceed a rapid Class 4, there exists the potential for the adrenaline junkie to find Class 5 rapids. Rafting trips are commonplace in the west of the country from as far north as Salta to San Carlos de Bariloche in Patagonia.

Wildlife – It could be argued that if Noah indeed built an ark to survive a flood of forty days and forty nights, that he unloaded half of it on Argentina's coastline and allowed each animal to find its way to a micro climate that suited each best. The volume and variety of creatures roaming, slithering, scurrying, prowling or flying over this country is truly amazing.

Fishing – Nearly every area of Argentina allows for angling of some measure. From the great river monster the dorado, to fly casting in areas not often touched by man. There is also salmon, shark and mullet fishing on the Atlantic coast. Argentina offers a plethora of chances to catch your dinner, lunch or breakfast in a country not well known for its seafood or fish diet.

Skiing & Snowboarding – The rich and diverse landscapes of Argentina provides world-class skiing and snowboarding facilities at eight main resorts. From the famed Las Lineas around Mendoza to the beauty of Cerro Castor located just outside Ushuaia in Patagonia and points between, Argentina and the Southern Hemisphere's seasonal reversal offers fantastic mountains to snow fanatics of all levels from June to October.

When to Go

Plan your visit according to what activities you would like to experience. Due to its location in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed from those in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer (December, January, February) is often hot and humid yet remains the best time to travel south to Patagonia. Winter (June, July, August) provides the best snow. Walking and trekking is truly a year round activity with suggestions of spring or autumn for most tours.

Top Tips

- A little Spanish goes a long way and unlike many Latin American countries, English was not mandatory in the schools until recently.
- The Argentines have a relaxed attitude towards rules and regulations, which can make for some interesting sights on the roads.
- Forget about traveller's checks unless you don't mind wasting a day at a bank that you may not find open when needed.
- Argentines tend to dress in a conservative manner and take a pride in their appearance.
- When greeting or leaving people Argentines kiss once on the right cheek.
- Public drunkenness is frowned upon and smoking is illegal in enclosed public spaces within some areas.
- Check whether a tourist visa is needed to visit Argentina although some countries do not a visa (such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Spain, Turkey, UK)

Holidays In Focus

Walking and Trekking

Argentina offers quite possibly the largest variety of walking and trekking options in the world. With options ranging from an easy walk amongst awe inspiring scenery just minutes from a five-star hotel to serious mountaineering and climbing for the avid, experienced and well-equipped trekker.

While other possibilities certainly exist, any trekking in Argentina should really include at least these three areas: The Cuyo, The Lake District and Patagonia.

The Cuyo contains the Provinces of Mendoza, San Luis, San Juan and La Rioja. Mendoza, the geographical heart of The Cuyo, affords tours and treks throughout the region. A trek down the wine trail provides a unique insight into the people and the unique landscapes, whilst trips to climb Aconcagua are available catering to varying levels of ability.

The Lake District is anchored by the city of San Carlos de Bariloche. From Bariloche a number of a number of hikes and treks are available. Located 20km outside of Bariloche are Laguna Verde and Mirador del Pedregoso. This hike will enchant with vistas of Lake Nahuel, waterfalls and a spectacularly thick forest. Bariloche also provides a great access point to Mount Tronador, a trek that will leave you amazed by the thundering sounds of glaciers breaking up and the many lagoons formed in the area.

Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world and provides easy access to Tierra del Fuego National Park located only 12km to the south. Here you are in the land of legends with glaciers and coastal forests unlike any other in the world. Activities of all sorts are available from camping, to hiking and even diving.

Culture

Buenos Aires is a city built on culture, a culture of football, tango and nightlife. The city itself is host to over a dozen football teams and stadiums. The most famous being CABJ, or Boca Juniors. A trip to La Bombanera, located in the heart of La Boca, is unforgettable. The stadium allows a proximity to the action rarely seen these days and a group of spectator’s renowned internationally for their dedicated support. The tango is everywhere from the sultry songs of Carlos Gardel to the sensual movements of the dances street performers. It's seductive, it's sexy, it's Buenos Aires! Nightlife is truly nightlife, for in this nocturnal city restaurants see their busiest hours from 10pm to 1am. Bars rarely fill up until 2 or 3am and the myriad of clubs are rarely frequented before 3 or 4am. It's nearly impossible to have an evening out without the sound of birds providing a soundtrack to the end of your ‘night’, which could be around 10am.

Beef and red wine are cornerstones of the local diet and in the last ten years Argentina has improved the quality of their wines immensely. Recognizing the need for certain grape varieties to be planted in different areas was the key. While Argentina's beef is as good as any in the world, do not let them overcook it. If you prefer your steak less than medium-well make sure to specify jugoso for medium or even muy jugoso or crudo for preparations closer to rare which truly do this meat justice.

Guided cultural tours of both Buenos Aires and Cordoba provide unique insights into this historic land. Buenos Aires, or simply BA, features the Plaza de Mayo, La Casa Rosada, and El Congreso which are not just beautiful ‘must-sees’ but the backdrop to the workings of this country's capital city. The capital enjoys a wonderful lifestyle with opera houses, French-style palaces and numerous gardens and parks. The streets are tree-lined and some are still cobbled. The city of Cordoba features a beautiful temple and colonial architecture in abundance.

Rafting

Forty kilometers outside of the city center of San Rafael lies a great trip down the Atuel River. The adventure and excitement begins nearly immediately as you make your way through multicoloured canyons to the deafening roar of the river. Intense rapids are meted out in doses with interspersed stretched of tranquility that allow you to catch your breath and enjoy the surroundings.

Wildlife

The subtropical north is full of cats including pumas, jaguars, ocelots and cougars. Additionally, this area is stocked with avian life including hummingbirds, toucans, flamingos and swallows. Howler monkeys, tapirs, even crocodiles add to this menagerie.

The Central Grasslands, or Pampas, offer their own unique species from giant anteaters, armadillos, pampas deer and foxes, to hawks, falcons and herons to say nothing of the domesticated cows that make Argentina a source of some of the best beef in the world.

The Western Mountains (Andes) offer altogether different species including llamas, guanacos, and Andean mountain cats. It is also here that you will find a huge variety of predatory birds, such as falcons, eagles, hawks and the world's largest predatory bird, the Andean Condor.

Argentina offers no shortage of aquatic life. The rivers are teeming with trout and dorado. The ocean off the Atlantic coast offers sardines, hake fish, salmon, squid and sharks. Patagonia is famous for its elephant seals, fur seals, sea lions and penguins, as well as whales, dolphins and orca.

Fishing

Mar de Plata offers year round boat fishing as well as pier casting. Nets can be rented or bought and you may find yourself overflowing with shrimp or sardines. Sport fishing charters are easily found for the pursuit of sharks and dogfish. Bariloches's many lakes and rivers allow for guided and unguided forays into trout laden waters that provide a landscape of mountains, moraines and alpine lakes to see.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Las Leñas is probably Argentina's best snow sport location, which is located about 450km from San Rafael in Mendoza Provence. It possesses over 7,500 meters of reachable ski terrain. With a season that runs from early June to late September it is the highest located base in the country. Both skiing and snowboarding are allowed and snowmobiles can be rented from the resort. In addition to world-class skiing, the area boasts apres-ski activities, which are hosted in true Argentine style.

Cerrro Catedral, so named as its peaks resemble a gothic cathedral, is located just outside of Bariloche, with easy access from the city center. While famed for its winter activities, Cerro Catedral is home to a myriad of adventure sports including Alpine, Nordic, randonée and off-piste skiing, snowboarding, sledding, paragliding, hiking, mountaineering and mountain biking. Freelance skiers and snowboarders will also enjoy its special area that includes bumps, jumps and rails for practice and showing off your skills.

Finally, Cerro Castor offers the world's southernmost skiing and snowboarding destination. The base of Cerro Castor is located only 195 meters above sea level. It is awe inspiring and in addition to the downhill possibilities it is a destination for the Nordic skier as well, with paths winding their way through the forests, providing views of a land untouched by man.

Classic Itineraries

- The Grand Loop
- The Northern Loop
- The Southern Loop
- The Forgotten Andes
- The Wine Trail
- The Southern National Park Loop
- The Seven Cities Tour

Argentina Facts

- The local currency of Argentina is the Argentine peso (ARS)
- The local language is Spanish in Argentina
- The country of Argentina is a full member of the Mercosur block alongside Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela and the other associate members are Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
- Argentina's population stood at some 39,921,833 in July 2006

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

- Los Glaciares National Park
- Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis: San Ignacio Mini, Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto and Santa Maria Mayor (Argentina), Ruins of Sao Miguel das Missoes (Brazil)
- Iguazu National Park
- Cueva de las Manos, Río Pinturas
- Península Valdés
- Ischigualasto / Talampaya Natural Parks
- Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba
- Quebrada de Humahuaca

National Holidays and Festivals in 2014

January 1 - New Year's Day
March 3 - Carnival
March 4 - Carnival/Shrove Tuesday
March 24 - Memorial Day
April 2 - Day of the Veterans
April 18 - Good Friday
May 1 - Labor Day / May Day
May 2 - Bridge Public Holiday
May 25 - National Day/May 1810 Revolution
June 20 - Flag Day
July 9 - Independence Day
August 18 - San Martín Day
October 13 - Day of respect for cultural diversity
November 24 - National Sovereignty Day
December 8 - Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 11 - National Day of Tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina
December 25 - Christmas Day
December 26 - Bridge Public Holiday

Travel Resources

By Julie Bowman

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