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Argentina

Argentina

Great Destination:

5

Value for Money:

4.5

Total Stars:

9.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Leans to the Venturesome side of the scale for strongest ratings

Did You Know … ?

  • The name Argentina comes from the Latin term argentum, meaning silver.
  • The world’s largest colony of Magellan penguins is located at Punta Tombo.
  • Iguazu Falls, on the Argentina-Brazil border, is the world’s widest falls at 8,100 feet.
  • Aconcagua, in Argentina, is South America’s highest mountain, at 22,831 feet above sea level.
  • The north-south National Road 40 crosses 236 bridges and connects 27 Andean passes in 11 provinces.

Of glaciers, penguins — and the tango

Argentina stretches north to south from Bolivia to Tierra del Fuego and reaches west to east from Andean peaks to the Atlantic — hence boasting a wide variety of climates, terrains and scenic beauties.

This is America with a Spanish accent. Also, for North Americans, the seasons are reversed, attractive for those who seek cold-weather sports when it is summer up north or warm-weather tourism during the north’s snow season.

With a very small native population, Argentina’s culture is strongly European based. Indeed, Argentina is a unique cross between a New World frontier land and Europe, not to mention a place where tourists get good value for their money.

Also, while most visitors have no problems, it is important to take account of the potential for street crime, particularly in Buenos Aires and Mendoza.

Regardless, there are compelling reasons to visit as follows:

  • Glaciers and other natural wonders. The best known of the glaciers is Perito Moreno, accessible from the tiny and charming cowboy town of Calafate. The western reaches of the country are dotted with pristine lakes set amidst the ubiquitous Andes Mountains.
  • Wildlife. Tourists love excursions to the Atlantic coast to see Magellan penguins, seals and whales. For more exotica, ostrich-like nandus and camel-like guanacos roam the steppes.
  • Skiing and other activities. With the Andes at hand, skiing is the most obvious winter sports option, and the best-known resort is Bariloche, a town that looks like a transplant from the Alps. Other choices include climbing, hiking, sportfishing and whitewater rafting — and access to Antarctica cruising.
  • Estancias and gauchos. Several cities with colonial architecture remind visitors of Argentina’s history, but cattle ranches (estancias) and cowboys (gauchos) more effectively capture the outsider’s imagination. Many estancias now accommodate tourists.
  • Wine tourism. Wine is made in several scattered areas, but Mendoza province in west-central Argentina is the center of the industry. Wine festivals run from January through April.
  • Buenos Aires. Not least among Argentine lures, the capital is a vibrant and beautiful city with numerous similarities to Paris (similarities that were intentional). It is the place to watch, or try, the tango.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Try whitewater rafting on one of the rushing rivers that rise in the mountains. Or, climb into a wetsuit and board an inflatable boat to watch whales on the Atlantic.
  • Take tango lessons.
  • Climb any of a number of the Andes mountains, even the tallest Aconcagua.
  • In Tierra del Fuego, take an excursion on a dogsled drawn by Siberian huskies.
  • Sip mate, a tea brewed from the dried leaves of an indigenous holly tree. Sip mate the traditional way, through a straw from a gourd.
  • Go scuba diving in the Argentino Sea, especially Puerto Madryn, if you want to explore shipwrecks. Or, try the warm waters of the Ibera Marshlands in eastern Argentina.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Ski during North America’s summer, in Bariloche or in any of a number of other resorts.
  • Argentinians are mad for soccer. Attend a game where possible.
  • Cordoba, in the heartland, boasts several food routes. Choose one to follow and sample sausages, cheeses, honey, jams and the alfajores, a kind of cookie sandwich filled with an Argentine specialty, a caramel spread called dulce de leche.
  • Spend time on a estancia, for the Argentinian equivalent of a North American ranch vacation.
  • Take a guided excursion on horseback. Or, go hiking in the Andean foothills or across a part of the Patagonian steppes.
  • Ride the Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) from Salta through the Valle de Lerma to the clouds, topping out at 13,800 feet. There are several other tourist trains to choose from that don’t involve such high altitudes.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Eat a local specialty, beef. Argentinians eat it all the time. Also, eat empanadas which are pastries stuffed with meat or seafood, eggs, vegetables and fruit.
  • Seek out those Magellan penguins located at Punta Tombo, but pay attention to warnings. Don’t get too close; they bite and you would be hurt.
  • Follow the wine trail around Mendoza or in a number other pockets of wine-growing activity. Then, try wine therapy in the spas of the Mendoza, Salta and San Juan wine regions.
  • See Iguazu Falls, on the Argentina-Brazil border. See the ruins of Jesuit missions in the area; they are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Admire the Perito Moreno glacier, then enjoy the delightful nearby town of Calafate.
  • There are a number of charming boutique resorts set on the shores of Argentina’s pristine lakes. Choose one and have a relaxing holiday in a stunning setting.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Argentina Tourist Information at www.turismo.gov.ar/eng/menu.htm.