Buenos Aries, Iguazu Falls, Lake District,
Patagonia, Salta and Tierra del Fuego
As one of the largest countries in the world and the second largest in South America, Argentina has many sights to explore. The classic ingredients of Argentina holidays create a recipe for success: start with a sultry tango in beautiful Buenos Aires, add a perfectly seasoned steak, the thundering hooves of the gauchos and their steeds, a dash of Football and a final flourish in the form of Patagonia. But head away from the ‘classics’ and you’ll uncover impressive diversity, with landscapes that inspire and remain with you long after you’ve left the country’s stunning shores.
Buenos Aires is dotted with glamorous buildings and even more glamorous porteños – residents of the capital city. Here tango is danced on street corners and the barrios are alight with colour, but head outside the city and you’ll discover rugged mountains sprinkled with snow, creaking glaciers, hammering waterfalls, canyons striated with colour, shimmering lakes – not to mention innovative gastronomy and superb wines. All of these facets combine to create the ideal holiday destination that must be seen to be believed. Sit back, relax, sip on an inky glass of Malbec from Mendoza and tilt your head back to enjoy the big skies and smattering of stars that make up the Southern Cross. As a year-round destination, the best time to visit Argentina is whenever you fancy, but the best weather occurs from November to March.
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REGIONS OF ARGENTINA
Buenos Aires is known as the ‘Paris of Latin America’, and it’s not hard to see why. The streets are resplendent in architecture that appears more at home in the French ‘city of lights’ than in the sultry warmth of South America. This is where it all begins; nights start on pavement cafés which spill onto wide avenues and elegant boutiques sit cheek by jowl with the brightly-coloured houses of the barrios. Life plays out to a soundtrack of the haunting tango, resounding through the boulevards lined with South America’s best galleries, museums, theatres and designer shops. Each quarter of BA has its own identity: La Boca is famous for its vibrant buildings, tango and its football team. Plaza de Mayo is a stately green oasis in the urban jungle. Recoleta’s buildings are grand, reflected in the derelict beauty of the cemetery that shares its name, while Puerto Madero is an ode to contemporary architecture in a waterfront setting. A short drive from the capital is the pampas, home to the South American cowboy, where you can stay on an estancia and learn the art of horse riding, Latin style.
Meaning ‘big water’ in the local Guarani language, Iguassu Falls is a sequence of 272 waterfalls spanning three kilometres of the Iguazu River, immersed in dense jungle. Straddling the borders of three countries – Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay – the falls are said to be best seen from the Argentinian side, where the main attraction is the Devil’s Throat, a one kilometre walkway that leads you out over the water. Here you can stand immersed in the spray, listening to the mighty roar of the thundering waterfall. Away from the cascades, the setting in a vast national park includes a large expanse of rainforest, teeming with flora and fauna.
Argentina’s Lake District is reached from the main city of Bariloche, a destination in itself. Surrounded by the clear waters of Lake Nahuel Huapi, the city is kept cool and fresh by the adjacent landscapes created by glacier-fed lakes and unspoilt forests. Bariloche itself is relaxed and pretty, famed for its chocolate-making and for having one of the most scenic lake crossings, set in the heart of the Andes Mountain range and ending in Chile. The Lake District is where adventurous types come to enjoy skiing, fishing, climbing and trekking.
One of the most spectacular regions is Patagonia Argentina, on many a traveller’s bucket list to experience its breathtaking beauty. From the small town of Calafate you can embark on expeditions to the Perito Moreno glacier, located in the spectacular Los Glaciares National Park, where you can trek alongside the glacier itself. The enormous spaces are allowed to grow wild and free, creating a back-to-nature feel that’s hard to find in this modern age. In the northern reaches of Patagonia, Peninsula Valdés is fantastic for spotting southern right whales, sea lions and Magellanic penguins from the coast, specifically in Punta Tombo. In nearby Gaiman you can visit a curious Welsh outpost that has retained all its traditions from across the Atlantic, including, surprisingly, the language. At the southernmost tip of Patagonia, you’ll find the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia. Surrounded by the Beagle Channel, mountains, glaciers and thickly forested slopes, the city is the jumping point for Tierra del Fuego National Park and the gateway port for the White Continent; most cruises to Antarctica and the southern oceans depart from Ushuaia.
Set in a lush, green valley surrounded by dramatic landscapes, Salta was once a town part of the incredible Inca Empire. The charming colonial town marks the beginning of the Train to the Clouds, an adventure that will lead you seemingly into the heavens, hence the name. Chugging along through gorges, tunnels and bridges reaching a height of 2,400 metres above sea level, this passage is known as one of the most visually atmospheric train journeys in the world. This region also lends itself well to self-drive holidays, taking in the stunning towns and vistas at your own pace.