Argentina brings to mind a few clichés. Football, tango, and Gaucho - the Latin American version of Cowboy. Behind these spirited images lie colourful cities, natural wonders, a distinctly European charm, and very warm people- all caught in this treasure box at the southern tip of the world.
The most attractive thing about Bueno Aires is the city itself. Its different bariros vibrate with distinct characters. Gaze into the lavish homes of Recoleta, also known for its ornate cemetery. An ice cream from Persicco will accompany you through Palermo’s sprawling parks, designed by none other than French architect Charles Thays. Avenida Corrientes is the place to go when Argentina wins a soccer match, and where numerous independent bookstores have chosen to open shop. And, who can forget San Telmo and its cobblestone streets of mingling tango bars and antique stores? A once-was atmosphere lingers in its faded bohemian grandeur, whispering stories of better times when it used to be home to the elite.
Beyond the main city
Camp out in the southernmost end of the world at Tierra del Fuego National Park. Keep the Penguin Vigil at Punta Totombo, where massive colonies of Magellanic penguins come to nest every September. Fly out to the Falkland Islands for a spectacular range of flora and fauna- you may even catch sight of a porpoise! Ride the dunes on Mar del Plata, where millions flock to for the beach and nightlife.
Located on the Chilean border is a stop you cannot pass- the Los Glaciares National Park. One of Argentina’s two wonders of the world, it is home to a magnificent family of glaciers. Of these, the centrepiece is undoubtedly Perito Moreno. This magnificent formation has a life of its own! Witness huge blocks of ice rapture and crash into the milky waters below, reincarnating as icebergs in Narnian post-battle style. Argentina’s other wonder is the Iguazú Falls. Enthroned in the lush foliage of Iguazú National Park, this thundering cascade stretches almost 3 kilometres wide.
In the west, ochre deserts, tangled jungles and velvet volcano cones pave the way for a dramatic array of wildlife. Make colonial Salta your base and drive out to the volcanic landscapes of Antofagasta de le Sierra, or take the world’s highest railway into the cloudforests of El Rey. In the valleys of Cafayate, drink in the fruity tones of cabaret sauvignon grown in some of the highest-altitude vineyards in the world. This wine-affair can be continued in Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina. Lastly, end your trip on a high note by hang gliding in the cinematic landscapes around the region.
Getting there and around
Qantas, LAN and Air New Zealand fly from NZ to Bueno Aires, mostly stopping over in Santiago. Within Argentina, domestic flights operate to all over the country with the main domestic airline, Aerolíneas Argentinas/Austral. The bus network is excellent, with luxury and overnight options to far-reaching areas, although a car in Patagonia is advisable. Cycling is actually a feasible option with the usual safety precautions.
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