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5 Reasons to Visit Argentina

Argentina Los Notros Vista
There are many great reasons to visit Argentina, from the bustling streets of Buenos Aires to the quiet glacial gateway of El Calafate. You’ll view epic panoramas of craggy mountains and sail upon exquisite alpine lakes fed by nearby ancient glaciers. We know there are different Argentina tours to choose from so to help you further explore the idea of taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip to another hemisphere, we’ve put together our 5 favorite reasons to explore the country on our Argentina: Walking in Patagonia vacation.

Walking to Fitz RoyThe World Class Walking: One of our favorite days begins with a lovely morning stroll to the Los Glaciares National Park Ranger Station where you’ll learn more about the history and natural wonders of this Patagonian region. Continue uphill on the Mirador de los Condores trail, where you’ll be rewarded with spellbinding views of the Adela mountain range, including the picturesque peaks of Cerro Torre and Monte Fitz Roy (the inspiration for the famous mountain logo of the Patagonia clothing company). The lookout point at the highest elevation of your walk is in a strategic vantage point for sightings of magnificent gliding condors.

The Rugged Mountain Town: Close to the Chilean border, El Calafate, is an old settlement town which has grown into a magnet for nature lovers, trekkers, and mountaineers; its outpost quality is hard to resist. You may want to browse the shops along Paseo de los Artesanos, brimming with local handicrafts made from leather, silver and alpaca wool.  Or walk from your hotel to the shores of Laguna Nimez Nature Reserve, where flamingos and black-necked swans wade.

Glacier Lake

The Magnificent Glaciers:  There are over 45 glaciers in Los Glacieres National Park, the largest of which, the Viedma Glacier has a surface area of almost 1000 square km!  After sailing upon azure waters across Harbour Tunnel Bay on a catamaran, you’ll arrive at a rocky promontory and disembark to begin your ice trekking adventure.  Once instructed on the technical and safety procedures, you’ll begin the exploration of this massive glacier.

tango

The Big City: One of the perks of a VBT vacation is the optional pre-trip extension (the post-trip extension takes you to the much heralded Argentina Wine Country in Mendoza). If you choose to take advantage of this option, you can enjoy exploring the capital of Argentina for three days before flying to Patagonia. Buenos Aires is one of the world’s great cities, often referred to as the “Paris of South America” with its grand baroque buildings and wide avenues. Your hotel, in the upscale and centrally located Recoleta neighborhood, is just steps from such historical sites as the cemetery where Eva Peron (Evita) is buried. Explore the nearby neighborhoods of Palermo Viejo with chic bars and designer shops or wander the renovated docks of Puerto Madero with their superb restaurants. No visit to Buenos Aires would be complete without a visit to San Telmo, the oldest part of town where tango dancers perform on every corner.

Street fare

The Food:  The food in Argentina, Patagonian cuisine in particular, is largely defined by the curing and smoking of meats – especially the Patagonian lamb – which are prepared by grilling for several hours over an open fire. Keep in mind Matethat while winter is drawing near when you depart for Argentina, spring will be in full bloom once you arrive. Local vendors line the streets selling a variety of baked goods like empenadas and various pastries – be sure to sample an alfajor, a sweet cookie infused with local caramel. To wash it all down, or if you’re in need of a caffeine boost, sample Argentina’s unique tea, mate which is prepared by steeping dry leaves (and twigs) of the yerba mate plant in hot water. Traditionally, mate is consumed with friends by drinking it out of a hollow gourd with a metal straw.

 

In Patagonia: A Traveler’s Experience

Argentina TangoArriving into a city unknown to me is always very exciting. Upon leaving the hotel I was confronted with a paseadore (professional dog walker) with at least 12, very well-behaved dogs on leashes attached to his wrist. Continuing a few yards I found myself in what can only be described as a city for the dead – the Cementerio de la Recoleta, housing more than 6,400 tombs and mausoleums covering 14 acres and containing the tombs of many of the country’s noble leaders and heroes (including Eva Peron). A city tour took me through beautiful stone architecture and into the heart of the city and the cradle to the tango, La Boca. Brightly painted buildings surrounded the narrow streets and tango dancers performed for the people drinking coffee in the numerous cafes. Where else could I be but the lovely city of Buenos Aires, Argentina?

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The next morning, an early flight took us first to Ushuaia, the most southerly city on earth, and then into Patagonia itself. We were engulfed in a serene landscape of snow topped peaks, azure lakes with floating glaciers and barren rocky hillsides dotted with very well camouflaged guanacos (a relative of the llama). Our home for the next 3 nights was El Chalten, a very small town (only 500 permanent residents) at the base of the Fitz Roy Mountain range. That night we sat in a local microbrewery, surrounded by young, athletic looking climbers and mountaineers and realized were we really among the action! However, age does have its benefits and after hearing some of their wonderful stories of ice climbing and adventure we retired to our lovely, warm 5 star hotel with magnificent views, while they left for the nearest hostel.

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Over the next few mornings our treks took us into the mountains to view magnificent glaciers and crystal clear streams, which we drank straight out of. Magnificent clear blue skies highlighted the surrounding mountain ranges and the circling condors above. And the air, crisp and clean to breath, was so invigorating.

Stopping at a small lodge, apparently frequented by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, to try local empanadas, we continued to the largest settlement around, El Calafate. An even more magnificent hotel awaited us. Here, we had some time to visit the local shops and a nearby bird reserve which boasted a wide range of birds, including flamingos.

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And the adventure kept adding something new. The next day a boat ride brought us out to the Upsala Glacier and the very isolated Estancia Cristina. Walking here really gave one the feel of being literally in the middle of a magnificent, pristine environment with nobody else around for miles and miles. The silence was amazing.

Our final day brought us to the Glacier Perito Moreno. Here, a boat rides gave us the opportunity to get to the face of the 200 foot glacier. Both a visual and audio experience as the glacier creaked its way towards the shore then calved chunks of ice dropped off into the lake below. A scene reenacted for centuries. From our beds that night we could look over the glacier – what a sight to wake up to the next morning!

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Many thanks VBT for giving me the opportunity to Travel Patagonia, fulfilling a dream and having an excellent experience.

Tracey Scott,
Member of the first Walking in Patagonia group