Argentina is a vast and varied country of cosmopolitan cities, wide-open plains, mysterious glaciers, snow-capped peaks, and lush wetlands. All of which makes for a head-spinning number of things to do in Argentina. Here are some of the very best experiences that the country has to offer.
Tango has gained a whole new audience in recent years, with an increasing number of young people attending local tango events known as ‘milongas’. Many places hold classes beforehand.
Buenos Aires’ oldest neighborhood, San Telmo, is the bustling scene of the weekly antiques and flea market – a lively event held every Sunday. Here, you can browse the stalls for trinkets and every piece of treasure or junk imaginable, from original matchbox cars to old telephones, soda siphons, artwork, and leather goods. You can taste the food vendors’ samples, watch artists at work, and enjoy the timeless spectacle of couples dancing the tango in the streets.
The Ibera Wetlands is a protected natural reserve in the Corrientes province of northeast Argentina, boasting marshy swamps, moss-covered bogs, and shallow lagoons. It also happens to be one of the largest wetlands on the planet. Here you can see an abundance of exotic wildlife: alligators, giant otters, capybaras, monkeys and anacondas, and over 350 different species of birds: it’s common to see herons, eagles, magpies, and even the giant, ostrich-like great rheas.
Located in the province of Jujuy, in northwest Argentina, the incredible Quebrada de Humahuaca is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed valley, a snaking gorge of breathtaking landscapes and a palette of colors, where blue skies meet the high desert plains, with picturesque indigenous towns and villages dotted along the way. It’s a severe but vivid landscape, a network of dry canyons overlooked by mountains with sedimentary strata that have been eroded into spectacular inverted-V-shaped formations revealing a rainbow of colors in rippling waves.
The Hill of Seven Colors and Painter’s Palette in Maimará are the most famous, while the lesser-visited mountains of Hornocal or “Serranias del Hornocal” are perhaps the most amazing. The towns offer a fine variety of places to stay, plus handicrafts and homey restaurants.
Mendoza is located in the most incredible wine-producing region of South America, and the area is packed with wonderful ‘bodegas’ (vineyards) producing world-class Malbec and Merlot wines. Although many travelers opt for classic Argentine wine tours, you may prefer to explore the region by bike. At a leisurely pace, you can bike from bodega to bodega and in each one have a tour of the vineyards, of the cellar, and some wine samplings at the end.
An estancia is a traditional ranch. They can be found in remote locations all over Argentina and many offer accommodations although they are not hotels. If you choose to visit an estancia in Patagonia, you’ll find yourself in dry and sprawling steppe, unbroken to the horizon. Depending on where you go, you might be treated to views of hanging glaciers, lakes, and rivers, as well as the mountain panoramas. At many of these estancias, you can join in with the daily activities of the ranch, eat a traditional lamb barbeque, go horseback riding, or spend the day fishing or wildlife spotting.
Tierra del Fuego National Park is the southernmost park in the world − a very special place and the only park in Argentina that combines the sea, mountains, rivers, forests, and peat bogs. It has a unique ecosystem and all manner of flora and fauna. The areas that can be visited here include Bahia Lapataia – offering hiking trails that wind through gorgeous coastal and fjord scenery with excellent opportunities to spot rare wildlife; Lago Roca – a seven-mile-long glacial lake surrounded by mountain peaks; and Bahia Ensenada – a picturesque bay on Lake Acigami.
El Tren del Fin del Mundo (End of the World Railway) in Ushuaia offers a scenic and emblematic journey through history. This is a great excursion for lovers of old steam locomotives, history, and breathtaking scenery. Using locomotives modeled after those that found their glory days in the 19th century, this train shadows the original line, which started in 1902 to transport prisoners from the Ushuaia penal colony into the forest to harvest wood to build a proper prison.
The one-hour ride follows the winding Rio Pipa with stops to walk to viewpoints of waterfalls as well as reconstructed indigenous campsites such as would have been found when the Yamana people still inhabited this region. One haunting site is the “tree cemetery,” a reminder of the damage wrought by the unlimited harvesting of our natural resources.
Martillo Island at Ushuaia is home to a colony of Magellanic and gentoo penguins, and, if you’re lucky, the occasional king. The island is only accessible by organized tours, so you need to book with a tour company in advance. A short ride on a semi-rigid boat lands you on the island, where you can walk along with several types of penguins in a group of no larger than 20 people. These little guys share their habitat with other birds, such as skúas (their main predator), petrels, cormorants, vultures, and South American terns.
The town of El Calafate on the banks of Lago Argentino, is the tourist hub for exploring Los Glaciares National Park, the largest national park in Argentina. Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most important attractions in Argentinian Patagonia. People come to marvel at the mighty glacier and to watch huge chunks of ice calve off the nearly 200-foot-tall glacier and collapse into the waters of the lake below.
One of the very best things to do during an Argentina tour is to journey across the lake along the front wall of the Perito Moreno Glacier to the edge of the Patagonian Ice Cap. You will then strap on crampons for an easy two-hour walk over the fascinating, uneven glacial landscape of streams, small lagoons, gullies, crevasses, and intense, deep-blue ice formations. Keep your eyes peeled for Andean condors and buff-necked ibises.
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