Today I am introducing you to the territory of the tango, the country of amazing cuisine, the whereabouts of fabulous wines – and so much more. Yes, my friends – I could go on and on about this destination that has such a lovely flair too it – including lots of history, culture, activities and nature galore!
What is this colorful country we are going to delve into today? It is the South American country of Argentina! And we are learning all about it from my colleague Sebastian Southwell from Condor Travel who graciously sat down with me via video chat to share his secrets of Argentina!
So, without further delay lets head on down to South America to see what kind of adventures await you!
Getting There: Even though it may be a bit of a long flight – typically eight to ten hours from the US – it really is quite easy to get there. There are numerous direct flights from major US cites into Buenos Aries. And if you are thinking about a multi-destination trip – Buenos Aries is well connected to other countries within South America making it easy to do!
About the Country: Argentina is the second largest country in South America, and it is bordered by Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile. Its capital city is Buenos Aires. The currency used there is the Argentine pesos – although most of the tourist areas do accept US currency as well as credit cards – but not all places. As of this writing our US dollar is strong there meaning more bang for your buck! The travel seasons are split into high season from October through March and low season from April through September for most of the destinations.
Destinations: In today’s Condor Travel presentation Sebastian covered four areas of the country where the majority of their tours are based. They are as follows:
- Buenos Aires: The capital of Argentina has so much to offer and therefore there are a plethora of thematic and private tours you can participate in. They include visits to historical buildings, art museums, religious temples or even an artist atelier (which is a workshop or studio). Also – since Buenos Aires is surrounded by the Pampas Plains and the Parana River Delta – there are plenty of tours on the outskirts of the city that you can participate in as well.
- El Calafate: Just a three-hour flight from Buenos Aires this amazing area will get you pretty darn close to Antarctica! This area offers a totally different landscape going from the Pampas Plains to the mountains. And thanks to its location in the province of Santa Cruz there are opportunities to take ferries to see view awe-inspiring glaciers. Not far from El Calafate is the Los Glaciates National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for the immense Perito Moreno glacier were visitors can actually get close and even touch this natural wonder! Sebastian described it as such: “Mountains hidden among the glaciers, a crystal-clear lake and an incredibly pristine forest make up this amazing landscape” – sounds perfect, no? Suggested stay is three nights.
- Mendoza: Mendoza is located in the Mendoza province on the western side of Argentina. Only two hours away from Buenos Aires by plane it’s situated at the foot of the Andes Mountains and borders Chile. This area of the country is famous for its vineyards which produce Malbec wine as well as marvelous mountain views. Suggested stay is three nights
- Iguazu: Located in the Misiones province in the northeastern part of Argentina is where you will find Iguazu National Park which is famous for its incredible waterfalls and sub-tropical forest. So, here visitors cannot only admire the falls magnificence, but they can also get in contact with that oh so important wellness found in nature! Suggested stay is two nights.
Sightseeing / Tours / Activities:
- Buenos Aires: In Argentina’s capital you will find the most varied assortment of activities to take part in – guaranteeing an experience to last a lifetime!
- Architecture: Well-known for its architecture you will notice there is a lot of diversity in building styles. You will come across old buildings, modern buildings, and even colorful homes like those in the La Boca neighborhood. At Condor they will base your architectural tour on what interests you – whether that be historical buildings, religious temples, theaters – like the incredible Colon Theater – or museums. They will tailor it to your preferences and take you inside each building so that you too can discover it’s past and its secrets.
- Gastronomy: Food is a really important part of all of Argentina and in Buenos Aires you will be have the opportunity for gastronomical experiences galore! From the best local and fusion cuisine restaurants to traditional cafés to trendy bars and unique rooftop bars – not to mention plenty of yummy street food! Condor likes to combine its city tours with a gastronomic experience – such as lunch, an afternoon tea or dinner – in a venue of your choice – whether it be a nice restaurant or in a bar. Buenos Aires certainly has plenty of options and you will find that different areas of the city offer different cuisines. From the classical parrillas restaurants where you are guaranteed to eat lots of meat, to the traditional cafés in the city offering the popular sweet treat dulce de leche! And let’s not forget the wines! There are so many different delicious wines to be found in Buenos Aires – so if you prefer just a drink or two on your tour you can visit one of the new terraces (i.e. – rooftop bar) where you can enjoy a glass of vino and take in the beautiful views.
- Nighttime Experiences: You can take in a high energy tango show – or instead of just going to a classical tango show – why not learn how to tango beforehand at a tango class? You can also visit one of the many milongas (i.e. – tango clubs) which is where the local’s go to dance. What a great off the beaten path experience to visit a few different local clubs where you can see how Argentineans dance the tango and interact with each other. You can also try your hand at some Argentinian cooking classes where you will have the chance to hear about all of the main dishes loved in Argentina. You can take classes with a group of people or I can arrange for private one for you through Sebastian. Or – you can opt to do a cooking class with a local villager for an amazing cultural immersion experience! Sebastian also noted that whatever you want to cook – they can arrange it – whether it’s a meat dish or if you are a vegetarian or have food allergies – they can cater to it to your needs. And once again – can’t leave those wines out! How about some wine tasting in classical cabas where you will be introduced to the best and different flavors of wines from across Argentina?
- Outdoor Activities: As I stated earlier – Buenos Aires is surrounded by the Pampas Plains and the Parana River Delta so if you travel just 30 miles outside of the city you can enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities. At the Parana River Delta (one of the largest deltas in the world) you can enjoy a relaxing boat ride where you will be served a delicious lunch on board, you can go kayaking, you can take up birdwatching or you can simply relax.
Speaking of relaxing how would you like to embark to a private island? You read that right! Here you can take in some of the art pieces that can be found on the island as well as their own botanical garden featuring exotic and local species to view. Or – you can always just relax and soak in all that nature – still just 30 minutes away from the Buenos Aires city center! And would this not be perfect for a destination wedding? Or a family reunion? Or vow renewals? All on a private island – very off the beaten path – that will be yours for the duration of your event!
- Gaucho Experiences: Just one hour from the city on the huge Pampas Plains you will find a big part of Argentina tradition and history where the local produce is grown. The gauchos (skilled horsemen) will offer incredible experiences such folklore shows, delicious Argentinian style barbecues, horseback riding and polo classes and matches. Or if you prefer – you can just relax by the pool and take in the lovely views! You will be introduced to old-style ranches with stunning main houses and if you like you can even spend a few nights at one of these ranches to really take in the countryside of the country and its flavors! It’s like having a dude ranch experience in Argentina!
- El Calafate: As for when to visit – the cold season which is also known as the low season goes from April until late August and the high season is from October through February. However, Sebastian advised that March and September are actually great months to visit the area as there’s not as many people there and the weather is not that cold.
- Outdoor Activities: Oh gosh! Thanks to Los Glaciares National Park there are just so many activities – and adventures – to be had here! And many of these activities offer you alternative ways to connect with nature and explore the area. There is not only regular trekking on the ground – but also ice trekking. There is horseback riding where you will experience breath-taking views from the hills. There is the opportunity to kayak between icebergs. There is mountain biking, zip lining, 4 x 4 expeditions and fly fishing! You can enjoy a gourmet cruise surrounded by astonishing landscapes. And here is an absoluter must do – you can even have dinner in an ancient cave! That’s not all! You can also partake in a two-night cruise that visits several glaciers.
- Mendoza: Here the coldest season – or low season – goes from mid-April to late August and high season is from October through March – and specifically in March – as that is when they hold their Annual Grape Harvest Festival.
- Outdoor Activities: This beautiful city offers multiple activities to partake in. You can bike ride or horseback ride in your chosen landscape – whether it be through the vineyards or up in the mountains! And yes – you can stop and taste the wines while out for your ride through those vineyards! There is also soft trekking, fly fishing or even low-key sailings and rafting experiences – all with the incredible, immense Andes Mountains as your background setting! A lot of wellness activities that allow you to recharge your batteries!
- Gastronomy: Ahhh – these are the tasteful – and active tours – all with a view! You have your choice – sip delicious wines along with local meals, cooking classes, local wine tastings, olive oil tastings and wine making experiences – what a cool opportunity to create your own blend! And since the border is right there – you can do a multi-destination tour and visit Chile as well. What a great chance for my wine lovers to sample the different wines both cities have to offer!
- Iguazu: Iguazu has a comfortable temperature year-round and the falls are surrounded by the Atlantic Rainforest / Jungle that’s different than any other – a must see!
- Outdoor Activities: Being that it is home to Iguazu National Park there are a plethora of activities just waiting for you to partake in them! Thanks to the falls being the central attraction, you can find you a lot of activities to get you closer to them – like a boat tour getting you close enough to feel their power or a helicopter tour for a panoramic view. Oh, and if you are really adventurous – there’s zip-lining!
- Nighttime Experiences: If you want to see something majestic – the Full Moon Walk to the Falls is definitely it! How incredible it is to see the falls under the moonlight and hear the myriad of sounds coming out of the jungle. And here you also have another opportunity to do a multi-destination trip as Argentina and Brazil and Paraguay all meet at the Iguazu National Park.
Accommodations: Below are the properties that Sebastian typically uses for Condor Tours. Many of them are luxury accommodations – but as many of you know I do have you fill out a questionnaire before we start curating your adventure so please rest assured that we can offer an accommodation for most any budget. I work with a lot of boutique and smaller hotels in order for me to do this. And of course, I will also work Sebastian to make sure that all of the properties have been properly vetted.
Buenos Aires: These include the Park Hyatt Buenos Aries, Alvera Place, B Jardin Escondido by Coppola and Palo Santo.
El Calafate: These include Imago and Eolo Patagonia Lodge and Xenia. I tend to use Eolo Patagnia a lot because it has so many offerings, so much to do there and there are a lot of opportunities for wellness.
Mendoza: These include The Vines of Mendoza, Casa de Uco, Entre Cielos and Cavas Wine Lodge. One of the great things about Mendoza that Sebastian pointed out is that you can stay in the city area or in the vineyard area – as both offer different types of hotels depending on what you want.
Iguazu: These include Awasi Iguazu, Melia Iguazu and Loi Suites Iguazu and La Cantera Lodge. Now there exists lots of wellness in all of these properties and La Cantera is one of my personal favorites that I recommend quite often. The cool thing about these luxury properties is that you are staying in the middle of the jungle, but you have all the great comforts and amenities of a fabulous hotel!
Updated COVID-19 Information: As of this writing the CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Argentina.
See! I told you Argentina has it all! Nature, luxury, wellness, gastronomy, wine, adventures – and on and on! So how about we get started planning your Argentina trip for 2021?
For more details on things to see and do, where to stay, it’s price points and more – contact your Travel Guru! Oh, and if you need a payment plan to fund your travel adventure – we got those too!