The world’s ninth largest country, Argentina sprawls with possibilities from the thundering falls and rainforests of Iguazu all the way down to the slowly shifting glaciers of Patagonia. A cultural and culinary wonderland, it isn’t hard to blend activities such as futbol games and tango shows with succulent steaks and endless glasses of malbec wine. Whether sampling the chocolates of Bariloche or exploring the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, the only thing lacking in this country is the time to try and do it all.
Argentina Peso; Exchange Rate: $1 = 4.05 pesos (Apr. 7, 2011).
For more currency conversion info visit xe.com
When to Go:
There are only 2 places in Argentina I would recommend going in the winter (May-September), and those would be the always tropical Iguazu and the ski resort wonderland of Bariloche. The urban centers can be gray and dim, and anywhere in Patagonia is assured to be socked in. The dry northwest regions are a chilly possibility, but prepared to be bundled where ever it is you’re headed.
On the flip side of the coin, summertime brings sweltering temperatures to Buenos Aires and perfect weather to the Patagonian region. Of course, this is when prices in the area double and triple, and everyone in the Western Hemisphere is trying to get a piece of the pie. My suggestion–like most of my suggestions–is to hit the shoulder seasons of November and March where prices drop, crowds thin, yet the weather still cooperates and doesn‘t reach either extreme.
Although I hate to say it, keep an extra close eye on your belongings in Argentina, particularly in urban areas. Things have a way of disappearing once inside of the thinly guarded borders. Also, remember the hours of the siesta culture heavily apply: Minimal breakfast, stores close for lunch, dinner at 11, drinks and dancing til dawn.
The Vagabond’ s Personal Favorites:
1. Wine tasting in Mendoza
Get to know the 4 regions of Mendoza’s vineyards which consistently put out some of the world’s top wines. Tour Maipu on bike, and for the other 3 stay on a traditional Estancia.
2. Bike the Circuito Chico, Bariloche
A 27km loop that circles Lake Moreno, the ride offers sweeping views of the 7 lakes region and the beauty of Lago Nahuel Huapi National Park.
3. Stand in the Devil’s Throat, Iguazu Falls
Peer over the brim of the thundering centerpiece of this natural wonder of the world. In a park punctuated by over 250 waterfalls, La Garganta del Diablo is the park’s spectacular finale.
4. Go to a Buenos Aires futbol game
There’s so much passion within these fences that they don’t ever serve booze. While tickets for superclassicos can be tough to come by, tickets for lower level local events can be an interesting–though slightly dangerous–way to spend an evening.
5. San Telmo on Sunday, Buenos Aires
Home to a thumping hippie street market that features craft vendors and pulsing street bands, thousands of people stream down Defensa Street and take advantage of the impromptu concerts and lax open container policy.
6. Horseback riding in the Andes
With trips ranging anywhere from 1-14 days, an excursion out of Mendoza or Uspallata can bring the rider up close and personal with nature and gaucho culture.
7. Relax in Villa La Angostura
The hidden jewel of the Patagonian Lake region, this humble little gathering of shops and homes is the laidback second cousin of adrenaline fueled Bariloche a 90 minute drive down the lake.
8. Order a plate of lomo at La Cabrera, Buenos Aires
One of the capital’s most famous steakhouses, this always packed venue puts out steak you can cut with a spoon with service and a wine selection to match–all at astoundingly reasonable prices.