Soccer, wine, and wilderness at the end of the world
Argentina is the second-largest country in South America, and one of 18 “megadiverse” nations in the world. In this nation’s over one million square miles, you will find four distinct geographical regions: The Andes, the North, the Pampas, and Patagonia. Wine lovers head to the eastern foothills of the Andes to find fertile vineyards, while animal lovers set their site on the pristine wilderness of Patagonia—home to sea lions, pumas, and much more. All must pass through the heady capital city, Buenos Aires, where Tango is innate and soccer is a way of life.
Argentina can only be described as “audacious”—and wonderfully so. From the defiant wilderness of Patagonia to the sensual display of Tango in Buenos Aires, this country holds nothing back. Sip mate like a true “porteño” in the electric capital city or ride horseback through the Pampas grasslands like the fabled gauchos. Argentina will take you to the end of the earth—literally—it’s up to you if you ever want to return.
Translated as “Land of Fire,” Tierra del Fuego is a subpolar archipelago off the tip of South America whose capital, Ushuaia, is known as the world’s southernmost city. Visit the Tierra del Fuego National Park where the Altos Andes meet the Patagonian Forest to see black-necked swans, grey foxes, and penguins. Hike through glaciers or sail the Beagle Channel—just be sure to bring a jacket as temperatures rarely rise above 48°F.
Native legend says an angry god created Iguazú Falls when his lover fled downriver. Indeed, the world’s largest waterfall system is nothing less than divine. Now a UNESCO World Heritage, Iguazú Falls is the culmination of about 200 individual streams cascading into the “Devil’s Throat Canyon” on the border of Brazil and Argentina. Visit February through March when the water level peaks and skies are at their clearest.
Visit Los Glaciares National Park to behold the Perito Moreno Glacier. Floating in the teal waters of Argentino Lake, this is one of the few “advancing” glaciers in the world. At a height of 240 feet and stretching over 3 miles, this colossal ice field is the third-largest in the world.
Peninsula Valdes—surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean—is a Patagonian nature reserve known for its breadth of marine life. Go whale watching, scuba dive with elephant seals, or walk amongst a waddle of penguins. Inland hikes provide ample opportunity to spot the Argentinian grey fox, the guanaco lama, and the flightless nandu bird.
Settled in Argentina’s southwest Lake District, Nahuel Huapi National Park boasts 2,720 square miles of Patagonian wilderness and the deepest clear water lake in the country at 1,394 feet, Lake Nahuel Huapi. At the base of the park’s Andean cordillera, this glacial lake is surrounded by deciduous woodlands. Visit in Autumn (March-May) when the winds calm and the trees change color.
The capital of Argentina is also the country's largest city, with over 2.89 million “porteños” calling it home. It’s easy to see why this vibrant city is known as the “Paris of South America” with the Parisian style townhouses of the Recoleta neighborhood and a vibrant cafe culture throughout. Grab an empanada as you peruse San Telmo’s weekend market or boost your adrenaline at a polo match. Dig into heaping platters of grilled steak and chorizo at traditional Asado restaurant, before dancing it off with a late-night Tango.
In this fertile valley, you will find Argentina’s best vineyards and olive groves—a bottle of either makes the perfect souvenir. Stroll through the city’s main square, Plaza de Independencia, before grabbing a hot Fainâ—the Argentinian pizza. Tour the wineries by car, bike, or horse and take a long lunch while sampling the local varietals. If the dazzling views of the Andes become to temping, head to the mountains to ski, raft, or hike the soaring peaks.
Argentina has four distinct seasons, but because they are the southern hemisphere they fall at different times than the US. Winter is June to August, Spring is September to November, Summer is December to February, and Autumn is March to May. Summer is the most popular time for tourists, especially in Buenos Aires, with temperatures in the high 60s to high 70s. Spring and Summer are the busiest travel seasons for Patagonia, but Autumn has the draw of Fall foliage and fewer crowds—if lower temperatures. The wine country of Mendoza is beautiful year-round. Nights become cold in Winter, but sunshine still reigns during the day. Summer has the most tourists, so you may want to consider Spring or Fall to see the planting and harvesting activities.
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