From pristine Patagonia to the wild jungle
With my running shoes on, I step out of my room in the early morning. Samba, a playful Labrador of 5 months, ooks at me expectantly. Through the dew I start to run. Samba comes after me and runs with me through the vast Pampa until the sun is up in the sky. We run along the stables and through the meadows. Meanwhile, I'm thinking about last week. From the southern Patagonia to the wild jungle in the northeast of the country. Travelling around Argentina is so varied.
Buenos Aires, the city that never gets bored
Like many tours through Argentina begin, my trip also starts in Buenos Aires. The capital of Argentina is vibrant and its inhabitants are passionate. They have style and are enthusiastic about their country. You don't discover the capital in a day. Because of the different neighbourhoods you need at least two days, but you can also easily stay there for a week. The stately buildings that remind you of the big cities in Spain and France, the Avenida de 9 Julio which is seen as the widest avenue in the world, but also the colourful working-class district La Boca and the district San Telmo, the cradle of the Tango.
A spectacular view over the harbour
In two days we were led through the city. We stayed in Puerto Madero, the old port that has developed into a modern area with good restaurants, bars and hotels in recent years. From Alvear Icon you have a spectacular view over the harbour with the rest of the city behind it. Here I'll eat my breakfast before we explored the city. We visited the Recoleta district and the cemetery with the same name where Eva Perón, among others, is buried. Only the richest people can afford a grave here. Argentines are not buried under the ground like the Dutch. Here the cemetery consists of tombs in which several family members are buried.
Culinary highlight and the best Tango show in the world
From Recoleta we continued to Palermo, a lively neighbourhood full of modern restaurants, shops and bars. The best time to visit this district is in the afternoon. By noon it will be completely extinct here. In the evening we were pampered with a dinner at Chila restaurant, in 2018 voted one of the world's 50 best restaurants. A true culinary highlight that stimulates all the senses. On the basis of a seven-course menu, accompanied by the best wines, we were taken on a culinary journey through Argentina. A great night out where we ended with Rojo Tango, one of the best tango shows in Buenos Aires.
Such a nice city
The next morning we visited the Plaza de Mayo on which Casa Rosada, the work palace of the Argentine president, is located. We visited the district of San Telmo where you can stroll around the infinitely long flea market on Sundays. Antiques and tango is what characterizes this district. From there we visited the working-class district La Boca. This old harbour district is known for its immensely popular football club Boca Juniors and its colourful houses. Here in the afternoon you can enjoy an extensive asado, a barbecue of many different kinds of meat.
Visiting these districts, Puerto Madero, Recoleta, Palermo, San Telmo and La Boca give a complete picture of the special city of Buenos Aires. For me this was the second time and the city hasn't bored me yet. There is so much to do and see here, the people are friendly and the city is alive. Buenos Aires is such a lovely city.
Southern Patagonia; pristine and special
In the afternoon we continued our tour through Argentina. We flew to the southernmost city in the world: Ushuaia in Patagonia, an area not to be missed when travelling around Argentina. This is the southern tip of Argentina from where the cruise ships leave for Antarctica. The city is known for the Beagle Channel and the national park of Tierra del Fuego, which we all visited.
In spite of extreme climatic conditions, the nature reserve has an unexpectedly incomparable beauty. Nature here is unique and inviting. Because we are heading towards the winter the trees are turning green, yellow and red at the moment. A special sight in combination with the quiet lakes and the birds that fly around here. After a short walk we got on the boat of Los Cauquenes, the hotel where we stayed. We enjoyed a tasty cheese platter and meanwhile the captain sailed us across the Beagle Channel. From the water we looked at the land where we saw the trees and shrubs in all colours again. We sailed past a lighthouse and saw large colonies of sea lions lying relaxed on the rocks.
In the evening, after a hot shower, we are introduced to one of Tierra del Fuego's most important products: the king crab. We got an explanation from the chef how he prepares this and a little later we enjoyed an appetizer with king crab in three ways. This is followed by a stew of lamb, another southern pride. We're being pampered and tired but satisfied I crawled into my lovely bed.
Choose to stay at Eolo lodge
From Ushuaia the tour continued through Argentina to El Calafate. Here we spend the night in the famous hotel Eolo. When we got there, I was amazed. The hotel is situated in the middle of the vast plain of Patagonia and is surrounded in the distance by the mountains of the Andes. It is windless, a unique phenomenon for Patagonia because it is said that here you have the four seasons in one day. At the moment I was there, there was no wind, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. The owner pointed to the mountains and in the distance we could even see the Torres del Paine massif in Chile!
In the afternoon we were driven to the National Park Los Glaciares. One thing you must have seen is the Perito Moreno glacier. The glacier is 60 meters thick and 5 kilometres long from where you can see the thing. This is one of the few glaciers that is still growing in size. It is a special, almost emotional, experience to stand so close to this enormous mass of ice. Even when you're standing in front of it, it's hard to comprehend how big this glacier is. Impressive is the sound of crackling ice and the falling of large blocks of ice.
After a long day we arrived at Eolo where we had a nice evening and a delicious dinner. Eolo is part of Relais & Chateau and you can see and taste that back in the dishes. However, the evening was short because the next morning we were expected early for another day in the national park Los Glaciares.
Visiting Estancia Cristina
Even before the first rays of sunshine shined over the Patagonian plains we arrived at the harbour, not far from our hotel. We entered the boat to Estancia Cristina. Over lake Argentina we sailed towards the estancia. We were going for a day visit, but you can also spend the night here. The boat sailed us through the canal and the sun rised slowly. We were surrounded by mountains and the boat sailed us to the Upsula glacier. However, we didn't got too close, because this glacier is also moving and the ice floes falling from it are so big that it can be dangerous. For me it was still unclear how big the glacier was. In the distance it looked very small, but the closer we got the bigger the glacier became. We even sailed past some ice floes that were even bigger than our boat, impressive! What a euphoric feeling to be so close to the mighty nature. We're only just on our way and my day can't be ruined anymore.
Once arrived at Estancia Cristina we steped ashore and were driven through the beautiful nature to a viewpoint. This estancia can only be reached by boat or you have to hike four days on the snow and ice from Chile to this place. The viewpoint offers a view over the Upsula glacier. In size it is much larger than the Perito Moreno glacier. Again, there was no cloud in the sky and the sun shined on the white massif and the blue lake in front of it. The nature here is so big and so vast, an unforgettable experience.
After a good filling lunch with empanadas, lamb and a flan we visited the small museum on the estate. This museum tells the story of the Master family who were assigned this piece of land by the Argentine government in 1914. A special family story far away from civilization. Late in the evening we came back and enjoyed the last dinner in Eolo. The next day we left the unspoilt Patagonia and traveled all the way to the jungle in the northeast.
A wonderful stay at the waterfalls of Iguazú
A long travel day is unavoidable when you have to cover a distance of over 3,000 kilometres. In the evening we arrived in Puerto Iguazú, the Argentinian gateway to the world famous Iguazú Falls. We slept in Awasi Iguazú, an accommodation of about one year old in the middle of the rainforest. A private guide / driver was waiting for me at the airport and took me in a 4x4 to the accommodation. No matter how many days you stay here, the guide and the car will remain at your disposal for the entire stay. After a warm welcome and a good dinner I went to my room. It turned out to be a gigantic villa. Johan also stayed here and in the article 'Awasi Iguazu: a wonderful stay' he described his experience.
The next day we visited the Argentine side of the waterfalls of Iguazú. An impressive play of nature in which the water forcibly plunges into the depths. Also a place not to be missed if you want to travel around Argentina. In the afternoon we got a glimpse into the culture and traditions of the indigenous Guaraní tribe. There are still some original tribes living in the area. During the visit we learned about how this population used to live from hunting and gathering. At the end of the tour we were surprised by a performance of the girls of the village who want to sing for us. A special encounter with people who still manage to keep their culture alive in a beautiful way.
Like a real Gaucho
Actually, two nights at Awasi Iguazú are way too short. The accommodation is lovely and there is still so much to see, but we had to continue. The next day we flew to Buenos Aires for the last time. Here we were driven in about 2 hours to the Argentine countryside. Our last night of our tour through Argentina we stayed at La Bamba de Areco on the Pampas, a real Estancia. Stables, horses, dogs and gaucho's that's what I saw when I got here. Here, we were again completely pampered.
Like a real gaucho we got on our horses and ride through the vast pampa landscape. When we come back an extensive high tea was waiting for us and we got to see a performance of a horse whisperer. Through mutual trust and daily practice this man has built a special bond with his horse. We're all very impressed. Not much later we were back in the kitchen and learned to make the well-known and delicious empanadas. After a short shower we were expected in the barn which has been converted into a dining room. Here we taste our homemade empanadas and a little later a delicious piece of meat is served. It's the last night and tomorrow we all go our own way again. With a delicious Malbec we talk about this special week in fine and hospitable Argentina. Am I going back for another trip through Argentina? Definitely!
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