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Travel notebook: Argentina from north to south

Published on 05-15-2017

Getaway

Give in to the beauty of Argentina's landscapes and wild nature, spreading as far as the eye can see.

Just imagine… Argentina! This vast territory, at the crossroads between Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay, is an inexhaustible subject of passion and dreams. All travellers who went there at least once have been under its spell.
After a visit to San Antonio de Areco in the province of Buenos Aires, you'll head north to contemplate the majestic salt lakes, and then back south to behold Patagonia's glaciers. Do you feel like an adventurer for a day or a modern tourist? A tango dancer or a proud gaucho in the Pampa? There's something for everyone on this land at the world's end. So do not hesitate any longer. This fantastic voyage is within your reach.

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Days 1 and 2. The spirit of Argentina in San Antonio de Areco

You can visit this small traditional village of the Buenos Aires province, only 70 miles from the capital.

All the charms of San Antonio de Areco
Argentina is the ultimate polo country, and the players' world centre is located in San Antonio de Areco. About seventy miles from Buenos Aires in a province where wealthy families like to spend their weekends, you'll discover a charming little town where time stands still, contrasting with the effervescent capital. On January 20th 2015, the Argentinean Congress awarded San Antonio de Areco with the “tradition national capital” title. The old bridge, the Criollo park, the San Antonio de Padua church and city hall –among others – are designated historical monuments.

Gaucho culture at the Ricardo Güiraldes Museum
With more than 300 years of history, San Antonio de Areco plunges you in the gaucho culture, those legendary cow-boys from South America, and you'll discover the origins of Argentinean campo through the inhabitants, craftsmen and museums. Do not miss the Ricardo Güiraldes in particular, giving out details about the gaucho lifestyle as well as writer Ricardo Güiraldes' own memories, at the origin of the romantic gaucho myth.

Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Güiraldes
Camino Ricardo Güiraldes s/n
2760 San Antonio de Areco
www.museoguiraldes.com.ar

Where to eat?
Do you want to try out a typical restaurant of the gaucha culture? Hesitate no longer and enter Almacén de Ramos Generales, where you'll savour a bife de lomo, which will leave a long lasting imprint in your mind. Its incredible flavour and exquisite tenderness marry incredibly well with a subtle applesauce.

Almacén de Ramos Generales
Zapiola 143
2760 San Antonio de Areco
www.ramosgeneralesareco.com.ar

Where to sleep?
While in San Antonio de Areco, take advantage and make the best of a full board stay at the Estancia La Porteña, also listed among the city's historical monuments. Considered to be the most emblematic of all estancias (vast farms typical in South America), it retains its two-century old original architecture. You'll instantly feel at home, just like in a family house. Living like a gaucho means hearing the guitar notes ringing in your ears, when you're intrigued by the asado characteristic smell and horses galloping back neigh in the distance. Gauchos in La Porteña wait for the end of the day to put on incredible horse shows. At their invitation, you'll saddle up with irresistible pleasure for an unforgettable ride.

Estancia La Porteña
San Antonio de Areco
+54 (0)11 5626 7347
www.laporteniadeareco.com

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Days 3, 4 and 5. Road trip from Salta

Only 2 hours north of Buenos Aires by plane, explore exceptional landscapes.

The beauties of Northern Argentina

Upon arrival in Salta, you will discover a gorgeous region of mountains, hills and dry steppes riddled with giant cacti. Salta is the starting point of a beautiful loop towards the south of Bolivia. And since you have three days ahead of you, get ready for at least 120 miles per day. But what a journey! From San Salvador to Jujuy, your goal is to reach Iruya, a village of ochre houses nestled up north, 9,000 feet high. In order to do so, drive up road 9, pass Tumbayà and stop in the small town of Purmamarca.
Where to eat?
In Purmamarca, a.k.a. “place of savage land” in quechua language, you could have dinner at the Tierra de Colores, a typical restaurant that presents an Andean musical atmosphere. As for food, numerous Argentinean dishes are available, starting with unmissable empanadas.

Tierra de Colores
Calle Libertad
4618 Purmamarca
+54 388 514-9068

Where to sleep?
Stay at the El Manantial del Silencio Hotel. Located on the outskirts of town, it occupies a former convent and most importantly happens to be a haven of rest surrounded by mountains. This luxurious and serene gem will appear high on your list when you get back from your journey.

El Manantial del Silencio Hotel
Ruta Nacional n° 52 km 3,5
Purmamarca
+54 (0)38 8490 8080
www.hotelmanantialdelsilencio.com

En route to Salinas Grandes
120 miles after Purmamarca, you'll find the small village of Tilcara, starting point on your way to reach la Quebrada de Humahuaca, the mountain of seven colours. Those breathtaking landscapes seem right out of a western picture! Take a break in Iruya then head further north to 11,500-feet high Abra Pampa on the Argentinean Altiplano. On the road, you'll run into llamas and vicunas roaming free on the foreground of natural sculptures, eroded through the time of centuries in the Andes. Even further north eventually, you'll wear your sunglasses to contemplate the Salinas Grandes salt flat, reminiscing of the captivating views of the Uyuni flat in Bolivia. 46 sq miles of immaculate whiteness in front of snowy vistas. Gorgeous!

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Days 6 and 7. Magical Patagonia!

After another stint in Buenos Aires (Argentina's a big country!), take off straight back towards the southern tip of the American continent to discover the Perito Moreno glacier.

Meet up in El Calafate
Immediate boarding for El Calafate. At the foot of the Andes and Lago Argentino, El Calafate is first of all a stopover to visit the natural glacier park. The name comes from a bush with yellow flower and dark berries (close to blueberries) that is very common in the region.

Where to eat?
Up above town and east of El Calafate, Don Pichon is not that easy to find, but locals know it well and will of course give you directions (in Spanish!). The place looks great, the atmosphere is lovely and, most importantly, the view is overwhelming. Try out the veal asado with grilled vegetables, or the Cordero Patagónica in a delicious sweet sauce.

Parrilla Don Pichon
Puerto Deseado 242
9405 El Calafate
+54 2902 49-2577
www.parrilladonpichon.com

Where to sleep?
Cultured and in love with Patagonia, the owner will welcome you in his warm and comfortable hotel. His small crew will take care of you and give you tips on your whereabouts. There is no doubt you'll feel right at home. Furthermore, you'll enjoy exceptional panoramas of the surrounding hills.

Cauquenes de Nimez
Calle 303, 79
Zona de Chacras
9405 El Calafate

The dazzling spectacle of the glacier itself
From El Calafate, you're soon to expect some desert steppe, flat and mountain landscapes, as well as sublime lakes upon which huge icebergs sometimes happen to float. If the name Ushuaia conveys a dreamlike quality, then wait for the Perito Moreno glacier! The third largest ice cap in the world after Greenland and Antarctica, it occupies the blue waters of Lago Argentino, 50 miles from El Calafate. Depending on the season, the melting chunks of ice can be striking, while the sound they make falling in the water is truly stunning. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this living spectacle can be admired up close, aboard small boats taking you a few hundred feet from the cap, in kayaks or even by foot on the glacier itself. If you can, favour a visit from November to March, the summer season in southern Argentina. Surrounding fauna and flora count many protected species.

Where to eat?
The El Buen Sabor restaurant room is small but bright and the menu presents all the classic dishes of Argentinean cuisine, with empanadas in first position. If you're rushing to go back out and gaze at the landscape, note that you can get your dish to take away.

El Buen Sabor
San Martin 1494
Perito Moreno
+54 2963 432 493

Where to sleep?
The Chacra Kaiken Lodge is a new 4-bedroom B&B managed by a young couple who knows how to welcome adventurous travellers. The bedding is cosy, so you'll enjoy some well-earned rest. Most importantly, you'll be looking out over some genuine Patagonia vistas. After a good night's sleep, you'll be in great shape to head for the Argentinean capital.

Chacra Kaiken Lodge
Hipólito Yrigoyen 2038
Perito Moreno
+54 2963 432 079

 See the Travel Guide to Buenos Aires