Here we go again, it’s time for our Argentina top 10, but this glorious country deserves it! Here are the things we enjoyed the most:
- Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, the grand capital of Argentina, was our favourite capital city during our travels. It manages to combine European history and old world elegance with the typical chaos and fiery culture of Latin America. It’s big enough to keep you busy for several days, oh, and it has a great food scene too!
- European feel & Italian heritage
Perhaps we were feeling a little homesick, but we revelled in the distinctively more modern and European feel of Argentina in comparison to say Peru and Bolivia. It was also very interesting to learn about the many immigrants who flocked to the country en mass in the 19th century. Alex was particularly pleased to find an excellent (probably 4th generation) ice cream parlour in Buenos Aires called Olympia, and a myriad of old school Italian aperitifs on offer in the many beautiful bars.
- Gaucho culture and festivals
Guachos, basically Argentinean cowboys, are a huge part of Argentina’s culture and they embody the Wild West pioneer feel of the interior. Along with the guachos comes a tradition of horse riding, livestock farming, silver making and malongas – a type of musical story telling that keeps the deeds of the gaucho families alive.
You can visit an estancia (see below) or enjoy street markets and cultural events celebrating the gaucho culture such as the famous Matadero’s market in Buenos Aires.
An estancia is the farm of the gaucho and you can visit these often still working traditional environments to stay in unique boutique hotels, ride horses, enjoy farm life and eat delicious meaty BBQ feasts.
- Meat, meat, meat and more meat
It would be a crime not to mention that Argentina is a meat eater’s paradise. Led by the gaucho culture, Argentineans eat a lot, no, really A LOT of meat. You will find juicy grass-fed steaks, asados (traditional pit BBQs) of huge racks of ribs, tasty spicy sausages called choripan and a whole host of other meaty goodies on offer at every turn.
- Yerba Mate
Peculiar to Argentina and Uruguay, the drink of Yerba Mate is absolutely ubiquitous. It’s just a bitter herb but it contains caffeine and has all sorts of ritual instructions for its preparation.
We marvelled as we watched businessmen rushing to work with their bombillas (the special cup for the drink) and thermoses. It’s almost like it’s an extra appendage!
- Perito Moreno glacier
Wow. If you want to see a monster of a glacier then Perito Moreno is your guy. It’s massive and constantly changing as it advances and breaks off. What’s also really great about it is the infrastructure; it’s easy for elderly and disabled people to visit as it had a series of accessible walkways and even a lift. You can also pay extra to take a boat ride along one face or go glacier walking on top of it.
- The end of the world – Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel
Not many countries can claim to be home to the end of the world, but Argentina has done just that. Ushuaia is the largest southernmost town in the world and has a very dramatic setting ringed by snowy mountains and facing out towards the Beagle Channel and eventually Antarctica.
A trip out on to the Beagle Channel offers some stunning landscapes and a variety of animal watching opportunities.
- Welsh people
Not really what you’d expect to find in Argentina, but there is actually a sizable population of people with Welsh heritage who still speak Welsh as their main language. Found in the Puerto Madryn area, these Welsh people were pioneers who left Wales to take up the invite of the Argentinean government who wanted to get vast swathes of unoccupied (apart from the indigenous tribes) settled. The first Welsh settlers faced many hardships in this unforgiving desert climate but eventually triumphed through expert management of water sources. Sadly we were unable to visit the Welsh villages due to a road closure which was a shame because we really fancied a cup of tea and a Welsh cake!
- Iguazu falls
Shared with Brazil, deep in the rainforest, the Iguazu waterfalls are one of the most impressive sights on the planet; they had us feeling rather weak at the knees and giddy. The only problem is that you are never going to be impressed by another waterfall again!
So, there you have it, this was what Argentina was for us, but we are sure that we have only scraped the surface of this huge country with a wealth of landscapes, people and customs. Adios!..until next time..!