Style, elegance, passion; there is only one place on earth that oozes all three – Argentina. It’s Latin America’s largest Spanish-speaking country and covers more than one million square miles of jaw-dropping beauty. Nothing can prepare you for the sheer magnitude of Argentina’s colossal landscape, incredible ecotourism, grandeur of its cities, or the vibrant, sensuous people. In this vast land the possibilities for adventure seem too good to be true: the tropical Iguazu Falls of the north, the culture of bustling Buenos Aires, the ski resorts of the Andes, and the indescribable beauty of Patagonia are all worthy attractions in their own right. Argentina, with typical style and modesty, offers them all in one epic destination. There really never has been a better time to visit.
There is an endless list of possibilities for staying busy: cultural tours, wine-tasting, tango lessons, dining, nightlife - and that’s just in Buenos Aries. How about skiing, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, or boating in Mendoza? The country has some of the most spectacular nature reserves and national parks unlike anywhere else in South America; Patagonia, the Ibera Wetlands, the Valdes Peninsula, and the Iguazu Falls are all stunning and unique places to visit. The country is a potential gold mine for day trips, excursions, and sightseeing. Whether it’s an open-air bus tour of Buenos Aries, a journey into the Patagonia wilderness or a boozy meander through the nation’s fabulous wine region, Argentina will seduce you. Wherever you go, you’ll stumble across see some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife: whales, orca, penguins, wolves, antelope, eagles, and condor.
Due to Argentina’s array of climates and temperatures, visiting the country can vary from destination to destination. Buenos Aires is a great year-round destination with mild winters (May to September) and hot summers (November to March), while the spring and fall remain agreeably warm.
The Iguacu Falls can be visited year-round too although the summer months (November to March) can be uncomfortably hot. This is also when the falls have their highest flow rate. The winter (June to September) offers milder temperatures, but a less impressive display.
The Andean Lake District of Argentina is cool throughout the year, enjoying a northern European climate. April to June is the period of heaviest rainfall. November to March is considered the best time to visit, but is also when the crowds are the largest.
Patagonia is usually cool, with unpredictable changes in weather throughout the year. The best time to visit the Valdes Peninsula depends on the fauna viewing more than the temperature. Whale watching usually takes place between late June and November, while penguin sighting is best during December and March.
Currency: Argentine Peso (ARS)
Official language: Spanish
The first Europeans arrived in the region with the 1502 voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. Spain established a permanent colony on the site of Buenos Aires in 1580. It wasn’t until 1816 that Argentina formally declared independence from Spain. The great national hero General Jose de San Martin campaigned in Argentina, Chile and Peru, winning spectacular victories against the forces of European power. Following the defeat of the Spanish, centralist and federalist groups waged a prolonged conflict to decide the future of the nation. A modern constitution was put into effect in 1853 and a unified government was established in 1861.
From 1880 to 1930, Argentina became one of the world’s 10 wealthiest nations as a result of the rapid expansion of agriculture and foreign investment in infrastructure. However, the Great Depression brought a halt to this period of prosperity, and combined with other social and political changes, brought an unstable government. The ruling parties of the 1930’s attempted to hold back the tide of economic and political change that eventually led to a military coup and the rise to power of Juan Domingo Peron.
The military ousted Argentina’s government in 1943. Peron, then an army colonel, was one of the leaders, and he soon became the government’s dominant figure as Minister of Labor, elected president in 1946. In 1947, Peron’s charismatic wife, Eva Duarte de Peron, better known as Evita, played a key role in developing support for her husband’s re-election in 1952, but the military exiled him in 1955. With considerable national support in 1973, he returned to power, but died soon after in July of 1974. Military rule continued throughout the 1970’s until mounting charges of corruption, human rights violations and the country’s 1982 defeat by the British in an unsuccessful attempt to take control of the Falklands (Malvinas) Islands combined to discredit the regime.
The contagious effect of the Asian financial crisis of 1998 mushroomed into a four-year depression for the country, culminating in their own financial panic in November 2001. In December 2001, President De la Rua resigned during bloody riots. After a prolonged period of political turmoil and several provisional presidents, the country has finally regained some semblance of social stability and seen slow, but steady growth.
Art, architecture, lifestyle, and sports can all be traced back to several European countries who originally occupied Argentina. However, when it comes to literature, an even broader ethnic mix prevails. Internationally known authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Ernesto Sábato, Manuel Puig, and Oby svaldo Soriano have all made huge contributions to form the cultural identity.
One often overlooked facet of Argentine culture is soccer. It is by far the most popular sport in the country and inspires intense passion in most of the nation’s citizens – men and women. For some visitors, this can be a little overwhelming, but for those who enjoy the sport, attending a match between arch-rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate can be exhilarating.
With the southernmost parts of Argentina are so close to the Antarctic, it’s recommend that tourists visit during the summer (November to January). Many places in Patagonia are closed during the winter months when the temperature can drop far below freezing. In the summer, the weather can get up to the 60’s and 70’s (°F) for sustained periods.
Conversely, in the north of the country, trips to the Iguacu Falls and other cities such as Salta should be saved for the colder months (May to July). During the winter, you will still find temperatures in the high 60’s or 70’s (°F), while summers are uncomfortably hot, consistently over 100°F.
Buenos Aires and the more central towns have weather which is similar to the southern and central region of the East Coast of the US. The winters see temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s (°F); with occasional dips close to freezing. However, there is rarely snow. The fall and spring temperatures usually ranges between 60 and 80°F, while summer sees mid-80’s to high 90’s (°F).
Indian citizen holders of ordinary passport need Visa to enter Argentina. The visa (US/Schengen) should be valid for at least 6 months. The E-VISA is valid for 3 months from the date of issue with multiple entries and one can stay for up to 90 days on each visit.
Taxis in Argentina are a safe and affordable way to get around, and in the cities, they are usually the most convenient option. However, there have been reports of taxi drivers passing fake banknotes to tourists, and the familiar, ‘meter-not-working’ scam is often present. Visitors should only use radio-taxis and insist on using the meters before departing. Try to carry small bills as in Buenos Aries in particular; drivers seem unable to give change for large denominations. A couple of reputable firms to look out for in the capital are Premium Taxi (+54-11-5238-5000) and Radio Taxi Siglo (+54-11-4633-4000)
While there have been reductions in long-distance train routes, the rail network continues to serve Buenos Aires and some surrounding areas, as well as Posadas and Cordoba. Trains tend to be cheaper than buses, but are slower and go to fewer destinations. If traveling during peak times, it is advised to book a ticket in advance.
The bus network in Argentina is excellent and can take you virtually anywhere in the country. Despite the long drive times, buses are fast and comfortable. There are a number of different classes including sleepers for overnight journeys. Large luggage is stowed in the hold and security is generally good, making it most interesting and cost-effective way to travel the country.
Before you leave on your holiday, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:
Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)
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