‘Diverse’ is the word that springs to mind when describing a country whose landscape spans 2,766,890km2 (from the Tropic of Capricorn to the South Pole). European architectural influences in the northwest and central regions contrast with the rugged, undeveloped terrains of the deserts and southern Patagonia that seem to remain the land of the indigenous peoples and the gaucho. Remains of missions from the early European contact are found throughout, but particularly in the northeast where speculation of what life was like before and at time of contact haunt the imagination.
Each region is unique and merits independent exploration – indeed, one cannot visit Buenos Aires or Patagonia alone and claim to have ‘seen’ Argentina. The Pampas, the Alto Plano, the wetlands and waterfalls of the subtropics, the wine region of Mendoza, the garden state of Tucumán, the historical centre of academia in Córdoba, the Lakes Region, the Andes, the vast Patagonian estancias, the Atlantic and Antarctic coasts – all are waiting to reward those who seek them out.
Each region is unique and merits independent exploration – indeed, one cannot visit Buenos Aires or Patagonia alone and claim to have ‘seen’ Argentina.
With its economy getting back on track, Argentina is focusing on new industries for a sustainable future: tourism is among the most important. Today’s visitors to Argentina have a great opportunity to influence how this country will direct its growth in this sector, and ecotourism is especially valuable in supporting local markets and emphasising the importance of natural-resource conservation. Beyond the diverse terrain, other features make it attractive as a tourist destination. The Argentines are naturally kind and hospitable people making their country one of the most enjoyable in the world to visit, and the peso is stable and travel affordable.
And there’s that vibrant culture. Poetry and literature produced icons such as the poet Jorge Luis Borges. Music permeates the country, from the tango of composer Astor Piazzolla or singer Carlos Gardel, to folk singers such as Mercedes Sosa. There are great restaurants to enjoy the famous Argentine wine and asado. Argentina prides itself on its meat: beef from the Pampas and lamb from Patagonia, as well as excellent river and ocean fish. There are traditional restaurants that are your basic red-meat-and-red-wine fare, which you can enjoy alongside the locals, or you can explore more diverse gastronomic experiences in high-end restaurants catering to international palates.
If it is nature rather than cities that lure you, the abundance of national parks, mountain ranges and deep forests will challenge your stamina to visit them all. Wildlife is as charismatic as the Argentine culture. Orcas grab seals from the shores, condors soar on thermals in the mountains, rare jaguars and parrots hide in the subtropical forests, carpinchos and caimans wade in the northeastern swamps, and vicuña wander the high-altitude deserts. The name ‘Argentina’ derives from argentum (Latin for ‘silver’), and defines its precious quality. However, it is the abundance of so many cultural and natural treasures that make Argentina truly worth admiring.
In Argentina, I can wear my cowboy boots, hiking boots or tango shoes and fit right in. In many ways, Argentina is familiar to me, reminding me of where I grew up, on the Canadian prairies – lots of cowboys, cows and horses, but also badlands and a horizon of great mountain ranges. I am familiar with day-long road trips across a landscape that remains flat and unchanging; the roads traversing Argentina reach before you endlessly with a matching image in the rear-view mirror. In these great expanses they say you can watch your dog run away for days! You can keep going and going until either the Andes or the Atlantic stop you in your path or you fall off the end of the earth at Tierra del Fuego.
In a country so vast, this is only one aspect, and I soon discovered that the landscape changes remarkably from one corner to the next. And within all that diversity of place is an astonishing biodiversity making Argentina a wildlife-watching paradise that includes miles of coastline and the world-renowned Peninsula Valdez but also the subtropical oasis, the deserts, the Andean forests, the grasslands, and more. Wildlife and wilderness conservation is my vocation and my passion, and I appreciate Hilary Bradt’s shared interest. I have tried to include as much as possible about the national parks, wilderness areas, and ecotourism opportunities in Argentina.
In Argentina’s vast landscape, you can keep going and going until either the Andes or the Atlantic stop you in your path or you fall off the end of the earth at Tierra del Fuego.
Sebastian, my partner, is Argentinian; and we have many friends and family throughout the country. He is from Rosario, where we love to spend time along the Paraná River eating freshly caught fish or sipping Argentine wine along el bajo. We sit in the cafés in Buenos Aires, talking politics with the locals while passing the maté and sharing alfajores. We have a small property in Bariloche where friends take us out spotting Magellanic woodpeckers in the lush Andean forest and scouring the badlands for fossils and geodes. An uncle runs a large ranch in a small town called America, where we ride horses, eat way too much asado, and pretend to be gauchos.