After traveling through almost all the cardinal points of Argentina, these are the tips that I think are essential to know before organizing a travel tour through this immense territory (which is also my country).
Everything you need to know before organizing a trip to Argentina, ranging from the cold Ushuaia to the tropical province of Misiones, is summarized in these 8 essential points.
There is a world beyond Buenos Aires.
Argentina in essential tourist terms is Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Mendoza and its vineyards, Bariloche and its Patagonian lakes, Calafate and its glaciers, Ushuaia and its end of the world. That is what almost every traveler who thinks of the country deigns to see as indispensable.
But there is a round of “second term” destinations that I would even put in “places to study seriously for a first trip”. You shouldn’t organize your trip to Argentina without seriously evaluating the Quebrada de Humahuaca in the north of the country (a World Heritage destination).
If you’re looking for a less crowded Patagonian mountain paradise, check out Los Alerces National Park near Esquel. If you think about seeing deep Argentina, think about visiting the countryside of the La Pampa region, and visiting traditional towns like San Antonio de Areco. And if you’re going on an adventure, you might as well plan some stretch of the mythical Ruta 40 that runs from north to south through the country’s mountain range region and is one of the planet’s great tourist routes.
In Argentina, distances have another scale.
All the places mentioned are far from each other. The scale of what means something near or far here is another. In Argentina, you have to think of “hundreds of kilometers” rather than “tens of kilometers”. Example: 400 kilometers is something “close”, and often in some regions of Patagonia that can mean crossing a couple of insignificant towns with a lot of luck.
Transportation will be an important part of the budget.
Distances make transportation an important part of a travel budget in Argentina. If we think of an extreme itinerary such as going from Iguazu Falls to Calafate, where the Perito Moreno Glacier is located (it would be a very exaggerated trip, by the way), by land we are talking about 4330 kilometers (and about 52 hours of continuous driving). So relax a lot: thinking about taking several internal flights is a good start in scheduling the trip.
The best means of internal transportation in Argentina is…
And here we begin the debate. Trains are slow and old-fashioned (pure merit of years of disinvestment and somewhat inexplicable anti-riel public policies). The most viable alternative is the long-distance bus (for average distances of up to 1,000 kilometers) and the airplane for longer distances. Buses are very comfortable, punctual (in general) and efficient. But they are not as economical as we would think. Airplanes are the ideal alternative to travel many distant points of the country.
The ideal number of days (and destinations) on a trip to Argentina is…
One life. Exaggerating a little, but I reach four decades and I don’t get to know much. It is necessary to select to taste. I think you can’t miss three days and three nights in Buenos Aires (at least), a visit to the world’s most famous (and perhaps most beautiful) waterfalls, a visit to the Perito Moreno glacier and the end of the world in Ushuaia. I think they are the must-see stars that we all want to frame in a photo.
And the rest is to choose and add destinations. A trip across the pond deserves at least 20 days. My recommended order of relevance and days in Buenos Aires (5 full days), Iguazu Falls (3 nights and 2 full days to see from Argentina and Brazil), Bariloche and Seven Lakes (4 to 5 days). Calafate (3 nights and 2 days), Ushuaia (3 nights and 2 days), Mendoza (4 to 5 days exploring the essence of the province), Quebrada de Humahuaca (3 to 5 days), Salta and the environment (3 days). And if we are urbanites, maybe visit the city of Rosario and Cordoba. With all this itinerary we would be adding about thirty days.
The best time to travel to Argentina is…
It’s a complex issue with the country’s climate variants in mind. For example, in winter it is possible to find heat in Cataracts, and in summer it is possible to find cold in the south. If we want to cover everything with a good balance, I think that the best months can be November-December and March-April (it is half-season, while summer would be from late December to late March).
On the other hand, when traveling in winter, in the south we could find snow in destinations such as Ushuaia or Bariloche (by the way, they are winter destinations with renowned ski slopes). Anyway, the whole country can be visited at any time of the year if we are minimally prepared with our clothes for cold or heat.
Insurance to travel to Argentina.
Argentina is a country with a diversity of landscapes, and therefore, a diversity of activities in nature. Public health care, although it has excellent professionals, usually has investment deficiencies (something very similar to trains). The attention in private medical centers is, in general, of excellence in the main urban centers, especially in Buenos Aires or provincial capitals. Therefore, due to the high prices of private health centers, it is recommended to be covered with travel insurance, useful also for other setbacks.