Messi, Maradona, and Mate. Welcome to Argentina – a country wrapped in nostalgia and nature, in tango and football, in coffee shops and libraries, and in Buenos Aires and Patagonia. Even Spanish get’s different flavors here, che. Argentina is a journey through class and color of Buenos Aires from the crayonic landscape of Salta via the rolling vineyards of Mendoza to El Fin del Mundo¬ (the end of the world).¬†¬†You have to travel to Argentina to experience it’s multi-faceted beauty.
Where is it?
|INT'L AIRPORT(S)||Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Bariloche, Mendoza, Iguazu, Rio Gallegos, Trelew, Ushuaia|
|BUSES||Online Bus Reservation Website|
Argentina Visa Requirements
|Valid Passport||A valid passport with blank page(s) for the visa stamp|
|Passport Size Photos||Confirm the size and the background requirements|
|Proof of onward travel||Confirmed ticket(s) into and out of the country|
|Hotel Bookings||Hotel reservations for the intended length of stay in the country|
|Trip Itinerary||A detailed itinerary of your trip in the country.|
|Proof of financial funds||Proof of significant funds to cover your expenses while in the country|
|Letter to the Embassy Counselor||A letter to the counselor describing the purpose of the visit|
- Letter from Employer
- Proof of funds – (a) 3 months salary slips, (b) Last 3 years Income Tax Returns, and (c) Copy of a Credit Card
- Cost: FREE
- Validity: 90 days, on each entry
- Visa Process Time: 30 days
Why go there?
Nature, Landscape, Lakes, Glaciers, Penguins, Architecture, Football, Wine, Tango
- Perito Moreno Glacier: A running poetry of ice that rises tall and goes beyond the horizon. A glacier that will remind you of The Wall in the North. And, to add a few sonnets,¬†giant chunks of the glacier unleash themselves into the water every afternoon
- Iguacu Falls: An enormous waterfall that boggles your imagination. You stand in the midst of water roaring down all the mountains around you. It makes your heart beat faster and leaves you teary-eyed with nature’s¬†beauty flowing with the falls
- Patagonia:¬ Many came, few left and none went without getting seduced by Patagonia. Patagonia is a region in the south of Argentina that is beauty in paradox. Beautiful glacial lakes lead to a¬†solemn desert, guanacos roam freely while penguins nest nearby, Welsh villages trapped in time, no town for hundreds of lonely miles, and the Southernmost city in the world: Ushuaia. Patagonia will demand your time that you will offer willingly
- Buenos Aires:¬ The Paris of the West. A city that breathes class. Come for the cafes, wine bars, bookstores, and restaurants. Witness the grace of Tango. Walk around¬†the colors of El Caminito¬ in¬ La Republica de La Boca
Off The Beaten Path
- Drink high tea and eat biscuits at tea-houses in the Welsh villages of¬ Gaiman, Trelew, and Esquel
- See whales, penguins, sea lions and other wildlife at¬ Peninsula Valdes
- Start your Patagonia expedition slightly north of Bariloche to witness the scenic but¬†oft overlooked¬†villages of¬ Villa Pehuenia, Alumine, and Junin de los Andes
Food and Beverage
Delicious vegetarian food is hard to find in Argentina. And, most of the time it is very pricey. Your best bet is pasta and pizza. Empanadas can be good. They have a wide variety of bakery items usually called¬ galletas¬ that are definitely delicious
The beverage scene will surely cheer your animal-friendly heart
- Mate:¬ Maradona, Messi and Mate. Three words¬†that bring¬ Argentina to my mind. Mate is part of the Argentine DNA. It consists of four things –¬ Mate (A circular cup with an opening),¬ Yerba¬ (A special green tea grown in Argentina),¬ Bombillo¬ (a metal straw) and¬ Agua Caliente¬ (hot water).¬ Yerba is put into the mate, hot water added to it and then sipped by the bombillo. You will surely be asked to drink mate by friends or total strangers. It is an experience you shouldn’t leave Argentina without
- Cafe Etiquette:¬ The whole world needs to learn how to serve coffee from my Argentine hermanos.¬ Coffee is served¬†with a side glass of orange juice, soda water, and a tiny tasty cookie. It is a complete experience. The orange juice moistens the dry throat and the soda water vitalizes¬†the sweetness left behind by the orange juice, que bueno
- Mendoza Wines
- Quilmes Beer:¬ Try their stout and bock
- Imperial Beer: Imperial Weissbier (pic above) tastes like a good hefeweizen, do give it a try
- Fernet con Cola:¬ Unofficial national cocktail. Fernet Branca an Italian herbal liqueur mixed with Coca Cola
- Gancia con Sprite y Limon:¬ Gancia liqueur with Sprite and squeezed lemon
La Alma de Argentina:¬ This is my creation and I will file a patent for it. Add Yerba, Fernet, and Quilmes to the mate cup. Add some hot water and sip a bit of¬†blue and white
Destinations in Detail
Buenos Aires –¬ El Paris del Oeste (Paris of the West)
“El ambiente de Buenos Aires es una mezcla de nostalgia y energia cosmopolita” – Renzo
The ambiance of Buenos Aires is a mixture of nostalgia and cosmopolitan energy
Buenos Aires has one foot in the legendary bygone era and one moving forward with the class and jazz. It¬†gives you many reasons to fall in love with it. A city that will tango with you until you can‚Äôt leave. The color and culture of La Boca. The class of Palermo. The Sunday market of San Telmo. The effervescent Tango just about anywhere. Paying homage to Evita at La Recoleta Cemetery. Reading a classic at one of the many grandeur libraries.
Travel Stories from Argentina – Tales from a month spent hitch-hiking, camping and drinking mate¬†(Coming Soon)
Travel to Patagonia Guide
“Patagonia! She is a hard mistress. She casts her spell. An enchantress! She folds her arms and never lets go.”
Any Argentina travel guide would be incomplete without a mention of Patagonia. Patagonia is a region in the south of Chile and Argentina. It is a nature lover’s dream come true. Glacial lakes, granite peaks, miles and miles of nothingness, the Atlantic roaring, penguins, guanacos, mighty glaciers and¬†swathes of land to be discovered. The villages and towns of Patagonia laugh at the 21st-century pace of life and go about drinking their mate as the penguins¬†swim¬†to Antarctica.
Ruta-3 and Ruta-40 (Argentina) run through the eastern and western Patagonia, respectively. Major travel attractions lie on the western half of Argentine Patagonia. But, the eastern half is well worth exploring and¬ Peninsula¬†Valdes (Puerto Piramides)¬ lies on the eastern flank.
If you travel to Argentina, you must visit the following places in Patagonia –
If you come from the north, then you will be traveling on Ruta de siete lagos (7 lakes route). As your car passes through bends, twists, and hairpins, your mind will be passing through surreal beauty. Green mountains jealously hiding silvery lakes amongst its outstretched arms. Rent a car and search for each of the 7 lakes on this route. It will be an experience you will never forget.
Bariloche, being the capital of the Los Lagos Region (the Lakes Region), has a lake too – Lago Nahuel Huapi. Bariloche has a cozy hillside town welcoming feel. Take a walk down Av. San Martin and shop for souvenirs or try the famous chocolates of the area. And, if you want to escape the crowd, but still enjoy the¬†beauty of Bariloche then stay at Colonia Suiza (25 km from Bariloche). It is a tiny hamlet modeled on Swiss mountain villages. It has a very laid-back artsy feel. Slow cooked food, artists selling their work, musicians performing around bonfires and homely microbreweries. Few trails also start in Colonia Suiza that will take you to glacial lakes and waterfalls.
Letters from Patagonia – Stories scribbled while waiting endless hours for a car to stop on a nondescript patch of Patagonia (Coming Soon!)
The rebel town that keeps fueling its rebel heart to revolutionize. This is a town where the evenings are never dull. Musicians add melody to the surrounding mountains with unique forms of music. People perform impromptu plays they make you laugh while leaving a message. Dancers show you that there is more to Argentina than just tango. Poets and painters share joint space as they delve on their next masterpiece. Amongst the natural beauty of Patagonia, El Bolson gives you glimpses of the human side of Patagonia. The evenings are filled with different informal performances at public places and there is no official schedule or pamphlet. So, each day is a surprise. Just stroll down Av. San Martin and enjoy whatever performance you prefer for free.
Welsh Mountain Village of Trevelin
In 1865, the Welsh arrived in these parts of Patagonia with a promise of green pastures and the goal of preserving Welsh culture. The promise was slightly altruistic. But, it leads to preservation of an oasis of Welsh culture in the foothills of Patagonia. If you are not visiting the eastern side of Patagonia then Trevelin (188 km from El Bolson) is the ideal village to get a taste of the Welsh culture. The major attractions here are the cute Welsh tea houses where you can enjoy an afternoon cup o‚Äô tea while chatting with the owner. Do ask for torta negra (black cake) – the local twist on the Welsh fruit cake.
Nearby Parque Nacional Los Alerces (22 km) has good hiking opportunities with some lonely lakes waiting for your visit. You can also do some world-class rafting in Futaleuf√ļ (50 km, In Chile) with some of the most scenic backdrops one can imagine being rafting in
Perito Moreno Glacier (El Calafate)
You stand on the walkway and hold the wooden railings gasping in awe as the angels of ice rise tall from the water and stretch far beyond the human eye can see. The horizon, the zenith and all the other mundane elements of nature are taken over by the Perito Moreno Glacier. It is beauty in infinity. The glacier takes your imagination on a journey that your eyes can‚Äôt foresee.
A set of walkways has been designed to give you different views of the glacier. Walk across them all to glance at the different shades of the white beauty. Make sure to be there in the afternoon, between¬ 3-6 pm, to see the sun pierce holes in the chinks in the coat of arms of the White Prince as giant chunks of ice fall into the water. It is a sight that will send shivers down your spine. Capturing the moment is an art in patience.
Perito Moreno Glacier is located in the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares which is 106 km from El Calafate. So, you will most likely base yourself in El Calafate. ¬ The entrance fee for Perito Moreno glacier is ARS$ 330 foreigners, ARS$ 180 Mercosur, & ARS$ 100 pesos Argentinos. There are day tours from El Calafate that will take you to the park. Prices vary but you will end up paying about US$ 100¬ per person for the day tour plus the entrance fee. The slightly cheaper option is to take a bus to the glacier from the main bus station. There are three different buses and they cost between ARS$ 400-500 round trip. You can also hike on the glacier with some tour agencies. To get an up close and personal eye-to-eye with the glacier consider taking a boat ride.
Hitchhiking from El Calafate to the glacier and back is also possible. I hitchhiked both ways. Walk westwards on Av. San Martin until you are in the outer reaches of the town and wait here.