About Argentina & Paraguay
Buenos Aires: Buenos Aires, like most thriving metropolises, has something for everyone in its landscaped parks and gardens, football stadiums, restaurants, horse racing, golf courses and theaters. But Buenos Aires has one thing no other city has – the tango! Romantic, vigorous, and passionate, the tango is a product of the city where it was born. For those who fancy a turn on the dance floor, professional tango instructors offer lessons, and tango shows can be found in night clubs and at dinner shows. The city is a joy for shoppers with areas such as Florida Street, San Martin Plaza and in San Telmo, where antiques abound. The Italian Boca district, Palermo Park, and Recoleta Cemetery add to the city’s charm. The city’s rich cultural life includes the highest concentration of theaters in the world, in addition to museums related to history, fine arts, sacred art, arts and crafts, along with hundreds of bookstores and cultural associations.
Cafayate: The town is an important center for exploring the Calchaquíes Valleys, a central wine production area in the province of Salta. The wines produced here benefit from the low-humidity and mild weather. The most characteristic type of wine cultivated in the area is torrontes. The largest golf course in South America is currently being developed just outside the city center at La Estancia de Cafayate. The town was founded in 1840 at the site of a mission. In 1863, the Cafayate Department was created, of which Cafayate is the capital, and enjoys a laid-back rhythm, colonial style and a variety of wine cellars.
El Chalten: El Chalten is a small mountain village in Santa Cruz Province, and has become Argentina’s national capital for trekking. It is surrounded by rivers and is within Los Glaciares National Park. It sits at the base of two mountains – Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy, both popular with trekkers and climbers. The village itself was only constructed in 1985 to help secure the disputed border with Chile. Today, it is a popular destination for adventure travelers.
Glaciers National Park & El Calafate: In 1927, El Calafate was founded as a place for wool traders, in hopes it would attract settlers. On the shores of Lake Argentino, the Patagonian village is an ideal base to explore Glaciers National Park, including the Perito Moreno Glacier. The massive ice wall of Perito Moreno carries on noisily splitting off great chunks that fall dramatically into the lake. Patagonia has a splendid array of outdoor activities such as bird watching, mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking.
Ibera Marshlands: Ibera is one of the most important fresh water reservoirs on the continent and the second-largest wetland in the world after the Pantanal in Brazil. It is home to caimans, capybaras, swamp deer, pampas deer, howler monkeys, giant otters, anacondas, greater rheas and hundreds of birds. The wetlands include more than 60 lakes. The nature reserve, founded in the year 1983, is 800 km/497 mi. north of Buenos Aires. Due to its mild climate and isolation, the Ibera Wetlands are an ornithologist’s dream with more than 350 species of birds spotted in this virgin landscape.
Iguassu Falls: “Big Water” is a massive waterfall that falls in three countries: Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Multihued mist rises above the falls, and luxuriant flowers, ferns, tropical plants, butterflies and exotic birds thrive in this environment. From the Argentine side, visitors can see some 275 cascades tumbling into Devil’s Gorge. The Rainforest Ecological Train ride ends at the gorge. Walkways and overlooks reward visitors with incredible views. The border between Brazil and Argentina runs through the Devil’s Throat, with most of the falls on the Argentinian side.
Mendoza: Founded in 1561, Mendoza is brimming with history. A major road between Argentina and Chile runs through Mendoza, making it a frequent stop for climbers on their way to scale Mt. Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere. Mendoza enjoys an outdoor attitude with its proximity to the Andes. It is popular for sport enthusiasts interested in mountaineering, hiking, horseback riding, rafting, and, in winter, snow skiing. Two of the main industries are wine making and olive oil production. Argentina’s wine-making traditions date back to the 16th century when a friar planted the first cuttings. Vineyards are planted at some of the highest altitudes in the world at an average of 600 to 1,100 m/1,970 to 3,610 ft.
Pampas: The great plains in the heartland recall the romance and daring of the South American cowboy culture. Argentine gauchos still work on traditional cattle ranches, known as estancias, in the Pampas. Some of these historic estancias have added luxurious accommodations for guests. Visitors can see the gauchos in action on horseback. The adventurous can also opt to join a cattle drive.
Valdes Peninsula: In Patagonia, the region is a site of global significance for the conservation of marine mammals. It is home to an important breeding population of the endangered southern right whale as well as for southern elephant seals and southern sea lions. The orcas in this area have developed a unique hunting strategy to adapt to local coastal conditions. They are known to beach themselves on shore to capture sea lions and elephant seals. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, most of the peninsula is barren land with some salt lakes. The largest of these lakes is at an elevation of about 40 m/131 ft. below sea level. The nearest large town is Puerto Madryn, but the only town on the peninsula is the small settlement of Puerto Piramides as well as several estancias. Most of the peninsula is barren land with some scattered salt lakes.
Salta & the Northwest: Salta, founded in 1582, boasts some of the nation’s best-preserved colonial architecture. An ancient Inca road leads into the Humhuaca Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its hillsides are cast in horizontal bands of color – rust, yellow, and green for the minerals in the soil. The area is a repository of Indian culture, history, music, religion and art that can be glimpsed in Tilcara’s archaeological museum and at an old Indian fortress. From November to March, Salta’s countryside warrants a side trip with its picturesque villages, vineyards, and the rugged canyons of Cafayate. From April to October, the “Train to the Clouds” travels a thrilling zigzag route through mountain passes up to 3,810 m/12,500 ft.
San Carlos de Bariloche: Commonly called simply Bariloche, it rests on the shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake, with the Patagonian Steppe to the east and the rugged Andes to the west. In the heart of the Lake District, Cerro Catedral is one of the most important ski centers in South America. From this luxurious landscape, a satisfying menu of adventures includes skiing, fishing, nature hikes, mountain climbing and boating.
Tierra Del Fuego National Park: Ushuaia is the world’s southernmost city, set on the banks of the Beagle Channel. The “Train at the End of the World” chugs through remote forests and snowy peaks to reach the dramatic Tierra del Fuego. A short cruise along the Beagle Channel visits the bird-rich Lobos Island.
Yacutinga Reserve: Sights and sounds of the jungle add to the experience of the primitive interior in Iguassu National Park. Reached only by boat on the Iguassu River, Yacutinga Wildlife Nature Reserve sits in the northernmost area of Misiones, a place of wide rivers, reddish clay soil, and subtropical weather. Local guides lead guests on excursions, while a resident biologist presents lectures about the fascinating world of the park’s ecosystem and wildlife.
Asuncion: The first Europeans in the area were Spanish explorers in 1516. They founded the settlement of Asuncion in 1537. The city eventually became the center of a Spanish colonial province of Paraguay. Asuncion is the capital and largest city of Paraguay. The Paraguay River, the fifth largest river in South America, and the Bay of Asuncion in the northwest separate the city from the Occidental Region of Paraguay. Asuncion is one of the oldest cities in South America and the longest continually inhabited area in the Río de la Plata Basin. “The Mother of Cities,” Asuncion was the staging area for colonial expeditions setting out to establish other cities, including the second founding of Buenos Aires and other cities including Villarrica, Corrientes, Santa Fe and Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Asuncion is the seat of the national government, principal port, and the chief industrial and cultural center of the country.
Eastern Paraguay: The indigenous Guaraní have lived in eastern Paraguay for at least a millennium before the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. This region has tropical and semi-tropical forests, interspersed with fields of high pastures and low hills. Its elevation slowly increases towards the Brazilian border and is watered by numerous rivers. There are two important lakes: Ypoa Lake and the well-known Ypacarai Lake. Eastern Paraguay runs from the Rio Paraguay east to the Rio Parana, creating the border with Brazil and Argentina. The eastern hills and mountains, an extension of a plateau in southern Brazil, dominate the region. They reach to about 700 m/2,297 ft. at their highest point. The Eastern Region also has spacious plains, broad valleys, and lowlands.
Encarnacion: The capital city of Itapua Department is the third largest city in Paraguay and sits on the western shore of the Parana River, opposite Posadas, Argentina. The cities are connected by the San Roque Gonzalez de Santa Cruz Bridge and the international train. Jesuit monks began arriving in Paraguay in the 1500s to convert the indigenous people to Christianity. The mission called Anunciacion de Itapua was founded by a Paraguayan Jesuit in 1615. The mission was relocated to the north side in the current location in 1703 under the name Encarncacion de Itapua. It gained importance after the railway arrived in 1894. With a mild climate, it is often called “Pearl of the South.” The city is known for its wide beaches and waterfront boardwalk and the nearby Jesus and Trinidad Jesuit Ruins, UNECSO World Heritage Sites. Jesuit Missions of La Santisima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesus de Tavarangue are part of a collection of 30 missions in the Río de la Plata basin that were established by the Jesuits during the 17th and 18th centuries. Seven of these missions were in Paraguay with remainder in Argentina and Brazil. The missions were attached to settlements. While each period had a singular style, all combined indigenous elements with Christian attributes and symbolism, exhibiting Baroque, Romanesque and Greek influences.
The Chaco: It is a vast plain divided into two areas: Alto Chaco and Bajo Chaco. Alto Chaco is slightly higher than Bajo Chaco, and is renowned for its natural savannas and lagoons surrounded by forests and thorny vegetation. Bajo Chaco is bordered by the Paraguay and Pilcomayo rivers and is covered by endless palm groves. The area is being rapidly deforested. Consisting of more than 60% of Paraguay´s land area, it has less than 10% of the population, making this one of the most sparsely inhabited areas in South America. But it contains an abundance of wildlife. Larger animals include jaguar, ocelot, puma, tapir, giant armadillo, spiny anteater, various fox species, small wildcats, capybara and maned wolf. This is one of the last major refuges for the rhea, a large flightless South American bird. The region is home to many species fish, lizards, snakes, and at least six species of poisonous tree toads. The Chaco is also noted for its cultural, religious and economic diversity as well. The indigenous communities of the Gran Chaco maintain their cultures, particularly in the northern region, known as an ideal place to find fine crafts. A Mennonite settlement was founded by German-speaking Russian Mennonites who arrived from the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan in 1926. Other Mennonite settlements are Fernheim Colony and Neuland Colony.
Best Times to Go
Seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Buenos Aires is ideal in fall, March to May; and spring is September to November, when temperatures are mild. Plan a trip to Patagonia and the southern Andes in summer, December to March, when days are longer and warmer. June to August is winter and the best time for Iguassu and the Northwest. Rain and heat subside. But spring, August to October, has pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds.
Day 1: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Cosmopolitan Buenos Aires is legendary for its street art as well as its vibrant culture, galleries and urban murals.
Day 2: Buenos Aires
Mercado del Progreso, a local market in a rarely visited small district in Buenos Aires, is a great place to learn about the rich traditions of Argentina’s cuisine.
Day 3: Buenos Aires / Salta
Salta is recognized for its Spanish colonial architecture and Andean heritage.
Day 4: Salta / Cafayate
Cafayate lies in the Calchaquí Valleys, an area known for its reddish rock formations and excellent vineyards.
Day 5: Cafayate
Dramatic landscapes and activities such as horseback riding, hiking and golf make this area popular.
Day 6: Cafayate / Salta / Iguassu
‘Big Water’, this massive wall of water borders Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
Day 7: Iguassu
A range of adventure activities are available at the falls, from birdwatching to heli flights.
Day 8: Iguassu / Jesuit Ruins / Ibera Marshlands
The marshlands are the second-largest wetland in the world after the Pantanal in Brazil.
Day 9: Ibera Marshland
Some 60 lakes are festooned with wildlife from capybaras to howler monkeys and more than 350 species of birds.
Day 10: Ibera Marshlands / Encarnacion, Paraguay
Often called "The Pearl of the South,” Encarnacion boasts wide beaches, a waterfront boardwalk and striking UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Jesuits missions.
Day 11: Encarnacion / Asuncion
Asuncion is among the oldest cities in South America and the longest continually inhabited area in the Río de la Plata Basin.
Day 12: Asuncion / Depart
El Chalten (2 days)
At the foot of two mountains, El Chaltén is considered by many to be the trekking capital of Argentina.
Glaciers National Park (4 days)
Here are some of nature’s most dramatic and elegant ice landscapes such as the Perito Moreno Glacier.
Mendoza & Wineries (4 days)
Mendoza enjoys an outdoor attitude offering mountaineering, hiking, horseback riding, rafting and snow skiing. Two primary industries are wine making and olive oil production.
Pampas (3 days)
At historic estancias, gauchos, Argentina’s cowboys, still rely on traditional skills that have all but disappeared elsewhere.
Peninsula Valdes (3 days)
The peninsula provides habitat to wildlife, both terrestrial and marine, including sea lion, sea elephant, whale, guanaco and Magellan penguin.
San Carlos de Bariloche (3 days)
Bariloche reflects German, Swiss and English architectural influences in a gem of a setting surrounded by glacial lakes, rivers and peaks.
Tierra del Fuego National Park (3 days)
At the extreme end of the Americas, a unique train ride travels to the “End of the World.”
Yacutinga Nature Reserve (3 days)
Yacutinga Nature Reserve offers an extraordinary jungle experience. Reached only by boat on the Iguassu River, this is a place of wide rivers, reddish clay soil and subtropical weather
Eastern Paraguay (4 days)
For at least a thousand years, the indigenous Guarani have lived amid the semi-tropical forests interspersed with fields of high pastures and low hills.
The Chaco (2 days)
Laguna Salada is an ecosystem in constant transformation and is ideal for birdwatching and other nature activities. Nearby are traditional Mennonite villages.
$600-$1000 per person per day. Land only, double occupancy.