It sounds like something out of Avatar and it looks like it too. The Perito Moreno National Park came in at number 14 on the Lonely Planet’s greatest experiences and it’s easy to see why so many people fall in love with this magical place. This land of 365 glaciers takes most travellers breath away, and there are plenty of opportunities to explore it. Adventure companies offer day treks not only on the glaciers, but in them as well. The trips usually start off with a quick boat ride across the Rico arm of the Argentina Lake, before it’s time to strap some metal spikes to your boots, wiggle into your harness and descend into the frozen blue walls.
Visit Iguazu Falls
Second to Patagonia for top tourist hotspot is the Iguazu Falls. Iguazu, meaning ‘great waters’ is an incredible demonstration of nature’s beauty – not to sound too Attenborough, but it’s pretty darn amazing. This semi circle of cascading water is made up of more than 270 waterfalls and is known as the ‘devils throat’, sounds pleasant.
The falls are part of the Iguazu National Park and share the border with Argentina’s neighbour, Brazil. In both sections there are a lot of different opportunities to explore the Iguazu jungle, which is home to anteaters and jaguars, as well as the infamous falls. Macuco Safari offers a number of adventures, pushing this natural theme park to its full potential. You can choose to go for a boat ride to get close up to the falls for that all-important selfie, or you could have a go at taking on the unforgiving currents in a rubber raft. There’s also the chance for those who can handle their height to explore canopy walks and zip wires. If you don’t dare to do that, you can always brave a helicopter flight over the magnificent water feature to take in how vast this natural phenomenon is.
Okay, so this one might not be to everybody’s taste, but it sure is something to check out. Tierra Santa is the world’s second religious amusement park, turning a small section of Argentina into Jerusalem.
After you’ve paid the entrance fee you can make your way around the different shows, each presenting different bible stories via the magic of mechanical robots. The closest thing to a ride is a camel merry-go-round and every so often you can see a plastic Jesus rise from the ground, representing the resurrection. This may not sound as exciting as a hike through a jungle, but at Easter this place really comes to life, especially with Christianity being a huge part of the South American culture. The shows step it up a gear around the religious holiday with actual human reenactments. You can join ‘Jesus’ for his last supper with actual food, and watch him drag a cross through the park, and if that’s not a sight, then I don’t know what is!
Cementero de la Recoleta
At the mere mention of Buenos Aires, this star attraction usually comes next. A day out at a graveyard may seem a bit depressing but the incredible attention to detail of large mausoleums and grand statues make the Cementero de la Recoleta more fascinating than freaky.
The cemetery, which opened way back in 1822, features crypts holding the bodies of past presidents, war heroes and the rich and famous, including the Argentina heroine, Evita. You can also visit this iconic place as part of one of the many free city tours. This location is featured on the Aristocratic tour where you can fill you culture cup up to the brim with information on Argentina’s French and Spanish influence.
Learn to Tango
I know, I know, we all saw that coming, but it really is a must do in Argentina! You’ll be overwhelmed with places offering lessons but it’s worth doing your research – if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right.
One of the most prestigious houses of tango is the Tango Porteno, which is located in an old movie theatre called Metro Goldwyn Meyer. Porteno offer a tango lesson as well as a dinner and show to let you see how the professionals do it. The dinner there is just as good as well.
For all three of the highlights it costs about $127, but if you don’t want to get your dancing shoes on, or you can’t force your partner to, then it’s just $45 for a show.
La Marshall is another good option, and they aren’t fussy about partners. This is a great place for gay couples to give the tango their best step, they offer late night classes or if you’re really serious, there are private lessons up for grabs too.
Get adventurous in Bariloche
This postcard place is literally a desktop wallpaper dream. This Swiss-influenced town has the back drop of forest, lake and the Andes, with three peaks that are all over 2000m high. So make room on that SD card!
Located within the Nahuel Huapi National park in Northern Patagonia there’s a laundry list of activities to keep you busy. In the summer, this place is ideal for hiking, fishing, horse riding and water sports like kayaking. Some tours even offer overnight kayaking where you can pitch a tent for the night, overlooking the magical mirror lake. In the winter, Bariloche is a snowboarders and skiers dream. Cerro Catedral is the largest resort around and covers 1.2000 hectares – in other words, it’s huge! But there are plenty of other resorts available to try out your skills, or hone some new ones.
San Ignacio Mini
Located in the Misiones Province near Iguazu Falls lies the remains of the ancient Jesuit Mission temples. These red block buildings, which were built in the 17th and 18thcentury, were once home to the Guarani people and are a huge part of Argentina culture. As you walk around this eerie place – minus the tourists – you can take in the exquisite detail carved into the entrance of the ruins from almost 500 years ago. As with most stories from years passed, the Guarani people met a bloody end and since then these buildings have been abandoned. Who doesn’t love an abandoned building? If you’re in the area they’re worth investigating.
Stroll around the Plaze De Mayo
For a lazy day when you just want to go for a stroll, Plaza De Mayo has enough to keep your eyes busy. This square is home to the history of political demonstrations and the heart of the Argentina revolution in 1810. The Casa Rosado, the hard-to-miss pink house, is the main office of government, and has been described as the Argentinean white house. The best day to visit is on the Sunday where bundles of flea market stalls will be set up, so you can enjoy the scenery and Argentinean architecture whilst ticking souvenirs off your to-do list.
Get a taste of Argentina’s multicultural history in a French-inspired shopping centre. Designed by architects Emileo Agrelo and Roland Le Vacher in 1889, this building is based on Le Bone Marche in Paris. Even though the shops are a bit on the pricey side – especially for the budget traveller – walking around and looking at the tall painted ceilings is enough to make you feel rich, even if you’re most likely walking out empty handed.
Guira Oga Centre for the Recuperation of Birds
Or just ‘Home of the Birds’, is a rehabilitation centre situated in the Iguazu jungle. No, you won’t be finding Lindsay Lohan and Russell Brand passing through here; instead you’ll get a chance to see Toucans, Macaw’s and many different species of parrot. This centre looks after wildlife creatures that have been injured or orphaned, and offer guided tours to inform visitors about these issues. You might even see a few monkeys hanging around – pun intended.