Vast Argentina dominates South America’s tail and spans a huge diversity of landscapes. Salta’s arid, terracotta hills in the northwest contrasts with Iguazú’s lush jungle and waterfalls in the northeast. The hills roll down into the cultural hub of central Córdoba, vineyard-dotted Mendoza and the ski hotspot of mountainous Bariloche on the Chilean border. Below the vibrant coastal capital of Buenos Aires, the seaside getaway of Mar del Plata swells out into the Atlantic. The fertile lowlands of Las Pampas sit on Argentina’s waistline. Marine life rules easterly Peninsula Valdés and glaciers punctuate the deserted expanse of Patagonia in the south. Solitary Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego is the jumping off point to the Antarctic.
Catch the electric-blue light glowing from glaciers that soar above icy lakes in Patagonia’s Los Glaciares National Park. The daring can opt for a boat ride among newly formed icebergs. Perito Moreno glacier is famed for its continuous movement and soundtrack of cracking ice. Launch into white wilderness at the end of the world with cross-country skiing across Tierra del Fuego’s expansive valleys or glide across a frozen lake. Walkers and cyclists breathe in the fresh air among Swiss-style Bariloche’s snow-capped mountains and the Quebrada de Humahuaca’s enticing blend of earthy orange and purple mountains. The Salinas Grandes salt plains in Purmamarca to the north dazzle the eyes.
Drag your eyes away from Iguazú’s cascading waters to spot iguanas, tapirs, bright butterflies, emerald-green hummingbirds, toucans and macaws in the surrounding jungle. Elephant seals wallow on the shore, stout penguins fight against the wind and llama-like guanacos bolt across Peninsula Valdés half way down Argentina’s east coast. The endangered orca whale prowls through the water from June to mid-December. Coastal birds find refuge on the protected Bird Island nearby. Experience gaucho life on holiday in Argentina with horse riding at farmhouses around the central Las Pampas plains.
Sample wines produced from Argentina’s star grape, malbec, in Mendoza’s traditional and boutique wineries. Taste indigenous cooking in the northwest, like locro (squash, bean and corn stew) and wholesome tamales - parcels of maize stuffed with meat and steamed in plantain leaves. Argentina’s famed prime bife de chorizo steak is served in restaurants throughout Buenos Aires. Gauchos sip popular maté (hot herb tea) from a small gourd and crouch over fires for a rural asado barbecue. Eat fresh seafood in the south or tuck into tender Patagonian lamb. Cream-filled Welsh teacakes are served in Gaiman, Patagonia’s long-standing pocket of Wales.
Picture sailors dancing in Buenos Aires’ 19th-century port of La Boca, the heart of melancholic, sizzling tango. Lively folkloric music drifts out of jam-packed peña clubs in Salta and gauchos on horseback wander the landscape around the farmhouses of San Antonio de Areco. Swing between old and new in Córdoba’s burgeoning contemporary art galleries and 17th-century Jesuit buildings.