Located in South America, Argentina has a population of approximately 45 million, which live in 2,780,400 square kilometres or 1,073,500 square miles, making it one of the largest countries in the world. Argentina is also home to a diverse climate, from the sub-tropical warmth of the north to the polar colder weather conditions in the south. Most Argentineans are of Spanish, Portuguese or Italian descent; however, many Germans, English, and middle eastern immigrated throughout the 19th century. In more recent times, large numbers of immigrants from China have made Argentina their home.
Over the past five years, Argentina has seen crippling inflation and the devaluation of their currency, making it difficult for those living in the country. However, the favourable exchange rate and affordable accommodation options have made it an attractive destination for tourists. With anti-discrimination laws in place and being the first country in South America to legalise Gay marriage, Argentina has grown in popularity as a travel destination for people from the LGBTQ+ community. Though many within Argentina still practice Catholicism, as a nation, most are pretty liberal. It is ingrained in Argentineans to have “a live and let live” attitude, with many young men and women identifying more as metrosexual. The positive attitudes, especially in the major cities, towards the LGTBQ+ community are generally positive. Most visitors come away with positive experiences when visiting the cities and towns.
Given the economic woes, petty and serious crimes are rising; however, there are clear and present police officers in key tourist areas. There is even a department within the national police force dedicated to tourism. If you are cautious, carry only what you need and keep valuables hidden in populated areas, you can go about the city safely. At night time, it is essential that you stay within well-lit and busy areas, taking public transport or taxis to get from and to your chosen destination. If you are sensible and add a little caution, you will visit Argentina without incident. When you leave the city or go to rural areas, you will likely see less police presence, so it is advisable to be extra vigilant.
Argentineans speak a dialect of Spanish known as Castellano, with distinct differences such as the subject ‘Tu’ (meaning you) is replaced with ‘Vos’ (pronounced Bos). Where the personal pronoun ‘Vosotros’ is not even used, and ‘Che’ is a slang term used to say ‘hey’ or as a way of getting someone’s attention. Even the way Argentineans speak is unique; they speak with the passion and rhythm of Italian, but with the words and language of Spanish. Argentineans love beer, barbeque (known as Parrilla), empanadas (similar to a pasty), milanesa (thin meat in breadcrumbs), all types of meats, pizza, pasta and gelato ice cream. Argentinean food is heavily influenced by Italian cuisine. Even though there are many vegetarians across the country, most menus are dominated by meat dishes. Argentineans love anything sweet, especially the national Dulce de Leche, a thick caramel-like spread that they include in many of their desserts.
Most younger Argentineans speak a little English, as they are often taught a basic level at high school, as many will speak enough English to communicate at a basic level. Getting around is easy as most cities, especially major cities, have decent, low-cost, and frequent bus services. There are mainland trains, coach services, and planes connecting cities and towns across Argentina.
When most people think of Argentina, they will likely think of the people and landmarks in Buenos Aires. Though Buenos Aires consists of forty-eight neighbourhoods known as barrios, most landmarks are conveniently located within no more than ten barrios. The key sights and landmarks include Casa Rosado (pink house famous by the iconic Eva Peron – Evita), Plaza de Mayo, the iconic obelisk, Teatro colon, Buenos Aires Cathedral, Plaza Dorrego and Palacio Barolo are some of the most famous sights in the city. Nearly all of the major landmarks are close and a short walk from one another. Recoleta cemetery, Parque Tres de Febrero and the Palermo Parks are all near one another but will require a bus or taxi ride if travelling from the area near Casa Rosado.
The majority of hotels and temporarily accommodation can be found within Recoleta, near the obelisk on the road named “Avenida 9 de Julio”, Palermo, Puerto Madero and Microcentre. When travelling the city, you will quickly learn that things are easy to access, and the city is a vibrant and bustling place. Many visitors book one or two days in Buenos Aires before travelling to different destinations. Once many visit, they quickly realise that two days is not enough time to see all the city offers. Buenos Aires is very different at night than it is in the daytime. Argentineans often eat their evening meals late – anytime between 8 pm to 10 pm. When they go out to party, they will likely not leave home until after midnight.
One of the most beautiful landmarks can be found in the far north of Argentina in Missiones, known as Puerto Iguazu. The falls connect Argentina and Brazil. The falls are approximately 82 metres tall and have around 275 drops, making it one of the largest waterfall systems in the world.
With over 80% of the falls located within Argentina, they say that you live the falls on the Argentinean side and interact and view them on the Brazilian side. In Argentina, you can experience and view the impressive falls by taking one of the many walking routes and following the steel platforms which take you over and around the falls. When walking, you quickly discover the size, scale and force of the falls. From the Brazilian side, you get to go below the most significant part of the falls and take in the breathtaking views of the many drops. There are daily flights from Buenos Aires to Iguazu, which takes approximately one hour and twenty minutes. You can quickly go over to the Brazilian side via taxi or by using public transport.
Found at the western side of Argentina, next to the Andes Mountains range, is the city of Mendoza. Approximately a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Buenos Aires, Mendoza is a must for wine lovers. It is the region within Argentina where about 60% of Argentinean Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignons, Tempranillo and Chardonnay wines are produced in the many wine bodegas. The city of Mendoza has many beautiful parks, historic buildings and monuments; however, there are also many options to visit the surrounding mountains.
SAN CARLOS DE BARILOCHE
Depending on the time of year that you visit, your experience will likely be very different. If you plan a trip in the heart of the winter months (June to September), you will be visiting ski resorts, deep snow and open log fires. However, in the summer months, it is warm, surrounded by rolling green hills with stunning landscapes. Bariloche was one of a few German and Swiss settlements within Argentina and is now famous for its chocolate and a type of jam known as ‘Rosa Mosqueta’ made from rosehip. In the summer months (December to February), you can visit the many islands in the national park within lake Nahuel Huapi. Boat tours take you around lake Moreno – named after the founder of the national parks within Argentina (Perito Moreno), Victoria Island, Llao Llao, El Trebol, Puerto Blest and Lago Frias. Bariloche is a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Buenos Aires, and it is not uncommon to see people hitchhiking to get around the town. Though sightings are rare, Bariloche is also home to the native Condors that have made their home high up in the mountains and hills.
Further south in Argentina is El Calafate, home to the Perito Moreno Glacier. This sizeable natural icescape draws visitors each year to see this ever-shifting glacier, a natural wonder to see and experience. The flight to El Calafate takes about four hours from Buenos Aires and is located in the southern part of the country. From north to south, the Argentinean landscape changes, from the warmer sub-tropical climate and landscape in the north to the colder, greener landscape in the south.
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