20-day trip to Argentina
Visiting Buenos Aires, the Parana Delta, Island of Martin Garcia, the Tigre Delta, Salta, Cafayate, San Salvador de Jujuy, Quebrada de Cafayate, Quebrada de Humahuaca, Purmamarca, Tilcara, Maimara, Iguazu Falls, Trelew, Puerto Madryn, Peninsula Valdes, Puerto Piramide, Caleta Valdes, Punta Delgado, Punta Tombo, Patagonia, Lake Argentino, El Calafate, Puerto Bandera, Spegazzini Glaciers, Onelli, Bolados, Agassiz, Upsala and Perito Moreno Glacier, Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia, Bahia Lapataia, Beagle Channel.
We returned from our trip in Argentina not only enthusiastic about the beauty of the places visited, but also touched by the kindness of all Argentines. Two in particular: Laura, Italo-Argentine, known on Internet, which introduced us to Pablo Lomuto, also Italo-Argentine, travel agent. Pablo prepared an exceptional trip as descriptions of these pages are going to prove. I’m writing Pablo’s e-mail because I am sure that those who will contact him will make a “super” trip in Argentina. As a joke, in Spanish, I ‘ve called him the “famosisimo agent especial de viajes Pablo Lomuto” (very famous special travel agent Pablo Lomuto) whose e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Buenos Aires: Plaza de Mayo, Casa Rosada and “Madres de los desaparecidos”
We visited Plaza de Mayo with its famous monuments among which stands the “Casa Rosada”. On the floor of the square are still present, as a memory of a sad past, drawings of white handkerchiefs of “madres de los desaparecidos” (mothers of disappeared people), mothers who still come back every Thursday in this square.
Most significant monuments
With this gallery I wanted to show some of the most significant monuments of Buenos Aires such as the huge 9th of July Avenue, the Colon Theatre, the billboard that advertises the famous “Empanadas”, the pedestrian street Florida, the luxury department store Pacific Puerto Madero, the bridge of Calatrava, and more.
Artists’ Quarter (Plaza Dorrego)
Artists’ Quarter: in its main square, Plaza Dorrego, with the homonymous old and well-known coffee, every Sunday there is the flea market.
La Boca District
We went to La Boca District, founded by immigrants from Genoa, along the road which is the entrance of the famous football stadium “La Bombonera” where the Boca Junior team plays. We walked the streets of the “old town” called Caminito, with numerous sheet metal houses painted with several strong colours.
Palermo District e the Recoleta quarter
We passed through Palermo District with its huge green spaces. In addition to the large public park there are also the racecourse, polo fields, not to mention the many luxurious villas.
Not far, another upmarket district: the Recoleta, which is dominated by the colonial church of Our Lady of the Pilar (“Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Pilar”) and the monumental cemetery of Recoleta, where the wealthy Argentines, among them also Evita Duarte Peron, rest in monumental tombs.
Visit to an “Estancia”
We could not miss a visit to an Estancia, a large farm where we spent a really touristic day enjoying the atmosphere of gauchos’ rural life with music, dances and a lunch based on the famous Argentine beef.
Island of San Martin Garcia and deltas of Tigre e Paranà rivers
Another unforgettable day was the one that Paul organized in the surroundings of Buenos Aires. As soon as we arrived at the Aereoclub of St. Ferdinand, we flew with a small Cessna over the deltas of Tigre and Paranà rivers and we landed on the island of St. Martin Garcia, which is a natural reserve and an historical site. There are several old buildings and, in the southern part of the island, there is a lagoon of stunning beauty. Back in St. Ferdinand we moved to the town of Tigre, where, with a… “crucerito”, we travelled the various channels of the delta on the banks of which there are magnificent villas accessible only by water. It was like being in the lagoon of Venice.
Border with Brazil and Paraguay: Iguazu Waterfalls
On the border with Brazil and Paraguay we visited the “Cataratas del Iguazu” (Iguazu Waterfalls) an impressive series of waterfalls, breathtaking for their majesty and beauty.
Argentina, northwest Andean: from Salta to Cafayate
We landed in Salta, awaited by the Italian speaking guide William Panzeri (e-mail: email@example.com) of Italian origins, he has been with us for five days showing us his knowledge and innate kindness. As well as Luis who has been very friendly and a good driver. Our tour began the following morning with destination Cafayate that we reached through a panoramic road crossing the green Lerma Valley, ascending through the Quebrada de Escoipe, up to the Cuesta de Obispo at 3,348 meters high. Unfortunately, we could not enjoy the wide panoramic view because of low clouds.
Beyond the pass, a straight road of 11 kms. (“Recta de Tintin”) led us to the National Park “Los Cardones” where we could admire huge and numerous cacti, some in bloom.
Quebrada de Cafayate
We slept in Cafayate where Pablo booked the guesthouse of the Etchart winery located in the middle of the vineyards; it’s the “Hosteria La Escondida” (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our accommodation was excellent and even better the dinner served by Mrs Amalia, a beautiful lady who looked like the “Mammy” of the movie “Gone with the Wind.”
A pretty well preserved colonial city, is also known because here they play the best folk music. We could not miss a visit to a local restaurant (we chose “La Vieja Estacion”) to listen to music and so we could appreciate the touching song “Todo cambia”. We visited the city admiring the most significant monuments and then we climbed to Hill San Bernardo. The residential villas of San Lorenzo District are very beautiful.
From Quebrada de Humahuaca to Purmamarca
The next day we went to the Quebrada de Humahuaca. We passed “Sierra de Zenta” and “Sierra de Florida” and reached Purmamarca, famous for the “Cerro de Los Sietes Colores” (Seven Colours Hill).
Valle de la Candelaria de Humahuaca
We quickly went up to the Quebrada to visit the Church of Candelaria in Humahuaca. The town is located at more than 3,000 meters high and gives its name to the scenic valley recently declared a World Heritage Site.
Quebrada de Humahuaca
In Uquia we visited the Church of San Francesco da Paola (it’s very interesting the cross made in 1691 by local artists with natural colors). In Tilcara we visited the pre-Columbian fortress “El Pucara” and the museum rich in exhibits of ancient Andean life. Finally, in Maimarà (whose name means “falling stars” because it’s a place of falling meteorites) it is interesting the picturesque cemetery; you must also admire the “Paleta del Pintor” (the painter’s palette), a name given to this mountain because of the variety of its colours.
San Salvador de Jujuy
We slept in the quiet Hotel Termas de Reyes, located at the beginning of the Canyon del Rio Reyes, 12 kilometers from the city that we were going to visit the next morning.
Argentina, the Valdes Peninsula: whale watching
At Trelew airport we were greeted by the guide Pino Salvagnini who is not only Italian but also Venetian! He is the owner of the travel agency “Patagonia Totale” and he only works with the Italians. We spoke in Venetian dialect, it seemed to be back home…
He suggested us the restaurant ”Cantina El Nautico” where we ate their best dish, the ”Cazuela de Mariscos” (seafood casserole). Do not miss it! The following day we started to visit the Valdes Peninsula. Pino arrived with his Jepp 4×4 5,000 cc. and began to cross the wide and endless dirt roads, a trip full of andrenaline shock because the jepp ” floated” on the dirt road at 140 kmh.
As a good Italian, Pino was wonderful in showing us everything at its best.
So, we got on a boat, the only adults in the middle of a class, for a whale watching ride in the sea.
Caleta de Valdes
We went on inside the Peninsula and met the numerous local wildlife: guanacos, partridges, rhea birds (similar to a small ostrich ), Patagonian hares (called Mara) .
There are many cows and horses, but the plain is mostly full of Merino sheep. We reached Salina Grande (Big Saline) and Salina Chica (Small Saline), so rich in salt to be white, at an elevation of 42 meters below sea level. In Caleta Valdes we enjoyed the beautiful landscape where numerous sea lions and elephant seals live. We continued to Punta Delgado returning then to Punta Piramide where we could admire the acrobatics of whales. We made another unexpected stop along the beach Doradiglio: whales were swimming at a short distance from the shore.
Natural Reserve of Punta Tombo
The next day we went to the Natural Reserve of Punta Tombo where half a million of Magellanic penguins live and have their dens even two kilometers inland. It’s a continuous coming and going towards the sea because, in every penguin couple, one stays brooding while the other goes to sea in search of food .
Before returning to Trelew, we stopped in Gaiman, a town of Welsh origins, and in the famous ”Ty Gwyn” guest house we consumed a meal of homemade cakes and sandwiches with butter. In Trelew we visited the Paleontological Museum Egidio Feruglio (an Italian) where you can see several millions-year-old fossil findings. Among these, the Agnatos Fish, a fish in formation dating back to 490 million years ago.
Argentina, Lake Argentino: El Calafate
El Calafate, a small town on the shores of Lake Argentino, greeted us in a hot sunny day which allowed us to visit the Nimez lagoon to take photos of the several characteristic birds, over all the Flamengo Austral.
El Calafate is named after the plant that grows wild throughout Patagonia (it was used to caulk ships) and the town has particular and very colourful buildings. At the “Estancia El Galpon”, first we saw the sheep shearing, then they offered us a well-cooked one…
Sailing on the lake
With our guide Mercedes (e- mail: email@example.com), always polite and helpful, we began, by catamaran, the visit of the glaciers that terminate their slow advance into the waters of Lake Argentino. They are all part of the “Los Glaciares” National Park, declared a World Heritage Site. We crossed Channel Spegazzini at the end of which we faced the homonymous the glacier which is between 80 and 135 meters high. Simply awesome! We went ashore and walked a path that led us on the banks of a lake overlooked by the three glaciers Onelli, Agassiz and Bolados. It was an incredible sight to see the lake full of icebergs of all sizes and in various colours, from white to dark blue. They looked like pieces of pure ice crystals, completely transparent. We went on sailing to reach the north shore of the lake and we stopped at more than a kilometre from the front of the Upsala Glacier due to the large number of icebergs. This glacier has got a depth of 60 km., a front of 9 km and it is 60 meters high. It’s amazing to think that it withdraws 200 metres a year, that is 5 km in 20 years! This gallery ends with a series of photos depicting the icebergs that were sailing on Lake Argentino.
Perito Moreno Glacier
We spent the following day visiting the most spectacular glacier: Perito Moreno. It ‘s an “alive” glacier which “moves” and “speaks”. We made our visit carefully following the path of walkways placed at a safe distance to avoid, considering the continuous collapse of walls of ice, getting hit by pieces of ice ”fired” as projectiles that, in 20 years, caused 32 deaths.
The glacier is “alive” because it is active; it “moves“, in fact it advances two meters a day and “speaks” with its constant crunches, ice falls and fractures. The front of the glacier has already reached the facing peninsula of Magellan closing the “Canal de Los Tempanos” so that the Brazo Rico a section of Lake Argentino has become an independent sheet of water. This sheet of water, where the icebergs melt, levels up and presses with increasing pressure up to ” break through” the closure. Initially it forms a tunnel, then there is the complete separation of the glacier Perito Moreno from the peninsula of Magellan. This phenomenon, quite violent, lasts about two days and it happens every 4/5 years.
We left this enchanting corner of Argentina with the only regret that we could not enjoy the sight of the glaciers with sunlit days .
Argentina, Tierra del Fuego: Hushuaia
We arrived in Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego (so called because of the fires that the natives lit on their boats). It is the most southerly inhabited city in the southern hemisphere and we arrived in a day of warm sunshine.
Our hotel overlooked the city and the Beagle Channel. We spent the afternoon visiting the town with its wooden houses positioned on two logs, in order to be moved. It was interesting the monument dedicated to the war of Malvinas (Falklands) near which there is the Beban house, now a museum, brought there by boat from Sweden. Inside the Historic Prison, star-shaped and closed in 1947, there is the Maritime Museum.
Tren del Fin del Mundo and Tierra del Fuego National Park
The next day we crossed he inner zone of the National Park of Tierra del Fuego with the ”El Tren del Fin del Mundo” (the end of the world train), now for tourists, that was used by the convicts of the prison to go to clear the forest. We thus had the opportunity to visit one of the inner parts of the park, otherwise unattainable. After the train excursion we continued inside the park until we reached the southernmost point of Argentina: Lapataia Bay where the national road n. 3 ends. This road starts from the center of Buenos Aires which is at a distance of 3063 km in the north. You can see beautiful panoramic views: mountains with snowy peaks, dams made by beavers, bogs and in the distance you can see the Cordillera Darwin.
Canale di Beagle
We had a ride of a couple of hours on e a catamaran on the Beagle Channel to admire the variety of fauna unknown to us : imperial cormorants , cormorants ” Cuello Negro” (black neck cormorants) ,” Escua comun”, jote cabeza colorata (corourful head Jote), gaviota gris , in addition to the usual seals and sea lions.