Birthplace of the tantalising tango, iconic revolutionary Che Guevara (not Cuba, as is often thought), football legend Diego Maradona, using fingerprinting for identification, and the world’s first animated film in 1917, Argentina places as the eighth largest country in the world and has 23 provinces in total. While Spanish is the official language, German, Italian, English, French, and two indigenous languages (Mapudungun, Quechua) are all spoken. Sunflower seeds, lemons, soya beans and livestock are the major agriculture products of Argentina.
A continent rich in natural wonders, historic cities and imposing monuments, you've made it to South America. With imposing mountain ranges, ethereal waters and an exotic wildness, it is little surprise this enchanting part of the world is also known as the 'land of poets', its sweeping landscapes having influenced the works of Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral.
Andean peaks, Amazonian rainforests and Incan ruins treat you to a mystical world of natural beauty, vibrant civilizations, other-worldly relics and colonial towns. Savour the mouthwatering delights of local cuisines, including dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Rio de Janeiro and a selection of Peruvian delicacies at the esteemed MAYTA in Lima.
Why not begin your South American adventure with a journey to the Galapagos Islands?
A beautiful celebration for every Argentinian to enjoy is ‘Friend’s Day’; like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day but instead, solely dedicated to celebrating friendships annually on 20th July. This country also has some astounding natural wonders, including the mighty Iguassu Falls, the majestic Perito Moreno Glacier, and both the highest and lowest geographical points in the whole of South America.
Buenos Aires offers fabulous theatre, opera, restaurants, nightlife and architecture, all of which place it as one of the greatest cities in the world. Some of its finest neighbourhoods include Palermo, San Telmo and Recoleta. The latter has an exclusive cemetery which is the final resting place for some of Argentina’s most famous national figures. One such figure is that of Evita Peron (First Lady to Juan Peron), who was immortalised in the ‘Evita’ musical. The balcony at the Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace), depicted in the film as the place Evita delivered a powerful speech to the masses, is a sight many visitors like to go to.
A trip to the splendid Belle Époque Teatro Colon, considered the grandest Latin American opera house, is a must while in Beunos Aires, to marvel at its incredible architecture and impressive stained glass dome in the entrance hall. San Antonio de Areco in the Pampas District is an exceptionally pretty town, with its narrow colonial streets, churches, bars and museums. Also in the Beaunos Aires province is La Bamba de Areco Estancia – a striking ranch with opportunities for horse riding and exploring on horse-drawn carriage rides.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Iguassu Falls, is considered one of the great natural wonders of the world. Here, the indigenous community of the Guarani people reside in the jungle and have done for hundreds of years. On this Argentinian side of the falls, the booming waters lead to the unfathomable Devil's Throat – a U-shaped chasm, where around 50% of the river’s water cascades down. With 275 falls in total, the Iguassu understandably is in the top 5 largest waterfalls on the planet. Situated within the Iguaçu National Park, and shared between Argentina and Brazil, it is hard to imagine the sheer size of this natural wonder, as it spans more than double the width of Canada’s Niagara Falls.
Asado is a feast of grilled meats and Argentina’s national dish. Sausages, pork, ribs, beef, and sweetbreads all make it to the grill, and in some parts of the country, roasting an entire pig or lamb is not uncommon. Provelata is not your average grilled cheese, consisting of strongly-flavoured slices of cheese, topped with herbs and grilled enough to make it crispy on the outside and gooey in the middle, it is then drizzled with olive oil or accompanied by chimichurri (a tangy green salsa). Thick steaks and the leaner matambre arrollado (a thin-cut steak, stuffed with vegetables, eggs and olives) are highly popular. Another well-liked food is empanadas – a deep-fried pasty or pastry parcel that can have either savoury or sweet fillings, such as beef, chicken, stew, goat’s meat, vegetables, sweet potato paste, quince jam or raisins. Dulche de leche can be a filling used in empanadas. Made from condensed milk, this sweet, sticky caramel is used in cookies, drizzled over ice-cream, and added to many sweet dishes. Alforjores are like shortbread biscuits, where two biscuits are held together by a layer of jam, dulche de leche, or mousse, and make the perfect treat for those with a sweet tooth.
Yerba mate is a hot herbal drink, infused with caffeine and much like tea. It can be found everywhere you go and though not to everyone’s tastes, owing to its bitterness, it can be sweetened with sugar or lifted by adding orange peel. Drinking coffee is a social event, where hours can be spent in good company, sipping on coffee all afternoon. Flavoured water and sweet carbonated drinks are widely drunk too. Microbreweries are becoming increasingly more popular, with Antares, Bodega Cervecera, and Buena Birra Social Club among the names to look out for. Two liquors deserving of your attention are Fernet, with a strong herbal and liquorice flavour, and Gancia which is lemon-flavoured. Wine is big in Argentina – understandably so when the country ranks as the fifth biggest wine producer in the world. Wines to try while vacationing in Argentina are Malbec, Bonarda and Torrontés.
Landscape and wildlife
Striking mountain ranges, salt plains, wetlands, bustling cityscapes, sandy beaches, glaciers, valleys, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and rainforest all contribute to Argentina’s noteworthy biodiversity. Common types of tree growing in Argentinian forests are the pine, cedar, carob, cypress and eucalyptus. Alpacas, llamas, boars, anteaters, jaguars, cougars, monkeys, bears, deer, sloths and chinchillas have all made their home in this country. In the South Atlantic Ocean, whales, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, barracudas, pikes and catfish are among the aquatic life. Feathered friends residing in Argentina include owls, hummingbirds, flamingos, condors, penguins, eagles, pelicans and herons. As for reptiles, frogs, lizards, rattlesnakes and other snake varieties can all live in Argentina too.