Argentina in 2 weeks - where to go and what to do?
October 1, 2013 1:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to Argentina for 16 days in November, starting in Buenos Aires and ending in Ushuaia, where I'll be getting on a boat to the Antarctic. But Argentina is massive, and I'm bewildered by the choice and distance. Can the hive mind help me work out an itinerary?

I like cities and art and music and museums and historical sites and cultural stuff, but also hiking and rafting and grand vistas and adventurey stuff. Suggestions on must-sees/dos also appreciated.

I'm pretty sure I'll need to catch a domestic flight to Ushuaia. But where should I catch it from?

Difficulty factors: travelling alone (early 30s dude), rudimentary Spanish at best.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts to Travel & Transportation around Argentina (6 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Bariloche is great for your adventurey stuff, plus there a neat museum on Patagonia. But! if you only stay for 16 days and including your stay in Ushuaia, you might not have enough time for Bariloche.

A good option would be Mendoza + a few days in the andes. You could trek to the base camp of the Aconcagua, which is ~2days up and 1 day down. There are many outfitters that can take care of your meals and accomodation. I would suggest taking the night bus that commutes between Buenos Aires and Mendoza to save time and a hotel room.

Traveling alone as an early 30s dude is not a difficulty factor, it's an asset. I spent 1 month traveling alone in Argentina when I was 27. You get to do what you want when you want it. Plus, it forces you meet people and use that rudimentary Spanish.

Have fun!
posted by racingjs at 9:50 AM on October 1, 2013

Best answer: Also: I posted an answer a few year ago on recommendations regarding Bariloche. It might be outdated by now, but check it out anyway.
posted by racingjs at 9:52 AM on October 1, 2013

Best answer: First, if he doesn't show up here, you might want to read through jontyjago's comment history on Ask, since he's been living in BA for a while, runs tours there, and really knows his stuff, including but not limited to where to get a decent beer when you're tired of Quilmes (although the Quilmes Bock is actually pretty decent).

In terms of natural splendor, I enjoyed the area around Nuahel Huapi National Park a lot. The lake itself is freaking beautiful, and swimmable! (though cold), and there's a lot of good hiking in the area. The biggest city in the area, Bariloche,* is a nice place and is enough of a tourist location that you'll be able to get by with rudimentary Spanish. I'm not sure what your budget is, but the only difficulty here is that you'll probably have to take a plane to Bariloche, and domestic flights in Argentina are pretty expensive.

I personally really want to go to Aconcagua Provincial Park (there's a translate widget on the left that does a decent job) some day, since it seems to be ridiculously dramatically beautiful and it's home to the highest mountain in South America, but I don't have any personal experience there, and it seems like it's far from everything.

In Buenos Aires itself, you may like the Teatro Colón, which has opera, ballet, modern dance, and symphony performances. The guided tours of the building are nice but probably not worth the money (110 pesos, or ~$20 at the current, official exchange rate) if you don't have a friend who's a national to buy the tickets for you (they only cost 30 pesos in that case). I really enjoyed Fundación PROA, which is a great modern art museum in La Boca. Neighborhoods with a high density of friendly, non-night-cluby bars (my preference) include San Telmo, and Palermo. I've spent a decent amount of time alone in BA when visiting my mom, and I've never had trouble just striking up conversations at places like that. I think you'd be fine doing the same, since people will be tolerant of your Spanish, especially if they're a little soused.

* Villa La Angostura, a little mountain town that has a lot of little chocolate shops, is also in the area, but unless you want to take the ferry see the arrayanes I would avoid it, since it's mostly an expensive, boring tourist trap.
posted by invitapriore at 9:59 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

My husband and I spent three weeks in Argentina last November. Here was our rough itinerary:
4 or 5 days BA
2 days Iguazu Falls
5 days Mendoza
5 days Bahia Bustamante (northern Patagonia)
2 or 3 days BA
And there was some travel time in there. One downside of traveling around Argentina, for us, was that flights always seem to go through BA. So to get from Iguazu to Mendoza, we flew through BA. Ditto for Mendoza to Patagonia. And not a single one of them left on time (which actually was handy in a way--when your first flight is delayed, it's helpful with the connection is also delayed, and it was).

Iguazu is not near anything and is not that easy to get to, but it was truly amazing and beautiful. The town is not that great, but the falls and the park are one of a kind. I would at least think about it, through it does limit your ability to see other things.

Mendoza was great but surprisingly expensive. We stayed at a B&B called Casa Lilla. It was cute and very friendly, and the owner made all our bookings to do activities. However, we couldn't get him to make any plans more than a day in advance, and it was sometimes hard to know how much something was going to cost until we were already signed up, so we ended up spending much more than we had budgeted. Some of the wineries were charging close to Napa Valley prices, which we had not expected. Just something to look out for. That said, there are a lot of things to do there, especially if you're into food and wine. We did a day trekking in the Andes, a day at a spa (Cavas Wine Lodge--this was the one thing that was surprisingly inexpensive, at least relative to a full spa day in the US), two days seeing wineries, and a day around town. You could definitely work in more outdoor activities from Mendoza if that's your interest.

In Patagonia, we stayed as an eco resort, Bahia Bustamante. I'm fairly sure that at this point you would not be able to get a booking there. However, there are so many wonderful things to see and do in Patagonia that you won't have a problem.

Buenos Aires is a sprawling city. I think we could have spent 1-2 days less than we did and still had fun, though of course there's always more to see and do. Some highlights that you might not see in travel guides: Cafe Tortoni, Arkakao Gelato, Milion (a bar in Barrio Norte in an old bourgeois home, cool atmosphere), Mundo Bizaro (another cool, more modern bar). Of those, Arkakao is really the only non-negotiable. Even if you're lactose intolerant you have to go for the sorbet.

The main place we didn't get to but wish we had was Salta.

Have fun!
posted by pompelmo at 10:53 AM on October 1, 2013

Café Tortoni was one of the most disappointing experiences of my life. Terrible food, pretentious, just awful.

Mendoza is a BEAUTIFUL city in a gorgeous setting and great wine and restaurants. Highlight of our last trip.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:51 PM on October 1, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks so much guys. I'm spending 5 days in BA (maybe with a side trip to Uruguay), 4 in Bariloche, 4 in El Califate/El Chatan, and a couple days in Ushuaia, then on to Antarctica.

Mendoza sounds gorgeous, and so does Salta, but time is limited. These were hard choices to make.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:28 PM on October 8, 2013

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