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Argentina travel report...
Argentina main menu - call us on 0845 003 2211 or 01543 258631

Please read this account of one persons experience traveling Argentina with Robert Broad Travel

2 Nights Buenos Aires - 1 Night San Antonio de Areco (Pampas Region) - 2 Nights Puerto Iguazu  -2 Nights Yacutinga Wildlife & Nature Reserve

Day 1 - Sat 4th June

Car Parking - I pre-booked and paid for my car parking at "Flightpath" on Gatwick Airport's North Terminal. Upon arrival find yourself a space - which wasn't too difficult as the car park is huge - make a note of your parking bay number to make it easier to locate your car upon your return then hop on the transfer bus to the terminal! Transfers only take 5 mins and operate very frequently from a number of bus stops located all over the car park so no worries for travelers like me who struggle to lift their luggage let alone drag/pull/kick it even the shortest distance!

Flights -  We boarded our Aerolineas Argentinas flight that had ample legroom in economy class, it was very comfortable and the 11-hour flight passed quite quickly.  Headphones were provided for music channels and the four films that were screened on random overhead monitors.

Buenos Aires - Upon arrival we were met by "Raquel" on behalf of  "Eurotur" our ground handlers and transferred to the Four Seasons Hotel. Our transfer took us along 9 de Julio Avenue (named after their Independence Day) the 2nd widest road in the world (after Tianamen Square), over 400metres wide!  There were lanes and lanes of traffic even at our arrival time of midnight, however this is when everything in Buenos Aires comes alive. Restaurants only get busy after 10pm (including McDonald's), bars are empty until 1am and nightclubs don't even open until 3am! Even wedding ceremony's in the city are performed after 8pm in the evening and last a full 12 hours including the reception!  It's definitely a party city!

Getting around is easy, 24hour bus tickets only cost 80cents and take you all over the city.  There are also lots of registered taxi firms, just flag one down. Journeys are cheap but remember to agree your price first and only use the marked cars.

Generally the city is quite safe although as with any busy, unfamiliar areas beware of pickpocket's. Most of our party went out for a stroll around the Hotel vicinity when we arrived at 1am and felt completely at ease.

Four Seasons Hotel - Our base for the next 2 nights.  A beautiful Hotel in a good location, you can reach the main shopping areas of the city by foot taking around 20minutes.  The pleasant walk takes you past all the main sights on 9 de Julio Avenue including the Obelisk, French Embassy and the theatre.

The Hotel lobby is magnificent and welcomes you into the large, ornate, comfortable piano bar area where the Viennese coffee with ice cream must be sampled - perhaps just the one though as it costs just under £4!

The Four Seasons staff are attentive and efficient and in general the Hotel really did live up to my pleasing first impressions.The bedrooms are large and provide every modern amenity, including a welcome tray with wine, fruit, and flowers.

Day 2 - Sun 5th June - Breakfast was buffet style and every international guest was catered for, although eggs seemed to be mandatory for us - or could they tell we were British?

Site inspection  - The Four Seasons Hotel has a separate building called "La Mansion" which houses 7 very grand suites with periodic décor, high ceilings, chandeliers, bright colours and lots of gold!  Madonna, Robbie Williams, even royalty have stayed here previously!

The health club in the main building is amazing.   The gym is fully equipped with state of the art scary looking keep fit devices.  The spa is a maze of different rooms guarded by a wooden statuette of Mother Nature. The outdoor heated pool looks over La Mansion in a beautiful garden setting.  The latter 2 providing a truly relaxing, tranquil atmosphere in contrast to the bustling streets below.

Tour - This morning's tour took us on a sightseeing trip of the city starting at Plaza de Mayo Square.  The square is home to the old City Hall, the Pyramid of May (Argentina's first National monument), The Pink House (the government house) and the Cathedral.  The buildings are well kept and are of colonial style design.  This tour is best taken with a guide who will explain the history and purpose of the various buildings.

Next stop;  "La Boca" a tiny village made up of very bright and colourful corrugated tin and timber houses overlooking a narrow street displaying and selling fabulous pieces of artwork.  As you reach the open square there are a few market stalls and in contrast one or two upmarket souvenir shops sheltered by balconies occupied by quirky life size models of important Argentinean figures such as Eva Peron and yes, Maradonna too! (Not just his famous hand)!

Tango music with street dancers and small carnival groups who beat their drums whilst singing adds to the atmosphere of the town, there is even a working railway line passing alongside the square.

Onward to; "San Telmo" a fairly poor area but very charismatic with its cobbled streets and bustling fair which takes place every Sunday.  The market, open from the early hours until 3pm is an absolute must for any visitor.  San Telmo Square is surrounded by bars, tango clubs and restaurants and comes alive on a Sunday to the sounds of bartering chatter and live music - you could almost be in Paris when you hear the accordion. Even small children play music in the side streets, watched over by the many mime acts, who will be happy to pose for photos in exchange for a few pesos!  Gypsies wander the streets around this area begging and selling, however they are not a particular nuisance and will let you pass by without any hassle.

The San Telmo Fair is a flea market in its own rite with various bric-a-bracs for sale including lots of old fashioned dial telephones and gramophones, books, antiques, shawls and jewellery.  A bargain fanciers delight and in such a unique setting.

From here we ventured on to The Recoleta Cemetary located in a very rich part of town which became very apparent from the architecture and famous names represented within - including Eva Peron!

During the afternoon we took a walk along Florida Street - the main shopping strip - obviously I couldn't resist!  Leather goods and CD's were extremely cheap and the walk took us for miles!

You would need to allow a couple of hours for the first part of today's tour and spend most of your time at the market.  Half a day would be sufficient to experience all those areas mentioned above, but don’t forget to allow a few extra hours to spend (literally spend) on Florida Street!

EL Querandi - Dinner & Tango show - El Querandi is located toward the southern part of the city in a rather run down area, however what looks rough on the outside is actually quite smart and attractive inside. A delicious 3-course meal is served with beverages before guests are invited to sit back and enjoy their traditional tango show complete with live music.  The show lasts for approximately two hours and involves many styles of the tango and twice as many costume changes, there are also a couple of operatic singers to add a little variety.

(No drinks are served during the performance and all 3 courses for dinner are ordered at the same time  - no orders are taken after 9pm) Tip; Order the creamy custard for dessert with a spoonful of dulche de leche!  You will not be disappointed! The evening costs approximately £30 per person. An enjoyable, cultural evening for those who enjoy music & dancing.

 Day 3 - Mon 6th June

En route to the Pampas region for our next adventure we stopped off at the Gaucho museum.  This helped to break up the journey as it was a long 4-hour drive to San Antonio de Areco.

The museum isn't really worth a special journey as it is in the middle of nowhere and none of the items or documents on display mean anything unless you can read Spanish, the staff have extremely sketchy English and generally leave you to wander around at your own leisure.  You should only allow 30mins for the visit as the museum is made up of just 2 small rooms within an annexe block a short walk away from the reception.

El Rosario de Areco Estancia - Unsure of the official definition of 'estancia' I was very intrigued and very keen to arrive to cure my curiosities. El Rosario can be easily missed from the road and is set in acres of plains and fields in Argentina's Pampas Region and is therefore best described as a working ranch.

It is family run and guests are truly made to feel at home.  We were welcomed into the main building to the unusual aroma of an indoor barbecue!  The huge open fire in the lounge steadily cooked the various meats, which were served over a 3-hour, relaxing, lazy lunch.  It was just like a cosy, family gathering on a Sunday afternoon, plenty of conversation, plenty of 'vino tinto' (or white wine if you prefer) and of course, the roast dinner.  Never have I tasted such mouth-watering flavoursome meats. Beef, however is the cuisine of Argentina!

The Estancia has it's own winery where you can sample the very best of Argentinean wines. (I recommend the Mendozan Malbec!)

Weather permitting there is the option to horse ride or take horse and carriage rides around the estate.  There are also polo ponies at the Estancia which are bred and trained by the family. (A polo-week is held here once a year).  Otherwise you may take a dip in the swimming pool or there's always the good old-fashioned Spanish siesta which after all the food and wine isn't such a bad idea!  You have to prepare for afternoon tea somehow!

The small bedrooms are located in a separate converted barn. (A torch is useful for trips back from the main building late at night).  The en-suite rooms are basic yet comfortable and heating is supplied.

Occasionally evening entertainment is provided which consists of the Pampas Region's traditional dance and costume with accordion and violin accompaniment (served over dinner naturally)!

Day 4 - Tue 7th June - Internal Flight

Buenos Aires Airport's Domestic Terminal is spotlessly clean, has huge seating areas adjacent to the tarmac, quiet restaurants and a number of shops selling a wide variety of merchandise.

We took the Aerolineas Argentinas flight from Buenos Aires to Iguazu which takes approximately 1 hour, 45minutes.  I would suggest pre-booking the internal flights as they are always full to capacity.

Iguazu Airport is very small with only a few souvenir shops and limited seating areas.

Iguazu Grand Hotel - A member of the small, leading, luxury hotels of the world accolade although not quite as grand as the Four Seasons in my opinion.

Bedrooms are huge with 2 double beds, a sitting area and decent size bathroom (shower only).  The balconies are not furnished but have lovely views of the beautifully kept gardens surrounding the huge outdoor pool areas where staff are always nearby to serve drinks, provide fresh towels as needed and even to move your sun-bed for you as the sun changes position!

The spa is definitely worth a visit but for one treatment in particular…….Chocotherapy!

(£40.00 for 2 hours but not edible unfortunately)!

The breakfast room is huge, the service is impeccable and the choice of food is never-ending - I didn't realise breakfast could be so varied and interesting, I would even go as far to saying it would make it worth getting out of bed that extra half hour earlier!

The Hotel is located only 200 yards from the Brazilian border and is therefore ideal for a visit to both the Argentinean and Brazilian sides of the Iguazu Falls located approximately 18km away.  Crossing the border isn't a problem for tourists wishing to visit the waterfalls. (The authorities will even stamp your passport for you should you require a page for Brazil!)

Part of the Hotel's popularity is the adjoining Iguazu Casino, frequented mostly by Brazilians.  There is also a cabaret lounge, tastefully decorated and quite exclusive.

Brazilian Falls  - From the start point you can see the range of steady, quiet waterfalls in the distance, pouring gently into the lake below.  As you walk along the windy narrow path toward the highlight, "Devils throat" you see butterflies everywhere and there's even some cheeky racoon type creatures keen to nose around your feet! The walk taken at a leisurely pace and allowing for photo opportunities (which there are plenty of - 26 pictures I counted on my camera) takes about and hour and isn't at all strenuous as it is all on a slight decline with a few steps at the viewing points.

As you near "Devils Throat" you can hear the thunderous sound of the water as the waterfalls become larger and more compact against the spectacular backdrop scenery.  The main boardwalk takes you over the water to get the best view of the Falls as possible. Rainbows arc over in every direction and you feel the cold spray as the water crashes down with true force to near where you are standing beneath them.

An amazing phenomenon!

Rafain - Brazil - This venue showcases the individual South American countries through music, dancing and costume.  There is a 3-course buffet meal and a bar available.  This is not something I would especially suggest for an insight into Latin American culture, it is more the 'Eurovision Contest' equivalent with a terrible compere,  (bring on Terry Wogan!) a tacky theme, an audience of many different nationalities and the food is only just satisfactory. Your time would be better spent at one of the few market stalls outside.

Day 5 - Wed 8th June - Argentinean Falls

Located within Iguazu National Park I was looking forward to making my comparisons with Brazil.  We took the open air train that operates every 15 minutes to "Garganta station" where we disembark for our 10 minute trek along the meandering paths surrounded by ferns, plants, butterflies and rather unfriendly mosquito's. From here there is a walkway over the calm waters toward "Devils Throat Balcony".  The walk is best taken slowly (allow 15-20 minutes) not only to prepare you for the breathtaking sight that awaits but also to take in the surrounding views of the calm, peaceful swamp areas and pools that are framed by the lush greenery of the forest backdrop.  (There are even baby alligators if you look closely!)

The calm before the storm, "Devils Throat Balcony" is a fierce, rushing, powerful series of waterfalls, crashing into one another as they violently spill over into the vast pool below.  The spray will soak you through and the sound is deafening, it is absolutely out of this world!

This part of the Falls is best seen no later than 10.30am before the coach parties arrive in order to avoid overcrowding along the piers and so that you can comfortably walk at your own pace

You return to the station following the same pathways to take the same train to Cataratas Station to witness the spectacular 275 waterfalls located throughout the National Park.  Once again there are a series of well kept, flat, pathways amid the beautiful flora and fauna providing outstanding views of the Waterfalls from every angle.

After a short walk through the forest area you reach the Iguazu River. From here, you can take a zodiac boat (speedboat for 20 people) for a 30 minute navigation of the river area upstream and along the rapids followed by a thrilling ride under the spray of the San Martin and Bozzetti waterfalls!  (Waterproofs are a necessity but won't keep you dry!)

Back at the visitor centre there are plenty of pleasant outdoor areas to dry out.  There are also some nice gift shops and a lovely buffet restaurant that offers a fantastic choice of barbecued meats and a series of delicious desserts with huge helpings of their famous dulche de leche! (Toffee/caramel sauce)

I would suggest setting aside a whole day for the Argentinean Falls, they are truly spectacular and there are so much more to investigate than in Brazil.

Tip; make sure you have lots of camera film and a waterproof or change of clothes!

Entrance to the National Park costs $15 USD

Day 6 - Thu 9th June - Before embarking on our two-hour drive into the jungle for our final 2 nights, we were given the option to participate in some of the activities that can be arranged in the National Park.  These include tree climbing, rope pulleys through and above the trees and to my sheer horror, abseiling down waterfalls!   All the equipment is provided and it is quite an experience but not for the fainthearted - the tree alone is incredibly high!

 

The transportation for our transfer to Yacutinga was also an experience - an old Mercedes 'army' truck complete with no sides and a canopy overhead.  Be prepared for an extremely uncomfortable, bumpy couple of hours.  The scenery however does take your mind off the road occasionally.  We drove through a poor village where the local children wave as you pass a beautiful lake and through the densest of jungle. Part of the journey can be taken by boat however this is weather permitting.

Yacutinga Wildlife & Nature Reserve - The Yacutinga Lodge is located within the Iguazu National Park in the heart of the Argentinean Rainforest.  It represents closeness with nature and is family run for that more personal ambience.

Accommodation is split into basic suites located within the jungle.  The entrance has a sitting area comprising of a 'Fred Flinstone' style wooden table and bench with lantern for viewing wildlife outside your door. Hummingbirds are regular visitors.  Inside is deceptively spacious and in the corner is a large chimenea with stove providing a homely comforting warmth and the cosy sound of wood crackling inside as it burns.  There is an open shower, basin and private WC.  Hot water is available 24 hours a day however electricity is only available between 6.30-7.30am and 6pm-11pm.  Torches and candles are lit at sunset though I would highly recommend taking your own torch.  When darkness falls it is completely black!

Meals are served in the dining area above the reception.  The food presentation for each course has more flair than the finest a la carte restaurant and the meals are fantastic.

There is an outdoor, covered, communal area outside reception with wooden benches and tables and a huge open fireplace providing a really cosy gathering place to meet and chat as the sun sets.  The nearby waterfall and pool provide a calming, relaxing atmosphere with the only sounds to be heard is that of the small jungle creatures and birds.      

What is so refreshing is that the hosts and their staff are all so passionate about their reserve and will often escort you on jungle treks and nature walks to explain the environmental and Eco-friendly concepts they so willingly and lovingly take an interest in.  They are immensely knowledgeable and extremely interesting.

Day 7 - Friday 10th June - Jungle - There are various jungle trails from Yacutinga Lodge.  Each trail has a signpost with its name, distance and estimated duration for exploring.  It is best to go with a guide from Yacutinga as they are experts at pointing out wildlife which could so easily be missed and they have so much knowledge to pass on concerning all areas of the rainforest. We saw many birds, wild pigs, armies of ants, lots of butterflies and even the Argentinean equivalent of the wombat and racoon!

Along one of the trails is a nursery where you can plant your own tree, you are even awarded a certificate to mark the occasion.

Should you fancy a break from walking, you can opt to give your arms a work out instead on a canoe ride along the San Francisco River.  It is relatively calm and the riverside scenery is amazing from the open lake right through the narrow, swamp style rivers.

There is also a canopy walk (not too high) above the forest at Yacutinga leading to a lovely platform amongst the trees with sitting area for complete peace and quiet.

 The best trek to do is the night walk, in complete darkness with just the guide's torch to show the way.  Everything is so different at night and the noises all become so much louder and unfamiliar (or is that me being scared of the dark?).   The starry, night sky above is beautiful, which is a very good tip; look all around, not just at where you feet are walking, you could easily miss some special sights.

Entertainment

Occasionally, some of the children from the local village come to Yacutinga at dusk to sing their native songs by candlelight around the fireplace.  They too are just as passionate and love to dance along and clap to the guitar accompaniment.

"The Insect Show" is a very clever idea, a white wall with ultra violet light attracting a number of different insects which can be closer inspected with the magnifying glass provided under the lights.  A very peculiar concept but very effective!

I really enjoyed my visit to Argentina and am so pleased my itinerary took me to such different areas allowing me to experience the various styles of accommodation and to explore the diverse features each location has to offer.

I loved the tranquillity of the Estancia and the natural, Eco-friendly concept of the Yacutinga Lodge in contrast to the two grand hotels.

The Iguazu Waterfalls are breathtaking and were definitely the highlight of the trip - what a privilege to be able to view the Falls from both sides of the border!

Argentina supersedes my original naïve expectations of tango, football and rainforest - it has so much more to offer any traveller no matter what their criteria, interest or passion.

City, Jungle, Tango, Wildlife, Waterfalls, Plains, Gaucho's, outstanding cuisine and the infamous dulche de leche, Argentina has it all!

Call us on 0845 003 2211 or 01543 258631 to check availability and book your holiday to Argentina.

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