Argentina is a country of astonishing contrasts, epic landscapes and a fiery culture defined by stirring music, mouthwatering food and world class wines. There is an almost cinematic quality to life here: passions run high as two tango dancers strut, cheek to cheek; a lone gaucho gallops across endless grasslands; a penguin ruffles its feathers, steeling itself before launching into the icy waters swirling below...
The first port of call on most tour itineraries is Buenos Aires, a city of European elegance and Latin passion where Juan and Eva Perón once ruled the roost. The cosmopolitan capital is a far cry from the ranches of Argentina’s hinterland, a place where weather-beaten gauchos herd cattle across the pampas and raise the beef for which this country is famed. Wine is big business too, so make sure you spend some time sampling the marvellous Malbecs of the Mendoza region. Argentina goes big on natural wonders, from the incomparable Iguazú Falls to the jagged peaks of Patagonia, and it’s also the jumping off point for voyages to Antarctica; the southernmost towns of Tierra del Fuego have a real ‘end of the road’ feel.
- The spectacular Iguazú Falls straddle the border between Argentina and Brazil, a simply awe-inspiring sight where hundreds of waterfalls cascade 200 feet onto the rocks below.
- Buenos Aires is South America’s most electrifying capital, a sophisticated and seductive city where European old world elegance rubs up against fiery Latin passion.
- Tierra del Fuego is where South America crumbles into the chilly waters of the Southern Ocean, a weather-beaten archipelago that’s home to penguins, seals and humpback whales.
- Argentina produces some truly world class wines, and the Mendoza region, nestled in the Andean foothills, is famous for its Malbec.
- Head out into Argentina’s cowboy country and experience life on a working ranch, where you’ll be able to meet the hardy gauchos and explore beautifully wild scenery on horseback.
- Argentina is famous for its beef, so get ready to tuck into the finest steaks you’ve ever tasted, drizzled with flavoursome chimichurri sauce.
- The fast-moving Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most spectacular sights in Patagonia, advancing by up to two metres a day and calving vast icebergs in the process.
- Córdoba is Argentina’s youthful second city, where a large student population packs into buzzing restaurants and bars. The historic centre is compact but contains some lovely old colonial buildings, and there are a host of excellent art galleries.
- Tango is the sultry dance most associated with Argentina, and even if you don’t want to strut your stuff, rose between teeth, you should still make sure you see the pros in action at a show or a street performance.
- Bariloche is the jumping off point for Argentina’s stunning Lake District. In winter the mountains are carpeted in snow, making this a popular winter sports destination, while the summer months are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and trout fishing.