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The Leader in Small Groups on the Road Less Traveled
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ARGENTINA

Settled by Spain in the 1500s and liberated via revolución in 1816, Argentina boasts a unique blend of European and Latin American influences, as well as a wide range of fantastic landscapes and beautiful, culturally-rich cities. Whether you’re traveling through the warm and fertile pampas (lowlands) of the north, gazing at the snowcapped peaks of the Andes in the west, or navigating the glacial icefields of the south, there’s something in Argentina that you’re almost certain to fall in love with.

At the heart of the Argentinean experience is the passion of its people. From rugged gauchos (cowboys) living off the land in the foothills of the Andes, to urbane porteños (a nickname for the residents of Buenos Aires) practicing the tango—which was invented here—and sipping mate in the laid-back parks and cafes of the nation’s stylish capital, Argentineans take their pleasure very seriously.

Argentina is a culinary heaven, too. Nobody knows their way around a piece of beef like the Argentineans. With their expert cooking techniques (and the help of generous portions of chimichurri), even the cheapest flank steak can satisfy like a prime cut. Vegetarians need not despair—pizza, pasta, ice cream, and wine are points of pride as well.

Most Popular Films

Films featuring Argentina from international, independent filmmakers

Bazaar: Buenos Aires

Experience the charms of Buenos Aires as you’re taken on a tour of the opera house, the cobblestone barrio, and more.

Produced by Lisa Dupenois and Ian Cross

Tierra Del Fuego - Land of Fire

Absorb Chile's wilderness surrounded by the snow-capped mountains and mirrored lakes of Tierra del Fuego.

Produced by Jason Spafford

Patagonia Espiritu Salvaje

Allow the cadence of Patagonia's wildlife and natural landscape to captivate your sense of adventure.

Produced by Lyra Films

Argentina Interactive Map

Click on map markers below to view information about top Argentina experiences

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*Destinations shown on this map are approximations of exact locations

Featured Reading

Immerse yourself in Argentina with this selection of articles, recipes, and more

ARTICLE

Eva Peron contributed to Argentina’s suffrage movement and provided legal and medical assistance—read more of her story.

ARTICLE

In Patagonia, you’ll find glaciers, grasslands, llamas, and penguins—discover what else makes up this diverse destination.

ARTICLE

As if straight out of a playbill, meet the characters who make up Bariloche’s storied past.

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15 DAYS FROM $6,795 • $ 453 / DAY
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17 DAYS FROM $5,195 • $ 306 / DAY
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Chile & Argentina: The Andes to Patagonia

94% Traveler Excellence Rating
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Days in Argentina
8

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Antarctica's White Wilderness

92% Traveler Excellence Rating
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Days in Argentina
5

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Small Ship Adventure

New! Antarctic Circle Expedition: Journey through Antarctica

First Departure 1/22/18

Days in Argentina
5

15 DAYS FROM $6,495 • $ 433 / DAY
Small Ship Adventure

Chile: From the Atacama Desert to the Patagonian Fjords

80% Traveler Excellence Rating
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Days in Argentina
5

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Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.

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Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

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Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

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Moderate

Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

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Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

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Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

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Evita: From the Plains to the President’s House

Read about the life and legacy of Argentina’s most famous first lady

Julia Hudson, for O.A.T.

Memories of the rabble-rousing cries and steely ambition of Argentina’s most storied public figure remain as vibrant today as ever—Eva Peron, affectionately known as “Evita,” led an unapologetic life devoted to Argentina’s women and working poor. Her work led to suffrage, labor unions, and medical improvements, and a public voice that many had never before known.

Early life

Maria Eva Duarte was born in 1919 to a poor family in Los Toldos, a small city in the Argentine plains. The death of her father exacerbated their poverty; her siblings all had to work supporting the family, while her mother cooked, sewed, and took on tenants. Eva, however, dreamed of a sparkling life in the theater, and so took off for Buenos Aires when she was only 15 years old.

Big city life agreed with her, and after a few years of acting, modeling, and earning enough money to get by, she met Colonel Juan Peron at a fundraiser in 1944. It was a meeting that today seems almost destined—the firecracker from las pampas (the plains) who had worked up the ladder to make a name for herself, and the military man who supported women’s advancement. In fact, just a few months after meeting Eva, Juan used his role as Secretary of Labour to found the Women’s Division of Work and Assistance, which granted equal rights in the workplace to women as to men.

Rise to power

Eva and Juan were married in 1945; in 1946, Juan was elected to the presidency, with his wife by his side. This was a first for Argentinean politics, because women did not usually campaign with their husbands or partake much in political life; however, the gregarious and well-spoken Eva did much for her causes. The Fundacion Eva Peron founded one of the major nursing schools of the time, the Escuela de Enfermeria, making nursing a viable, educated profession for women.

It seems, in many ways, the ambitions of the Perons were reflective of those of Argentina as a whole. The exploited labor class, or “shirtless ones” (los descamisados) were beginning to agitate for better treatment under the law; the iconic images of beloved Eva crying out for equality from the presidential balcony came from the many formal addresses she gave on the subject. Furthermore, Eva followed through, using her influence to deliver not only women’s suffrage in 1947, but also increased minimum wage and government housing for low-income workers.

The political pull of the Perons coalesced into a party, Peronism. Comprised of three “flags,” or pillars—social justice, economic independence, and political sovereignty—and neither capitalist nor communist, it wanted the government to liaise between management and workers. Some took issue with its populism (and indeed the lavish lifestyle of the first couple), as well as the harsh methods employed by the party. Advocating immediate action and to “answer violence with violence,” Eva and the Peronists posed a threat to social stability.

Cementing a legacy

Eva wanted women to come together under one banner to advocate, so after the passing of women’s suffrage she organized a new branch, the Peronista Women’s Party (Partido Peronista Feminino, or PPF). Elected as its leader, she immediately began to build neighborhood centers, or units (unidades basicas) to provide local social services, legal and medical assistance, and public health work.

The presence of the PPF was quickly felt. The party helped twice as many women gain admittance to university as before, and in the elections of 1951, the first election where women could run, 24 members of the party were elected to the lower house of Argentina’s congress.

When Eva passed away of uterine cancer in 1952, many Argentines openly wept and mourned the loss of their vibrant and trailblazing leader. However, some contend that Argentina was not improved during her life; rather, the government’s muffling of student activism and tight control of opposition parties hindered the movement toward democracy. As for Juan Peron, he was reelected twice more before a military coup banned the party and sent him into exile.

All political legacies are complicated; all leave frustrated opponents behind. What Eva Peron asserted was not that she or any of the people she represented were perfect, but that they should be visible. And with her echoing voice, pumping fists, and tireless enthusiasm for the prospects of Argentina’s poor and downtrodden, “Evita” provides that visibility to this day.

Read about the life and legacy of Argentina’s most famous first lady

Landscapes and Wildlife of Patagonia

South America’s natural wonderland

for O.A.T.

On the pampas (grassy plains) beneath the mountains, a distinctive array of wildlife roams Patagonia’s vast wilderness.

A good place to begin exploring Patagonia is El Calafate, Argentina, which is named for the calafate bush that produces a tasty local berry. This frontier town is the gateway to Los Glacieres National Park—the home of Argentina’s largest glacier, Perito Moreno. The town embraces a group of shallow lagoons on the south side of Lago Argentino, where hundreds of pink flamingoes congregate with black-necked swans, various duck species, and the occasional cara-cara, and where horses lazily graze.

But the town’s principal attraction is its proximity to the truly monumental splendor of the Perito Moreno Glacier. Not far from town, a catwalk in the national park leads you to a narrow inlet directly across from the glacier’s base, and then some 600 steps—mercifully punctuated by flat stretches and several lookout points—bring you up along its face.

Here you might wait to catch a glimpse of calving, the process whereby glaciers shed large chunks of ice. The glacier often makes scraping and popping sounds just before calving, and when a large block splits off, the noise is as loud as a thunderclap, and the impact sends a wave a quarter mile across the lake at its base. The 200-foot face of the glacier is pockmarked by blue crevices, ranging in color from a faint aqua to a rich, deep cobalt.

Torres del Paine National Park

Across the border in Chilean Patagonia lie more remarkable landscapes. The rugged peaks of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park are visible as you approach them from 50 miles away: Las Torres (the Towers), Los Cuernos (the Horns), and La Fortaleza (The Fortress). They loom in an ominous cluster, with their summits often shrouded in dark angry tumults of cloud. On the pampas (grassy plains) beneath the mountains, a distinctive array of wildlife roams Patagonia’s vast wilderness.

Most evident are guanacos, the southernmost member of the Andean camelid family that includes llamas and alpacas. It is particularly common to see guanacos in Chile, where they are not hunted. Among other animals, red and grey foxes can be seen now and again, stalking or pouncing. Condors soar above, and austral parakeets flit about in patches of forest. Groups of rhea (a flightless bird similar to the ostrich, locally called ñandú) sometimes streak across the plains.

The Chilean fjords

If you look at a detailed map of Chile, you’ll see that its lower third consists of an archipelago encompassing the Strait of Magellan, part of the large island of Tierra del Fuego, and the group of islands where Cape Horn is located. Tucked into this geographic jigsaw puzzle are numerous islands and many remote, mountain-walled inlets, many with glaciers descending to the sea from the mountainous interior.

Magellanic penguins frequent this vast archipelago, notably on Tucker Islet, where they nest in a colony of thousands of birds between October and March. Imperial and rock cormorants are among many other seabirds that live here.

Marine mammals also inhabit these rugged seascapes, from sea lions hauling out on pristine shores to dusky dolphins that sometimes follow passenger ships. And you might see grey fur seals leaping out of the water near Cape Horn, or spot whales passing by during their seasonal migrations. 

South America’s natural wonderland

The Dramatic Characters of Bariloche

Take a look behind the landscapes to learn about the personalities that gave Bariloche its colorful character

by David Valdes Greenwood, for O.A.T.

Argentina’s beloved outdoor playground, San Carlos de Bariloche, is known for the beauty of its mountains and lakes. But for a richer understanding of the city, it’s worth taking a cue from the word “Bariloche,” a version of the indigenous term Vuriloche, which literally means “the people behind.” To fully appreciate the city, it helps to meet some of the most fascinating “people behind” its colorful 117-year history.

Sweet beginnings

The story begins simply enough: with one determined character. Carlos Wiederhold, a German immigrant living in Chile, wanted to live in the Andes, and settled on the current site of Bariloche in 1895. He opened a general store named not for its contents but himself: La Alemena (the German). This small wooden outpost, which sold everything from sundries to penny candy, soon attracted his fellow Germans and Austrians, as well as a few Italians and Slovenians. With this mix as its founding population, perhaps it’s no surprise that the city modeled much of its architecture after Europe, designing itself to look like a fairy-tale village.

But Weiderhold was not the only European named Carlos to define the city. In 1928, Swiss candymaker Carlos Tribelhorn (often misspelled as Triberholn) opened a chocolate shop in the city center. The handmade confections combined traditional Swiss chocolate-making skills with the use of regional fruit. The unassuming white-stone shop, a wooden balcony its only flourish, drew crowds of eager locals, and soon other master chocolatiers opened storefronts. To this day, Bariloche is synonymous with chocolate for many Argentines.

The dark side

Not everyone came to Bariloche with aims of contributing to local life. One notorious duo famously used Bariloche as a way station on their criminal exploits. In the 1880s. Robert Parker and Harry Longabaugh, better known as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, fled to Argentina in hopes of ditching the well-known Pinkerton Detective Agency, which had been pursuing the bank robbers since their Wild Bunch days. After several quiet years ranching in their adopted country, the pair returned to their bank-robbing ways, which revealed their location to Pinkerton detectives, who had never stopped trailing them.

With their cover blown, the duo set off for Bariloche, traversing Lake Nahuel Huapi safely into Chile. But Argentina still beckoned them, and when the heat died down, they returned. This time, their idyll was shorter: Within the year, the pair robbed yet another bank, and once again, Bariloche was their escape hatch. They hiked from the outskirts of the city into the mountains, leaving the frustrated Pinkerton detectives in their wake. The robbers never made it back to Bariloche, though historians still debate whether they died in a Bolivian shootout or retired to life as ranchers elsewhere.

The same remoteness that made the city so attractive to the famous outlaws made it an ideal haven for criminals who occupied a much darker place in history a half-century later. After World War II, Argentina became a destination for Nazis trying to escape prosecution. While easy-to-recognize figures like Adolph Eichmann passed through Bariloche briefly, others were able to fly under the radar and settle in. One SS captain, for instance, lived here 50 years—eventually sitting on the board of a local school—before his discovery and arrest. Bariloche’s most notorious author, Abel Basti, even claims that Hitler and mistress Eva Braun did not die in Germany, but in fact lived out the rest of their lives here. Though such a claim is easily disputed, it seems fitting that Bariloche's dramatic landscapes might give rise to such wild speculations.

Visions of grandeur

Wild ideas played a central role in a scheme intended to put Argentina on the scientific map. In 1948. President Juan Peron chose Bariloche’s Huemul Island to be the location of the world’s first fusion reactor. The top-secret project cost $300 million—and failed. The official reason for the flop was that the advanced technology needed was simply not available in such a remote locale at that time. The reason given by most locals was that Ronald Richter, the plant overseer, was mentally unhinged. With his wild mop of hair and a penchant for wearing spy-style raincoats at all times, the man who claimed he could deliver nuclear energy in milk bottles was taken seriously by few aside from Peron. The president eventually admitted his error, shutting down the project in embarrassment, while leaving behind an empty complex, the remnants of which can still be visited today.

A man who had no such problem finishing what he started was Alejandro Bustillo, whose architecture anchors the city. One of the nation’s most acclaimed painters and architects, Bustillo designed the luxury Llao Llao Hotel, a grand all-wood structure—which burnt to the ground nearly as soon as it was finished. Undeterred, he redesigned the hotel to mimic its original glory but in concrete and stone, and the sweeping, red-roofed result became a town icon. (It remains a member of The Leading Hotels of the World consortium.) Among his other edifices here, the Cathedral of San Carlos de Bariloche is most striking, a castle-like Neo-Gothic church that furthers the impression of a European idyll.

Take a look behind the landscapes to learn about the personalities that gave Bariloche its colorful character

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