10 UNIQUE EXPERIENCES YOU CAN ONLY LIVE IN ARGENTINA

 

Argentina is a country of contrasts. Extending 5121 kilometres long from La Quiaca to Ushuaia, it boasts a huge variety of geography and climates, and is the homeland of many natural wonders of unparalleled beauty (watch this video).

But contradiction in not only evident in its nature, it’s also part of its people’s character: while culture, creativity and humor are the three characteristics that stand out of Argentines’ personality in the eyes of foreigners, an overwhelming majority mentions arrogance as their worst trait… True, stereotypes are not good, but as an Argentinian living abroad for many years I would say that this description is quite accurate 😉

Undoubtedly though, people in Argentina are passionate and love excesses. No wonder why some fascinating -and some crazy things happen only in here…

In this post you will find a list of the top 10 things you can experience in Argentina – and nowhere else…

1) Cross the world’s widest avenue

Argentina unique experiences 9 de julio obelisco

When in Buenos Aires, it is for sure that you won’t miss Avenida 9 de Julio. With its 140 meters (459 ft) width, it’s considered the widest avenue in the world (although some controversy exists). It has seven lanes in each direction and is flanked on either side by parallel streets of two lanes each. This avenue is located in the heart of Buenos Aires, and besides its impressive width -regarded as an urban world wonder–  you can admire the emblematic obelisco standing as the most iconic symbol of the city…

2) Dance tango at an authentic milonga

Argentina unique experience milongaTango has become a global phenomenon. With its elegance, sensuality and passion, it has even featured in many films… Thus, it is very likely that you have already seen, or danced tango. But only in Buenos Aires you can get the real thing. Choose among Buenos Aires’ best milongas (the places where tango is danced), show off your dance skills, and have the time of your life!

3) Take a ferry across the world’s widest river – and end up in Uruguay

Argentina unique experience Rio de la Plata

The Rio de la Plata (River Plate) widens at its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean to about 220 kilometres (140 miles), making it the widest river in the world. This particular river separates -or rather unites- Argentina and Uruguay, not only geographically, but also culturally speaking… While in Buenos Aires, take a ferry across the Rio de la Plata and admire Uruguay’s atmospheric, UNESCO world heritage town of Colonia del Sacramento. Alternatively, you can visit charming Montevideo or chic Punta del Este.

4) Eat the best asado of your life

Argentina unique experience Asado a la estacaWe may argue whether Argentina has the world’s best meat -I may be biased on this one- but there is no doubt the eating an asado in Argentina will be an unforgettable experience.  To prepare asado, beef and/or other meats are cooked on a grill called parrilla, or otherwise on open fire, that is asado a la estaca. For Argentinians, though, asado is not only meat, but also the social event that comes with it. Without any doubt, asado is part of the Argentine national identity, a sort of art or ritual…

Unless you are vegetarian, this is definitively a not-to-be-missed while in Argentina. For an even bolder experience, you may try an asado criollo at an estancia (ranch), where you can also get a taste of the gaucho culture.

5) Visit the world’s most beautiful waterfalls – and fly over them

Argentina unique experience Iguazu falls

It is said that when USA first lady Eleanor Roosevelt saw Iguazu Falls, she exclaimed: “Poor Niagara”. It is indeed not easy to find words to define this nature’s miracle; no photo or video can capture their almightiness: the feelings, the sound, the smells are indescribable… These monumental falls are located in the border between Argentina and Brazil, in the middle of a dense jungle, and to best explore them you must visit both countries… They consist of 275 waterfalls, the “star” of which is La garganta del diablo (“the Devil’s throat”; you will understand the name when you see it). Fair enough, Iguazu falls are deemed “unlike any other waterfall on earth“, and were chosen as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

If you like extreme experiences you may fly with helicopter over them or take an adventure tour.

6) Drink Argentinean Malbec at one of the world’s trendiest wine regions

Argentina unique experiences Bodega Catena ZapataMalbec is Argentina’s flagship wine, and the country has the largest Malbec acreage in the world. Especially if you are a wine lover, you can’t leave from Argentina without having a glass of Malbec in Mendoza, the largest wine-producing area of Argentina. Framed by the imposing Andes Mountains, boasting an exceptional climate -with over 300 days of sun a year- Mendoza is a perfect escape, deservedly regarded as one of the world’s top wine destinations. Besides wine-tasting in one of the 120 wineries, you can enjoy other activities such as horseback riding or hiking expeditionsAs if that wasn’t enough, the great food and the outstanding wine hotels will add up for a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

7) Climb the tallest mountain of the Southern & Western hemisphere

Argentina experiences Aconcagua hiking

If you are seeking challenge at high altitude surrounded by a spectacular setting, climbing Mount Aconcagua is for you. Located in the Andes Mountain range, near the border with Chile, Mount Aconcagua is the highest summit in both the Western and Southern Hemisphere at 6962 meters (22,841 ft).

Aconcagua is the highest non-technical mountain in the world -no climbing gear is required when ascending by the northern, so-called “normal” route. Although considered and “easy climb” it should not be underestimated. It’s not a good idea to attempt it alone; your best bet is to join an organized climbing expedition and enjoy an unforgettable experience.

8) Admire the Earth’s most stunning glacier – and hike on it

Argentina unique experiences Perito Moreno

Arguably the world’s most amazing glacier, Glaciar Perito Moreno is the highlight of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, located 80 km (50 mi) from the town of El Calafate.

Due to its accessibility, this impressive ice field, 30km (19 mi) long, 5km wide and 60m high is one of the world’s most visited glaciers. But what makes it truly exceptional is its constant advance, up to 2m per day, which causes frequent glacier breakage: if you are lucky enough, you will witness huge ice chunks detaching from the glacier and plummeting into Lake Argentino.

Just standing there and watching Perito Moreno from one of the three viewing areas on land is a breathtaking spectacle, but if you want a more adventurous experience, you can take a boat ride on Lake Argentino, fly over the National Park, or even hike across the glacier.

9) Drive along the southern stretch of the world’s longest road

Argentina unique experience Panamericana

If you love road trips, driving along La Panamericana (Pan-American Highway), the world’s longest road, should be definitely in your bucket list. “The mother of all roads”-as is usually called- extends 48,000 kilometres (30,000 miles), starting from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, traversing all North, Central and South America before reaching the bottom of the planet at Ushuaia (see below).

But if you still feel like driving, there is another road trip that you shouldn’t miss in Argentina: the legendary Ruta 40, running in the west along the Andes Mountains, stretching from La Quiaca in the North to Rio Gallegos in the south. This iconic road passes through places of mind-blowing natural beauty, from salt flats and desserts in the north to lakes and glaciers in the south.

10) Travel to “the end of the world” – and embark to Antarctica

Ushuaia_(js)

In Argentina’s southern end, on the southern coast of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, lies Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city. While reaching this picturesque city and exploring the beautiful surroundings is exciting enough, the latest years an increasing number of travellers arrive to Ushuaia as a stopover to one of the globe’s most remote destinations: Antarctica.

 

Want to visit Argentina? Read more here and here.

 

Photo Credits

Photo Gallery: Futbol clarin.com; Tango dancers José María Pérez Nuñez Flickr.com; Tren de las nubes: Viajá por tu País Flickr.com; Cerro de los 7 colores: Klaus Balzano Flickr.com; Whale: theargentinaspecialists; San Antonio de Areco: Alberto Gonzalez Flickr.com; Esteros del Ibera: woman2womenblog.com; Salinas Grandes: mariusz kluzniak Flickr.com

1) Hubofbest.com; 2) youtube.com; 3) Wikimedia commons; 4) Nico Aguilera Flickr.com; 5) iguazuargentina.com; 6) saperedivino.it; 7) alpineascents.com; 8) photos4travel.com; 9) ripioturismo.com; 10)  Wikimedia commons

BAJOFONDO

Leaving from Cuba and the sounds of Buena Vista Social Club, we fly south and land in Uruguay, or more precisely, Rio de la Plata, to join a Uruguayan – Argentinian band: Bajofondo. Bajofondo banner_bajofondo Bajofondo is an 8-member group led by Gustavo Santaolalla, two-times Oscar winner for the soundtracks of ‘Babel’ and ‘Brokeback Mountain’. Their music is usually characterised as electrotango, that is, a blend of acoustic tango and electronic music. Bajofondo, together with Gotan Project are the two best known representatives of this genre, and they are regarded as the groups who brought tango back into mainstream. Santaolalla, though, prefers to call their music “Contemporary music of Rio de la Plata”, the river that separates (and unites) Argentina and Uruguay…

Bajo-Fondo-Tango-ClubThe band was founded in 2002 with the name Bajofondo Tango Club, and that is also the name of their first album. Bajofondo Tango Club had a great success and won a Latin Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. According to the BBC, the band has produced “something new which is at the same time respectful of tradition”, and “earned the admiration of a wide and growing audience, both at home and abroad”. This is the song “Perfume” from that album: bajofondo_mardulce_portada In their outstanding second album Mar Dulce (2008), there was a clear intention to work together with other artists: Elvis Costello, Nelly Furtado, Gustavo Cerati, la Mala Rodríguez, to name a few. Maybe my preferred song of this album is “Grand Guignol” (check out this live video at the obelisco in Buenos Aires), but here I include a more “electrotango” song called “Pa’bailar” (to dance) featuring Japanese bandoneonist Ryōta Komatsu: Bajo Fondo PresentePresente, launched in 2013, is their third, more personal album; no special guests featuring this time. Bajofondo members state that their music has evolved and exceeded the limits of electronic tango, and they describe their latest album as a mixture of milonga, tango, folklore, rock, hip-hop, electronica, jazz and classical music, for his orchestral base. From this album, the song “Pide Piso” (ask for the [dance] floor) summarises very nicely this blend of sounds:   But the musicians of Bajofondo -Juan Campodónico, Luciano Supervielle, Javier Casalla, Martin Ferres, Gabriel Casacuberta, Adrian Sosa, Veronica Loza and Gustavo Santaolalla- have great energy also on stage; it’s really worth seeing them live, if you have a chance. And there is a possibility you will, since they are touring non-stop all over the world and being part of the biggest music festival worldwide. In the meantime, enjoy them here!

For more info, check their official site here or their more updated Twitter account here.