Trip duration: 11/12/12 to 11/22/2012
Route: Dallas => Buenos Aires (in’tl) / Buenos Aires (dom) => El Calafate => Trelew => Iguazu => Buenos Aires (dom) / Buenos Aires (int’l) => Dallas
Flying Method: Cash Payment
Throw back trip report on one of my favorite trips of all time – Argentina.
The first step in planning our visit was to determine what time of year would be ideal since the season in South America is the opposite of the U.S. My friends and I decided to go in November since that’s spring time in Argentina and we’d be able to see wild lives and also do the glacier trekking in the Patagonia region.
The second part, which was also the toughest, was to decide what cities to go given our time constraint. There are so many unique characters in the various regions of Argentina. After a few brainstorming sessions, we finally decided on Buenos Aires, El Calafate (Patagonia), Valdes Peninsula Reserve (wild lives) and Iguazu (water falls). If we had more time, I’d really really love to tag on Ushuaia which is the southern most city in the world. Too bad it didn’t fit into our schedule. After some research and getting bids from different travel agencies, we picked a budget friendly travel agency specializing in Argentina trip planning (ARGAdventure.com) and created a customized travel plan based on our preferences (including hotels as well as tours in certain cities). The nice part about it is that they arranged booking all of the domestic flights, lodging, the hard to schedule glacier trekking tour, as well as transportation in each city. We also had an all day private guide/driver who took us to the Valdes Peninsula Reserve for some penguin/elephant seal/wild animal watching.
We planned 2 1/2 days for each city, so essentially every 3rd day we flew into a different place. It was a bit hectic but we were able to fit in all we wanted to do in the confined timeline.
We flew into El Calafate to begin our Argentinian adventure. It’s a little quaint town in the Patagonia region, there’s even a casino in town. The main reason we came here was to see the Perito Moreno glacier and to do the big ice trek. Currently there is only one company that offers the trek – Huelo y Aventura. It’s definitely monopolized (they even have their own plaque in the area where the trek begins), but the guides were absolutely amazing and did not give me the feeling of “my way or the high way”. They took safety very seriously and were always making sure everyone in the group was accounted for throughout the trek. The trek was moderate in difficulty since there was a bit of an incline through rocks and branches on the way up, but once you got to the glacier and put on the crampons, it wasn’t very physically demanding at all.
After El Calafate, we flew to Trelew and our driver drove us to Puerto Madryn which is about an hour away. Puerto Madryn is a gateway to the Magellan penguins, whales, Valdes Peninsula and the Welsh settlement. It is also a port of call for the local cruise-lines. The seafood there is amazing and we had one of the best meals in Puerto Madryn. The day after our arrival, we met up with our private guide and began an all day road trip to Valdes Peninsula Reserve. We walked among the Penguin colony in San Lorenzo ranch and saw sea lions / elephant seal colony at the Punta Delgada ranch. Along the drive we also saw eagles, guanacos, sheep, and wild rabbits. It was very interesting. I never knew penguins live in holes.
Our next destination was to Iguazu located in the northeast part of Argentina which borderlines Brazil. The falls are part of a national park and it was really easy to maneuver on our own. Transportation from our hotel (or jungle lodge in the middle of nowhere) to the park was a bit tricky and we ended up getting a taxi there. There are over 200 falls in the park!!!!!!! craziness. When we were there, there were butterflies flying everywhere and occasionally you could see iguanas, coatis and other tropical animals roaming around the park.
We saved Buenos Aires last since it’s also our departing city. We stayed in the Recoleta area which is vibrant and centrally located. While in BA, I was able to meet up with my mom’s oldest brother whom I hadn’t seen in over 15 years. It was so good to see family being so far away from home. The next day my friends and I spent the day walking around the city (with a derail by a Dead Sea Cosmetic lady at the mall who tried to up sell us some retarded magnetic facial scrub. This set us back an hour). BA gives me a really chill vibe with lots of parks in the city and dog walkers. It also has some European influence and is known as Paris of South America.
I cannot believe we did 4 cities in 9 days. It was definitely a trip well planned. I enjoyed every moment of it (not so much the parrilla (grilled meat) and the empanada), and look forward to coming back to visit Argentina again one day. 🙂