As our clients know we specialise in travel to countries that we feel offer something extraordinary & unique. Our portfolio ranges from the undiscovered stunning wilderness of Madagascar to the ancient civilisations of Jordan, Sri Lanka & Peru to a more recent history of Cuba to the abundant nature of Costa Rica, Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands. As some of our clients are now running out of destinations to travel to with us, we are always looking for our next special destination.. after speaking to our clients & listening to what they want we decided on Argentina..
So once decided we have to plan the hard work of going over there on the first inspection trip.. Now believe me they are hard work as we visit so many hotels in each region as well as trying to fit in all the activities our clients may want to do. We even visit hotels we know we will not like but take a look so that if a client ask about it we can point out why it is not a good option etc..
Argentina is an astonishingly diverse country, you can be in the North in a tropical climate & later the same day be in the Glacier National Park in the very south of the country. In-between there are many other stunning areas to visit. All this magnificent diversity allows Argentina to boast, quite correctly, that they have something to offer everyone.
Within a trip to Argentina you can be inspired by the amazing Tango dancers, enjoy the colourful & stylish city- Buenos Aires, visit the most dramatic waterfalls in the world Iguazu, go to the “land of sunshine & wine”Â Mendoza, visit the colonial towns in the far Northwest region, include the beautiful glacial lakes of the Lake District, see the elephant seals, penguins, sea lions & Arctic Right Whales in Punta Tambo & Peninsula Valdes region, experience the stunning centrepiece of the Glacier National parkÂ and the dramatic sight of the Perito Moreno Glacier.
All of this, & we have not even mentioned the famous Polo horses, world class Skiing, the welcoming working estancias that you can stay in & enjoy incredible horse riding, the shopping, the treks available, golfing, adventure sports, the food (& not just the famous beef which Argentina is famous for -vegetarians will be very impressed as well!), the wonderful welcome all visitors receive.. & the list goes on.. Argentina offers so much more than you could ever expect from 1 country you can even stay in the most southern city in the world â€œ Ushuaiaâ€œ which is the gateway to the icy continent of Antarctica.
So Helen & I have just returned from having an amazing trip. We started the trip together & then split up so we could cover more areas. We both stayed in Buenos Aires for the first few days inspecting the hotels, visiting the different areas & enjoying a Tango Show & afternoon tea @ the opulent Alvear Palace Hotel!! This is a great city to visit & has something for everyone.. There is a wide range of hotel types & standards & the food & wine of course is superb.
We then flew up to Iguazu to visit the falls.. It would be a real shame to visit Argentina & not visit the fallsÂ as they really are a must see.. The Falls are the most spectacular waterfalls in the world & act as a natural border between Argentina & Brazil. On the Argentine side you are more within the falls & so close to the powerful water. There are several nature trails & the iron work walkways over the river & some falls are wonderful. You can easily spend a full day enjoying the numerous walkways. A really fabulous walk is the route that takes you across the upper river to the Devils Throat, where the water plunges 240ft.
It is also worth having a half day visit to the Brazil side of the falls as from there you get the magnificent panoramic view of the falls. On the Brazil side there is only 1 walking route, so it gets busy & I recommend getting there for opening time before the coaches arrive, before it gets too hot & most important before the sun comes around & inhibits the view.
This is a very busy, touristic region & there are several hotels to choose from. You can stay on either the Brazil or Argentine side or even both.
A 2-3 hour transfer away you can get completely away from the tourists & stay within nature @ Yacutinga Lodge. The lodge has 20 cabins & guided tours are included within your stay. Only 4 hectares out of the 570-hectare area of the property have been used to build this unprecedented ecotourism complex in Argentina. During the construction process special care has been taken to minimize negative impacts on nature. This lodge and its surrounding nature reserve are part of a sustainable eco-project which protects the sub-tropical rainforest. It offers its visitors an exciting ecological experience whilst staying in its comfortable lodgings. Excursions are focused on providing guests with an understanding of the area by walking through nature trails, floating down the river on a raft or relaxing in the grounds listening to the birdsong.
After staying here Helen & I split up.. she had a night in Buenos Aires before heading to an authentic Estancia (read more on Helens own blog). I flew down to Trelew to visit the wonderful Peninsula Valdes. Within the Patagonia region the Valdes Peninsula is one of the most important wildlife reserves in the country & was designated a World Heritage site in 1999. It is the breeding ground for southern right whales, elephant seals, sea lions & the nesting site for thousands of shore birds -Â including pelicans, cormorants etc. I saw so much & was in a boat literally feet away from huge Arctic Right Whales. I was also on the beach with huge Elephant seals, that even made me look small!!! I have to tell you about the most amazing place that I stayed in.. El Pedral Lodge.. El Pedral Lodge is the most wonderful lodge & I will never forget my time there. It is located 1 hour from Puerto Madryn & 1 hour 20 mins from Trelew airport in Punta Ninfas across from Valdes Peninsula. The lodge will only ever have a maximum of 12 guests to ensure the personalised service they offer, the food is wonderful with freshly baked bread & cakes a real joy. The whale season runs May to November with the high season months being September, October & November you will not fail to be impressed by all the wildlife etc. I loved it & without a doubt was the biggest highlight of my trip.
I then flew down to El Calafate to visit the glaciers.. I have to admit that it was a bit of a come down to be in the town of Calafate after such a special place like El Pedral Lodge. But I later visited & stayed in some other really special hotels & estancias in the area so I can make sure my clients do not experience the initial disappointment I felt. Parque Nacional Los Glaciers & its most famous attraction – the World Heritage site of the Perito Moreno Glacier is another must see area & a wow factor photo opportunity. This incredible wall of ice & snow is one of south America’s greatest natural wonders. I visited the glacier by walking the balconies & also got really up close on the boat trip. I did not get the time to walk on the surfaceÂ but hopefully next time!
So that was the end of my first trip to Argentina – apart from a last night back in Buenos Aires before taking my BA flight home. The biggest highlights for me were definitely my stay @ El Pedral Lodge with the boat trip to be so close to the whales, visiting the glacier & being surprised that Buenos Aires was such a lovely city.
Now I just have to put the work into set up of the website pages & the brochure. I am sure my existing clients will really enjoy a tailor-made trip to Argentina (as well as new clients of course!!) & I am excited to talk them through the possibilities & designing their perfect trip.