Travel Log: Argentina

I’ve been meaning to share some of my recent travel experiences on some site like RealTravel or Yahoo Travel, but out of laziness I’ve decided to just free-form it here. In the same vein, instead of doing a proper write-up on a trip to South America, I’m pasting an email rec I recently sent to a friend. I hope someone out there finds this helpful!

Where/When: Argentina, Rio de Janeiro, and technically Chile. December 2007

What we planned in advance: Not much, really. Booked flights from/to SFO, booked most in-country Argentina flights on Aerolinas Agentinas because we knew where we wanted to go and approximately how many days we’d want to stay in each place. Booked hotel for first two nights in Buenos Aires. Nothing else. I think you can get by with booking most stuff while you’re there if you want to play it that way.

The day-to-day itinerary below is to my best recollection… I may be confusing some of the details between El Calafate and Iguazu… it’s a bit of a blur.

  • Day 1: Flew from SFO to Buenos Aires, visited travel agency (Say Hueque) to map out rough itin in Patagonia
  • Day 2: City tour of B.A. and visit to agency to finalize the itinerary and pay for stuff. The agency booked all of our hotel, ground transport, and tour stuff for the two weeks in Patagonia. Tango class and show at night. The class was interesting b/c there were 5 women to every one man. Show was good… don’t remember the name.
  • Day 3: Flew from B.A. to Ushuaia and got there in the evening. Grabbed dinner.
  • Day 4: All day hike/canoe around Tierra Del Fuego
  • Day 5: Beagle Channel boat excursion. Flight to El Calafate.
  • Day 6: All day excursion to Perito Moreno glaciar
  • Day 7: Early bus to El Chalten. Hike 1, El Chalten (Fitz Roy peak). El Chalten overnight.
  • Day 8: Hike 2 in El Chalten, bus back to El Calafate. El Calafate overnight.
  • Day 9: Early morning bus to Torres del Paine (Chile). Hike in Torres, bus back to El Calafate that night. Calafate overnight.
  • Day 10: Day in Calafate. Flight that night to B.A. en route to Iguazu. We opted to spend the night at the domestic airport in B.A. b/c we only had 7 hours or so between flights. Deck of cards came in handy.
  • Day 11: Early flight to Iguazu Falls, slept, had a nice dinner, enjoyed some warm weather at our hotel
  • Day 12: All day at Iguazu Falls
  • Day 13: Ran around that morning in Puerto Iguazu to get visas and transport into Rio de Janeiro. We were supposed to fly back to B.A. this afternoon but decided last minute that we would rather spend a few days on the beach in Rio if we could swing it. Took about 4 hours to get into town, find the visa office, get photos for our visas, book flights, etc. Lots of running around involved. But by that evening we were in Rio…
  • Day 14-17: Rio de Janeiro. Did some site seeing, some beach bumming, etc. It rained for two of the four days we were there so that ruined some of the site seeing but we were mostly there for the beach. I loved Rio.
  • Day 17: Fly back to B.A.
  • Day 18-20: B.A. shopping, exploring B.A. neighborhoods, Recoleta cemetery visit. Fly back to SFO on the last night.

Other thoughts:

  • If you’re not much into the outdoorsy stuff and want to limit it, I would rank the Patagonia stuff as follows (strongest recs at the top of the list):
    • Perito Moreno – This was incredible and not too strenuous
    • Ushuaia Tierra del Fuego – loved this b/c it was our first outdoor excursion but also b/c our guides were awesome. We had one hiking guide and one canoe guide to our group of four. They also prepared a picnic for us that we had by the river. Other tour groups we saw that day were massive and didn’t seem to be getting the same quality of education and interaction that we did during ours.
    • El Chalten – lots of hikes in el chalten… the main attraction is Fitz Roy. You can choose the difficulty level based on the hikes available… hike on your own. The town of El Chalten is really tiny, but I can give you a great high-end restaurant rec.
    • Torres del Paine – if you’re in Chile and near this, I’d go. But we bussed four hours there and four hours back in the same day. Hiked only for an hour… it was the most breathtaking of all hikes (not including Perito Moreno), but it was freeeeezing and windy. I can’t imagine what this will be like during their winter.
    • Boat ride through Beagle Channel (Ushuaia) – skip this unless you’re obsessed with seals and birds. I was freezing and nauseous during most of this. Again, during their winter this will be brutal.
  • If you’re ARE really into outdoorsy, I can put you in touch w/ Leigh. He took the rugged path on all of the above. He did a much more strenuous trek of Perito Moreno which involved zip-lining across a glacier crack (i would’ve loved that!) and actually hiked through Torres del Paine solo for a few days and stayed at hostels within the park (you will freeze to death if you do this during their winter). Definitely not for beginners – unlike US national parks, these areas are left in their natural state (no railings, minimal signage etc) so you’re very much on your own.
  • Shopping in Rio was way pricier than expected. Save your dollars for B.A. shopping if you’re going to both. Galleria Pacifico has a lot of great stores – it’s their mall but has some local designer labels that I liked. I didn’t buy much but did find a kick-ass jacket that makes me feel like a badass.
  • We stayed at Hotel Tribeca during our last couple of nights in B.A. I really liked this place and we ended up getting a great deal on it b/c we booked through the hotel kiosk at the airport on our way in. I think our rate was 50% off the rate posted at the hotel. Probably cheaper to book online also.

Okay – thats a ton of stuff to get you started. :-) Let me know if you need any specific info.

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  1. 1 Chile » Voting Question: anyone that's traveled to southamerica...how much and how long is it from Santiago de Chile to Buenos Aires? Trackback on May 26, 2008 at 6:18 am
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