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Self-drive Argentina: Highlights of the hidden northwest

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We’ve enhanced this holiday of self-drive exploration in Argentina’s north-west at the foot of the Andes with time in the magnificent capital, Buenos Aires; a visit to the immense Iguazú Falls, and a few days on an estancia in the hilly region around one of Argentina’s most pleasant cities, Cordóba.

The sunlit mountains and russet-red rockscapes of the provinces of Salta and Jujuy are a rugged canvas interwoven with white colonial churches, characterful markets and adobe villages. Springtime (Apr-May) is especially lovely when shades of green, wildflowers and deep red carpets of chilis drying out in the high-altitude sunshine add vibrant glimpses of colour to the view through your windscreen. Throughout the year, there’s tasty regional food and wine to please your taste buds too. Our self-drive holidays give you freedom as soon as you get behind the wheel but you have the added security of knowing your accommodation is booked for you at the end of a day on the road.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires. Transfer to hotel close to colonial centre and commercial district of the capital.

Day 2

Walking tour along the Avenida de Mayo.

Day 3

Fly to Puerto Iguazú. Visit the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls.

Day 4

Guided excursion to the Argentine side of the falls.

Day 5

Fly to Salta in the northwest. Collect your hire car.

Day 6

Drive to Molinos in your hire car.

Day 7

Self-drive to Cafayate in the wine district.

Day 8

Drive to Purmamarca in the northern canyons by hire car.

Day 9

At leisure to explore the Humahuaca Gorge independently.

Day 10

Return to Salta; overnight.

Day 11

Drop off car. Fly to Córdoba. Transfer to estancia.

Days 12-13

At leisure to enjoy the facilities at the ranch.

Day 14

Fly to Buenos Aires.

Day 15

At leisure in the capital.

Day 16

Transfer to airport for your international flight home.

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What our experts say

This holiday would be a great option for someone who has already been to Argentina, perhaps seen the south of the country and would now like to explore the northwest at their own pace in a hire car. It’s a wonderful region and offers some beautiful, scenic drives through rugged canyons and multi-coloured rock formations. We’ve pre-booked your accommodation along the way so that you have the security of knowing where you’ll be staying each night.

Sophie Barber

Sophie Barber

Travel Consultants

Places visited on this holiday

Self-drive Argentina: Highlights of the hidden northwest

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Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Along with Rio, this is a city worth crossing the Atlantic for in its own right. Dynamic, stylish and nostalgic, it’s the continent’s most European city, but does not lack South American verve. Its contrasting neighbourhoods reveal colonial plazas, shady avenues, quirky antique fairs, street art, world famous theatres and football stadiums and spruced-up metropolitan port districts. Studded with extensive parks, cutting-edge boutique hotels, designer boutiques and a myriad of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, it’s a restless place, challenging to find your way around but well worth the effort. It’s the beating heart of Argentina, the hub for visits throughout the country.
When's the best time to visit Buenos Aires?

Buenos Aires is at its hottest Jan-Mar (very humid with tropical showers, occasionally over 40C during the day). It can be cold and cloudy Jul-Aug, so weather conditions are best for a visit in spring and autumn. Dec-Feb and Jul are local holiday times: Porteños head for the beach.

What's the official language in Buenos Aires?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Buenos Aires?

Argentine Peso.

Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. Please note that in 2016 many of the ATMs were not functioning properly; we are recommending that for the moment you take a good supply of US dollars cash. There are many banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash; rates for euros and sterling frequently poor. 

What's the time difference between Buenos Aires and the UK?

GMT -3 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, but this is announced ad hoc on a year-on-year basis.

What places combine well with Buenos Aires?

Beach time in Mar del Plata (392 km by road, 5hrs); Colonia or Montevideo in Uruguay across the River Plate: travel by ferry, bus or plane; a stay on a working estancia in the pampa south and west of the city; Iguazú Falls (2hrs approx by air).

How long is the flight to Buenos Aires from the UK?

Average flight time is 14hrs 20mins on a direct flight from London. There are also flights requiring a change of plane in Europe or the USA.

What are the festivals and cultural and sports events in Buenos Aires?

Tango Festival: Aug. The world's – top tango festival, nine days  of concerts, shows, free classes, exhibitions, open-air milongas (Avenida Corrientes is closed for a massive display) and other tango-related festivities.

Opera season: Mar-Dec. Take in a concert or opera at the refurbished Teatro Colón which attracts internationally esteemed artists. 

Argentine Polo Open: Mid Nov-mid Dec. Polo is a passion for many Argentines. This is the year’s main attraction, taking place in Palermo’s 16,000 seater stadium.

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Iguazu Falls
Iguazu falls

Straddling the border between southern Brazil and northeast Argentina, The Iguazú Falls (spelt  Iguaçú in Brazil) are usually rated number one of the big three waterfalls, the others being Niagara and Victoria. They are often considered to be Latin America’s most awe-inspiring natural sight and a must-see for anyone visiting the highlights of the continent.

The 275 separate cascades form a curtain of foaming water which crashes through tangled sub-tropical jungle over a vast granite amphitheatre, protected by national park status. Both countries offer scenic walkways with breath-taking scenery around every corner and easily observed wildlife. From the Brazilian side you’ll get a panoramic view of the 3km cliff edge, on the Argentine side there is a series of walkways leading you above, below and even behind the water.

When's the best time to go to Iguazu Falls?

Iguazú Falls is a year-round destination, but water levels and weather conditions vary with the rainy (Dec-Feb) and dry (Jun-Jul) seasons. The water supply to the falls also varies according to the local control of the dams upstream. It can be busy with tourists in local holiday seasons, for example in Feb and at Easter.

What's the official language in Iguazu Falls?

Brazilian Portuguese; Argentinean Spanish.

How do i get to Iguazu Falls?

There are direct flights connecting Iguazú Falls to Buenos Aires (2 hours), Rio de Janeiro (2 hours), Lima, São Paulo, and Salta in northern Argentina.

What's the official currency at Iguazu Falls?

Brazilian Real.

Brazil: notes can be withdrawn from ATMs in Foz do Iguazú Banco do Brasil, Bradesco and HSBC accept UK credit or debit cards. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. ATMs close at 10pm.

Argentina: there are a couple of ATMs in Puerto Iguazú where the banks are only open in the mornings.

What's the time difference between GMT and Iguazu falls?

GMT -3 hours. There is daylight saving from October to the end of February (approx) when clocks are put forward one hour.

What countries combine well with Iguazu Falls?

Argentina: Buenos Aires - there are direct daily 2 hour flights from Puerto Iguazú; Salta in the northwest Andes: daily flights take 1 hour 50mins.
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro - There are daily flights from Foz do Iguaçú; Southern Brazil: there are flights from Foz do Iguaçu to Curitiba with connections; The Pantanal or the Amazon: there are daily flights to Campo Grande or Manaus with connections in São Paulo.
Peru: there are daily flights from Foz do Iguaçú to Lima, 4.5 hours.

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Salta and the northwest Andes
Quebrada de las Conchas
Spiritually and culturally closer to the neighbouring Andean countries than the rest of Argentina, the remote northwest provinces have loads of attractions for visitors. These range from snow-dipped peaks, salt flats and arid, rust red canyons to lush forests, pre-Columbian ruins, lonely lime-washed chapels and a necklet of baroque colonial towns. The sunlit slopes are cloaked with vineyards, and everywhere there’s a warm welcome from the local people, many of whom have indian roots. At 1,200m above sea level, Salta is a delightful base for exploration of the region with a sumptuous cathedral, palm-shaded plazas and a cable car lift for views over the fertile countryside.
When's the best time to visit Salta and the Argentine Andes?
Salta has plenty of sun throughout the year but it can be cool in winter, when the trees and vines have lost their leaves, but it is drier with little rain falling Apr-Oct. The popular Train of the Clouds runs weekly Apr-Nov. The many festivals in the region mostly take place Dec-Mar.
What's the official language of Salta and the Argentine Andes?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Salta and the Argentine Andes?

Argentine Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs (many on calle España) using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. offering favorable rates for cash dollars. There are also banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash;  rates for euros and sterling are harder to find and frequently poor.

What's the time difference between Salta and the Argentine Andes and UK?

GMT -3 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, but this is announced ad hoc on a year-on-year basis.

What places combine well with Salta and the Argentine Andes?

Mendoza in Argentina’s prime wine-producing region (direct flights 3 times a week, 1hr 40mins); Iguazú Falls (daily flights to Puerto Iguazú, 1hr 50mins) Chile’s Atacama desert around San Pedro de Atacama (12hrs scenic drive); southern Bolivia (11hrs drive to the border at La Quiaca).

How do i get to Salta and the Argentine Andes?

A flight from Buenos Aires to Salta takes 2hrs.

What are the festivals and cultural and sporting events in Salta and the Argentine Andes?
Many religious, artisan and agricultural festivals and processions take place throughout the region from January through Carnival to Easter every year.
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Cordoba and the Central Sierras
Cordoba and the Central Sierras
This lovely pastoral region, with range beyond range of rolling hills carpeted with stone-walled moorland and pasture, sits between the flat pampa plains stretching southeast from Buenos Aires and the icy peaks of the Andes. It’s fantastic horse riding country and there are a number of estancias where the primary focus may be on cattle rearing but which also offer visitors riding and polo. Córdoba is Argentina’s second city, modern, hospitable and upbeat, with a well preserved pedestrianised colonial centre.
When's the best time to visit Cordoba and Central Sierras?

It can be stiflingly hot in summer, Dec-Mar. Outdoor visits are much more pleasant in the spring and autumn months, with plenty of sun.

What's the official language of Cordoba and Central Sierras?

Spanish

How do I get local currency in Cordoba and the central sierras?
Argentine Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs (many on Plaza san Martín) using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. There are also banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio)  where you can exchange US dollars cash; rates for euros and sterling are harder to find and frequently poor.
What's the time difference between Cordoba and Central Sierras and UK?

GMT -3 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, but this is announced ad hoc on a year-on-year basis.

What places combine well with Cordoba and Central Sierras?

Mendoza in Argentina’s prime wine-producing region (daily direct flights 1hr 15mins); Santiago, the capital of Chile, (daily flights 1hr 30mins). 

How do I get to Cordoba and Central Sierras?

A flight from Buenos Aires to Córdoba takes 1 hour.

What are the festivals and cultural and sporting events in Cordoba and Central Sierras?

FICA Craft Market: First three weeks of Apr, close to Chateau Carrera stadium, Córdoba.

Book Fair: This takes pace in Córdoba in mid-Sept and attracts some well-known authors.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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