Sophie’s perfect holidaySophie Barber - Travel Expert
My choice of destination would have to be Argentina, for the massive contrasts it offers from one area to the next (I know that’s a cliché, but when it comes to Argentina it's so true!)
International flights arrive into Buenos Aires, which is a beautiful, very sophisticated city with a lot to see, so for me three nights would be a minimum. While there I would certainly make sure to take a long leisurely lunch down at the renovated dock area of Puerto Madero in the sunshine, as well as wandering through the famous Recoleta cemetery admiring the elaborate tombs (including that of Eva Perón), more like small houses than graves.
Other must-dos include enjoying the quirky boutiques of the Palermo district and, of course, exploring the home of tango: San Telmo, with its atmospheric cobbled streets, great steak restaurants and the lively antique market at Plaza Dorrego. If you want to see a tango show, I highly recommend a small and intimate venue called ‘La Esquina de Carlos Gardel’.
For a complete contrast to city life, I’d then head due south for the ruggedly beautiful mountain scenery of Fitzroy.
The main airport and gateway to the region is El Calafate, from where it is only around a 3-hour drive to El Chaltén. El Chaltén offers fantastic walks straight from the town, which is surrounded by impressive mountains: within five minutes you are out amongst them, walking alongside turquoise lakes or climbing up towards a suspended glacier.
I would then transfer back to El Calafate, where my choice would be to stay out of town in one of the properties that offer views of the sweeping plains and the desolate beauty of the countryside, possibly venturing into the pretty little town for a drink or a bite to eat.
While in El Calafate, visiting the Perito Moreno glacier is an absolute must. The boat trip takes you right up close to the glacier itself and you will see a staggering variety of shades of blue in the ice. If you are really lucky you may even see a huge section of the glacier fall away, making a thunderous noise as it does.
I would head north next to warm myself up, basing myself near the charming city of Mendoza in one of the many great wine lodges just outside of town. The scenery here is remarkably different to the south of the country: much flatter and greener, with grape-laden vines everywhere you look!
Mendoza itself is full of character so make sure to allow enough time to explore and soak up the laid-back, cultured atmosphere. As well as the city sights I'd definitely recommend a tour of one of the many bodegas in the area to understand the wine-making process. One of my favourites was Ruca Malen where I was lucky enough to sit down to a 6-course tasting menu with exquisite wine to match the flavours of each course – all topped off with a stunning view of the snow-capped Andes.
Finally I’d conclude the trip with one of South America’s unmissable highlights: Iguazú Falls. The climate is tropical here as is the vegetation, and you’re sure to see plenty of wildlife amidst the lush scenery. If you can, stay at the Sheraton or Das Cataratas as they are the only hotels offering the privilege of being able to simply walk straight out of the front door and onto the walkways of the national park, giving you access when other visitors have left.
Finally I would return to Buenos Aires to give myself a final night to shop, explore or just sit and watch the world go by before travelling home.
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