Argentina is a country of huge geographical, environmental and cultural diversity. It stretches from the icy tip of Patagonia in the south up to the subtropical rain forests around Iguazu and out west to the dry wind-eroded moonscapes of Salta province. Not forgetting of course the exuberant metropolis of Buenos Aires; the fertile valleys and vineyards of Mendoza; the chocolate box scenery of Bariloche and the Lake District or the wetland wildlife of Estero de Ibera and the Chaco.
1) Perito Moreno Glacier: this is the most captivating glacier in a national park full of glaciers and understandably called Parque National Los Glaciares. There are higher longer glaciers in the park, but it is Perito Moreno that draws the crowds. And crowds there are in the summer months. Perito Moreno is one of very few glaciers in the world that is still advancing, at a rate of about 20 metres per year. From the boardwalks that lead out and along the front of the glacier you can appreciate it’s enormity and energy. It cracks and rumbles as chunks of ice carve off into the icy water. From 1000s of years of compression the ice has a sublime blue glow as if coming from an internal light.
2) Iguazu: a more abrupt contrast to the glaciers of the south would be hard to imagine. Iguazu is hot, humid, buzzing with tropical wildlife and drenched in spay from the most powerful waterfalls on the planet. Iguazu is multi-sensory overload of colour, thundering sound and the never-ending rushing of an impossible amount of water going past you.
3) Ruta de los Siete Lagos: the route of the seven lakes winds through beautiful forested valleys and past crystal clear lakes between Bariloche and San Martin. This is a classic trip that can be done as a self-drive or and organised tour with a guide. The panorama is a harmonious spectrum of blues and greens and peaks and valleys that are easy on the eye and reminiscent of a fairly-tale illustration.
4) Esteros de Ibera: a huge area of wetland comprising swamps, lakes, rivers and floating islands, this is one of the best places in Argentina to see some very diverse wildlife. Besides the 300 bird species there are Maned Wolves, Caymans, Marsh Deer, Boas, Howler Monkeys and Capybaras. The best way to get around here is by boat with a good local guide.
5) Mendoza and Vineyards: Mendoza is the closest city to Aconcagua, the highest peak on the American continent. Many climbers go to Mendoza to conquer Aconcagua and other giant peaks in the region, but you don’t need to be a serious climber to appreciate the great outdoors activities around this picturesque part of the Andes. There is rafting in the Canon de Atuel, world class skiing at Las Lenas and huge scope for hiking and mountain biking in the surrounding valleys. Mendoza is also at the heart of Argentina’s wine industry which has seen massive investment recently resulting in continually improving quality wines. There are dozens of wineries in and around the city that you can visit and where you can taste the Argentina’s best wines.