Argentina was the final stop on my tour of South America, and I definitely saved the best for last.
I fell in love with this country and its people. Here are the reasons why…and the reasons why you need to add Argentina to your must-visit list pronto.
1). The culture
Let’s start with the most important reason Argentina made such as impression on me – the people. Argentinian people are the most welcoming, authentic and honest I have ever met.
Every single part of their culture is based on sharing. I remember turning up to a hostel in Cafayate, the only foreigner there and with Spanish skills that left a lot to be desired.
It didn’t matter, as within minutes I was welcomed into the group of locals and holidaying Argentinians and passed the communal goblet of Fernet Branca and Coke (I’d never heard of it either!).
Before I knew it, I had my next two days planned out for me as if I’d know them all for years. In fact, a group and I went on to have a near death experience together…although I think that might take the idea of ‘sharing’ a little too far!
Perhaps the most recognised example of this sharing culture is the Mate Tea. Carried pretty much everywhere by Argentinians this drink is served in ornate silver and wooden cups and passed around among groups of friends.
2). The wilderness
Regular readers of this blog will know that my favourite place to be is in the great outdoors, as far away from the bustle of cities as possible. In Argentina, you’re never short of options.
I went whitewater rafting through the foothills of the Andes at sunset, crossed glaciers and hiked alone, staying in mountain huts miles from civilisation.
While I didn’t have the time or money to make it down to the south of Patagonia (that’s another trip…), Bariloche, the ‘Gateway of Patagonia’ offered an affordable and easy-to-reach alternative.
3). The food and wine
It’s no secret that Argentina is famous for its wine, and I can safely say that it has good reason to be. From a crisp white Torrontés to a deep ruby Malbec, there is something for every taste. And of course, what better way to discover your favourite than via a wine tour?
While Mendoza is the location most people head for, I’d recommend Cafayate in the North for those who want somewhere a little more undiscovered and quaint.
You can’t have good wine without good food, and after three months travelling in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia living off chicken and rice, the first thing I did when I landed in Argentina was order a steak (some clichés are meant to be met head on!).
I wasn’t disappointed but soon discovered that the best way to enjoy Argentinian meat wasn’t in a posh restaurant, but around a communal Asado (BBQ). We all ready know that the culture is about sharing, and the food is no different.
4). The music and dance
You are never short of live music and dance in Argentina and while it is most famous for its Tango, I’d thoroughly recommend finding a traditional peña.
Peña catch-all term for any live music which isn’t tango. Basically, imagine wine, guitar music and traditional dance (for which you’ll not be exempt no matter how hard you try!). Well, that’s a peña and they’re a lot of fun.
Have you been to Argentina? What makes you want to go back?
Let me know in the comments below!