The land of meat, wine and turning up late; you’d be forgiven for applying this simple tag line to Argentina. We have spent ten weeks soaking in meat, wine and a lifestyle that couldn’t care less about what time it is, the longest span in any country we plan to visit. With so much time to throw off the rapidly transient tourist jackets we also threw away the clock and tried to see what a pure meat and red wine diet would look like. This nation of acute style has produced some of the very best and the very worst in a travel experience that brazenly ignores the middle ground. Without further ado, here’s our Top-10 of Argentina.
10- Peuerto Pyramides:
A rare dash to the ocean quickly became a rare dash to a cage-less zoo. Sharing a beach with seals and penguins and watching a sea lion colony litter a beach like crowds on a sunny day in Bondi a sight to travel for. But who wants to just watch? We were treated to swimming with Sea Lions friendly and curious. Charlie literally left with a kiss on the forehead from a sea lion as nature gave is a close up little cuddle.
9- Quebrada de Cafayate:
There are places where the great mysteries of the world are no longer hidden from sight or buried in millennia of years past. The sharp ravine that is Quebrada de Cafayate is not only stunning, inspiring and weird, it’s an education. The surface of this earth seems so flimsy in the folded and rolled layer-cake that is this vein of a crushed planet. A textbook leaps to life in a dazzling array of colour to belie black letters on a white page; school was never this fun
8- Nickys New York Sushi, Buenos Aires:
Eating out in Buenos Aires is a force of nature: Olsen, La Cabrera, Bar du Marche all spring to mind, but above the pack is Nicky’s. A restaurant, just a restaurant right? So wrong. We shared a great meal with our nephew Ben in Buenos Aires; great food, great wine, great company. It’s after the meal that the magic started, a coded request saw us transported back to a private space and the world of a gangster speak-easy of the 1920’s in New York. Things can be so much more than they seem sometimes.
7- Mendoza wineries:
Our first stop in Argentina and what a place to start a new diet of meat and wine, what could possibly go wrong? With Kate and Sophie of team Melbourne we indulged, we drank, we indulged and we drank. Mendoza is a renowned wine region but what it is not known for is it’s stunning portrayal of ‘the good life’. Throw away glitz and glam, Mendoza is a place to be uplifted by the simple things in life made into so much more, it’s an education on how to live.
6- Perito Moreno Glacier:
Some things seem impossible, somethings seem too grand to be true and some things just make you stare like a pyromaniac at a bushfire. All of these things have a name and it’s Perito Moreno Glacier. So big, so tall and moving so relatively quickly this monster phenomenon allows you up close as it screams and crumbles towards you in an experience that is simply cinematic.
5- Sayta Ranch:
Soon after entering the country and still attempting to maintain our meat and wine diet we were introduced to Sayta ranch, in the fiery north of Argentina. Horse riding every day introduced us to a gaucho lifestyle and Argentinian hospitality introduced us to a diet that couldn’t continue. As far as cultural immersions go this is what we were after, hangover and all.
4- Cerro Torre:
Sharing a section of the Andes with Cerro Fitz Roy is the smaller yet arguably more dramatic Cerro Torre. In place of Fitz Roys sheer size, Torre inspires with its impossibly narrow match-stick type structure. rough imposing mountains crowd an iceberg filled lake at the bottom of a sweeping glacier. Such a perfect scene so unbelievably stands proud in the shadow of Fitz Roy giving nothing away to it’s bigger companion.
3- La Constancia:
Within the experience of a lifetime we met with good friends Laf and Barnaby in San Javier, Cordoba province for another dose of Estancia life. Where Salta was a cultural immersion La Constancia was a more glamorous and diverse slant on country life. Horse riding was accompanied by a winery visit, climbing mount Champaqui, fly fishing and so much more. Argentina just kept delivering on ‘the good life’.
2- Cerro Fitz Roy:
For so many years we had wanted to visit Parque Fitz Roy, the home of the famed Cerro Fitz Roy. This outrageous granite spire is the grandest monuments in a range of smaller imitators. Free park entry and limitless exploring of glaciers, hung lakes, waterfalls and forests became a playground to explore. So much pressure hangs on a goal held for so long, a sunrise climb to the lake at Fitz Roy’s base undoubtedly delivered.
1- Cerro Catedral:
How do we pick a favourite from a stretch of the Andes we lived with for such a time. We soaked up everything we could that the Andes had to offer and nearly all of it made some form of indelible mark. But favourites need to be chosen and while the natural world amazed at every turn, the journey into what’s hidden in one of the worlds greatest ranges wins the day. Beautiful quaint refugios in impossibly beautiful locations invited us into a world so foreboding to humankind. Looking across mountain tips in grand endless vistas is a view to the unknown. Not anymore, Cerro Catedral marks the entry to an alpine world that gave up a part of its secret just for us.