The country of contrasts
After three months in this beautiful country it’s time for a Résumé but where to start with that after all? The first thing which comes to my mind are the extreme measurements of the country. Argentina has an east west extension of 1423 km and is 3694 km long which makes an area of almost a third part of whole Europe. You will experience the true size behind these numbers after you took a one and a half day bus ride and realize afterwards that you haven't been on a long trip at all. With lots of space comes a huge variety of climate, nature and culture. In the south, in Patagonia, you can find great hiking opportunities in the mountains, snow and even penguins while you could visit a rainforest and the Iguazu Falls in Misiones, the state in the north/west of the country. In the centre of Argentina you will find huge deserts and mountain chains, around Córdoba for example. A little more eastern in Mendoza, close to the Chilean border you can have your true hiking experience in the Andes Mountains. There you can also find the Aconcagua, which is with 6962m height the highest mountain of the western hemisphere.
In general I would consider Argentina as a great opportunity for backpackers to explore a lot of things, with a certain amount of comfort and safety for a fair level of costs which brings us to our four main points:
1. What to experience in Argentina:- Visit Patagonia, the most southern state of Argentina, starting below the Río Colorado down till Tierra de Fuego „the end of the world“. It´s an amazing region full of mountains, stunning nature like volcanos, glaciers, geysers and the dry plateaus called pampa. Its large enough to go on a hiking trip for a month or more, most travelers are starting in the north and end up in Ushuaia, the most southern city of the country. Ushuaia is by the way the most common starting point for antarctic expeditions.
- The Iguazu Falls are located in the north/west of Argentina at the country triangle of Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. You can see the falls from Brazil and Argentina and with up to 7000 m³/s they are one of the largest waterfall systems word wide. Seeing them in real live is truly an amazing experience. On the Brazilian side you also have the chance to visit the bird park with a huge variety of tropical birds as well as the Itaipu dam, one of the largest power plants in the world.
- The mayor metropoles like Buenos Aires or Córdoba. Both great cities with lots of culture, architecture, nightlife and amazing markets to explore.
- Quebrada de Humahuaca - a huge valley of 150 km full of colorful mountains, desert like areas, cactuses and lamas in the north of Salta.
- Aconcagua - the highest mountain of the continent with a height of 6962m, it is a unforgettable climbing experience even for beginners. It’s located in the Andes Mountains, the 22 days guided tours are starting around 2500€.
- The culture. The food in general was for our taste a little boring but if you are a fan of good steaks and BBQ, this is the right place for you. Almost every weekend the Argentinians gather with their family and friends to have an asado, the traditional Argentinian BBQ, with tons of meat, Vegetables and Chimichurri, a spicy sauce from vinegar and different spices and herbs. The Mendoza region is famous for the local vines, which are famous all over the world. Another thing which you should definitely try is the mate, a bitter infusion with the leaves of the mate bush the Argentinians are obsessed with it and drink it to every occasion. Last but not least the tango, Buenos Aires is the home town of the tango, if you're there once or in any other Argentinian city you should give it a try. Just go to one of the plenty free courses in the local clubs or bars and hit the dance floor.
2. Comfort:Beside Chile and Uruguay, Argentina is one of the most cosmopolitan and „European “countries in South America which we have visited so far. The tap water is drinkable in almost all mayor cities, in the countryside people tend to pump their own groundwater which is usually not contaminated as well. In the end your comfort depends on the amount of money which you are able to spend for it but even we, on a quiet low budged didn't really miss anything. Sometimes it was quiet hard to find a washing machine in the countryside, anyway some hand washing never killed anyone. But joking aside you will have electricity, and warm water in almost all places and even free WIFI in some cities.
Argentina has a great infrastructure with a very good, safe and cheap bus network to all places in the country. I would even suggest you to take a overnight bus, just to experience the comfortable seats of the semi or full cama buses, where you almost can lay in. The catering on board is at least eatable and they serve free drinks, depending on the company they even include beer and champaign.
Sometimes we had some problems to find some spices and other ingredients for cooking. You can find everything in the conurbations but in smaller villages it can be hard to find certain things. But if you stick to what the locals are doing and eating, you won’t have any problems with the supply.
In general we experienced Argentina as a safe place. Military checkpoints are quiet rare and the police presence is on a normal level. In some states like Buenos Aires for instance you even have the chance to contact a tourist police, which will take care of your concern and advice you in English or other languages. Argentina’s crime rate is compared to more northern countries way better. Certainly there are safer countries, but we haven't experienced any mayor problems. Especially in small villages there is nothing to fear of as a stranger. On the contrary most of the people were super friendly and helpful, we could easily hitchhike long distances without any bad feeling. The large metropoles like Buenos Aires or Córdoba are a little more problematic, a touristic area for instance could be right next to a slum. It’s not recommended to wear your valuables like expensive jewelry or cameras open. A stroll at night could be also kind of tricky, it’s better to walk in a group of people or at least as a couple. In doubt better take a taxi, even for short distances, it won’t be too expensive and could save you a lot of money.
The prices of the most products and services were way higher than excepted. On average i would say its a little below western european standards. Some things were even more expensive and others way cheaper. Especially imported products from the USA or Europe were pretty expensive, as well as milk products and vegetables compared to the prices of meat, which are pretty low. Normally you have a huge difference between the prices in the city, where you have a way higher variety and also higher prices and the villages where things could be sometimes even half of the price. Transportation in general is cheap, a single ticket in Buenos Aires for example is just 4AR$ (=0,25€). The long distance coaches are pretty economical too, it depends on the region but you can travel a 1000 km for around 50€. These coaches usually drive overnight, including food and drinks, which safes you a night in a hostel and your fare for one day.
Examples for average costs:
- A night in a dorm (hostel), between 100 AR$ and 150 AR$
- A room for two in a hotel around 300 AR$ or 400AR$
- Groceries for one person per week, including some drinks - 1000 AR$
- A Beer (1l) in a bar - 40 AR$ to 70 AR$
- Dinner for two (without drinks) - 300 AR$ to 500 AR$
- Streetfood from 30 AR$
For more detailled information check as well our articles about: San Rafael and Veronica and don´t miss our image galleries for some visual impressions of Argentina: Veronica, San Rafael and Valle Grande.
Leave a comment
Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.