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The Wild, Wild World

Climates range from tropical to subantarctic, and altitudes descend from 22,000 feet to below sea level, so every conceivable environment on earth is represented. Plants, birds, and animals thrive undisturbed in their habitats. Along the south Atlantic coast, sea mammals mate and give birth on empty beaches and in protected bays. To the north, guanaco, rhea, and native deer travel miles over Andean trails and across windswept plains, while birds pass above in clouds of thousands or descend on lagoons like blankets of feathers.

Glaciar Perito Moreno, Patagonia. Tons of ice regularly peel off the 60-meter-tall, 4-kilometer-long front of this advancing glacier and crash into Lago Argentino.

Cataratas de Iguazú, Northeast. Iguazú Falls National Park protects 275 waterfalls and countless species of birds, mammals, insects, and amphibians. Trails disappear into a greenhouse of lianas, creepers, epiphytes, bamboo, orchids, and bromeliads.

Península Valdés, Patagonia. Small boats bring you alongside southern right whales as they feed, mate, give birth, and nurse their offspring.

Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche. Rich forest surrounds the sapphire-blue waters of Lake Nahuel Huapi. Smaller bodies of water nearby make this Argentina's lake district.

Quebrada de Humahuaca. Vibrant pinks, yellows, and greens color the walls of this northwestern canyon like giant swaths of paint.

Reserva Faunistica Punta Tombo, Patagonia. It's home to the world's largest colony of Magellanic penguins.

Adrenaline Rushes

If an eyeful of natural beauty doesn't make your heart race in the way you'd like, why not try an adventure sport? Argentina is great for winter rushes—skiing, snowboarding, and dogsledding among them. When temperatures soar, you can cool down by white-water rafting or leaping (with a parachute) into the breeze.

Ice Trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier. You can trek over the glacier's 1,000-year-old ice, then celebrate your ascent with cocktails served over cubes of it.

Hang gliding and paragliding at Cuchi Corral. Argentina's top jumping spot is a natural 1,320-foot-high parapet in northwest Córdoba Province with spectacular Río Pinto valley views.

White-water rafting in the Río Mendoza. This river's medium-to-difficult rapids course through Andean foothills. You can combine one- or two-day descents with horseback riding in the mountains.

Skiing and snowboarding at Las Leñas, Catedral, and Chapelco ski areas. Las Leñas near Mendoza, Catedral near Bariloche, and Chapelco near San Martín de los Andes offer groomed runs, open bowls, and trails that follow the fall line to cozy inns or luxurious hotels.

Tierra Mayor, Patagonia. This family-run Nordic center near Ushuaia has such novelties as dogsled rides, snowcat trips, and wind skiing.

Mountain climbing at Aconcagua, Mendoza Province. Close to the Chilean border, this 6,959-meter (22,831-foot) peak is the highest in the Western and Southern hemispheres and is surrounded by a host of other climbable mountains.

Culture and History

Buenos Aires is a city of Paris-inspired boulevards and historic neighborhoods. Beyond the city, gauchos work ranches that sprawl over every horizon, and old Jesuit estancias evoke Argentina's colonial days in Córdoba Province. The Andes tower above the age-old vineyards of Mendoza and San Juan, while Salta and Jujuy retain traditions that stretch back to before the arrival of Europeans. The windswept reaches of Patagonia roll on forever and a few miles more.

Museo de Arte Latinoamericana de Buenos Aires (MALBA). One of the world's few museums specializing in Latin American art is in a stunningly simple building.

Camino de la Historia, Córdoba. Five-hundred-year-old Jesuit estancias, reminders of Argentina's colonial past, dot the countryside around Córdoba City.

Festival de Tango, Buenos Aires. The world's most important tango festival is a nine-day extravaganza culminating in a huge milonga (dance session) along Corrientes Avenue.

Festival de la Vendimia, Mendoza. At the grape-harvest festival, during the first week of March, parades, folk dancing, and fireworks take place. The crowning of a queen marks the grand finale.

Museo de Arqueología de la Alta Montaña, Salta. The rich pre-Columbian heritage of Argentina's Northwest is explored at this modern museum.

Museo Marítimo, Ushuaia. A museum in Tierra del Fuego's penal colony sheds light on Patagonia's past.

Museo Paleontológico, Trelew. You can marvel at dinosaur bones and watch archaeologists at work at this impressive paleontology museum.

Shopping

Argentines love to shop. On weekends, town squares become ferias (open-air markets); street performers wind their way between stalls of handmade offerings. Big shopping malls stock local and international brands. Wine, chocolate, cookies, and preserves are some of the consumables.

Handmade jewelry and housewares, Buenos Aires. Artisans sell wares for you and your home in alpaca, wood, and leather.

Gaucho goods, San Antonio de Areco. Modern-day gauchos can stock up on saddles, bridles, asado knives, belts, and even handbags and jewelry in this town of leatherworkers and silversmiths.

Ceramics and weavings, Salta and Jujuy. Salta is famed for its rich red and black ponchos. Woven wall hangings and alpaca knitwear are ubiquitous in Jujuy. Red-clay figures and cookware abound.

Jams and cookies, Córdoba. If it grows on a tree, chances are that you'll find it made into a preserve. The province's alfajores (cookies) are delightful.

Wine, Mendoza and Salta. Tour the vineyards, sampling Malbecs, Cabernets, and Torrontéses at leisure, before stocking up on those you liked most.

Young designer clothing, Buenos Aires. In trendy Palermo Viejo and San Telmo, cobbled streets are lined with the boutiques of up-and-coming designers.

Chocolate, Bariloche. Many of Bariloche's original inhabitants were German, hence the thriving chocolate industry. The most famous is en rama, sticks of folded flaky chocolate.

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