Trip Report to Argentina

Old Nov 16th, 2007, 01:07 PM
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Trip Report to Argentina

Author: cadwex
Date: 11/16/2007, 03:49 pm
First of all, thanks to all of you who helped me plan our recent 2-week trip to Argentina. Many of you don't know who you are but once I decided on Argentina as our destination, I read everything I could find on the subject in this forum and many of your insights went into selection of itinerary, places to stay and places to eat. I'm sure I would never have ended up in the NW without your guidance.

I don't have the time/ability to do a day by day posting but I will try to give you the highlights and am more than willing to answer any specific questions. We arrived on October 26th and departed on November 9th. Weather was spectacular wherever we went but for our last day in Iguazu when it rained all day.

A little about us--I'm mid-50's, husband is mid-60's. We are well travelled (coming close to 80 countries visited). And we like to stay in nice places. Cost is not a serious consideration in making our choices. But we do like to get what we pay for (doesn't everyone?!) As we get older, we like to slow down and enjoy our surroundings. We feel no compulsion to see every site even if we aren't sure we will return to a particular place. I say this so that many of you will know that the pace of our trip may not be for you.

Here is our itinerary:

Buenos Aires, 4 nights
NW--8 nights (with side/day trips to Cafayate, Salt Flats, Tilcara and Humahuaca) divided as follows:
Colome, 3 nights
Cachi, 1 night
Purmamarca, 1 night
Salta, 3 nights
Iguazu, 2 nights

Hotels:
BsAs: Alvear Palace--loved the old world style and the fabulous service. Breakfasts (included) were fantastic and they gave us a free tea for two which was also wonderful. They upgraded us to a deluxe suite and the room(s) were beautifully decorated and comfortable.

Colome: Everything you have already read about this place is true. We LOVED it. Our room was on the second floor above the office and we had a private balcony (that we made much use of) overlooking the vineyards. The food was great. My husband (who is a very good horseman) rode the owner's horse and loved it. We both had wonderful spa treatments (massage/facial) from Paola. Food was great. Setting is spectacular and stargazing was indescribable. Definitely a highlight. Only downside is the road leading in and out--really needs some work!

Cachi: La Merced del Alto--a new hotel built to look like an old mission. Owned and operated by the same group as El Manatiel. A little outside of the town. Nice spa. Pretty grounds. Darling bartender/waitress who took us on a "tour" of their small but well stocked wine celler. Good food and very good service.

Purmamarca: El Manatiel del Silencio--Also a little outside of town but overlooking some incredible "red" mountains. Good food and service.

Salta: House of Jasmines--About 20/30 minutes outside of Salta (depending on traffic) so not the place to stay if you want to spend a lot of time in town. We were happy to be out in the country. Beautiful grounds. Wonderful spa. Room was small but with a large terrace/balcony. Very good food and wonderful service.

Iguazu: Sheraton--Definitely the place to stay on the Argentine side if your time is limited as all trails start right at the hotel. Also, wonderful view of the falls (from our room/balcony, dining room, bar). Food here I thought was only ok and quite pricey. Service was nothing special--however, if you're a starwood preferred member, you can get a late checkout (until 4pm).

Guides: All were terrific and fun and spoke excellent english. I would highly recommend each and everyone of them.
BsAs: Columbia Viejes--Trinidad
NW: Tastil Travel--Christian
Iguazu: Martin Travel--Carlos

Restaurants/cafes we really enjoyed and would definitely recommend (all in BsAs):
La Cabrera
Casa Cruz
La Biela (great cafe on a nice day to sit outside and people watch)
Gran Cafe Tortoni
L'Orangerie at the Alvear for tea

Also, in Cafayate (where we day tripped), we had a great lunch on the patio of the vineyard Finca Las Nubes outside of town and overlooking the vines and the town. A special experience.

Other random thoughts: Aeolineas Argentinas is even worse than you have read here! From what we heard while we were there--they are currently going through a crises--no money for maintenance so planes are going our of service, too many pilots on vacation--flights are regularly cancelled at the last minute or 2-3 hours delayed. Try your best to manage without using them. LAN was more reliable (and the seats are much more comfortable).

Please let me know if you have any questions. I would like to be as helpful to others as those on this forum have been to me.
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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 01:17 PM
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Thanks for your great report. Were u happy with the amount of time allocated to each of the places in the NW?
Did you book your internal flights yourself? thanks!
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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 01:28 PM
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Thanks yestravel. This is actually the first trip report I've ever posted so glad you liked it. In general, we were happy with the time allocation in the NW. But part of that was the result of one cancelled followed by one very delayed flight from BsAs to Salta. If we had arrived in Salta as originally scheduled, at 8 am (instead of 5:30pm!), I might have liked to make the trip to Colome going through Cachi instead of spending a night in Cachi after we left Colome.
As for the internal flight booking, we used our travel agent.
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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 01:35 PM
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This looks like a phenomenal trip. We are traveling to NW Argentina in July with a 14 and 12 year old for 6 days. Do you recommend this route and any of the hotels for families? I think Casa Jasmines will be too far out of town for us. Did you rent a car or have a guide drive you?
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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 01:46 PM
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First of all, ecp222, I would highly recommend having a guide/driver drive you around for several reasons. Many of the roads are terrible and the scenery is so spectacular--the locals know how to miss the worst ruts and where the best places are to stop and take in the scenery. I wouldn't want to have to worry about navigating or driving.
We didn't see any teenagers or other kids for that matter anywhere we were but I don't know why any of these hotels wouldn't be great for them. All of them in the NW had a swimming pool and Colome had wonderful horses to ride as well.
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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 04:24 PM
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cadwex, got a bunch more questions for u about distances primarly. Really appreciate hearing your impressions as we also enjoy traveling more slowly. Did u think it is worth spending a night in Cachi? About how long of a drive was it from Colome to Cachi? I assume u visited Cafayate from Colome? If so, how long of a trip is that? Did u drive directly from Cachi to Purmamarca? If so, about how long of a drive? And one more question, which travel agent did you use? Thanks so much!
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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 08:39 PM
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yestravel, not sure how to answer your question regarding our night in Cachi--I have mixed feelings about it. The drive from Colome to Cachi is about 2 hours (allowing for stops along the way for photos and brief sightseeing). We had a leisurely breakfast at Colome and left for Cachi around 11am. We arrived and went straight to lunch around 1:15 or so. The town of Cachi is quite small and can be visited in an hour or so. We ended up in our hotel by 4 (and I signed up for a massage at 5). This was clearly a pretty relaxing day. Stopping in Cachi, though, left us a long way to go the next day. We left about 8am, arrived in Salta for lunch around 12:30 and then drove on to Purmamarca--about a 2-hour drive from Salta--with many stops for photos. Once we arrived in Purmamarca, we decided to go on to the Salt Flats (which is about 1 hour 15 minutes each way from our hotel on the outskirts of Purmamarca). If we had not done the salt flats, we would have been at our hotel around 4 pm again. With the flats (which was definitely worth the drive--the scenary along the way is spectacular), we arrived back at our hotel around 7pm. So, I think it depends on how you want to split up your days. When I questioned the travel agent about the wisdom of overnighting in Cachi--she thought it a more picturesque, beautiful, quiet place to stop than around Salta (which would have been the other choice) and since we were planning on returning to and staying in Salta, we went with her suggestion.
As for Cafayate, our guide wanted us to take the trip from Colome. But, we loved Colome so much (and we had such a long travel day to get there due to our cancelled flights--we didn't arrive until 9:30pm), we decided to spend our full 2 days just hanging around Colome and not venturing out. As a result, we ended up daytripping to Cafayate from Salta. It was not too bad--we left our hotel about 8:45 am and returned back around 5:30/6--again the scenery back and forth was so great that I was very glad we made the trip. I'd say that the driving took about 3 hours or so each way--again allowing time for stopping for photos--we took many. If I was to do this part of the trip again, I think I would go from Colome to Cafayate and then from Cafayate to Salta--it's 2 different routes. You could even overnight in Cafayate if you wanted to. I was glad not to do the daytrip out of Colome. As others have said--it is such a special place, I wouldn't want to take a full day away from there for a day trip to anywhere.
Sorry for the long response. I use a local (Chicago) travel agent for all of my travels. She partnered with a company called Ladacto which is out of Florida and specialists in S. America.
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Old Nov 17th, 2007, 09:16 AM
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Thanks so much for all the specific details. What you wrote is very helpful to us in planning our trip.
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Old Nov 17th, 2007, 11:01 AM
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I know you will have a wonderful trip. Enjoy!
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Old Nov 18th, 2007, 05:41 AM
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thanks for your report. so glad you loved Colome. You were definitely right to stay there and just enjoy the place, and not use it as a base for daytrips. It is way too long a drive to do that! Unless you were staying for a week there, I guess.

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Old Nov 18th, 2007, 08:56 AM
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Thanks skatedancer. You were part of my inspiration for going to the NW and staying at Colome. We enjoyed every minute we spent there and wish it was closer to home and/or easier to get to so we could plan a return! Of course, the fact that it is neither of these, is one of the things that makes it so magical!
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Old Nov 19th, 2007, 06:49 AM
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Just wanted to chime in and thank you for the great trip report. We, too, enjoyed this part of AR. Also, very happy to hear you enjoyed Colome, it's the type of place you don't ever want to have to leave!

Skatedancer, it's time to go back, what do you think?
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