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Proposed Argentina trip for Feb '18 - looking for advice?


Jul 25th, 2017, 12:25 PM
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Proposed Argentina trip for Feb '18 - looking for advice?

We are trying to plan a two week trip to Argentina in February. My husband and I like active vacations -we are in our 50's and in decent condition. We have been to Chile - Patagonia, Atacama, Santiago and Easter Island. Loved it but not looking to duplicate the trip on the Argentinian side...so thinking of

BA - 2 nights
Igauzu Falls (both sides )2 nights
Bariloche 3 nights
Mendoza 3 nights

Was thinking of tacking on Punta del Este Uruguay (3 nights) for some beach R&R before heading home out of Montevideo.

We like to hike (3-5 hour day hikes with some altitude gain as opposed to walks around a lake) and would love several hikes on our trip.
Rafting - prefer class 4-5 rapids..not interested in calmer rafting. One rafting trip would be fine.
Biking - but don't want to be on busy roads...and don't want to mountain bike on hills - so this activity might be out

I have a few questions.
From the guide books it looks like you can fly into Mendoza, San Juan or San Rafael. I think the rafting is in San Rafael...but it sounds like the area isn't that interesting. Given what we want to do what area would be best? It sounds like you can bike ride to vineyards which sounds fun to me...

How many days in each area?

Are we trying to do too much in a two week trip? We are fine to move around a lot...I just don't want to spend the whole trip in transit.

I read in the NY times about a Visit Argentina Airpass...but I can't find anything online that explains it - or the pricing.

Any hotel recommendations? We like 4-5 star hotels...but character and a unique property is more important than class of hotel. Would pick staying at an interesting estate over a 4 Seasons.

Any help is greatly appreciated...we have spent a lot more time in SE Asia than in South America...promise to post a trip report in exchange for the helpful info I always get off of this site. Thanks in advance.
chichichicago is offline  
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Jul 25th, 2017, 01:42 PM
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Note that you will need a visa to go to the Brazilian side of the falls in Iguacu. Give yourself plenty of advance time to apply.
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Jul 25th, 2017, 02:34 PM
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I think you are trying to fit in too much into the time you have. Distances are vast and getting from one destination to another can take a lot of time. Flights between cities are often routed through BA. We even booked a "direct" flight from Salta to Iguazu last year and Aerolinas Argentinas changed that to indirect via BA!

Over night buses are extremely comfortable and an efficient alternative in some cases.

Unless you are desperate for beach time, I would forget about Uruguay.

Bariloche, is the place for hiking I feel but it is in Patagonia, so would involve the duplication you seek to avoid.

Mendoza has the biking, which, if I recall correctly, was reasonably level. The wineries were good but w ejust didn't take to the place

We spent a week or so in San Raphael when we were considering moving to Argentina. There are a lot of vineyards there but not especially scenic ones as I recall. The rafting would be in Canon de Atuel maybe? If so it is the most scenic place in the area, but wouldn't be enough for me to return there.

The most memorable place for us has always been Salta and the Northwest. A couple of times we have rented a car and driven circuits of the region. There are two circuits which can be linked together to make a longer trip. Depending upon the pace at which you want to travel, you could take 5-10 days in the region. Amazing and diverse scenery, great food, even better vineyards and wine. Some nice places to stay too.

Iguazu is breathtaking. The different sides of the falls do offer a completely different perspective. With luck you should be able to fly there from Salta, but flights only operate on certain days and, as my experience has shown, theybdo tend to change those days even when you have booked.

For me, a good trip would look something like this:

BA 3 nights
Salta and NW 8 nights
Iguazu 2 nights
BA 1 night ( always best to spend the night before an international flight - just in case!)
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Jul 26th, 2017, 06:07 AM
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Thank you crellston....interesting thoughts. I had sort of written off Salta...was guessing it would be similar to Atacama...which we adored...but have already seen. I am going to revisit the idea...

Yes Bariloche is Patagonia..I guess my thought was not going as far south as El Calafate.

Curious what you didn't like about Mendoza...I was thinking a couple 1/2 activities in the morning..biking hiking etc...then a couple afternoons visiting the wineries. Does the town lack charm? Was thinking of staying outside of town ..

What did you like in BA? We have never been so obviously would like to look around..but since we live in a big city we are always anxious to get out in the country side. 3 nights seems like a lot to me. Was thinking 2 at the beginning and of course you are right...1 night at the end before we leave.

Sambachula - thank you for the tip on the visa...i had read that and intend to get it...
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Jul 26th, 2017, 10:11 PM
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The Salta & NW area is a lot more varied than Atacama, although I suppose it depends where in the atacama you visited. We drove all the way from San Pedro Iquique on the coast and saw little but sand for hundreds of miles. I would love to provide a link to our blog of our time there with loads of photos and detail but sadly, Travelpod closed down and I haven't got around to putting the entries on to our new blog yet. Lots of small towns and villages, Cafayate, Molinos,Chicoana, Cachi Purmamarca, Humahuaca etc. All are very different and all have a lot to offer. There is also Salineras Grande, similar but smaller than the Salar de Uyuni or the salt flats in Chile.

As far as Mendoza is concerned, I think we may have enjoyed it more by staying outside of town as you plan to do. The city itself I found unappealing. Maybe just one of those things, you can't love everywhere I suppose! The vineyards we visited we found a little disappointing, maybe we chose badly or perhaps it would have been better to have stayed at one. Maybe it was because we had just got there from New Zealand where they really know how to do a vineyard visit. I think we also perhaps found Mendoza a little less welcoming and friendly than other parts of Argentina.

We rented an apartment in BA for a month but like big cities - (Chicago has always been high on my list, if only to visit Buddy Guy's place!) . The food is great, as are the bars. it perhaps lacks some of the iconic sites of say London or New York but there are a few places worth visiting, Recoleta, San Telmo, etc. If you happen to be there on a Sunday then do visit The Alvear Palace for brunch - an amazing amazing experience - if you click on my screen name you should be able to locate the trip report when avrooster, Fodors poster extrordinaire, took my wife and I there.

If you want to less big city time then just cut a day. Maybe you need to add a night to Iguazu as, depending on your flight times, two nights only provides one full day, which is not a great deal of time to see both sides of the falls.
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Jul 28th, 2017, 06:17 PM
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Hello, interesting Crellston post above and agree the Salta and NW area is beautiful, we drove from Mendoza to Salta and it was some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery we have seen anywhere, the light is just unbelievable. In addition to the places mentioned above have a look at Laguna Brava and the El Penon, its untouched by tourism. In Mendoza we stayed at Chacras De Coria, just outside of the city and a village, you can hire bikes and cycle to the wineries, we found them pleasant enough and the wine fantastic. Agree though they are not quite like NZ winery visits but as I live in NZ that is 100% biased opinion
I cant comment on the similarities between Salta and Atacama, we were supposed to go to Atacama but had to cut our trip short, from planning though I thought it seemed quite different.
I have been to Punte Del Este, it didn't do it for me and I would rather spend the time in Argentina.
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Jul 29th, 2017, 03:15 AM
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Link courtesy of the so-called "avrooster, Fodors poster extrordinaire". LOL!!!!


Have a great time in my town with your DH, chichichicago.
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Jul 30th, 2017, 01:06 PM
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We have visited both Atacama and Salta (and around - we drove north from Bariloche, via Mendoza, and as donnyrover says, a wonderful trip and well worth doing). I would agree that Salta has more variety than Atacama - though we enjoyed both. We didn't like Mendoza but stayed outside and found the area pleasant - but prefer the wineries of South Africa. I wouldn't fancy my chances riding a bike actually in Mendoza as it was very busy - but around Chacras it was fine. We flew from Salta to Iguazu (we were lucky - we managed a direct flight) but think you would need 3 nights which will give you a full day on each side of the falls which you will need to do it justice.

We have also been to both El Calafate and TDP in Patagonia - they are very different and I would say that El Calafate is certainly worth a visit - possibly at the expense of Mendoza given your time constraints.
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Jul 31st, 2017, 04:35 AM
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Thank you all for the input...still sorting out the details. My husband is set on the idea of Mendoza/wine country so we are going to go there. After looking into Salta....I think I want to go there...but will probably do that in a separate trip. It looks pretty interesting...but I think I would want to do a leisurely drive up there...and given the other things we want to do I don't think we will fit it in this trip unfortunately. The husbands job gets in the way of extended travel time!

Does anyone know of a decent hotel near AEP? Since the internal flights go thru BA..we are thinking about overnighting so that we can take last flight out at night/first flight in the morning...rather than fly during the daytime.
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