San Juan province is a victim of Argentina’s embarrassment of riches. With so many better-known attractions on the tip of people’s tongues, it falls off the radar for most foreign tourists, which is a shame considering the caliber of its offerings. If you are feeling adventurous and want to see an under explored part of the country, a visit to San Juan can easily been tacked on to a trip to Mendoza. Here’s our guide to the hotspots.
It was at a 3,457 metre-high pass, somewhere way to the west of Salta city, after four hours on switchback, rubble-strewn dirt ‘roads’, that the extraordinary immensity of the Andean Alto-Plano really sank in. Admittedly the cocoa leaves that my native driver kept feeding me (for medicinal purposes) probably added to the sense of dizzying awe…
The Patagonian Lake District, with its famous Siete Lagos route, is undoubtedly one of Argentina’s outdoor highlights. It’s stunning whichever way you go, but nothing beats on horseback. The days pretty much go like this: wake up in camp, light a fire to warm water, drink some mate tea, lazily eat some facturas (pastries), saddle up and hop on a horse, amble around some of the world’s most idyllic countryside, get off the horse, set up camp, help the gaucho with an asado, eat meat and drink wine overlooking a mirror flat lake, sleep into a divine slumber.
Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on earth, Torres del Paine National Park is South America’s final hurrah before crashing into the ocean with only the prospect of Antarctica further south. The scenery is incomparable: a rugged wilderness of scaling mountains, vast lakes, dramatic glaciers and dense forests. It is an unbelievable sight.
Aconcagua is one of the world’s great mountains. It rises 6,959 metres (22,841ft) up into Argentina’s sky in the Andes. Despite being the highest mountain in the Americas, in fact the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas, it is also relatively straightforward to climb with almost no technical sections. Beware, straightforward does not mean easy – it’s one of the deadliest mountains and an extremely challenging undertaking…
Tucked away in the corner of the country, where Argentina, Bolivia and Chile converge, is the magical Andean northwest. The climate is as harsh as the terrain: unrelenting heat and heavy rains in the summer, arid cold in the winter. April, May and September are the best months to visit.
Chardonnay, the noble grape that reaches such sublime heights in Burgundy, famously fell from grace through a mix of over-exposure (think Bridgett Jones and Footballers Wives) and overblown wannabes from the New World. But good old Chardonnay is poised to make a welcome return. Except this time it’s typically leaner and cleaner, cut from a finer cloth that is more in tune with the subtle sophistication of our palates today.
If, like ours, your legs are restless and your head a little fuzzy after a couple of days touring Uco Valley and Lujan in the car, nothing blasts the cobwebs away like a day in the saddle. And it’s a great taster of what the region has to offer for budget travellers. Read on for our top tips.
Taking at least one overland trip in Argentina is a must and the only way to really appreciate the country’s vast size. A few trips later – and bingo games aside – you start to realise Argentina bus travel is akin to being on a plane.
The Uco Valley covers a vast area, and visiting the bodegas requires a little forward planning. There are basically two options: organise it yourself, or join a tour. In this guide, we’ll look at some of the options for tours, as well as some reputable tour companies.