When it comes to South America’s second largest country, many people think immediately of tango, steaks, gauchos and soccer. But Argentina is much more than that: The unique diversity of landscapes, especially around Patagonia and the Andes, as well as breathtaking nature spots makes this country a must-see for every nature friend and adventure traveler.
Argentina is located in the Southern part of South America. It shares borders with Bolivia in the North, Paraguay north-east, Brazil in the East, Uruguay south-east and Chile in the West. Its capital is Buenos Aires.
The county’s name is derived from the Latin word argentum, which means silver, because the Spanish conquerors were hoping to find precious metals in that place, when they arrived. Until the end of the Spanish colonial era in 1816 Argentina was part of the Spanish kingdom. Covering an area of 2.8 km² Argentina is the eighth largest country of the world and the fourth largest country of the American continent. Due to its size it covers different climate and vegetation zones.
Argentina's most famous mountains are the Andes, which extend from North to South, along the Chilean border. Many mountains in this area count a height of more than 6000 m. The highest mountain is called Aconcagua (7000 m).
Due to its different climate zones Argentina reveals a strong variety regarding flora and fauna. In the tropical part in the North of the country there are predominantly rosewoods, palms, guaiacums and palisander. Other vegetation zones are the savanna of Gran Chaco in the far North and pampas in the East, which is characterized by broad grasslands including eucalyptus woods and acacia plant. The flat South of Patagonia is shaded by the Andes. The area is relatively dry, sparse and mainly without any trees, but sometimes lined with some shrubs and herbs, which serve as food for plenty of sheep flocks. In the forelands of the Andes many coniferous forests can be found, the timberline is at 3500 m. In the northern highlands of the Andes there are some arid semi deserts where cactuses and thorn shrubs grow.
The blossom of Ceibos-tree is Argentina's national symbol.
Depending on the climate zone there is a large variety of animals. In the tropical areas monkeys, jaguars, pumas, coatis, anteaters and different reptiles can be observed. Birdwatchers can observe hummingbirds, tucans, parrots and very rare condors. In the pampas there are armadillos, deers and nandus. The highlands are inhabited by guanakos, vicunjas and llamas. Especially the coastal areas of Patagonia are famous for its unique wildlife which is characterized by penguins, seals and sea bears, orcas and other whales.
Argentina covers nearly all existing climate zones. The North is tropical, but close to the Andes rather dry, the center is more subtropical or moderate and the South, around Patagonia, can be characterized by a cold and, depending on the place, dry or humid climate.
UTC – 3:00 hours
In Argentina there is no daylight saving time.
The currency in Argentina is Peso (ARS). One Peso is 100 Centavos. For the current exchange rate please visit www.oanda.com
All units accord to the metric system.
In Argentina the standard voltage is 220 Volt at a frequency of 50 Hertz. Before your departure you should check if you need any adapter for plug-types C and I.
A lot of European airlines offer flights to Buenos Aires. There are 33 national destinations that can be reached from Buenos Aires. The 215.000 km of streets (80 % paved) and over 120 long distance bus lines connect Buenos Aires to the rest of the country. A convenient way to travel in Argentina is a rental car. The driver needs to be older than 21 and a national driving license.
Perito Moreno is one of the most fascinating glaciers throughout the world. Due to its good accessibility visitors can easily observe how fast the glacier moves forward (2 meters per day!). When the glacier calves, giant icebergs are released into the Lago Argentino – an breathtaking nature spectacle.
The mighty Iguazú-Falls in the deepest depth of the Argentinian jungle are a unique adventure: The thunder, the water screen in the air and the water masses make this place an unforgettable journey.
The gorge of Quebrada de Humahuaca in the far northwest of the country gives you the feeling to be in another world. Colorful rocks, unique rock formations, the grassland with grazing lamas and the endless width of this beautiful landscape will blow your mind.
This famous necropolis in the center of Buenos Aires is one of the main attractions in the city. Plenty of beautiful mausoleums made of marble, granite, concrete and colored glass as well as narrow lanes and straying cats give this place a mystic spirit.
Patagonia is a region in South America that partly belongs to Argentina (east) and partly to Chile (western part). With an area of 766.000 km² the Argentinian part is about twice as big as Germany but with only 1.6 million inhabitants. In this area you can explore a stunning variety of landscapes like glaciers, mountains, veld-like plateaus and also several fascinating national parks.
In the north the rivers Río Colorado in Argentina and the Río Bío Bío in Chile roughly mark the borders of Patagonia, in the southern area the Strait of Magellan represents the natural border of this region.
Patagonia is divided into west Patagonia that belongs to Chile and east Patagonia that is part of Argentina. South of the Strait of Magellan you can find the so-called Land of Fire, an archipelago that is commonly seen as part of Patagonia. The population density is only as high as two inhabitants per square kilometre, which shows that this region is really only sparsely populated.
The Argentinian part of Patagonia can be divided in five provinces that are from north to south Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz und Tierra del Fuego.
The southern foothills of the Andes portray the natural border between west and east Patagonia. Not only are the Andes the longest mountain range worldwide but also the highest outside Asia.
The climate of the Argentinian part of Patagonia is mainly influenced by the bordering Andes. As the region is located in the rain shadow of the mountain range, it is usually very dry. Moreover, there is a constant wind which causes weather to be changeable and unpredictable at times. The low amount of rain is distributed quite evenly throughout the whole year and can also take the shape of snow in the months June to August. In the low lands, temperatures in Patagonia are around 6 to 7 °C. During winter time average daily temperatures are generally around 5°C, whereas temperatures can even fall below 0°C during the night. The warmest month is January with temperatures in the south of around 11°C and in the north between 15 and 20°C.
Due to the very dry climate in the Argentinian part of Patagonia you can find semi-arid or desert-like zones. This so called Pampa – a veld-like plateau – as well as the wide range of grasses and bushes are very characteristic for wide areas of Patagonia. Further south the landscape gets wilder: you can find sees, fjords, glaciers and forests.
The region westwards of the Andes in the Chilean part of Patagonia is dominated by moist, cold climate due to the Valdivian temperate rain forest as well as the ice sheet. Besides the poles and Greenland this sheet is the biggest coherent ice mass worldwide.
In Patagonia you can visit the National Park Torres del Paine on the Chilean side and the National Park Los Glaciares on the Argentinian side. Los Glaciares is part of the UNESCO world natural heritage and is known for the icefalls of the glacier Perito-Moreno.
Patagonia’s biodiversity is rather low due to the dry climate and the veld-like habitats. Its fauna is mainly dominated by guanacos, greater rheas and the Andean condor. Due to the many lakes there are also numerous flamingos and various other aquatic birds.
The glacier Perito-Moreno is located in the National Park Los Glaciares in the province Santa Cruz and is part of the Campo de Hielo Sur – one of the biggest glacier regions in the South American Andes. You can explore these impressive glaciers on foot as well as by boat. Especially the ice falls that occur every few years are quite spectacular as well.
Ruta Nacional 40
The Ruta Nacional 40 can be seen as Route 66 of Argentina. On more than 5,000 km this route runs along the eastern Andes – from Bolivia to the southern region of Patagonia. For approx. 2,400 km this second most famous highway of South America runs through Patagonia. This only partly asphalted road crosses uninhabited as well as very crowded areas.
El Chaltén is located in the province Santa Cruz on the northern border of the National Park Los Glaciares and is part of the youngest village of Argentina. As the so-called “hiking capital” El Chaltén gives you direct access to the most famous mountains of the region, Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. There are also numerous offers of trekking tours for beginners.
Bariloche is a town in the province Río Negro that is not only known for its ski area at the Cerro Catedral but is also a great region for hiking and climbing within a beautiful landscape. Moreover, you can also do several extreme sports like kayaking, paragliding and mountain climbing. In addition to that the amazing lake scenery around Bariloche is a perfect setting for a road trip.