By Sarah Kiddle
Like a fine wine
Argentina is a rich tapestry of scenery and attractions. We arrived by bus from Chile, over the Andes and into the heart of wine country, Mendoza. A boozy wine tour ensued (hic!) as we wandered lines of leafy vines beneath snow-capped peaks.
Arriving in Buenos Aires, we admired grand European-style architecture and visited a milonga to see the passionate, sultry tango. Everywhere was full of Latin fervour – and flavour, in the form of more robust red wine (‘we keep the best here’, a waiter told us), juicy steaks and indulgent dulce de leche for breakfast.
Heading south to El Calafate, we stood in the shadow of Glaciar Perito Moreno, a remarkable hunk of ice which advances up to two metres a day. Besides the stunning icy vistas, the explosions, as house-sized chunks of ice peel away and hit the water below, make for a thrilling afternoon!
In Buenos Aires, don't miss the iconic 'Evita balcony' of Casa Rosada and grand Recoleta cemetery where she is buried
Splash out on an Antarctic cruise via the infamous Cape Horn from Ushuaia the southernmost city in the world.
On a cruise from Puerto Madryn we observed a southern right whale and her calf bow riding regally alongside our boat and it was strangely humbling. Visiting South America’s largest colony of Magellan’s penguins at Punta Tombo was less majestic, but no less breathtaking. Watching dapper little penguins waddling about their business, before sliding into the sea and becoming underwater acrobats, was a comic delight. We also peeked into underground burrows to see grey penguin chicks peering right back!
Our wildlife odyssey continued at Iberá National Park, but what a different territory – marshy wetlands with ‘floating’ reed islands, occupied by the earth’s largest rodent, the capybara. The surrounding trees were full of birdsong and cackling monkeys and on a canoe ride it was unnerving to see a caiman’s wide open jaws just inches from one’s elbow!
Our tour ended in foaming fury of Iguazú Falls, the largest waterfall system on the planet – and correspondingly spectacular. Here we crossed into Brazil, having barely scratched the surface of this magnificent country.