March 2008: As part of a larger trip to Antarctica, I visited Argentina for a week. I focused my trip on Patagonia with a couple of days in Buenos Aires at the tail end of my trip. 

About Argentina

Argentina is a huge country, 7 times bigger than California and the 3rd largest country in South America population wise with 44 million people. To me the country is a blend of Europe and South America. It is also common to see people drinking yerba matte, a traditional caffeine infused drink with a metal straw. Argentina contains huge glaciers, Andean Mountains and the vast Patagonian Steppe. The highest mountain in South America, Mount Aconcagua at 22,841′ is located in Argentina. The southern forests and lakes of Ushuaia are the gateway to Antarctica. 

Map of my route in Argentina

Glacier Trekking

I spent a few days in El Calafate in southern Argentina, a good base for trekking and exploring Patagonia. Trekking on top of Perito Moreno Glacier in Glacier National Park with crampons and exploring a living moving glacier with its crevices, caves, pools of crystal clear icy water close up was a trip highlight.

Perito Moreno Glacier

Me on Perito Moreno Glacier

One of the many crevice or glacier pools. We would drink the clear, pure water directly from the glacier with a straw and also use some of the ice in a whiskey drink after the trek was finished. 

Glacier pool

My group climbing the glacier

The biggest risk on the glacier is falling into a crevice that could be hundreds of feet deep

Perito Moreno Glacier is also one of the best places in the world to watch a glacier calving. Huge chunks of ice the size of houses regularly come crashing into the bay below the front of the glacier. 

Huge chunks of ice calving from the glacier

Huge chunks of ice calving from the glacier

From El Calafate I also did a long day trip to Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile, maybe the finest national park in Patagonia. The drive across the Argentine Patagonian steppe was some of the most desolate emptiness I have come across in my travels. For hours there were few towns and signs of habitation, just sheep and the occasional ostrich sized wild Rhea bird wandering the steppe. 

Tierra Del Fuego

Ushiau

From El Calafate, I flew to Ushuaia in Tierra Del Fuego, the gateway to Antarctica.  The main reason why I went here was because this was where I embarked on my expedition boat to Antarctica. Tierra Del Fuego (Land of Fire) was named by the original explorers after all of the tall bonfires the indigenous people living there at the time would make along the coastline. Ushuaia is the main town in Tierra Del Fuego and the area is a completely different environment from the rest of Patagonia and its huge mountainous forests and glacier lakes should not be missed. There is a public bus that goes directly into Tierra Del Fuego National Park from Ushuaia. From there you can easily access miles and miles of beautiful hiking trails into the park.

Hiking to the top of a ridge in Tierra del Fuego National Park

Lake in Tierra del Fuego National Park

Hiking to the top of a ridge in Tierra del Fuego National Park

Ushuaia is also a great town to relaxing and enjoy the local restaurants and cafes. Being the most southern town on the continent and technically on an island, it definitely has an isolated feel to it. Due to its isolation, Ushuaia was the ideal place to build a prison where the most dangerous prisoners were sent in the 1900s. The prison is an interesting tourist attraction.

Usuaia Prison 

Usuaia Prison Cell

Buenos Aires

I spent my last few days in Argentina in Buenos Aires, one of the largest cities in South America in the San Telmo District. I chose this District because I heard it was Bohemian and had a more relaxed feel to it and there was open street tango dancing at night and the locals would come out and tango to live music. This is exactly what I found when there and I loved it. I rented out a cheap apartment for a few nights and used that as a base to explore the area.

Live music

Tango dancing in the streets of San Telmo

13 + 11 =

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