Argentina, local experience seekers paradise

Eventhough Argentina isn’t as high up on most people’s place to visit list, the way the country presents itself is very much a mature very service minded tourism industry. They have got the relatively new trend of offering ‘authentic local experiences’ pretty much nailed.

Some of the places we stayed should be the role model for anybody who tries to achieve this.

The Palo Santo hotel in Buenos Aires

Just read their stories and you will be convinced: “We are eclectic, we are passionate about diversity and detail. We are contemporary, we are nomads, we are a new generation.”

Next time, i will stay even longer!

Yacutinga lodge in the Iguazu Rainforest

Although it was noticeable that the lodge had seen better days, the principles behind it are still incredibly convincing.” We are a company made up of local people who want to keep one of the few remaining Misionesra in forest that exist in an excellent state of conservation.For this purpose we decided to create the Yacutinga Project characterized by a cutting-edge hotel concept, adhered to strict criteria of sustainability in tourism.”

Yes , my kind of stay!

La Aldea de la Selva lodge in Puerto Iguazu

A beautiful hotel, consisting of individual units again placed in the rainforest.

“We aim to be recognized as a company that promotes sustainability actions in the community by contributing our effort and commitment towards making Puerto Iguazú a Green Iguazú”.

Legado Mitico in Salta

When you walk in, you get welcomed as if they know you. You’re arriving at a friends place. A friend with a very nice house!! It’s a historic house with a real B&B feel, conserving all old features. The service fits the place, and is as if they’ve known you forever.

“We would like to invite you to our emblematic hotel in the City of Salta, where an exclusive experience awaits you. You will be welcomed with old-time cordiality filled with the love for our nation, and in every room you will discover both mythical figures and the native people of this region, ever so rich in natural beauty.”

And that’s just a taste of the places we stayed.

At a restaurant in Salta where we came for the second time, they remembered our wineorder, and that we really liked the complimentary vegetarian ‘snacks’, so they gave us extra. At a little museum we went to the host noticed our interest in stones and minerals, so he gave us a non-polished one as a gift ” regalo de papa Santa” .

You get the gist. They’ve got the service industry nailed!

The best gym in the world, and other competition for Queenstown NZ

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Would you not want to be spending time in this gym? Fresh air,  a view to die for, lake and mountains around you, and all free! Some great local government initiatives here.

We’re in El Calafate, named after the little Calafate berry that grows here everywhere. It’s a bit like the blue berry and has all sorts of health benefits, like protection from ageing!

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El Calafate is situated at a cracking spot, on Lake Argentino, the biggest freshwater lake in Argentina. It’s got amazing birdlife, including flamingo’s (!), great cafe’s and restaurants and a load of activities on offer for different levels of adventure seekers. From a NZ point of view it definitely has a Queenstown feel and I would dare to say it could compete.

The real reason for this town though is the proximity to the Perito Moreno Glacier, the only glacier in the world that still grows/stays stable as opposed to retreat. Pretty amazing for sustainability researchers!
There are different ways of experiencing the glacier. Walking on the ice, taking a boat right up to it, or viewing the enourmous 5k wide, 70m high ice-wall from the very well maintained tracks of the national park. As the glacier moves 2m a day, you will be hearing the thunder and seeing the splashes on the water when the pressure forces ruptures. It is an incredible impressive site!

And when in the national park, even without the ice, its totally worth walking a bit more. The vistas of the mountains around the lake… yes Queenstown watch out!

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Today is just a regular day in the Andes

Rami, our local guide warned us that today we would see less mindblowing nature and a bit more regular touristy sites. Well after the spectacular day through the Puna desert, we were not expecting an equally exciting day, so that was OK.

How wrong we were…A few impressions of our regular day

The old man apologised for the chaos is his little private museum in a tiny little village in the middle of nowhere. He had an amazing collection, including ocelot skins, armadillo skeletons, age old pottery, tools and  a mummy!

Yes Argentina has got Salt lakes too! It hadn’t rained here for a while so the salt was not as white as it could be, but it was still so impressively close to snow that one could not resist doing a “salt” angel.

And then we just hit a regular 4000m +, crossed over the Tropic of Capricorn, met with some locals in one of the highest towns in Argentina, spotted Guanacos, saw some intriguing recovered rock-art (in a museum) and witnessed the amazingly handcrafted rail bridges of the Tren a las Nubes.

And of course don’t forget “el condor pasa” in the background…

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Just an ordinary day indeed..