Heart of Travel recently wrapped up an incredible tour of Argentina led by our wonderful guide, Pam Aguilar. The trip was so full of fun and adventure, and we wanted to share with you what we got up to. While we wish we could've taken each and every one of you with us, we hope you'll join us on our next adventure. In the meantime, we'd like to give you a glimpse of what we experienced. Let's get into it!
Argentina is a country of contrasts, from the bustling streets of Buenos Aires to the serene wilderness of La Patagonia. We set out to explore it all, with a focus on wine, culture, and adventure. Here are some of the highlights from our trip.
During our 10 days in Argentina, we:
Tasted some of the best wines in the world in Mendoza
A region known for its vineyards and wineries. We learned about the winemaking process and savored delicious Malbecs and other varietals.
Visited different bodegas of the Maipu - Luján del Cuyo region. First in line was the boutique family-owned Caelum, named after a small southern hemisphere constellation and the first women-owned in the region. Mercedes Díaz, its creator and owner, started with a pistachio plantation until she realized that her soil was perfect for grapes! She started selling her production to nearby bodegas until a few years back when she and her family finally started producing their own final product, harvesting by hand the most beautiful Fiano grape wine you can imagine.
After that, we visited Maal Wines and Martino Wines, two totally different bodegas. The first one just opened last year, dedicated only to Malbec and fully recycled - from top to bottom, with a DJ as an owner and thriving against all odds. The last one had the best pairing menu in the whole trip. Martino Wines is known for its "unusual" grapes in the region, including Pedro Ximenez, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. If ever in town, try not to miss out on these two. Surprisingly, though, throughout the trip, "Criolla" and "Bonarda" were the two grapes that the group loved! Both undervalued grapes were historically used to create blends that are now becoming more popular in the younger market.
Explored the vibrant cultural scene of Buenos Aires.
From the colorful street art to the world-class museums and theaters.
We were awed by the passion and energy of the city. Buenos Aires has been called the Paris of South America since the beginning of the 1900s, and once you start walking through its streets, you understand why. Even cities like Madrid and Barcelona make you think about Buenos Aires once you've been there. The city's architecture is one of the biggest legacies of the European migration that occurred after Spain's colonization and during both World War I and II. The marvelous tall buildings that surround the city center contrast beautifully with the parks and wide avenues like 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world, which also holds the Obelisk, the most famous landmark in the city. A pro tip is that the best views of this magnificent monument are from Plaza de Mayo, which makes its way to Avenida de Mayo, where most protests and demonstrations take place in a politicized and controversial city, full of collective movements and ideas. Most cafes and theaters stand still in time, representing an iconic era when poetry, music, politics, and great philosophers used to sit in the same halls to discuss what made Argentina "the new hope," a new start for most of the migrants. Contrasting the European architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries of the city center comes the modern Puerto Madero on the river bank of Rio de la Plata with stylish buildings and captivating local restaurants next to the riverwalk that bring you a sight of a very modern and hip city with sleek skyscrapers. The beautiful "Puente de la Mujer," a rotating footbridge with its asymmetrical arrangement representing the image of a couple dancing tango, was declared a cultural heritage of the city of Buenos Aires back in 2018.
We hiked through the awe-inspiring landscapes of Nahuel Huapi National Park
And admired the crystal-clear waters of Lake Nahuel Huapi.
We saw towering mountains, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls. Just when we thought there was nothing that could top our magnificent views of Argentina and Patagonia, our earliest start to go to the "7 Lakes Road" to San Martín de los Andes started with the most amazing sunset we've ever seen. Everyone was in tears, hugging and just smelling the cold crisp air of this magnificent "painting" in the sky, which felt like a gift to us over the Nahuel Huapi Lake. Surrounded by beautiful autumn leaves, Bariloche this time of year just brings a dose of "Christmasy" feels in April, which tends to make any wanderlust fan sigh at the magnificent surroundings. Sailing through Nahuel Huapi and Lago Frías with its clear emerald water made postcard memories for a lifetime. The amazing views of Cerro Tronador (already part of Chile, by the way) and its glaciers, which on a clear day like the one we had, leave you in awe of how beautiful this planet we live in is. The Three Brothers Mount, together with our one-hour hike up the stairs of Cascada de los Cántaros, a beautiful forest that surrounds a waterfall and lake at the top, is worth the wait at the end of this tour.
We savored traditional Argentine cuisine, including juicy steaks and empanadas, as well as delicious vegetarian and vegan options.
We also sampled regional specialties like mate tea and alfajores. "The purity is really in the mix" (La pureza está en la mezcla) sings the lyrics to a Jarabe de Palo (Spanish band) song, and that's something you can live and breathe while munching on all the delicious meals that Argentina has to offer. From the Italian fresh pasta stores and delis everywhere to the gelato and the aperitifs like vermouths and bitters, mixed with the Swiss and German bread and pastries, chocolate and schnitzels, mixed with the "criollo" ways of making a great asado out in the fields and filling empanadas with seasoned meats and strongly flavored cheese, every meal is a complete delight. Mate tea was definitely a study topic during the trip. Questions arose from day one about what mate was, to a detailed description of the ritual of preparing the beverage, how to follow the courtesy rules on sharing with others, as well as all the different types of containers, metal straws (bombillas), and herbs available for purchase everywhere we went. Everyone did get a chance to savor it, and since it's an acquired taste, 2 out of 8 passed the taste test and took their own mate kit back home to the States! Barbara even accepted a round of mate from a total stranger on one of the beaches of Bariloche. She definitely passed the cultural top-tier test! We took in the breathtaking views of the Andes mountains and the snow-capped peaks of Cerro Tronador. We marveled at the natural beauty of this rugged terrain and the sense of peace it brought us. It felt like being in a different world, far away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
At the end of the trip, we didn't just make new friends; we basically became part of the Familia Argentina. From day one, sharing with Santi and his family in San Isidro, a beautiful rainy and family Sunday as its tradition, a good asado, good wine, good political conversation, and live folk music, to our rooftop experience in Recoleta with Lilian and Lilita's family and the famous chef Camila Pérez, to the wonderful homemade pastries and empanadas and stories by the fireplace of our wonderful friends in the Hacienda Las Pircas, Familia Palma, to our time in Gilbert's, Bariloche's first craft brewery with the owner and his son, to the amazing hospitality of the Mendocinian folks that with their storytelling and wine pairings captivated our hearts. Not to mention our tour guides Romina, the two Simons, Fer, and Hernan, wonderful people who tell an amazing story of this pluricultural and rich country, not only in landscapes but also in innovative social ideas and strong patriotism and love for their own.
Our trip to Argentina was an unforgettable adventure that opened our eyes to a fascinating culture and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. It was the best inaugural trip we could have asked for, and we can't wait to get back here in 2024. We hope our recap has inspired you to explore this amazing country, whether with Heart of Travel or on your own.
If you have any questions about traveling to Argentina, simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll be happy to assist you on your way!