Sleeping

Hotels and guesthouses may display a star rating, but this doesn't necessarily match international standards. Many more expensive hotels charge different prices for extranjeros (non-Argentines) in US$, which is unavoidable since a passport is required as proof of residency. If you pay in cash (pesos) you may get a reduction. Room tax (VAT) is 21% and is not always included in the price. All hotels will store luggage for a day, and most have English-speaking staff. For upmarket chain hotels throughout Argentina contact N/A Town & Country Hotels, www.newage-hotels.com. Hostelling International Argentina, www.hostelsuites.com, which offers discounts to card-holders at their 70 hostels throughout Argentina, long-distance buses and backpacker tours. For a complete listing of sleeping options, see www.welcomeargentina.com.

Hotels, hosterías, residenciales and hospedajes

The standard of accommodation in Argentina is generally good, and although prices have risen in the last two years, good hotels are generally very good value for visitors. You'll find that most cities and tourist towns list hotels and hosterías as separate: this is no reflection on quality or comfort, but simply on size: a hostería has less than 20 rooms. Both hotels and hosterías will have rooms with private bathrooms, (usually showers rather than bath tubs, which you'll find only in the more expensive establishments). Prices often rise in high summer (January to February) at Easter and in July. During public holidays or high season you should always book ahead. A few of the more expensive hotels in Buenos Aires and major tourist centres such as Puerto Madryn, Bariloche and El Calafate charge foreigners higher prices than Argentines: very frustrating, though there's little you can do about it, since a passport is required as proof of Argentine residency. If you're given a price in US$, ask if there's a reduction if you pay in pesos and in cash. Most places now accept credit cards, but check before you come. It's worth booking your first few nights' accommodation before you arrive, and most hotels have an email address on their websites (provided in the Listings sections throughout the book) so that you can make contact before setting off.

Estancias

Estancias
are the large farms and cattle ranches found all over the country, many of them now open to tourists, and offering a marvellous insight
into Argentine life. Most are extremely comfortable places to stay, and offer wonderful horse riding and other activities such as birdwatching and walking, in addition to the authentic experience of life on the land. They can be pricey but meals, drinks, transfers and activities are included. It will certainly be the most memorable part of your stay.

There's a whole spectrum of
estancias
from a simple dwelling on the edge of a pristine lake in the Patagonian wilderness to a Loire-style chateau in the Pampas. You'll certainly
be treated to the traditional
asado
, meat cooked over an open fire, and most impressively,
asado al palo
, where the animal is speared on a cross-shaped stick and roasted to perfection.

Gauchos still work the land on horseback in their traditional outfit of
bombachas
(baggy trousers, comfortable for spending hours on horseback),
trensa
(a wide leather belt with silver clasps), a poncho (in the northwest), a
pañuelo
(neckerchief), a
boina
(beret) and on the feet
alpargatas
(simple cotton shoes).

Estancias
can be pricier than hotels, but some are accessible even to travellers on a budget, at least for a day visit.
Día de campo
(day on the farm) is offered by lots of
estancias
, a full day of horse riding, or a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, an
asado
lunch, and then often other farm activities, or time to relax in the peaceful grounds.

Though
estancias
are found throughout rural Argentina, they vary enormously in style and activities. In the province of Buenos Aires you will find
estancias
covering thousands of hectares of flat grassland with large herds of cattle and windpumps to extract water; horse riding will certainly be offered and perhaps cattle-mustering, at La Luisa and Palantelén for example. Some of the finest buildings are in this area, such as Dos Talas and La Porteña. In Patagonia there are giant sheep
estancias
overlooking glaciers, mountains and lakes, such as
estancias
 Maipú
,
Helsingfors
or
Alma Gaucha
. There are
estancias
on Tierra del Fuego, full of the history of the early pioneers who built them:
Viamonte
and
Harberton
, while on the mainland nearby,
Estancia Monte Dinero
, has a colony of Magellanic penguins on its doorstep. There's more wildlife close at hand in the
estancias
on Península Valdés. And in Salta, there are colonial-style
fincas
whose land includes jungly cloudforest with marvellous horse riding.

The most distinctive or representative
estancias
are mentioned in the text, but for
more information see: www.turismo.gov.ar (in English), the national tourist website with all
estancias
listed; www.caminodelgaucho.com.ar, an excellent organization which can arrange stays in the Pampas
estancias
; www.estanciasdesantacruz.com, a helpful agency which arranges
estancia
stays Santa Cruz and the south, including transport. A useful book
Tursimo en Estancias y Hosterías
is produced by
Tierra Buena
, www.guiatierra
buena.com.ar, who arranges visits through www.southtrip.com. You can of course contact
 estancias
directly, and reserve, ideally with a couple of weeks warning.

Cabañas

Cabañas
are a great option if you have transport and there are at least two of you. They are self-catering cottages, cabins or apartments, usually in rural areas, and often in superb locations. They're tremendously popular among Argentine holidaymakers, who tend to travel in large groups of friends, or of several families together, and as a result, the best
cabañas
are well-equipped and comfortable. They can be very economical too, especially for groups of four or more, but are feasible even for two, with considerable reductions off-season. If you're travelling by public transport,
cabañas
are generally more difficult to get to, but ask the tourist office if there are any within walking or taxi distance. Throughout the Lake District,
cabañas
are plentiful and competitively priced.

Camping

Organized campsites are referred to in the text immediately after hotel listings for each town. Camping is very popular in Argentina (except in Buenos Aires) and there are many superbly situated sites, most have good services, whether municipal or private. There are many quieter, family orientated places, but if you want a livelier time, look for a campsite (often by the beaches) with younger people, where there's likely to be partying
until the small hours. Camping is allowed at the side of major highways and in all national parks (except at Iguazú Falls), but in Patagonia strong winds can make camping very difficult.
Wherever you camp, pack your rubbish and put out fires with earth and water. Fires are not allowed in many national parks because of the serious risk of forest fires. It's a good idea to carry insect repellent.

If taking a cooker, the most frequent recommendation is a multi-fuel stove which will burn unleaded petrol or, if that is not available, kerosene or white fuel. Alcohol-burning stoves are reliable, but slow and you have to carry a lot of fuel. Fuel can usually be found in chemists/pharmacies. Gas cylinders and bottles are usually exchangeable, but
if not can be recharged; specify whether you use butane or propane. Gas canisters are
not always available. White gas (
bencina blanca
) is readily available in hardware shops (
ferreterías
).

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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