BY BEN BOX
1 San Telmo
The oldest barrio in Buenos Aires, colonial San Telmo is destination number one for an authentic tango experience. But it’s more than antique shops, bustling street fairs, poetic cafés and fish-netted dancers twirling in milongas. Here tourists, artists, vagabonds and business people mingle, strolling the cobbled streets and frequenting the dive bars, artisanal beer houses and buzzworthy restaurants.
A metropolitan experience as vibrant as Buenos Aires but operating at a more relaxed pace. The second largest city in Argentina boasts the country’s oldest university and is famous for its colonial centre. But the real stars are the outlying areas, which include Jesuit estancias, Che Guevara’s childhood home, and the Germanic town of Villa General Belgrano.
Bordering the sleepy college town of Mendoza is the Andes mountain range. And amid this mighty backbone of South America sits Aconcagua, the highest peak on the continent and second-highest in the world outside the Himalaya. Beckoning adventurers from across the globe, only the fittest and most serious of mountaineers need apply.
4 Quebrada de Humahuaca
The northwest of Argentina is home to many natural wonders, like these stunning terracotta gorges just outside Jujuy. Mother Nature went wild with the paint box, coating the rock strata in shades of red, a backdrop for the idyllic oasis villages in the area. Be sure to come for the raucous Easter and Carnival celebrations.
5 Esteros del Iberá
Those who are willing to travel outside the capital and into Corrientes Province will discover a treasure unlike any other in the country. This system of bogs, lagoons and floating islands is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers. These are the second-largest wetlands in the world after Brazil’s Pantanal.
6 San Ignacio
On the surface, the town of San Ignacio is a quiet, unassuming place. Pay a visit, though, and you’ll discover its colonial heart: the Jesuit ruins of San Ignacio Miní, a mission founded in the 1600s. This crumbling UNESCO World Heritage Site is a great remnant of a time when South America as we know it was only just beginning to take shape.
7 Iguazú Falls
As you twist and turn along wooden walkways, you’re met with a sheer drop to one side and thundering falls spraying you with mist on the other. Brave the Garganta del Diablo Circuit and you’ll reach a harrowing view straight down the Devil’s Throat. Look up for the spectacular sight of 275 converging waterfalls.
8 Parque Nacional Los Alerces
There are few better vantage points in which to enjoy the Patagonian Andes in all their splendour than Los Alerces. Christened after the superlatively thick tree of the same name, this national park boasts virgin forest, hanging glaciers and perfect hikes. It’s also a short jaunt from the pristine Patagonian town of Esquel.
9 Península Valdés
This little rock jutting out to sea is home to some of the best wildlife spotting on the Atlantic Coast of Patagonia. A conservation site for marine mammals, the peninsula is a natural habitat for threatened species, such as the southern right whale. Highlights include ravenous orcas, penguin colonies and glorious beaches.
10 Glaciar Perito Moreno
A living monolith, tourists flock to experience the awe of being dwarfed by this glacier’s presence. An expanse of white stretches away until a wall of jagged blue ice, millions of years old, rumbles and fractures, crashing into the turquoise waters below. This is the world’s only advancing and retreating glacier.
11 Estancia Harberton
Over a century before Ushuaia was a tourist destination, there was Estancia Harberton. The missionary Thomas Bridges founded it in 1886 as an outpost where he hoped to learn about the indigenous peoples of Tierra del Fuego. The result was a national landmark sitting on the serene Beagle Channel that is still run by Bridges’ descendants today.