Quick weekend getaway from Buenos Aires
Argentina, while it’s know for the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires, has so much more to offer as one of the largest countries in the world. The lands around it are just as special as the heart of Argentina itself, Buenos Aires.
Colonia del Sacramento
The body of water next to Buenos Aires is the Rio de la Plata, or “Silver River”. Just a 50 minute boat ride away across the River is the rustic town Colonia del Sacramento. Colonia provides a convenient, nice get-a-way spot for a weekend. The town is abundant with history, as it is the oldest city in Uruguay. Spain, Portugal and Brazil all fought for rule over this port until 1828. With all the rich history it might be worth your time to take a walking tour of the historic neighborhood. In 1995 Colonia became one of the world’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While the town is absolutely charming, it’s also quite small. If you wanted, this could absolutely be a day trip from Buenos Aires. If you’re going to go there overnight, lots of travel websites suggest that you book rooms in advance as they fill up quickly. Some things to see while you’re there are El Faro Lighthouse, see the town walls or the Church Matríz (one of the oldest churches in Uruguay). These three activities won’t take up very much time. They all will be lovely and picturesque, but they really are only are things to look at around the town. If you’re trying to pass an afternoon you might want to go to a museum such as Museo Municipal, or Museo Portugués. Both of these museums have ancient artifacts from different time periods. Museo Portugués is a bit smaller if you have a bit less time.
Wine! Wine wine wine. It’s pretty impossible to go to Mendoza without going to the wineries, and why would you want to? Mendoza is home to some of the best vineyards in the world. The number of bodegas around Mendoza is enough to make your head spin. There are over 1,500 wineries in Mendoza. While we don’t have time to go over them all, I’d be happy to share with you the most popular one.
If you want a large, well established winery, start at Salentein. They state on their webpage, “The goal of Bodegas Salentein is clear: to produce first-rate wines, committed with the earth where they come from.” They are a huge company that like to show their commitment to the land and community they are in. Past that, Salentine bodega has been around a long time, some of the vineyards date back as far as the 17th century. Salentein like to emphasise their mix of tradition and ingenuity of wine making. They have over 121 acres of land, and produce many different types of wines.
But what if you’re not into wine, is there something for you in Mendoza? Why yes there is. Mendoza is nestled within mountains. There’s biking, hiking, hot springs, and even paragliding. For hiking, the best place is a town right outside Mendoza capital called “El Challao”. I recently went on a hike there at Cerro Arco. It’s not really surrounded by much so you’d have to get a taxi service to take you there, or take a bus. At the base of the hike is a little buffet where you can have lunch. The mountain is pretty exposed so bring sunscreen, and when you get to the top, you can watch the people paragliding there… and maybe even do it yourself.
On Argentina’s northern border with Brazil, there lies a spot of inequivalent beauty, Iguazu Falls. Iguazu Falls is one of South America’s natural treasures. These waterfalls are the largest waterfalls in the world. The Falls were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. The name “Iguazu” came from Guarani language, which is a subset of an indigenous Paraguayan language. The Guaraní word “iguazu” roughly translates to “big water” which is exactly what Iguazu Falls is. The indigenous people, Guarani people, were once widespread in South America, in parts of Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia. They still are around now, though far less prominent, and the language remains in many of those places.
Before the European colonization, the indigenous Guarani people were the ones who lived by the cataratas, or waterfalls. There is a Guaraní legend about how the Iguazu falls came to be so powerful. While, there are many different versions of the story, the general gist is that every year a woman from the tribe was sacrificed to the Serpent God, M’Boi. M’Boi saw a woman, Naipi who was meant to be married to a mortal, Taruba. Naipi and Taruba were in love and were to be married, but when M’Boi saw Naipi, he thought she was the most beautiful woman and wanted her for himself and became very jealous. The people of the tribe wanted to sacrifice her to M’Boi because they feared the god, but Taruba wasn’t going to let that happen and tried to rescue Naipi with a canoe. During the rescue, M’Boi started chasing the lovers and became more and more furious when he could not catch them. He became larger and as he grew so did the river. His rage became so powerful that it split the ground and turned Naipi into a rock on the Argentine side of the falls and Taruba into a palm tree on the Brazilian side. Legend says this was their punishment: to forever see each other, and never be able to touch. Though, you can still see their love today, as a rainbow reaching across the border.
Argentina is home to about 80% of the Iguazu waterfalls, while Brazil is home to about 20%, though Brazil is home to most of the Iguazu River. The falls are reachable from both sides: both Argentina and Brazil have an airport, and city close to the waterfalls. The largest, and most famous fall is called La Garganta del Diablo, or the Devil’s Throat. The drop is 80 meters, or 262 feet.
Ushuaia is know as the “End of the World” Because it’s located in the Southern most tip of Argentina called the “Tierra del Fuego”. The attraction of going to Ushuaia is that it has a unique climate. Ushuaia has a mountain where you can ski, directly next to the southern ocean. It’s located just above Antarctica, so as you could assume: it’s really cold there. But the nice thing is that there’s plenty to been seen. You can take a tour by train there that follows the Convict Train rout. You’ll see waterfalls, Indian Campsites, and the land of the Tierra del Fuego. Past that there’s islands inhabited by penguins, the National Park, hike, climb, canoe and do other outdoor sports. One of the more popular hikes there is the Esmeralda Lagoon, known for its emerald water. In winter, even though the water is frozen over, it’s still supposed to be a stunning hike. The outdoor adventurer will find plenty to do in this frozen wonderland.
Argentina has a lot to offer, for whatever you might be looking for. From big cities, to winelands, to farms, EVENT TO LEARN SPANISH IN ARGENTINA, it really has it all. The hardest part might be picking where to go first.