In the next instalment of Our Routes series dedicated to sharing travel experiences from our experts all over Latin America, Senior Product Manager, Catrin Davies describes her unforgettable escapade in Argentina. From the bustling streets of Buenos Aires to the pristine wilderness of Patagonia, her adventure is a captivating tale of culture, nature, and the unmissable experiences that define this beautiful corner of the world.
I took the direct flight from London to Buenos Aires with British Airways, and domestic flights with Aerolineas Argentinas.
This is a really hard question to answer as everywhere was so different! Even though I’d been to Iguazu before, the water levels were completely different this time and the Falls seemed even more powerful and impressive. I also really enjoy being in the mountains so absolutely loved El Chalten. The drive there from El Calafate (approx. 3 hours) was almost worth the visit alone, with spectacular vistas of Mount Fitzroy and Cerro Torre ahead of the long stretch of road. There are so many hiking trails around the area for all abilities, and the scenery is incredible; I could easily have spent several more days there exploring.
The whole trip honestly was full of memorable moments, but one of the most unique experiences for me was visiting the picturesque Welsh town of Gaiman, near Trelew. Having grown up in Wales, since learning about the Welsh settlers that arduously voyaged to Patagonia in the 19th Century, I’ve always wanted to explore this unique region of Argentina. It was so fascinating seeing how well preserved the language and culture is, and the people there are incredibly proud of their heritage. The annual Eisteddfod (Welsh cultural festival) was being held in Trelew while we were there, so it was a brilliant experience – albeit a bit surreal – to watch the locals performing traditional Welsh folk dances and songs – a memorable moment for sure!
Visiting Peninsula Valdes was perhaps the most surprising element of my trip, as there was so much more wildlife than I was expecting. We went whale watching at a time when Southern Right Whale mothers were feeding their calves, which meant that they spent a lot of time near the surface without moving around too much in order to conserve their energy, so the boat could stay quite still while we observed them. They were not as elusive as I’d previously experienced whale watching elsewhere, so it was wonderful to be able to watch them for stretches of time rather than trying to quickly snap a photo before they disappeared again!
Our visit to the penguin colony was also brilliant – it wasn’t obvious at first but we quickly realised that we were surrounded by hundreds of nesting penguins, protectively guarding their eggs in shallow holes all around us, and we were greeted by quite a few who were talking a short stroll on the beach!
Although whales and penguins are usually the main draw of this region, there was so much more to the nature reserve of Peninsula Valdes than I realised, and we also saw elephant seals lazing on the beach, armadillos, a Patagonian Green Racer snake, Patagonian Rheas, several maras (Patagonian hares) and guanacos in abundance.
My other favourite excursion was a boat trip to Los Glaciares National Park from El Calafate. We had already visited the Perito Moreno Glacier the previous day, which was incredible, but spending a full day on a boat enabled us to travel further to see the lesser visited (and only accessible by boat) Upsala and Spegazzini Glaciers, cruising through dramatic mountainous landscapes with huge icebergs floating past. The Refuge at Spegazzini also provided an inimitable lunch spot; eating a packed lunch on the pebble beach across from the spectacular glacier wall was a pretty special experience.
Definitely pack for all weathers – Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls were hot and humid, whereas more layers were needed for southern Patagonia, including a good windbreaker – the notorious Patagonian wind can seem relentless at times!
As a vegetarian, it surprised me how well I could eat in Argentina, considering it’s a country famed for its hearty steaks and Asados (traditional Argentine barbecues). My favourite restaurant was Fogon Asado – a traditional asado experience with a modern twist – an extremely generous tasting menu cooked in the open kitchen, with creative dishes, incredible flavours and generous wine pairings. As for my favourite drink, I would never get bored of the excellent Malbec that Argentina produces!
As with most places, photos never seem to do the incredible scenery justice, but my favourite photos are from the day we visited Los Glaciares National Park from El Calafate. It was a beautiful day with a clear blue sky, so the blue and white of the glaciers, against the milky blue glacial water of Lago Argentino, looked all the more striking.
Diverse, surprising, beautiful.