Backpacking Argentina, Flipping Your World Upside Down

Backpacking Argentina, Flipping Your World Upside Down

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Argentina has a number of international airports in its major cities, including Buenos Aires. And as the country is bordered by Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, Uraguay, and Bolivia its easy to cross the border via land as well.

Backpacking in Argentina is a fun way of seeing this large South American country, which'll take you from the beach to the tips of the Andes Mountains.

Think of it this way, while the northern hemisphere is getting hammered by snow, sleet, and finicky Old Man Winter you can be backpacking in Argentina where it's summertime.  And thanks to a relative political calm, this country is experiencing a Renaissance of sorts.

That doesn't mean throwing caution to the wind.  You still better have your ducks lined up if you're going to trek across this massive country on your own.  Make sure you've got your passport, and luckily most folks coming from the U.S. or the European Union won't need a visa.

What's the best way to get around?  Simple, just take a bus or taxi.  I wouldn't advise renting a car, not unless you've gotten an international driver's license--otherwise you're not getting one.  It's OK though, the buses and taxis are easy and economical; especially in cities like Buenos Aires.

One difference, Argentina is a pretty big country.  So, if you're going from from northern part of the country to say, Ushuaia in the south (a distance of some 2300km), then flying is one of the best options--considering that some bus rides on long distances can take upwards of over 15 hours.

Forget that for a minute, let's check out Buenos Aires first.  From the looks of it you'd think you were in some European city, as it still maintains an Old World charm.  It's a highly cultural city with its own Opera House, and an International Book Fair that happens every April.

This is also the hometown of the super-sexy Tango, so find a small dance studio and learn.  Then go Tango your way around the pastel colored buildings and Japanese Gardens.  However, I wouldn't even dream of leaving before seeing the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Water Company Palace, or the National Museum of History.

Just about 700km away is Cordoba, in the Cordoba Province.  You don't need to spend a lot of money to enjoy yourself (you are backpacking in Argentina, are you not?).  Come during Carnival (in February), or for Friends Day on July 20th.  Spring Day is also known as Students Day, and it's all about the music and dancing.

Some like something a bit quieter, so visiting the Palacio Ferreyra Fine Arts Museum or the Caraffa Fine Arts Museum would be just the thing.

What's really great about Cordoba, besides its Cordoba Gateway Arch, is that you can even stay in a Dude Ranch.  Definitely a change up from the hostels, hotels, and guesthouses.

From here it's easy to make your way to Mendoza, the heart of Argentina's wine growing region.  Oooh, plus the olives that make delicious olive oil.

If you're on a backpacking trek in Argentina and you've gotten the idea in your head to try mountainbiking, skiing, white water rafting, or hiking--then you've come to the right place.  And you couldn't ask for a more beautiful landscape, vineyards all under the watchful eye of the Andes Mountains.

No wonder there are a couple hundred wineries in Mendoza--they know a good thing when they see it.

The absolute must-see stop on your backpacking trip to Argentina is Ushuaia.  Called the "southernmost city in the world", Ushuaia certainly feels like you've reached the end of the Earth--I think they just call this piece of Earthly Heaven Patagonia in these parts.  

You haven't, by the way, reached the end of the world since you can easily hop an expedition or cruise ship to Antarctica or the Falkland Islands.  Except the Falklands are known as Las Malvinas here in Argentina.

I digress, if you've gotten this far in Argentina you better pack warm--even in the summer.  The average high temperature in the middle of the summer isn't even 59F.  Heck, come winter (June, July, August) the temp usually drops to below freezing.

Bundle up 'cause its worth seeing the sea lions, penguins, or have a go at cross-country or downhill skiing.  When the weather's warmer, soccer is the sport of choice--and Argentinians take their football very (very, very) seriously.

As you can see, backpacking in Argentina can be a wonderful experience--just remember to keep your wits about you, as its easy to lose them in the natural beauty of the region.  In fact, its so wonderful--everyone should backpack Argentina at least twice.  This way you can experience it in Winter or Summer; and both are wonderful.

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