A very warm welcome (with open arms) while arriving at Isla Martillo — Photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash

The Extraordinary Beauty of Argentina’s Patagonia, Iguazu and Buenos Aires — A Photographic Story

Yes, I’m trying to lure you in with a cute penguin photo. And apparently it worked! This photographic story is an ode to the beauty of Argentina 🇦🇷 and the penguin island Isla Martillo (south of Argentina) absolutely makes part of it.

Be patient though. I’m about to take you on a journey through this beautiful country, starting from the north going towards the south, showing you everything that Patagonia, Iguazu and Buenos Aires have to offer in between.

So more 🐧 photos are definitely coming up! But I start my journey in Puerto Iguazu at the beautiful Iguazu Falls (northern part of Argentina), and from here we will work our way down.

Left: the north of Argentina, Triple Frontier, Puerto Iguazu (with Paraguay on the left and Brazil on the right). Right: the southernmost you can go (without breaking the law) a fence at Bahia Lapataia, Fin del Mundo, Ushuaia
North of Argentina, Triple Frontier, Puerto Iguazu
South of Argentina, Bahia Lapataia (Fin del Mundo), Ushuaia

In this photographic story I added interactive maps with all the locations of the photos.

Plus I added recommendations of nice guest houses, must-do tours, chill places to lunch etcetera.

Look at it as an alternative version of the, for example, Lonely Planet books, but then with the focus on photography (which in my view is lacking in those books).

My hope is that these photos will instill some enthusiasm and perhaps encourage you to eventually go to Argentina yourself to experience the amazing nature with your own eyes.

Just so you know, I’m not being sponsored or anything like that. I just want to share my story and my recommendations with you. I made this story because I have a passion for travelling and fell in love with Argentina’s nature. Plus, as a UX / visual designer, I have a huge passion for photography. So my Canon 6D Mark II accompanied me everywhere — to every little corner and every remote mountain top.

All photos used in this article are shot by me, so © Sander Crombach. If you are interested in some, I’m flattered! A couple of them you can download for free at Unsplash. And some are also available at Shutterstock. If you too like the photography, be sure to follow me on Ello and Instagram.

ps: the photos in this story are hires, so if you’re reading this article on a smartphone, of course that’s possible and keep doing that. But for the best experience you should open it on a laptop or desktop.

Let’s grab our backpack and start in the north! First stop…

Iguazu Falls (Wonder of Nature)

You see that? Google maps reviews show a 4.9 (of 5 stars) with over 11 thousands reviews. A 4.9!! And I think that is absolutely right. These falls are one of the New7Wonders of Nature and they are absolutely stunning.

They are the largest waterfalls system in the world (source Wikipedia). Together with Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls they also belong to the most famous in the world.

This place is pretty remote but definitely worth visiting and the one for your bucket list.

Beautiful panoramic view of the waterfalls
Bridge towards the biggest waterfall of them all; Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s throat)
Visiting these falls is very accessible, so a lot of tourists of all ages from all around the world come and visit
But also of course because of the amazing views! This is Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s throat) which is 70 metres high
I also went on a boat trip entering the lower Iguazu River Canyon with Iguazu Jungle tours, which was really fun (tip: wear a proper raincoat!)
The jungle’s animal life. Plus, really convenient, there are no mosquitoes! — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock

Places I recommend:

Let’s check out of our hotel, grab a taxi to the aeropuerto and take a plane to …

Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport + Aeroparque Jorge Newbery

Buenos Aires (Capital of Argentina)

You can’t go to Argentina without visiting its capital: Buenos Aires, the most visited city in South America, and the second-most visited city of Latin America, behind Mexico City (source Wikipedia). A beautiful city with an amazing climate.

Famous among others for tango (that originated in the 1880s along the River Plate), known for its preserved Spanish/European-style architecture, their huge (!) passion for soccer (two of the country’s biggest soccer clubs are Boca Juniors and Riverplate) and unforgettable Evita, whose the grave is located at the famous la Recoleta Cemetery (in 2011 the BBC hailed it as one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries).

Obelisco and BA sign at the widest avenue in the world: July 9 Avenue
City of Buenos Aires by night, shot through a window at Palacio Barolo — Photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash
The streets of Buenos Aires by night — Photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash
Sunset with a view over the city, including the Congreso Nacional (National Congress Building) — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock
Puente de la Mujer (women’s bridge) — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock

Places I recommend:

  • Palacio Barolo tour: one of the best things I did in this city. It includes a tour through the entire building with a tour guide telling you all about Dante’s Divine Comedy (the inspiration behind the architecture), a sunset at the top with a gorgeous view over the city, a live cello concert, a visit to the lighthouse (the very top) and an Argentinean wine tasting. Need I say more?
  • Pizzeria Guerrín: What a place! Full of Italians (and then you know it is good!). Best pizza in town. The atmosphere is truly amazing. 40% of the foreigners living in Argentina are of Italian descent. So that means pizza in Argentina has to be good right? Plus it’s something else than a steak for a change. Deve visitare!
  • Milonga Outing tour: this is a tour by a professional tango and flamenco dancer, and she is absolutely amazing. She takes you to an authentic Milonga (a place where locals dance tango with each other) and tells you all about the traditions and rules of this dance. Click on the link and ask for Francisca (and say hi for me).
  • Malevo Murana hostel: really chill place with friendly people in a really cool neighbourhood. This area is full of nice bars, restaurants and coffeeshops.
  • Plaza Serrano: really nice area in the Palermo soho, with a lot of bars, restaurants and clubs. In my opinion the most exciting neighbourhood to stay while visiting Buenos Aires (I also stayed a couple of nights in San Nicolás).
  • La Recoleta Cemetery: sounds maybe a bit somber, to visit a cemetery, but it is actually a beautiful one. Among others you can visit the grave of Evita, which is the only grave that has flowers, a gift of the people of Argentina.

Now let’s exchange the skyscrapers for the beautiful nature of Patagonia! Next stop…

Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini + San Carlos de Bariloche Airport

San Carlos de Bariloche (aka “Little Switzerland”)

We are entering Patagonia! Bariloche, to be precise, which is a very cozy city with not one but two high seasons in a year.

It’s famous for it’s ski season in the winter (June–September). The main skiresort is at Cerro Catedral, which is the biggest ski resort in South America and also in the southern hemisphere (source Wikipedia).

But tourists also visit the city in the summer (December-March), because there are many amazing activities you can do: think of kayaking, canyoning, rafting, hiking, several different boat trips, etcetera.

It is located in a beautiful lake and mountain area (reminding of the European country Switzerland). And it is best viewed on top of Cerro Campanario, which is voted ‘one of 10 best views in the world’.

Locals chilling at the beach at lake Nahuel Huapi — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock
Previous 5 photos: the cozy city centre and beach of Bariloche
View from the top of Cerro Campanario; one of the 10 most beautiful views in the world! (and you can see why)
Locals exercising at the velodrome
Lago Guiterrez; the perfect place to do some kayaking or chilling at the beach — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock
Seagull grabbing a cookie of a really patient tourist during a boat trip on lake Nahuel Huapi — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock
Laguna los Cantaros, close to Puerto Blest. All the way in the back you can see Chile mountains — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock

Places I recommend:

  • Kospi Guest House: Juan, the owner, was an amazing host! He helped me arranging almost all of my tours and trips plus every day they make home-made granola and bread which you can eat for breakfast. Go and say hi to Juan for me!
  • Cerro Campanario; wow! What an incredible view. The view is amazing and there is a very nice bar at the top too!
  • El de Alberto; reportedly the best steak in Argentina, so incredibly juicy! Order the salad aside though, the fries are just too much. Plus be in time because all 3 of their restaurants are very popular and quickly fully booked.
  • Cervecería Bachmann; actually my favourite restaurant/bar in Bariloche. If you like burgers and locally brewed beer, this is the place to be. And they have a couple of them in this town.
  • Cervecería Patagonia; to be honest, I haven’t been here. But this place is supposed to be the best brewery with the best view. So go and make me jealous.
  • Puerto Pañuelo; from here you can do cool boat trips. I did the one that goes to Puerto Blest.
  • Canyoning; this was very cool. You slide down small waterfalls and abseil down along big ones. At one point you go abseiling down a 30 meters high waterfall! Enjoyed it a lot.

Get ready for a bus ride through some of the most beautiful landscapes. Cause we’re going to…

Bus trip from San Carlos de Bariloche to El Chaltén, through gorgeous changing Patagonian landscapes

El Chaltén (Argentina’s Trekking Capital)

Now we’re going even deeper into the Patagonian area. El Chaltén is THE place to do some amazing trekking. It’s close to the famous Cerro Fitz Roy and you can do several day-trips trekking or take your camping gear and sleep underneath the stars.

It’s the Argentinean equivalent of the absurdly popular Torres del Paine trekking tour in Chile. If you’re too late booking your TDP trip you can go here and enjoy several beautiful trekking routes of the same quality. Especially the one called Laguna de los Tres is absolutely amazing.

Plus a bonus: the towns and cities in Patagonia are (for now 🤞) American-franchise-free! That means, no Starbucks, no Mc Donalds, no KFC! Only one-of-a-kind local bars and restaurants. And the Argentineans love to brew their own beer; so delicious. Let’s hope it stays this way forever.

The small town El Chaltén, with only 350 inhabitants that live there throughout all the seasons of the year — Photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash
Hike and it’s views towards the top of ‘Pliegue Tumbado’
The top of ‘Pliegue Tumbado’ with a view on the Cerro Fitz Roy mountain area. Be aware of the quickly changing weather though. At some point small rocks started to fly around…
Strong Patagonian winds on the hike back to the town
Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock
Beautiful changing scenery during the hike towards Cerro Fitz Roy and Laguna de los Tres — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock
Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock
Ugh, need I say more!? What a view. Cerro Fitz Roy with the most beautiful weather possible (I was very lucky). And look how tiny people are in the bottom. Gives you a sense of how big this scenery is. No wonder so many people hike for almost 4 hours towards this place — Photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash

Places I recommend:

  • Hike Laguna de los Tres; ab-so-lu-te-ly stunning! One of the highlights of my trip. No-brainer, just go!!
  • Hike Laguna Torre; to be honest, I didn’t do this one. But I’ve heard from so many other hikers in El Chaltén it was worth it, that it deserves a spot in this list.
  • Hike Pliegue Tumbado; nice, but the least of the three main hikes (I think).
  • La Cervecería; super friendly people and they serve locally brewed beers and a very nice authentic local stew which you should definitely try (especially if you want something else then steak for once). Also a perfect place to do an ‘Après Hike’ with fellow explorers you met along the way.

It’s time for some big-ass glaciers! So put on your coat, we’re going to…

Arrival in El Calafate with it’s green coloured rivers

El Calafate (Hub to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field)

This nice little town is close to the Los Glaciares National Park, the largest national park in the country. It includes the world-famous Perito Moreno, Upsala and Viedma glaciers. It has the largest glaciers outside of Antarctica, Greenland and Iceland and by far the easiest ones to visit.

So if you always wanted to see huge glaciers up close, this is the place to be. You can hike on them and even drink them with an 8 year old whiskey…

Very nice hike on the Perito Moreno glacier. At the end of the hike you’ll get an 8 year old whiskey with 100 year old (Perito Moreno glacier) ice in it — Photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash
Picture-perfect Perito Moreno glacier with some balconies to see it up close
Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock
The max capacity of that boat is 64 people. Can you even imagine how big this glacier is!? — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock
Unpredictable weather of Patagonia
Iceberg on our way during a boat trip towards Viedma glacier near Estancia Cristina
Small church near Estancia Cristina
The beautiful nature at Estancia Cristina. This photo shows exactly what makes Patagonian nature so special: it’s the colours. There is the yellow/mustard coloured steppe (bushes), the green/blue coloured water (from the glaciers), the red coloured mountains and the white coloured top of the mountains (ice). All in all a unique colour palette.
Left: 4x4 car drive towards the huge Viedma glacier. Right: the Viedma glacier itself (on the right) with a bright coloured lake with melted water
Glacier in the making
Passing a cabin in the middle of nowhere in the mountains while hiking towards the Viedma glacier — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock

Places I recommend:

Now it gets a bit colder. So put on your hat and scarf! We’re going down south to our last destination…

Arrival with a plane in Ushuaia

Ushuaia (The Southernmost City in the World)

Welcome in the southernmost city which is also part of Patagonia. It is a nice little town in a snowy mountain area very close to the Chile border and not that far from Antarctica.

From here you can go on an Antarctica expedition, visit sea lions and penguins (even a kingpin!), take a boat trip on the Beagle Channel (which separates Argentina and Chile) and you can go to Fin del Mundo, where the famous Pan American highway (a network of roads measuring about 30,000 km in total length) ends. Officially the southernmost you can go in Argentina.

Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, Beagle Channel, with the city Ushuaia on the right — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock
View of the city Ushuaia from the top of Martial glacier, with the Beagle Channel and Chile in the back
Smiling penguin enjoying the sunlight at Isla Martillo — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock
Big difference in enthusiasm. I think the one on the right had a rough night…
Penguin saying hola! at Isla Martillo — Photo by Sander Crombach on Shutterstock
Last moments of rest for this fellow, at Isla Martillo. Multiple boats visit this small island everyday — Photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash
Left: the Patagonian wind is so strong the trees are bent to the right. Right: cruiseship being prepared to go on an Antarctica expedition (would love to go on one of these…)
Officially the southernmost you can go (viewpoint at Fin del Mundo) with a view on the Beagle Channel

Places I recommend:

  • Piratour daytrip; Estancia Haberton + Isla Martillo (absolute must-do!) + Beagle Channel boat trip 👌. With this specific tour you can walk for an hour on the penguin island. Not every tour offers that, so be aware.
  • Glacier Martial hike; start at La Cabaña tea House and walk all the way to the top until you can’t go any further. You will be rewarded with a beautiful view. Also download the maps.me app, download the map of Argentina and you’ll see shortcuts to do this hike.
  • Pasaje del Beagle; guest house run by a super friendly and super relaxed couple. They were so flexible with everything. But there are two downsides. They don’t speak English that well (which was also from another point of view very cute) plus their breakfast isn’t, in my opinion, healthy enough. No fruits for example.
  • Ramos Generales; very cool place to have a lunch!

We have reached the end of our journey! We are at the southernmost point of Argentina. I hope you liked the trip it and the tips are helpful.

Me gazing at the stunning scenery

If you enjoyed this photographic story and would like to see more of these kind of stories in the future, please let me know by 👏

And like I said before, a couple of photos you can download for free at Unsplash. And some of them are also available at Shutterstock. And if you like my photography be sure to follow me on Ello and Instagram. Ciao!