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.
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.
This place is pretty remote but definitely worth visiting and the one for your bucket list.
Places I recommend:
- Hotel Guamini Misión; nice (but also fancy) place with an absolutely amazing infinity-pool with the view on the Panama river.
- ‘Iguazu Jungle’ boat trip; takes you to the lower Iguazu River Canyon and under the waterfalls. It was so cool to see and also feel the power of a 70 metre high waterfall. A real adrenaline boost. Definitely a must-do!
- Triple frontier; the tri-border area along the junction of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.
Let’s check out of our hotel, grab a taxi to the aeropuerto and take a plane to …
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).
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…
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’.
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…
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.
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…
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…
Places I recommend:
- Perito Moreno glacier; this is also an absolute no-brainer. My ‘hike-on-the-glacier-Perito-Moreno’ tour was organized by Hielo y Aventura.
- Estancia Cristina tour; this includes a boat trip, 4x4 car ride and a small hike towards Viedma glacier and finally a lunch and small tour at Estancia Cristina. Very interesting and beautiful environment.
- Calafate Hostel; very cool place to stay for a couple of nights.
- Anfiteatro del Bosque; if you’re lucky you can witness a nice concert.
- Ovejitas de la Patagonia; best ice cream place in town.
Now it gets a bit colder. So put on your hat and scarf! We’re going down south to our last destination…
Ushuaia (The Southernmost City in the World)
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.
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.
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!