Friday, August 11, 2006

Argentina: 6,500 km from Buenos Aires to the Andes and back

"Argentina tiene de todo ~ Argentina has it all"

Common wisdom

Pro's: Well, Argentina has it all: culture, nature, great food & wine, friendly locals. Safe, modern, convenient; good roads, high standards of the hospitality & catering industry.

Con's: The distances are enormous. Gotta habler Español in the countryside.

In a nutshell: One can't get enough of Argentina.

ArgentinaArgentina truly has it all: the sultry tropics of Misiones and the alligator- infested swamps of Formosa, the Incan ruins of Jujuy and the Antarctic glaciers of Ushuaia, grand old cities and rustic wine-growing countryside, the mesmerizingly blue Alpinesque lakes of Bariloche and the dramatic sky-propping Andes, llamas in the mountains and penguins on the Atlantic coast. One thing for sure: no matter how much time you travel there, wonders never cease.

Our 6,500-km drive took us from the sentimental boulevards of Buenos Aires by way of the marshlands of Littoral to the tropical North, then through the sun-scorched northern pampas to the snow-capped Andes, down to the wine-growing region around La Rioja and via the picturesque hilly Sierras back to Buenos Aires.


Contrary to what many, including the US Department Of State, would have you believe driving in Argentina is a breeze. Signposting may sometimes be far and between but out of the six and half thousand kilometres just about 30 were rather bad, the rest allowed easily for cruising at over 100 kmph. European-style multi-lane highways are rare but the country is sparsely populated so the traffic outside big cities is very light. The police were courteous if hardly English-speaking. Reading po-faced bile-spouting by culture-shocked Americans on TripAdvisor and Frommers gave me a gnawing suspicion that I must have travelled to an Argentina in a parallel universe.

There are document checks on the provincial borders but thanks to that general safety on the roads is pretty impressive. There are thousands of cattle grazing in the fields, but we hardly saw any on the roads. None of the Third World hazards, this is Argentina!



Buenos Aires - San Isidro - Santa Fe - Iguazu Falls - Eldorado - San Ignacio - Corrientes - Resistencia - Salta - Cafayate - Tafi del Vale - San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca - La Rioja - Ischigualasto - Talampaya - Capilla del Monte - Villa San Juan - Córdoba - Pilar - Buenos Aires

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