Latin America

Argentina

written by | Posted on February 1st, 2010

Travelers looking for unique ways to explore this South American country have the luxury of being able to choose from myriad experiences.

toasting mendoza Wine, wine, and more wine calls visitors to Mendoza and the surrounding vineyards that lie along Los Caminos del Vino—the wine routes—which make their way through the country’s most important wine-producing zones. Here, there are more than 600 bodegas (wineries), many producing wines winning international prizes—in particular the famous Malbecs—and some 80 of these have opened their doors to offer tours (weekdays only) of their vineyards.

Mendoza, an hour-and-a-half by air from Buenos Aires, is in the Cuyo province, a favorite area for horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking and trekking in the Andes.

Borello Travel & Tours offers a 5-day Mendoza & Its Wines package that begins with two nights at the 8-room Posada Salentein, in the perfectly beautiful Uco Valley setting of mountains, vineyards, streams and woods. Chardonnay, Merlot, Malbec and Semillon are the wines produced in the valley, and Bodega Salentein cultivates the Pinot Noir on Finca San Pablo. Travelers also go touring and tasting at Bodegas Lurton and Fapes in the valley, and enjoy activities such as trekking, fishing and 4WD touring.

En-route back to Mendoza, travelers visit the Altus winery for a tasting and lunch, before continuing on for a 2-night stay in Mendoza at the Park Hyatt property, which has an impressive wine library and pours many of the best vintages of the region at its stylish Uvas wine bar. On the first night in Mendoza, guests will dine at Francis Mallman’s 1884 restaurant, one of Argentina’s finest, and during the final day in the city, wine lovers will be accompanied by an oenologist during morning and afternoon vineyard visits, as well as during lunch at the distinguished La Bourgogne restaurant at the Carlos Pulenta winery.

The $1,082 pp dbl price includes accommodations, escorted sightseeing and vineyard visits, some meals and overland transport.

In the last few years, many wine lodges have opened up around Mendoza. One of the newest is Club Tapiz in the Maipu department, 10 miles from the city. The 7-room lodge occupies a restored 19th century manor house (declared a Historical, Architectural and Tourist Heritage site) surrounded by 25 acres of vineyards that guests explore on foot or bike. Guest facilities include a restaurant, wine cellar, bar and lounge room, swimming pool and spa with wine-based treatments. For the active visitor, there is golf, trekking, rafting, horseback riding, and wine tastings at Tapiz and other nearby bodegas and vineyards. Double rooms start at $225 per night.

biking & hiking To visit the northwest corner of Argentina—a 2-hour trip by air from Buenos Aires to Salta—is a journey into a world of stunning natural beauty. Here, dramatic wind-carved rock formations, mountain passes tinted in vibrant rainbow colors, lush cloud forests and green vineyards await visitors. Backroads offers a 7-night Argentina Biking trip here, pedaling along routes that pass through the stark altiplano and verdant subtropical forest; journeying through the colorful canyons of Quebrada de Las Flechas and Quebrada de Cafayate; passing through colonial villages; and discovering the wine regions of Salta and Cafayate. And along the way, bikers can join in learning the chacarera or zapateo folk dances, visit a master weaver, ride a horse, stay at premiere inns such as Estancia el Bordo de las Lanzas, House of Jasmines, La Merced del Alto and Estancia Colome. The biking adventure begins and ends in Salta, with departures November through March. The all-inclusive land cost is $3,998 pp dbl.

Or, tell clients to take a hike with Mountain Travel Sobek, which offers the 10-night Argentina: Hidden Patagonia, in which participants explore the Lake District in northern Patagonia and Glaciers National Park in the south. The activity level is rated moderate, with hiking and lake kayaking requiring no previous experience; horseback riding is optional. Patagonia’s Lake District is a scenic wonderland of deep-blue lakes, Andean wildflowers and the craggy peaks of the Andes, while the lands to the south are marked by sprawling glaciers and a blend of lakes and mountains of grand beauty. The base in the Lake District is Aldebaran Hotel, from which travelers hike on forested trails up to mountain ridges and kayak the deep-blue glacier waters of Lake Nahuel Huapi. In the south, nights are spent at Estancia Alta Vista and Helsingfors, with hikes along the glacier terrain, walks on ice, and boating on the fjords.