Buenos Aires & The Pampas Region


Terrain and Weather
The region is comprised mostly of flatlands and steppe with some low mountains; Lombardy pines, eucalyptus and ombu trees, a species that grows only here. The Pampas, or "open country" in the Quechuan language, are synonymous with Argentina, and once stretched through the middle of Argentina, and into Uruguay and southern Brazil. The influx of populations put this land to productive use, cultivating its fertile soil, well-suited to raising livestock and agriculture. By the twenties, the region's economic success had spawned a new international expression, "Rich like an Argentine." Today, the pampas cover just 25% of Argentina, yet are still home to some sixty grassland bird species and a wide range of other birds and wildlife. Weather in the pampas is temperate, ranging from humid in the northwest to dry elsewhere. Summers are hot and winters mild with some rain, so there is no real off-season for Argentina tours in the region.

Indigenous Populations
The region has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years. The Querandies lived in the area when the Spanish arrived. The tribe's culture and most of its members were obliterated in the take-over. Today 97 to 99 percent of Argentina's population is non-indigenous.

There is only one national park to visit when you travel to Argentina in this region. It is Lihue Calel, that protects the disappearing pampas. There are, however, many other relaxing destinations here for those on Argentina tours who are seeking to escape the urban bustle. A study in tranquility, just outside Buenos Aires lie the picturesque waterways and the delta towns of the Parana, a popular weekend spot for those looking to see the stilt-houses of Tigre, shop the crafts fair of the Puerto de Frutos, or find a picturesque backdrop for bicycling or kayaking. Heading southwest in Buenos Aires Province, the grassland monotony is finally broken by the rugged hills of Sierra de La Ventana, Sierra de Tandil and Cerro Tres Picos to the delight of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding enthusiasts.

Southern Explorations offers two trip extensions to its Argentina tours in the Parana delta area, a five-hour Bicycle Tour - Tigre and San Isidro and a half-day Kayaking in Buenos Aires tour.

The Estancias
On the outskirts of the capital and scattered throughout the region are the historic estancias where cattle and sheep were (or still are) raised. Many of these picturesque ranches, such as La Isolina and Cerro de la Cruz, have been turned into comfortable lodgings where travelers on Argentina tours may experience the ultimate barbecue and be entertained by the cowboy talents of the gauchos. The estancias of La Plata, Lujan and San Antonio de Arca are close enough to the capital for day-trips, but an overnight is recommended to extend the gaucho experience. Those interested in art and culture, will find much to do in La Plata.

The Beach Resorts
A welcome respite from the capital's stifling summers, seaside resorts dot the Atlantic coast south of Buenos Aires, the largest of which is the affordable but crowded Mar del Plata. Others include lush pedestrian-friendly Villa Gesell, the exclusive enclave of Pinamar where the beautiful people go on their Argentina tours, Miramar and Necochea. This is where most Argentines go to surf.

Tango Central
The dance and legend of tango permeate the capital city. In the milonga ballrooms, stages and studios scattered all over town, tango may be danced, watched or learned at practically any hour of the day and day of the week. Professional tango shows abound, and street dancers enliven the shopping areas frequented by travelers on Argentina tours.

Southern Explorations offers two evening tango experiences. The Tango Show Tour Extension includes dinner and a tango show at one of the capital's most prestigious houses, and The Real World of Tango includes a tango show and cocktails at one of the historic milonga ballrooms.

The Street Fairs
The capital's most interesting street fairs to visit on Argentina tours include the huge artisan's market in the posh Recoleta neighborhood; the antiques market in historic San Telmo; the hip Palermo Soho clothing and crafts market; the wharf-side market in the colorful La Boca neighborhood; and the gaucho-themed leather goods and crafts market in the outlying Mataderos neighborhood.
Southern Explorations offers a three-hour Fine Arts Tour Extension for Argentina tours that takes travelers to some of the capital's museums, galleries, street fairs and a famous silversmith's studio.

The historic landmarks
The capital city is filled with distinctive history-rich landmarks. The biggest tourist attraction is its famed city for the dead elite, the Recoleta Cemetery. Buenos Aires also boasts what is considered the world's most beautiful opera house, the Teatro Colon. Even some of its cafes are top sights for visitors on Argentina tours, the oldest and most famous of which is Café Tortoni. Its presidential palace, La Casa Rosada, in pink splendor and the Plaza de Mayo at its back door have been the scene of many historic events including rallies led by President Juan Peron and his colorful wife, Evita.

Southern Explorations offers travelers two historical Argentina tours in Buenos Aires. The three-hour Four Balconies Tour provides an informative overview of the city and its fascinating history, and the Jewish Heritage Tour traces the impact of the city's large Jewish population on Argentine culture.

The Cuisine
It goes without saying that a city and region so filled with European immigrants would be able to offer visitors some tasty dining opportunities. The profusion of continental cuisine, particularly Italian and French, combined with Argentine barbecue know-how and the country's stellar wines make a visit to this region an unforgettable culinary experience. Travelers on Argentina tours may savor a delectable multi-course meal in one of Buenos Aires' many five-star restaurants, enjoy a mouthwatering parilla of Argentine beef, sample its legendary ice cream and indulge in the capital's café society pastime of lingering over a double espresso.
Southern Explorations offers two tour extensions for the palate on Argentina tours. Its three-hour Wine Tasting Tour Extension samples the most noteworthy wines from the country's major wine regions, and at a five-hour Cooking Workshop, travelers learn the fine art of the Argentine asado barbecuing technique.

The Events
In March, Mar del Plata is the site of an international film festival, considered one of the top such events in the world. For over seventy years, San Antonio de Areco has been hosting a wildly popular Fiesta de la Tradicion in November, showcasing the country's gaucho traditions in an extravaganza of music, dance and horsemanship. Buenos Aires offers a year-round smorgasbord of events from its tango festivals and competitions to its September week-long all-city arts festival. One of the capital's biggest events doesn't even take place on Argentine soil (except occasionally). Nonetheless, life here stops during the World Cup when Argentina's team is playing a match. Being in Buenos Aires during World Cup to feel the ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat is an experience not to be missed if you travel to Argentina during the event.