One of the places highest on my list to visit in South America was Patagonia. But as many of you know it’s quite expensive to go there and even more expensive the further you go down. Adri and I decided to do the Argentina side due to financial reasons.
We decided the best way for us to get there was by bus. Although not the fastest it was ultimately the cheapest option. I know about 24 hours in a bus isn’t ideal for many folks, but when you’re ballin’ on a budget you have to do crazy things sometimes. However, you get to see some beautiful landscapes and your appreciation for the country grows immensely.
First stop: San Martin de Los Andes, Argentina
This place was absolutely beautiful and I can’t really say we were here long given we were just waiting for our connection bus to Bariloche. My only regret here is not having more time. Only two hours to explore a beautiful town is not nearly enough. It was a beautiful mountain town and I highly recommend staying at least a day or two here if your schedule allows so.
Second stop: Bariloche, Argentina
Oh goodness, this place is magical. So beautiful and I am so glad we spent the amount of time we did here. I also cannot rave enough about our hostel host, Chino. He was the absolute best! We were in a pinch at one point and needed to find a way to El Calafate, Argentina. Chino was kind enough to drive us to town and give us his bus card because he knew we needed it. I was just so amazed by his hospitality and how above and beyond he goes for all his guests. If you’re ever in the area La Casona Hostel comes highly recommended!
Bariloche also has some great hiking areas, too. We explored a bit and were just captivated by mother nature and all her grace as you can see.
Next stop: PATAGONIA!
Third stop: El Calafate, Argentina
Well we finally made it to Patagonia area and it felt like a dream. The beauty of this place is just unreal and I never wanted to leave (even though I love the PNW). If you go to El Calafate then you have to go to Perito Moreno and see the glacier, it’s one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever been. Entrance is about $330 ARS= $21 USD. The only down part is the park itself closes at 6 so make sure to spend the whole day there to get your moneys worth!
We were lucky enough to be hosted by our dear friend Patricio while we stayed in El Calafate and made friends with Belén from Spain. After spending a wonderful night together cooking dinner with new friends and exchanging travels plans, us ladies decided to set out for El Chaltén which is hiking town near El Calafate. By bus it would cost us about $100 round trip and due to my budget I was able to afford that. This next part Mom you might not want to read….
Fourth stop: El Chaltén
So to save us some money we decided to do a common source of transportation down south, hitchhike. Now I know many of you reading just had a chill run through your body, trust me I did, too. But it is VERY common down south and we saw many people both locals and tourists who were doing it. Also, I would not have done this on my own, no way! Adri and Belén basically had to pep talk me the whole way. This was a whole new experience for me, but I’m happy we did it. We met some really generous folks who were able to take us all to and from El Calafate. I don’t see myself doing this in the future, however now I can cross it off my bucket list.
While in El Chaltén we completed the trek called Fitz Roy and this sight was absolutely beautiful. The first 9 km are a breeze for the most part, but the last 1 km you feel like you want to quit, but don’t! I’m sorry the photos don’t give it nearly enough justice, nothing can except for experiencing it for yourself. This has been one of the best experiences of my life so far hands down. The water in the stream was the best I’ve ever tasted in my life. You can literally put your water bottle in the stream and drink it! Coming from the Pacific Northwest we’re pretty privileged with great water, so it was like Christmas Day for me to be able to drink this.
This group of ladies was something special, too. I feel so blessed to have had such a great crew with me while doing this trek. We met Otoño in our hostel room.We were all from different regions of the world, who would have thought a Colombian, American, Israeli, and Spaniard would all be trekking together.
Overall that day we hiked about 23 km (which was about 14 miles for my American friends). But every step was worth it and I could not get over the weather, my goodness. I mean being able to wear a t-shirt in Patagonia, I think that’s a good day!
After spending about 2 days in El Chaltén it was time for Belén, Adri, and I to split ways unfortunately. Belén made her way to Bariloche while Adri set off to Montevideo and I to Buenos Aires. After about 3 days Adri met back up with me in Buenos Aires.
Fifth stop: Buenos Aires:
This was my first portion of the trip where I would be fully solo. I admit I was a little nervous, but with Adri’s guidance I felt ready. I stayed at Circus Hostel & Hotel and although it was a little pricey, I really enjoyed my stay there and was able to meet some really fun people.
San Telmo market
One of my absolute favorite parts of Buenos Aires by far was the San Telmo market which was about 2 blocks away from the hostel. In South America the best of the best markets come out on Sunday, that’s fairly standard for all cities I’ve visited so far. So my friend Steff and I decided to go check it out and later we met up with my friend Ben. But not before we saw John Malkovich WALKING in front of us! Steff and I couldn’t believe it was really him, but felt bad when he couldn’t experience the market like us, because others started to notice him as well. But I highly recommend checking out the San Telmo market if you’re in Buenos Aires for a weekend whether John Malkovich is there or not, it is HUGE and you can spend pretty much all day there so be careful.
Stumble into a music festival
After the market we strolled down another street to find a giant music festival going on and had one of the best arepa’s I’ve ever had. On the street of the music festival were a bunch of different food stands from all over; Colombia, Brasil, Argentina, and others. It was great!
Venture to La Boca
After the festival we decided to venture forth to La Boca, which is a great neighborhood to check out. So colorful, full of unique characters (see characters behind us in photos above), and has circus vibe. Some advice here though that we were told about by a local woman who was kind enough to warn us is to not stray too far from the main center of the neighborhood, because unfornately theft is common here, especially amongst tourists. So just be contious of your belongings and surroundings.If you stay near the main blocks though you’ll be fine. I also recommend going with at least one other person if you choose to walk like we did.
Buenos Aires also has free walking tours that I recommend checking out! They start at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Your hostel will have maps with the times and meeting places on them. Again these tours are free, but tipping is encouraged. I have to admit the walking tours here were my favorite, I’ve done so far. The history of Argentina is quite fascinating and I highly encourage everyone to take them. Each tour goes to different portions of the city as well in the morning you end in the cemetery (which is a must see because of the detail on the tomb stones), and in the afternoon you finish in the Casa Rosada.
One of the oldest cafes in Buenos Aires and mostly is still in it’s original state. While we were there Ben and I got the 3 churros con chocolate Caliente and Adri got a iced beverage. The atmosphere is mostly what people go there for, many important Argentinians back in the day would meet here for business deals and such. Just don’t expect to always walk straight in, there usually is a line of some sort.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
If you like books even in the slights, this place is a MUST! The beauty within this library is unreal, I easily could have spent all day here just relaxing and reading. Just make sure when looking for it that you say “El Ateneo Grand Splendid“, because there are many bookstores known as “El Ateneo”all over the city. Steff and I found out the hard way that we were a bit off. All part of the adventure though!
See a late night Tango show
So it was our last night in Buenos Aires and Adri and I were determined to see a tango show before we left, but everything we were finding was outrageously expensive. Luckily our host Manuel was kind enough to join us to a place he heard about. It was a new experience for all of us, because even he had never been to a tango show. I really didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. You don’t even wanna blink when the dancers are performing because you’re afraid you’ll miss something important. Needless to say we ended up staying there until about 4 a.m. and practiced our dance moves all the way home.
So I liked Buenos Aires a lot, I was fortunate enough to meet many great people, have some late night fun, and learn more about the history. It’s funny reminiscing about this city I feel like I fell more in love with it than I let on. I did like it a lot and am definitely glad I went.
What has been your favorite city in Argentina? Thoughts about Patagonia? Have you ever seen a tango show?