We really favored 4 locations in Argentina–Ushuaia, Salta, The Peninsula Valdez, and Iguazu Falls.
Ushuaia is a city in a uniquely spectacular location, a place where it can snow in the summer. It is surprisingly sophisticated with great restaurants and more attractions than are usual for such a remote place. It has a definite end of the world feel. There in the Southern Hemisphere in early summer, Ruth & I celebrated Christmas with freshly-picked strawberries and talked to people who were either going to or returning from Antarctica. On a large bay named Ushuaia, this remote outpost once had a prison that was home to Argentina’s most notorious criminals for a couple of generations until 1947. An attraction we loved was a national park named Do Iguacu.
Salta is a city of about half a million people in the foothills of the Andes Mountains near Bolivia. We went there mainly so that I could write an article about the Tren a las Nubes, the Train to the Clouds, for a railroad magazine, but we fell in love with this considered-safe city and its culture. It is said to be the best preserved colonial city in Argentina. The train left from Salta when we took it, which presented some problems. It now leaves from the nearby town of San Antonio and passengers take a provided bus from Salta to the train for an awesome 15 hour ride involving tunnels, bridges, switchbacks, and a parched landscape with oxygen provided at the end of each car for those who need it.
The Peninsula Valdez is south of Buenos Aires in Patagonia, too far away to drive there. It’s unspoiled but barren, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with sea lions, seals, guanacos, Magellanic penguin colonies, and much more. I felt especially isolated on the actual Peninsula where there are far more animals than people, and visitors feel away from everything. Many go there between June and December to see southern right whales cavorting, and also travel, like we did, to the Welsh town of Gaiman on the mainland for tea and pastries.
Iguazu Falls where 3 countries–Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil–meet, is a world-class, inspiring, unforgettable destination with lots of rather menacing, raccoon-like coatis begging for food in the forest and other unusual animals. Expect to get drenched.