Buenos Aires

El Calafate

El Chalten





Return to South America
El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina
Patagonia, © Can Stock Photo Inc. / elxeneize

Argentina is the second largest country in South America, after Brazil.  The name Argentina refers to the silver that the Spanish hoped to find here, but didn't.  Argentina has 23 provinces plus the separate capital city of Buenos Aires. The country runs basically north to south with Chile and the Andes forming its western border.  It also has borders with Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia.  Spanish is the official language.  Argentina is a republic with a president. Juan Peron was president in 1946 and instituted censorship, repression and nationalization of industry in an attempt to save the economy.  His wife, Eva Peron, was extremely popular and brought women voting rights in Argentina.  She died of cancer in 1952.  Juan Peron resigned during a military coup in 1955.

Argentina has great diversity in its topography.  Ushuaia is the most southern city in the world and is the embarkation point to Antarctica.  The southern portions of Argentina are tucked up against the glaciers of the Andes and provide for rugged alpine hiking centered at El Calafate in the area known as Patagonia.  Further north along the Andes you reach the lake country around BarilocheBuenos Aires is located on at the Atlantic on the flat plains east of the Andes.  It is known for the tango, while in the nearby rural area of the pampas (plains), the gaucho (cowboy) still makes a living.  Argentina shares one of the 7 natural wonders of the world with Brazil - Iguazu Falls.

For travel to Argentina, LAN is the most popular airline while the government airline, Aerolinas Argentinas, is not that popular due to inconsistency in their level of customer satisfaction.

Argentine Spanish:

Buenos Aries, Patagonia, Uruguay and parts of Chile have developed a couple of variations on pronunciations that are challenging for Spanish speakers from places like Mexico. The "ll" sound is a "y" in Mexico but a "ch" in Argentina. So, caje is the street, chubia is rain and pocho is chicken. Though difficult to follow in conversation, at least the variation is consistently applied.  Some have attributed the origin of the variation to the former president who was married to Eva Peron.

The other more confusing practise is that of pronouncing a "ch" for a "y".  It's challenging for other Spanish speakers when Argentines say Plaza de "Macho" but that's how they say Mayo. 

Visa Requirements:

Visas are required from some countries, however many travellers will find that their country is exempt.  In general, visas are required for Africa, the Middle East, eastern Europe and Asia. 

Currency Exchange:

The best option for travellers in Argentina is to bring lots of US$ with you.

The big change for tourists to Argentina in 2015 was the change in December 2015 that allowed Argentine nationals to buy US$.  The removal of the previous longstanding restriction caused a one day devaluation of the peso by 30% in one day.  Those who were accustomed to buying US$ on Florida Street were already buying at that devalued rate for months and even years before the official change.  During our Take That Vacation visit in late December of 2015 we noted a marked change on Florida Street, where only a small scattering of money changers remained in business just days after the change.  The previous constant shouts of "Cambio, cambio, cambio" were reduced to an occasional whisper.  The official rate was 13 pesos per $ while the rate with vendors was 14.  That made it hardly worthwhile to buy from a stranger on Florida St and it spells the end of its black market glory days.  During our 2015 visit we used a combination of credit card plus US dollars where we did not expect change.  We spent two enjoyable days in the city without ever handling an Argentine peso.

Using credit can sometimes be problematic in Argentina.  Some restaurants don't offer the option.  It is common for those that do to only take credit for the cost of the meal and not the customary tip of 10%.  You need pesos or dollars for that and your server will be watching carefully for their cash commission when you use credit.

Reciprocity Fee for Canada:

Tourists from Canada are currently required to pay a reciprocity fee for travel Argentina.  The fee for U.S. citizens was suspended on March 24, 2016.  The fee for Australian citizens was suspended on July 1, 2017.  The fee is charged in retalion for fees charged by these countries to Argentines.  It is only charged for those entering the country through the international airport in Buenos Aries.  It cannot be paid at the airport though and must obtained prior to your flight to Buenos Aires.  The first step is to Sign Up at the Department of Immigration web site.  The Sign Up button is very small and inconspicuous.  The process can also be accessed from the Immigration Department's English Home Page.  The fee should not be paid until within a 3 month period of travel. It also covers return visits from Argentina to Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Bolivia.  This means that you can visit the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls and return to Argentina without paying a second fee.  Don't forget a Visa will be required to enter Brazil, though.

Electrical Adapters:

Argentina uses two types of adapters, so be prepared for both.  Older buildings use a two round prong plug that also works in southern Europe.  Newer buildings use a two slanted prong plug that also works in Australia and New Zealand.  Some hotels have adapters that accomodate both simultaneously.

Best Time to Visit Argentina: June

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