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Friendly Planet Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Argentina’

Getaway Dossier: The side of South America you should see

Machu Picchu

We added three new South American tours to the Friendly Planet mix last week, so for my next Getaway Dossier, I thought I’d share my knowledge about all things South America to help you plan your next trip, whether you’ve already booked it or are considering one.

The most recognizable landmark on this continent is probably the Amazon River, but there’s much more of South America’s natural beauty and ancient history worth seeing. Here are my recommendations for the best things to see, do, and know about South America before the plane leaves the tarmac.

Weather: Opposites attract. Since South America is on the opposite side of the equator from us in the U.S., the seasons are a mirror of ours. When it’s summer here, it’s winter in South America, and vice versa. The most temperate times to visit South America are the spring and the fall, which is when the temperatures are the mildest.

The rainy season is in the summer (December to March). However, the rain doesn’t normally last long on any given day. Lima, located on the western coast, has moderate weather year-round with mild temperatures and cloudy skies. Rio de Janeiro, located on the east coast, is also temperate 12 months out of the year, making it a great place to visit.

In Machu Picchu on the southwest side of the country, and at the Iguazu Falls on the eastern side, the days are warm and humid. If you’re traveling anywhere with higher altitudes, dressing in layers is a must because temperatures will drop significantly at night.

Food: BBQ can’t be beat. South America boasts fantastic tropical fruits, such as coconut, mango, guava, pineapple, papaya, and more. And its seafood can’t be missed, especially in coastal towns. My absolute favorite thing to eat when I’m in Brazil is churrasco, also known as Brazilian barbecue.

Meat is cooked on huge skewers over an open fire. Then, waiters come by your table and slice it hot off the skewer right onto your plate. If your stomach is a bottomless pit, you’ll love this: When you’re ready for seconds, thirds, or fourths, just hit the button on your table and a waiter will be at your side with fresh, hot meat.

Restaurants that serve churrasco appear most typically in Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu, but can be found all over the country as well. If you’re not much of a meat eater, most metropolitan areas offer a varied range of cuisine.

Currency: Tip the right way. Three of the most common countries to visit in South America are Peru, Argentina, and Brazil, and each has its own currency. The currency in Peru is the nuevo sol; in Argentina, it’s the peso; and in Brazil, it’s the real.

In restaurants in Peru, an 18 percent service charge is included in the bill if you pay with a credit card. If you’re paying in cash, there isn’t a fee so you should tip between 5 and 10 percent. In Argentinean restaurants, tip 5 percent of the bill if your service charge was added and 10 percent if it wasn’t. Tip movie ushers and bus terminal porters 1 peso, and air terminal porters 2 pesos per suitcase. As for tipping in Brazil, a 10 percent tip is usually included in the restaurant bill, but you can leave more if your service was especially good.

Tip cab drivers no more than 10 percent, and tip bellboys, porters, or concierges about 1 real per luggage item or for any help they provided.

Iguazu Falls

Landmarks: It’s all about the falls. Iguazu Falls straddles the border of Argentina and Brazil, and consists of 275 smaller falls and islands. They’re believed to be 200,000 years old and are absolutely breathtaking. Be sure to see the falls from both sides. The Argentinian side at Devil’s Throat is the most famous place to take in the spectacular views. There are also boat and helicopter rides that take you up close and personal with this natural beauty (weather permitting). The falls might be the main attraction, but be sure to visit a fantastic bird sanctuary nearby. You can see dozens of exotic species of birds, as well as butterfly and hummingbird exhibits.

Culture: Appreciate the modern and the ancient. South America is a fantastic mix of old and new. It’s inspired by the traditions of its historical culture while keeping in step with modern society. This is one of the aspects that makes the continent so beautiful. When you visit, you’ll see wonderfully modern cities with every imaginable amenity. Then you’ll visit places like Sacred Valley, where the people still honor the traditions of their ancestors in their everyday life.

Don’t forget: Layers, layers, layers. You’ll probably be experiencing significant weather changes from one location to the next, so I’d say the most important thing to remember when traveling to South America is to dress in layers. Make sure you wear good walking shoes, and bring sunscreen and bug repellent. Much of South America is in the rainforest, so you’ll definitely be happy you brought these along!

The tours we offer to these destinations highlight the history and wonder of ancient South America, and the emerging culture of its cities. It’s a beautiful continent and different from anything here in the U.S. — that’s what makes it so special.

For the full itineraries on our three new tours, visit our website. And if you have any questions, write to me or call 1-800-555-5765 and speak to our reservations team.

Around the world in 12 minutes with Gary Arndt

Gary Arndt on a glacier in New Zealand

Gary Arndt is doing what so many people fantasize about: traveling around the world. He’s been to 70 countries — a lifelong endeavor for some people. But you might be surprised to find out he’s visited them all in the past three years.

Gary went from your average business owner to world traveler seemingly overnight. The idea struck him like a flash of lightening. He sold his house and off he went.

Last week, Gary was in Bangkok, Thailand, and I was able to pick his brain about his travels in a podcast, which you can listen to below. As Gary put it, living like a nomad is something you just can’t prepare for.

Gary’s been documenting his journeys on his blog, Everything Everywhere, which is now one of the most widely read travelogues on the Internet.

In our podcast, I talked to Gary about what he’s discovered so far, including why history books make the best guide books and why Argentina and Japan have the best food. He discusses what it’s like to be in an area where there is political conflict, and much more.

He says the best thing about his blog is that it not only lets him communicate with people, but it’s a great way to get feedback from readers on where he should go next. Gary just doesn’t write on his blog either, he produces weekly podcasts with travel experts and posts his beautiful photography.

Click play to step inside Gary’s world. Seventy countries down, only 125 to go. ;)

Weekly wrap up: Friendly Planet Travel in the news

FP_newspaper4.jpgIn case you missed it this week, I wanted to share some of the stories that featured Friendly Planet Travel. Enjoy!

Frommer’s: Frommer’s 5 Deals: Puerto Vallarta, Morocco, Philly, India, and Texas Hill Country

Budget Travel: Argentina, Air/8 Nights, From $1,659

Incredible 11-day Argentina tour for $1,599

Spanning more than 1 million square miles, Argentina is home to an immensely diverse topography of natural wonders. From the tropical rainforests in the north, to the snow-capped Andean mountains in the south, to all the wonders that any travel lover and adventure seeker could dream of in between, Argentina has it all.

And now, travelers can experience the unique beauty of Argentina for less than ever on our Incredible Argentina tour. The trip includes visits to the impressive Iguazú Falls, the stunningly beautiful ski resort of Bariloche, and the chic cosmopolitan capital city of Buenos Aires.

Everything vacationers need to explore Argentina — from roundtrip flights, transfers, touring, and some daily meals – is included in this fabulous vacation package. All of this is yours at prices that are — much like Argentina’s landscape — truly amazing!

Head on over to the Friendly Planet Travel Web site for more information or to book, or read on below for the full Incredible Argentina itinerary.

Day 1: Depart USA. Your fascinating journey begins as you depart in the evening for your overnight flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Day 2: Arrive Iguazú. After arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to the national airport for your flight to the Argentinean side of Iguazú Falls. Check in at the Panoramic Hotel Iguazú, and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure to rest and take in your beautiful new surroundings.

Day 3: Iguazú Falls. Upon seeing Iguazú, Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed "Poor Niagara!" You’ll soon discover why this UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. Straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil, the Falls consist of 275 inlets and cataracts cascading down 250 feet, framed by multiple rainbows and mist that rises up to 500 feet in the air. Iguazú boasts the greatest average annual flow of any waterfall in the world.

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Travelers will be treated to a fantastic close-up view of the falls and their dazzling display of power. Then, travel through the rain forest to the most spectacular sight at Iguazú: Devil’s Throat, a massive U-shaped cataract that measures 270 feet high, 490 feet wide, and 2300 feet long.

Spend the afternoon at leisure to explore further on your own. Or, take advantage of an optional nautical adventure along the Lower Iguazú River, sailing under the Falls. Later this afternoon, be sure to take time to stroll through the laid-back town of Puerto Iguazú.

Day 4: Bariloche. Enjoy a morning taking advantage of the lovely leisure facilities at the hotel. Later, transfer to the airport for your flight to the stunning lakeside ski resort town of San Carlos de Bariloche. Surrounded by dense forests, alpine lakes, romantic chalets, and snow-capped Andean mountains, Bariloche’s idyllic scenery is reminiscent of the Swiss Alps. Check in at the Cacique Inacayal Hotel, and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to relax or shop for hand-knit woolen sweaters and delicious locally made chocolate.

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Day 5: Bariloche. Experience the unbelievably beautiful natural splendor of the Andean region on today’s excursion along the popular Circuito Chico. Set out westward on Avenida Bustillo to the Península Llao Llao, home to one of Argentina’s most famous and picturesque landmarks, the Llao Llao Hotel. Llao Llao’s Puerto Pañuelo is the point of departure for your boat-bus excursion across the Andes to Chile. Stop at the charming village of Colonia Suiza, where you’ll have an opportunity to sample some of the town’s renowned pastries at a local café.

Spend the afternoon at leisure or take advantage of one of two exciting optional tours. The first takes you to Victoria Island, where you’ll ascend Mount Bella Vista by a chairlift that takes you up a narrow path of ancient coihue and cypress trees. As you descend, take in some of the most spectacular views in the region. Continue to the Bosque de Arrayanes National Park, home to the rare and ancient myrtle trees.

A second optional tour takes you to Cerro Catedral, rising to nearly 8,000 feet and named after its resemblance to a Gothic cathedral. Here you’ll find Argentina’s world-renowned Mount Cathedral Ski Resort, which boasts 62 miles of ski runs and magnificent views over Bariloche and Nahuel Huapi Lake.

Day 6: Buenos Aires. Your discovery of Argentina continues today as you transfer to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital city. Upon arrival, transfer to check-in at the centrally located Dazzler Tower San Martin.

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Day 7: Buenos Aires. After breakfast, set out on a tour of the city and discover why Buenos Aires is so often referred to as "the Paris of the South." Exploration begins at the Plaza del Mayo, the historic and political center of the city. You’ll see the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace from which Juan and Eva Perón spoke to throngs of adoring Argentineans. Continue to the Obelisk landmark on the Avenue 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world.

Then to the crowded Florida Street, a true shopper’s paradise. Pass through the colorful neighborhood of La Boca and the charming San Telmo area. Buenos Aires is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive flavor, but everywhere you go, the people are warm and welcoming.

Admire the French architecture in the exquisite Recoleta neighborhood, including the beautiful Cemetery of La Recoleta, where Evita Perón is buried. It is one of many ironies of this comple
x city that Evita, heroine of the poor, is buried in the city’s most elegant (and expensive) section.

Day 8: Buenos Aires and Optional Tigre Excursion. Today is yours at leisure to explore on your own. We recommend an optional tour to Tigre and San Isidro. Enjoy a catamaran ride through the labyrinth of islands and islets along the Paraná Delta. Disembark and board the Tren de la Costa, a light rail train that connects the elegant riverfront areas. Descend in the main station of San Isidro for a tour of the town’s cathedral and other attractions.

In the evening, take advantage of an optional dinner, complete with an exciting performance of the tango, Argentina’s passionate national dance.

Day 9: Buenos Aires and Optional Estancia visit. After breakfast, travel outside the city for a full day optional excursion to the Argentine Pampas. Visit a traditional estancia (ranch), where you’ll discover the life of the Argentine cowboys known as "gauchos." After a sumptuous barbecue lunch including delicious local wine, you’ll enjoy a folkloric show with typical Argentine dance, song, and dress.

Day 10: Depart Buenos Aires. Enjoy your final day in Argentina at leisure for last-minute sightseeing and souvenirs. We recommend a stroll the colorful streets and shops around your hotel to scout the amazing bargains that will make shopping for souvenirs (and that gorgeous leather bag) a pleasure. Later, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the USA.

Day 11: Arrive USA. Your Argentinean adventure ends today as you touch down in the U.S.

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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