London ,
13
May
2015
|
17:13
Europe/London

Fly with LAN and TAM to Argentina’s salt flats, cactus desserts, rivers and mountains

It's apparent why Argentina has long held travellers in awe: tango, polo, gauchos, beef, Patagonia, the Andes.

Studded with outstanding natural wonders as well as one of the world’s hot list cities, Argentina is a vast and varied land encompassing a staggering diversity of terrains.

Kate from Lotus UK joined a ten day trip to Argentina with South American hotel representatives, Senderos, travelling from Buenos Aires, to Salta and Iguazu with LAN and TAM, forming part of LATAM Airlines Group, South America’s largest and most comprehensive flight network.

Kate gives her account of the trip:

Starting in Argentina’s atmospheric capital, Buenos Aires, we enjoyed the perfectly central location of Alvear Art Hotel set in the heart of the financial, commercial and cultural area of the city, just steps away from elegant Santa Fe Avenue and elegant shopping street of La Florida and close to Puerto Madero, one of Argentina’s most modern neighbourhoods, located on the Rio de la Plata riverbank.

Due to the ash from the recently erupted Chilean volcano, we had an extra day in Buenos Aires and enjoyed a visit to the crumbling barrio of San Telmo, rich with graffiti and colonial style buildings, as well as a guided tour to the tourist hot spot of La Boca and the colourful El Caminto street. We also visited Plaza de Mayo, home to Casa Rosada, President Cristina Kirchner’s office, and the weekly gathering of the “mothers of the disappeared”, who since 1977 have walked around the Plaza seeking answers following the disappearance of their relatives during the military dictatorship of the 70s and 80s.

We continued to Salta, flying with LAN Argentina to the beautiful family run Finca Valentina, located on the outskirts of Salta in Northwest Argentina. Run by husband and wife duo Fabrizio and Valentina, the country house is rustic yet refined, fringed by mountains and lush gardens, with a small pool, which was perfect for wiping away the cobwebs after our visit to a local Peña (a typical folkloric music venue).

The ideal base to explore the region, Fabrizio also runs a small tour company called Socompa which offers guided tours to the most remote and beautiful parts of the region. Over the next few days, we were led by fantastic Socompa tour guide Gabi and super driver Seba through magnificent landscapes including Los Cordones National Park, home to hundreds of giant cactus, the mountain valley of Quebrada de Humahuaca and a trip to nearby Purmamarca, with its vivid “Hill of Seven Colours”, formed from marine sediments, elevated with the movement of the tectonic plates over thousands of years.

We continued to the fascinating Quebrada de las Flechas with its incredible rock like formations which reminded me of Chile’s Valley of the Moons, only less touristy, and the spectacular salt flats of Salinas Grandes, stumbling across a colourful local fiesta in Jujuy, celebrating the towns victory over Spanish invaders in 1821. With a parade of traditional costume and hundreds of gauchos on horseback, it really was a strike of luck.

The tour also included a night at the peaceful Cafayate Wine Resort, where we woke to the sun rising over fields of vines and birdsong as well as a sparkling pool which looked extremely inviting.

From Salta, we flew with LAN onto Iguazu (via BA) and spent a night at the colonial style Don Puerto Bemberg Lodge, located in the heart of the jungle. Set on the Paraná River separating Argentina from Paraguay, we woke a to a jungle alive with exotic birdsong and colourful flora and fauna.

After a visit to the fascinating Jesuit site of San Ignacio where just two Jesuit missionaries converted over 1500 locals to Catholicism, the trip concluded with a stay at the stunning Puerto Valle in Corrientes, a beautiful boutique hotel which this year expanded from just five rooms to 13 rooms, each impeccably designed with either verandas or floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the Paraná River on the edge of the Ibera Wetlands.

Focusing on wildlife, a range of activities were included in our stay, including a trip through the Wetland’s canals to spot the area’s incredibly diverse wildlife and birdlife, including colourful turkey vultures, Crested caracaras , kingfishers, cuckoos, egrets as well as capybaras (like giant guinea pigs) and caiman basking in the sun.

The trip finished on a high with a visit to the Argentinian side of Iguazu. Despite the pouring rain, Iguazu is a jaw-dropping site and the power of the water and deafening noise is definitely something that I won’t forget.

Before boarding the flight home, the group enjoyed the new LATAM business class lounge at Terminal 3 at Guarulhos International Airport (Sao Paulo) which was a perfect way to finish the trip.

I had an absolutely brilliant trip and I’d like to thank LATAM Airlines Group, Senderos and all the accommodations partners for making it possible.

Also, thank you to all our guests who were wonderful company.

 

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Images from left to right:

1. Abriendo Mentes, Costa Rica, Copyright KateHood.com
2. Nuevas Esperanzas, Nicaragua 
3. Vidarte Space, Brazil