An Argentinian Adventure

There are some very strict rules about travelling to jealousy-inducing destinations here at dealchecker.

1) You will bring us back treats
2) You will be subjected to incessant pestering by the blog writing team.

“Give us your photos” and “oh go oooooon… please?” rapidly descends into veiled threats about job security and open threats of publishing that photo. The slightly blurred one taken circa 3am at last year’s Christmas party.

Well today marks a victory for pester power; Rob’s dignity remains intact (for now), and we all get to see some fantastic pictures from his recent two-week trip around Argentina:

“The journey out to Argentina was a comedy of errors to be honest. The largest of these was, however, the most enjoyable. After travelling for almost 20 hours our dingy, almost inaudible, inflight films were interrupted by the captain calmly telling us one engine was leaking oil and we would have to emergency land at the nearest runway. This runway happened to be Manaus, a city beside the Amazon in the heart of the Brazilian rainforest. Which was lucky because this sounded a pretty exciting destination if you have to make an emergency landing (the last time I emergency landed was in Southampton) and distracted us morbid thoughts of our own mortality.

Right, I’m going to ruin the storyline for you here: I survived. The plane landed fine, albeit very noisily, and we were pretty promptly shipped out to a hotel about 15 minutes away, given a room each and told we had all day until 6pm and could get lunch for free in the restaurant. We then dropped our bags off and went for a wander, not knowing what to expect. Any annoyance we felt at missing out on a day in Buenos Aires quickly slipped away as we casually wandered the hotel grounds and along the Amazon fuelled by Caipirinhas. What a blessing in disguise:

Manaus, Amazon River

We arrived in Buenos Aires over 12 hours late, and with only a day and a night to explore this vast city. In a word: busy. The next stop was Iguazu on the Brazilian border, about an hour and a half’s flight north. The reason for this two-day trip up north was to see the Iguazu Falls. I had my doubts as to whether a waterfall would be worth it. It turns out I was wrong:

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Without wanting to sound dramatic this was probably the greatest thing I have ever seen. We spent a whole day trekking along the various platforms built around this unimaginable set of waterfalls seeing them from all sorts of angles. The photos genuinely don’t do it justice. In fact, if I was going to do it again I’d probably give it two more days and hop over to the Brazilian side too, as apparently their views are even more impressive.

Right, there really is too much to tell you about on this trip so allow me to fast forward: A couple of overnight buses, a few steaks and a dip in a local river later; we arrived in Mendoza for the final stretch of our two-week trip.

Mendoza has so much to offer in terms of activities and, this being Argentina, all of them are very cheap. At this time of year almost always scorching too. There is, however, one thing that Mendoza is particularly famous for: wine.

On our first full day we decided to do a vineyard tour on bikes. We only visited three vineyards but to be honest after five or six glasses of wine in sun, this seemed like plenty. Despite seeing only three the differences between them was vast; at one end of the spectrum was a family run organic producer with a very French feel, grand old barns, a long gravel drive and grape laden pergolas. At the other was a building that resembled the glass-clad lair of a Bond villain, where every last detail was monitored and the wine was piped from steel drum to steel drum.

Grapes, Mendoza, Argentina

This is not only a great way to get a bit of exercise out in the sun, see some scenery and learn about something cultured but one of those rare moments when you can start drinking before midday entirely guilt free.

The next morning we took a short ride out towards the mountains for some brown water rafting. This was such good fun that I genuinely had no concept of how long we were rafting for. I was told it was about 40 minutes, but time flies by as you lurch from one set of rapids to the next (backwards most of the time thanks to a Spanish language barrier that took us only 39 minutes to overcome). Then, to top off what felt like a heroic performance battling with Mother Nature, I stepped out of the raft onto to dry land and immediately fell back into the river… smooth.

(Strangely the photo that was meant to illustrate this has “gone missing” hmmmmmmm)

On our penultimate day in Mendoza, we again set off in the morning towards the Andes but this time for some horse riding. All in all we had about an hour on the horses, which was the perfect amount of time to take in the dramatic scenery as well as building up a bit of confidence on the horse. After sufficiently bruising our cheeks and tying the horses up back outside the tiny ranch we had about an hour to kill while the gauchos rustled up some food. Luckily it was blazing hot, they had a pool and supplied us with a steady flow of red wine otherwise this could have been a bit tedious.

The food that followed was without a doubt my favourite meal of the holiday; salad and bread accompanied by a seemingly never ending supply of huge cuts of steak and chorizo straight out of an outdoor clay oven. In fact, this was my favourite day of the holiday.

Horses Mendoza, Argentina

For me this trip proved that although two weeks isn’t enough to see all of Argentina (we didn’t even touch on glaciers in chilly Patagonia that dominates the south, or the salt flats and deserts of the north) is it enough to experience it. You don’t need to take a year or six months out of whatever you’re doing to feel like you’ve had a once in a lifetime experience. Go to Argentina, it’s amazing.”

And, uh, if you were thinking of going to Argentina you could do what Rob undoubtedly did and compare flights to Argentina on dealchecker!