Argentina

From glaciers to hot sun and red wine!

Argentina

Spectacular landscape and experiences everywhere you go.

Where I’ve Been

Argentina Placeholder
Argentina

Currency = Argentinian Peso.

Find Yourself Rating

Excellent. The country feels huge and vast and has so many different experiences to offer. You can take the tourist path, or immerse in days of hiking in Patagonia. You can try out long bus rides, or fly. There’s abundant nature and animals you’ve probably never experienced. Just gazing at the lakes, the glaciers and the mountains can inspire deep thoughts and ideas and relaxation.

Female Solo Travel Ranking

Excellent. Overall I’ve found Argentina very safe. It feels safe, taxis are ok to take on your own – at least in main touristy towns such as El Calafate. Since it stays light pretty late in some seasons, you can stay out reasonably late and feel the protection of sunlight to guide you home. 🙂 Check out my Female Solo Travel tips page for ideas to stay safe.

Touristy vs Authentic

Depends. Some towns feel completely touristy, like El Chalten, which seems to have only restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops. You go for the hiking, and the town is just to house and feed you while you’re there. I was not particularly fond of it. But then you have towns like El Calafate which are touristy but somehow also have real life just off the main street. Yerba Matte is a popular drink and you’ll see locals with a thermos and a cup almost everywhere you go.

Getting Around / Transportation

Planes and buses. The easiest way to get around Colombia is to fly. Prices are very affordable and flights are relatively short, in-country. Airports are fairly small (apart from Bogota) so getting in and out is pretty easy. In fact, the airport might not even open before 6am, so just wonder in, you’ll be checked through very quickly, and out as fast. Local buses also offer transportation – research companies that can take you around as there are public and private companies.

Negotiating

Depends. I found taxis quite interesting. One of my hotels offered a free shuttle service into the center of town. A metered taxi cost roughly 150 pesos ($3.75 USD) and a taxi to the airport was 800 or 900 pesos (about $25 USD.) However, the shuttle drivers would try to get us tourists to hire them. One taxi driver suggested to a couple that he could take them to the airport for 1,500 pesos – double the fare! Another one proposed to me a full day tour in El Chalten for 5,000 pesos ($125) when the going rate for a bus is 1,600 pesos ($40.) So, know how much things cost, and negotiate from there.

How to Save Money

Affordable. First, a word about money. This is another really difficult area. Bank ATMs will only allow you to take out about $100/day. They will charge you $5 for each withdrawal. Tellers will not help you take out more money, instead they will advise you to make more withdrawals, getting them another $5 each time. Though credit cards are widely accepted (more Visa than AmEx, but both are accepted) most people want cash. When you go to a touristy town, do not shop on the main street! Prices are ridiculous and if you just walk one or two blocks off the main street you will save so much money and find even better restaurants! Otherwise, prices are so much cheaper than in the US! You can get an amazing steak dinner with wine and a bottle of water for less than $15 USD.

Tipping

Secretly expected. Tipping is not required and is never included in the check. You will find tip jars and sometimes the waiter will tell you, or your receipt will tell you, that tip is not included. If you give a tip it’s always in cash, roughly 10% is good. No need to tip taxi drivers.

WiFi Access

Varies. WiFi is strange. It’s often the kind where you are brought to a website and have to sign in there, rather than in the settings of your phone. If you go slightly out of range, such as in a hotel, you can forget about connecting. If you’re near the router, it’s ok. When you can connect to a “real” WiFi network, the connection is much better. BUT, as soon as you have a few people sharing the network with you, all bets are off. WiFi is readily available in restaurants and hotels, but the quality varies greatly. For example, in El Chalten it’s the worst I’ve experienced since dial-up, no joke.

SIM Cards / Cell Phone Service

Claro or Movistar or Personal. NIGHTMARE! This was the hardest I have ever had to try to get cell phone service in my life. Somewhere around January 2019 Argentina changed things for tourists. You can easily buy a SIM card in most Kiosks. The problem will come when you try to set it up. I used Movistar. I had to like them on Facebook and then via private message, send them a photo of my passport, a selfie of me holding my passport, dates I was staying in Argentina, and a photo of the SIM card I was registering. Though they are fairly responsive on Facebook, it took 3 days to get my card registered, and it only happened with 3 visits to the local Movistar office in El Calafate where the office manager, after the Facebook people told me they registered me (but still I was not) did some final step to make the VOICE work. Data was an entirely different matter. After my card was finally set up for voice, I had to go to another store where a local guy knows the iPhone with dual SIM and he helped me get the data working. Now, after you do ALL that, you can only buy plans of 7 days or 30 days, so you’ll have to recharge your card regularly. AND they only want cash….

Toilets

Mostly excellent. All toilets are Western, clean, have toilet paper and soap. 🙂 BUT especially in public areas, toilets may be minus a moveable seat, toilet paper may or may not be available outside or inside the toilet area and soap conditions vary and dryers don’t always work and there usually isn’t any paper. Then again, they do seem conscious of the environment and prefer that paper not be flushed in many places.

Insects, Rodents and Reptiles

Not bad. In the South, where it’s colder, I saw a spider or two in my room, but no mosquitoes or rodents to speak of.

Passport, Visa and Entry/Exit Rules

Easy. It’s always a good idea to check the US government website (or your country’s local government if not the US) for in-depth information as well as the embassy of Argentina website or the US Government travel website. You’re allowed 90 days in the country. I bought a one-way ticket and worried that immigration would question that. They did on the outbound flight, which was from Colombia, because I had no return flight booked. So, I bought a bus ticket from Argentina to Chile just to have it. Nobody questioned me when I arrived in Argentina, however. 

Health, Water, etc.

Excellent. I don’t drink tap water most places as a general rule of thumb because different bacteria can cause stomach issues. However, I’ve read and heard that the water is ok to drink from the tap, thought it tastes like chlorine. So far, no issues with the food, apart from how different it is than I’m used to. As somone with high cholesterol that tries to eat healthy, breakfast is mostly pastries and afternoon and evening meals are a lot of red meat. There are, thankfully, places to get salads which are pretty good (and whatever water they wash the fruits and veggies in so far has been fine!) 

Weather

Varies. Depends where you are. If you’re going South to Patagonia it will be cooler, and the seasons are different – July being winter and December being summer. The north is much hotter, and Buenos Aires can be intolerable in the summer.

Essentials to Pack

Sunglasses and sunblock. Especially in Patagonia because the reflection of the water and the ice of the glaciers will burn you pretty bad, which can be surprising! You may end up getting some Matte and a cup and thermos while you’re here. 🙂

How to Make Friends

I’ve met fabulous people by dining at the same places but also because I’m solo, if I get a table for more than one, I’ve invited others to join me when there aren’t any other tables available. Honestly, strike up conversations with people at your hotel, hostel or restaurants, people are super friendly!

What to Do and See

If you’re going South of course you’ll want to see penguins and the amazing glacier Perito Moreno – if you’re under 65, hike the glacier, it is AMAZING! If you do like hiking, then El Chalten might be for you. I’ll update this as I travel and fill you in more!

Where to Stay

Terazza Coirones – in El Calafate it’s about a 25 minute walk from the city center, but they have a free shuttle TO the city several times a day. The hotel has a fabulous view of Lake Argentina that makes up for the trek.

Kapenke Hotel – right in the center of town, excellent price and really nice staff, highly recommend!

Hostel Los Viajeros – in El Chalten, less pricey than many other options, and you can get your own room, with a heated floor! Even though the room is super basic that floor is awesome!

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