Salta & The Andean Northwest
Argentina’s northwest sits lofty, dry and tough beneath the mighty Andes. Nature works magic here with stone: weird, wonderful, tortured rockscapes are visible throughout. There’s a definite Andean feel with traditional handicrafts, llamas, indigenous communities and Inca ruins, and the high, arid puna (Andean highlands) stretching into Chile and Bolivia.
Iguazú Falls & the Northeast
Northeast Argentina is defined by water. Muscular rivers roll through flatlands that they flood at will, while fragile wetlands support myriad birdlife, snapping caimans and cuddly capybaras. The peaceful Río Iguazú, meandering through jungle between Brazil and Argentina, dissolves in fury and power in the planet’s most awe-inspiring waterfalls.
Bariloche & The Lake District
Home to some of the country’s most spectacular scenery, the Lake District is one of Argentina's prime tourist destinations. People come to ski, fish, climb, trek and generally bask in the cool, fresh landscapes created by the huge forests and glacier-fed lakes.
The Pampas & The Atlantic Coast
The seemingly endless fertile grasslands that make up the pampas financed Argentina’s golden years over a century ago, and the area is still the nation’s economic powerhouse, producing most of Argentina’s famous beef. These humble pampas are often overlooked by travelers, but there are hidden gems here and there.
Patagonia’s cavorting right whales, penguin colonies and traditional Welsh settlements are all accessed by Argentina’s coastal RN3. While this paved road takes in some fascinating maritime history, it also travels long yawning stretches of landscape that blur the horizon like a never-ending blank slate. It’s also a favored travel route for oversized trucks on long-haul trips.
Mendoza & the Central Andes
A long, narrow sliver of desert landscape, the Mendoza region is home to two of Argentina’s claims to fame – the Andes and wine. The city itself is lively and cosmopolitan and the surrounding area boasts hundreds of wineries offering tours – an educational (and occasionally intoxicating) way to spend an afternoon or a month.
Jujuy & Salta Provinces
Intertwined like yin and yang, Argentina’s two northwestern provinces harbor an inspiring wealth of natural beauty and traditional culture. Bounded by Bolivia to the north and Chile to the west, the zone climbs from sweaty cloudforests westward to the puna (Andean highlands) and some of the most majestic peaks of the Andes cordillera.
Save for the travel hubs of El Calafate and El Chaltén, RN40 and its offshoots are bit of a backwater. The ultimate road trip, RN40 parallels the backbone of the Andes, where ñandús doodle through sagebrush, trucks kick up whirling dust and gas stations rise on the horizon like oases.
Córdoba & the Central Sierras
Argentina’s second city is bursting with life. Home to not one but seven major universities, Córdoba has a young population that ensures an excellent nightlife and a healthy cultural scene. Córdoba also boasts a fascinating history, owing its architectural and cultural heritage to the Jesuits, who set up shop here when they first arrived in Argentina.
Along the Río Paraná
The mighty Paraná, the continent’s second-longest river at 4000km (after the Amazon at 6405km), dominates the geography of Northeast Argentina. The cities along it have their town centers a sensible distance above the shorelines of this flood-prone monster, but have a costanera (riverbank) that’s the focus of much social life.
Tierra Del Fuego (Argentina)
The southernmost extreme of the Americas, this windswept archipelago is alluring as it is moody – at turns beautiful, ancient and strange. Travelers who first came for the ends-of-the-earth novelty discover a destination that’s far more complex than these bragging rights. Intrigue still remains in a past storied with shipwrecks, native peoples and failed missions.
Argentines can justly claim Latin America’s highest peak (Cerro Aconcagua), its widest avenue (Buenos Aires’ 9 de Julio) and perhaps its prettiest capital, but its beaches aren’t tropical paradises strewn with palm trees. There’s no white sand here, the winds can be fierce and the water is cloudy rather than turquoise.