Southern Argentina - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Southern Argentina

Southern Argentina

The southern region of Argentina is a fascinating mix of desert, ice-capped mountains, vast plains, sandy beaches and majestic glaciers. South of the Rio Colorado is the captivating Patagonia region, an area of diverse landscapes largely protected by the existence of a dozen national parks and reserves. Temperatures in the region can be extreme, from mild to well below zero and most visitors wisely choose to travel to Patagonia in summer. Patagonia is far from an icy wasteland, however. Bursting with wildlife, the area is also covered with large tracts of arable land (producing large amounts of fruit and vegetables), and is home to the country's biggest oil and coal reserves.

The coastline in the south has the warmest water in the country and a favoured destination is Las Grutas, a tourist-oriented beach resort on the Blue Gulf in the Rio Negro province. The area takes its name from the many caves dotted about the coastline, and provides visitors with an opportunity to sunbathe on the well-sheltered beaches, or engage in plenty of watersports. The southern coastline is also incredibly popular due to the large amounts of marine life that can be found here, from Southern Right whales to elephant seals, sea lions, and penguins, as well as an astounding array of birdlife.

Continuing further south, one hits the world's southern-most city, Ushuaia, situated on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. This island territory (partly shared with Chile) is a favourite starting point for tours to Antarctica, but also offers plenty of activities, sights and sounds for the visitor, including trekking in the Andes in the western part of the archipelago, spectacular kayaking, some of the world's best brown trout fishing, and Argentina's only coastal national park. The southern region of Argentina is every bit as fascinating as the north and certainly has a lot to offer the intrepid traveller.

Information & Facts

Spanish is the official language of Argentina but English is understood in the tourist areas.

The Argentinean Peso (ARS) is divided into 100 centavos. The recent devaluation of the Peso has made Argentina more affordable for travellers but there is still much economic uncertainty and travellers are advised to keep an eye on the exchange rate. Currency can be exchanged at banks and cambios(bureaux de change) but it is easier to use ATMs, available in most urban towns, which reflect the current exchange rate. Credit and debit cards are generally accepted, and US Dollars and Euros are normally taken everywhere, but some international cards place limits on transactions. Cirrus cards sometimes aren't accepted. There can be problems using travellers cheques in rural areas, although most banks in major cities should accept them. It's best to take travellers cheques in US Dollars to avoid additional exchange rate charges.

Local time in Argentina is GMT -3.

Vast, windswept and with a breathtaking landscape of mountains, huge blue skies, shimmering lakes and towering glaciers, Patagonia has been inspiring travellers, explorers and adventure seekers for centuries.

Northern Patagonia borders Chile and Argentina and is home to the Nahuel Huapi National Park. It has a vast breathtaking landscape of mountains and shimmering lakes. It hosts colonies of penguins, sea elephants and whales. There are many trips to experience, which include canoeing, bird watching, horseback riding and much more. Southern Patagonia has stunning beauty. The landscape is scattered with spectacular snowy peaks, awe-inspiring glaciers, turquoise lakes and wildlife. El Calafate lies on the southern shores of Lake Argentino about 80kms from the entrance to the Los Glaciares National Park, where you can experience the wonderful Perito Moreno glacier, with its unbelievable ice blue colours and an immensity, which you will not believe until you have seen it first hand. Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, is the capital of Tierra del Fuego. It enjoys a dramatic setting on the northern shore of the Beagle Channel, close to the legendary Cape Horn. The city is surrounded by the snow covered Cerro Martial and offers beautiful views of a unique landscape of mountains, sea and forest. It is the starting point for tours along the Beagle Channel, cruises around Cape Horn and Antarctic expeditions.


Adventurous travellers are drawn to the savage beauty and rich wildlife of Patagonia. This region of contrasts and extremes, stretching across Argentina and Chile, runs from the river Colorado, south of Buenos Aires, across to the southern tip of South America. Many people go between July and April to visit the famous wildlife reserve of Peninsula Valdés, where right whales, sea elephants and other rare marine mammals come to breed in their thousands. However those going further south should visit only in the summer months if they wish to avoid temperatures that plummet to -13°F (-25°C).

Situated in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Los Glaciares National Park, the breathtaking Perito Moreno Glacier is nearly 19 miles (30km) in length and spreads over an area of 97 square miles (250 sq km). The spectacular, blue-white ice formation is one of the only glaciers in the world that is advancing, at a rate of seven feet (2m) per day. Visitors can marvel at the site of the glacier 'calving': enormous chunks of ice breaking off into the water with a deafening crash, creating icebergs and causing large waves. The glacier is also world renowned for its unique rupturing process; at certain periods the glacier's front reaches the coastal border of the lake, blocking off the flow of water from the Andes and causing its waters to rise by about 66 feet (20m). When the pressure is too much, the dam of ice cracks and shatters, sending icebergs downstream. The closest town to this natural wonder is El Calafate in Argentina's Santa Cruz Province.

This island territory at the tip of South America is shared by Chile and Argentina and is a place of staggering scenery. Though further south the region does not reach the extreme temperatures of neighbouring Patagonia, but it is still not for the faint-hearted. The principal tourist destination is Ushuaia, in the south, the base for visiting the dramatic Canal Beagle, trekking in the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego and the mountain ranges of southern Tierra del Fuego (with its magnificent scenery of lakes, snow-capped mountains and beechwood forests). There is less reason to visit the north of the island unless you are a keen fly-fishermen heading to the Río Grande, the world's best brown-trout river.

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