What to do: active in Argentina

Argentina
Argentina, a country blessed with an incredibly diverse and extensive natural landscape, offers the visitor an opportunity to participate in an impressive array of outdoor pursuits. Furthermore, there is a thriving cultural and arts scene waiting to be explored here, particularly in the capital Buenos Aires. Those with the energy will find no shortage of activities to keep them physically and intellectually engaged during their stay in Argentina. Travellers in Argentina will never ever be bored, there are too many things to do.

Hiking and biking

hiking and biking There are numerous ways to travel across Argentina, but perhaps the best way to appreciate the scale and beauty of her different landscapes is to be outside in the open air. The national parks situated throughout the country, particularly in Patagonia in the south of Argentina and those in the north-western regions, host an abundance of hiking routes. Hiking has become more popular in Argentina in recent years and there are an increasing number of professional guides available for expeditions across some of the most challenging and stunning terrain. The Andes, situated along the western frontier of Argentina, provide a natural playground for those interested in trekking, as well as more extreme forms of mountain-biking. However, travelling on two wheels doesn't have to be such hard work, and there are more sedate options available which are no less enjoyable.

The wine regions around Mendoza and Cafayate can be explored on bicycles which are available for hire, enabling visitors to pick and choose their own personalised route around the bodegas. Some of the family-run bodegas, often off the tourist radar but within easy reach by bicycle, have extremely friendly owners and are well worth a visit. Moreover, getting on a bicycle is a great way to feel less guilty about all the fine wine you've consumed, whilst also taking in the stunning backdrops which frame both locations. Walking and cycling around Argentina's cities can be an equally enjoyable experience and the capital Buenos Aires offers many opportunities to do both. While the bustling streets might not be the most pedestrian-friendly in the world, the parks in Palermo provide a more serene environment for cycling and rollerblading (bicycles and blades are both available for hire). In general, the layout of cities throughout Argentina with their wide avenues and grand plazas, lend themselves to sunny afternoon strolls with the added culinary temptations provided by copious coffee-shops, restaurants and heladerias (ice-cream shops which are a must for those with a sweeter tooth).

Taking it to extremes

taking it to extremes As one might expect, those with a penchant for extreme sports will be spoilt for choice when in Argentina. The city of Salta, situated in the northwest of the country, has an impressive range of activities available to those who don't always wish to have their feet firmly placed on terra firma. Perhaps most breathtaking amongst these is the experience of paragliding over the mountains close to the city. Tandem jumps are offered with fully qualified instructors and the prices are extremely reasonable for those with Euros or Dollars in their pocket. Bariloche in the south and Cordoba's Central Sierras are other prime spots, which provide you with the chance to look at the spectacular scenery from a more unusual angle. Additional wind sports are also catered for with kite-surfing and windsurfing becoming increasingly popular.

The conditions at the Cuesta del Viento (or Slope of Wind) in Argentina's San Juan province are particularly renowned amongst wind sport fanatics. The Andes provide a perfect environment for visitors with a head for heights and there are numerous challenging peaks to climb especially in the provinces of Mendoza and San Juan. If you want to enjoy the views without expending the energy, why not think about horse-riding though the mountains and quebradas (or ravines) of Argentina. Rides can last for anything from a few hours to days and it's possible to organise them in Salta, Cordoba and various locations in Patagonia.

For those looking for more of an adrenaline rush and the chance to follow in the tracks of Che Guevara, motorcycles can be hired and journeys organised across the different regions of the country. The central regions around San Luis and Mendoza offer the best conditions for white-water rafting and kayaking, although there are a number of other prime spots in the northwest around Salta and in the south near Bariloche. Finally, why not think about joining the locals on their trek west and south for the skiing season which normally runs from June to October. Particularly popular areas include those close to Mendoza, Bariloche and San Martín de los Andes. The sheer variety of activities on offer, as well as their relatively reasonable cost, makes Argentina an exceptionally versatile destination.

Catching some culture

taking it to extremes Argentina has a rich cultural scene which more than matches her geographical beauty. Buenos Aires is the cultural heartbeat of the country, although other cities such as Cordoba and Salta are equally interesting. Argentina is a fantastic place to take on an intellectual challenge by learning Spanish, largely thanks to the favourable exchange rate and the diverse experiences one can enjoy at the same time. AMAUTA language school situated in Buenos Aires in the attractive suburb of Belgrano, offers a perfect mix of language learning and cultural activities to its students. It's possible to tailor classes according to individual student's interests/priorities and the school runs a diverse series of cultural sessions including dance lessons (tango, salsa and folkloric), history lectures, museum visits, barrio tours and much more. Sport is an integral part of life in Buenos Aires and football is a natural obsession.

The city hosts two large football clubs, River Plate and Boca, and it's well worth going along to a game to sample the frenetic atmosphere firsthand. There are number of other large teams dotted around the city and its outskirts which receive less attention but attract large crowds as well. Polo fixtures, horse-racing meets, tennis tournaments and rugby matches are all played at different times during the year and each have their own unique ambience and allure. Visitors to Buenos Aires should also take advantage of the chance to learn how to dance tango in a genuine Buenos Aires milonga (or dance hall), as well as alternative dances originating in other parts of the country and Latin America. There are countless other activities to keep the visitor culturally satisfied including world-renowned museums, galleries, theatres, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The wealth of activities available to the visitor makes deciding what to do next the hardest part of travelling in Argentina!

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