The Whistletrip:  Itinerary

  • Days 1 & 2:  Buenos Aires
  • Days 3 & 4:  Iguazú Falls

Why Go

Long described as “the Paris of South America” and aesthetically shaped by Spanish and Italian immigrants, Buenos Aires holds particular allure for travelers with a European sensibility.  Accessible food and architecture give the city a welcoming familiarity, while the pulsing energy of up-and-coming barrios and a thriving cultural scene that is uniquely Latin American in flavor infuse Buenos Aires with a subtle exoticism.

A short flight to the magnificent Iguazú Falls presents wild beauty on a colossal scale.  Together these destinations quickly bring together some of the best that man and nature have to offer.

  • Convenience:  The combination of a long overnight flight, allowing for decent sleep before arrival, and limited time zone change makes Argentina a perfect whistletrip destination from the US.
  • Great Outdoors:  Iguazú Falls are breathtaking – nothing can match the boom of the Iguazú River crashing on rocks after a 260-foot drop or the sunlight piercing through the mist that cloaks the verdant surrounds.
  • Solo Travel:  This whistletrip itinerary would be one of my top picks for a solo traveler.  Bustling Buenos Aires is more safely explored than ever thanks to Uber, and large chunks of the city are pedestrian friendly.  With its well laid out trails, Iguazú National Park is easily navigable for solo visitors while staying inside the park keeps logistics easy.

To Travel Agent or Not To Travel Agent

Not.  Kayak and booking.com are all you need.

Practical Planning

Casa_Rosada_Buenos_Aires
Casa Rosada, the palatial mansion of the Argentine President in Buenos Aires
  • Mobilize:  I flew overnight from New York to Buenos Aires on American Airlines.  Use Uber to cover distances in the city that are too much for walking.  Numerous direct flights connect Buenos Aires to Iguazú in under 2 hours.  I traveled with Aerolineas.
  • Pack:  Take comfortable shoes for walking both the streets of the city and the Iguazú Park trails. Iguazú has a humid subtropical climate so pack spare sets of basic clothing and a light rain jacket.

Days 1 & 2:  Buenos Aires

  • Stay:  What Legado Mitico lacks in facilities (no restaurant) this 4* 11-room boutique makes up for with its artsy cool decor and terrific location in the hip Palermo Viejo district.  Be sure to have a drink in the fantastic library.
    BA Legado Mitico
    The library at bohemian Legado Mitico © The Whistletrip

    Hotel Madero‘s sleek rooms befit its location in the Puerto Madero Waterfront design district, views of which can be enjoyed from the rooftop solarium.  Park Tower, a solid 5* 180+ room Starwood property with resort facilities, has a central location in the somewhat corporate Retiro district.

  • Eat & Cocktail:  Fuel up for the morning at Oui Oui, pioneer of the Buenos Aires brunch.  For a late lunch, head to El Obrero in La Boca for their fried calamari and beef dishes.  Avoid late evenings when the neighborhood can be a bit dicey for tourists – which is a shame since this lively barrio’s strikingly attractive painted houses are a daytime must-see.  Outwardly gritty but inwardly chi chi, Tegui in Palermo Viejo hides delicious Mediterranean dishes and elegant decor behind a graffitied wall and hefty security door.  Palermo Hollywood is a safe bet for finding a late-night watering hole – after midnight, taxis flood the neighborhood with bar hoppers and clubbers.  It is also home to several terrific eateries – I enjoyed tasty Vietnamese food at Green Bamboo and steak with Mendoza wine overload at parrilla Miranda.

    ba-boca-region
    Houses in La Boca are painted in bright, bold colors © The Whistletrip
  • Shop:  The leafy streets of Palermo Soho – between El Salvador and Niceto Vega – are littered with boutiques in quaint old properties.  Clothing salons, book stores, and leather shops are interspersed with hip cafés that caffeine fuel a shopping spree, and Plaza Serrano hosts a fun craft fair every weekend.  On Sundays, head to San Telmo for the antiques fair on Calle Defensa, brimming with tango performers, street food and handicraft stalls.  It is worth braving the crowds for the cobbled streets and fading Spanish architecture that are the hallmark of the oldest barrio in Buenos Aires.
  • Gawk At:  Modern architectural gems in the Puerto Madero barrio.  The ambitious urban renewal program incorporates building designs from heavyweights including Norman Foster, Alan Faena and Philippe Starck.  Throw in some exercise with a walk or jog along the Río de la Plata riverbank.

    ba-waterfront
    Puerto Madero waterfront district © The Whistletrip
  • Work Out:  Well, watch others hard at work.  Head to La Bombonera stadium to watch the popular local football team, Boca Juniors, at play. If you visit in September through December, it is worth dressing up to take in a fast paced polo match at Tortugas Country Club, the Hurlingham Club or Palermo’s Campo Argentino de Polo stadium.  Hosts of the Argentine Triple Crown tournaments, these venues attract well-heeled high energy crowds that are almost as fun to watch as the players are.

    ba-polo
    Polo match at Tortugas Country Club © The Whistletrip
  • Culture Up:  Gazing up at the gilded balconies of the stunning Teatro Colón is such a treat.  Daily tours of the grand 1908 opera house are available, but the best way to soak up the atmosphere is by spending an evening at a classical music concert, ballet performance or operatic production.  Tickets are available online.  The Evita Museum‘s fascinating displays of photographs, print media and clothes tell the story of Eva Duarte’s life – tracing her rise from impoverished child to famous actress then fabled First Lady Peron.  MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires) showcases modern Latin American art, spanning media from the early 20th century to the contemporary.  The permanent collection is quite small and easily digestible on a quick trip, but gives an invigorating taste of works by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Antonio Berni.

    ba-teatro-colon
    Inside the grand Teatro Colon © The Whistletrip
  • Don’t Miss:  La Recoleta Cemetery.  It may sound morbid, but this is no ordinary graveyard.  The last resting place of Argentina’s powerful and wealthy, La Recoleta has over 6,400 intricate mausoleums designed as Greco-Roman temples, Gothic chapels and mythical grottoes.  Organized into neat blocks, the spaces between them are like streets through a city of the dead.  A fascinating site to browse either solo or on free tours in English that take place at 11am on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    BA cemetery
    La Recoleta is the city of the dead © The Whistletrip
  • Skip On:  Overpriced dinner-and-tango shows.  3 hours of mediocre food and sizzleless dancing apparently describes not only my experience but typifies that of many theater goers.  Instead head to the major Plazas to enjoy street performances with a delicious empanada in hand.

Days 3 & 4: Iguazú Falls and National Park

The waterfall system of the Iguazú River on the border of Argentina and Brazil is the largest in the world.  Legend has it that a deity planned to marry the beautiful Naipí, who fled the amorous overtures in a canoe along with her mortal lover Tarobá.  The jealous deity divided the river, creating waterfalls to condemn the lovers to an eternal descent.

Now a well-managed UNESCO World Heritage site, Iguazú National Park has well laid trails winding through its rainforest, with wooden walkways extending in parts over the water for views of the falls’ base.  Be sure to follow the Paseo Garganta del Diablo trail for direct views over Devil’s Throat, the highest and deepest of the falls.

IMG_3208
Explore well laid trails through the Iguazu subtropics and above the Falls © The Whistletrip
  • Stay:  Sheraton Iguazú Resort & Spa, the only hotel situated inside the national park.  Although the rooms and restaurants feel like standard corporate fare, its location is unbeatable and so it offers good value for money even at rack rates, more so when using Starwood points.  Trails into the park begin in the hotel grounds and from my bedroom I could hear the constant rush of the waterfalls, which are also visible from much of the property.  After a sweaty day roaming in the humidity, a dip in the outdoor spa pool is perfect.

    IMG_3219
    Rooms and common areas of the Sheraton have partial views of the Falls © The Whistletrip
  • Boat: Iguassu Falls Tour takes visitors on a raft from before San Martin’s Island into the Devil’s Throat Canyon.  Feeling the water cascade down your back and right on top of your head makes for a thrilling ride and, though it lasts less than 15 minutes in total, a memorable experience.  I regret missing the same company’s “nautical safari”, which starts at Puerto Canoas and involves being paddled along 2 miles on the upper Iguazú delta.

    IMG_3308
    Raft into the base of the Falls © The Whistletrip
  • Spot:  Wildlife.  If you can peel your eyes away from the mesmerizing Falls.  The surrounding subtropical rainforest is home to over 2,000 species of vascular plants and exquisite butterflies, tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and caymans.

Extend your time in Argentina with a trip to Salta.

© Ann Berry