Ahhh Argentina. Mention the name and most of us instantly think of Evita, Messi, or its captivating choreography. But Argentina holds many more seductive pleasures that transcend the tango, as ardent Eden explorer Debbie Pritchard recently discovered on a trip that took her from its captivatingly cosmopolitan capital, through a land of lakes, to gigantic glaciers, and a wild, overwhelming Wonder of the World. 

“And I can happily report it was our best holiday ever!

Everything was absolutely brilliant and we really wouldn't have changed a thing. The organisation ran like clockwork, the weather was fantastic, the hotels were superb, the food delicious, and all the guides were fascinating, informative (and some a lot of fun too!).

Starting in Buenos Aires, we checked into the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt – a lovely hotel which in a previous life has been a palace and an embassy. Our accommodation was set in the old palace wing – so the rooms were gorgeous, overlooking beautiful gardens that are like a secret green oasis in the heart of the city, and every single member of staff was friendly and super-helpful.

Our guide in the city, Diego, was absolutely fantastic. He really couldn’t do enough for us – we loved his relaxed, enthusiastic approach to our tours, he gave us lots of advice on safety and security, helped us change money and found us the best rate, assisted with check-in on departure at the airport, and we felt very safe with him.

The four-hour private walking tour on the first day was really interesting. Our highlights? The Recoleta Cemetery – last stop on the journey of life for the country’s most celebrated (and controversial) folk – a labyrinthine city of the dead with over 6400 grandiose mausoleums that really have to be seen to be believed. Floralis Genérica – a giant metallic flower that blooms anew every day in the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas. And the pretty, tree-lined streets, very reminiscent of Paris.

Day two’s private tour of the city by car gave our feet a little bit of a break and was a great way to get an in-depth view of its most charismatic neighbourhoods.

We loved La Boca – one of Buenos Aires’ most authentic barrios –super-colourful and atmospheric; brimming with pavement cafés; and pulsating with tango beats and impromptu sidewalk performances (though it does have its seedy side so a guided visit is definitely recommended). ​

​Other highpoints included Casa Rosada (Argentina’s equivalent of The White House); the scenic Paseo El Rosedal gardens (home to over 18,000 roses); the Elizabethan-style Torre Monumental (also know as Argentina’s Big Ben); El Ateneo Grand Splendid, one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops, set in the almost-100-year-old Grand Splendid Theatre; the Catedral Metropoliana, where Pope Francis led mass as Archbishop of Buenos Aires; and Café Tortoni, Buenos Aires’ oldest café, founded in 1858.

The atmosphere is great (and the cakes even greater!). Even the road system here in the city is amazing –with 16 lanes of traffic leaving and entering the city… it’s the pottiest system I’ve ever seen – but somehow it seems to work!​​

You can’t leave Buenos Aires without taking in a Tango Show, and the dancers, singers and musicians of Rojo Tango at Hotel Faena are some of Argentina’s best. As the pre-show meal is optional, I’d recommend skipping it (the food wasn’t anything to write home about). But the show itself? Out-of-this-world – the dancing was unlike anything we’d ever seen – so quick and accurate, very sensual and energetic, with beautiful (super-skimpy) costumes! Best of all, our table was on the front row, so we had a phenomenal up-close-and-personal experience.

And if, after all the excitement, you fancy a little respite, why not make like Madonna, U2’s The Edge… and us… and head out of the city to Isla del Descanso – a small island in the delta, occupied by a huge private residence in spectacular grounds dotted with lakes, bridges and incredible sculptures at every turn. Best of all we had the entire place all to ourselves so were spoiled to bits from the moment we arrived to the moment we left!!! We had a wonderfully relaxing walk around the gardens, a divine lunch at the river’s edge while watching the world go by, and a fascinating insight into life on the delta, where everything – the school run, shopping, emergency services, you name it – is all done by boat. An absolutely fabulous day and definitely one of our favourites!​

In just over three hours, we had left Buenos Aires and arrived into El Calafate – national capital of the glaciers) on the southern shore of Lake Argentino, and gateway to the Los Glaciares National Park. From here we hopped on-board the M/V Santa Cruz for our three-day/two-night ‘Spirit of the Glaciers’ cruise to see the National Park’s main attractions: Upsala, Spegazzini, Mayo, and Perito Moreno Glaciers.

The ship itself was somewhat dated, with very small cabins which made things a little difficult logistically, but as we were hardly in them it really didn’t hurt us! In fact, with 20 cabins accommodating up to 40 passengers, the fact that we had just eight guests on-board meant we actually had more room than we knew what to do with, and incredible views from the restaurant, lounge, bar and viewing deck. 

Again the guiding was brilliant – Paulo was fantastic – a real character, very funny and super-patient (particularly as the other guests were all Spanish so he had to repeat everything in English just for us!). ​

But it was the trips that made this part of our trip so magical: we probably managed two each day, walking to waterfalls, along the shores of the lake, through forests, up hills, over streams… and along the side of the Spegazzini Glacier – just over a mile wide, 10.5 miles long, stretching 150 metres below the water, and 135 metres above it!

This was a trip of lots of interesting firsts – climbing down off the boat on a long ladder, life-jackets and a trip on a rib, lassoing a baby iceberg, and drinking hot chocolate and whisky in a hut on the edge of a lake. But we also really enjoyed the light trekking, photo-opps, and sailing across the aquamarine Lake Argentino, past snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, and icebergs – it was all very dramatic… but of course the Perito Merino Glacier was the highlight of our entire trip… so incredible, words absolutely fail me!​

Next stop… Bariloche, and the remarkable Llao Llao Hotel. Its location has to be, without exaggeration, one of the best in the world. Our rooms were in the Moreno Wing – easily the best part of the hotel as the older part is a little dated; and they were absolutely incredible – oodles of space, wonderful bathrooms, large windows, a view to-die-for, and MASSIVE balconies overlooking the lake. Again the service and people were great, really friendly, as was our guide, Romi, who took us out on our tour of Villa La Angostura and the Lake District by luxury private yacht, taking in the gorgeous scenery and clear waters of Lake Nahuel Huapi. We also enjoyed a light trek through the forest – and again were very lucky as we got the timing just right meaning once again we had the place all to ourselves (although around 200 tourists arrived by boat just as we were leaving – phew)!

Lunch at the Relais & Châteaux Las Balsas in a secluded bay on the banks of the lake, accompanied by Argentinian Malbec, was perfect – where we got to enjoy the lovely setting, great views, delicious food, and welcoming service – but I’m a little embarrassed to admit we slept all the way back to the hotel after lunch! I guess the fast pace of the trip eventually caught up with us. And though we didn't head into Bariloche itself, we drove through, and it looked gorgeous – a typical ski resort with chalet-style buildings, chocolate shops, and cafés.​​

Our final destination was Iguazú Falls, staying at Belmond Hotel das Cataratas (on the Brazilian side of the Falls): a lovely pink Portuguese colonial hotel in the most amazing setting. The staff here were probably the friendliest on our South American adventure; room were nice (but nothing will ever compare to Llao Llao!) and Karen was fortunate enough to bag herself one with a view over the Falls themselves.

Our Iguazú guide Francesco was very friendly and attentive, speaking good English (albeit it a little fast, so we did struggle a bit to understand everything). Even so, he was very, very helpful and explained things that weren't even relevant to our trip.

Speaking of which, the six-hour trek around the falls on the Argentinian side was amazing. We didn't stop except to take photos. We started in rain and finished in full sun and 34 degrees – so you can imagine the humidity – it was exhausting, but great fun. The Falls are one of the most amazing sights you'll ever see – so massive, loud, and wet – there simply is no photo on earth that will ever do them justice (we gave it a good go though!). As expected, there were lots of tourists, but we were informed it was a relatively quiet day (changeover day) so we were actually quite lucky.

Over on the Brazilian side, the boat trip was one of the most fun things we did. Everyone was in swimwear and flip flops, except for us two Brits in our day clothes and trainers! We were warned we’d get soaked – and we did – but it was hilarious and exhilarating (somewhat reminiscent of a theme park’s log flume ride). It was incredibly well-organised too – there was no queuing, but a lack of English was a bit of a challenge. 

As guests of the Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, we had private access to the park and waterfalls after tourists had left on the Brazilian side, so it was lovely to see both sides of the Falls in more ways than one (with and without tourists!) – and it was this side that gave me my favourite view of the Falls. And the trip between Brazil and Argentina high up over the river by bridge – painted blue and white on the Argentinian side and yellow and green on the Brazilian side – is a pretty interesting one too.​

​​​​​So there you have it. The perfect holiday, which I would recommend to absolutely anyone. It was very, very busy as we’d really packed a lot into the itinerary – but it was all more than worth it because we saw and experienced so much in a relatively short space of time. There were some very early starts, and rarely had time for breakfast (certainly not a leisurely one anyway). And we were often too tired in the evening to go down to the hotel restaurant, having room service insteady, which was more relaxing. 

 But all in all, there’s really nothing I can think of that I’d change. The organisation was superb (everything ran like clockwork), the hotels were lovely (particularly Llao Llao), the weather was incredible (and obviously made a big difference to our enjoyment), the food very good (particularly on the boat where the three-course lunches and five-course dinners were amongst the best I've ever tasted), and the people we came into contact with were friendly (and all spoke good – if rather quick - English). 

And amazingly, all the flights went very smoothly. We had seven in total – all departing on time, our bags turning up every time, and great seats at the front with the Argentinian carrier. The only fly in the ointment was Latam airlines, but this was a mere inconvenience on the most amazing trip of a lifetime. It was a trip that’s going to be very hard indeed to beat… but I have absolutely no doubt we’ll have fun trying!” 


​14 nights from £16,795 per person, includes round-trip business class international flights, and domestic economy class flights.

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