Thursday, April 27, 2017

A JOURNEY THROUGH ARGENTINA – IN STYLE

From sizzling Buenos Aires to end-of-the world Patagonia, seeking the best accommodation, and stunning natural and cultural treasures, our Select “posse” of three Travel Advisors explored Argentina by plane, car and horseback; as well as their own six feet… 


Like "gauchos" - Tina, Erland & Linda - Select Collection travel advisors from Sweden & Norway riding in Patagonia

Here they suggest an itinerary that samples the flavours, colours and rhythms of that vast country, including cultured wine and food destinations, the thundering Iguazu falls, and carved glaciers in remote Patagonia. Time to explore slowly walking, riding, cycling…or wearing crampons...


9 DAYS IN ARGENTINA 

Day 1-3: Buenos Aires

The capital Buenos Aires is sophistication and art, passion and playfulness. Never seems to sleep. We explored the effervescent city on foot as much as we could. You need at least three days to get a good round feel.

Art and history


Palermo

Our favourite part was Palermo Soho. One of the largest of the city´s districts. Palermo has gained its place as the centre for new trends in design, art and food, as well as becoming one of the most vibrant places in which to enjoy night life in Buenos Aires.

Food magnet - Palermo Soho

Carefree al fresco mood


Recoleta

Colonial history, broad avenues, sophisticated mansions and important museums. A must see here is the elaborately decorated Recoleta cemetery, surrounded by green spaces.

The famous cemetry is in itself history


Puerto Madero

The newest neighborhood where the port had once been. Find the city´s tallest skyscrapers and recycled warehouses turned into offices and restaurants. Green spaces blend with views of the Rio de la Plata.


San Telmo

With an aura of art and nostalgia, this Bohemian area is a favourite of artists and intellectuals  - cobbled streets, antique stores, tango venues and cafés.


Colourful paint jobs

Colourful al fresco dining San Telmo

La Boca

Italian immigrants built simple homes out of wood and corrugated iron painted in different colors, making La Boca one of the most colourful places to visit in the city.



La Boca - art and imagination


The Select team enjoying La Boca

Tango

Don’t miss the Rojo Tango show – having a meal and local wine puts you in the most receptive mood to enjoy the saucy show.



WHERE TO STAY

Four Seasons Buenos Aires is one of the latest places to be among the city’s fashionable elite – sipping a Des Coya martini at the open bar Pony Line or dining at the modern, informal Elena restaurant, one of South America’s best - we had a fabulous dinner there..

It has traditional suites in an the mansion and contemporary style rooms in the newer section.

Our team enjoys the sun in front of the mansion

Contemporary elegance in the lounge at Four Seasons

The outdoor pool at Four Seasons

For those who like it really different Faena Hotel & Universo is innovative, arty, stylish and very trendy with Philippe Starck interiors in an old grain warehouse, a see-and-be-seen outdoor pool area, five restaurants and nightly cabaret. It is the home of the famous Rojo Tango Show. The location at the revamped Puerto Madero is the final blessing

Stunning Starck interiors at Faena Hotel



For classic luxury - Alvear Palace. A real palace that flows over with opulence, Has fabulous features and a sense of traditional formality that appeals to many.

Stunning glass cupola in the palace
.

Day 3-5: Mendoza

A green oasis with wide boulevards and atmospheric plazas, surrounded by rich vineyards at the foot of the Andes. The area is a haven for wine tasting and gourmet eating. Visit local wineries on horseback or by bike. Join winemaking activities and harvesting from end Mar to mid Apr.

With a backdrop of snowcapped mountains, this is some of the most attractive wine country in the world – with modern wineries and resorts amidst vineyards. The weather averages 300 sunny days per year, helping to make high quality wines.

Mendoza wine - Gimenez Riili Gran Reserva

October-April are the best months for visiting Mendoza - from the planning season through harvest.


WHERE TO STAY

The Vines Resort & Spa is very stylish and modern. It was our favorite hotel during our whole Argentina trip.  It is within reach of the region’s top wineries such as Clos de los Siete and O. Fournier and lies in the Uco Valley, a high altitude region about an hour south of the city of Mendoza (appr. 1 ½ hour from Mendoza airport).

Magical views from the Vines with mountains beyond mountains

Set amid 1500 acres of vineyards and gardens, The Vines has only 22 villas (1 & 2 bedrooms), some with unobstructed views of the Andes. The 2 Bedroom Deluxe Villa where Tina and Linda stayed in is 250 kvm of indoor and outdoor living space, including a deck with a gas fireplace, lounge chairs and an outdoor tub.

Flaming sunsets (not our image)

Beautiful views from the villa

The trendy bathroom

The common pool area looked very inviting and peaceful overlooking the Vines and the Andes.
The Seven Fires restaurant at The Vines is famed for its cuisine under master chef Francis Mallmann. Twice a week the master chef grills meat in 7 different ways on open fires.  Add on an extra night as there is so much to do – including working out at the gym in the vineyards.

At the foot of the Andes lies Cavas Wine Lodge – tranquil, private and romantic – 45 mins from the airport. The hotel is located in Lujan de Cuyo with many famous wineries in the vicinity. The 18 rooms are like small cottages with a rooftop terrace. All rooms are facing the Andes mountain. Everyone talks about the amazing sunsets and starwatching on the rooftop at night but we had bad luck with the weather during our stay. Each room has an outdoor shower, plunge pool and wood burning fireplaces.

Bedroom at Cavas Wine Lodge


Cavas Wine Lodge - all about wine 

The owners Martin & Cecilia were very passionate and the service was friendly and professional. They organize complimentary wine tastings every evening. For an extra charge you can also have a cooking class, go horseback riding, do some trekking etc. 7 bikes are for your disposal on first come first serve basis.

A winetasting and lunch at the winery El Enemigo (20 minutes for the hotel) is recommended. It is owned by the famous winemaker Alejandro Vigil. The garden is nice and they have a great art collection.

Day 5-7: Cafayete & Salta

Fly to Salta in the Andean foothills, a city founded by the Spanish in 1582, with Colonial architecture, friendly ways and usually sunny weather.   Salta is at 1152m above sea level and Jan, Feb, Mar are the warmest months at 26 to 28 deg C - very pleasant time to visit the area.



From Salta we took the stunning three hour scenic drive through contorted mountains and canyons to captivating Cafayete, a picturesque small town famous for its Torrontès (white) and Malbec (red) quality wine production – there are 35 wineries. The vineyards are backed by spectacular soaring mountains.


Rugged terrain
From Salta to Cafayete

Lush vineyards in Cafayete

WHERE TO STAY

Patios de Cafayete is an enchanting rustic guest house or Spanish hacienda in a Colonial homestead, with an authentic feel, outdoor pool and stunning views of the Andes and Calchaquil valley.
Features include its own winery and a fountain in a courtyard, and it has a charming oasis feel in the middle of the vineyards. All the rooms here are different. The property is 5 mins by bike from the town.

Riding is a good way to explore 


A fountain in a courtyard adds authentic atmosphere



Outoor pool


Grace Cafayete is a modern five star hotel with villas for families spread out in gardens with parking space. There is an indoor pool with views. Enjoy gourmet tasting meals – then wham away extra calories with gym, tennis, golf, riding, polo, cycling.The hotel decor is straightforward but the views are stunning.

Just 10 mins walk from Cafayate town or 5 mins by bike. This small town provides a local restaurant and shopping for souvenirs. 

Restaurant at Grace Cafayete

If unable to travel directly to Cafayete from Salta - or if you have enough time over to take in the Colonial city - we recommend a friendly guest house in Salta, Legado Mitico, with the air of a discreet private club. It has no restaurants but it is situated in the old town round the corner from a choice of restaurants.


EXCURSION


Worth seeing north of Salta is the Salinas Grande salt flats and Quebrada.

On the way from Salta to the salt flats
Lunch at the Salinas Grandes Salt flats (3000m above sea level)

Market , Quebrada De Humahuaca (on the way from Salta to Salinas Grandes Salt flats)


Day 7-9: Calafate  

The haunting landscapes are dominated by the mighty Andes and boast magnificent sunsets. Here you can explore the astounding icefields  – ride in a boat on a glacier lake among chunks of floating ice, and hike wearing crampons on top of the famous Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciares National Park.

Perito Moreno glacier ... an adventure trail when wearing crampons

Ice falling into the lake, which can be explored by boat

Mountains and glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park.


Bird life

Boat trips from Puerto Bandera provides views of the Upsala and Spegazeini glaciers.  in additional to the impressive Perioto Moreno Glacier which we visited.

WHERE TO STAY

Eolo – Patagonia’s Spirit is the best hotel in the area and a good base for exploration, only 50 mins from the Park and 40 mins from Calafate. This magical lodge is a member of Relais & Chateaux,  and lies on a big estate of 3000 ha with lake inhabited by flamingos.


Lake Argentino

Set out with a tasty packed lunch to explore by bike, 4WD or on horseback (as our travel advisors did), or stay home to relax in the indoor pool and savour the cuisine whilst taking in views of wild landscapes.

There are 17 rooms. We recommend the Corner Suites which have more windows and  better views of the dramatic landscape.

Views out to the Andes from Eolo Lodge

Corner suite with wrap round view

The entire lodge´s decoration combines a deliberate antique style with modern comfort. Its big windows and cozy sofas will invite you to enjoy the colors of the sky and landscapes but at the same time give you a homey feeling. Eolo has saunas and a heated indoor pool (unfortunately no view from the pool). They have one spa treatment room and we recommend you book treatments in advance. The hotel has one restaurant with a la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food was very good and varied. The service is also excellent.

The lodge is closed from 25 April  until September/October due to low season. Recommended length of stay: 2-3 nights.


EXTENSION OPTION 1: IGUAZU FALLS – BRAZIL

One of the natural wonders of the world. There are some 270 falls thundering over a precipice. The most well-known is the Devil’s Throat where half the waters of the mighty river seethe powerfully into a chasm. Fly to the Argentine side of the falls and cross the bridge into Brazil with our guide. The Argentine side has 80% of the falls, which really need a full day visit - while the Brazilian side has only 20% of the falls but has a lovely Belmond hotel in the national park,,,


Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls

Rainbows in the spray


WHERE TO STAY

Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas is the only hotel in Iguazu National Park - which has leopards and pumas, colourful birds and tropical rainforest as well as the thundering waters. Enjoy poolside dining, live music, tennis, tropical gardens and the bird park.

You can walk up to the edge of the nearby Devil’s Throat to absorb the force of nature. The image  is taken 1 mins walk from the hotel. Belmond offers the best view and you have the chance to visit them before the National Park opens to public.



1 mins walk from the hotel

Grand dining room at Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas
The distinctive facade of Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas

The recommended time to explore Iguazu Falls is March, parts of April, August, and September bearing in mind heat and rainfall in this tropical area. If it rains the falls get all the more impressive - so if you fancy getting wet in the spray, travel when it is hottest and rainiest Dec-Feb.


EXTENSION OPTION 2


URUGUAY – JOSE IGNACIO

Uruguay is a small country with a big heart, known for huge steaks, vast ranches and unspoilt beaches. Watch flaming sunsets on a wild beach in the laid back village of Jose Ignacio, a magnet for jet-setters who hide away and melt into the Bohemian atmosphere – with good restaurants to be found along rustic roads. High season is November to February.



WHERE TO STAY

Pools at Bahia Vik

Bahia Vik – a friendly, avant-garde hotel lies on a strip of land between two beaches – popular Brava beach known for surfing and laid-back Mansa beach.  The hotel’s 11 bungalows, with unique design in wood, steel and zinc, overlook quiet Mansa beach and the sunsets. When the sun goes down people gather at the hotel’s restaurant La Susana for fresh ceviche, sociable atmosphere and stunning views.

Living room in the Titanio bungalow


One of the bungalows at Bahia Vik

Upper living room at Bahia Vik

For a change from Bohemian beach life, you can ride horses at sister property Estancia Vik, with ranch house amidst fields and mountains. 10 mins by car. 

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(C) IMAGES & REPORT BY SELECT COLLECTION: Tina Vestin (Sweden); Linda Isberg (Sweden); Erland Stubmo (Norway)