Argentina, South America - Stein Travel
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Argentina

Argentina is a country of immense beauty and proportions. Its geographic diversity spans the most breathtaking terrain from Antarctica, through the wild, glacier-filled mountains of Patagonia and massive open plains of La Pampas to the deserts and tropical jungles in the north.

The country can be enjoyed for its natural wonders alone, but no visit here could be called complete without stepping into its soul, its capital city. The elegant Buenos Aires is home to 40 percent of the population, and is a buzzing metropolis with a rich, passionate and tortured history that is integral to its character. It is Europe and South America contained in one geographical location, with elements of the unknown around each corner. It is familiar and strange at the same time, but at its very core, wonderfully welcoming.

Along the elegant avenues of the fashionable districts, sophisticated diners observe passers-by while they sip strong coffee or enjoy smooth cervezas. There is a constant smell of meat grilling from every corner and sidewalk that reveals the Argentine passion for 'asado'. Neither glamour nor passion is in short supply in this cosmopolitan hub where Porteños are equally versed in football, politics and fashion.

There are disparities between the rich and poor, with many people living in near slum conditions in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Since 1992 the economy has teetered near collapse due to corruption and government mismanagement, prompting regular and sometimes violent demonstrations. However it is business-as-usual as far as tourism is concerned; in fact, the resultant devaluation of the peso has made the country much more affordable for travellers.

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

From the colourful and bustling barrios of Buenos Aires to the breathtaking Andes Mountain Range in north, Argentina has no shortage of sightseeing opportunities. Boasting a plethora of different habitats and environments to explore, it would take visitors a good few months to explore everything this South American gem has to offer.

The northern regions of the country offer an exciting blend of colonial heritage, natural beauty and an indigenous flavour while the spectacular Iguazú Falls in the Iguazú National Park, surrounded by lush green Brazilian forest are a must see. Enjoy a day of wine tasting in Mendoza, or head west towards the Chilean border and marvel at the Andes Mountain Range. The curious mix of desert, snow-capped mountains, sandy beaches and majestic glaciers in the Patagonia region is fantastic and the world's southern-most city, Ushuaia, is nestled on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, a departure point for those keen on a trip to Antarctica and also offering some of the best brown trout fishing in the world.

The sights and sounds of Buenos Aires are a major draw for many. Stroll along the tree-lined parks and boulevards, visit Evita Peron's grave at La Recoleta Cemetery, explore La Boca, the city's most popular barrio, and take in the Latin American flair by enjoying a romantic night of tango. Bus is the most cost effective way to navigate this impressive country and domestic flights are available at affordable prices. Taxis are quick and cheap in the city. The best time of year to visit Argentina is during the autumn months from March to June when the weather is a little cooler.

With so much to see and so little time, it's best you get packing and head off to Argentina for the adventure of a lifetime!

Business

Business people dress well in Argentina and visitors are expected to wear a smart suit. Handshaking is normal. Argentineans are great conversationalists and are interested and knowledgeable about world events, politics and sporting. Meetings usually begin with small talk. Use titles when addressing people: Señor (Mr), Señora (Mrs) and Señorita (Miss) followed by their surname. Business culture in Argentina can be bureaucratic and as with most South American countries negotiation and decision making can take a long time and is best done face to face. Make sure you see the right people, as only those in high positions are likely to be able to make a final decision. Business hours are 9am to 5pm in Buenos Aires, with an hour for lunch. Outside the capital it is normal to take a siesta between 1pm and 4pm. Many business people are away on holiday during January and February.

Climate

Argentina's elongated geography ensures that the country has a diverse climate. The north is subtropical with rain throughout the year and is best visited between May and September when the heat and humidity is less oppressive. The south has a sub-arctic climate and is best visited in the summer (December to February). The central area is temperate, but can be hot and humid during summer and cool in winter.

Communications

The international access code for Argentina is +54. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). The area code for Buenos Aires is (0)11. Calls are usually made from public call centres, but there are also public telephones that take coins or phone cards, although one usually pays more than the unit value of the card. Mobile phones are increasingly popular; the area code must always be used when phoning a mobile in Argentina. Internet cafes are widely available in Buenos Aires and other popular tourist destinations. Many hotels also offer Internet access.

Customs

Argentineans are warm and unreserved people.

Duty Free

Travellers to Argentina over the age of 18 years can bring in the following items to the value of US$300 without incurring customs duty: 2 litres of alcohol, 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars, and 5kg of food items. Restrictions apply to fresh foodstuffs such as meat and dairy products. Prohibited items include explosives, inflammable items, narcotics and pornographic material. Firearms and ammunition for sporting purposes are allowed if accompanied by a license/certificate.

Electricity

Electrical current in Argentina is 220 volts, 50Hz. Most hotels and offices use the three-pin flat type plug, however most older buildings use the two-pin round type plug.

Health

There is a low risk of yellow fever, cholera and malaria in some northern provinces, so it is wise to seek your doctor's advice when travelling to these areas. However since the outbreak of yellow fever in neighbouring Brazil and Paraguay in January/February 2008, it is recommended that all visitors to regions bordering these countries, including Iguazu Falls, be inoculated against yellow fever. Outbreaks of dengue fever are on the increase, and visitors are advised to avoid getting mosquito bites as there is no effective treatment for it. A hepatitis A vaccination is recommended before travel to Argentina as well as a typhoid vaccination for those who might eat or drink outside major restaurants and hotels. Water is safe to drink in major towns and cities. Medical facilities are good in the major cities. Treatment is expensive, however, and medical insurance is advised. Asthma, sinus and bronchial ailments can be aggravated by pollution in Buenos Aires. Those with specific conditions should bring a sufficient quantity of medical supplies and medicines for the trip.

Language

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

Money

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.

Passport Visa

Visas are valid for several entries within the period of validity stated in the visa. It is recommended that all visitors have sufficient funds (at least US$50 per day), as well as onward or return tickets and documents required for next destination. Extensions on visas are possible. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Safety

Although the political and economic crisis is over, there are still periodic outbreaks of social unrest and demonstrations. Visitors are advised to avoid such public gatherings and keep abreast with news to know whether any political disturbances are expected. However, there is no specific threat to foreigners and travellers should not be discouraged from travelling throughout the country. Be alert for bag-snatchers, pickpockets and con-men, particularly in crowded areas in Buenos Aires, on public transport and in popular tourist haunts, such as San Telmo.

Time

Local time in Argentina is GMT -3.

Tipping

A 10% tip is expected at restaurants in Argentina. Porters expect some small change per bag.

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