Planning Your Trip
When to Go
Argentina is a year-round destination, but try to avoid Buenos Aires’s sticky summer. The spring (September–November) and fall (March–May) may be best, but even winter can see warm, brilliant weather.
Steamy subtropical Iguazú can also get crowded during winter holidays (late July–early August). In the northwestern highlands, winter’s warm, dry days are ideal for backcountry travel, despite chilly nights.
Besides traditional tourists, Patagonia’s lakes district draws hikers, fly-fishing enthusiasts, and skiers (June–August). El Calafate was once a summer destination, but the Moreno Glacier gateway now stays open October–April, and even for July holidays. Península Valdés depends on wildlife—July’s right whales bring the first tourists, who keep coming, along with elephant seals, orcas, and penguins, until late March.
Before You Go
When planning a trip to Argentina, remember that distances are great and logistics can be complicated. Unless your trip is an open-ended overland excursion, this means choosing among numerous options as to destinations and means of transport. Leaving Buenos Aires to visiting other high-profile destinations like Iguazú and El Calafate can require 2–3-hour flights or 24-hour bus trips. Driving is an option, but for most visitors this will mean a rental car from a provincial airport or city.
Passports and Visas
U.S. and Canadian citizens traveling to Argentina and Chile need passports but not advance visas. Passports are also necessary for checking into hotels, cashing travelers checks, or even credit card transactions. Both countries routinely grant foreign visitors 90-day entry permits in the form of a tourist card. Both Argentina and Chile now collect a variable “reciprocity fee” from U.S., Canadian, Australian, and Mexican citizens at their main international airport.
Vaccinations and Health Insurance
Theoretically, Argentina and Chile demand no proof of vaccination, but if you are coming from a tropical country where yellow fever is endemic, authorities could ask for a vaccination certificate. Traveling to Argentina or Chile without adequate medical insurance is risky. Before leaving home, purchase a policy that includes evacuation in case of serious emergency.
Most long-distance visitors arrive in Argentina by air at Aeropuerto Ministro Pistarini (EZE), better known as Ezeiza. Some will arrive overland and others by ship.
Overland travel from the north can be challenging, but once you reach Argentina or Chile, it’s easy enough. There are many crossings from Brazil and Uruguay, fewer from Bolivia and Paraguay. Argentina and Chile share numerous border crossings; in both countries’ Andean Lakes Districts, trans-Andean bus service is fairly common, but many southerly crossings lack public transportation. For those choosing an aquatic route, the main option is the cruise between Punta Arenas and Ushuaia.
Argentina has several domestic airports, but traveling between them often requires backtracking to the Buenos Aires hub of Aeroparque Jorge Newbery.
Buses along the principal highways are frequent, spacious, and comfortable—sometimes even luxurious. Rail service is limited and slow. If you’re visiting for several months, renting or buying a vehicle is worth consideration.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition