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Argentina – where Malbec-slingin’ gauchos ride horseback with the sun setting behind them over the Andes. Well, that’s the postcard image of Argentina. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but here are the real reasons you should jump on a plane and head to the country as fast are you can.
I mean, seriously, how can you not go?
Yes, Argentina has quite a reputation in this regard. First, a little history. While the country was colonized by European powers in the 16th and 17th centuries like the rest of South America, Argentina was hit by huge waves of immigration in the late 19th century. Largely Italian and Spanish, the European cultural influence in Argentina remains strong to this day, making for a South America-meets-Sicily kind of vibe. This, however, does not mean that homemade pasta started appearing on most street corners in Buenos Aires (although that’s true) and everyone lived happily ever after. The European influx also lead to a severe depreciation of indigenous culture (not to mention land issues), which has lead rise to a growing movement in their defense. Even so, the nation’s unique history is part of what makes it a pretty distinct place on the continent.
This is important to most people who like to travel. You know when you go to a country and they’re always in your face, trying to sell you stuff? And everything is all hyper-produced to fit the ‘experience’ you’re supposed to be having, but you’re vaguely aware of the fact that it can’t possibly be real? Well, you won’t find that so much in Argentina. Sure, there’s tourism, but it’s not gag-level tourism. You can wander around without people coming up to you all the time trying to sell you stuff. Argentines will give you space to see, feel, and live your way into a real Argentine experience.
If you’re reading this, you’re likely in the Western hemisphere, so it should hold true. Your winter is our summer! So ditch the grey skies and come lounge on one of the country’s most beautiful beaches by day, and take in all the new, different-hemisphere constellations at night.
You can hitchhike safely in many areas and camp under the starts without having to be overly concerned in Argentina. Things happen (and yes, in Buenos Aires, the risk of being robbed is quite high), but for the most part, the country at large is pretty safe to traipse around in. Locals are often not only understanding, but downright helpful. This is important if you’re planning big adventures, like summiting the famous Fitz Roy mountain in Patagonia or hitting these mind-blowingly beautiful trails.
It will! Argentina is full of surprises. You might find yourself doing some pretty unusual things, or simply taking in a degree of natural beauty so astounding it will leave you with memories for a lifetime. When all’s said and done, that’s way better than a postcard.