Well, actually, more than whales. Between April and June in Argentina’s Península Valdes, a UNESCO World Heritage site, you can see colonies of elephant seals and sea lions, orcas (April), southern right whales and their calves (June) and loads of birds. The place to go is Océano Patagonia, an ecological residence that works with local tour operators to offer wildlife safaris, whale watching, fishing, photo trips and a host of other nature-related adventures. The beachside condominiums are located in a small village in the heart of the wildlife reserve. The peninsula is home to the deepest salt marshes in South America and is the breeding grounds for numerous species, including the endangered southern right whales.
Mendoza is to Argentina what Napa Valley is to California, so prepare yourself for breathtaking views of vineyards in a mountain valley with trees tinged gold. While there, be sure to visit Zuccardi winery, Dolium, Domaine St. Diego, and Bodega Vistalba.
The parks in Buenos Aires’ Palermo district are stunning in southern fall. Pack a picnic and head to the Bosques de Palermo and its lovely Rosendal, or the Botanical Gardens. The first offers rows of rose-decked arbors on lakeside shores, the second elegant statuary amid blossoming plant life. Whichever you choose, both are picture-book charming. Perfect for a picnic! (Food run first? Here’s a good guide.)
Tigre is a river delta about an hour north of Buenos Aires that’s easily accessed by train. There you’ll find numerous boat tours and rentals to help you explore the rich bio-diversity in the area. El Dorado is a good place to start. Or for something a little different, try a night kayak trip.
With the wind in your hair and the autumn leaves blowing past, you can’t beat biking in the (mercifully level) capital city. Biking Buenos Aires offers a number of exciting ways to the city while cycling, from graffiti tours to trips through the city’s numerous parks and plazas.
One of the highest train rides in the world, the Tren a las Nubes, or Train to the Clouds, skirts along at 13,845 feet above sea level, giving you jaw-dropping views of the Andes for the 135-mile journey. You’ll also go through 21 tunnels and 29 bridges as part of the 16-hour ride. Excited already? Book your tickets here.
There’s a reason this is one of the main tourist attractions in the nation. The Perito Moreno Glacier, located in Los Glaciares National Park just outside the town of El Calafate in the southwest Santa Cruz Province, is spectacular. Why? First, it’s there looking all blue and amazing. Then, it moves. Huge sheathes of ice come crashing down into the water. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the glacier is reportedly one of only three glaciers in the world that grows instead of shrinks. It also holds the third-largest reserve of fresh water in the world.
Also home to the world-wonder waterfall Iguazu, the tropical northern province of Misiones abounds with animal and plant life. Two hours from the waterfall lies the Yacutinga Lodge and its jungle wildlife reserve, which is almost completely surrounded by the upper Iquazú river that snakes through Argentina up into Brazil. The lodge offers various wildlife activities, including a Jungle Challenge in which you hunt down a totem hidden in the jungle.
Argentina’s north-western province of Jujuy is home to the Cerro de los Siete Colores, or Hill of the Seven Colors. Located in the small village of Purmamarca, the geological wonder weaves together clay-orange, limestone-white, streaks of metal that make brown, purple and violet, a mix of clay and iron that create red, oxidized-copper green (copper oxide) and sulfur-yellow. The rainbow-like effect on the hill is due to an accumulation of sea, lake and river sediments over hundreds of millions of years. More information for visitors here.
Whether you opt for a nice evening stroll, a drink on a rooftop terrace, or a visit to the city’s Planetarium, take a moment to appreciate the stars while you’re in Argentina. Not only are you in the opposite season than you’re accustomed to, but you’re also in another hemisphere with a host of different stars. Make a wish!