Visiting Tigre near Buenos Aires

Terraced stone embankments descend to water level where boats are docked in a canal beside a busy marketplace.

Canals at the fruit market near Tigre’s main port launch. Photo © Jesús Dehesa, licensed Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives.

After decades of decay, the flood-prone riverside city of Tigre itself seems to be experiencing a renaissance. The train stations are renovated, the streets clean, the houses brightly painted and many restored, and it remains the point of departure for delta retreats and historic Isla Martín García. In a decade, the population zoomed from a little more than 250,000 to some 300,000.

On the Río Tigre’s right bank, along Avenida General Mitre, two classic rowing clubs are symbols of bygone elegance…From its beginnings as a humble colonial port for Buenos Aires–destined charcoal from the delta, Tigre languished until the railroad linked it to the capital in 1865. From the late 19th century, it became a summer sanctuary for the porteño elite, who built imposing mansions, and prestigious rowing clubs ran regattas on the river. After the 1920s, though, it settled into a subtropical torpor until its recent revival.

Tigre is 27 kilometers north of Buenos Aires at the confluence of the north-flowing Río Tigre and the Río Luján, which drains southeast into the Río de la Plata. The delta’s main channel, parallel to the Río Luján, is the Río Paraná de las Palmas.

East of the Río Tigre, the town is primarily commercial. West of the river, it’s largely residential.

Sights

On the Río Tigre’s right bank, along Avenida General Mitre, two classic rowing clubs are symbols of bygone elegance: dating from 1873, the Anglophile Buenos Aires Rowing Club (Mitre 226), and its 1910 Italian counterpart the Club Canottierri Italiani (Mitre 74). Both still function, but they’re not the exclusive institutions they once were.

Unfortunately, Tigre’s revival has also brought fast-food franchises and the dreadful Parque de la Costa (Pereyra s/n, tel. 011/4002-6000, 11 a.m.–midnight, Wed.–Sun.), a cheesy theme park. Open admission, valid for all rides and games, costs US$10–17, but is free for children under three.

East of Parque de la Costa is the Puerto de Frutos (Sarmiento 160, tel. 011/4512-4493); though its docks no longer buzz with produce transported by launches from the deepest delta, it is home to a revitalized crafts fair that’s open 11 a.m.–7 p.m. daily but is most active on weekends. Handcrafted wicker furniture and basketry, as well as flower arrangements, are unique to the area.

In the residential zone across the river, the Museo de la Reconquista (Liniers 818, tel. 011/4512-4496, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Wed.–Sun., free) was the Spanish Viceroy’s command post while the British occupied Buenos Aires in 1806 and 1807. More than just a military memorial, it chronicles the delta, ecclesiastical history, and Tigre’s golden age from the 1880s to the 1920s.

Several blocks north, fronting on the Río Luján, the Museo Naval de la Nación (Paseo Victorica 602, tel. 011/4749-0608, US$0.80) occupies the former Talleres Nacionales de Marina (1879), a cavernous naval repair station that closed as military vessels got too large for its facilities; it now chronicles Argentine naval history from its beginnings under Irishman Guillermo Brown to the present. Despite occasional jingoism, it houses a remarkable collection of model ships, along with maps and colonial portraits (including Spanish scientist Juan de Ulloa). An open-air sector includes naval aircraft and the bridge of a ship destroyed during the 1982 Falklands war. Hours are 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. weekdays, 10:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. weekends.

The city’s newest landmark is the Museo de Arte Tigre (Paseo Victorica 972, tel. 011/4512-4528, US$1.25), which houses figurative works by Argentine artists from the late 19th to the 20th century. Showcasing artists such as Benito Quinquela Martín and Juan Carlos Castagnino, it occupies the spectacularly restored Tigre Club (1913), a belle époque edifice that once housed a hotel-casino. Hours are 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Wednesday–Friday, with guided tours at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and noon–7 p.m. weekends and holidays, when guided tours take place at 1, 3, and 5 p.m.

Practicalities

In a recycled mansion on the west side of the Río Tigre, the family-run Casona la Ruchi (Lavalle 557, tel. 011/4749-2499, US$55 d with shared bath) has five spacious rooms, attractive gardens, and a pool.

Standard Argentine eateries are a dime a dozen at locales like the Mercado de Frutos. For a more sophisticated menu on a shady riverside terrace with good service, try María Luján (Paseo Victorica 611, tel. 011/4731-9613). Homemade pastas cost around US$7–10, more elaborate dishes around US$9–12.

In the Nueva Estación Fluvial, the Ente Municipal de Turismo (Mitre 305, tel. 011/4512-4497 or 0800/888-8447) is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily. The private website Tigre Tiene Todo is also useful for services.

Getting There and Around

Tigre is well connected to Buenos Aires by bus and train, but heavy traffic on the Panamericana Norte makes the bus slow. Through the delta, there are numerous local launches and even international service to the Uruguayan ports of Carmelo and Nueva Palmira.

The No. 60 colectivo from downtown Buenos Aires runs 24 hours a day, but when traffic’s heavy it takes two hours to reach Tigre. Tigre has two train stations. From Retiro, Trenes de Buenos Aires (TBA) operates frequent commuter trains (US$0.40) on the Ferrocarril Mitre from the capital to Estación Tigre; it’s also possible to board these trains in Belgrano or suburban stations.

Also from Retiro, a separate branch of the Mitre line runs to Estación Bartolomé Mitre, where passengers transfer at Estación Maipú to the Tren de la Costa, a tourist train that runs through several riverside communities and shopping centers to its terminus at Estación Delta, at the entrance to the Parque de la Costa. This costs about US$3, including intermediate stops.

From Tigre’s Nueva Estación Fluvial (Mitre 319), several companies offer lanchas colectivas, river-bound buses that drop off and pick up passengers at docks throughout the delta. Among them are Interisleña (tel. 011/4749-0900), Líneas Delta Argentino (tel. 011/4749- 0537), and Jilguero (tel. 011/4749-0987). Marsili (tel. 011/15-4413-4123) and Giacomotti (tel. 011/4749-1896) use smaller lanchas taxi.

Cacciola (Lavalle 520, tel./fax 011/4749-0329) has daily launches to Carmelo, Uruguay, at 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (2.5 hours, US$16), with bus connections to Montevideo (US$8.50 more). Fast, new catamarans make the trip quicker and more comfortable than it once was, but it also means they use broader, less scenic channels to get there.

Líneas Delta Argentino also operates launches to the Uruguayan town of Colonia (3.5 hours, US$20) daily at 7:30 a.m.; it also goes to Nueva Palmira, Uruguay (3 hours, US$15), west of Carmelo, at 7:30 a.m. daily, with an additional Friday sailing at 5 p.m. While launches leave from Cacciola’s international terminal, sales take place at Delta Argentino’s, across the river.


Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Argentina.

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