The Biodiversity Expedition
In its nearly 3 million square kilometers, Argentina offers an astonishing diversity of natural environments. The real can’t-miss is the Esteros del Iberá marshes, in Corrientes Province, where the colorful subtropical birds, reptiles, and mammals are reason enough to visit Argentina for a week or more.
Arrive at Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini (Ezeiza) and transfer to a Buenos Aires hotel. Visit main historic sites.
Travel overland and spend the night at Yacutinga Lodge, with distinctive accommodations on a private nature reserve east of Puerto Iguazú. Alternatively, consider a night at Posada Puerto Bemberg, only half an hour south of Iguazú.
Return to Puerto Iguazú and, time permitting, visit the Brazilian side of the falls (visa necessary).
Travel overland to the city of Posadas, with a stop at the landmark Jesuit mission at San Ignacio. Continue to Colonia Carlos Pellegrini, in the Esteros del Iberá wetlands, by 4WD vehicle with driver.
Enjoy a full-day wildlife-viewing excursion among the floating islands of the Esteros del Iberá.
Head to the provincial capital of Corrientes for a flight back to Buenos Aires and on to the colonial city of Salta. Alternatively, spend more time at Iberá and take an overnight sleeper bus to Salta.
Travel an overland loop, by rental car, from Salta up the Quebrada del Toro to the altiplano at San Antonio de los Cobres, stopping at enormous salt flats, and then descending to Purmamarca or Tilcara for the night. (In the dry winter, itineraries are easy to stick to, but the wet summer can disrupt overland transportation.)
Visit the archaeological sites and colonial monuments of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a World Heritage Site in Jujuy Province. Return to Salta.
Take a full-day excursion to the yungas cloud forests of Parque Nacional Calilequa.
Depart by rental car for Cafayate via the colorful desert canyon of the Quebrada de Cafayate, with a side trip to the pre- Columbian ruins of Quilmes. Sample Cafayate’s unique white wine, torrontés, at any of several local bodegas.
On the return loop to Salta, take in the scenic village of Cachi, Parque Nacional Los Cardones, and the precipitous canyon known as the Quebrada de Escoipe.
Day-trip by bus or rental car to Villa la Angostura; then take the boat to Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes, returning by footpath to Villa la Angostura. If it’s a long summer day, consider a side trip to Parque Nacional Lanín and its araucaria forests.
Travel by bus or rental car to El Bolsón, with a visit to its Feria Artesanal for organic beer and grazing at various food stands. Take an afternoon excursion to nearby Parque Nacional Lago Puelo or, with an early start, hike to the summit of Cerro Piltriquitrón for spectacular panoramas of the Andes along the Chilean border.
Bus or drive to the city of Esquel, gateway to Parque Nacional Los Alerces and its millennial alerce forests. Spend the afternoon at the La Hoya ski area, where the chairlift carries hikers to the trailheads in summer.
Take a full day for exploring Buenos Aires before heading to the airport for an evening departure.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition