We have been amazed in Argentina, unsure of Uruguay, chilled out in Chile and blown away by Bolivia.
We took this trip to see new places and experience new things, and we achieved that and so much more. So we wanted to reflect back on some of our favourite (and least favourite) parts of our time in South America. Without further ado, here are our top 3s.
Favourite Cities/Towns – John
- Santiago – I really loved this city. It’s easy to walk around, surrounded by mountains, has decent food and beautiful locals.
- Cafayate – Can I live here please? Old, quiet and dusty are just a few words to describe this gem in northern Argentina. Plus great accommodation, great food and bonus wineries.
- Buenos Aires – Buenos Aires was the perfect place to start our South American adventure. A city full of colour, food and fun.
Favourite Cities/Towns – Kristen
- Buenos Aires – While not always easy, Buenos Aires has charm in abundance and great variety of barrios, from the sparkling pavements of Palermo to gritty but colourful La Boca.
- Cafayate – Despite being small, Cafayate had it all. Cute town, lovely locals, stunning scenery and world-class wineries just outside the front door.
- Santiago/Valparasio – So I’m cheating here and counting these towns as one in my top 3, as they are so close together and make a great pair. Valparasio reminded me of Brighton (UK) with its edginess, colourful buildings and alternative atmosphere. Santiago is a modern city with a lot of history, and it’s surrounded by mountains. A winning combination.
Best Experiences – John
- Football in Buenos Aires – The stadium visits of La Bombonera and El Monumental were interesting and lots of fun, but getting along to see a live game was a real highlight. Sure it wasn’t of the big clubs (Boca Juniors or River Plate), but I still had a great night cheering on Atlanta in the Primera Metro B Division.
- San Telmo markets, Buenos Aires – Each Sunday the streets of San Telmo come to life with vibrant colours, great food and markets, a perfect way to end the weekend.
- Speaking Spanish – That moment you start to understand both written and spoken Spanish on the streets, and start using it yourself in the cafes and at the local ticket offices. It was a great feeling, the time and effort paying off.
Best Experiences – Kristen
- Meeting Fitz Roy, El Chalten – The hiking we did in El Chalten was my highlight of the trip. I now officially love hiking and I’ll never forget the site of Fitz Roy across the lake when we topped the trailhead. A magical part of the world, made all the more rewarding by the fact you have to hike to get there.
- San Telmo markets, Buenos Aires – Going to San Telmo markets every Sunday was one of our favourite things to do in Buenos Aires. The perfect Sunday for me was enjoying choripan for lunch from one of the roadside stalls, watching some tango, having a glass of wine or beer in one of the old bars, dancing along to a ska band playing in the street, before wandering the stalls of antiques, art, crafts and souvenirs. And of course finishing the day with a helado.
- Wine Regions – I love wine and being able to try so many of the wines of Argentina and Chile, and visit some of the wineries and wine regions was an incredible experience. And to do so with wine-loving friends was even better! Although perhaps not the healthiest of habits…
Least Favourite Moments – John
- Losing the camera – Bugger.
- Punta del Diablo, Uruguay – We booked our hostel for far too long, it was loud and the room was damp.. argh!
- Learning Spanish – Oh how I struggled the first few days at Spanish School, not much fun at all.
Least Favourite Moments – Kristen
- Losing the camera. Like John said. Bugger. I wanted to cry when I left it behind. But in the end it also turned out to be one of the best moments as I still can’t believe we got it back.
- Punta del Diablo, Uruguay – We enjoyed 5 nights in our damp (by damp I mean moldy) hostel room in Punta del Diablo. It might have been bearable if we had been enjoying Punta del Diablo. But we weren’t.
- Not finishing the W trek. I was gutted when we realized that due to being 2 days into the low season and the bus times changing, we wouldn’t be able to do the last part of the W trek on our last day in the park as planned. Doh! We’ll just have to go back!
Disappointments – John
- Uruguay – Maybe it caught us in a strange mood, but apart from Colonia Del Sacramento, I just didn’t get Uruguay. The cities, the food and the people just didn’t click for me – I guess you’re not going to love every place you visit.
- Football – Not getting to a top flight football game in Buenos Aires. Arriving as the season ended and leaving just as the next begun, I couldn’t have got my dates more wrong had I tried.
- The end of the ‘partners in wine’ – While not disappointing, it was sad to say good-bye to the partners in wine. Long term travel can at times be a lonely beast when it’s just the two of you, but the addition of two like-minded souls made for a memorable month and friends for life. Aca-awesome.
Disappointments – Kristen
- The Food – You don’t come to South America for the food. OK, you might come to Argentina for the steak, but there‘s only so many times a week you can eat meat. Breakfasts are carb and sugar heavy, vegetables are few and far between (and almost never found on restaurant menus), and spices and herbs in cooking (outside some of the trendier restaurants) were non-existent. We self-catered a lot.
- Uruguay – I really wanted to like Uruguay. But I really didn’t….
- Navimag Ferry, Chile – Cruising through the Chilean fjords on a cargo ship for 3 days sounded amazing. In reality the fjords didn’t live up to my expectations, the food was terrible and it was actually a bit boring. For what it cost, we didn’t think it was worth it, but a week earlier we had been in Antarctica which also might have coloured our expectations.
Favourite Foods – John
- Empanadas – Great for a snack, lunch or dinner. Or all three.
- Helado – I thought I’d tasted good ice-cream/gelato, and then I had helado.
- Choripan – Choripans take the simple sausage sandwich to the next level.
Favourite Foods – Kristen
- Wine – It’s a food group right? The wines of Argentina and Chile were not just out of this world in taste but so inexpensive. I’ll forever dream of the Malbecs from Mendoza, the Torrentes from Cafayate and the Carmenere from Chile.
- Helado – Helado from Argentina has forever ruined ice-cream and gelato for me. Nothing else compares.
- Meat – While I don’t eat meat every day, or even every week, there is no denying how great the steaks of Argentina are. By far the best meat I’ve ever had. Who knew there was a country that could out BBQ Australia.