Masterton, New Zealand
We are travelling to Argentina in December 2016 (just before xmas) for 3 weeks. We have only booked our international flights at this stage so would appreciate any feedback and recommendations people have before we book our internal flight and accommodation.
To save time we plan on flying between places. Any recommendations or places to stay, see or do would be greatly appreciated. We have also tried to ensure we allow enough time in each place but please let us know if you think our timing is a little tight or if we are spending too long in a certain place.
We enjoy almost everything but are keen to experience the culture, do some hiking/trekking, drinking and eating nice food and wine.
Day 1 - Buenos Aires (arrive late afternoon)
Day 2 - Buenos Aires
Day 3 (Xmas day) - Buenos Aires
Day 4 - Fly to El Calafate (arrive 1pm)
Day 5 - Calafate - Perito Moreno Glacier (bus to El Chalten in the evening?)
Day 6 - El Chalten - Cerro Fitz Roy
Day 7 - El Chalten - Laguna Torre
Day 8 - Bus back to Calafate and fly to Bariloche late afternoon (arrive 6pm)
Day 9 - Bariloche (New years eve)
Day 10 - Bariloche
Day 11 - Bariloche
Day 12 - Bariloche / Fly to Mendoza late afternoon
Day 13 - Mendoza - Wine tasting
Day 14 - Mendoza - White water rafting
Day 15 - Mendoza - (any recommendations?)
Day 16 - Mendoza - fly to Salta late afternoon
Day 17 - Rent a car and drive to Cafayate
Day 18 - Cafayate - Wine tasting / exploring
Day 19 - Cachi - Colome winery to lunch
Day 20 - Cachi - [?]
Day 21 - Drive from Cachi to Salta and fly to BA (mid afternoon flight)
Day 22 - Buenos Aires
Day 23 - Buenos Aires
Day 24 - Buenos Aires / Fly home late evening
Specific questions we have are:
1) We have heard Buenos Aires is worth spending a few days there. Are we spending too long there, further what day trips from BA would people recommend?
2) We are also in BA for Christmas eve and Christmas Day, is there any particular events or celebrations worth attending?
3) Have we allowed enough time in El Calafate and El Chalten?
4) In Bariloche we plan on renting a car and exploring, does anyone have any recommendations where to base ourselves?
5) We want to do a bit of a road trip in the North West, we have limited it to just Cafayate and Cachi, are there other places we should also visit?
I've spent 12 weeks in Argentina over two different trips and covered most of the places you're going to. Let's see if I can help. :)
Your 3-week itinerary looks pretty good. Just know that on Xmas and New Year Day everything will probably be closed. Good days to sleep in. I wouldn't book flights on the same day I plan to arrive in town by bus (e.g. Day 8). Buses and mini-vans break down in Argentina. It happened to me twice, and one time was actually the bus from El Chalten back to El Calafate. We were delayed by about 3 hours!
Having said that, you will probably be surprised to hear me say that Argentina is the only country where I'd consider taking a night bus! They have very luxurious buses (cama bus) where the seats recline completely horizontal so you can actually sleep, and it costs a fraction of the flights (and saves you the cost of accommodation). They even feed you. Just something to keep in mind. :)
Now your questions:
1. Buenos Aires is a huge city with a lot to see, so no, you're not spending too long, especially since there won't be much to do on Xmas day. In fact there is so much to do that I've never managed a day trip from there but I've heard that a boat tour to the Tigre Delta is nice.
2. Argentina is a Catholic country so you may want to attend midnight mass on Xmas eve.
3. Yes, you don't need much time for Calafate itself; it's a very small town. You can walk around in half a day. Make sure you drop by one of the chocolate shops though! So decadent. Your time in El Chalten looks good too, but the weather is very changing and it's very windy so you may have to do your hikes in less-than-ideal conditions. It will probably be cloudy, rainy, and sunny all in the same day.
4. Why not just base yourself in Bariloche? There are several beautiful hikes on/around mountains and lakes in the area.
5. For the Northwest, I see that you haven't planned any time in Salta. It's actually a very nice town (underrated in my opinion). You could spend a day here and remove a day from Mendoza. Mendoza has some nice plazas to see downtown (especially Plaza España for its tiles), but you could do those on Day 16 before flying out. I don't know Cachi. From Salta I visited Purmamarca (visually striking - see photo - but touristy at certain times) and Humahuaca (further away but less touristy). The Salinas Grandes were also interesting.I think you'll love Argentina!
Mentioned in this answer:
I think the days you have scheduled for Buenos Aires are enough, I even think they might not be enough, it's bigger than one can imagine! A fine place to dine in Buenos Aires is La Cabrera, it's amongst the top restaurants in the world and it's not expensive as one could imagine. Don't miss out going to Caminito, Casa Rosada , Teatro Colón, San Telmo(going on a Sunday is much better, they have a crafts market) in BA. Also, if you go to the port, you can take a ferry and visit Uruguay for an entire day, it's not far away and it's a nice trip.
Mentioned in this answer: