Argentina: My First Impressions

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Lago Nahuel Huapi

San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

First impressions of Argentina? It’s beautiful—and it’s vast. For instance the driving distance from Mendoza to San Carlos de Bariloche is 1,171.l km (756 mi) and takes 17-1/2 hours to drive by overnight bus (with its many stops). If you’re driving by car you can knock off about 4 hours but that’s still 13 hours on the road. That would be like driving from San Diego, California to Klamath Falls, Oregon in one day. So distances in Argentina are vast. The beauty is magnificent and I’m not sure any photographer can do it real justice (as hard as we might try).

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Mountain Glacier

Andes Mountains, Argentina

During our Alta Montaña (High Mountain) tour from Mendoza we viewed Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of Asia, at 6,931 meters (22,838 ft). It is the highpoint of the Andes mountain range and soars into the heavens like a god. It’s the end of winter down here, at the bottom of the world, and daytime temperatures are averaging 0-8°C or 32-46°F. Bright and sunny for the most part but chilly. Especially after travelling through southern Mexico and the countries of Central America for the past 5 years. Brrr.

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Catedral de San Carlos de Bariloche

We’re finding Argentina (and Chile before it) to be expensive by our standards. Still a value when compared to prices in the United States but definitely putting a strain on our backpacker budget. All travelling categories are much higher: lodging, food, and transportation. We’re now paying about $20 usd pp for lodging (before the 20% room tax is added) where we normally pay $5 to $10 usd pp. Food is two to three times as expensive (although excellent) and transportation (bus fares and taxis) are much steeper ($200 usd from Mendoza to San Carlos). Our host in Mendoza was complaining about 800% inflation (I don’t know if that’s true or not but he’s pissed).

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King of the Andes

I think Argentina is a must see if you’re visiting South America, and if you’re coming from the United States or Europe I don’t think you’ll find the prices oppressive at all. Remember: I live simple, I live cheap, and I live free (averaging about $475 usd per month for the last five years). I padded my travel/savings account when I could and this isn’t really a financial hardship overall, but I’ve become miserly in my dotage and I like to play the how cheap can I live game. You will be impressed if you visit Argentina, both by its beauty and friendliness.

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Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photographer, Writer, World Traveller

San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina


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