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11 Reasons To Visit Argentina

1st December 2015

Argentina might not be as recognisable as London or Los Angeles, but this travel destination is still home to a bevvy of unique and enriching experiences.

With a distinct South American culture, diverse nature and locals with a firm grasp on all that is fun and entertaining, Argentina can show almost anyone how to have a good time.

Here are 12 compelling reasons to visit the land of polo, gauchos and tango.

 The gauchos ooze Argentine history and culture (Image: Getty)

1. Ride With Gauchos

Argentinian cowboys wear actual chaps, share Mate tea so bitter as to make you gurn, raise and wrestle cattle, and at night sing folk songs about love and loss.

Gauchos traditionally were seen as nomads and outlaws, but grew to be respected as freedom fighters in the mid-16th century. Traditions vary in pampas in different parts of the country, with Salta’s gauchos some of the most revered.

Near Buenos Aires however, Chris Moss recommends visiting the estancia El Ombu de Areco in November, when a week-long Fiesta Nacional de la Tradicion is staged, when gauchos from all over Argentina ride into town, grill whole cows for dinner and show off their cowboy-style dressage.

2. Giant Guinea Pigs

Capybaras are a squeaking, loveable feature of the Argentinian wetlands. Take a trip to the Ibera Wetlands – Argentina’s answer to the Pantanal to see them.

In a motor boat out they are easy to find - loud splashing often signifies that one has just hauled its fat bottom into the water, while alarmed grunts mean you’ve just disturbed one in the undergrowth.

The babies make a plaintive high-pitched squeak to call their mothers, just as their smaller cousins do.

 See the quirky and cute Capybaras (Image: Getty)

3. One Of The World’s Best Drives

A drive through the multi-coloured valley of the Quebrada de Humahuaca is one of the world’s most spectacular.

Aside from views of rainbow-striped rock and wind-shaped rock formations, sights along the route, which has been used over the past 10,000 years as a crucial passage for the transport of people and ideas from the high Andean lands to the plains, include a cave cathedral where local musicians play to impressive acoustics.

4. World-Beating Wine

Mendoza is Argentina’s wine region, set picturesquely at the foot of the Andes. Malbec grapes made the area internationally renowned but Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon have also been making great gains.

Lesser-visited but just as pretty is Cafayate, a small town in Torrontes wine country. This Argentinian variety makes fruity, aromatic whites, similar to a crisp Viognier, that are perfect for washing down a lunch of empanadas.

 Mendoza is renowned for its reds (Image: Getty)

5. Glamorous Coffee Break

There are a handful of grand coffee houses along the wide boulevards of Buenos Aires, but Cafe Tortoni is one of the best, dating from 1858. It has perfect pastries and a cavernous interior with marvellous decorative glass ceilings.

More on Argentina. From Buenos Aires To The Wilds Of The Pampas

Dreaming of the south? Top 5 Highlights Of South America

6. Climb South America's Highest Peak

The highest mountain outside of Asia, at 6,962 metres, Aconcagua is the second highest of the Seven Summits and can be climbed by those with know-how, even without roped mountaineering experience.

7. Join The Crowd

Watching local team Boca Juniors play football at the La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires will undoubtedly involve blazing flares, bitter rivalries, chants you don’t understand and general mayhem.

 Can you reach the top? (Image: Getty)

8. Walk Among Angels

Romantic, ageing, Recoleta Cemetery in one of Buenos Aires’ most middle-class suburbs is where Eva Peron is buried, but is an atmospheric place for a stroll in any event. Free guided tours in English, Tuesday and Thursday at 11am.

9. Feast On Grilled Meat

Argentina is famous for its high-quality, doorstop-sized steaks and there is nowhere better to try one than in a parrillada restaurant where you select a slab of meat still sizzling off a parrilla grill set at your table in front of you.

As well as familiar steak cuts like lomo and bife de chorizo, locals like to load up their grills with vaccio – juicy flank - and morcilla - fat black pudding sausages - while delving into impossibly chewy plates of melted provolone cheese.

 There's something obviously tempting about a parrilla grill (Image: Getty)

10. Test Your Relationship

Tango is one of Portenos’ biggest passions and tourists are encouraged to book themselves into one of many classes held in Buenos Aires.

Be warned though, the 'dance of love' is tricky to master and it is said a couple’s aptitude at getting in sync with each other is a microcosm of the relationship.

11. Try The World's Oldest Team Sport

Argentinians are known as some of the world’s best polo players. Polo is a celebration of tradition, skill and family - and Argentina celebrates it like no other polo nation. Even novices can enjoy on neat lawns in the grounds of estancias around the country.

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This article was written by Natalie Paris from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.