If Buenos Aires is the heart of Argentina, Tango is its soul. You can’t step out onto Buenos Aires streets at night without hearing the 5/8 beats emerging from cafes and milongas. Tango is sexy, dramatic and pulse-raising, just like Argentina.
Looking for a snack? Look no further than the empanada! The South American version of the pasty – deep fried and stuffed with stewed and spiced ground beef, chicken, goats meat, cheese or vegetables, is too delicious to pass up on. If you have a sweet tooth, opt for the desert empanada filled with jam, sweet potato or dulce de leche and covered with cinnamon and sugar. Delicioso!
Some historians say that gauchos died out at the end of the 19th century, however gaucho culture lives on to this day. Someone has to look after the cattle required for Argentina’s steak habit. Go and visit any estancia or ranch and you’ll find a modern-day gaucho herding cattle and if you’re lucky enough to stumble across a rodeo, you’ll find them barrel-racing and lassoing cattle too!
Vegetarians, look away! Argentina has the world’s highest rate of beef consumption, with the average Argentine getting through 65kg of beef a year. But this isn’t just any steak; this is Argentinian asado or barbecue. You’ll find beef, pork and ribs sizzling on the girl or over an open fire. What makes it so tasty? Most cows are grass fed, making them healthier, happier… and more delicious!
Grab a bicycle and spend an afternoon weaving your way through one of Argentina’s many vineyards. Whether you find yourself in Mendonza or Salta, you’ll be sure to discover some of the world’s best wines.
If you’re looking to discover natural wonders, it’s time to check out the Iguazu falls, all 275 of them! Hidden in the corner of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay this has to be one of the greatest sights in South America. When Eleanor Roosevelt visited Iguazu she exclaimed ‘Poor Niagara!’ with Iguazu clearly outshining its North American counterpart.
Head to Patagonia, and you’re sure to stumble upon a glacier or… 48! These glaciers are all fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water. The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the only in the world which is still advancing, and has reached 19 miles (30km) in length. It’s time to don some crampons and go exploring. Brr!
8. The ends of the Earth
Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego is often regarded as the southernmost city on earth. Flanked by Martial mountain range to the north, the south by the Beagle Channel and located in a stunning bay on the southern coast of Isla Grande, it is truly a place you can’t miss. ‘Ushuaia, end of the world, beginning of everything’ is the city’s motto, let it be one of the first discoveries of your Argentine adventure.
The rags to riches story of Evita, the people’s heroine is famous across the world. Running away from home to pursue an acting career in Buenos Aires, she soon became the voice of Radio Argentina and Radio El Mundo. Evita married Juan Peron, the power behind the new military government in 1945, becoming first lady when he won the 1946 Presidential elections. She dazzled on the world stage, and her premature death in 1952 brought Argentina to a standstill. Graffiti in Buenos Aires proclaims ¡Evita Vive! (Evita lives!), showing that Evita lives on in the hearts and minds of Argentinians.
Last but not least, let’s return to our taste-buds and Argentina’s national drink – Mate! The bitter herbal drink will give you a caffeine kick and help you make friends. Drinking yerba mate is a social custom and is often passed around the group, with each person taking a sip and passing it on. After your volunteering placement in Argentina, you won’t be able to get enough!