If you are planning on visiting South America, be sure to include a visit to Argentina’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The UNESCO sites in Argentina combine the best of nature and wildlife. Read Travel Consultant Marci Koltonuk’s recommendations for visiting three of Argentina’s most popular UNESCO sites.
Peninsula Valdes is known as an extremely important marine animal conservation site, and is one of the best places in the world to spot wildlife like sea lions, elephant seals, and seabirds. It has the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world, and the peninsula’s bays serve as the breeding grounds for a large population of endangered southern right whales. Although more difficult to spot than the southern right whales, the pod of orcas that swim in the waters of Peninsula Valdes are famous because they are one of only two groups of orcas in the world that have learned to work around the geography of the peninsula to hunt sea lions and purposely beach themselves to catch their prey before inching their way back into the water.
Best time to go: September to March
What to do
More than 1.5 million penguins arrive to the Punta Tombo penguin rookery each year to breed, and you can walk around with the penguins in their natural habitat. The waters around Peninsula Valdes are also an incredible place for scuba diving. From snorkeling alongside sea lions, taking your first dive ever, or exploring the many shipwrecks buried beneath the ocean here, every age and experience level can enjoy the rich marine life of this peninsula.
The trekking capital of Argentina, and a fantastic alternative to Torres del Paine in Chile, Los Glaciares National Park is famous for the Perito Moreno glacier, one of the only glaciers in the world that is still growing and moving. There are also fantastic hiking trails and gorgeous views of the jagged peaks of Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre in the north end of the park.
Best time to go: September to May
What to do
Stay in El Calafate in the south end of the park to tour the glacier either by land with a tour along the walkways and platforms surrounding the glacier, or by sea with a nautical safari that takes you up close to the towering blue walls of the glacier. The glacier is up to 12 stories tall in some places, don’t be surprised if you hear the thunder of car-sized chunks of ice crashing into the bright blue water below. Or walk right on the ice with a short trekking excursion, if you’re up for something a bit more intense, try the longer and more challenging “big ice” trekking.For hiking excursions through the pristine wilderness of the north of the park, take a bus 4 hours north to El Chalten.
This immense horseshoe-shaped series of waterfalls, which straddles the border of Argentina and Brazil, is not just another giant waterfall. It is certainly impressive both visually and acoustically, but its many cascades sit within a huge expanse of subtropical rainforest, home to thousands of species of plants and wildlife, including ocelots, jaguars, monkeys, and anteaters. Exploring the region around the waterfall is just as powerful an experience as the views of the waterfalls themselves and the sounds of the 250-foot Devil’s Throat crashing into the river below.
Best time to go: Year-round
What to do
Keep in mind that to visit the Brazil side of the falls for stunning panoramic views, you may need to apply for a Brazilian visa in advance – but even if you decide to stay only on the Argentine side, there is plenty to explore. Take a train ride through the rainforest, walk along the multi-level walkways throughout the park to experience the falls from many different perspectives, and take an adventure boat ride to get as close to the falls as possible. After exploring the falls, spend two more nights at Yacutinga Lodge to fully explore the jungle surrounding the falls.
Spend a couple nights in Buenos Aires at the start or end of your Argentina UNESCO adventure and take in a tango show. The art of the tango dance has been inscribed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage for its role as one of the most recognizable embodiments of the culture, history, and spirit of Argentina.
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