View of Iguazu Falls from the water

Staff stories: An Argentinian adventure

Join ROL Cruise team member Louise as she embarks on an Argentinian adventure

Published on 10 Nov 2023

I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be offered this incredible trip to experience the very best of what Argentina has to offer. Having never travelled to South America before, I was really excited to get the opportunity to visit this amazing country and the people who are lucky enough to call it home. Here is the diary of my trip:

Day 1 - Buenos Aires

After my overnight flight from London Heathrow, I landed at Ezeiza International Airport where I met a lovely Condor Travel representative who accompanied me on my transfer to our first hotel,  Hotel Madero. Upon check-in, I couldn’t believe my luck when I was told I had received a room upgrade and made my way to a beautiful (and very large) balcony suite. The room was extremely comfortable and I would have loved to have spent more time there. However, I had a couple of hours free until I met the rest of the group and just wanted to get out and start exploring the area. 

Hotel Madero is located in the newest and most modern part of Buenos Aires called Puerto Madero. It is a revamped dockside area and has become one of the best places to dine out in the city and one of the most expensive places to buy an apartment. The hotels here match the luxury expected in this up-and-coming area. 

After exploring the surrounding area, I met up with the two Condor Travel representatives looking after us and the others joining me on this trip, and we started with a tour of our hotel. Hotel Madero has plenty of facilities for a city hotel including an indoor swimming pool with a glass roof, an outdoor jacuzzi on a balcony terrace, a spa with a sauna and a gym. It also has a great restaurant and bar with a beautiful outdoor seating area tucked away so you can easily forget you are in the middle of a busy city when in this quiet little haven. 

After lunch at an Italian restaurant a short walk from the hotel, we headed over to the south area of Buenos Aires to explore the historic neighbourhoods of San Talmo and La Boca known as the Pairs of South America. I have never visited somewhere so colourful and vibrant. All the buildings were painted in beautiful bright colours and some had amusing characters waving down at you as you pass by. You can’t help but smile. We spent the afternoon wandering around the local antiques market and shops and visiting some of the first settlements in the city.

For our first evening, we were taken to a restaurant called Fogón Asado where you can discover the tradition of the asado served with a twist. This is not just a restaurant but a dining experience like nothing I have ever enjoyed before. Everyone sits around the grills where everything is prepared and cooked right in front of you. It’s an 8-course tasting menu that explores new ways of serving classic cuts of meat. I have to say it was the best dining experience of my life. I have never tasted meat so good!

Day 2 - Mendoza

Today was an early start as we had to catch our internal flight over to Mendoza. As we arrived and exited the airport, we got our first view of the incredible Anconcagna mountains that separate Mendoza from Chile. Everywhere you travel around this area, you can see the mountains dominating the horizon. We were travelling in their wintertime and were lucky enough for it to be a pleasant 18-20℃ with clear blue skies and then the mountains were snowcapped behind. It was simply breathtaking. 

Mendoza is famous for its wine production and we started the morning with a tour of AltaVista Wine Cellar followed by a wine-tasting session. It was really interesting to see the many different ways they produce the wine. They use some of the more traditional ways of storing wine like oak barrels and stainless steel vats. However, they also use other methods I had never heard of before like storing the wine in concrete containers to age. After the tour, we got to sample some of the wines produced this way. 

Lunch was at the Kaiken Wine Cellar, where we sat outside amongst the grape vines with the mountains behind us. Even though there were no grapes on the vines at this time of year, the surroundings were still beautiful. 

That afternoon, I tried something I had never done before - horse riding! It was scary at first, but the feeling soon passed as the higher we trekked, the more stunning the views that we experienced along the way. We reached the summit at sunset and I was just blown away. We could see the whole of Mendoza laid out in front of us, surrounded by miles and miles of vineyards with impressive mountains beyond. An experience I would highly recommend.

Day 3 - Mendoza

The next morning, we headed into the Uco Valley and to a winery which was chosen as the best winery in the world for 3 consecutive years (2019, 2020 and 2021) - the Piedra Infinita Wine Cellar. Its modern architecture sets it apart from the other wineries in the area and as soon as you enter, you know you are somewhere special. We enjoyed another tour of the production cellars followed by another wine tasting session. Malbec is a particular Mendoza speciality and being able to try many different varieties at the same time was interesting and very enjoyable.

Lunch was at the Salentein Wine Cellar’s on-site restaurant, where they also offer lodge-style accommodation which we got to see first-hand. Their wine cellar boasts amazing acoustics and they hold concerts and host events in this space. 

Day 4 - Mendoza

Today, we were travelling from Mendoza to Iguazú on two short internal flights via Buenos Aires. In between the flights, we managed to squeeze in a short tour of the Palermo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Here, we wandered through the rose gardens, saw iconic buildings and visited the Floralic Generica sculpture. This is a giant steel and aluminium flower designed to move, closing its petals in the evening and opening them in the morning - a symbol of hope that is reborn every day. 

On arrival in Iguazú, we visited two hotels. First was the Mercure Iguazú Hotel where you really feel like you are in the jungle. Built amongst the trees, nature completely surrounds you wherever you are within the hotel. We next visited the Iguazú Grand Hotel which indeed lives up to its grand name. Quite different to the Mercure Iguazú Hotel, the Iguazú Grand Hotel felt more open with plenty of outdoor space to explore and lots of facilities for all ages. Both hotels were as great as each other and I know I wouldn’t be able to choose which to stay in. 

This evening, we enjoyed an authentic Argentina experience which included an immersive culinary encounter where you prepare your own cocktail to start. Then, we were taught to make our own empanadas (a traditional Argentine starter or snack similar to a Cornish pasty), which they cooked and served to us as part of the meal. This was super fun and interactive. 

Day 5 - Iguazú

Today was the day we had all been waiting for and the ultimate highlight of the whole trip - a day at Iguazú National Park to see the magnificent Iguazú Falls. The park covers 55,000 hectares and there are more than 275 places where the water falls into the river below. Iguazú means ‘great waters’ in the Guarani language and you can certainly see why.

We took the upper circuit first and headed straight for the main attraction and no doubt, the most spectacular viewpoint of the falls  - Devil’s Throat. With the highest drop point of the falls at 80 metres, this is where you feel the power of the water descending into the river below. I could have stood there for hours feeling the spray on my face and listening to the roar of the water - it is an experience I will never forget. 

After tearing ourselves away from the falls, we headed over to the only hotel within the park itself - the Gran Meliã Iguazú. Walking through the grounds and towards the swimming pool area, I was taken aback by the view. Visible in the far distance was Devil’s Throat and other smaller parts of the falls - guests get to enjoy these breathtaking views as they use the hotel's facilities. We had lunch at one of the buffet restaurants within the park where you could enjoy as much barbecued meat as you wanted - all of which was cooked to perfection. 

The afternoon activity was the Gran Aventura Navigation. It started with a 30-minute jeep ride through the park’s jungle down to the river's edge where we boarded a speedboat and cruised along passing waterfalls, spotting cayman and capybara along the way. Then the fun really started as the speedboat passed right under a waterfall and water rained down on us. So far I had heard the power of the falls and now I got to truly feel the power of the falls. 

There was no hotel booked for us tonight. Instead, we were staying in a glamping pod on the edge of the river where the other side was actually in Paraguay. A small complex consisting of just 10 glamping pods, you really felt like you were in the middle of the jungle.

Day 6 - Iguazú

This morning’s activities were for the thrill seekers of the group and I for one, was looking forward to them. We went trekking and zip-lining through the jungle, finishing up by rappelling down a waterfall. This was something I never thought I would get to do - but what better place than in an Argentinian jungle?

Argentina is famous for its beef and I had enjoyed plenty so far on this trip. However, for today’s lunch, we were treated to a local river fish called Pacu which is part of the piranha family and very, very tasty. After lunch, we headed to the airport to catch our short flight back to Buenos Aires. 

For our final evening, dinner was at Café de los Angelitos where, after you dine, there is a traditional tango show. The gentlemen in their fine suits and the ladies in the most beautiful dresses danced and sang the night away.

As I went to sleep on my last night, I couldn't believe how lucky I was to have been given this incredible opportunity to experience some of the very best Argentina has to offer. I will definitely be visiting again as soon as I can.

Day 7 - Buenos Aires

On the transfer back to the airport this morning, I was sad to be leaving a country that had truly stolen my heart. Condor Travel had made this trip the most amazing experience and it made me so proud to work with them.

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