Exploring Argentina’s Great Outdoors

Walk on a glacier, gallop with wild horses, catch the biggest fish of your life – then throw it back into the river. Some of the most memorable travel moments you’ll have in Argentina are outdoor adventures that, like the monster-sized salmon on the line, you can’t take home with you.

You can take pictures, though: here are a few of mine. After years of traveling around Argentina, both on assignments and for leisure, I count these as some of my greatest hits in the outdoor adventure category.

Fly-fishing in the Lakes Region

Under the instruction of an excellent guide, I learned how to fly-fish at Estancia Arroyo Verde. At first, I didn’t understand what fly-fishing was all about. It seemed like an awfully early wake-up call – and a lot of preparation and equipment – just to get to the river. But then when we were standing in the pristine water of the Rio Traful, in near silence, for hours on end, I started to understand: the sport is the perfect excuse to be outdoors, to be quiet, even meditative, in a wildly beautiful landscape.

Fly-fishing on Traful River, Estancia Arroyo Verde

Fly-fishing on Traful River, Estancia Arroyo Verde – photo courtesy of Bridget Gleeson

It didn’t hurt that I caught a large landlocked salmon. Even my guide, Martin, was surprised at the size of this fish. After a quick photo op, the salmon went back into the water. That’s the law, and part of the joy of fly-fishing in this region – you just take a moment to appreciate the fish, then you let it go.

Martin and the landlocked salmon

Martin and the landlocked salmon – photo courtesy of Bridget Gleeson

Horseback Riding in the Andes

Outside of Mendoza, in the foothills of the Andes, I went riding on the grounds of a rustic mountain ranch. The guide mentioned that there was a herd of wild horses that he needed to start driving down to a lower altitude; he asked if I wanted to help. Of course, I did, and I took some memorable photos.

Horseback riding in the Andean foothills

Horseback riding in the Andean foothills – photo courtesy of Bridget Gleeson

The adventure, and the accompanying wine tasting tours, were well-organized by Mendoza agency Pulp Travel/Malbec Symphony.

Ice-trekking on Glaciers in Patagonia

In this photo, we’re approaching Glacier Viedma – the largest glacier in Argentina – by boat. Freezing temperatures make it very tempting to just stay on the boat, but walking on a glacier is one of those rare travel experiences you’ll never forget.

Approaching Glacier Viedma by boat

Approaching Glacier Viedma by boat – photo courtesy of Bridget Gleeson

Patagonia Aventura in El Chaltén offers a variety of sailing and ice-trekking excursions that lead travelers to ice caves and high lookouts over vibrant blue icebergs. Note that the activity is only recommended for travelers in good physical shape.

Hot Air Ballooning in the Pampas 

What better way to take in the vast pampas – Argentina’s famous farmland – for as far as the eye can see? Buenos Aires-based travel agency Tangol sent me up in a hot air balloon at sunset. At dusk, I was floating high over the fields, photographing the patchwork of farms and the lovely silhouette of the Basilica Nuestra Señora de Luján in the distance.

Preparing a hot air balloon for flight

Preparing a hot air balloon for flight – photo courtesy of Bridget Gleeson

Explore Argentina’s natural wonders with LAN Airlines and its affiliates, offering daily nonstop flights from Miami to Buenos Aires, daily connecting flights from New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and frequent domestic connections from Buenos Aires.

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