Explore Argentine history, nature, culture in one trip
Posted on Wednesday 13 June 2012
in Holidays, Argentina, Buenos Aires
By Rory MacTavish
Tango, wine and beautiful people are often associated with the stunning city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, but to condense it into four words is to overlook hundreds of niceties that make this region so unique. The Argentine capital blends French, Italian and Spanish culture into its architecture, food and nightlife attractions, creating a city that is distinctly its own style among all metropolises in Latin America. After Kiwis have decided on which of the dozens of Buenos Aires hotels to stay in, they can begin their cultural exploration of this tremendous urban community.
Visit the most VIP cemetery in the country
A great place to begin an enlightening tour of the region is at the Cementerio de la Recoleta. The world-famous cemetery appeals to art lovers, spiritual souls and curious wanderers alike, housing hundreds of corpses in an immensely tight space of granite, marble and bronze mausoleums.
The site holds a status as one of the most exclusive "neighbourhoods" in the city, competing with Palermo Chico, a community brimming with Francophile mansions and wealthy families. Some sites allure an insurmountable number of tourists, such as the crypt of Eva Peron, who rose from a humble background to a position of immense political power when she married General and President Juan Peron. In 1952, she died from cancer and found a permanent home within the renowned cemetery. Even her husband didn't make the cut for Recoleta. Those that did, though, include other presidents, authors and even unlikely sports heroes.
Feel the mist of the Iguazu Falls
After taking a bite out of Argentine history, Kiwis can direct their attention on some of the natural wonders of the region. Iguazu Falls, a row of massive, rushing waterfalls, is one of the most frequented tourist sites in the country. Meaning "great waters," Iguazu was named a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. About 80 metres high and 2,700 metres in diameter, the waterfall helps more than 2,000 species of vascular plants in the surrounding subtropical rainforest survive, as well as an abundance of wildlife, including howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and tapirs, which are a cross between a pig and an anteater.
Spanning the entire border between Argentina and Brazil, the falls can take up an entire day of sightseeing. Many individuals choose to view the cliffs from below, aboard semi-rigid rafts and directly into the mist veil created by the cascading waters. Others can walk along the circuit walkways that run eye-level with the peak of falls like Salto Floriano, Deodoro, Union, Escondido and Mitre, to name a few. The luckiest Kiwi travellers will be present for stunning rainbows that soar in the sky through the vaporous Iguazu clouds.
Stomp along to La Bomba's drumfest
Once holidaymakers have retreated back to their hotels and are ready to hit the town once again, they can gear up for a night of dancing, percussion beats and true Argentine fun with La Bomba de Tiempo. The 17-piece drum group uses improvisation and influences from around the world, such as Central America and Africa, samba and Argentine folk rhythms to create an electric performance that tourists and residents have flocked to for the past five years. The show is never the same, and in the last half hour, audience members' jaws drop to the floor as the drummers bust out the most intricate and complex routines in the whole two-hour show.
Directed by Santiago Vazquez, the troupe watches his hand, finger and body signals - which total around 70 - to determine which head tilt or drum beat will come next. Outside, indoors and featuring different special guests for each performance, La Bomba is a heart-pumping experience that Kiwi visitors will remember for a lifetime.
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