You will need a valid passport to enter Chile and Argentina, and it must be valid 6 months beyond your dates of travel. No visas are currently required if you are from the U.S., Canada, and most western European countries. (If you plan to visit Iguazu Falls and make the day excursion to the Brazilian side, you will need a visa for Brazil, which you must obtain prior to travel.) There is a “reciprocity” fee of $160 for U.S. citizens arriving into Chile or Argentina for the first time (apparently it is “reciprocal” because the U.S. charges the same fees to foreign visitors). This fee can be paid in U.S. cash or with a credit card at the airport in Santiago when you arrive. The fee only has to be paid once per country (in the event you are re-entering Chile from Argentina during your stay) and is valid for the duration of your passport. For Argentina, this fee must be paid before arrival. To pay this fee, please visit the following site: http://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes/
Please note that Chile does not permit the entrance of most food items and you can be fined for bringing restricted food items with you. Be sure to declare any food items you have with you on your customs forms upon entry. Also, airport departure taxes are generally included in the price of the airfare. However, some smaller Argentine airports charge a departure tax upon exit which would be payable in cash and if the price of the tax increased since when the ticket was purchased, the difference would have to be paid in the airport upon departure.
For more information, visit the Department of State´s website and choose Chile or Argentina: http://travel.state.gov/travel/
The climate varies from place to place in Chile and Argentina, as the geography is incredibly varied and the seasons are not entirely predictable, so please take the following as a guide and be prepared for changes in climate.
Many people traveling to Chile and Argentina will be heading to Patagonia or to the Lakes District at some point during their stay. Patagonia has weather like Alaska, with a mix of sun, rain and wind on almost any given day. From October to mid April the temperatures vary from the 40s to mid 60s during the day, sometimes a bit higher for stretches when the sun stays out. At night it will typically be in the 30s but can drop down into the 20s. The wind in Patagonia is highly variable, and you should be prepared for strong winds by having some type of shell over layer or other wind protecting jacket. Please see our packing list for what to bring.
The Lakes District (Bariloche, Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, Pucon) has a climate like the Pacific Northwest of the United States, but with the seasons reversed. There is a cool mountain climate from October to April, with temperatures averaging around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Though this is the drier part of the year, rain is still common, but it generally won’t last all day. The wet season is from May/June to October, and it rains fairly predictably during these times, though there can be periods of better weather. This is another area of the country where it is essential to have the proper clothing for outdoor activities if you plan on hiking or spending time outside.
Santiago has a Mediterranean climate, with an average temperature in the low 80s in January and about 50 in the July (the middle of their winter). The dry season is September to April and the wet season is May to August. Even during the summer months of late December through late March the temperature can drop down into the 50s in Santiago.
Buenos Aires has a climate like that of a southern American city, such as Atlanta. In their summer months (Dec to March), it can be very hot, into the 80s and 90s during the day. In the winter months (June to Sept), it can be quite cold, down into the 40s. In the shoulder seasons of fall and spring the temperatures are mild and pleasant.
For more detailed information including up to date weather forecasts in all the major cities in Chile, please visit the following website: http://www.accuweather.com/en/cl/chile-weather
For more detailed information including up to date weather forecasts in all the major cities in Argentina, please visit the following website:
Laundry Service: There is laundry service at all hotels.
Other essential gear:
Other useful gear:
Medical Kit Suggestions
Photo and Video Equipment
You will receive local contact information, including 24 hour emergency contact numbers, with your Final Itinerary.
U.S. Embassy in Chile Contact Information
Address: Avenida Andres Bello 2800, Las Condes, Santiago
Telephone switchboard: 56-2-330-3000
Telephone from the United States: 011-56-2-330-3000
U.S. Department of State Emergency Assistance: 1-888-407-4747
Consular Section fax number: 56-2-330-3017
E-mail address for U.S. citizens: firstname.lastname@example.org
Internet address for hours and general information: http://chile.usembassy.gov
U.S. Embassy in Argentina Contact Information
Address: Avenida Colombia 4300, Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Telephone: (54) (11) 5777-4533
Emergency after-hours telephone: (54) (11) 5777-4873
Fax: (54) (11) 5777-4293
Bringing your smartphone
If you plan to bring a smartphone to use for making calls while traveling, you should contact your carrier prior to travel to let them know and find out if they have any traveler plans that provide discounted roaming rates in the countries you will be visiting. Without some type of discounted plan, roaming fees can be very high, and the phone settings (specifically whether you have the phone set up just for Wi-Fi or also for roaming) can make a huge difference in the costs you will incur. Your specific carrier should be able to give you detailed information about how to avoid costly roaming rates and how to adjust the settings on your particular smartphone.
Chile and Argentina both have a very good and inexpensive phone system if you want to make local and national calls from landlines.
You can make local calls from your hotel or from local telephone calling centers, which can be found in the major tourist areas and larger towns. You will get considerably better rates at the calling centers. You can ask at any hotel where they are located and they will be able to tell you. Pre-paid calling cards are also available in many convenience stores and can be a convenient way to avoid needing change to make calls.
The cost of making international calls from your hotel can be very high, often $5 a minute or more. You will get much better rates at the local telephone calling centers (“centro de llamadas” or “cabinas para llamadas internacionales”), which you will be able to find in the larger towns and tourist centers. You can make collect calls back to the U.S. from almost any phone by dialing an international operator. Again, these rates will probably be very high. If you are bringing a laptop or even just a Wi-Fi enabled smartphone, probably the easiest way to call back to the U.S. is via Skype. You should set up your account prior to traveling and be sure you have some credit on it; you can then make calls through any Wi-Fi network. If you don’t have a computer or smartphone with Wi-Fi, probably the best option is to ask at your hotel or in a store where the closest calling center is if you plan to make many international calls. If you speak some Spanish, another good option if you plan to make a lot of international calls is to buy an international pre-paid calling card (rates are generally very low). These can be purchased in many convenience stores or magazine kiosks and then used at payphones to call internationally (though instructions will usually only be in Spanish).
Fax machines are generally available at hotels and businesses. Just ask at the hotel for the closest available fax.
Internet access is readily available in Chile and Argentina in all the tourist areas and larger population centers. Most hotels now provide free internet access and have at least a couple computers for use by the guests.
Generally, Chile and Argentina are very safe places to travel. The most common ailment to affect travelers to any destination in South or Central America is traveler’s diarrhea, and while it is definitely a less common occurrence in Chile and Argentina than in many other South American countries, it can still occur. The best way to avoid it is to be careful about what you eat. Some basic rules:
For additional information about health issues in specific places, including recommended vaccinations and inoculations, you can visit www.tripprep.com, a non-governmental site that contains health related information on other nations. Another option is the website of the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov. Please keep in mind that the CDC errs on the side of caution, and that there may be varying opinions on the need for specific vaccinations and inoculations. The standard immunizations for typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis are generally recommended for travel to South and Central America. You may already have received these shots or boosters and don’t need them. If you have any doubts, you should visit a travel health specialist and begin to have all of your vaccinations recorded on an International Health Certificate.
We strongly recommend that all of our travelers purchase travel insurance. Travel insurance can help cover many things, including baggage loss, missed connections, trip interruption, and medical emergency (including medical evacuation costs), resulting from a wide variety of circumstances, including illness or extreme weather that results in the cancellation of your trip. It can also help protect you in the event of loss of non-refundable trip deposits and payments that result from cancellation or trip interruption. Families traveling together, in particular, can benefit from traveler’s insurance, due to the high investment in the trip and the increased risk of one person’s illness resulting in the entire trip being cancelled. There are many companies that provide trip insurance. We offer insurance through Allianz, and their most popular plan is the Classic Plan. You can view details of this plan by clicking on this link: Allianz Classic Plan, or by visiting the Allianz website at www.allianztravelinsurance.com.
In restaurants, a 10% tip is customary. Cabs do not generally expect tips, but rounding off fares upward is fairly typical.
Guides/drivers: If you have a private guide for a full day, an average tip would be somewhere in the range of $10-$12 per day, per person. It can be less, it can be more, but this is a typical range. If you go on a shorter trip of a half day, the tip would basically be proportional to what proportion of the day you spent with the guide. If half a day, $5-$8 per person would be a typical range. If there are additional people involved, drivers, crew of a boat, etc., you may want to give them something as well. About 1/3 of what you give the guide himself would be an appropriate benchmark for each of these individuals. For families with children, we suggest giving 50% of the normal per person amount for each child. This is completely at your discretion and you should give what you feel comfortable giving.
For drivers who do airport transfers or other short rides, you shouldn’t feel the need to tip every single time you are getting out of a vehicle. It’s not the case that drivers are expecting a tip every time they take you somewhere. If you have a driver in a city who takes you to and from the airport and you have the chance to give him or her a few dollars (maybe $2 per ride) at the end of the last ride, that’s great and will be appreciated.
If you stay at a place where all meals are included, you may also want to leave some type of tip at the end for the service staff (they often have some type of tipping jar or other way to give a tip to the waiters and other staff). Approximately $5 per person per day is a suggested amount. These types of tips are totally discretionary.
Please note that you can give tips in dollars, but they generally prefer to get tips in local currency, so you might want to plan ahead in terms of how much local currency you will bring to certain locations. For example, if you are going to a an estancia in El Calafate, you won’t have any place to change money down there, so you should have cash in local currency sufficient to cover your anticipated tips for your time there. Our suggestion would be to get a few hundred dollars in local currency at the airport ATM when you arrive or ask your driver if you can stop at an ATM before arriving to the estancia and then take that with you to spend during the trip in other locations, either on tips, meals, or items to bring back home with you.
Insight Guide: Chile or Argentina. Extraordinary photographs and highly informative essays on a wide variety of topics, written by experts in their fields. An engaging overview of the countries.
Chile, A Traveler’s Literary Companion, edited by Katherine Silver. A diverse sampling of fiction from some of Chile’s authors, including Pablo Neruda and Ariel Dorfman, along with many others less well known.
Poetry Books by Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral. Chile boasts two Nobel laureates in literature. There are a wide range of poetry books by both available in bookstores.
By Night in Chile, Roberto Bolanos. This and another novel called The Savage Detectives (one of the NY Times Top 10 Books of the Year in 2007) are recently translated works by this Chilean author, who has gained considerable posthumous fame in the last few years.
The Enigmas of Easter Island, by Paul Bahn and John Flenley. One of the most respected histories of the Islands, covering archeology, the arrival of Europeans, and many other topics.
Travels in a Thin Country, a Journey Through Chile, by Sarah Wheeler. A reporter who traveled through Chile in 1991 describes her experiences and impressions of the country.
In Patagonia, by Bruce Chatwin. A highly acclaimed short travelogue by a British writer who journeyed down through Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. Mostly set in Argentine Patagonia, but it contains many insightful sketches of the people and places in this region of the world.
By Night in Chile, Roberto Bolanos. This and another novel called The Savage Detectives (one of the NY Times Top 10 Books of the Year in 2007) are recently translated works by this Chilean author, who has gained considerable posthumous fame in the last few years.
In Patagonia, by Bruce Chatwin. A highly acclaimed short travelogue by a British writer who journeyed down through Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. Contains many insightful sketches of the people and places in this region of the world.
Insight Guide: Argentina. Extraordinary photographs and highly informative essays on a wide variety of topics, written by experts in their fields. A good overview of the country.
Evita, The Real Life of Eva Peron, by Nicholas Fraser. A good, balanced biography of Evita, following her from humble origins to her place as a revered cult figure. It is also a revealing look at Peronism and Argentinian politics of the 1930s and 1940s.
Gauchos and the Vanishing Frontier, by Richard Slatta. A thorough, lively study of the gaucho, including the history and culture of Argentina and Brazil’s famous cowboys.
And the Money Kept Rolling In (and Out): Wall Street, the IMF, and the Bankrupting of Argentina, by Paul Blustein. A readable and lively account of the financial crisis of 2001 and how international financial institutions mishandled it.
Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings, by Jorge Luis Borges. Either this or another collection entitled Fictions is a good introduction to this Argentine writer, one of the giants of 20th century literature. Both are collections of short stories and other writings.
The Uttermost Part of the Earth: A History of Tierra del Fuego and the Fuegians, by E. Lucas Bridges. A must read for anyone going to Tierra del Fuego. Written by the son of the first European settler in Tierra del Fuego, it relates the story of his family’s life with the local indigenous peoples and the history of the Estancia Harberton. A classic.
Before the arrival of the Spanish to the Americas, Chile was inhabited by a variety of indigenous tribes, descendants of the original settlers of the American continents who had crossed the Bering Land Bridge approximately 10-20,000 years ago. These tribes were spread throughout Chile, from the bone-dry deserts of Atacama in the north, to the most southern areas of Patagonia in the south. In the north were Aymara farmers, and in the central coastal region were the Chango, a fishing culture. Starting in the central valley area south of Santiago were the Mapuche and two other Araucanian tribes. Several different tribes also lived in the archipelagos of Patagonia and the southern Lake District, subsisting on fishing and hunting.
Only about one century before the Spanish arrived, the Inca Empire conquered the northern half of Chile, marching through the Atacama Desert all the way down to the central valley, where they met extremely fierce resistance from the Mapuche. The Incas never succeeded in conquering the Mapuche, and set up defensive positions against them along what became the southern limit of their incredible empire. At that time, at the end of the 14th century, the Incan empire extended from this southern border all the way up to Colombia, over 2,000 miles to the north. The Incan rule over this part of the world did not last long, however, as the Incas devolved into civil war, and the Spanish arrived at a fortuitous time to take full advantage of the situation and conquer the Incas.
The Spanish Arrive to Chile
Shortly after conquering Peru and the northern areas of the Inca Empire, the Spanish marched down into Chile via the Incan road, led by Pedro de Valdivia. The Spanish were at first successful, just as the Incas had been. They established Santiago in 1541, and subsequently established the towns of Valdivia and Concepcion as colonial outposts. However, just like the Incas before them, they could not overcome the resistance of the Mapuche, and their advance stopped at the central valley south of Santiago.
The Mapuche developed an almost mythical reputation for fierceness as they withstood continued Spanish attempts to subdue them. In 1553, Valdivia was captured and beheaded by the Mapuche, adding to their legend, and they remained independent for over 300 more years. Eventually, in the middle of 19th century, large numbers of armed European settlers arrived to the area, ending the Mapuche’s domination and what had come to be known as the War of Arauco. Eventually, peace treaties and inclusion in the larger nation of Chile were negotiated by the Mapuche leaders in the 1880s. The war, the internment of its survivors, and placement on dismal and disease ridden reservations reduced the Mapuches from a population of half a million to 25,000 within the next few decades.
The Encomienda System
Before he died, Valdivia had firmly established Spanish rule in central and northern Chile and had set Chile on the course it would follow for hundreds of years. Most significantly, he instituted the “encomienda” system that the Spanish used throughout their empire. The Spanish colonists took possession of huge areas of land, and forced the natives to pay “tribute,” which consisted of a very large percentage of their production. The Spanish also forced many native people to work in the mines, often in horrible conditions. The treatment of the local populations by the large landowners was in many respects brutal and exploitative. The “encomenderos” came to define the social and economic system in Chile, and the legacy of the encomienda system persists in significant respects to this day, with a large percentage of the country’s wealth concentrated in the same families since colonial times.
Independence from Spain and Chilean Expansion
In the early 19th century, resentment towards the Spanish crown began to manifest itself in outright rebellion. The main sources of discontent were the unequal treatment of locally born people, even those of European blood, and the oppressive taxation system. Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín led armies of independence from Venezuela to Peru, and from Argentina into Chile, respectively. They succeeded in liberating all of the Spanish-held colonies in South America within a few years time. Only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained in Spanish hands until the end of the 19th century. Bernardo O’Higgins became head of the new Chilean republic after the nation achieved independence in 1818.
Chile greatly expanded its borders in the War of the Pacific in 1879-1883, which it fought against both Peru and Bolivia for control of nitrate mines in the Arica region. (Nitrate was used for fertilizer.) At the height of its success, Chile sent its armies all the way into Lima and took control of the Peruvian capital. Under the eventual peace treaty, Chile maintained possession of the area up to the current northern Chilean border at Arica. Significantly, this left it in control of all the nitrate wealth that had formerly belonged to Bolivia, and left Bolivia without an outlet to the sea, a continuing source of tension between the nations. Many Chileans made fortunes from these nitrate mines, until the industry became obsolete as substitute fertilizers came onto the world market in the 20th century. Perhaps even more significantly, this same area become one of the world’s greatest sources of copper throughout the 20th century. Copper continues to be Chile’s single largest export and the main pillar of its economy.
The 20th century was characterized by alternating periods of rule by left wing and right wing governments. In the early part of the century, the U.S. gradually extended its influence in Chile, and American companies eventually took a controlling interest in the Chilean copper mines. The nation continued to exhibit massive disparities in wealth as a legacy of the “encomienda” system, and there was general agreement on both left and right that land reforms were needed, but the reforms proved difficult to achieve.
Some on the left became radicalized as the century progressed. In the election of 1970 Salvador Allende came to power as head of a coalition government of Socialists, Communists, and other far-left groups that had won 36% of the vote. Allende instituted dramatic changes in the Chilean economy, including large-scale land re-distribution and, most critically, nationalization of the U.S. owned copper mines. The country was thrown into economic and social turmoil during the first two years of Allende’s rule. General Augusto Pinochet, backed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, led a revolt that led to the death of Allende and Pinochet’s assumption of power. Pinochet would preside over Chile as an authoritarian dictator for the next quarter century, with the country deeply divided over his rule, many viewing him as an illegitimate dictator, and many others viewing him as the savior of the country’s economy and stability.
Pinochet dissolved the Chilean Congress and prohibited all opposition, and instituted monetarist economic policies. The country entered into a long period of economic growth and stability, but Pinochet remained controversial. The relatives of those who had lost family members under Pinochet’s regime continued to fight for some kind of accountability. Under pressure due to mounting protests, Pinochet eventually agreed to hold a referendum on his presidency in 1988, and voters rejected him by a 12% margin. In 1989, Chile held multiparty elections and has remained a model of stable democracy in the region ever since.
Investigations into the approximately 3000 “disappeared” persons from Pinochet’s rule began in the 1990s under President Eduardo Frei, who also instituted substantial economic reforms. Pinochet returned to the headlines in 1999, when he was arrested at the behest of a Spanish judge who was investigating human rights violations. The incident re-ignited the furor over what had happened in Chilean society during his rule. Pinochet was determined to be unfit to stand trial due to dementia, and in March 2000 he returned to Chile. However, the court battles continue, and the nation remains deeply divided over the issue of Pinochet and his legacy.
Chile has a population of about 15 million people and the vast majority are “mestizos,” or people of mixed European and native descent. About 5 million people live in the metropolitan region of Santiago. The numbers of purely indigenous people now represents only a very small percentage of the population. The surviving indigenous groups consist of the Aymara, in the north, and the Mapuche, approximately 100,000 of whom continue to inhabit the forested areas of the Lake District. The smaller indigenous groups that inhabited the southern archipelagos have largely disappeared.
Many different immigrant groups have populated Chile over the years, creating an interesting mix of people and influences. A large contingent of German colonists settled in the Lake District in the 19th century, and their influence can be seen in the local architecture of that region. There are also significant numbers of Basques and Palestinians. Because of the high number of mestizos among Chile’s population, race has become a relatively minor issue in Chilean life, while class continues to be a continuing source of friction. Though the middle class has grown considerably in Chile, vast disparities in wealth and considerable poverty still exist. Generally, however, the country prides itself on being a model of relative stability and economic success in the region. One thing many visitors notice about the Chileans is that they are some of the most hospitable people in the world.
Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, a number of different indigenous groups populated the Argentine land mass. It is generally believed that they were the descendants of the original settlers of the American continents who crossed the Bering Land Bridge connecting North America to Asia by way of what is now Alaska, from 12,000 to 20,000 years ago.
In the far south of Argentina, the Yahgans (also called Yamana) and other tribes subsisted as hunter/gatherers, collecting shellfish and bird eggs, and living in an incredibly harsh environment. In the center of the country, the Comechingones and the Guarani cultivated the land and created settlements. Some tribes never settled and continued to live a nomadic existence, hunting guanaco (a type of llama) and rhea (a bird resembling a small ostrich). In the northwest of the country, the Diaguita tribe established settlements around cultivation of corn and tube crops.
The Arrival of the Spanish
Argentina received less attention from the Spanish during the colonial period than more mineral rich areas such as Peru and Mexico. Fierce resistance by local indigenous tribes also inhibited much settlement into the area of what is now Buenos Aires, and also of the Pampas and the northwest areas of Argentina. Over time, the indigenous populations of northwest succumbed to disease, and settlement increased. From early on, the development of livestock farms for raising cattle, horses and sheep became one of the defining characteristics of the region. This is where the Gauchos developed, essentially the South American equivalent of America’s cowboys.
Buenos Aires continued to grow as a center of trade in the region. Resentment against the Spanish crown grew during the 18th century, for the same reasons it grew throughout Spanish South America: excessive taxation and inequitable treatment of the locally born population (even if of European blood) by the Spanish-born colonizers. Independence movements began in the early 19th century, and General Jose de San Martin led the local forces against the Spanish in Argentina, declaring formal independence in 1816. San Martin then crossed the Andes and assisted in the liberation of Chile and Peru, becoming one of the two greatest heroes of the independence movement in South America (the other being Simon Bolivar from Venezuela).
There was little unity among the various liberated provinces after the Spanish were expelled, and the “caudillo” (or local strongman) culture developed as a way of filling the vacuum in authority in the country. Many of these caudillos resisted the centralization of power in Buenos Aires, but gradually Buenos Aires came to dominate the political life of the country and power was effectively consolidated there.
During the mid 19th century, vast numbers of people from all over Europe settled in Argentina. Italians, Swiss, German, English, Welsh, Spanish, and many others entered the country in great numbers. The indigenous population had been declining for centuries due to disease and displacement, and as a result Argentina came to be populated almost in its entirety by people of European ancestry.
In the late 19th century, Argentina achieved great wealth through the production of crops, wool, and livestock, and foreign investment (particularly from Britain) contributed significantly to the development of infrastructure in and around Buenos Aires. During this period Argentina became one of the wealthiest countries in the world. However, the wealth was not very well distributed, and the economic calamities starting around World War I and leading into the Great Depression took a massive toll on Argentina. Social unrest began to grow, and the civilian governments found it difficult to manage the country’s growing problems and disorder.
General Peron and Evita
In the 1940s, Lieutenant General Juan Peron came to prominence, and became the populist voice of the country’s working class. He first gained national attention in Argentina by successfully directing the relief effort of a major earthquake in San Juan, while he was serving as head of the National Department of Labor. He came to power with the help of his wife, the actress Evita Peron, winning the Presidency in 1946 and 1952. The Perons built a huge following among the less wealthy parts of Argentine society, largely based on their charismatic and demagogic appeals to the less privileged. They instituted some wide ranging reforms, including giving the vote to women, establishing trade union rights, improving working conditions and wages, and making university education available to all.
The Peron years were tumultuous, however. In 1952, Evita died. Rising inflation and economic distress resulted in a military coup in 1955, and Peron fled the country. Peron remained a part of Argentine life, but largely only in exile, as he moved to different countries during the late 1950s and 1960s. The military junta ruling the country allowed him to return in 1973, but he was chronically ill and died in 1974. His second wife, Isabelita, took power, but was ineffective and incompetent.
The Dirty War
Growing left wing radicalism and insurgency were met with harsh reprisals by the military governments. In 1976, a period known as the Dirty War began, with the government cracking down in often violent fashion against perceived left-wing elements in society.
The Dirty War came to end as a result of the Falkland Islands War with Great Britain. In 1981, General Leopoldo Galtieri, in an attempt to preserve his hold on power, invaded the Falkland Islands and claimed them for Argentina. The Falklands sit off the southern end of Argentine Patagonia, mainly populated by sheep and penguins. They had long been a source of discontent among the Argentinians, who considered them rightly theirs and resented continuing British control over them. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher proved to be more determined than Galtieri had reckoned, and the British sent a force to the Falklands and quickly dislodged the Argentines.
The country returned to civilian control after Falklands war, and Raul Alfonsin was elected president in 1983. For several years, the country struggled to deal with the history of the Dirty War and have some type of accounting, and it continues to struggle with it to this day.
The Financial Crisis
In 1999, Fernando de la Rua became President, but his term was cut short due to a severe economic crisis that gained international prominence. In 2001, the government un-pegged the Argentine peso from the U.S. dollar, and the currency quickly crashed, losing more than 75% of its value. The policy of pegging the peso to the dollar was intended to create stability in the Argentine currency (and was what made Argentina so expensive in the 1990s). The country still has a long way to go to recover financially, but the Argentines are a famously resilient and proud people. The currency has recuperated to some degree, and the economy has shown remarkable improvement.
More recently, Néstor Kirchner became president on May 25, 2003 and the country had a strong economic rebound. In 2007, his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner became president and remains so today.
Argentina has a population of about 40 million people. About one third of the population resides in the greater metropolitan area in and around Buenos Aires. There are also sizeable population centers north of Buenos Aires and along the western border of the country along the Andes, in Mendoza and Cordoba. The southern part of the country, in Argentine Patagonia, is very sparsely populated.
Indigenous populations were decimated as a result of diseases introduced from Europe, while massive numbers of European settlers, including Italians, English, Germans, Bulgarians, Ukranians, Basques, and others, settled in the country. Italian surnames are more common than Spanish surnames in Argentina. Argentina is home to one of the largest Jewish communities outside Israel, and there are also good sized communities of Middle Eastern immigrants in Argentina (Carlos Menem, whose family was from Syria, is among the most famous).
There are also sizeable populations of Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese in Argentina, about 100,000 in total. It is estimated that about 100,000 indigenous people still live in Argentina as well, many in the northwest Andean region.
Aqui Esta Coco
Section of town: Providencia Address: La Concepcion 236, Santiago, Chile
Phone: (56) 2 410 6200 (reservations recommended)
Description: Seafood restaurant, a bit of a landmark, reopened after being destroyed in a fire in 2008.
Section of town: Bellavista
Address: Constitucion 111, Santiago, Chile
Phone: (56) 2 738 0288 (reservations recommended)
Description: Lots of character at this popular, loud restaurant specializing in seafood in the Bellavista neighborhood (the bohemian section of Santiago); this same street has numerous restaurants, as well as the sprawling outdoor mall called “Patio Bellavista,” with several other restaurants and stores/boutiques.
Section of town: Lastarria (downtown)
Address: José Victorino Lastarria 192, Santiago, Chile
Phone: (56) 2 633 6420
Description: Description: Nouveau, eclectic cuisine; emphasis on Chilean and Mediterranean dishes, Lastarria is a very nice street, worth strolling along, great place to have a coffee or drink and people watch; particularly nice is the small plaza near one end called the Plaza Mulato Gil de Castro; good area for lunch.
Section of town: Providencia
Address: Luis Thayer Ojeda 019, Santiago, Chile
Phone: (56) 2 231 1393
Description: A bar/bistro serving some classic Chilean dishes; the original has been open for decades; both are often crowded at peak times; no reservations taken; great local atmosphere.
Section of town: Providencia
Address: Nueva de Lyon 113, Santiago, Chile
Phone: (56) 2 231 4444 (reservations recommended)
Description: Great restaurant/wine bar in nice section of town, low-key, great setting, mixed crowd of locals and wine enthusiasts.
Section of town: Barrio Patrimonial Yungay (downtown)
Address: Compañía de Jesús 2789 esquina Libertad, Santiago, Chile
Phone: (56) 2 682 5243
Description: Great old town restaurant/bar founded in 1868 in one of the heritage barrios of Santiago. Although a little out of the way it is worth the trip to have a few drinks and go back in time. The main attraction is the atmosphere. Good place to have a drink and appetizer.
Section of Town: Providencia
Address: Orrego Luco 054
Phone: (2) 233-2690
Description: probably the best vegetarian restaurant in Santiago, a relaxed, informal, pleasant place serving very good vegetarian options.
Cabana las Lilas
Section of Town: Puerto Madero
Address: Avenida Dávila 516
Phone: (11) 4313-1336 (reservations often required)
Description: considered to be among the best parrillas (steak restaurants) in a town that is famous for them. In the modern Puerto Madero district; on the expensive side, but high quality.
Section of Town: Palermo
Address: Cabrera 5099, Buenos Aires
Description: In the happening Palermo district, a bistro that does the classic Argentine steaks and meat dishes, but with creative side dishes.
Section of Town: Recoleta
Address: Quintana 600
Phone: (11) 4804-0449
Description: This is a cafe, with a lot of history, a great spot for people watching and having a coffee or lunch in a nice area of the city. It’s an institution in Buenos Aires, located next to a beautiful park.
Section of Town: San Telmo
Address: Estados Unidos 465
Phone: (11) 4361-5557 (Reservations recommended)
Description: Considered the best parrilla in the San Telmo area, with a lot of character and outstanding service.
Section of Town: Microcentro
Address: Avenida de Mayo 825
Description: a landmark in Buenos Aires, this is the oldest café/bar in town. Popular with locals and tourists alike, it’s a lively place to have a coffee or drink.
Section of town: La Boca
Address: Agustin R. Caffarena 64
Description: popular with locals and very crowded after 9 pm, this is a great place to come if you are looking for something with a lot of local character and atmosphere and very good food. Serves the parilla classics but also a range of other dishes. Football memorabilia for the local club team, the famous Boca Juniors, adorns the walls. La Boca is not a place where you should wander around after dark; if you plan to go, take a cab.
Evita Museum Restaurant and Bar
Section of Town: Palermo
Address: J.M.Gutiérrez 3926
Phone: (011) 4800-1599
Description: Open all day and a great option for lunch or dinner; a beautiful patio setting next to this small but worthwhile museum located in a elegant mansion that is a National Historic Monument. The building was used by Evita and her foundation as a temporary shelter for women and children. The restaurant is a destination in its own right, serving sophisticated and varied cuisine. Open from 9 am to 12:30 am (serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks/coffee/tea).
Section of town: Palermo
Address: Thames 2296
Phone 11/4775-0625 (Reservations recommended)
Description: Not a lot of English spoken here, but a local favorite
Section of town: Palermo
Address: El Salvador 4618
Phone 11/4831-7176 (Reservations recommended)
Description: Modern décor, inventive cuisine with more emphasis on non-beef entries than many Buenos Aires restaurants.
Section of town: Palermo
Address: 676 Sucre
Description: A modern restaurant serving contemporary Argentine cuisine.
Buenos Aires is a great city for walking around. San Telmo is a fun place to stroll around and check out the street life, stores and cafes. The Retiro and Recoleta neighborhoods and adjoining section of the Palermo neighborhood are filled with beautiful parks and is a great area to walk or go for a jog. La Boca is fun to see but is touristy and is not recommended for walking around outside the tourist areas. A nice, fairly long walk goes from the Plaza de Mayo all the way to the Congreso along the Avenida de Mayo. You can stop at Café Tortoni (closer to the Plaza de Mayo) or the Café de Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (closer to the Congreso) along the way. If you like trains, you might take a ride on the “A” Line of the Subte (subway), which runs from Plaza de Mayo up to the Congreso. It’s the oldest part of the train system and the cars from the early twentieth century are still in use. For trendy boutiques and shops, the Palermo Soho neighborhood is a good option. Puerto Madero is a more modern, less distinctly Argentine place, but it’s also a pleasant place to stroll to see another aspect of Buenos Aires.
Plaza Armenia and surrounding streets in Palermo Soho: This could be described as the Soho/Greenwich Village area of Buenos Aires, with a bohemian but sophisticated feel, lots of great boutiques and restaurants. A great area for walking around, shopping, people watching, and having a drink or coffee.
If you want to check out Argentine art galleries (both contemporary and more traditional), Arroyo Street (where the Sofitel Buenos Aires is located) is a great place to see a concentration of galleries.
MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires): The MALBA is a must see if you are interested in museums and contemporary art. A beautiful building and excellent collection of modern Latin American Art. Located in the Palermo neighborhood.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes: a very good collection of both Argentine and international art
Museo Evita: a collection that shows Eva Perón´s role in Argentine history
There aren’t many better places to see a soccer match than Buenos Aires, particularly a game of either Boca Juniors or River Plate. If interested, there are tickets available for games where you will sit in a section designated for tourists. Ask us before you depart or inquire with our local operator when you arrive to see if a game is taking place during your stay in Buenos Aires.
There are many tango shows in Buenos Aires. They range from small venues in historic buildings, to larger venues with elaborately choreographed shows. Three options you have are the following:
Viejo Almacen: one of the smaller venues, in an historic building. A well-reviewed show. Like most tango shows, perhaps better only to see the show and eat dinner elsewhere.
Querandi: a small venue, in an historic building, with a show that demonstrates the history of the dance.
Rojo Tango: excellent dancers in a stylized show, in the unique and trendy Faena Hotel & Universe
Gala Tango: a larger venue, not as intimate, but with very good dancers, and an elaborate production.
Milongas (dancehalls) are another option for tango, where you can see locals dancing and dance yourself or take a lesson; venues change regularly so you should inquire locally with your guide to see what might be a good milonga during your stay.
Sanitago is a great place for walking around. Here are a few places you may want to walk around or explore:
Cerro San Cristobal – This is a hill that rises 300 meters above Santiago. From the top of it you will have great panoramic views of the city being able to look west towards Viña or east and see the towering Andes mountains that border the city.
El Centro (Downtown) – This is the true heart of Santiago. You will want to visit Plaza de Armas, the Palace, La Moneda, Mercado Central, Cerro Santa Lucía, and the Opera House just to name a few of the downtown attractions. It is better to visit the downtown during the day when everything is open and then checkout one of the Barrio´s at night for some great bars or restaurants. You may also wish to stroll through Parque Forestal, a beautiful park that is a great place to rest up a bit or grab an ice cream with the kids.
Barrio Bellavista – This neighborhood has a great nighlife scene. You may wish to check out the patio where there are a variety of restaurants or the streets Pio Nono and Consitución where there are some great bars and hangout spots.
Providencía – Providencia is a very beautiful part of Santiago that has an old style charm and is a great place walk around. You will want to walk around Avenida Providencía visiting the streets of Ricardo Lyon, Suecia, and Pedro de Valdivia, just to name a few.
Vitacura – Here you will find a very high end part of Santiago. If you are looking for the “5th Avenue” of Santiago, then head over to a street called Alsono de Coroba. There you will find all the luxury brand stores. You will also find many art galleries in this area. The galleries here feature many Chilean artists making them a great place to see local art. When you finish shopping, be sure to check out Parque Bicentenario, a beautiful new park that has impressive views of the surrounding mountains and of the nearby financial district.
Mueseo de la Memoria – A human rights museum that features the grueling history of Chile. They have tours in both English and Spanish and it is free to enter.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and Museo de Arte Contemporaneo – Located in Parque Forestal, these art museums feature both Chilean artists and artists from around the world. It only costs less than $2 US dollars to enter and is free on Sundays.