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Argentina Celebrates Bicentennial

Argentina Celebrates Bicentennial

Have you ever thought of exploring the southern hemisphere of the Americas? If so, this coming July 9 marks Argentina’s bicentennial of its Declaration of Independence, when it severed its ties with Spain. The 200th anniversary is a time for celebration and for discovering this lively South American nation.

Most travelers will start a trip to Argentina in Buenos Aires, the capital. This cosmopolitan city that gave the world the tango has a European charm, rich culture, and bustling nightlife.

Must-see sights include La Casa Rosada, or the “Pink House,” which serves as the office of Argentina’s president; La Recoleta Cemetery, resting place of Argentine notables including Eva Peron and known for its elaborate marble mausoleums and statues; and Teatro Colon, the city’s ornate opera house that’s considered one of the world’s finest. Be sure to leave time for strolling through Buenos Aires’ historic and colorful neighborhoods. One of the city’s oldest, San Telmo, has cobblestone streets that are filled with cafés, pubs, and street performers dancing the tango. On Sundays, the neighborhood’s Plaza Dorrego is the site of a popular antiques market.

Buenos Aires also has one of Argentina’s largest Independence Day ceremonies, with hundreds of thousands of people gathering to watch parades and listen to live music. Food plays a major role in the festivities and it’s a good time to try some of the country’s specialties, including barbecued beef, red wine and pastelitos, puffed pastries stuffed with sweet or savory fillings.

But there’s so much to see in Argentina beyond Buenos Aires. It’s a country of great beauty and the diverse landscape—mountains, rivers, lakes and forests,—will delight outdoor enthusiasts of all types.

To view some of Argentina’s most stunning scenery, travel south to the city of Bariloche in the Patagonia region, a 2½-hour flight from Buenos Aires. Located in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, Bariloche is renowned for its alpine architecture and chocolate manufacturing. Visitors will find numerous chocolate shops on the main street, along with stores selling wool and wooden handicrafts. Surrounding the city is Nahuel Huapi National Park. Established in 1934, it’s Argentina’s oldest and offers a wide variety of recreational activities, from hiking, and golfing to horseback riding and kayaking. From June to August, Argentina’s winter, Bariloche is also a center of skiing and snowboarding.

Since temperatures will be milder, winter is also a great time to visit Iguazu Falls, one of the world’s most spectacular natural features. The 275 waterfalls, located on the border between Argentina and Brazil—and just miles away from Paraguay—reach an altitude of nearly 260 feet. The closest city to the falls is about a 2-hour plane flight north of Buenos Aires. A narrow-gauge railway takes visitors through the rainforest to trails and footbridges that afford up-close views. But that’s only part of the experience. The national park that surrounds Iguazu is home to diverse plant and animal life including jaguars, anteaters, toucans and butterflies. Other ways to experience the falls include a moonlight tour and by a boat that goes right underneath them.