Top tips

  • Go for more than a week if you can – the Andes are susceptible to bad weather and it’s a long way to go to sit in an apartment looking out at clouds. Two weeks will give you a better window for sunshine.
  • Take the opportunity to spend a few days in Santiago. It's a beautiful city that offers a unique blend of Latin American culture and European influence.
  • Go heliboarding in Valle Nevado. It’s relatively cheap, and the terrain you can access is incredible.
  • Learn a few words of Spanish, but be aware it’s a different dialect than that spoken in Spain.
  • Make sure you’re fit. Resorts here are higher and you can find yourself hiking a lot to reach the good stuff. It’s a little different from sitting on a chair lapping the park..

Getting there

Buenos Aires is Argentina's main airport. Carriers include Aerolineas Argentinas, American Airlines, Lufthansa , Air France, British Airways and KLM. Las Leñas is a long way from Buenos Aires, so a good option is to get a flight to Malargüe or Mendoza (450 km), from where you can get a bus to the resort. Domestic flights are quite expensive in Argentina, though if you've flown into the country with Aerolineas Argentinas then you'll get a discount.

Red tape

Most nationalities can enter Argentina without a visa for stays of less than 90 days.

Health

Argentina has a reasonably good standard of healthcare, though having comprehensive travel and medical insurance is strongly recommended. It's safe to drink the tap water, though it's heavily chlorinated so it tastes pretty unpleasant. Air pollution in the major cities is likely to be the major cause of complaint, so people with respiratory ailments should be aware.

Eating

Argentina has a predominantly Mediterranean diet, in that they consume a lot of fruit, vegetables, olive oil, bread, cereals and dairy. Beef is of course Argentina's most famous food, and it's one that locals and visitors alike eat a lot of. Argentine beef is produced from herds of cattle that roam the vast pampas, and as such the beef is leaner and said to be tastier than that of other regions of the world. Many different cuts of meat are eaten, and the best way to experience them is by having a parrilla – various courses of meat (including offal), all cooked on a grill or open fire. Other common Argentine dishes include pastas and pizza, both quite different from their Italian ancestors, with polenta and sorrentino (a type of ravioli stuffed with cottage cheese, mozzarella, basil and tomato sauce) also figuring highly. Argentine breakfasts are very similar to Mediterranean ones, consisting of bread with jam and butter, croissants, brioches, tostados (grilled sandwiches filled with ham and cheese), orange juice and coffee (espresso or café con leche). In Argentina, there will also invariably be mate cocida, a refined version of the Argentine national drink mate. This is a bitter, caffeinated drink made from the leaves of the yerba mate plant, very similar to green tea but served in a hollowed out gourd and sipped through a bombilla (metal straw). It's of great cultural significance and massively popular throughout the country. Lunch is a very large meal in Argentina, largely because dinner isn't taken until very late at night, normally around 2300 or 2400. Outside these times, most restaurants will only serve snacks such as tostados or the delicious lomito (steak sandwich). South America has a fondness for dulce de leche, a traditional sweet made from sugar and milk. Argentina has a Latin approach to alcohol, in that they drink socially rather than to excess. Though this makes the Argentine habit of partying until 0600 very difficult to explain for someone from northern Europe.

Crime & safety

Most parts of Argentina are very safe to travel in, though the usual precautions against mugging and pick-pocketing should be taken in large cities. Popular demonstrations – piqueteros – are very common in Buenos Aires, and attract a huge armed police presence. Though they don't often turn violent they're probably best avoided by tourists. The country punishes drug offences quite severely.

Language

Spanish is the official language of Argentina although the dialect is quite different to that in Spain.

Getting around

Hiring a car is easy in Argentina, though it's a relatively expensive way to get around. It can also be quite chaotic, as speed limits, lane markings and red lights are routinely ignored. Taxis are a realistic option; they're cheap, plentiful and take the responsibility out of your hands.

Car hire

Most of the main international companies have offices at major airports and city centres. Usual age restrictions apply. Generally, valid driving licences from foreign nationals are sufficient for driving in either country.

Public transport

Bus is the most popular means of transport in Argentina. The country has an outstanding network and it's by far the cheapest way to get around. Many buses have seats that recline into beds, and on journeys of more than 200 km they normally serve food.

Opening hours

Argentina has the Latin approach to opening hours, with a lunchtime respite of three hours (typically from 1200-1500). Shops tend to stay open until 1900-2000, and many supermarkets open until 2200. Shops are open until early afternoon on Saturday, and generally closed on Sunday. Banks open only from 1000-1500 in Argentina.

Join the Ski Club today

Join Now