We spent 10 days in Argentina for our honeymoon and it was AMAZING.
We arrived around 9am in Buenos Aires and made our first stop at the Nuss – a boutique hotel in Palermo – one of the nicer areas of the city.
We ordered our first true espressos – which were AMAZING (they became somewhat of an addiction). And popped open the bottle of champagne given to us by our travel agency and guide service – Andes Drifters. After a quick nap, we headed out to explore the downtown area. There was a small market, where local vendors were selling small handmade things. We also enjoyed a couple of beers and some empanadas while quickly realizing that we should have learned a little bit of Spanish… Sammy cut a woman off in the airport and instead of saying ‘lo siento,’ (sorry), he actually said ‘de nada,’ (you’re welcome). Off to a good start!
That night we wondered back into town and had dinner at a recommended restaurant called Cabernet. We quickly learned how rich Argentinian food is – heavy red meat with lots of sauce and creamy sides are the norm. Pair that with at least one bottle of wine and another glass of champagne for dessert and you’re right on. Needless to say, it was more than enough for us. Sammy’s small pocket journal went illegible pretty quickly. And Beth wondered into the kitchen accidentally while looking for the bathroom. So much for fitting in.
Day two of our honeymoon began with a couple of double espressos, then a short flight to Mendoza, Argentina – also known as wine country. Start looking and you’ll find it on just about every label of Malbec. It’s beautiful, with thousands of vineyards backing up to an endless view of the snow capped Andes mountains. The drive from Mendoza domestic airport to where we stayed led us quickly from city to endless vineyards. We stayed at Cavas Wine Lodge, where we were greeted at the door with a glass of wine, a private tour, and newfound guilt for being treated like such royalty. Our room came loaded with a bottle of wine and alfajores – a very typical Argentenian dessert – cookies filled with a very sweet dulce de leche filling. We enjoyed all day spa treatments (Sammy’s favorite), fancy food and wine, a private Tango dancing show, and the most magnificent sunset either of us have ever seen.
After a relaxing day at Cavas Wine Lodge, we began day three with a scenic drive through the vineyards, along Rio Mendoza and a route of Argentinian history (abandoned railroads and very old mail outposts) toward the Andes mountains near Aconcagua Park (Aconcagua is the highest peak in South America, and one of the seven summits). It took us very close to the border of Chile and Argentina, where we parked our truck and began our hike. Our guide Eduardo was quite the renaissance man – sommelier and vineyard owner, mountain guide (summited Aconcagua 13 times and guided Aaron Ralston – the climber who cut his own hand off), philosopher, and native Mendozian. The hike was great, but we had to be quick, because a storm was on it’s way and we didn’t want to get caught in it. When we reached the peak, where the border of Argentina and Chile met, the winds were so extreme Sammy had to hold on to the border marker and Beth sat herself firmly on the ground. We were just a few hundred feet from Cristo Redeemer, but a large steep snow and ice field halted us from actually getting to see it. We enjoyed a perfect lunch of sandwiches, cheese and wine at a radio tower outpost on the way down. After our scenic return drive, we enjoyed a private dinner in the Cavas Wine Lodge’s wine room. Amazing once again.
The next day started very early with a trip to the airport, and we were rewarded with another gorgeous sunrise to begin our drive out of the vineyards. We spent most of the day traveling (our flight was delayed a few hours), but eventually we made it to Bariloche and made a quick stop at the famous Llao Llao hotel for tea and cake. We then drove for a few hours to our final destination. We didn’t know yet, because it was dark outside, but we would wake up to another great view the next day.
We woke up not knowing what to expect. We drove to the hotel (Las Balsas) the night before in the dark. Our view when we woke up did not disappoint. Beautiful Nahuel Huapi lake, surrounded by mountains. We had a quick breakfast but had to depart relatively quickly to get on the road to our next hike and destination. After a peaceful drive (in Sammy’s dream Toyota Hilux truck) and a few road side stops, we started our hike into the Nivinco waterfall, on the way forwarding a river and seeing lots of sheep. We then drove on to Pichi Trafu where the beautiful Traful river joins Lake Traful. The smell of grilled vegetables and beef met us and sure enough the team (Andres and Maxi) had set up an awesome lakeside/streamside camp. We had more wine and bourbon, an amazing lunch – quite possibly the best steak I’ve ever had – and then hit the 7 Lakes Road on the way into San Martin. They dropped us off a bit prior to the town so we could hike in on the road high above the town and see the stunning views. Lakes and mountains as far as the eye can see, all the way into Chile. San Martin, a dream town nestled in the mountains and surrounded by the great outdoors and a beautiful lake. We drove by a working horse farm, saw the fabled gauchos at work, and witnessed a stunning rainbow on the way to our last lodge – Casona Del Alto – owned by Lily and Fernando. Hospitality like we were family, home cooked meals, and a warm room with flowers awaiting us.
Our morning began with a perfect breakfast (fresh bread, fruit, sliced meats always) and espresso. Then we were off for our morning hike – a 12km hike at Leguna Rosales. There was a beautiful change in scenery as we hiked higher and higher, from desert to jungle to barren mountaintop, and the views were breathtaking. Our awesome tour guides cooked chicken on the disco (an Argentinian specialty) and Sammy had more Johnny Walker to get him through the rest of the hike. It rained a bit after lunch, but not badly. We saw a field of wild horses traveling along the base of the mountains – one of the most magical sites of our trip. We traveled back to our hotel and enjoyed an afternoon relaxing in the hot tub, only to look up and see yet another amazing rainbow along our beautiful hillside view. That evening we went to a local art museum, Museum de Miciu (‘Georg’) and met the son of the famous artist there who is now a photographer for National Geographic. They had some cool fly fishing art which Sammy loved. We naively inquired about buying one of the very small paintings – turns out the 8×10’s run about $20-30k… Gustavo from Andes Drifters (our travel agency) arranged for us to meet with the silversmith artist at the gallery and he gave Sammy a personalized fly-fishing buckle and let Beth pick out a silver ring. Very nice of them. For dinner we went to a restaurant downtown and tried our best to order (we really should have learned some basic Spanish before our trip… ) Sammy ordered the ‘Red Stag’ venison. Another rich meal in Argentina.
Fly fishing day! Our compromise for the honeymoon was that Beth would go fishing for a day if Sammy promised her a spa day in return. It was a bit of a rainy day, but it was fun nonetheless. We fished off of a boat on Lake Lolog. Gonzalo, our fishing guide, caught several browns on a fly called ‘Fat Albert’. We ate lamb on an iron cross (an Argentinian feast). We ate steak back at our inn, Casona del Alto, made by our own personal chef, Lily and it was wonderful.
Another great breakfast at Casona. Facu and Gustavo greeted us and we began our drive up to wind swept mountains to start our first hike in the Kika area – Pampa Del Viento (‘Field of Wind’). As we began our hike, we were surrounded by trees covered in the most mystical green moss. An amazing site. The higher we went the more snow we began to see, as well as a few more waterfalls. Once we reached the top of the tree canopy we could see the top of the mountain – Cerro Torta (‘Cake Mountain’). It was beginning to storm at the summit and looking very cloudy and ominous. It continued to get more and more chilly and windy as we neared the summit. Facu advised us not to continue all the way to the top as we’d planned because of the way the weather was looking. We still caught a pretty amazing view from where we were. We hiked back down to a local lodge called Miramas for lunch – delicious pizza while warming our wet feet by a fire. There was an amazing view from the lodge, complete with some Patagonian adirondack chairs. After lunch we hopped on a funny looking tank truck which bulldozed us up the mountain for an amazing canopy zip-lining tour. That evening back at the hotel, we asked Lily for a ‘light’ meal. She made us a simple, yet delicious tomato/caper/black olive pasta with a light lemon mousse for dessert. Yum!
Our final two days before heading home. We drove the long route from Casona back to Bariloche before catching a flight back to Buenos Aires for one last day. Along the route we saw some of the famous lakes and rivers of Argentina. For dinner we ate at Puerto Zuela, complete with another steak and bottle of red wine. On our final day, we finally slept in and missed breakfast. We ordered double espressos before heading down town for an easy stroll. We lounged lazily while watching people buzzing around. Another espresso and some sausage for lunch. We hitched a taxi for our final ride to the airport. Beth felt nauseous and we joked about being pregnant. Turns out it’d be a few more months before that happened.
We cannot say enough about how amazing this trip was. Truly once in a lifetime. We are especially thankful to our parents for helping us make this trip possible. Love you all and hope you enjoy reliving the trip in pictures with us!