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5 unmissable Patagonian highlights

5 unmissable Patagonian highlights

​​​​​​​Every inch of the vast untamed wilderness that occupies the lower half of Argentina and Chile is incredible in its own right. But if time is short these are the spots you simply have to see…
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When to visit Argentina

When to visit Argentina

Spanning 30 degrees of latitude and encompassing everything from the balmy lowlands of Iguazu to the towering heights of Aconcagua, Argentina is a year-round destination if ever there was one.
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Introducing Mendoza, Argentina’s wine capital

Introducing Mendoza, Argentina’s wine capital

The Malbecs are mouth-watering, the wineries cutting edge and the Andes resplendent. Every way you look at it, Mendoza is a delight. The pleasant provincial capital of Mendoza owes its prosperity to the Andes, or more specifically the network of acequias (irrigation channels) that taps into the raging snowmelt torrent that is the Rio Mendoza. Built by the Huarpe and perfected by the Incas, the acequias still flow through the streets of the city and the water they bring is life-giving in every sense of the word. Without it there would be no wine, no fountains and no shady avenues... The many faces of Malbec Argentina is fifth-largest wine producer in the world and Mendoza is its undisputed capital. Malbec, which in its native France is only used in blends, has come into its own in Mendoza’s high-altitude desert environment. While most of Mendoza’s highest ranked wines are Malbecs, there are also several excellent red blends and smattering of wonderful Chardonnays too. Winemakers love …
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Antarctica wildlife highlights: penguins, whales, seals…

Antarctica wildlife highlights: penguins, whales, seals…

Prepare to be charmed by endearing Adélie penguins, wowed by muscular orcas and won over by enigmatic leopard seals. Antarctica isn’t just the coldest, driest and emptiest continent, it’s also home to the most pristine and untouched ecosystem on the planet. You’ll be amazed by the sheer abundance and diversity of life down South. Read on to find out more about the a few of the standouts… Penguins Gentoo, Adélie and Chinstrap penguins are the three remaining members of the Pygoscelis genus and you will likely encounter them all on your cruise. Gentoos are the largest and most numerous of the three, and they’re also the fastest swimmers of all penguins…Attaining speeds of 22mph puts them in the same echelon as Usain Bolt! They’re distinguished by their white ‘bonnets’ and red beaks. Adélies are the most penguin-like of all penguins, so much so that they are almost caricatures of themselves. Named after the wife of French explorer Dumont D’Urville, these small penguins are purely black …
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Experiencing Antarctica is easier than you think

Experiencing Antarctica is easier than you think

What do you get the man who has everything? A ticket to Antarctica of course. With icebergs, penguins, whales and more, it’s the very definition of a bucket list destination. The White Continent. Terra Australis. The Seventh Continent. The coldest, highest, windiest, driest, and remotest place on the planet. There are many ways to describe it, but every single one of them inspires wanderlust. Fortunately, visiting Antarctica has never been easier than it is now… We’ve described two of the most popular itineraries below, but guests who want to spend even longer exploring Antarctica should simply ask one of our Destination Experts about the other possibilities. Option 1: Fly in – 6 days cruising in Antarctica – Fly out This option starts and ends in Punta Arenas, Chile and allows you to a) maximize your time in Antarctica and b) totally avoid the rough and treacherous waters of the Drake Passage. The two-hour flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica is an attraction in itself, but the …
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All you need to know about Argentina’s Cueva de las Manos

All you need to know about Argentina’s Cueva de las Manos

The enigmatic Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands) in Argentine Patagonia is one of the finest examples of ancient rock art on the planet. Read on to find out more... What is it? The Cueva de Las Manos Pintadas (Cave of the Painted Hands) is not so much a single cave as a series of rock overhangs at the base of a cliff-face in the remote and spectacular Cañón de Río Pinturas in Patagonia. The site is most famous for its breathtaking collage of more than 800 black, white, red and ochre handprints, painted over 9,000 years ago, but there are also excellent depictions of guanacos (a relative of the llama and the artists’ main source of food), rheas (a large flightless bird that still roams the Patagonian plains), puma prints and human beings. In addition to living creatures there are also representations of geometric shapes, zigzag patterns, red dots, the sun, and hunting scenes. Photo credit: David Of the 829 handprints most are male, one has six fingers and only 31 are of right …
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Shopping for souvenirs in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Shopping for souvenirs in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina is a shopper’s paradise – If you know what to look out for and where to find it. This blog gives you the inside scoop on three quintessentially Argentinean gifts. Because nobody wants to be given a knock-off Maradona football shirt or a made-in-China mate gourd… Wine Wine has been produced in Argentina since the 1500s, but the country has only entered the premium market in the past few decades. Argentina is now the largest exporter of wines in the New World and home to some seriously high-end wines. Most first-time visitors are under the impression that wine is only produced in the regions surrounding Mendoza, but in actual fact there are wine farms as far north as Salta, which is closer to Bolivia than to Mendoza, and as far south as Patagonia. Different regions specialize in different varietals, so look out for: Malbec and Chardonnay from Mendoza Syrah from San Juan Torrontés from La Rioja Cabernet Sauvignon and Torrontés from Cafayate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from …
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Famous South Americans: René Favaloro

Famous South Americans: René Favaloro

The Argentine surgeon who pioneered heart bypass surgery in the 1960s and 70s was also responsible for bringing world-class healthcare to Argentina’s rural poor. He was a national celebrity and his suicide in the year 2000 is still mired in controversy. World famous Favaloro burst to fame in 1967 when – together with a team of surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic – he performed the world’s first coronary bypass on a 51-year-old woman. This surgery involved using a segment of vein harvested from the patient’s leg to bypass a blockage in one of her coronary arteries. In the years that followed it became one of the most-performed operations in the world, reaching a peak of 600,000 procedures in 1996 alone. Humble beginnings        Favaloro grew up in a poor area of La Plata, the son of a carpenter and a seamstress. He made the decision to become a doctor at the age of four and, upon graduating medical school two decades later, accepted a post as a country doctor in a small town in the …
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Favorite South American plazas: Plaza de Mayo

Favorite South American plazas: Plaza de Mayo

Anyone who has spent any time in South America will know that the heart of every village, town or city is its plaza. A plaza can be anything from a tiny grassy meeting place in the rural hinterland to an elaborate marble expression of nationhood, but it is always a place where people come together. Photo credit: Juan EDC The Plaza de Mayo is surrounded by several of Argentina's most important buildings: notably the Cabildo (the old colonial HQ), the Casa Rosada (the 'Pink House' which is the official presidential residence) and the city's main cathedral. The plaza itself is decorated by the Piramide de Mayo (built in 1811 to commemorate the May Revolution a year earlier) and a grand statue of independence hero General Belgrano as well as towering palm trees and soothing fountains. Photo credit: Diego Torres Silvestre These days it usually has a relaxed and convivial atmosphere, but over the years it's played host to some very important events in Argentina's history. The 1945 …
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The thousand year journey: Oregon to Patagonia

The thousand year journey: Oregon to Patagonia

A couple of months ago, our co-founder Nick Stanziano wrote a short but moving blog called The Magic of Travel. You really should read the whole blog (it won't take more than a minute!) but, for me, one sentence in particular summed up SA Expeditions' raison d'être far better than any manifesto or mission statement ever could: "For those who have sacrificed the security of familiarity and embarked on a journey of enlightenment through exploration, travel can be magic." Magic. I agree. And then I came across this short film about Jedidiah Jenkins - a guy from California who quit his job and decided to ride a bicycle from Oregon to Argentina. In less than five minutes of frank narration (set against breathtaking South American scenery) Jed provides inscrutable evidence that magic really does exist - if you are willing to look for it. I won't spoil the film for you, but I will leave you with one particularly poignant quote from Jed: "I want to make it to 85 and be exhausted. Exhausted …
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Villa Epecuén: Atlantis of the Pampas

Villa Epecuén: Atlantis of the Pampas

In its heyday in the middle of the 20th century, Villa Epecuén was one of the hottest domestic tourist destinations in Argentina. Porteños flocked to the small town 350 miles from Buenos Aires to bathe in its curative, salty waters. But in 1985 the lake that was responsible for the town's very existence would lead to its demise. Villa Epecuén was established in the 1920s on the shores of the lake of the same name. Lago Epecuén is, after the Dead Sea, the second saltiest body of water on the planet and the town's baths and spas used to draw in as many as 20,000 tourists a season. Villa Epecuén was able to support 280 businesses and a permanent population of 1,500. Life was good, until... In November 1985 the area received a particularly heavy rainstorm that caused a seiche (standing wave) in the lake. The seiche broke a dam and eventually burst through a retaining wall, flooding the lakeside streets. At first residents hope the waters would recede before any real damage was caused, …
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Paseaperros: The dog walkers of Buenos Aires

Paseaperros: The dog walkers of Buenos Aires

Everyone knows that Buenos Aires is a magnificent, surprising and varied city which is full to bursting with cultural and culinary highlights. But one thing most visitors aren’t prepared for is the dog walkers or paseadores de perros, to give them their full name. In the parks and plazas of affluent areas like Palermo and Recoleta it is common to see men and women walking veritable packs of well-breed mutts. Some walkers specialize in small dogs, or even in a certain breed, but most seem to herd varied flocks of medium to large hounds. As the owner of two unruly crossbreeds, I marvel at how these professionals calmly walk so many animals at the same time. Photo: Cristina Valencia Employing a paseaperro is a status symbol for rich porteños (“What? You walk your own dog? How scandalous!”) and these days the best dogwalkers don’t just walk the dogs, they actually look after them for the whole day and even take them for medical check-ups and grooming appointments. In the heyday of the …
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