Katrina's Editorials

Southern Exposure

My family is probably a lot like yours in that when we plan a vacation, we usually have a particular experience in mind. Sometimes we heed the call of the wild and head for the countryside. Or maybe we yearn for a big city experience and choose an as yet unexplored world capital. Sometimes, we just want a bit of adventure, so we set out for the mountains or rainforests. As we recently discovered, these experiences don’t have to be mutually exclusive – not when you find a country that has it all, like Argentina.

From the vibrant street life of Buenos Aires to the diverse wildlife of the Iguazu Falls to the traditional family life of the estancias around the Lake District, Argentina offers something for everyone. No wonder it has gone down as one of our kids’ favorite destinations.

The first leg of our trip began in Buenos Aires. Because our kids love outdoor pools, we chose the Four Seasons in the chic, elegant district of Recoleta as our home base. After settling in, we spent hours with our guide just roaming the streets. We toured the famous La Recoleta cemetery, literally a city within a city – wide avenues lined with mausoleums that look like small houses, containing the graves of prominent Argentinians like Eva Peron. We explored the vibrant neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, taking in the bright street murals and glorious architecture, and marveling at the stark contrasts between the barrios. And let’s not forget the food – Argentina is renowned for its beef and lamb, flavored with mysterious spices. To this day we still can’t put our finger on why the food in Argentina just tastes better. But it does.

Just as we could not leave Buenos Aires without trying the steak, we were not going anywhere until we’d had a taste of the thriving polo culture. People from all over the world fly here to play and take lessons on the fields of the many polo clubs that have cropped up just outside the city. As you could imagine, the kids were beside themselves. Morgan, our budding equestrian, was especially thrilled by the experience. The polo season kicks off in November, with a month-long series of matches and festivities.

Buenos Aires offers such a variety of activity that we felt like we were on a different vacation every day of our stay. For example, to follow up our visit to the Polo Club, we decided to take a boat out to tour the islands of the Parana Delta. Suddenly, it was as if we were back on one of our boat trips. Sailing, water skiing, wakeboarding, jet skiing…we almost forgot that we were in one of the world’s most bustling metropolises.

For all the fun we had in Buenos Aires, we still had much ground left to cover and could hardly wait to try Argentina’s other attractions. The very next day, we flew to an estancia in Southern Patagonia’s El Calafate with plans to see the world-famous Perito Moreno Glacier. What a sight! And what an amazing adventure. With the help of our crampons, the special spiked shoes that grip onto the ice, Morgan, Terry and I even got to climb some of these gorgeous peaks. We felt just like we were in the Arctic – quite a change from the tropical climate of Buenos Aires.

We followed up the National Glacier Park with a stay at one of the estancias on the Lake District. Here we spent our days camping out, hiking, fishing, kayaking, riding horses and watching the condors circle overhead. One day, Emerson, Morgan and I went out with a Gaucho as our guide and spent the whole day slowly riding over the majestic plains. We saw foxes, armadillos, massive herds of sheep, bands of wild horses, and millions of wild flowers in every color imaginable. Whether or not you’re a major equestrian, this is a very pleasant way to see the country and absorb the fresh glacial air. Without our Gaucho, we would have not seen half of the things that were literally under our feet! Just being out in the countryside and participating in the lifestyle was so satisfying that we could have stayed far longer, but Iguazu Falls was calling our names.

Although the kids are still too young for any extreme sports, Iguazu Falls is packed with opportunities for light adventure. We quickly realized who the family daredevil was when we saw how naturally our youngest, Alistair, took to zip-lining in the rainforests and rappelling down the waterfalls. While Ali probably enjoyed this part of the trip the most, we all left the Falls feeling good about having tested our limits and pushed ourselves.

No doubt, you can see why Argentina is one of my favorite places in the world. If variety is the spice of life, then Argentina has got to be the most exciting country on the planet. This vast land presents so many contrasts, you barely have a chance to catch your breath before you’re confronted by yet another entirely unique experience. Whether you’re going for butterfly season at Iguaza, extreme skiing and climbing, or just relaxing with a fishing rod, Argentina offers it in a spectacular way, and the hospitality is the best I’ve ever experienced. I hope you and yours enjoy it as much as all of us did…