Argentina's diverse landscapes lure travelers from all over the world. While many activities, like hiking and cycling, are possible to do alone, you'll need special equipment and a guide for the more specialized adventures like glacier trekking and rock climbing. Outdoor agencies abound in Argentina's adventure sports hubs like El Chaltén or Bariloche, though arranging your excursions ahead of time will save you the trouble of finding a reputable outfitter and renting equipment on the ground.
Remember that the seasons are opposite in the southern hemisphere: summer (peak season for many outdoor activities, especially in Patagonia) runs December through February, and winter, prime time for skiing and snowboarding, runs from June through September. When's the best time to visit Argentina? Read this article to find out.
Glacier Trekking in Patagonia
Argentina is one of the only countries in the world where you can walk on a glacier. Glacier Perito Moreno, located near El Calafate, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Argentina. Most visitors view the massive glacier from the vantage point of manmade catwalks. And while it's a thrill watching building-sized chunks of ice crack off the glacier's edge, splashing into the water below, it's even more exciting to get up close with the ice.
Guided excursions take small groups on a trekking adventure across the glacier's plateaus. For safety and ease, each participant is outfitted with a harness and crampons. The guide points out features during the walk including ice caves and crevasses; depending on the tour, the group may break for lunch on the ice. Note that glacier-trekking tours are only available to travelers ages 10 to 65 (or 10 to 50, depending on the tour) with a demonstrable level of physical fitness.
If you're interested in Los Glaciares, check out this week-long itinerary that combines a Perito Moreno glacier walk with hiking around El Chalten and Buenos Aires exploration.
Horseback Riding in the Andean Foothills
High up in the foothills of the Andes south of Mendoza, condors fly overhead and wild horses run and play. There's no better way to soak up the atmosphere than on horseback. Several outfitters take travelers to estancias (ranches) where you'll climb aboard a horse and take off for an adventure in the hilly landscape. After a few hours of exploring the surrounding foothills, you'll have lunch back at the ranch before driving back to the city.
Apart from the outdoor adventure itself, horseback riding near Argentina's famous wine region offers the chance to see a slice of gaucho culture. Pro tip: if anyone invites you to share a mate from a leather gourd, say yes.
Interested in staying overnight on an estancia? Check out the best Unique Lodging Options in Argentina.
Crowd-Free Skiing & Snowboarding
Compared to Chile, Argentina isn't particularly well-known as a skiing destination. That's part of what makes winter sports so appealing on this side of the Andes: generally speaking, you'll have fewer crowds to contend with. Ski centers popular with Argentines are scattered throughout the southern half of the country. These include Las Leñas, located in the province of Mendoza and renowned for its powdery snow, Cerro Catedral and Chapelco, both located in wooded settings in the lakes region around Bariloche, and Mount Castor, outside Ushuaia in the province of Tierra del Fuego.
Just remember that the seasons are opposite in the southern hemisphere: ski season starts in mid-June and lasts through September (or even mid-October, depending on the destination and the weather).
Cycling Through the Colorful Northwest
Argentina's northwest is famous for its sunny days, rugged terrain, colorful rock formations, indigenous culture, and wine production. All of which makes this area of the country perfect for a cycling adventure. Itineraries around historic Salta and Cafayate, one of Argentina's major wine regions, take you past red-rock canyons, unusual rock formations like Quebrada de las Conchas, and vineyards rolling out into the distance. Find out more about the wine regions or Argentina (and Chile) here.
One option is to combine cycling and hiking to see as much of the region as possible. If you're up for a detour off a cycling itinerary, you can hike to see the cave paintings at Guachipas (thought to be around 1,000 years old) and explore the vibrantly hued hills of the striking Quebrada de Humahuaca.
Rock Climbing in El Chaltén
Whether you're an expert or a beginner, El Chaltén is a great destination for rock-climbing. Located in the foothills of the Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre massifs, the town is considered Argentina's hub of mountaineering. Hire a guide for a basic lesson or plan a multi-day climbing route. Since the granite boulders rarely get icy, conditions are good for much of the year.
Avid climbers head straight for Fitz Roy and its seven summits. Further away from town, Cerro Torre presents a challenge: many of the routes are only recommended for advanced climbers, and the peaks get majorly icy in cold weather. Another option that's more suited to hikers than climbers is the guided three-day hike to the summit of Cerro Mojón Rojo, located inside Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, which incorporates glacier-trekking into the itinerary.
Climbers of every level will enjoy this 10-day trip that pairs a day of rock climbing classes in El Chaltén with ice trekking, hiking, and more Patagonian fun.
Hiking Around Iguazú Falls
Straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil, Iguazú is a wonder to behold—it's tempting to just sit back and stare. But you can do one better by experiencing these awe-inspiring waterfalls with a hike. Stroll the jungle paths of the national park and you'll discover new vantage points for cascade viewing—not to mention possible sightings of toucans, monkeys, and even jaguars.
Less physically demanding but even more thrilling is the boat excursion that takes travelers close to the base of the waterfall. Choose a hot, sunny day if you can: thanks to the power of the falls and the spray around them, participants often get drenched from head to toe.
Make the hike yourself with this 9-day jaunt from dazzling Buenos Aires to the falls and trails of Iguazu National Park—it even includes horseback riding on an estancia, another active experience featured on this list.
Fly-Fishing in Nahuel Huapi National Park
For an active adventure redefined, cast a line into the salmon-rich streams of Argentine Patagonia. Fly-fishing in the Limay, Manso, and Pichi Leufu Rivers of Nahuel Huapi National Park isn't just aesthetically pleasing—you'll enjoy beautiful mountain scenery as you wait for a bite—but rewarding as well. Even beginners often catch sizeable fish. That's because overfishing isn't an issue: thanks to environmental protection laws, recreational fishers are required to throw back any fish they catch.
Make sure you have a camera in a waterproof case so that you can prove to your friends that you did, indeed, catch a large silvery trout on your first day out. And find out more great activities in our roundup of Best Activities in Argentina.