If you're looking for the ideal South American country in which to enjoy the perfect family vacation, look no further than Argentina. This 10-day itinerary kicks off with a tango show in the capital of Buenos Aires followed by a trip to the countryside to a working cowboy ranch. Then you'll fly south to the lake town of Bariloche and venture into Patagonia for kayak trips, nature hikes, and a whitewater rafting trip.

Highlights

  • Take an informative and exciting walking tour of Buenos Aires
  • Stroll the streets of Bariloche, the most beautiful alpine city in Argentina
  • Go kayaking on a lake and end the day with a nature hike
  • Tour the mountains and lakes around Bariloche
  • Go whitewater rafting on the Río Manso

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 3 Gaucho Experience at Estancia Santa Susana Buenos Aires
Day 4 Boat Excursion to Tigre Buenos Aires
Day 5 Fly from Buenos Aires to Bariloche Bariloche
Day 6 Kayaking & Trekking on Mascardi Lake Bariloche
Day 7 Bariloche History & Nature Tour Bariloche
Day 8 Rafting the Río Manso Bariloche
Day 9 Bariloche to Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 10 Depart Buenos Aires  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires

The famouos Obelisco in downtown Buenos Aires
The famouos Obelisco in downtown Buenos Aires

Welcome to Argentina! Renowned as the "Paris of South America" and the "Queen of El Plata," the capital city of Buenos Aires is defined by passion. This is exemplified in the rich tango heritage and its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), which is by far the country's most popular sport. 

When you arrive at the airport, your driver will be waiting to take you in a private car to your hotel where you can relax after a long flight. But make no mistake: the city will beckon you. So after a quick recharge, be sure to venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. 

When evening falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and order a thick, juicy steak (Argentina has some of the best beef in the world) drizzled with the nation's famous chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce).  Know that Buenos Aires is a culture that thrives after dark, and it's not uncommon for locals to have dinner well past nine in the evening, especially on weekends.

Day 2: Buenos Aires City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show

Views of Teatro Colon
Views of Teatro Colon

After breakfast, you'll join a fascinating tour for an overview of the city of Buenos Aires,  Argentina’s history and culture. During this 3-hour tour, you'll visit the neighborhood of Retiro and Avenida 9 de Julio, South America’s widest avenue. Along this street, you'll see the Teatro Colón, the continent's most opulent opera house, and the iconic Obelisco monument.

You will pass through the historic and architecturally impressive city center, home to the Congress Building, Plaza de Mayo, Avenida de Mayo, and the Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace). Then, walk along the upscale waterfront promenades of Puerto Madero before visiting the oldest neighborhood in the city, San Telmo. After, you'll stop by the city's original port, La Boca.

In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by glasses of wine and a tango performance, one of Argentina's most well-known cultural highlights. After this spectacular show, you'll head back to your hotel to for a good nights rest.

Day 3: Gaucho Experience at Estancia Santa Susana

Argentinian gauchos in colorful garb
Argentinian gauchos in colorful garb

Just as North Americans have their cowboys, Argentines have their gauchos. This frontier culture is strongest in the pampas (prairies) immediately surrounding the capital since this is where the country was first settled. Gauchos are national symbols in Argentina, whether it's the real-life horsemen who still exist today, or the folk heroes of epic Argentine poems, like Martín Fierro, whose stories are passed down over generations.

Today you'll get a real gaucho experience. You'll be picked up in the morning and whisked off to Santa Susana, a working Argentine estancia (ranch). Here you'll enjoy a welcome reception that includes wine, soft drinks, and empanadas. After a guided tour of the property, you'll do some horseback riding (or perhaps enjoy a carriage ride) before settling in for a traditional folkloric music performance—and everyone's invited to get up and dance.

Lunch will be an Argentine asado (mixed grill) paired with even more of the country's fantastic wine. Real gauchos will then showcase their prowess with the bolas—traditional throwing weapons comprised of round weights connected by cords. Their displays will demonstrate how these deceptively simple weapons, when used in the right hands, can be effective at bringing down horses, cows, and even people. 

After lunch, you'll be treated to more entertainment. The gauchos will continue to showcase their abilities, this time as they perform a series of feats known as carreras de sortijas (ring races). These are typical in gaucho equine competition and showcase the cowboys' great skills on horseback. You will end the day at the estancia with a late-afternoon serving of mate, the popular tea-like infusion that is an indispensable part of Argentine culture. 

By the time you transfer back to your hotel in the evening, you can be happy in the knowledge that you've enjoyed a traditional Argentine frontier experience.

Day 4: Boat Excursion to Tigre

The canals of Tigre
The canals of Tigre

Today you will travel up the Río de la Plata to the point where it converges with the Paraña River Delta, which is comprised of a series of islands, about an hour north of Buenos Aires. During the boat ride, enjoy views of the city skyline from the deck. You will enter a network of freshwater canals and sail among the many islands that make up this unique region. 

The main port on these canals is in Tigre, a Venetian-style village whose small-town, relaxing atmosphere stand in stark contrast to Buenos Aires' bustling energy.  You'll spend the better part of the day so enjoy free time to stroll the waterfront, stop in at the cafés and bistros, visit the museums, and experience this riverside gem any way you like. 

After a day discovering this town, board a train back to Buenos Aires. Your tour officially ends at the Retiro station, where you'll have the rest of the evening to explore on your own.

Day 5: Fly from Buenos Aires to Bariloche

The beautiful shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi
The beautiful shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi

This morning, after breakfast in Buenos Aires, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to Aeroparque Airport, located in the city. You will then catch a flight to Bariloche, located southwest in Argentina's Lake District

San Carlos de Bariloche was founded in 1902 on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi, which itself is part of the larger Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi. If you detect some native influence in that name, you're correct. It comes from the Mapuche indigenous people who once inhabited the area, and it means "jaguar island." The lake straddles the Chilean border, with the city of Bariloche located on the southeast shore. This region is beautiful and you'll be able to experience its majesty on nature hikes and excursions.

Upon arrival at Bariloche's airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. Even though you may be tired from your flight, try to get out and explore the city. The charming chalet-style buildings and alpine architecture can be seen and enjoyed on a brisk walk around, and the city center abounds with waterfront plazas, chocolate shops, and upscale restaurants. 

When dinnertime comes around, be sure to sample the local cuisine. You'll find that it differs considerably from what's typically found in Buenos Aires. Here regional fare like wild boar and lake trout is popular and delicious, as is the fondue (a culinary addition first introduced by the city's Swiss immigrants).

Day 6: Kayaking & Trekking on Mascardi Lake

Enjoy lunch on the shore of Lago Mascardi
Enjoy lunch on the shore of Lago Mascardi

Today is a special day with a combined excursion that mixes kayaking on Lago Mascardi with a nature trek through the forest. The adventure begins with a pickup at your hotel followed by a forty-five minute drive south of Bariloche along the famed Ruta 40 to get to the lake.

Your first destination is a lakeshore campsite owned by the local indigenous community. Here you'll jump into your kayak and begin paddling for Playa Leones, a beautiful pebble beach on Mascardi. Once you arrive at this tranquil beach, you'll be able to relax on shore and enjoy the surrounding wilderness.  

Afterward, you'll embark on a hike through native coihue forests until you reach a secluded lagoon. Then it's time to head back to Playa Leones, where you'll enjoy lunch while relaxing on the shore. Finally, you'll kayak back to the starting point and return to Bariloche in the late afternoon.

Day 7: Bariloche History & Nature Tour

Take a ride up to the top of Cerro Campanario
Take a ride up to the top of Cerro Campanario

This morning, you'll partake in an active history lesson with a guided tour in and around Bariloche. Along the way, he or she will explain the legacy of the city and its surrounding locales. This tour comprises a classic circuit that covers the city as well as some of the most famous viewpoints outside of it, like Cerro Campanario and the Llao Llao Peninsula. The former offers panoramic views of Lago Nahuel Huapi from its summit, while the latter is the site of the most impressive hotel in the country, Hotel Llao Llao

Over the course of this tour, your guide will explain how San Carlos de Bariloche evolved relatively quickly from a small mountain village into one of the most attractive and popular cities in Argentina. As you experience the natural beauty of the region and hike around its terrain, you'll begin to understand why Bariloche was voted Argentina's national capital of adventure tourism. At the end of the tour, you'll visit a local microbrewery for lunch and a beer tasting—a fun way to end the excursion!

Day 8: Rafting the Río Manso

Get ready for some rafting
Get ready for some rafting

In the morning a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you and other passengers down Route 40 to the edge of the Nahuel Huapi National Park. Eventually, you'll arrive at John´s Camp. This Patagonian ranch near the Manso River serves as the starting point for today's river rafting excursion.

Upon arrival at John´s, you'll be struck by the beauty of the grounds. More than 50 years of work are reflected in this property, from the main house to the beautiful garden abounding with flowers and trees, all of it surrounded by an unobstructed view of Mt. Bastion. A light breakfast of coffee and croissants will be provided, and after eating your group will change into wetsuits. Then it's time for a safety talk from the head guide after which you'll embark down the Río Manso.

This stretch of the river cuts through a canyon, which is at once beautiful and challenging. The rapids here are class III and IV, so be prepared to get wet. Just the names of these rapids evoke excitement and adventure: Ozone Hole, Shout and Turn, Little Toboggan, and Scrambled Egg are some of the sections you'll brave before pulling up to the riverbank at the Chilean border. Here you'll leave the river behind, change clothes, and enjoy a bit of lunch. Afterward, you'll transfer back to Bariloche.

Day 9: Bariloche to Buenos Aires

Return to Buenos Aires
Return to Buenos Aires

A driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport where you'll catch a flight back to Buenos Aires. You'll then have the rest of the day to relax in your hotel or get out and visit any of the city sites you might have missed thus far. 

If you're feeling peckish then maybe visit one of B.A.'s many panaderias (bakeries), where you can indulge in a medialuna (half-moon-shaped pastry) or famous alfajore (cookie with dulce de leche). Perhaps while away the afternoon hours on a patio table at one of the city's many coffee houses. Buenos Aires is proud of its café culture, and there's no better vantage point in which to do some good old fashioned people watching than at one of the many options in the city. 

For a delicious piece of B.A. history, be sure to stop in at Café Tortoni. This café has been a city institution since it opened all the way back in 1858. So come for a coffee and a churro dipped in dulce de leche, and relish the opulence and history.

Day 10: Depart Buenos Aires

Farewell, Argentina
Farewell, Argentina

Enjoy your last hours in the cosmopolitan capital of Buenos Aires. At the scheduled time, your driver will pick you up and transfer you by private car to Ezeiza International Airport, where you'll catch your return flight home.

Map

Map of Family Adventure in Patagonia: Buenos Aires & Bariloche  - 10 Days
Map of Family Adventure in Patagonia: Buenos Aires & Bariloche - 10 Days