Our guide to Argentina

Our 10 minute guide to Argentina

Getting to grips with the Wild West of South America – from Maradona to Mendoza

A steak the size of your head. A lonesome ranger glimpsed on the horizon. This could be – on first glance – a John Wayne film. But this is Argentina, and there’s a lot more to it than beef and cowboys (but we’ll explain those, too). We spoke to our Travel Experts and local contacts to give us the Black Tomato take on a country defined by its Napa Valley-rivalling wine region (hats off to Mendoza), its very own Lake District (take a bow Patagonia), and its boisterous, culturally savvy cities (Buenos Aires, you’ve earnt this). Here, we’ve listed the big, obvious – and smaller, and not so obvious – places and experiences that might feature on your own Argentine adventure.

A short history lesson

Argentina has a tangled history. Once the stomping ground of the Inca Empire, this remarkable country was colonized during the 16th century by the Spanish. Becoming the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata in 1776, it would later experience a messy and protracted civil war that ended only in 1861. This is where we can trace the roots of modern Argentina. Culturally and ethnically – as a result of the European colonization – there are many here with Italian and Spanish roots. Until 1983, under a right-wing military dictatorship, the country was subjected to a further period of state terrorism and enormous instability. Today, things are (thankfully) far calmer, and a lot more peaceful. 

Boisterous Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a passionate city. It is passionate about fútbol (football or soccer, to you or I). It is passionate about dancing (tango, mostly). It is passionate about cafes. It is passionate about food, and art, and wine. It was the home of Jorge Luis Borges, a writer who – despite his often confounding books – had a great many things to say about his native city. It has a cemetery of grand old graves and mausoleums (we genuinely recommend visiting). It has mouth-watering choripan and world-class galleries. It’s easy – as you can tell – to get sucked in. You’ll raise your glass – a sour vermouth – and watch tango dancers sweat and spin, hip to hip. The music flows and darts at the same moment. The applause and laughter carry on into the night. Wow this vermouth is good. Sorry I’m just going back to the bar – [we’d like to apologise for our writer leaving mid sentence. Ed].

Finding perfection in Patagonia

Ok, I’m back. Apologies about that. Being slightly misty-headed, I need fresh air. And what better way to freshen up than heading out into peaceful Patagonia? Gigantic glaciers, the surging waters of the Rico Arm, and gouged-out crevasses. It is a well-traversed region, but – with Black Tomato – we’ll hook you up with the area’s best guides who will not shy away from showing you the area at its wildest. You’ll hook on crampons. You’ll feel the spiny ice against your fingertips. But then you’ll return to a flickering fireside and fat glasses of Argentine wine in some of the county’s best wilderness hotels. One thing we don’t do is take you to a place, point at it (‘there you go’), and then leave. We want you to feel the glacier.


Whether you want to wine and dine or strike out and ride, we can book the Argentine adventure of your dreams.


Into the wild North West

Picture this – a scene straight out of the old Wild West, blended with some sci-fi, and topped off with a big dose of South American flair. This is far beyond the tourist trail and waterfalls, and is a region which Black Tomato have sought to crack open like a curious egg. The region’s capital of Salta combines gaucho culture, Indigenous community, and modern sophistication with its boutique hotels and chic restaurants. Heading yet further north will bring you to Jujuy and the UNESCO site of Quebrada de Humahuaca. Here, layers of creamy white sediment have become mixed with bright, earthy reds and vivacious greens, producing a colourful kaleidoscope among this craggy, meteorite-like landscape. Calming, boutique hotels are nestled among these cakey, chromatic hills. Deeper into Jujuy still – some 4,140m above sea level, and you’ll encounter the incredible salt flats at Salinas Grandes – where the bright, beautiful blue vibes off the clear, endless skies. It makes for one truly memorable road trip.

Winning at wine in Mendoza

Argentina – it goes without saying – does wine well. Very well. You’ll know Malbec as its primary export, with its big, robust flavour that matches so well the beef for which Argentina is famed. But while Mendoza is the big daddy of the county’s wine regions, Cafayate is a less considered and untapped alternative. Here, among the vineyards, the vines fat with grapes, you’ll get a taste for Argentine hospitality off the beaten path. Cosy wine lodges and boutique bodegas are dotted throughout the region, against this big, bold horizon of undulating mountains and vertiginous valleys. We’ll pour you a big glass of Argentine viticulture which many tourists don’t get to see.

Get used to the Gaucho life

Gaucho culture deserves its own section. It actually deserves its own book (which does actually exist).  From the north-eastern wetlands to the shimmering heartlands of La Pampa and Patagonia, the Gaucho ply the waters and rear cattle in rugged isolation. The ‘estancias’, or ranches, which the gaucho have wrangled from the earth and kept alive for more than 100 years are testament to the hardy attitude of these near legendary ‘cowboys.’ This way of life has its origin in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, during a time of political instability, civil war, and state formation in Argentina. The way of life – though rarer and more precarious today – remains a staple of Argentine culture. These nomadic horsemen and cowhands take horseback riding seriously, rubbing the salt and earth from their faces, their loose shirts and wide-brim hats wicking away the sun and heat.


It takes two to tango. And it only takes two minutes to get in touch about our eye-opening Argentine adventures.