Argentina is an incredible place to visit, yet there are some times of the year that are better than others.
Here is the rundown on what to do, where to go and why ‘November’ is the best month to plan your visit to Argentina.
# 1. Whales watching, Peninsula Valdes
The whales come into the Peninsula Valdes with their newly born calves on their journey to the Antarctic. It is here they stay here for a time in safer, nutrient-rich waters while the calves grow, before moving further south in December.
To go and see them this closely is a once in a lifetime opportunity that can’t be missed. I went out with a local company called ‘Botazzi’. We were very respectful of the whales by not going too close to the whales, as we didn’t want to infringe on their space. However, they did come up to us, to hang out near the boat.
We were surrounded by 7 whales with their calves. The mothers were diving for food, while their young stayed near the surface.
These elegant masters of the sea were continually singing to their young and communicating with each other. Surrounding us with a mystical orchestra of whale sounds. There wasn’t a person on the boat who wasn’t touched by the experience.
There is also the opportunity at this time of the year to go and watch the Orca whales, which I didn’t take. The Orca’s come up at this time of the year to feed on the sea lions and penguins that come into the area. For them, it’s a seasonal buffet of wildlife, and they come all the way up into the shallow water to snap up their next meal. However, be sure you have a strong stomach (unlike me) as it is nature at its rawest and most brutal.
If you are staying in the area for a night, I recommend you stay at La Casona Del Rio – a family B&B. You’ll feel at so at home you may never want to leave.
# 2. Gaucho Festival, San Antonio de Aerco
The Festival de Tradition (Gaucho Festival) is a modest local affair, it was surprising how few locals in Buenos Aires are aware of it or come to see it. It’s normally on around the 10th – 11th of November and may be moved if it is raining. For 2018 you can find further details here.
San Antonio de Areco is a small country town that comes to life while the event is in town. There are a few local shops that sell traditional Argentina wares such as Mate’s, Silver jewellery and leatherwear.
It also has a unique Gaucho Museum in homage to the famous Gaucho’s (cowboys) of the countryside that is worth visiting. The event is held behind the museum.
It is the event of the year where all the local Gauchos compete against each other in some of the riskiest feats on horseback you are ever likely to see.
It is Argentine country life at it’s most laid back and finest, you’ll find kids and whole families turning up on their horse. Everyone drinking the famous yerba mate, and of course, there is a big Asado (BBQ – if you are vegetarian bring your own sandwich) to enjoy.
You can easily catch the bus up to San Antonia, attending the event itself is free. If you’d like to book a tour or visit a local working farm for a day out and a BBQ this local tour company ‘Areco Tradicion‘ can help you organise it.
# 3. Polo Open, Buenos Aires
The Polo in Argentina is the finest in the world. Most of the top international polo players are Argentine and spend most of the year playing in abroad. Yet they always come home to play in the Argentine Open which in November/ December. So it’s the best against the best, which will have you sitting on the edge of your seat throughout the game.
While in many countries Polo is a luxury affair, in Argentina you can have it any which way. On the one side of the field, you have the stands which cost a bit more than the normal seats and you’ll be surrounded by more foreigners and affluent Argentines.
On the other hand, you can get the cheaper tickets. These tickets give you access to the side seats, that are closer to the field and the horses and in the middle of the Gauchos and campesinos (country folk).
At halftime, everyone rushes to the bar where it’s a just one big gathering of polo fans. It’s a serious sport and a dangerous one – which is why the risk-taking, fearless Argentines excel in it – and who make it a pleasure to watch.
The event is spread over 4 weeks, and most locals only attend the finals, so tickets are easily purchased at the gate before the game.
To find the most up-to-date information visit the website of the National Polo Association Argentina.
Best hotel to stay in while in Buenos Aires while rubbing shoulders with the Poloista’s or at least other polo fans is the Faena Hotel in Puerto Madero.
# 4. Jacaranda’s are in Bloom
While this may not sound like much, it will be when you see it for yourself. Most large cities with a similar population look and feel like concrete jungles. Not Buenos Aires, throughout summer the trees give you shade and shield your view of the buildings behind them.
Yet in November the Jacarandas come into bloom and throughout the city and Puerto Madero you will come across a whole sea of Purple Flowers.
These contrasts assure that every photo will have a touch of contrast and magic.
For anyone who is into Jazz or live music – the biggest Jazz Festival in Argentina takes place in November. It supports both national and international artists, playing everything from Jazz to bebop and Nuevo Tango.
With many of the events being free to attend. The program is available on the government’s website, where you can find this year’s dates, bands, and venues.
Another live music experience that you can see any time of the year is Fernando Fierro, who started off their careers at the San Telmo markets. As their popularity grew they opened their own venue and offer the best alternative tango night and experience in Buenos Aires.
To get into the flavour of the Tango, before you go, be sure to read the Tango Singer.
# 6. Gay Pride, Buenos Aires
Gay Pride takes place annually in November celebrating not only the one day, but there are plenty of celebrations spread out over the week.
The parade starts at the Governments Casa Rosada (Pink House) and takes over the city from there. You can find more information here.
Buenos Aires is one of the most nocturnal cities you will ever visit, with most tango bars opening between 1-2 am (yes that is very late at night or early in the morning).
Yet, while you can visit a Milonga (tango club) anytime, the Night of the Museums is on once a year.
All the museums are open and many have special events to celebrate the evening. Free buses and local taxis can take you from one spot to another, and their website has a map with all the museums participating.
November is a great time as it’s just at the end of winter and heading into summer. These are some of the most stunning waterfalls in the world.
There is a discrepancy between Brazil and Argentina both claiming their side is the best. I advise you to make that decision for yourself. There are many tours taking you from one side of the other, or you can organise this for yourself.
Keep in mind that you may need a visa if going into Brazilian side depending on where you are from. This can change at any time, so if you would like to go to both sides it is worth investigating before you go.
Staying at the La Aldea de la Selva hotel puts you in the middle of the Forest near the falls, which means you can enjoy nature and the butterflies while having breakfast in the garden.
# 9. Punta del Este, Uruguay
Ok, I realize this isn’t Argentina. However, due to the amount of Argentines there in January, it feels like it’s an extension of Buenos Aires.
While getting an affordable place to stay here in December or January in near impossible. So November is the perfect time to visit as everything is open and won’t break your budget.
If you are looking to escape Buenos Aires for a day catch the Buquebus over to Colonia for a day. It is an old colonial Portuguese town with art galleries, craft shops, and great restaurants.
# 10. Patagonia
By November the snow has cleared off the mountains and the sun golden rays will be bouncing off the lakes. Hiking paths will be open or you can sit inside, kick back and enjoy the incredible views.
This is the place for fishing, hiking and nature enthusiasts. One of the most spectacular trips to make is the drive through the Seven Lakes, this will take you past some of the most spectacular lakes in Patagonia.
For places to stay and use as a base Bariloche is a mini-Latin Switzerland, with wooden houses and chocolate shops. Most ideal hotel is Hotel Tunquelén*, perfect views over the lake of the mountains.
Do you want to know more about Argentina? Check this out: Things to do in Salta