Argentina: General Information
PLEASE SEE SPECIFIC TOUR PAGES FOR INFORMATION ABOUT INDIVIDUAL ARGENTINA TOURS
Argentina is without a doubt one of the greatest birding destinations in South America. It is a massive country (the second largest in South America) which contains numerous different habitat types spanning multiple latitudes. In the south of the country in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, you will be treated to fjords, grasslands and steppes as well as the picturesque shores of the Atlantic Ocean, where we will further enjoy freshwater lakes, rivers and estuaries. While in northern Argentina we will take you to explore inter-Andean valleys, the dry Chaco, cloudforests of Calilegua National Park, the high Andes near the Bolivian border and the impressive Iguazú Falls on the Brazilian border.
Argentina (like many South American countries) boasts an impressive country list of 1,076 species and provides unique high-quality species such as Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, Magellanic Plover, Hooded Grebe, Magellanic Woodpecker, Rufous-throated Dipper, Andean Condor, White-bellied Seedsnipe, Chubut, Flying and Fuegian Steamer Ducks, Lake Duck, Black-legged Seriema, White-throated Caracara, and Salinas Monjita. It also offers the chance of seeing some amazing wildlife including the likes of Guanaco, Vicuna, Patagonian Mara, Killer Whale (Orca), Southern Right Whale and Southern Elephant Seal all while taking in incredible landscapes including Perito Moreno Glacier and enjoying delicious Argentinean wine and cuisine.
MEDICAL AND TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE
We highly recommend you purchase trip cancellation or interruption insurance in case you have to cancel due to illness or for any other reason, as tour payments are non-refundable as per our terms and conditions. We strongly advise you to get a plan that will fully cover your medical care as well as evacuation back to your home country.
The meal schedule and program will vary depending on your Argentinean birding tour. We normally have a hotel breakfast as early as possible before heading out birding, or in some cases, we will have breakfast in the field if hotels cannot serve breakfast before our early morning departure. Lunch varies from hot meals in restaurants and lodges to box lunches which often include sandwiches (such as the tasty Argentinean empanadas), various snacks and a drink. The dinners are always hot meals in hotel/lodge restaurants or occasionally at a special restaurant in town where the food is highly recommended.
Argentina is famous for serving some of the best beef in the world, with Argentinean cuisine in general being delicious, a product of its Italian influence. In addition to its beef and other meat dishes (such as lamb and sausage), there are tasty pastas and the best ice cream in South America! If you are vegetarian, vegan or gluten intolerant, you will need to inform us of this when you book the tour, in order for us to arrange with hotels and restaurants well in advance.
Please keep in mind that in Argentina people eat dinner late, which is an exception in South America, more similar to Spain. Normally dinners are served between 8 pm and 9 pm in the evening. If possible, our local ground crew may arrange early dinners in some lodges and towns but it is not always guaranteed. Do not be surprised to get into a city restaurant at an early hour of the evening (8 pm) and be the only customer; normally restaurants are open until after midnight.
We always try to include the best accommodations available on our tours to provide our clients with a truly memorable holiday. In general, we use accommodations that we consider comfortable however not luxurious. In some more remote areas, the lodges provide fairly basic accommodation, with no other options available; in these areas, it is necessary to stay in these more basic lodges to ensure the best chance of finding our key target species. If the birding sites are nearby, we often rather stay in better accommodations in cities.
Bedroom notes: The price of our tour is per person sharing a twin bedroom. Most of our clients, even some couples, rather prefer to have their own bed to have a better sleep after long days out birding. Please note, the standard matrimonial or double bed in South America is the normal double bed size, which may be too small for some people. Bedrooms with queen/king-size beds are normally pricier, and we do not include these rooms in the tour price. If you rather want to upgrade your rooms, the hotel will charge the difference directly to you (if there is availability). This surcharge is not included in the tour price.
We recommend carrying US dollars. Please do not bring US dollar bills that are damaged in any way (such as broken tips and edges, ink marks, are fixed using tape, etc.). Most institutions and people do not accept US dollars that show obvious damage. Sometimes travelers’ checks/cheques are difficult to change, and it is not possible to do this everywhere, especially in remote areas. Unfortunately, we cannot spend birding time or schedule time to look for financial institutions where you can cash travelers’ checks or exchange US dollars to local currency. We recommend you exchange US dollars to Argentinean Pesos in the exchange houses/bureau de change at the international airport upon your arrival.
Your holiday is almost an all-inclusive tour, so you would only need money to cover personal expenses such as drinks, laundry service, phone calls from the hotels, bar expenses, souvenirs and gifts you want to take home, or any non-mandatory gratuities you would like to give to any person who you think has provided exceptional service.
ATM machines are available in the larger cities and towns. Be aware that credit cards are not accepted everywhere, especially in remote locations.
Please refer to the Center for Disease Control website for health advice in Argentina. Please also consult your physician or your local travel clinic for recommendations.
While not a requirement for entry into Argentina, unless you are arriving from an infected area in another country, a yellow fever vaccination is a good idea for most people traveling to third world or tropical countries, and the vaccination is good for ten years. People with compromised immune systems should consult with their personal physician before getting any vaccination. Vaccines against hepatitis A and B, tetanus and rabies are further recommended.
Diarrhea is always a tricky point while traveling in South America. Even though many travelers escape untouched, we ask you to consult your doctor and bring some medicine to treat diarrhea, such as Imodium or Ciprofloxacin. However, Argentina is regarded as one of the safest of the countries in the region, regarding this issue.
Please note that sometimes the dramatic change from your normal diet might result in some mild stomach or digestive abnormalities that may disappear in a short time. Only when this problem is followed by nausea and/or even fever, there may be a real diarrhea problem. Again, please ask your doctor what they recommend is best for you.
There are a few records of Dengue and Zika in northeast Argentina but not along the route we cover.
We strongly recommend drinking bottled water only, as will be pointed out to you by your tour leader.
We take care of the places where we go for meals and of the food we prepare in the field. We ask you to clean your hands using hand sanitizer.
Please let us know about any medical condition you have, such as diabetes, asthma, allergies, heart conditions, or knee problems, also including phobias or anything you think we should know. This will help us to take care of you and make suggestions as to what you may or may not appreciate to ensure an enjoyable trip.
Insects should not be a big problem over most of our route, but we recommend that you wear loose-fitting, long pants, long-sleeved shirts and keep insect repellent handy. Spraying your feet, socks, shoes, and the lower portion of your pants with insect repellent will help reduce chigger bites. Chiggers, mosquitoes and ticks can be present in the countryside.
WHAT TO BRING
Please kindly read the general list of what to bring on a birding tour, here.
The tour leader will usually have a spotting scope for the general use of all participants. However, we ask you to initially only have brief scope views of the birds in order to ensure everybody gets a good view, this is especially important for elusive species. Once the whole group has enjoyed scope views of the bird, you are of course welcome to enjoy a longer look. If you would like to enjoy longer scope views of species, you might consider bringing your own scope.
Please avoid nylon or plastic jackets and/or rainwear of similar materials. Noisy clothing is annoying to others and may frighten birds, especially when out owling.
All areas of the Argentine countryside that we visit are considered safe, and you will find that Argentineans living in the big cities are generally quite friendly, however, as with any big city anywhere, you should take precautions to safeguard personal belongings such as money, passports, and optical equipment. We recommend using money belts or security pouches worn inside your clothing. Please avoid walking at night in large cities like Buenos Aires without informing your tour leader, and do not walk around big cities displaying binoculars and big cameras. Pickpocketing can happen in Buenos Aires city, particularly in crowded areas such as the downtown. As always, your tour leader will know when it is safe to walk around at your leisure, please consult your tour leader if you are unsure.
In Argentina the voltage is 220 V, and they use plugs and sockets Type I. The plug and socket system is similar in appearance to Australian plugs. It has an earthing pin and two flat current-carrying pins forming an inverted V-shape.
A surge protector is strongly recommended. We also recommend bringing a universal adaptor to fit your electric devices into all kinds of sockets.
Argentine clocks run on GMT-3. Please note that during the austral summer December-March in southern Argentina (Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego) the daylight can dominate most of the day with only four hours of dark in a 24-hour cycle. The activities schedule will be arranged by Birding Ecotours and the ground crew in order to ensure we make use of the most suitable birding times, without interfering with the regular rest of the clients and the ground crew.
PASSPORT AND VISA
A passport valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure from Argentina is required. We recommend it having a few blank pages; some countries require a full page for the stamp in your passport. Bring a few Xerox copies/photocopies of your passport and details of your consular representation in Argentina as well.
Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the EU, and Latin America do not currently require a visa to enter Argentina but this may change so please check carefully. Citizens of any other country should check with their local Argentina consulate about any requirements that need to be met to get into Argentina such as potential admission reciprocal fees.
TOUR VEHICLES & SEAT ROTATION
For all our Argentina tours, we mostly use vans (Mercedes Sprinters) however, we do occasionally have to switch to 4×4 vehicles when negotiating rougher sections of road.
At Birding Ecotours, we employ a seat rotation policy on all our small-group set departure tours. We always want everybody to have equal opportunities throughout the tour and feel our seat rotation policy will help ensure this. Unfortunately motion sickness will not excuse you from our seat rotation policy and thus if you are prone to motion sickness you should ensure you consult a physician and bring the necessary medication. We also require that you are fit and flexible enough to maneuver yourself around and to the back of the vehicle. Tour participants should also be aware of what extra equipment they bring into the general seating area of the vehicle (rather than the luggage section) and should ensure they do not obstruct general thoroughfare or use up extra seats with camera equipment, tripods, etc. from a comfort and health and safety point of view.
SOCIAL ETIQUETTE WITH LOCALS
Argentineans are passionate people and can be very emotional and loud when they meet to socialize and relax which is part of their own cultural customs. We will be away from noisy situations while traveling and birding privately but on a few occasions, we will have to share with locals (restaurants, ferries or boats). In these situations, we ask for your tolerance in accepting local etiquette, which far from being annoying, can be contagious and add to the experience.
Please do not start a conversation or make strong points to a local about certain sensitive cultural issues. Although an innocent conversation from your side, it could be taken the wrong way if it involves topics such as politics, football, and especially the Falklands War. It is often best not to criticize some of their cultural icons such as Eva Peron or Diego Armando Maradona.
Argentineans drink yerba, mate a traditional South American caffeine-rich drink. It is made by soaking dried leaves of a certain holly species Ilex paraguariensis in hot water and is served with a metal straw in a container typically made from a calabash gourd. It is common in the Argentina countryside for a local to share a mate container and straw with a stranger and refusal could be considered as an offensive or unfriendly act, but with the current Covid situation, this custom might no longer be practiced.
Do not be surprised if you see men greeting with a kiss on the cheek, as it is a common custom in Argentina.