Argentinawithfriendstravel’s Weblog

July 7, 2014

#ArgentineGauchoVacations JESS Kalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Many legends exist about Argentina’s early gauchos, wanderers who lived off the land and slept in mud huts during the mid-18th century. Eventually, private land owners began hiring these nomads as skilled animal handlers, and eventually farmhands, on large estancias. Today, most gauchos reside at estancias in the prairie lands of La Pampa, but can be found throughout Argentina.

Argentina Gaucho Sunset

Many legends exist about Argentina’s early gauchos, wanderers who lived off the land and slept in mud huts during the mid-18th century. Eventually, private land owners began hiring these nomads as skilled animal handlers, and eventually farmhands, on large estancias. Today, most gauchos reside at estancias in the prairie lands of La Pampa, but can be found throughout Argentina.

Estancias welcome tourists on day trips and overnight stays to experience a day in the life of the modern gauchos. About a 90-minute drive from Buenos Aires, La Bamba de Areco is a luxurious colonial-style estancia, with origins that date back to 1830. Upon arrival, guests are welcomed at the Pulperia, the oldest historical building where gauchos used to gather to sing, dance, or dine.

Argentina Panchos

Today’s estancias are often luxurious. At La Bamba de Areco, guests enjoy serious pampering including hot stone massages, fresh-squeezed lemonade served by an outdoor pool, carriage rides, relaxing in the billiard room, and watching a polo tournament. A common sight and smell: traditional asada and fresh vegetables sizzling on an outdoor grill.

Argentina Gaucho campfire Singing

In addition to horseback riding throughout the grounds, visitors to La Bamba de Areco can watch games that showcase equestrian skills, and an unusual horse-whispering show that demonstrates the level of trust between the horse and gaucho. They can also visit the nearby town of San Antonio de Areco, known as the birthplace of gaucho heritage.

Argentina Estancia La-Bamba-de-Areco

About an hour’s drive from Buenos Aires, Estancia Los Dos Hermanos owns more than 60 horses, making it an easy short getaway and an ideal place for beginners to try horseback riding. A full day’s schedule with the gauchos includes two horseback riding lessons, leisure time, empanada appetizers, and an asada lunch.

Argentina Horse Whispering La-Bamba-gaucho

At estancias in other regions like El Colibrí Estancia de Charme – located outside of Cordoba – gauchos display their prowess. This elegant, family-friendly ranch also offers cooking demonstrations, riding lessons, hiking, and mountain biking. Kids (and adults) can help out on the farm with hands-on experiences like collecting eggs, milking cows, and picking vegetables.

Argentian Estancia Horse stables

Nestled in the Mendoza wine region, the lodge at Estancia El Puesto faces the Andes Mountains, so visitors are privy to humbling landscapes, stunning sunrises, and starlit skies. Guests can embark on guided mountain excursions in areas that condors, pumas and gray foxes call home. Afterward, they can enjoy local wines and share stories by the open fire

Argentina Estancia Rodeo

For even more adventure, visitors to Estancia El Puesto can join gauchos on a six-day, ‘bucket list’ trek across the Andes on horseback. The excursion team provides horses, mules, equipment, and experience on an epic journey that winds past glaciers, volcanoes, mountains, lagoons, and valleys before finishing in Chile.

Argentina Estancia Plains El-Puesto

The social status of gauchos underwent numerous transitions: from orphans and mestizos struggling to find their place, to foragers, rebels, and farm workers. Today they are often associated with bravery and independence. Although gauchos’ modern lifestyle has evolved, estancia visitors can still get a sense of what the gaucho spirit is all about.

Argentina Estancia Gauchos La-Bamba-de-Areco-2Argentine Bolas Boleadoras

The allure of cowboys and outlaws has fascinated people for centuries. Tales of adventures in the Wild West – of exploring the unknown on horseback and battling the elements – have made their way into history books and cinema. This nomadic, rebellious lifestyle was not limited to the cowboys in the United States. Other countries have their own version of cowboy cultures, and in Argentina,estancias have replaced ranches, and cowboys are called gauchos. (pronounced GOW-chose)

This independent cowboy spirit of yesteryear is still very much alive – in modern form. In Argentina, gauchos don their sombreros and ponchos at luxurious estancias. These working farms and estates provide lodging for tourists and a ‘traditional’ gaucho experience. Travelers can go horseback riding or watch folk dances, gaucho shows, and even horse-whispering demonstrations. In between activities, guests can lounge by a pool, have a massage, witness daily life on the ranch, and soak in the relaxed vibes of the Argentinian countryside.

Most estancias serve traditional fare on outdoor patios, including barbecue steak with chimichurri sauce, yerba mate tea, and fine wines – like Argentina’s famous Malbec. With many located less than two hours from Buenos Aires, a visit to an estancia offers a memorable day trip or longer stay. They provide an opportunity to peek into the past without sacrificing the creature comforts of a vacation.

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January 9, 2011

Discover Argentina JESS Kalinowsky Friends Travel LLP

Discover Argentina
malbec2aits

Discover Argentina 7 night programs from $917.00!

zuccardi rest4 Nights Buenos Aires 4 Star Hotel with daily breakfast.
Round trip airport transfers
Half Day City Tour
Gaucho Feast
Tango Dinner Show
Half Day Excursion “Tigre with lunch”

Mendoza
Round Trip Airport transfers
3 Nights Hotel with breakfast
Half day city tour
2 day wine experience package includes 1 vineyard lunch 2 dinners with wine accompaniment.

All services provided with bilingual guide

Additional 7 Night Itineraries:

Southern Parks & Glaciers $1099.00*
Northern Safari to the Clouds $989.00*
Western Lakes & Mountains $917.00*

* Prices based on Dbl Occupancy 4 Star Hotels

* Airfare Additional: Discounted First Class, Business Class and Coach

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Feel free to contact us with any questions or inquiries email

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December 23, 2010

Buenos Aires up close and personal JESS Kalinowsky Friends Travel LLP

Bike Tour: Unexpected Buenos Aires
Languages: english & spanish
This guided tour available in English and Spanish is one of the most interesting and entertaining ways to discover Buenos Aires, learning its history and making friends while you enjoy this city tour experience. This 4-hour tour passes through bike paths and avoids traffic and stressing situations whenever possible. We will pass through major districts like: El Puerto, La Boca, San Telmo, Plaza de Mayo and much more.
Evita Tour
Languages: english & spanish
Eva Perón, a woman that changed the history of Argentina. Following on her steps, this tour recalls Evita public and private history. CGT, Av. De Mayo, the balcony, Ministry of Employment, Ntra. Señora del Pilar, her grave and the National Library. We will also visit Evita Museum, a place to fell, discover and understand the history of one of the most important women in the country’s history.
Piazzolla Tango with Dinner
Language: spanish
A carefully restored Belle Époque theatre, a luxurious lounge, the best setting for the excellent show that will make your tour an unforgettable experience. A majestic performance in a unique atmosphere, warm and exclusive; live music, dancers, first-class singers and an exquisite cuisine will thrill us with their magic, the spirit and the memory of Buenos Aires, Piazzolla and the Tango. 

ARGENTINA@FriendsTravel.com 24/7/365

JESS Kalinowsky Professional Travel Consultant

December 21, 2010

Argentina Travel Guide JESS Kalinowsky Friends Travel LLP

Argentina Travel Guide

A pony\'s reflection in the water in Argentina 

A pony’s reflection in the water in Argentina © fainmen

Argentina is a country of immense beauty and proportions. Its geographic diversity spans the most breathtaking terrain from Antarctica, through the wild, glacier-filled mountains of Patagonia and massive open plains of La Pampas to the deserts and tropical jungles in the north.

The country can be enjoyed for its natural wonders alone, but no visit here could be called complete without stepping into its soul, its capital city. The elegant Buenos Aires is home to 40 percent of the population, and is a buzzing metropolis with a rich, passionate and tortured history that is integral to its character. It is Europe and South America contained in one geographical location, with elements of the unknown around each corner. It is familiar and strange at the same time, but at its very core, wonderfully welcoming.

Along the elegant avenues of the fashionable districts, sophisticated diners observe passers-by while they sip strong coffee or enjoy smooth cervezas. There is a constant smell of meat grilling from every corner and sidewalk that reveals the Argentine passion for ‘asado’. Neither glamour nor passion is in short supply in this cosmopolitan hub where Porteños are equally versed in football, politics and fashion.

There are disparities between the rich and poor, with many people living in near slum conditions in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Since 1992 the economy has teetered near collapse due to corruption and government mismanagement, prompting regular and sometimes violent demonstrations. However it is business-as-usual as far as tourism is concerned; in fact, the resultant devaluation of the peso has made the country much more affordable for travellers.

Argentina Travel Guide JESS Kalinowsky Friends Travel LLP
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December 18, 2010

Penguins, Dolphins, and Welsh History in Patagonia, Argentina

One of the most fascinating and enjoyable day trips from Puerto Madryn, Argentina is the journey south to visit the penguin reserve at Punta Tombo. With stops along the way for Dolphin watching and a traditional Welsh Tea in the historic town of Gaiman this is a full day of unequaled activities. The Flamenco Tour agency offers this day trip starting at about 9AM in the morning and returning to Puerto Madryn by about 6PM. With bilingual tour guides who are knowledgeable on the region and comfortable vehicles, this day trip is a must for those who enjoy nature and unique experiences.

The small peninsula of Punta Tombo is on the Argentinian Patagonian coastline. Thousands of tourists gather here to be amazed, entertained, and educated by one of the most fascinating shows performed by nature at the Magellan penguin colony. Approximately half a million penguins come every year in order to breed. The first of them arrive in September and stay until about mid-March, but the best time to observe them is after November, once the babies are born. One of the greatest features of this Nature Reservation is the fact that you can actually walk among the penguins, follow them and learn their habits, see how they feed their babies, the rites of pairing, the fights for the defense of their territories, how they build their nests, and the unending walks they take to and from the ocean. This is a truly singular experience with wonderful photo opportunities. Penguins and their individual style of waddling and behavioral patterns are always entertaining.

Punta Tombo is also a paradise for other sea birds that have chosen this site to nest. Kelp gulls and dolphin gulls, skuas, two species of cormorants—the king cormorant and the rock shag—steamerducks, snowy sheathbills, and several species of terns and giant petrels all make their nests in this region. Be sure to bring your binoculars to enjoy the bird watching.

At Puerto Rawson the boat tours head out to sea where the dolphin sightings are a major attraction.

Usually the Commerson’s dolphins—called Toninas locally—and also known as bottlenose dolphins, can be observed year-round. This is one of the few places in the world where these dolphins may be watched in their natural environment. Semi-rigid boats leave from Rawson’s harbor in the afternoon because in the mornings the dolphins remain feeding in the ocean depths. Theses dolphins are not at all shy and love to dart back and forth in front of the boats’ bows and leap into the air performing a great show for the passengers on board. On one boat trip it is almost guaranteed that you will be able to observe numerous of these fascinating sea creatures having fun in their natural environment.

For a change of pace the next stop is a visit to the town of Gaiman where the first settlers arrived in 1865 by boat from Wales. These immigrants were escaping from the English domination of their homeland as well as from the attempt of the latter to impose their culture upon them. They were looking for a virgin territory to be able to establish the “New Wales” where they could follow their own rules and customs without being attacked. Patagonia offered this safe haven. Today much of the Welsh culture is still apparent in the historic buildings, architectural style, and street names. Even the Welsh language is still spoken and taught in the schools, and real Welsh Tea Houses are open for all to enjoy a traditional Welsh Afternoon Tea. The Welsh village essence and small farms retain the charm and character created by these original settlers even in today’s modern society. This is a bona fide step back in time with historical overtones for an incomparable Patagonia experience.

From wildlife to local history this day trip from Puerto Madryn is a fascinating education of the local culture and yore. The gay and gay-friendly staff at Flamenco Tour agency will be happy to arrange this journey for your enjoyment and will also ensure that you learn from your time spent with nature and yesteryear.

Reservations: ARGENTINA@FriendsTravel.com

JESS Kalinowsky Professional Travel Consultant

Friends Travel LLP

December 14, 2010

Buenos Aires, Argentina JESS Kalinowsky Friends Travel LLP

“I flew to Buenos Aires for a cruise around legendary Cape Horn to Santiago, Chile. My schedule was to fly from the United States late one evening, arrive in Buenos Aires the next morning, do a quick city tour on the way to the ship, board and sail away. What a pity. I would breeze through one of the world’s greatest cities and see almost nothing.

But that was not the way my experience in Buenos Aires turned out. I changed my flight to arrive in the Argentine capital two days before the cruise, and I’m glad I did. I found Buenos Aires easy to get around, inexpensive and offering lots to see. Whether you tack on a couple of extra days before or after your cruise, you won’t regret making time to see one of the world’s most vibrant cities.

Two Nights/Three Days
Though Buenos Aires is a large city, you can take in the major attractions in two nights/three days. Be sure to check your ship’s schedule, as some overnight in Buenos Aires, so that you’ll require only one night in a hotel.

During my short stay, I dined extravagantly on world-renowned Argentine beef, took in a tango show, hopped on a city tour and walked the city streets. If you have more time, you can also get out to an estancia (ranch), but if you decide to spend all of your time in the city, you will likely have opportunities to visit estancias on shore excursions during your cruise.

The first day you’ll spend a good portion of the morning getting through passport control and customs — and checked in to your hotel. If you’re fortunate enough to get a good night’s sleep on the flight to Buenos Aires, you’ll arrive rested enough to begin sightseeing right away.

Getting From The Airport To Your Hotel
If your travel agent has not made transfer arrangements from the airport to the city center for you, head for the taxi dispatch stand inside the terminal, where you’ll pay around 53 pesos (about $18 — U.S. dollars are accepted) for the 22-mile trip to the city. There’s also a shuttle that will transfer you for about $9 as well as busses that run on the half hour. Argentina’s official tourism department operates kiosks at the airport, so ask for help — and a city map. ATM machines for changing money also are inside the airport terminal.

Where To Stay
Buenos Aires has more than 450 hotels, including big chains such as Four Seasons, Intercontinental, Sheraton, Hilton, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Marriott and more. On the recommendation of someone familiar with the city, I stayed at a local chain, the American Buenos Aires Park Hotel at 699 Reconquista for about $90 a night, including breakfast and the 21 obligatory percent room tax. The hotel was conveniently located, cool and clean.

As I walked through the city, I stopped in at hotels priced as low as $40 per night and as high as several hundred per night. The city’s most expensive hotel is the Alvear Palace Hotel, priced from $550 per night to $4,500 per night, and these rates do not include the room tax, but if you’re due for a splurge, this is the hotel for you.

I also peeked in at the Etoile Hotel, priced at $118 per night (breakfast and tax included) and located in the charming quarter known as La Recoleta, a neighborhood reminiscent of Paris with lively outdoor cafes, neoclassical mansions and world-class shopping.

Only a few steps away from the Etoile Hotel is the Recoleta Church and Cemetery, where Buenos Aires’ most illustrious departed lay at rest in ornate mausoleums. Among the most visited is the tomb of Evita Perón, much loved by Argentines for championing the causes of the working class.

Puerto Madero

I never spent more than 9 pesos (about $3) to get anywhere in the city. I rode in a taxi for 20 minutes and spent only 9 pesos getting from my hotel near the trendy Puerto Madero docks (where reclaimed and restored warehouses feature some of the city’s finest restaurants and shops) to colorful La Boca. One porteño — as the 3 million residents of this port city on the Rio de la Plata are known — told me he sold his car when he moved to Buenos Aires, because taxis were so inexpensive.

While I used taxis plenty, I also walked. I made strides along six blocks from my hotel to Plaza de Mayo, a square dominated by the Casa Rosada (Pink House) presidential palace. Nearby, I stepped into the cathedral where San Martín’s repatriated remains lie (Martín helped liberate Argentina from Spanish rule in 1812) and strolled down the grand Avenida de Mayo, opened in 1894 and designed after the avenues of Paris.

La Boca

I hopped a taxi to the neighborhood of San Telmo, where I sipped coffee at Plaza Dorrego Bar while watching young people hanging out and old men play dominoes on the small square. Sundays, the square becomes an outdoor antiques fair.

From La Boca, I took a taxi through the slums along the waterfront, past trendy Puerto Madero, along Avenida del Libertador and the Malvinas War Memorial (a symbol of Argentina’s claim to the Falkland islands and its loss of the islands to Britain during a 10-week war in 1982), which was tauntingly constructed opposite the Tower of the English. The tower offers a free elevator to the top for panoramic city views.

Delicioso Dining
I was told not to leave Argentina without trying carne asadas (grilled meats) at a local parrilla (steakhouse) and enjoying the sweets known as alfajores. I decided to eat my way through the city by sampling both.

Plaza Dorrego

Plaza Dorrego

For carne asadas, I stepped into Las Nazarenas, directly across from the Sheraton at 1132 Reconquista.

I started with grilled Chorizo sausage, followed by grilled provolone cheese topped with oregano and olive oil drizzled over. For my entree, I ordered Bife de Lomo, a small filet mignon and a glass of Malbec (the famed Argentine wine) to wash it down.

The next afternoon while walking through the city, I stopped at Havanna for an alfajor, the popular Argentine sweet. I’ve heard alfajores described as a Moon Pie with dulce de leche (caramel) instead of marshmallow. That’s a good description, although alfajores are typically smaller in circumference and thicker.

Two To Tango
That night I headed back to La Boca. My driver dropped me at La Bombonera, the stadium of one of the world’s toughest soccer clubs: Boca Juniors. I wasn’t here to catch a game, however. My destination was next door: La Boca Tango. Open for only six months when I arrived, the new complex features three venues that you move through during the evening.

First, there is an exhibit that presents what La Boca looked like during the early 1900s when Italian immigrants poured in to the city. I walked through recreated rooms where multiple families shared living quarters and one bathroom. Next, we sat down for dinner, similar to the one I had Las Nazarenas, then followed that by returning to the exhibits, where actors portrayed what life was like for the immigrants. The show was lively and illuminating.

Afterward, we went inside a belle époque replica of a Parisian theater for a 60-minute tango performance that was mesmerizing. Though it appeared a difficult dance, I talked to travelers who took tango lessons while in Buenos Aires.

Setting Sail
Fortunately, the cruise terminal is near the city center and most cruises depart late in the evening, so you needn’t be in a rush to depart Buenos Aires. You may want to return to the market at San Telmo if your cruise is departing on a Sunday. Otherwise, just enjoy your time in the city. You’ll have plenty of time on the ship during your cruise.

If your cruise ends in Buenos Aires your flight will likely depart for the United States late at night, giving you time to extract the final hours from a city that continues to surprise and delight all who make time for her. — Ralph Grizzle

ARGENTINA!@FriendsTravel.com  24/7/365

JESS Kalinowsky Professional Travel Consultant

June 27, 2008

El Colibrí: Cordoba’s Best with FriendsTravel.com

El Colibrí: Cordoba’s Best

Once in a great while, a special place is added to the landscape. El Colibrí is just such a place—an instant tradition. This new estancia has enlivened the rolling pampas of Cordoba, inviting a new generation of guests and receiving them with warmth and charm.

El Colibrí is the creation of Raoul and Stéphanie Fenestraz, whose family has a long heritage of operating fine French hotels. In order to make the posada look and feel like an Argentinean estancia at the beginning of the 20th century, they traveled around the country for over a year, searching for the best craftsmen, the finest materials and authentic antique furniture. Their estancia is designed like a home where every room is decorated differently and every detail is inspired by a story.

From 170 unspoiled hectares of farm land, the Fenestraz family created an authentic example of the Argentinean campo where the wild forest has been transformed into a natural park and the rest of the grounds are looked after like a private garden.

El Colibrí is a colonial-style mansion designed with modern comforts. With only nine rooms, each guest is assured a warm reception and personal service. Meals feature the best Argentinean meats and wines.

The main house features a bar, library, spa, and swimming pool. Nearby, you’ll find the ranch’s club house and polo fields. Guests can relax on the grounds or enjoy horseback riding, biking, golf, polo, fishing and dove hunting. A treetop adventure track and go-cart racing are available for younger guests.

The El Colibrí estancia is just a short flight from Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Santiago de Chile. PanAmerican Travel Services arranges stays at El Colibrí and other destinations within Argentina and Chile.

Some of our clients who visited El Colibrí recently provided the following reviews:

  • “The highlight of our vacation was certainly El Colibrí. This is a spectacular place. I highly recommend it as a destination for individuals as well as families. My kids said it was the best vacation they’ve had. The hosts are incredible!”
  • “The Estancia El Colibrí exceeded our very lofty expectations. It is, quite simply, the nicest place I’ve ever stayed. The rooms, food, staff, and facilities were first rate.”


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