Argentina is a beautiful country full of warm people, adventure, passion and unique customs where gauchos still ride the lands, the cows outnumber the people, the nightlife thrives, the wine flows free and where the tango was conceived. Things are done a little differently down there, and we want our guests to be prepared, so please take note of the tips & info below.
Greetings – Men to women and women to women usually greet with a cheek kiss. They “kiss” the air while touching the right cheek to cheek. Men shake hands, embrace and even “cheek kiss,” too.
Communication gestures - Much like Italians, with whom Argentines share heritage - Argentines are very expressive and utilize their hands a lot in conversation. They are also a passionate people and tend to use lots of inflection and vocal ranges when they speak to one another. A loud conversation doesn't necessarily mean an argument, nor does being short or sounding gruff mean someone is being rude. They are just direct and to the point. Argentines are also accustomed to speaking to one another in closer proximity than most Americans are used to. The "personal bubble" doesn't necessarily exist in Argentina, so don't be alarmed or offended if someone talks close to you; they mean well :-)
Late nights – The Argentine people operate on a late schedule. Dinner is typically eaten at 9:00 or 10:00 pm. Many restaurants do not even open until after 8:00 pm. We've taken strides during our tours' private dinners to ensure we eat a bit earlier, but there will be times that we embrace the Argentine way of life and take in a late dinner.
Siesta – Much of Argentina practices "siesta," especially Northwest Argentina where the majority of our tour will take place. It is common for businesses and shops to close from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm (sometimes... as late as 6:00 pm!) for the people to enjoy lunch, take a nap at home, go to the gym, or simply relax until they go back to work in the evening; typically from 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm (hence - the late dinners). Our tours are designed so that "siesta" does not interfere with our activities. However - on scheduled leisure days... feel free to practice siesta like a local!
Drinking Water – Water from the tap is not safe to drink everywhere, particularly in some of the remote areas we will be venturing through. We will have bottled water readily available wherever we go and onboard with us during private transfers. When dining out, you can choose your water with carbonation ("con gas") or without carbonation ("sin gas").
Stray Dogs – We will likely see many stray dogs during our journey, as they are very common in Argentina. They are pretty lazy, and the majority calm and won't bother you. There´s no need to fear them, but we don't recommend trying to pet them. Also - stray dogs may equal stray poop; so watch your step! :-)
Language – The Spanish of Argentina is known as "Castellano." In the big city of Buenos Aires they speak remarkably fast, and in the Northwest they speak at a slower pace (much like Northwest life). All Argentines speak with an inflection that is unique to the region. Double l’s and y’s are pronounced with a “shah” sound, versus Spain or Mexico which pronounce it with a "ya" sound. Nevertheless, many Argentinians speak English very well, and they are sure to understand you if you speak non-Castellano to them. Learning useful, everyday phrases such as “Hello” (Hola), “Please” (Por Favor), “Thank You” (Gracias), and “Do you speak English?” (¿Habla Inglés?) "How much does this cost? ("¿Cuanto cuesta?") will help you communicate and demonstrate to the Argentine people your appreciation for their culture and country.
Exchanging Money – The Argentine Peso exchange rate fluctuates frequently. We recommend looking up the latest rate online before your trip. American Dollars can be exchanged in Argentina at money exchange offices or at the airport. When you see prices in Argentina, it nearly always represents the value in pesos (ex: $40 printed on a restaurant menu = $40 pesos). If USD, U$ or U$D printed next to the item, then that price is in US Dollars. You're Tour Guides can help you with the exchange. Beware of false bills and always count your cash after a transaction to ensure you were not short-changed.
ATMs – Most ATMs will automatically give you cash in Argentine pesos, and you will be charged a service fee by your home bank. Many shops and restaurants receive major credit cards as well. We recommend withdrawing pesos to carry with you at all times, but only carry what you expect you´ll need. Leave larger bills in a safe place and always be conscious of your purses or backpacks, just like you would in any major city.
Gratuity – While your all-inclusive trip covers most tips and gratuities for group activities, your scheduled leisure days you may want to tip your waiter/waitress, server, tour guide, etc. A 10% gratuity is customary in Argentina.
Attire – We will be doing lots of walking, site-seeing and traveling on our adventure together! We recommend nice, comfortable attire. We will enjoy a few dressy dinners out, so be sure to pack a couple nice evening outfits (although by no means do these need to be fancy). Temperatures during the day are warm to hot, and the evenings and nights tend to be cool and breezy. We recommend bringing layers for warmth and a windbreaker in the case of rainy weather.
Footwear – Bring comfortable footwear that's appropriate for walking (sneakers, comfortable flats, etc.). Argentina is full of cobblestone, as well as uneven streets and sidewalks. We will be doing a lot of walking, and will trek through vineyards and site-see through a variety of terrains - from dusty deserts to rocky roads to rainforest vegetation. Also, the Northwest of Argentina can be sandy and dusty, even in the town squares, so be mindful your footwear will get dusty. Heels are generally not recommended (maybe just one pair for a dressy dinner out in Buenos Aires, but that's about it).
Lotion, Sunscreen & Chapstick – These three items will be your best friends! When we are in Northwest Argentina, we will be in desert landscape and high elevation much of the time and you will need to keep your hands, face and lips moisturized and protected from the sun, arid/dry climate and wind.
Glasses & Contact Lenses – The dusty air can irritate contact lens users, so be sure to pack your glasses for relief. Also, rewetting drops are advised to keep your contacts comfortably lubricated in this dry climate. And don't forget - pack those sunglasses! It's bright and sunny where we're headed, so sunglasses are a must!
Luggage - We recommend packing relatively light and leaving room for treasures and goodies you are sure to find and purchase on our travels in Argentina! Airlines often have weight restrictions that may differ from international and domestic flights. We will take a domestic flight within Argentina - be sure to check with our travel agency about weight and size restrictions (we'll introduce you once you book your tour).
Electronics – There will be tons of opportunities for beautiful photography, and we know you will want to capture it all! We recommend bringing portable charger banks to charge your cameras, phones and electronic devices. These will come in handy during our site-seeing destination excursions where dramatic landscape is abundant, and the drives will be several hours long (with breaks). Outlet adaptors and electrical adaptors are needed in Argentina (50V- 220V). You can order these online or purchase them when you arrive at a nearby ferretaria (hardware store).
Cell Phones – Unfortunately, not all US cell phones work in Argentina. You may carry your device down, purchase a SIM card and still NOT have communication. The roaming laws are tricky in Argentina. However, free WiFi is readily available almost everywhere (hotels, restaurants, cafés, etc.). If you want to communicate with family and friends back home we recommend using Whatsapp and/or Viber. Both are free applications that can be easily downloaded to your smartphone for texting, sending photos, or making phone calls while connected to WiFi.
Medication – While there are full-service pharmacies, the prescriptions may not be the same and in the more secluded areas of Cachi and Cafayate they may not be readily available. Don’t take the chance, and carry any prescribed or over-the-counter medications you use with you.
First-Aid Kit – We recommend always traveling with certain essentials, including a very basic First-Aid kit: band-aids, ibuprofen, allergy medicine, aspirin etc. Though nearly every winery and hotel is equipped with these items, you may be more comfortable having your own on hand.
Travel & Medical Insurance – Accidents happen. We highly recommend recommended Travel Insurance and Medical Travel Insurance to be purchased before your trip. You can purchase them through most major credit card companies, or through our travel agency partner. Hospitals will sometimes be remote, but are safe and clean. We will have designated physicians on call as well.
Wine Packing & Shipping
We know you'll enjoy shopping for wine that you'll want to bring home. We don't blame you! Your options to do so include packing it with your luggage or separately shipping it.
Packing Wine – Because carrying liquids onto the plane is prohibited, any wine you purchase will need to be packed into your checked luggage or suitcase (6 bottles maximum per passenger). Bubble-wrap bottle holders are available at many local wine shops or you can purchase those before the trip and bring them down with you. Another options - your Tour Guides, Mariano & Angelina, will show you how to properly wrap your bottles in newspaper and packing tape in a way that is secure and has served them well over the years when they travel back and forth :-)
Shipping Wine - If you do not have room in your luggage, purchased items can be sent home via DHL, & UPS. The shipping cost will most likely be high and is determined by size, weight and destination. We have a partner in Argentina that can help us arrange shipping for you.
To be honest though, shipping packages in/out of Argentina can be tricky and not guaranteed. We highly recommend packing your wine selections in your luggage to help ensure they make it home with you.
Violent crime is rare throughout Argentina, but petty theft and confidence scams are very common... especially if you look like an obvious tourist.
If someone offers to help carry, clean or otherwise handle your bag or backpack, do not accept their help (official hotel bellhops are the exception). A common scam is for one criminal to squirt lotion, mustard or some kind of substance onto your bag, while their partner offers help to clean it, and then runs away with your belongings.
Slitting handbags in crowded spaces is also relatively common, so keep your articles close to you and leave as many valuables as you can at your hotel and/or hotel safe-box. Keep a hand on your bag, purse or its strap at all times; especially in the larger cities or congested, crowded areas. Just like you would in any big city; you’ll notice the locals doing the same.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or wearing flashy, expensive jewelry as much as possible and keep a firm hand on your phone, selfie stick or cameras. Snatching phones and cameras while outstretched to take selfies or photographs is also common in the cities.
Lock all valuables in hotel safe-boxes in your hotel room. Do not leave valuables, electronics, or jewelry out in plain site - it's too tempting even at the highest, most reputable hotels.
Begging is also somewhat common in crowded, big city plazas (though not rampant). Despite the plea, age or visible circumstance, it is not recommended to bring out your wallet or cash. Beggars are often scammers working in pairs or teams... yes, unfortunately even children.
Common sense and good judgement are emphasized. If a street or alleyway looks shady, don't go down it. If a stranger doesn't seem quite right, don't trust them and don't communicate with them. While we will be traveling together most of the time, there will be leisure days and evenings to explore on your own; so always travel in well-lit areas, frequent reputable or official establishments, and always be aware of your surroundings.