Country Guide: Uzbekistan

5009202450 fea3e3772b Country Guide: UzbekistanTravel in Uzbekistan is surprisingly easy and relatively comfortable. The country has lots to offer but getting in can be a bit difficult at first. This guide is intended to help you understand the country and plan your own trip.

VISA: This is easily the worst part of travel to Uzbekistan. US Citizens can obtain their visa from the US Embassy but it will take a couple of weeks. Obtaining the visa outside of your home country is possible but you will need a Letter of Invitation (LoI)from an Uzbek Travel Agency; we used Stantours. Rules are similar for most western nationalities but these things change regularly. We picked up our visa, once our LoI from Stantours was ready, in Istanbul and only waited a few hours.

LANGUAGE: Several languages are spoken across the country, most are either Russian or Turkic dialects. If you are a native Turkish speaker you will be OK but Russian is Russian probably your best bet. Armed with only English and Spanish, we made it through the country with a combination of charades and pictionary.

MONEY: Don’t use the banks. There are no ATMs. When we were in Uzbekistan, the bank-rate was 1,600 so’m to one U$D but the market rate was 2,200 so’m to one U$D. By using the black market we were able to increase our spending power by a full third. This was simple and not a problem, most places we slept were happy to change our money (at 2,100 so’m) for us. Do be sure to come in with sufficient currency though, dollars are always best but euros are OK too. The only other places we’ve experienced this were Sudan and Malawi, in both instances the market rates were about 20% higher than the bank rate.

5009159424 35f4d534ab Country Guide: UzbekistanTRANSPORTATION: Easy and simple. As you travel from city to city you will generally have a choice of a shared taxi or a bus. The bus will usually take about 40% longer (and therefore much safer) but will often cost half as much as the taxi as the 4-seat shared taxi. Occasionally you will also have the choice of a martshruka (mini-bus) which falls somewhere between the first two options in both speed and cost. Before going to the taxi stand/bus-stop just ask at your hotel about the prices for each. Taxis leave when they are full, catching a bus is often a matter of luck. There are trains, but not as many.

OVIR REGISTRATION: When you stay in a hotel, they will need to register your passport for you. This is simple, but you must keep the itsy-bitsy-tiny-weenie piece of paper they give you as proof of your registration. Technically you only need show proof of lodging/registration every third night of your stay in Uzbekistan but for our money we’d rather have proof for all of our nights. If you mess up you risk fines/bribes and being deported but as you’d only be found out as you’re leaving the country anyhow….chances are you’ll just be faced with fines…err…..bribes. Our final night was spent couchsurfing in Tashkent and this worried us and sent us to the border early, in the end we were just fine. We were told that you are more likely to have problems at the airport rather than at land borders.

SITES: You will visit Bukhara and Samarkand. If you don’t, you probably should not have bothered going to Uzbekistan. In each place you will be asked to pay for each site individually, usually $1-$3…$4 at the most. You will also need to pay extra to use a camera. Most sites do not offer ISIC student discounts…but will do so if you balk at the price and are willing to take the discount in exchange for not receiving a ticket icon wink Country Guide: Uzbekistan

SAMARKAND: The Samarkand sites more spread out throughout the city than in Bukhara or Khiva. The Registan is the main site and might be the entire reason you came to Uzbekistan. There are other several sites in the vicinity (Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Guri Amir Mausoleum, etc) but we found the Ulugbek Observatory and Shah-I-Zinda to be a bit more interesting in comparison to the other larger sites. We also recommend a day trip to Shakhrisabz if you are tiring of the tourist circuit. The sites are less maintained and more integrated with modern city life. Easy links from Samarkand to both Tashkent and Bukhara via the taxi/bus stand at the Ulugbek Observatory.

BUKHARA: In Bukhara the sites are all located together and are filled with all kinds of souvenir shops. If you are planning to purchase anything in Uzbekistan this is probably the place to do it. Bus is 8 hours to Urgench/Khiva and 5 to Samarkand en route to Tashkent, taxi is shorter for both trips. A guide for the Ark is cheap and worth it, most other sites are fine on your own.

KHIVA: To get here your will need to travel via Urgench, the nearby transportation hub city. All sites you will want to see, and hotels you’re likely to stay in, are inside the old city. If you are without a guidebook, the tourist office in the center of the city will help you and should be able to provide you with maps and transportation information. The bazaar is just outside the walls and worth a stroll for any small supplies or to change money. No matter what, make sure you walk through the old city at night with the stars out…the dark starry sky with the bright minarets is absolutely stunning.

NUKUS & ARAL SEA: There is a tourist hotel right next to the art museum you likely came to Nukus to see. Be forewarned, the museum is closed for holidays (as happened to us) and Sundays and Mondays. Trips to the Aral Sea can be arranged from Nukus but you are basically paying a lot of money to drive a very long distance to see several rusty ships on shore (used to be in the water) and the new shoreline. We passed the sea on the train from Kazakhstan and it looked like nothing more than a lake without sufficient water. This is the site of the one of the world’s worst ecological disasters, but that doesn’t mean there is much to see and/or do. A shared taxi to/from Kungrad should cost around 10000-12000 so’m ($6) and onward to Urgench/Khiva should be about the same price.

Malaria: Our Decision

If you think something small can’t make a difference in life, think of a mosquito. One sleepless night, ruined picnic or one sore arm, a single mosquito can be the cause of so many of life’s displeasure’s. Unfortunately for travelers and many in the developing world, it is a little more serious. Mosquitoes carry two serious vector borne diseases: dengue and malaria. While there’s no vaccine or cure for dengue, there are chemical prophylaxis to help prevent malaria.

We’ve gotten a lot of questions over the last 16 months about malaria medications and we’ve asked plenty ourselves. Here’s how we came to our decision.

To drug or not to drug, that is the question.

The ever growing global discussion on vaccines, use of pharmaceuticals and immunizations is alive and well in the places%20affected%20by%20malaria Malaria: Our Decisionworld of travel. We met several long-term backpackers in South America who took no prophylaxis against malaria. On the other hand, we didn’t meet a single traveler in Africa not using a chemical prophylaxis. To put that in perspective consider this: approximately 90% of deaths due to malaria occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.

We began researching our options and speaking with our doctors regarding the different drugs. We wanted to take a chemical prophylaxis for a few reasons: 1) we didn’t want to get malaria, 2) we believe that the potential side effects of the drugs are less damaging than the disease itself and 3) we did not want to contribute to the spread of malaria across regions. Spreading Malaria is no joke, if we were to be infected with a particular strand in one region we risk spreading that strand to another region when we travel there. In some countries malaria accounts for over half of hospital admissions and public health spending. We try to be responsible in our travels and for us we didn’t want to take the chance that we could carry a new strand to a previously unaffected region.

We based our decision on where we would be, the potential side-effects and the convenience of the drugs. We knew we didn’t want to carry a daily drug with us, the storage space aside, its never good to show up at a land border carting around boxes of pills. Also, we wanted to take a drug that’s effective in nearly every region on our itinerary. I wish I could say my regular doctor was helpful in leading the discussion about the options, malaria cure Malaria: Our Decisionbut she unfortunately was not. Although Danny’s doctor was more willing to educate himself on the possible side-effects and have an informative discussion with him, I think the situation I faced is probably more normal. If your regular doctors is unfamiliar speak with someone at a travel clinic who can guide you through the options.

Besides taking a chemical prophylaxis, we also bought an insecticide treated mosquito net Malaria: Our Decision. Although most places we slept in had mosquito nets, it was good to have our own for the few places that didn’t.

The Options

There are several chemical prophylaxis options on the market. You should discuss with your doctor which one is best considering your time frame, travel locations, risk of transmission and medical history. No matter your choice you should always take precautions against mosquito bites, especially dusk to dawn when transmission occurs.

Chloroquine
COST: inexpensive
FREQUENCY: weekly
AREAS: Central America
OUR EXPERIENCE: 5 months in Central America, no problems.
 
 
 
Doxycycline
COST: inexpensive
FREQUENCY: daily
AREAS: South America, Asia and Africa
OUR EXPERIENCE: None. Doxycycline was impractical for us, it upsets Danny’s stomach and we didn’t want to carry 365 or more doxycycline pills each. We’ve met several travelers taking this and the most commonly side effect seems to be sun-sensitivity. An added benefit of Doxycycline is that because it is an antibiotic, it also helps when you come across a questionable meal or two. If we had trouble with Lariam this would have probably been our backup.
 
 
Lariam (Generic: Mefloquine)
COST: expensive
FREQUENCY: weekly
AREAS: South America, Asia and Africa
OUR EXPERIENCE: Lariam is probably the most controversial anti-malarial on the market. We took Lariam for several consecutive months in South America, Africa and Asia and have experienced no negative side effects. For us this was the most practical choice: weekly, effective and not as outrageously expensive as Malarone.
 
 
Malarone
COST: very expensive
FREQUENCY: Daily
AREAS: South America, Asia and Africa
OUR EXPERIENCE: None. We’ve met other short-term travelers taking it. Most frequent complaint we hear is the cost. For us this drug was impractical because of cost and frequency; too many pills to carry and too expensive at that.
 

Immunity?

Several promising vaccines are under development around the world, however none has yet been proven to develop immunity to the disease. You cannot build up immunity to malaria by drinking the local water. Seriously. People with sickle-cell disease or carriers of the trait have a substantial protection against malaria. Because the disease causes a deformation of the red blood cell, the malaria causing parasite attached to the red blood cell is destroyed before it has a chance to reproduce.

Country Guide: Egypt

Egypt may be a touristy place but it is also extremely backpacker friendly with a rather large selection of budget accommodation options in all major tourist spots as well as 50% student discounts at most attractions with a student ID, including an ISIC card Country Guide: Egypt.

4630519280 73f2d808ac Country Guide: EgyptTransportation: Getting up and down the Nile is best done by overnight train. Egyptian security conditions, or at least the Egyptian Government’s opinion of those conditions, is always changing meaning that other options may or may not be available. For planning purposes best to expect to use one of the more expensive trains to travel between Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. Sinai is connected to Cairo by daily bus service.

Aswan: Aswan does not hold the same ‘must see’ status that Luxor does. If you have extra time by all means it is worth including as it does hold some fantastic sites but if you’re a bit short then you won’t miss out too much. The Temple of Isis is truly magnificent, if not completely rebuilt in the modern era, and the region is covered with various Nubian artifacts and restored temples from when Nubia was downed under the rising waters of Lake Nasser. A trip to Abu Simbel could be a way to top off any trip to Aswan, and might even be your entire reason for going, but choose wisely as most trips depart Aswan at 3am, leaving you a bit tired for your big tour. Get to Aswan from Cairo via either overnight train or a short flight. Transportation options to Luxor will likely include either bus or train; at the time of writing, caravans are no longer used by the police along this route.4660265453 9e2cdfd89a Country Guide: Egypt

If visiting Aswan from Luxor you will also have the option to book a Nile cruise to take you to and from Aswan. These typically are all inclusive and run anywhere from $50 to $500 per person per night, quality naturally varies immensely.

Luxor: The ancient city of Thebes in all its glory. This city just bleeds Egyptian history from the impressive Luxor Temple right downtown to the incredible Karnak temple that even played a role in a James Bond flick. Just outside of town are the valleys of the Kings and Queens (home to some rather impressive tombs and more tourists Disney) as well as more temples than you can shake a stick at. The options abound and you could feel quite satisfied after only a couple of days, but even if you spent a full week you probably couldn’t see everything. Lodging options abound, as to tour packages so be careful when booking.

4627857908 921ef7b6d2 Country Guide: EgyptCairo: A big and bustling city but you probably came here for more than just the shwarma… you came here for the Pyramids and the Egypt Museum. Unless you are the first in line at the pyramids there isn’t much reason to getting up early as they will be packed from 8am on till closing. We have been told the extra money one must pay to enter the pyramid’s is not worth it so if you are considering this, do think twice. The Egypt Museum is rather impressive to look through but if you’re the type who likes organization and the ability to learn something you will either need to hire a guide or be prepared to be disappointed.

Sinai: Dahab and Sharm el Shek are the two main attractions on the coast. Both offering all you could ever want in the form of beach and underwater excitement with some of the best diving available on the planet. The difference between the two is that Sharm is where the nice hotels are and Dahab is where the backpackers go. Tours to Mt Sinai can be booked from either location but for our money it is better to base yourself in St. Catherine’s and climb Mt. Sinai by day rather than to take the package trip and climb by night…cheaper as well. There is also a ferry service across the Red Sea but we were told that the bus through the canal zone is actually faster, more reliable, and cheaper.

Onward Travel:

Israel: The only land border open to US citizen and most others without prearranged visas, this is straight forward but can be nerve wracking if you have any other Arab visas in your passport.

Jordan: The ferry to Acaba is straight forward if not always running late. Be prepared to spend the day dealing with this two hour crossing. If you want to get to Petra the same day you should prepare to put a group together while on the ferry to share a private tax.

Sudan: The Aswan ferry to Sudan runs a bit more according to schedule but it is long and uncomfortable. Choose a spot on the port deck (Northbound) if planning to sleep outside so that the morning sun doesn’t hit you dead on.

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Report Card: Budget for Africa

Africa was shockingly expensive. We expected that the touristy activities would be expensive but we underestimated the degree to this expense. True, eating in Africa can be cheap, lodging too, but that’s about where the cheapness ends.  We definitely could have spent less here, but we wanted to do the “big” Africa things: safari, Kilimanjaro, mountain gorillas.

4103397364 ec405d2617 m Report Card: Budget for AfricaA reminder of how all this works. Every dollar amount represents how much the two of us, combined, spent on the average day in a given country. Airfare to and from the continent (very expensive to get to Africa) is included in transportation in the totals line and aren’t applied to any specific country. As always, visa fees are included in miscellaneous. For more information visit our spending page.

A couple of generalizations about Africa before we go into detail about each country. Most people in Africa do not travel long distances, that means transportation exists only for people of means and people with money. In most cases the buses we paid for in Africa cost more money than their counterparts in Latin America but were less comfortable, more crowded, and more commonly broken down. The roads were awful meaning more trips to go shorter distances and very few routes had service available at night. Then the expensive fees (Park entrances mostly; to see wild game and hike Kilimanjaro for example) are extremely high….These fees basically annihilated any sense of “budget” we had for Tanzania and Uganda. Visas also add up, we spent $645 each in visas.

4338602904 0ed23d5d21 m Report Card: Budget for AfricaSouth Africa: We rented a car and took that through the entire country, Swaziland, Lesotho, and even Namibia. Having a car did increase our transportation costs but seeing as we traveled 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) I still think the expensive car worked out to be far cheaper than public transportation would have worked out to be. Additionally the backpacker friendly Bazz-Bus would have been even more expensive and greatly restricted where we could go. Having a car also allowed us to carry a tent and our own food, drastically reducing our lodging and food costs. Even still this was not a cheap country and prices felt very similar to prices back in the US. Internet was also expensive but the presence of a domestic middle class who enjoys their own national parks just as much as the foreigners means that those parks, and all our activities are that much cheaper.

4225184442 13810498c8 m Report Card: Budget for AfricaMozambique: We went here for one reason….to hide from the hoards of X-mas while soaking up rays of sunshine on a nice beach. We went there, stayed put, and even managed to hitch a ride back with some South African’s we met while there. Scuba diving did us in on the overall budget but most everything else was pricey on account of our location on a tourist beach. The expensive visas to enter didn’t help the budget either.

4370953403 3b8c2f32d5 m Report Card: Budget for AfricaNamibia: Namibia was expensive because we spent the better part of every day in the car, driving and burning gasoline, and then sleeping in National Parks. On one park, Etosha, camping with our own tent cost about $55….quite absurd by our standards. This was an extremely expensive country to travel in with huge fees at the attraction you’ve already driven hundreds of miles to see. Even still, having our own car saved money and our little 2 wheel drive car handled the dirt and shale roads without a problem.

4496147231 81b2092879 m Report Card: Budget for AfricaZimbabwe: We managed to Couchsurf here in two of the four places we visited, joining our host and friends for a trip to Great Zimbabwe and traveling to Victoria Falls on our own. Traveling and staying with CSers helped our budget out immensely, especially with lodging. http://ishouldlogoff.com/wp-admin/plugin-install.phpTransportation was still high where it was on our own, quite high actually, but it was quick and efficient when the police weren’t looking for bribes. Fees at Victoria Falls were significant but not awful. Our largest expense here was the purchase and shipment of beautiful soapstone artwork that was pulverized before reaching the US. icon sad Report Card: Budget for Africa

4449809042 9d91ece6fd m Report Card: Budget for AfricaMalawi: Super cheap country and the only expensive thing here was the Scuba we did in the crystal clear waters of Lake Malawi.  We had a great time here and really enjoyed the chance to relax a bit. The reason miscellaneous is high is that we had to cross through Mozambique to get to Malawi from Zimbabwe and needed to purchase new visas; we applied those fees to Malawi rather than Mozambique.

4477941257 ef600b7992 m Report Card: Budget for AfricaTanzania: Everything here is low except for activities. While on Safari and while climbing Kilimanjaro 100% of our food, lodging and transportation were covered in the overall fee for these activities. The true cost driver of these things were the park entrances (about $700 each just to climb the mountain in fees) so they throw our averages off a good bit. If we ignore the $100 visa fees and these activities we are closer to $90 per day, still high but in line with the rest of Africa.

4492782044 e125dc109a m Report Card: Budget for AfricaUganda:  Seeing the Mountain Gorillas is an expensive activity, period. (At least the gorilla pictures and videos are cool)You have to pay $500 per person just to see them and then because you have to book that permit with an agency you need to either pay their fees on top of that or buy their transportation package…due to a series of events we ultimately had to do both of those things. The rest of the country is super cheap though, one of the cheapest places we’ve been to and still a pleasure to travel in. Bummer that the waters of the White Nile are due to be dammed and there won’t be any more Ugandan whitewater in the future.

4498687471 743ed41d1a m Report Card: Budget for AfricaKenya: Things could have been cheaper here but trying to keep to a schedule, treating ourselves nicely on the island of Lamu, and taking advantage of the presence of my cousin who could fly home from Nairobi with gobs of souvenirs led to us spending far more than necessary. There really isn’t anything wrong with any of that though… At least the corruption makes for a nice travel story.

4580934965 855ec46389 m Report Card: Budget for AfricaEthiopia: This is a very poor and a very cheap country. There is a reason it features prominently in hunger porn commercials and South Park jokes. We treated ourselves nicely while staying in Addis Ababa and even still this was our cheapest country of the entire trip thus far. Traveling in the backseat of an overland car rather than paying for buses probably contributed a bit to low transportation costs but not as much as moving slowly and relaxing a bit while waiting for visas to be processed.

4614781898 e714675014 m Report Card: Budget for AfricaSudan: This is a cheap country, cheaper to travel here than in Ethiopia. We spent ten days and spent $88/day, that means $880 for the whole ten days. Five-hundred of that was paid to the government for visa fees and foreign alien registration. That means it really cost us about $38/day for two people. Everything was very cheap and Sudan had the cheapest gasoline we’d seen anywhere until we entered Egypt. A very filling meal could be had for two for less than one dollar but that didn’t stop us for cooking for ourselves when we were bush-camping in the desert.  Traveling with over-landers allowed us to do this and this country would have been a good deal more difficult without our friends in Kaspuur, the landy from London.

4623044327 28e05d8e5e m Report Card: Budget for AfricaEgypt: We expected mass tourism and we absolutely found it here but were quite surprised at how budget friendly Egypt was. The sites were not outrageously priced to begin with but then we were given a 50% discount on pretty much everything thanks to our ISIC cards Report Card: Budget for Africa. Comfortable lodging was cheap, private, and generally included breakfast. Had we taken the train from Luxor to Cairo this would have been more expensive than driving but it would have saved two days of travel, one night of lodging, and a very annoying police escort.  There is a lot to do in Egypt and truly something for everyone and ever budget. Seeing the pyramids and then climbing Mt. Sinai were absolute highlights. We passed on the beaches and diving of Dahab because we really didn’t feel like beach time.

Jordan: This isn’t really Africa but we’ve grouped it in here as part of the ‘Levant.’ It was an expensive place and we made it worse by paying for expensive transport to save a couple of days getting between the border and Petra. Additionally, the boat to Jordan from Egypt was not a cheap excursion. This was our 29th country and the first where a unit of currency was worth more than one US dollar.

Israel: Just like Jordan, this is a super expensive place and really is not backpacker friendly. We spent 100% of our time visiting with friends and staying with them as well so our price figures really aren’t worthwhile to anyone traveling there independently. If you do plan to travel here with a backpack be prepared to pay prices that would be considered average to high in Western Europe or the USA.

Country Guide: Argentina

4003785132 630a7441e7 m Country Guide: ArgentinaArgentina is a huge country with a plethora of things to do. Buenos Aires itself offers everything you might expect from a large, European city and serves as a wonderful gateway to the rest of the country. Iguazu Falls and the surrounding rainforests in the north, desert canyons in the northwest, wine in the center and the glaciers of the south ensure that there is something for all tastes. The fact that the Andes run the entire length of the country just adds to the splendor.

ESSENTIALS:

Budget: Argentina represents an incredible compromise between modern comforts and 3rd world pricing. One traveler described it as a 1st world country with 3rd world prices and although I don’t think that’s quite the case, some wealthy travelers may feel that way. Other places in South America (everything but Brazil and Chile) are much cheaper than Argentina but lack its charm and comfort. Truthfully I think there is something here for every budget, from $9/night dorm beds to $900 luxury hotels. ATMs are plentiful and changing money should never be a problem. As always, local restaurants are always cheaper than ones geared up for tourism.

Transportation: If you are spending a long time in Argentina you might find that renting a car can be an economical decision. For the two of us we couldn’t make the arithmetic pan out for the month or so we spent there but for a larger group, renting, or more time, buying used, will probably work in your favor.

That being said the bus system here is superb with plenty of comfortable options. Regular coach buses don’t exist, the worst you’ll be likely to find is semi-cama service which is like a standard coach but with more leg room and comfortable leg/foot rests. Cama is similar but with larger seat, only three to a row and then there is the executive/deluxe service which is comparable flying first class on an international airline. All classes generally include food and there is a 50% chance of the Hollywood movie being shown in English rather than Spanish. When covering large distances traveling by night may be your only option…so relax and enjoy the experience.

Planning: The seasons should play into your plan. If you are visiting in the winter months (May-Aug) then Patagonia and the far south are probably out of the question. A loop of the country can be done quite simply but be sure to allot plenty of time.

Buenos Aires: There is a lot to do here if your interested. Weekend markets abound and all are very close to one of the two main ice cream parlors. Museums, tango, nice meals, and historical hot spots are literally all over the place. If you’re in for the tourist thing, be sure to check out Florida Street, otherwise just spend some time mozying around and see what you find. Note that if flying into Buenos Aires there are two airports, one for international flights and one for domestic flights.

4033613489 7627e8fca2 m Country Guide: ArgentinaIgauzu Falls: Truly magnificent. Especially magnificent when the water is high and you can’t see everything. If the water is low, you can walk out across the water, which itself is a cool experience. If you don’t feel like walking into Brazil for the opposite view, don’t worry, everyone we met agreed that Argentina had the better view. Getting there might be a good reason to use an airplane but if going by bus Resitencia and the Chaco National Park can make a nice stopping point if coming or going to Salta in the northwest or even Buenos Aires and Cordoba.

4035823670 5d8ef0aedb m Country Guide: ArgentinaNorth West: This land is beautiful. Go for a hike in the canyonlands of Juijui, go for a bike tour of the wine-lands of Cafayate, eat empenadas in Salta, or hit the river for some whitewater. Whatever you choose Salta is likely going to be your starting point for exploration in the area. Bus transportation to some of these smaller destinations can be difficult so if your short on time consider booking a Salta based tour or renting a car locally for a few days. This makes an excellent region for multi-day cycling but be sure to bring lots of sunscreen and water.

Cordoba: The best example of a Spanish colonial town, full of charm and history, in all of Argentina. Also the home of Che Guevarra. We decided to skip as we’d had our fill of colonial architecture already but if you’re looking for more this is the best place to go.

4035953609 27acf7d97f m Country Guide: ArgentinaMendoza: This wine producing region is a must see for many people, but I beg to differ. You can have a lot of fun riding around on a bicycle here sampling the wine but you might be surprised to note that a taste will often cost you 3 times what you’d pay for the bottle in the store not to mention the wines along the bike route aren’t exactly known for their excellence. That being said, you can have a lot of fun doing this if you’re with the right group of people and have the right attitude. There is also some class II-III whitewater in the area, but be sure to inquire about the river levels as they were a bit low when we were there.

San Juan: This is the jumping off point for tours to see Ischigualasto which features several interesting rock formations. This might be a must see if you’re a student of geology but if you aren’t you may find that the effort and money spent getting to the park may make the trip not worth it. You will be able to book tours from both San Juan and the park’s gateway towns but San Juan will charge you more in the end.

4083479905 bc4cc0a8a3 m Country Guide: ArgentinaThe Lake District: Bariloche is your main option here, filled with chocolate and coffee shops be prepared to enjoy this little taste of European dessert alongside the more traditional alfajore. The town is great place to practice kite-surfing or windsurfing on the lake, go for a day or multi-day hike, hit the trails with a nice mountain bike, or just take in the scenery. This is a paradise for the outdoor enthusiast and in the winter it is even a ski town. Prices here can run a bit high but deals can be had if you shop around a bit. San Martin is probably your other option and is generally considered to be an upmarket, and less crowded alternative.

4123283115 ab555fb89f m Country Guide: Argentina

Patagonia: There is a reason a clothing company calls themselves Patagonia…this is a foreboding, windswept, uninviting place. The trip south from Bariloche to the southern end of the continent is a long one and there are two ways to do it: go back toward the coast and down along the main road (boring) or with a tour along Ruta 40 through the Andes. If you take the Ruta 40 option you will cross into Chile in a few places and you will see beautiful scenery but don’t be fooled, most of your time will be spent in the car. These trips do not begin until mid-November and usually run until around March.

4083479905 bc4cc0a8a3 m Country Guide: ArgentinaEl Calafate: The reason to go here is to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier and possibly El Chaten as well. El Calafate is a tourist town and only is open in the summertime. Once in town it is simple to arrange for a tour to the glacier but if you are with a group of 4 or more people you can save a few dollars on entrance by taking a taxi or a car rental into the park before the gate is open. The glacier itself is rather impressive and if this is your only sighting of one you will probably enjoy the boat ride to get closer as well. Adventure treks on the glacier are available as well but can be costly. Be advised that one trekker said it felt as though they were just walking on snow. You can also fly between Calafate and Bariloche with several airlines for about double the price of two days spent in the bus going via the coast and Rio Gallegos. It is very simple affair to hop on a bus here in Calafate for the ride to the Chillean Tierra del Fuego

Ushuaia: If you’re looking to go to Ushuaia its likely for one of two reasons: bragging rights or a cruise to Antarctica. Either way you won’t find much there besides a place to have your passport stamped with the words fin del mundo but save your money on Penguin viewing for Punta Tombo near Peninsula Valdez.

4126217781 7953ac2c34 m Country Guide: ArgentinaPeninsula Valdez: This is the oceanographer’s dream. Guaranteed sightings of the Southern Right Whale, beautiful scenery filled with elephant seals and sea lions, and the chance to see an Orca Whale swim up on the beach as part of a wave and snatch one up for the kill. Take a day to head down to Punta Tombo for more penguins walking around you than you would have ever thought possible.