A country of amazing natural wonders, varied wildlife, and cultural richness, Argentina offers a stunning experience for travelers. It is also a country that faces many environmental and social challenges, such as deforestation, climate change, and poverty. Ecotourism in Argentina, which is a responsible way of traveling to natural areas that protects the environment and benefits the local people, is gaining popularity among travelers who want to discover Argentina in a sustainable way.
In this blog post, we will explain what ecotourism is, benefits of ecotourism in Argentina, and what are some of the best ecotourism activities and destinations in this South American nation. Whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, or education, you will find something that suits your interests and values in this guide.
What is ecotourism in Argentina?
Ecotourism is a type of tourism that aims to reduce the negative effects of travel on the environment and the local people while increasing the positive ones. Argentina has ecotourism, which is a form of travel that respects the environment, supports the local people’s well-being, and teaches visitors about the natural and cultural heritage of the place they are visiting. Argentina has many ecotourism opportunities and destinations, such as national parks, protected areas, wildlife reserves, historic estancias, and rural communities.
Ecotourism in Argentina also involves supporting conservation efforts, respecting local cultures, and contributing to the local economy.
Background of Argentina’s Sustainable Tourism
Argentina has a long history of promoting sustainable tourism, especially in its natural areas. The country has created an extensive network of protected areas that cover about 8% of its territory. These include 35 national parks, 15 natural monuments, 4 national reserves, and 2 biosphere reserves.
Argentina has also developed several policies and programs to support sustainable tourism development. For example, the National Plan for Sustainable Tourism 2016-2020 aims to increase the competitiveness and quality of tourism products and services, while preserving cultural heritage of the country. The plan also seeks to foster social inclusion, regional integration, and innovation in the tourism sector.
Another example is the Argentine Ecotourism Network (RAE), which was created in 2006 by a group of public and private organizations involved in ecotourism. The RAE’s objective is to encourage ecotourism in Argentina as a way of protecting the environment, educating the public, and developing the local communities. The RAE organizes events, workshops, training courses, publications, and campaigns to raise awareness and improve the standards of ecotourism in Argentina.
Benefits of Ecotourism in Argentina
Ecotourism in Argentina can bring many benefits both environmentally and socially. Some of these benefits are:
- Ecotourism in Argentina can help protect biodiversity and ecosystems by creating incentives for conservation and restoration. For example, ecotourism can generate funds for managing protected areas, support research and monitoring activities, reduce poaching and illegal logging, and enhance environmental education.
- Ecotourism in Argentina can help fight poverty and empower local communities by creating employment opportunities and income sources. For example, ecotourism in Argentina can provide jobs for guides, drivers, cooks, artisans, farmers, and other service providers. Ecotourism in Argentina can also support local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, shops, and cooperatives.
- Ecotourism in Argentina can help promote cultural diversity and heritage by respecting and celebrating local traditions, values, and beliefs. For example, ecotourism in Argentina can encourage intercultural exchange, support indigenous rights, and preserve historical sites and artifacts.
- Ecotourism in Argentina can help raise awareness and inspire action for environmental and social issues by providing memorable and educational experiences for visitors and hosts. For example, By traveling in an ecotourism way, one can witness the beauty and vulnerability of nature, the difficulties and possibilities of development, and the problems and innovations of sustainability.
Tourism is important in Argentina because it contributes to the country’s economic and social development. Tourism generates income and employment opportunities for the local people, especially in rural and remote areas. Tourism also enhances the cultural exchange and mutual understanding between the visitors and the locals. Tourism also helps to preserve the natural resources and ecosystems that make Argentina unique and attractive.
Top Ecotourism Activities in Argentina
Argentina offers a wide range of ecotourism activities for all tastes and preferences. Whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, or education, you will find something to suit your interests. Here are some of the top ecotourism activities in Argentina:
- Hiking: Argentina has some of the most spectacular hiking trails in South America, crossing diverse terrains such as mountains, forests, deserts, wetlands, and glaciers. You can hike in national parks such as Tierra del Fuego, Los Alerces, El Palmar, or El Rey; or explore natural wonders such as Mount Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, or Aconcagua.
- Wildlife Watching: Argentina has more than 400 species of mammals, and 1,000 species of birds and many of them endemic or endangered. You can observe wildlife in their natural habitats in places such as Peninsula Valdes (where you can see whales, penguins, dolphins, sea lions, and elephant seals), Esteros del Ibera (where you can see caimans, capibaras, marsh deer), or Calilegua National Park (where you can see jaguars, tapirs, monkeys).
- Cycling: Argentina has many scenic routes for cycling enthusiasts, from easy to challenging levels. You can cycle along the wine roads of Mendoza, the coastal roads of Buenos Aires province, the mountain roads of Salta, or the lake roads of Bariloche.
- Glacier Trekking: Argentina boasts some of the most impressive glaciers in the world, such as Perito Moreno, Upsala, or Viedma. You can trek on these ice giants with specialized guides and equipment, and experience the thrill of walking on frozen water.
- Horse Riding: Argentina is famous for its gaucho (cowboy) culture and its horse riding traditions. You can experience this by staying at an estancia (ranch), where you can learn about rural life, enjoy an asado (barbecue), and ride a horse through the pampas (grasslands), the Andes mountains, or the Patagonian steppe.
Top Ecotourism Destinations in Argentina
Argentina has many ecotourism destinations to choose from, each with its own charm and attractions. Here are some of the top ecotourism destinations in Argentina:
- Iguazu Falls: One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world, the Iguazu Falls are a magnificent natural attraction. They span 2.7 km and have 275 cascades that vary in height from 60 to 80 m. They are situated on the border between Brazil and Argentina. You can admire the falls from different viewpoints, walk on catwalks over the water, or take a boat ride under the spray. The surrounding Iguazu National Park is a biodiversity hotspot, home to more than 400 bird species, and 2,000 plant species.
- El Chalten: El Chalten is a small town in the Santa Cruz province, known as the trekking capital of Argentina. It is the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, where you can hike to some of the most iconic peaks in Patagonia, such as Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. The park also contains the largest ice cap outside Antarctica, with glaciers such as Perito Moreno and Viedma. The town itself offers cozy accommodations, delicious cuisine, and a friendly atmosphere.
- Ushuaia: Ushuaia, the city that is located on the shores of the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego, holds the distinction of being the world’s southernmost city. It is a popular destination for adventure seekers, as it offers access to Antarctica, Cape Horn, and the South Atlantic islands. You can also explore the Tierra del Fuego National Park, where you can hike through forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains; or visit the End of the World Museum, where you can learn about the history and culture of the region.
- Salta: Salta is a colonial city in the northwest of Argentina, with a rich heritage and a lively atmosphere. It is surrounded by stunning natural scenery, such as the Calchaqui Valleys, where you can see colorful rock formations, ancient ruins, and traditional villages; or the Train to the Clouds, one of the highest railways in the world, that crosses bridges, tunnels, and viaducts at an altitude of more than 4,000 m. Salta is also known for its gastronomy and wine production, especially the Torrontes variety.
- Puerto Madryn: Puerto Madryn is a coastal city in the Chubut province, famous for its marine wildlife and ecotourism activities. It is the main base for visiting Peninsula Valdes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a sanctuary for whales, penguins, dolphins, sea lions, elephant seals, and orcas. Another option is to see Punta Tombo, where you can observe Magellanic penguins; or Punta Loma, where you can observe a sea lion reserve.
- Ibera Wetlands: This is a vast area of wetlands in the province of Corrientes, Argentina, where you can see a variety of wildlife, such as caimans, capybaras, deer, monkeys, and birds. You can also enjoy activities like kayaking, horseback riding, and hiking. The Ibera Wetlands rank second in the world in size after the Pantanal in Brazil and are one of the most vital freshwater reservoirs in South America. Valdes Peninsula: This is a peninsula in the province of Chubut, Argentina, that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its conservation of marine mammals. You can observe the southern right whales as they breed and give birth, and also see orcas, sea lions, elephant seals, penguins, and dolphins. The peninsula also has a diverse terrestrial ecosystem with guanacos, maras, rheas, and birds.
- Colonia Carlos Pellegrini: This is a rural village in the province of Corrientes, Argentina, located within the Ibera Wetlands and surrounded by the Ibera Lake. It is a place where you can experience the culture and traditions of the local people, as well as enjoy the nature and wildlife of the wetlands. You can also visit the Ibera Provincial Reserve, which protects more than 4,000 species of plants and animals.
- Isla Apipe: This is an island in the Paraná River in the province of Misiones, Argentina. It is part of an archipelago that forms enclaves of Argentina in waters belonging to Paraguay. The island has a rich history and culture, as well as a natural environment with forests, wetlands, and wildlife. You can also visit the Yacyreta-Apipa hydroelectric dam, which is one of the largest in South America.
- Comandante Andresito: This is a city and municipality in the province of Misiones, Argentina. It was founded as part of a plan to colonize the northeast of the province in the 1970s. It is named after Andresito Guazurari, a military leader and caudillo who fought for the independence of Argentina and Uruguay. The city is surrounded by natural attractions, such as the Iguazu National Park, where you can see the spectacular Iguazu Falls, and the Yacuy Provincial Park, where you can explore the subtropical forest.
- Concepcion: This is a city and commune in central Chile and the capital of the Bio Bio Region. It is one of the largest cities in Chile and has a significant cultural and educational influence. It is also close to many natural attractions, such as the Biobio River, where you can do rafting and fishing; the Nahuelbuta National Park, where you can see ancient araucaria trees; and the Laja Falls, where you can admire a scenic waterfall.
Argentina is a popular tourist destination because it offers a wide range of attractions and experiences for all kinds of travelers. Argentina has stunning natural beauty, diverse culture, rich history, delicious cuisine, and vibrant nightlife. You can enjoy the glaciers of Patagonia, the waterfalls of Iguazu, the vineyards of Mendoza, the salt flats of Jujuy, the tango of Buenos Aires, and much more.
Top Eco-Adventures in Argentina
Argentina is not only a place for ecotourism but also for eco-adventure. If you are looking for some adrenaline and excitement, you can try some of these eco-adventures in Argentina:
- Rafting: Argentina has many rivers that offer excellent conditions for rafting, from calm to wild rapids. You can raft on the Mendoza River, the Atuel River, the Manso River, or the Juramento River, among others. You will enjoy the thrill of navigating the water currents while admiring the surrounding landscapes.
- Paragliding: Argentina has many spots for paragliding, where you can soar over the mountains, the valleys, or the sea. You can paraglide in places such as Cordoba, Tucuman, San Juan, or Mar del Plata. You will experience the sensation of flying like a bird while enjoying the panoramic views.
- Skiing: Argentina has some of the best ski resorts in South America, where you can ski or snowboard on powdery snow, steep slopes, or off-piste trails. You can ski in places such as Bariloche, Las Lenas, Ushuaia, or Chapelco. You will have fun sliding down the snowy hills while appreciating the winter scenery.
- Ziplining: Argentina has many ziplining circuits that offer an alternative way to explore nature. You can zipline over forests, canyons, rivers, or waterfalls. You can zipline in places such as Potrerillos, Tafí del Valle, San Martin de los Andes, or Iguazu Falls. You will feel the rush of speed and height while discovering new perspectives.
Ecotourism in Argentina is a great way to discover and enjoy the country’s natural and cultural wonders while contributing to its conservation and development. Argentina has many ecotourism opportunities for all kinds of travelers, from hiking to wildlife watching, from cycling to glacier trekking, and from horse riding to ziplining. Argentina also has many ecotourism destinations that showcase its diversity and beauty, from Iguazu Falls to El Chalten, from Ushuaia to Salta, and from Puerto Madryn to Mendoza.
In addition, we have also introduced some other ecotourism destinations in Argentina that you might be interested in, such as Ibera Wetlands, Valdes Peninsula, Colonia Carlos Pellegrini, Isla Apipe, Comandante Andresito, and Concepcion.
We hope this blog post has inspired you to plan your next ecotourism trip to Argentina. Thank you for reading and happy travels!
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