Culture & Tradition
Argentina is an ostensibly Catholic country but, particularly in the rural areas, Christianity is mixed with pre-hispanic beliefs in the Mother Earth, Pachamama
. When you visit Argentina, you will also come across roadside shrines to more contemporary folk saints like Gauchito Gil
and the Difunta Correa
. In the North West, the coca leaf is also bound up with ancient traditions: it's still chewed daily by the locals and is ideal for combating altitude sickness.
Though carnival season is January and February, wherever you travel, and at whatever time of year, it's difficult not to stumble upon a local festival which involves much dance, food and drink. And, of course, music: which is predominantly live, loca, acoustic, and passionate.
Though some may quibble about its listing under culture, football is the glue that binds the nation, and it provides a great ice-breaker for foreign visitors. It was immigrant railway workers who staged the first ever football match in Argentina in 1867, and the Scotsman Alexander Hutton who founded the Asociación del Fútbol Argentino
26 years later. The Brits, of course, also brought rugby and polo (as well as cricket, which, mysteriously, never quite caught on in the same way).
Food and drink
Argentina is a carnivore's paradise: the classic asado
is an unmissable barbecue which includes parts of the cow you never knew existed (or would perhaps prefer not to think about). In the northern province of Jujuy, llama is a speciality: accompanied by Andean potatoes, of which there are hundreds of varieties of all shape, size and colour.
Salta is famous for its empanadas,
small meat pies filled with meat, chicken, sweetcorn or cheese. Salta's empanadas are the best in South America: in Bolivia and Chile, empanadas are known simply as saltenas
. Other regional specialities include tamales
(cornmeal and meat) and humitas
(sweetcorn and cheese). Perhaps surprisingly, Argentina also offers a host of culinary treats for pescatarians and vegetarians: river fish abound, and thanks to the huge influx of immigrants from Italy, there are numerous pasta places. We also have the Italians to thank for the best ice cream parlours in South America.
Huge immigration from Europe (particularly Italy and Spain) and subsequently the Middle East means Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan melting pot. Northwest Argentina is much more indigenous: here you feel the real flavour of Andean South America as it was before the Spanish arrived (hence the influx of portenos from
Buenos Aires to the Quebrada de Humahuaca, in search of their land's ancient soul).
We have vetted a selection of small, handpicked, often family-run boutique hotels and B&Bs in and around Salta. We know the owners and characters of each, so we can recommend the right accommodation based on your needs.
For an even more authentic experience, we can organise hikes and horserides into the mountains where you will stay with local campesino families.
Getting to Salta
Aerolineas Argentinas, Latam and Andes
run daily flights from Buenos Aires to Salta.Aerolineas Argentinas
also has direct connections from Salta to Iguazu, Mendoza and Cordoba.
has a direct link from Salta to Lima in Peru.
For latest news visit our blog Poncho Tours blog