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
. You'll 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, acoustic, and emotional.
Though some may quibble about its listing under culture, football is the pastime which brings the whole nation together and provides an ice-breaker to every British tourist. You may wish to remind the locals that immigrant railway workers from northern England staged the first ever football match here in 1867, and it was a 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 meat eater's delight: 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 small meat pies, empanadas
filled with meat, chicken, sweetcorn or cheese, and you must try tamales
(cornmeal and meat) and humitas
(sweetcorn and cheese). Perhaps surprisingly, Argentina is not entirely out of bounds to 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 South America as it was before the Spanish arrived (hence the influx of Buenos Aires hippies to towns like Tilcara and Humahuaca, in search of their land's ancient soul).
We will send you a choice of small, handpicked boutique hotels and B&Bs in and around Salta to start your trip. When on tour with us, we will avoid the crowd and the big hotel chains in favour of family-run B&Bs and boutique hotels.
For an even more authentic experience, we can organise hikes and horserides into the mountains where you will stay with local campesino families. Please contact us for more details.
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.
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