Planning a trip? Argentina’s World Heritage Sites might inspire you

The Quebrada de Humahuaca is located in the northwest of Argentina, in the province of Jujuy.

Photo: Courtesy Visit Argentina

Argentina is a huge country with hundreds of different options to explore it, through its delicious cuisine, historic cities, unique culture and incredible natural landscapes. But one of the most original proposals is to get to know it for its World Heritage Siteswhich bring together all these options typical of the neighboring country.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has declared a total of eleven protected spaces on Argentine soil to be unmissable. From north to south, these places are marked by the magic of the Andes mountain range, the heritage of indigenous peoples, ancient fossils and the majesty of nature in all its splendour. What’s your favorite?

1. Iguazu National Park, Missions (1984)

In Iguazú National Park, nature is the protagonist with the 275 waterfalls of the Iguazú Waterfall, which leave visitors amazed. The most impressive is the Devil’s Throat, which with its 30 stories high and 150 meters wide spits out enough water to fill 36 Olympic swimming pools in 1 minute.

Between the alleys you can walk to appreciate the spectacle up close and enjoy the landscape of white foam accompanied by the intense green of the vegetation of the subtropical forest, where tapirs, giant anteaters and jaguars live.

2. Ischigualasto Park, San Juan; and Talampaya Park, La Rioja (2000)

Millions of years of history live among the desert lands of Ischigualasto and Talampaya Parks, in the provinces of La Rioja and San Juan. They contain the most complete continental set of fossils in the world corresponding to dinosaurs and plants that lived during the Triassic period.

But the paleontological discoveries are not the only thing that makes it unmissable: the landscapes formed by the canyons and the strangely shaped stones make it unique.

3. Valdes Peninsula, Chubut (1999)

The animals of Península Valdés are an unmissable sight. Killer whales with their unique hunting technique, voluntary stranding, colonies of sea lions and elephant seals complete the attractions of this heritage.

Aquatic excursions such as diving or snorkeling are the most adventurous proposition to bond with these incredible species in their own habitat. They can also be seen from the viewpoints set up near the colonies.

(Read also: Natural Argentina, a destination for all tastes and all budgets)

4. Los Alerces National Park, Chubut (2017)

The virgin forest and its tranquility are the protagonists of the mountains and lakes of Los Alerces National Park, in Argentine Patagonia. This forest, called Alerzal Milenario, is the oldest in South America and lives there “Papy”, a tree over 2,600 years old and 60 meters high that every traveler should know.

To enjoy this place you can go trekking, kayaking or horseback riding and, to fully live the experience, you can spend the night in a lodge in the middle of these majestic landscapes bounded by the crystal clear waters of the lakes, the green of these trees and the magic of the Andes.

5. Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz (1981)

Los Glaciares National Park is the largest witness left on the planet to the current ice age. After the glaciations, these giants remained among the eroded mountains, like huge white cities surrounded by magnificent lakes of intense blue.

The essentials are to walk on the Perito Moreno Glacier and discover the second largest in the Southern Hemisphere and the longest in South America, the Viedma Glacier.

6. Humahuaca Ravine, Jujuy (2003)

Part of the Inca Trail, the Quebrada de Humahuaca preserves, among the colors of the Andes, the ancient cultures of the peoples who used it as a trade route 10,000 years ago.

Exceptional experiences dazzle in this valley, where tasting tamales or strolling through the quiet streets of Purmamarca, listening to the carnivals of Tilcara or getting carried away in the Serranía del Hornocal are some of the must-see attractions.

7. Guarani Jesuit Missions, Missions (1984)

Argentina’s Ministry of Culture says its appeal lies in the testimonial, cultural and historical value of the bond between the original Guarani peoples and the Jesuits of the Society of Jesus in South America.

(Also read: 15 world records that will convince you to travel to Argentina)

8. Estancias Manzana and Jesuit, Cordoba (2000)

In Cordoba, the missions also left traces of their passage in La Manzana and the Jesuit estancias. The university, the church, the residence of the Jesuit fathers and the school of Montserrat bear witness to their passage through the provincial capital, while on the way to the Jesuit estancias you can see the five agricultural and manufacturing establishments that are part of the heritage: Alta Gracia, Santa Catalina, Jesús María, La Candelaria and Caroya.

According to the Ministry of Culture of Argentina, the Estancias Block and Jesuits are an exceptional example of an unprecedented religious, social and economic experiment, which took place between the 17th and 18th centuries and lasted more than 150 years.

9. Cave of the Hands, Rio Pinturas, Santa Cruz (1999)

Between the years 13,000 and 9,500 BC. BC, the inhabitants of the northwest of the current province of Santa Cruz left their mark on the Cueva de las Manos Río Pinturas. With natural mineral pigments, they shaped their hands on the rock, drawing hunting scenes and silhouettes of guanacos, animals that still live in the region.

Knowing these cave paintings is an unmissable experience in Argentina because they are unique in the world.

10. Qhapaq Ñan, Andean road network (2014)

It would be difficult to define in words the impressive Andean road system Qhapaq Ñan, this great road of 30,000 kilometers built by the Incas between the mountains for several centuries, using infrastructures created by other peoples.

In Argentina, we find the grandiose spectacle of deserts, valleys and mountains, across seven provinces bordering the Cordillera from Jujuy to Mendoza. It crosses 32 archaeological sites and some of the most recommended points are Puente del Inca, Quebrada Grande and Santa Rosa de Tastil.

(Read also: Argentinian wine, a pleasure for the senses)

11. Architectural work of Le Corbusier (2016)

In a very urban landscape of the city of La Plata, there is another World Heritage Site, declared as such for its outstanding contribution to the modern movement. Dr. Curouchet’s house was designed by the internationally renowned Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier and has been transformed into the Provincial Museum of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Some of its most characteristic features are a specially planted tree in the patio that crosses the house and is part of its interior and the views of a square and the forest from the main rooms.

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