Discovering Northern Argentina with Javier Lardoneby ExperiencePlus! - Wednesday, September 1, 2010
When I was asked to write about our Discover Northern Argentina bike tours, the first thing that came to my mind was: how do I begin to describe this place? If I could only use one word, undoubtedly it would be magical. The scenery is amazing, from the moon-like Andean highlands, known as the puna, to the multicolored palette and amazing rock formations of the canyons, or quebradas, below. From the rainforest-like jungles and cloud forests to the huge green valleys dotted with estancias, where the land is still worked by small farmers, and the gaucho still tends to the estancias` herds. In short Northwest Argentina remains a little jewel waiting to be discovered, and the locals have fortunately been able to preserve, while still proudly show off, the best of their traditions and culture. For example, the Huamahuaca Canyon, in the heart of this region, was awarded the Unesco World Heritage Site status, helping an entire valley maintain its traditional ways.
For me, this region is also very interesting because it retains its Latin American roots; Argentina in general is considered “the European country” of South America. In large part, this is due to the proximity to Bolivia, Peru and northern Chile, home of the once-mighty Incan empire, which dominated a large part of Argentina’s northwest. It is also where the largest native populations existed when the Spanish came. Today, this legacy is ubiquitous, but especially so in the food, the music and festivities (there’s always someone playing an Andean flute or drums in the plaza or around the corner), and above all, in the warm, welcoming manner of its people. Because of this I’ve often recommended the region as a great introduction for those coming to South America for the first time. Combined with a few days in Buenos Aires and side visit to the Iguazu Falls, this will become a lifetime trip for even the most experienced travelers.
Our Discover Northern Argentina cycling tours include great bicycling on quality roads with very little traffic, amazing sights and cultural experiences, AND you ride from hotel to hotel without having to shuttle in the van unless you want to. The design of the tour allows for all types of riders, from those just beginning their cycling careers, to advanced cyclists who want to get in a great hundred-mile ride or a very-challenging ascent. There are also great hotels, cozy little inns in many cases with a warm, family-like environment.
I’ll close by telling you the one thing I always remember about leading these tours. Years back, a very experienced ExperiencePlus! Italian tour leader helped run the inaugural tour. Before returning home, he said to me that he had seen the most beautiful place on earth, so there was no need for him to travel anymore! At the time, I credited my friend’s comment to typical Italian aggrandizement. But over time, I’ve come to share his appreciation of this part of the world. To get to know this region, and to experience it by bicycle, truly takes you one step closer to understanding how profoundly magical our world is.
To see what Javier has done his best to describe click on this link to our slide show featuring our bicycling tours in Northern Argentina.
Javier Lardone was born and raised in different parts of the Argentine Patagonia. His father’s work took his family to the United States, Norway, Mexico and Venezuela, among other countries. After studying International Business at the University of Texas, Javier worked for corporations in the US and Latin America. These experiences forged his passion for world cultures and travel, and led to his decision to leave the “business world” behind. Javier journeyed for almost three years throughout the Americas, doing everything outdoors – climbing, mountaineering, biking and more. He worked as a scuba diving guide in Brazil, explored jungles in Central America and marveled at the ancient Mayan ruins in the Yucatan and Guatemala. He lived on the Mexican Pacific coast, where he surfed and dived. And he crossed Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil. After a 2000 km solo bike trip through North Patagonia, he found his place in the world, and began leading bike tours in Argentina, Chile and Europe in 2006.