Though some visitors reach Argentina overland from a neighbouring country and a tiny handful arrive by boat, the overwhelming majority of travellers first set foot on Argentine soil at Buenos Aires’ international airport, Ezeiza.
In general, airfares to Argentina still tend to be quite high, but they do vary widely depending on the routing and the season. The highest fares are between December and February, around Easter and in July and August. You’ll get the best prices during the low season: March to June and September to November. Note also that flying on weekends often hikes return fares; price ranges quoted in this section assume midweek travel. You can often reduce costs by going through a discount flight agent.
Flights from the UK and Ireland
Several airlines offer regular scheduled flights from the UK to Buenos Aires, via another European city, São Paulo or the US (the latter trips can be marginally less expensive, but are usually longer). British Airways is currently the only airline to fly direct from London, refuelling in Sao Paulo. It’s nearly always cheaper to book your flight through a specialized or discount flight agent. It’s also worth checking the travel sections of London’s Time Out and the national Sunday newspapers, or phoning the Air Travel Advisory Bureau (t020/7636 5000) for a list. Adult fares from London to Buenos Aires usually start at around £700 in the low season, rising to over £1000 in the high season.
There are no direct flights from Ireland to Argentina. If you’re trying to keep costs down, consider flying to London with an economy airline and making a connection there. For less hassle, though, and only a fraction more money, you’re better off flying direct to New York or Miami and catching an onward flight from there.
In addition to fares, it’s worth paying attention to the routes used by different airlines. The shortest and most convenient routes from London, often via São Paulo or Madrid, entail a total travelling time of around sixteen hours. Apart from minimizing the length of the flight, another reason to check the routes is that many airlines allow you to take stopovers on the way — sometimes for free, sometimes for a surcharge of around ten percent. Potential stopovers include Bogotá, Rio and São Paulo in South America; Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Newark and Washington DC in the US; and Frankfurt, Madrid, Milan, Paris and Rome in Europe.
Flights from the US and Canada
Several airlines, including American Airlines, United and Aerolíneas Argentinas, offer daily nonstop flights from the US to Buenos Aires. Typical fares start at US$900 from New York in low season or US$1000 from Chicago or Washington, rising to US$1600 in the high season. Flying times to Buenos Aires are around eleven hours from New York and Chicago, and nine from Miami.
There’s less choice if you’re flying from Canada, with Air Canada offering the only direct flight into the country – from Toronto via São Paulo (with connections from other major Canadian cities). You’ll be able to put together a considerably more flexible itinerary if you look for connecting flights with a US carrier. Direct flights from Toronto take around thirteen hours and prices start at Can$1000 in low season; from Vancouver the journey time is at least eighteen hours, and fares start from around Can$1100.
Flights from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
The best flight deals to Argentina from Australia and New Zealand are offered by Aerolíneas Argentinas and LAN in conjunction with Qantas and Air New Zealand, either direct to Buenos Aires or via a stopover in Santiago. In Australia, flights to Argentina leave from Sydney, plus a couple a week that depart from Brisbane and Melbourne. The most direct route to Buenos Aires from New Zealand is via Auckland and takes about seventeen hours. Flights from South Africa to Argentina leave from Cape Town and Johannesburg and go via São Paulo, taking sixteen or seventeen hours. Malaysia Airlines flights between Kuala Lumpur and Buenos Aires stop over in Cape Town, from where the last leg takes around ten hours direct; South African Airways has slightly longer direct flights from Johannesburg.
Airfares depend on both the season and duration of stay. Fares from Australia normally start around Aus$1800 in low season, with flights from New Zealand costing around NZ$1600. The lowest return fares from Cape Town or Johannesburg cost around ZAR7500.
If Argentina is only one stop on a longer journey, you might want to consider buying a round-the-world (RTW) ticket. Some travel agents can sell you an “off-the-shelf” RTW ticket that will have you touching down in about half a dozen cities (Buenos Aires is on many itineraries). Alternatively, you can have a travel agent assemble a RTW ticket for you; in this case the ticket can be tailored to your needs but is usually more expensive.
Agents and operators
Adventure World Australia t02/8913 0755, wwww.adventureworld.com.au; New Zealand t09/524 5118, wwww.adventureworld.co.nz. Agents for a vast array of international adventure travel companies that operate trips to South America.
Bridge the World UK t0870/443 2399, wwww.bridgetheworld.com. Specializing in RTW tickets, with good deals aimed at backpackers.
North South Travel UK t01245/608 291, wwww.northsouthtravel.co.uk. Friendly, competitive travel agency, offering discounted fares worldwide. Profits are used to support projects in the developing world, especially the promotion of sustainable tourism.
South American Experience UK t020/7976 5511, wwww.southamericanexperience.co.uk. Mainly a discount flight agent, but also offers a range of tours, plus a very popular “soft landing package”, designed to make arrivals pain-free.
STA Travel UK t0871/2300 040, US t1-800/781-4040, Australia t134 782, New Zealand t0800/474 400, South Africa t0861/781 781; wwww.statravel.com. Worldwide specialists in independent travel; also student IDs, travel insurance, car rental, rail passes and more. Good discounts for students and under-26s.
Trailfinders UK t0845/058 5858, Ireland t01/677 7888, Australia t1300/780 212; wwww.trailfinders.com. One of the best-informed and most efficient agents for independent travellers.
Travel Cuts Canada t1-866/246-9762, US t1-800/592-2887; wwww.travelcuts.com. Canadian youth and student travel firm.
USIT Ireland t01/602 1906, Northern Ireland t028/9032 7111; wwww.usit.ie. Ireland’s main student and youth travel specialist tour operator.
Adventure Center US t1-800/228-8747, wwww.adventurecenter.com. Hiking and “soft adventure”. Offers a few Argentina tours, including a 23-day “Patagonian Dreaming” Buenos Aires to Ushuaia trip.
Adventures Abroad US & Canada t1-800/665-3998, wwww.adventures-abroad.com. Adventure specialist offering two-week tours to Patagonia.
Contours Australia t1300/135 391, wwww.contourstravel.com.au. Specialists in tailored city stopover packages and tours, including self-drive tours through the Lake District and a ten-day budget tour of Patagonia.
Destination Argentina t011/5218-2820, wwww.destinationargentina.com. Luxury travel and tourism website covering accommodation for the whole country and all manner of useful services.
Dragoman UK t0870/499 4478, wwww.dragoman.co.uk. Extended overland journeys; shorter camping and hotel-based safaris, too. Thirty-day mostly camping trip from Santiago to Rio de Janeiro via Bariloche, Buenos Aires.
Exodus UK t0870/240 5550, wwww.exodus.co.uk. Adventure-tour operator taking small groups for specialist programmes, including walking, biking, overland, adventure and cultural trips. Among its tours is a three-week Fitz Roy and Torres del Paine trip.
Explore Worldwide UK t01252/760 000, wwww.explore.co.uk. Small-group tours, treks, expeditions and safaris. Offers three-week tours of the fjords and Patagonia.
Journey Latin America UK t020/8747 3108, wwww.journeylatinamerica.co.uk. Specialist in flights, packages and tailor-made trips to Latin America. Two-week Salta hiking and biking trip.
Tucan Travel UK t020/8896 1600, wwww.tucantravel.com. Group holidays in Argentina, plus a range of overland expeditions in the rest of South America.
Wilderness Travel US t1-800/368-2794, wwww.wildernesstravel.com. Specialist in hiking, cultural and wildlife adventures. Offers an eleven-day tour in the Lake District.
Wildlife Worldwide UK t020/8667 9158, wwww.wildlifeworldwide.com. Tailor-made trips for wildlife and wilderness enthusiasts. Seventeen-day southern Patagonia and Iguazú trip.
World Expeditions UK t020/8870 2600, wwww.worldexpeditions.co.uk; Australia t1300/720 000, wwww.worldexpeditions.com.au. Australian-owned adventure company offering a two-week Jesuit-route trip and fifteen days in Torres del Paine. Challenging trips, such as a three-week Aconcagua ascent, available for hardcore adventurers. Special offers for travellers over 50.Read More