Now that flights and accommodation are booked for the WRC it is time to look at Argentina and specifically the Neuquen province in more detail!
Most of the teams and officials will be based in the tourist town of Villa Pehuenia and there the favoured activities are rafting and kayaking or boat tours down Aluminé, Ñorquinco, Moquehue and Pulmarí rivers, or sport fishing in Aluminé, Litrán, and Nompehuén lakes, as well as horseback riding, climbing, big game hunting or trekking excursions through green trails that wander between mountain ranges and forests like the centenary pehuenes forest.
Eating and drinking
Food is a big social focus in Argentina. It is an opportunity to get together and socialise and this can be seen in their Asado’s and drinking yerba maté.
- Asado (grilled meat) is like a barbeque and is very popular not only for the food but the social interaction while the meat is grilling. and is usually beef steak or ribs. In Argentina “carne’ tends to refer to beef only, whereas in other Spanish speaking countries they will specify what animal the meat is from, for instance “carne de vaca” (beef), “carne de cordero” (lamb).
- Yerba Maté is a strong herbal drink that is quite bitter and strong in caffeine. It is massively popular in Argentina (the average Argentinian drinks about 5kgs a year!) and is very social. It is drunk out of a gourd which can be very basic like a hollowed out squash, to fancy decorated ones made from wood or other natural materials. It is drunk through a straw (bombillo) with a sieve on the end to prevent the herb being swallowed.It is normal practise for the person making the yerba maté to offer it to others, even strangers. If it is offered to you – take it, don’t touch the bombillo with your hands, and drink it down, then pass it back to the original person who will then refill it and pass it to the next person!
Other popular things to try:
- Proveleta is a bit like a pizza in that it has a base and then is topped with a pungent and sharp cheese which usually has chilli and oregano on top and then it is all grilled to perfection.
- Empanadas are pies and come in great varieties – either baked or fried and filled with meat (beef, chicken, ham) or vegetables or cheese (even blue cheese!).
- Carbonada is a meaty stew placed in a hollowed out pumpkin and cooked on the barbeque/ asado.
- Chimichurri is a sauce of herbs, garlic and vinegar and is used on a variety of things.
- Alfajores are a popular sweet snack eaten throughout the day and are made from two crumbly shortbread biscuits with something sweet in between like jam or dulce de leche.
- Dulce de leche for the sweet tooth! It is caramel and is sold in the same way jams are sold – so easy to grab a pack for the odd treat – yum!
- Some other things to know – Chorizo = pork sausage, morcilla = blood sausage), mollejas = sweetbread, cerveza = beer, té = tea, té con leche is tea made with milk not water.
Eating habits in Argentina tend to be coffee and pastry for breakfast, with a large lunch followed by a siesta. And then a snack of coffee and pastry in the early evening with dinner usually only eaten at 9 or even later on the weekends.
What to do in your free time:
- Visit the viewing point over Volcan Batea Mahuida – a short drive from Villa Pehuenia for great views and add an hour walk and you can see 8 volcanoes!
- Take a drive around the Pehuenia Circuit – 3 hours of stunning scenery!
- Walk up to the view points looking over Villa Pehuenia.
- Paddle rivers – well we’re all familiar with the Alumine River, but there are others to be enjoyed as well like the Hua Hum, Pulmarí, Quillén, Traful and Litrán Rivers. The Limay River is ideal for beginners.
- Ride horses – if you enjoy riding horses this is a MUST! Some of the best horses and riding ever! Options of working with cattle as well – be a real gaucho! Estancia Huechahue (pronounced way-cha-way) are offering a 20% discount to all WRC rafters!!!
- Mountain biking is a great way to enjoy the scenery – Tu Aventuras in Villa Pehuenia have a bunch of different trips on offer.
- Trekking options are huge in this area and well worth the energy if you have the time. Find a guide for your own trip at www.explore-share.com, or head over to see these hiking options in Neuquen on Trip Advisor to seek out your preferred option.
- Fishing, especially fly-fishing is very popular in this area. Ruca Choroy River. in Limay River basin, you can visit the worldly renowned Chimehuín River mouth (recently declared a provincial protected area), near Junín de los Andes; Correntoso River mouth, with its outlet in Nahuel Huapi lake; and Limay River mouth. These sites are well-known for the quality and amount of trout that can be caught there. A fantastic way to take in the views of the river whilst fishing is by getting yourself an inflatable fishing kayak, the perfect way to be on the water whilst trying your hand at catching some dinner.
- Mapuches are the local tribal people and it is worth finding out more about their religion, music, handicrafts and cooking. The Puel Mapuche Community manage the Batea Mahuida Park. Here is some history about the Mapuches of this region.
- And if you have more time – go further South to the 7 lakes district – there is so much stunning scenery there! Or head over to Chile – Pucon is a popular rafting destination with great rivers!