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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Argentina: The South - Pampas, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Southern Argentina. Its sole purpose is to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING ARGENTINA: U.S. citizens are required to have a passport valid on the day of entry and with at least one blank page for an entry stamp. Visas are not necessary for visits of up to 90 days for tourism and business. 

As of August 2016 US travellers no longer need to pay a reciprocity fee, previously $160 paid prior to their departure from homeCitizens of other countries should consult their nearest Argentine consulate for entry requirements. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you to use regarding your participation in the tour.      

No vaccinations certificates are necessary in order to enter Argentina. 

COUNTRY INFORMATION:You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/argentina.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Argentina at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ar.html

PACE OF TOUR: Argentina is a big country so we take several flights and make a few long drives. Typically we’ll have breakfast in our hotel between 6:00-7:00 a.m. (occasionally earlier or later) and then spend the day in the field usually with a picnic lunch and occasionally with a sit-down restaurant meal. Where possible we’ll offer the chance to take time off, but every day offers a full program of birdwatching activities from early morning until approximately 1 hour before dinner, which usually begins at 8-8:30 p.m. 

Our tour isn’t particularly strenuous as most of the areas we visit are fairly flat but it does involve some moderate to long walks (½ – 2 mi). Those who want to try for Yellow-bridled Finch, and ground-tyrants in Ushuaia will need to undertake a hike uphill through some fairly uneven terrain, sometimes through snow. The less sure-footed in the party might choose to opt out of this excursion.                                   Argentinean eating hours and habits are different from American ones. Breakfasts tend to be skimpy - often just coffee, toast or a croissant, and butter and jam. Lunches won’t be a problem as many will be picnics. Dinners, however, don’t fit well into our tour schedule. Argentineans eat late. Most restaurants don’t open until 8:00 p.m. and few Argentineans enter them until 9:00 p.m. or later. Meals are regarded as social occasions where friends and family eat slowly and discuss the day’s events, so service is often slow, as that is what most people want. The leaders will always explain to restaurant staff that our group wants to eat early and quickly and this usually works (often we leave the restaurant just as other diners are starting to appear) but be prepared for the occasional slow meal or late finish. 

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

Altitude: The Pampas and Valdez Peninsula sections will be at sea level. The elevation in Ushuaia will range from sea level to 2,000 feet at the Martial Glacier. In the Calafate/Rio Gallagos section we will range from sea level at the coast to 650 feet near Calafate.

Malaria:  According to the CDC, the areas that we will be visiting are free of malaria. As the situation changes fairly quickly please contact your physician for the latest advice 4-6 weeks before the start of the tour. 

The current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/argentina

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Miscellaneous: Biting insects are not numerous although mosquitoes, black flies and chiggers occur locally; certain mosquito species in Argentina are known to transmit dengue fever, and travelers are advised to check the CDC website for updates. 

CLIMATE: Weather in Southern Argentina can vary tremendously from warm in the Pampas and sunny to very cold and wet, especially in Patagonia. Days can be very windy with daily rain in Tierra del Fuego, which has a sub-Antarctic climate. 

ACCOMMODATION: We’ll be staying in good quality hotels or lodges throughout. All rooms will have a private shower and toilet. 

Internet and Mobile Phone Access: Our hotels have reasonably good Wi-Fi connections. Mobile phone access is very good near our lodging locations but can be null when in the field.

FOOD: Food in Argentina is excellent with meat being a feature (but not a requirement.) 

Drinks:  Bottled water and/or: a soft drink, a small beer, or small glass of wine is provided at lunch and dinner, as is coffee or tea. All additional drinks or ‘personal’ drinking water for use in your room, etc., are the responsibility of the individual. Bottled water is available in our vehicles during the day. 

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION:  We’ll travel in minibuses or small coaches with local drivers. For the times that we are transferring between sites or going to the hotel or airport, we will use mini-buses where it is possible that some particiants may be in the middle seat rather than by a window. 

When we use more than one vehicle during the tour there will always be a leader in each vehicle. You must be able to ride in any seat in our tour vehicles.

Updated: 23 March 2017