Argentina: Pampas to Patagonia (Part 8: Final Thoughts)
Before officially signing off re: Argentina, I thought I might comment more on the logistics for anyone out there considering a similar trip.
I mentioned this in the Intro, but right now Argentina is quite cheap due to a healthy exchange rate, at least for North American and European travelers. On-the-ground costs were quite cheap. For instance, we got a great little Airbnb with four separate single beds and a small kitchen setup for USD $247 for five nights. As there were three of us to split the cost, it came to less than $17/person/night. That was generally the going rate throughout the trip, though some places were marginally more expensive. Most deals were found via Airbnb, though we did stay at one or two hotels booked through more traditional means. As per usual in South Ameria, WhatsApp is the messaging service of choice and was used by all the Airbnb hosts and local businesses we dealt with, including the rental cars.
Speaking of rental cars, this is the domestic expense that will set you back. We rented three vehicles: a sedan for the one-way journey from Buenos Aires to Trelew, an SUV for Ushuaia, and a sedan for the one-day Ceibas visit. Of course we got tagged with a hefty one-way rental fee for the first leg. Prices were in-line with what I expect here in the US, with vehicles in our range going from about $70-110 per day, depending on variables such as size and transmission type, etc. We used Tiger Rent a Car in Ushuaia, which is a local agency that provided rates a bit cheaper than the international companies. We used larger companies for the other two instances.
I was able to use points to book all my airfare, but in cash the four legs combined would have cost $1500 apiece from New York. So your two big ticket items for Argentinian travel will be airfare (depending on distance, of course) and rental car. Everything else such as lodging and food is quite cheap. This seems typical of South America from what I have experienced recently.
Road conditions were excellent throughout. The transportation infrastructure is a major traveler's draw to Argentina. The length of road travel we undertook on this trip seemed a tad intimidating during the planning phase given that we didn't leave much wiggle room for mishaps, but all that went beautifully. Driving there did not feel unsafe, and I can attest that driving through Buenos Aires is a much less harrowing experience than driving in Lima, Peru!
One last bit on the birding. We found it to be pleasant and generally easy, typical of open habitats. Sure the canasteros were a pain, and it seemed like most passerines sang "trill" songs that we struggled to tell apart, but overall it was not difficult to see whatever was around. We found 294 bird species and casually encountered 19 different mammals. As you move south, species diversity drops, but you get into some really unique stuff down south.
Our first experience in Argentina was a very positive one, and I think all three of us would return in a heartbeat. There sure is plenty of that massive country left to explore.