Think twice about “promos”

Make sure that what they offer is what you really want.

Bonnie Tucker / FST
Several tourist spots or activities that once operated only during the warm or cold months have stretched their seasons in order to increase their revenues, and their “promos” (“promotions,” or bargains that come very early or very late in the low seasons) are the bait with which they tempt bargain-seekers. Unfortunately, the best weather conditions, the number and quality of excursions available, the presence of wildlife, and other items that guarantee visitor satisfaction, do not always coincide with those slots on the calendar. So the “goodness” of a travel deal depends entirely on what you really want to see and do at your destination.
In July we mentioned the risks involved in booking an early winter low-season ski week in the Andes; good snowfalls have of late been coming later than that – in August and September in some cases.

Chilean fjords cruises offered in a September promo regale passengers with fantastic views of mountains that still have a lot of snow, but that time of year is too early to see penguins on Magdalena Island in the Strait of Magellan. There, the season for observing these migratory sea birds extends from October to the end of March (as opposed to September to April along the Chubut coast in Argentina, further north). Those who don’t give a hoot about penguins aren’t bothered by this detail. Those who do, have to pay more in December to be able to photograph thousands of these and other sea birds on their nests or with chicks on this enormous bare island with an old lighthouse.

People who want to see wildlife anywhere in the world should check the Internet for the breeding seasons in the different locations before setting out. For Magellanic penguins in Chubut, the best time is never at the beginning or end of the season, but rather from November, when the chicks hatch, to January, when they are walking around and the rookery teems with birds. In February they begin to molt and look scruffy.
In El Calafate (Santa Cruz), some hotels that remain open all year close their restaurants during the low season. That’s fine if your accommodation is downtown, where the restaurants that remain open are clustered. But if it is out of town, be sure to pack good walking shoes, because you might have to wait a long time for taxis to take you to town and back. It’s best to inquire about this detail when booking.
The attractions included in an excursion, or in a given destination, can also diminish during the off-season.

When booking the Todo Glaciares cruise in El Calafate, try to make sure that on the day of your trip passengers will be able to disembark in Onelli Bay (the place where the Upsala branch of Lake Argentino is separated from Lake Onelli by a spit of land). For many, this landing – the only one during the full-day cruise – is the biggest attraction of the excursion, as it involves following a path through a lovely beech forest and coming out on Lake Onelli full of little icebergs from three glaciers. At times the bay is so full of icebergs that the boat can’t get to the wharf. And if the Onelli Bay restaurant is closed, as it usually is during the low season, you will have to eat a box lunch (made by you or brought from your hotel) elbow-to-elbow with 300 other passengers on the catamaran. (Many people think it is best to bring the box lunch anyway, so as to be able to dedicate the little time allotted to this stop, to looking at Lake Onelli instead of waiting for a place in the restaurant.)

In Pampa Linda, a unique hiking and horseback riding center at the foot of Mount Tronador outside Bariloche, you can ride in the lower valley in the spring. However, experienced riders who want to see the top of the Andes should consider that the snow on the upper reaches of the surrounding mountains takes a long time to melt, so the center’s all-day horseback rides to really interesting lookout points can’t be done until December or January.
In Patagonia, the end-of-season deals are the best with regard to the weather and landscapes. Spring and summer are windier than fall and winter, and the beeches turn fantastic shades of red and yellow in April.
PHOTO CREDITS: Cerro Bayo ski center, Villa La Angostura. Cerro Bayo. Birders on Magdalena Island in December. Bonnie Tucker. Bahía Onelli, Los Glaciares National Park. Bonnie Tucker. Ride to Cerro Volcánico, Pampa Linda. Pampa Linda

Drink mate

Photo show in Puerto Iguazú.

John Fernandes, an India-born photographer who has made Puerto Iguazú in Misiones his home, has a B&B called Secret Garden, but he hasn’t forgotten his days with a camera. In October he will open GreenEyesIguazú, a photo gallery that will showcase photos of the region by several authors. He will inaugurate the gallery on Oct. 15 with a show dedicated to yerba mate, in which anyone who has ever photographed the custom of sipping the infusion will be able to participate.
The deadline for sending prints or 300 dpi digital images in 30cmx40cm format is Oct. 1. The photos must show how the mate sipping habit has overcome economic and cultural barriers in Argentina. For more information, contact him at (03757) 423-099 or

Polo Day excursion

Tourists learn about the game of kings.
There are several polo clubs and ranches around Buenos Aires where one can go to learn how to play the game of kings, but the Retiro Polo Club near the city of Escobar is different from the rest: in addition to teaching polo, it offers a quickie program for tourists that aims to make novices reasonably knowledgeable about this equestrian sport in which Argentine players have long excelled.
The club is 50 km from Buenos Aires – a 40-minute drive in a car or minibus, or 15 minutes by helicopter. Visitors are picked up at their hotels at 11am and are taken back at 4pm, or later if they want to see all the chukkers played by club members during the rest of the afternoon. Upon arrival they are treated to empanadas and a glass of fine wine, and during the following tour of the premises they are told about the history and rules of the game; the selection and training of horses; and riding tack and gear. They watch club members play two chukkers, and later sit down with some of them to a sumptuous barbecue lunch beside the playing field. The game continues while they eat. Afterwards there are two options: expert riders can learn how to do a bit of stick-and-balling (US$50 extra), and those who know little or nothing about horses can ride some tame retired polo ponies around the property beside the Luján River (included in the rate). The polo day costs US$140 per person, including minibus or car transport. Minimum group: two. For more information, visit, and call 15-3108-1025.
If you want to fly there, visit the online search, price estimation and reservation system, and call 5917-6137. A helicopter flight starts at US$450 round trip in a three-passenger chopper, plus US$150 if the wait exceeds the time it takes to have lunch.
PHOTO CREDITS: Armando Herrera / Retiro Polo Club.

46th National Beer Festival

October 2-12 in Villa General Belgrano, Córdoba.

The hearty German Oktoberfest tradition is about to treat us to the 46th edition of the National Beer Festival in this traditionally Teutonic Calamuchita Valley town. During eleven days and nights, many folk dance groups from different communities around the country and from abroad will delight audiences who pack the Beer Park. For many tourists, however, the biggest attractions are the keg-tapping ceremonies and parades that take place during that period.
The parades are led by the “Black Monk” (in reality a pretty blonde woman who sports a gigantic pretzel pendant on a black cowl robe), followed by kids dressed like sausages, adults dressed like German peasants, and the dance delegations. This year, the Beer Festival queen will be chosen and crowned on the night of October 3. According to the program, the keg will be tapped on five different days, and there will be six parades. Get the details at
PHOTO CREDITS: A keg-tapping ceremony, and a parade led by the “Black Monk” in Villa General Belgrano.

19th National Orchid Festival

October 7 to 12 in Montecarlo, Misiones.

Of Argentina’s 200 orchid species, half are native to the subtropical northeastern province of Misiones. The pleasant job of capitalizing on that fact falls to the town of Montecarlo, which every year stages the National Orchid Festival together with the Provincial Flower Festival dedicated to all Misiones’ other plants capable of producing blooms.
Montecarlo and seven other small towns along a 90-km stretch of National Route 12 heading north from Posadas stand out for their plant nurseries, bathing beaches, and farms that receive and/or lodge tourists.
For more information, visit
PHOTO CREDIT: Orchids. Bonnie Tucker.

Argentina’s performing arts biennial

The 7th Buenos Aires International Festival is set for Oct. 5 to 18.
The latest in Argentine and international theater, dance, and the visual and sound arts will be on show in more than 30 theaters and other venues during the Buenos Aires International Festival (FIBA) in the country’s capital from October 5 to 18. Tickets to the shows can be purchased from, or personally in the Casa de la Cultura, Av. de Mayo 575, from 11am to 7pm.
All other activities are free. Inscription for workshops led by artists from Argentina and abroad will be open until September 25 at Every day, from Oct. 6 to 18, informal Happy Hour meetings between artists and public (with translators) will take place in Harrods from 5pm to 7pm.
See the Festival program at, or call 0-800-333-7848 from Monday to Friday from 10am to 8pm.
PHOTO CREDIT: El caso Danton. FIBA.

46th National Flower Show

September 26-October 12 in Escobar, Province of Buenos Aires.

One of Argentina’s most pleasant rites of spring is the National Flower Show that a group of floriculturists from seven communities organizes every year in the Buenos Aires Province town of Escobar from the last weekend of September to the second weekend of October. The 46th edition will open to the general public on September 26 at 9am.
Exhibits of native flowers and plants, floral arrangements, commercial stands, places to eat, kiddies’ play areas, and a plant nursery that sells all sorts of indoor and outdoor plants will occupy pavilions totaling 7,200 m2, and landscaping displays 170,000 m2 of parks and gardens.
This year, the flower show is being represented by a plant and a flower. The plant is a carnivorous fly trap, and if that isn´t to your liking, there is always the flower, a carnation.
On Saturday Oct. 3 at 7pm, a parade of floats bearing Flower Show queen candidates; horse-drawn carriages, and vintage cars will begin to wind its way through the streets of Escobar. On Sunday Oct. 4, the Flower Queen will be chosen and crowned. If it rains, these events will be postponed until the following weekend.
The Japanese community’s Flower and Vegetables Contest will take place Oct. 10-11.
The show will be open from 9am to 7pm Monday to Thursday, until 8pm on Friday and Sunday, and until 9pm on Saturday. General admission is 15 pesos Monday to Friday and 20 pesos on Saturday and Sunday, with discounts for retirees and students, and it is free for kids under 10 accompanied by an adult.
Escobar is 50 km from Buenos Aires. Transfers between the show and the Constitución terminal in Buenos Aires at 20 pesos each way on weekends way can be arranged by calling (03488) 422-967. For more information on the National Flower Show, visit
Other options nearby: Escobar is also home to the state-of-the-art Temaikén zoo, but trying to see it and the flower show in a day would be rather grueling. However, a nice couple of days dedicated to both can be arranged by spending one or two nights at the Isla Margarita inn and restaurant in the San Fernando Delta, just a ten-minute trip from the Port of Escobar with the Pflüger boat company (03480-460-507).

Those who feel like seeing more of the Delta can return to Buenos Aires from Isla Margarita via Tigre with the Delta boat company (4749-0537), and the train from the Tigre terminal. The trip through the Delta takes nearly two hours. Information: 4728-2495 or
PHOTO CREDITS: Carnivorous plant and Carnation. Fiesta Nacional de la Flor. Isla Margarita moorage and guest room in the San Fernando Delta. Isla Margarita.

Darwin theme cruises on board the Via Australis

Passengers will follow the naturalist’s trail through the Chilean fjords.

Bonnie Tucker / FST
2009 is a year of two Darwin anniversaries: the birth of the British naturalist 200 years ago, on February 12, 1809, and the publication of his revolutionary book On the Origin of Species at age 50. Charles Darwin began his career with a five-year round-the-world survey cruise on board the HMS Beagle, after which he traveled little. He spent two years of that cruise, during which he developed his theory of evolution, in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Next month, the Chile-based Cruceros Australis expedition cruise line that regularly disembarks its passengers in several of the places that the naturalist visited in the 1830s, will be offering special cruise lectures on his life before, during and after the voyage of the Beagle. On October 10 the Via Australis leaves Ushuaia for Punta Arenas on a three-night cruise that goes to Cape Horn, Wulaia Bay on Navarino Island, the Piloto and Nena glaciers at the end of a beautiful fjord, and Magdalena Island in the Strait of Magellan.
The return cruise from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia on October 13 lasts four nights and calls at Ainsworth Bay, Tucker’s Islet, the Pía glacier, Glacier Alley, Cape Horn and Wulaia Bay. The cost varies according to the cabin and whether the season is promotional, low, high or special (Christmas and New Years). Hence the least expensive cabin can cost from US$840 to US$1,930 and the most expensive one from US$1,359 to US$2,500 for three nights, and US$1,120 to US$2,590 and US$1,800 to US$3,340, respectively, for four nights. The first Australis fjords cruise of the season leaves Punta Arenas on September 19 and the last one departs from Ushuaia on April 14, 2010.
In December 2007 I did a cruise from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas on board the Mare Australis, and found my cabin and the ship comfortable, the crew helpful and attentive, the landings and zodiac excursion well organized, the on-board lectures interesting, the food great and the itinerary fantastic – the best means of transport possible between the two cities. For more info, see
PHOTO CREDIT: Mare Australis passengers enjoy looking at the Piloto y Nena glaciers. Bonnie Tucker.

Eolo accepts invitation to hoteliers’ Olympus

Relais & Chateaux adds a new jewel to its collection

Bonnie Tucker / FST
For those who believe that a hotel should be an important part of a travel experience, this information will be of interest: the Eolo country lodge outside El Calafate (Santa Cruz) has joined the prestigious Relais & Chateaux association of small exclusive hotels and restaurants.
Both parties are winners in this deal. Eolo, built in 2004, will apply details of the brand to the services it gives its guests and its marketing abroad will receive a big boost. And R&C has added to its crown a memorable property in an absolutely unique location. Nestled on the foot of Mount Frías 27.5 km from town and 56.5 km from the Perito Moreno glacier, the hotel shares a 4,000-hectare ranch with just two other neighbors: in the far distance you can make out the headquarters of a trail riding outfit, and the home of the ranch owner (one of the partners in the hotel). From the window of your room you might find yourself looking at a grazing sheep or cow, a fox, or an armadillo.
Eolo offers views of three different Patagonian landscapes from its vantage point above the La Anita Valley. To the left lie the plains and low hills in which the turquoise water of Lake Argentino is set like a jewel. In front is the flat-topped Baguales range typical of the steppe, which encloses a pass to Chile. To the right is the snow-capped wall of the Andes, beyond which the tips of the Towers of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park are visible. No other hotel in Patagonia – not even the splendid Explora in said Chilean park – can transmit such a feeling of peace and spaciousness. Guests are tempted to spend the day just lounging on the deck to watch the steppe change its look as the day progresses. The silence is absolute. No photo, whatever its quality, can completely convey the feeling of the place.
The 17 suites reflect the spaciousness of the scenery with a décor set by the hues and textures of the surrounding land and the colors of the seasons. The smallest is 38 m2, the largest 60 m2. They and the shared areas (including a heated indoor swimming pool that guests tend to use only if the weather turns inclement) surround a grassy inner compound, protecting it from the wind. The simple architectural style of Eolo suggests a Patagonian ranch house like the ones that were brought over from Europe in a kit at the beginning of the last century. It’s bigger and better, but the comfortable ranch house feeling has been kept intact. The dining room menus are gourmet versions of Patagonian home cooking.
So Eolo fits perfectly into R&C’s quality standards, based on the “five Cs” of courtesy, charm, character, calm and cuisine. Its inclusion in the R&C club is the result of field work done during the unannounced visit of one of the organization’s roaming inspectors. Lodge Manager Rodrigo Braun told travel writers in Buenos Aires that after a two-day stay as a guest, the inspector introduced himself as such and asked: “Would you like to join Relais & Chateaux?” Eolo’s membership will be formally announced at R&C’s international congress in Biarritz in November, France, he said.
Relaix & Chateaux was founded in France in 1964 and its Board of Directors is at present presided by a Spanish hotelier. The association has 480 members in 56 countries on five continents.
Membership has a price, but offers recompenses as well. Braun said that since joining, reservations from Europe and the United States have increased by 20%. This is no mean feat in a country whose hotel industry has been hard hit by the international economic crunch of the past year.
Eolo’s 2009-2010 season runs from September 21 to April 20, with discounts until October 20.
See more at

Expo Patagonia

September 18-20 in Buenos Aires.

During the third weekend of September every year, people in Buenos Aires who are thinking about spending their summer vacation in the southern provinces of Argentina stop by the Expo Patagonia travel trade show to get an idea of options and prices. The provinces that are officially considered part of the region are (from north to south) La Pampa, Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego. Last year, when the fair premises included places to learn fly casting, rock climbing and cooking, 26,500 visitors stopped by 265 stands during the three days that the show lasted.
On Friday Sept. 18 the show will be open for travel agents from 10am to 9pm in the Ocher Pavilion of the Rural Society grounds in Palermo and on September 19 and 20 it will be open to the general public from 2pm to 9pm. General admission is 12 pesos. For more details, see
PHOTO CREDIT: Expo Patagonia 2008. Expo Patagonia.

41st National Empanada Festival

September 11-13 in Famaillá, Tucumán

Empanadas (turnovers) are a traditional food that is savored with relish throughout Argentina, and in Chile and Uruguay as well, regardless of the type of crust or filling used. The most famous Argentine empanadas are the ones from the Northwest, which are filled with hand-minced beef or chicken, and different garnishes according to the province.
They are fried in lard, or baked in a mud oven that is so hot that a paper put inside bursts into flame. There is a bit of rivalry between the province of Salta, where the filling includes potato, and Tucuman, where it does not. But for the past 40 years the National Empanada Festival has been held in Tucumán – in Famaillá, a town 35 km from the provincial capital. Here, in the Luis Sandrini auditorium, a jury of folk singers and chefs decides who will be the winning empanada cook of the year, and the fairgoers are free to try the output of all the contestants to see if they agree with the verdict. Tucumán empanadas are famous for being especially juicy. This is achieved by hand-mincing the meat very finely, adding a bit of boiled egg to the mixture to help retain the juice, not completely precooking the filling so it can finish cooking inside the crust, and taking the empanadas out of the pot or oven at the right moment. A typical Tucumán empanada is filled with minced beef, hen or chicken meat, or tripe, as well as green onion, cayenne pepper and cumin.

Other worthwhile experiences not too far from Famaillá: a stay at a ranch that produces artisan cheeses in Tafí del Valle, a visit to the Pachamama Museum in Amaicha del Valle, and a look at the ruins of the pre-Hispanic town of Quilmes.

The Youth Eisteddfod

September 10-12 in Gaiman, Chubut.

In a world in which images are replacing the written word for many people, there are still youths who are interested in poetry and choral singing. Following a tradition brought by the Welsh settlers who disembarked in Puerto Madryn (Chubut) in 1865, hundreds of youths up to the age of 25 gather every year during three days in September in the Municipal Gymnasium of Gaiman to take part in the poetry recital contests in Spanish and Welsh of the Youth Eisteddfod.
They also compete in music, singing, dance, art, crafts, photography and graphic design.
Their parents and grandparents enjoy their own competitions in the Chubut Eisteddfod, which takes place in October in the neighboring city of Trelew.
The Welsh word “eisteddfod” means “being seated.” It refers to the Bard’s Chair, the traditional prize of the best poet of such competitions. In the Middle Ages, the Chair (usually made of carved wood) gave the winning poet a worthy seat at the table of the prince who had organized the contest.
Other worthwhile experiences at this time of year: treating yourself to all sorts of pies and cakes in a Welsh tea house that also provides lodging in Gaiman; going out to sea to watch Commerson’s dolphins in Rawson; spending a couple of days resting on a farm near Gaiman or a ranch outside Puerto Madryn; going as far back as 40 million years in time in the Bryn Gwyn paleontological park outside Gaiman, and then visiting the state-of-the-art Edgidio Feruglio Museum of Paleontology in Trelew.
(02965) 491-571 / 491-846 (Gaiman Tourist Office and Culture Department, respectively).
PHOTO CREDIT: Choir competition in the 2008 Youth Eisteddfod. Gaiman Tourist Office.

Where to enjoy September snow

Three mountains outside Bariloche offer snowshoeing as well as skiing.

Bonnie Tucker / FST
Bariloche is the Argentine city with the most experience in winter sport development (80 years) and the one with the biggest hotel capacity in Patagonia east of the Andes (more than 25,000 beds). Its surroundings harbor a wide variety of snowy environments for having fun, including ridges with mountain or lake views, and forests straight out of a fairy tale – a good combination for both expert skiers and families that just want to enjoy the snow without skis.
In addition to the famous ski center on Mount Catedral 20 km out of town, this Río Negro city of more than 100,000 inhabitants has recreation centers on three mountains that also offer other snow activities, in particular walks on snowshoes. All are in Nahuel Huapi National Park, but they have different concessionaires and vary with regard to landscapes, accesses and clientele.

Mount López (2,075 m)
Mount López, located 30 km northwest of Bariloche, is the place to enjoy stunning views of Lake Nahuel Huapi that so far are free of real estate developments. Roca Negra, a little gourmet restaurant at 1,230 meters, offers one such view, as well as lunch, tea and dinner shows to tour or incentive groups all year round, weather permitting.

Here, tourists who come in the winter participate in guided walks with or without snowshoes (according to snow conditions), and can also go cross-country skiing if they are proficient in the sport.
The views are even better from the López Refuge 440 meters further up the mountain, but it is closed during the winter months. In the summer, it provides lodging and meals for hikers who come to contemplate the surrounding peaks, and the Chilean volcanoes in the distance, from the top of the mountain.

Mount Challhuaco (2,040 m)
This mountain and its valley are for people who enjoy forests. The traditional Neumeyer Refuge, located amid high deciduous beeches at 1,320 meters in the Challhuaco Valley 18 km southeast of town, stands out for the itineraries of its hikes with or without snowshoes, the cross-country skiing classes that it offers, and the untouched backcountry for off-piste skiing that surrounds it.

This mountain area, which lies within a strict park reserve, occupies an interesting transition zone between the humid Andean forest and the Patagonian steppe. During excursions through the woods, the guides explain the different means of transport on snow, or regional geography, according to the interests of the group. A half-day hike leads to a frozen lagoon, which in the summer is home to an endemic frog species. Day hikes in winter and summer include an ascent of Mount Challhuaco for a view of three surrounding mountains. Moonlight walks end with a three-course Patagonian dinner. The hiking and cross-country skiing programs include meals and lodging in the refuge. Those who book a full-day backcountry skiing excursion must be in good physical shape and know how to use the special “randonnée” skis that allow one to walk uphill cross-country style, and descend Alpine style.
Following an exciting journey up snow-choked mountain roads, clients of travel agencies arrive at the recreation centers on Mount López and the Challhuaco Valley in 4X4s driven by the respective concessionaires’ expert drivers.

Mount Otto (1,405 m)
Technology is the star of the center that crowns the peak of Mount Otto, which is just 5 km from Bariloche. From its revolving restaurant, which comes full circle every 20 minutes, diners can view lakes Nahuel Huapi, Moreno and Gutiérrez, mounts Tronador, Catedral and López, and the Huemul and Llao Llao peninsulas. Tourists reach the heights in four-place gondola lifts with piped music, and then take one of the complex’s two new 30-passenger funicular cars down to the sled runs and snowshoe trails, enjoying the view on the way. The new funicular saves visitors the 200-meter walk that was the only way to get from the mountain top to the recreational facilities before it was built (see pre-funicular photo).

Before sitting down to eat, visitors can contemplate the reproductions of statues by Michelangelo in the complex’s art gallery, and the restaurant’s photo-museum dedicated to Bariloche’s pioneers.
The complex that centers on the gondola lift shares the mountain with two small ski centers: Piedras Blancas, which teaches downhill and cross-country skiing; and the Centro de Esquí Nórdico, which specializes in the latter style and has 10 km of runs. At this center, one can also ride on sleds pulled by snowmobiles. An additional option is an excursion aboard one of the noisy, anti-ecological quads so dear to many Argentine tourists.

For more information, see:
Refugio Neumeyer:
Cerro López:
Cerro Otto Gondola Lift Complex:
A Bariloche travel agency that specializes in active and nature-related tourism:

PHOTO CREDITS: Euphoria on Mount López; Snowshoe experiences on Mount López (above) and in the Challhuaco Valley. The Roca Negra restaurant on Mount López, and the view of the lake from there. The Newmeyer refuge and a walk in the snow. Tourist transfer in the Challhuaco Valley, all courtesy of Diversidad. Mount Otto, courtesy of EMPROTUR.

Feast of Our Lord and the Virgin of the Miracle

September 6-15 in the city of Salta.

The city of Salta was founded in 1582, and ten years later an image of Christ on the Cross was sent from Spain for its Cathedral, along with an image of the Virgin of the Rosary for the city of Córdoba. The two images showed up floating in closed boxes on the sea in front of Lima’s port, El Callao, with no sign of the ship that had brought them. They were delivered to their respective destinations, and in Salta the population soon forgot about their Christ, to the point of relegating the image to the church’s Altar of the Dead. On September 8, 1692, a wealthy family brought their image of the Virgin Mary to the Cathedral to celebrate her nativity, and fortunately left it there for a few days. On the morning of September 13, a strong earthquake rocked the city of Salta for 15 minutes. (The quake, which is calculated to have reached 7 on the Richter scale, completely destroyed the rich and legendary city of Esteco -- the epicenter – a mere 170 km from Salta City.) When the townspeople rushed to the Cathedral to beg for mercy, they saw that the image of the Virgin had fallen to the floor from a height of three meters but was miraculously intact, and that its face was changing colors. Aftershocks continued for three days, despite all the processions that took place.

Then a priest heard the voice of God: they had to take the image of Christ off the humble spot they had assigned it and carry it through the streets if they wanted an end to the aftershocks. They did so and the earth stopped trembling. Nevertheless, the feminine image was the one that was immediately assigned her Our Lady of the Miracle title; the masculine one had to wait until 1760 to become Our Lord of the Miracle. At any rate, the two of them have presided over processions every September since 1692, and are credited with having saved the city from severe damage from two other quakes in 1844 and 1948. Every year, the first novena is said on September 6, and in the afternoon of September 15 more than 250,000 pilgrims from all Argentina and neighboring countries come to join the big procession through the streets of the city. The images are taken from the Cathedral to the intersection of Paseo Güemes with Avenida Irigoyen, where the townspeople renew their oath of fealty to the figures that they represent. When they return to their places in the Cathedral, a shower of white, pink and red carnation petals falls from the belfry of the Cathedral.
Other worthwhile experiences at this time of year: a couple of days resting at a farm house owned by a traditional family in the Lerma Valley; a pack trip in one of the Calchaquí valleys; an excursion to Iruya.
Photo credit: The image of Our Lord of the Miracle is taken from the Cathedral of Salta at the beginning of the procession. Ministry of Tourism of Salta.

30th National Immigrant Festival

September 3-13 in Oberá, Misiones.

In Oberá, the descendants of the immigrants of more than 20 nationalities who settled in Misiones during the 20th century enjoy their peaceful coexistence. Ever since 1980, they have been getting together every September to share their meals and customs. In the Park of Nations, where each community has its typical house, social, cultural, sporting and recreational events take place in a festive atmosphere shared by Oberá residents and visitors every night of the festival. The most colorful moments of this popular fiesta are the opening day parade in which the communities present their beauty queens,

the performances of the different dance groups, and a light and sound show that moves from house to house in the Park of Nations. General admission is free the first night, and ranges from 5 to 35 pesos, according to the program (but never exceeds 5 pesos for retirees).
Other interesting experiences in the area at this time of year: a stay with a farming family, and a look at the local bird park and a private snake farm where venom is extracted for the fabrication of snake serum. In Oberá, or in Posadas, the provincial capital, you can book excursions to Moconá Falls; Iguazú Falls; the Jesuit missions in the province and in neighboring Paraguay and Brazil; and the Iberá wetlands in Corrientes south of Misiones.
For more information on the festival and other activities in Oberá, visit: y
PHOTO CREDITS: The inaugural parade in 2008, and the show of the Ukrainian community’s Barvinok dance group.