Majestic mountain peaks, glaciers, diverse wildlife and vast expanses of arid landscape will instil a sense of awe; this is Patagonia experienced through our Argentina escorted rail tours.

From the snow-capped peaks of the Andes in the west to the lapping waves of the Atlantic Ocean in the east, Argentina offers something for every traveller. And for railfans who prefer to see the country at a leisurely pace, the rewards are even more immense.

PTG’s escorted rail tour of Argentina is about unearthing the hidden gems – in this case, journeying through the remote plains of Patagonia onboard the Old Patagonian Express, or La Trochita (which means ‘the little narrow-gauge’). The line, immortalised in the 1978 book of American writer Paul Theroux, is the last and longest 100% steam-operated railroad in South America. In this exclusive tour, PTG will charter a few trains that take you from San Carlos de Bariloche to Esquel, the southernmost stop of the legendary line, with an expert guide on hand to explain the history behind and take care of you.

Esquel, Argentina

Rail & Cultural Journeys In Argentina

Argentina at a glance

argentina P3 Main

Capital: Buenos Aires
Language: Spanish, English, Italian, German, French
Money: Argentine peso
Travel advice:

Tipping 10% is normal. If the service was especially bad, don’t feel obliged to tip.

  • New Year’s Day – January 1
  • Dictatorship Commemoration Day 1976 – March 24,
  • Labor Day – May 1
  • Malvinas Day – April 2
  • May Revolution of 1810 – May 25
  • Death anniversary of General Güemes – June 17
  • Flag Day – June 17
  • Independence Day – July 9
  • Immaculate Conception Day – Dec 8
  • Christmas Day – December 25

Todo bien (It’s all good / everything’s good), Gracias (Thank you), De nada (You’re welcome), Por favor (Please), Si (Yes), Hola (Hello, Hi), Buenos dias (Good morning or good day), Buenas tardes (Good afternoon), Buenas noches (Good evening).

Exploring Argentina

Choripan shutterstock 447377860

Argentina is known for its rich mineral resources, indeed, the name Argentina comes from the latin for silver – argentum. Today though, it’s more well known for its agricultural output, notably livestock and cereal. Home to much of this activity is the rich grassland areas known as the Pampas, one of the country’s four main regions. The others are: The Andes to the west, the North, the Pampas in the east, and patagonia to the south.

The Pampas has been much romanticised in literature and popular culture through the symbol of the region – the Gauchos, roaming the vast open plains of grassland, tending to their livestock, much like the American cowboys.

Unlike many of the countries that surround Argentina, most people, around 95%,  are not native, originating mostly from Europe, particularly Spain, Italy and Germany. Despite the vast expanses of the Pampas and Patagonia, Argentina is very urbanised with around half of the population living in and around Buenos Aires.

Argentina is home to an impressive array of wildlife too. In particular, the Patagonian coast, where you can see elephant seals, fur seals, penguins, sea lions. Combine that with the northern regions where cougar, jaguar, and ocelot roam. Beware the crocodile and caiman in the subtropical north.

Given its renown focus on livestock, particularly beef, it’s no surprise that top of the list of cuisine to experience is Asado, the Argentinian barbecue, an array of different glorious grilled meats. It’s also known as ‘parrillada’. This is the national dish.

As a side to your Asado, you’ll want to try Chimichurri, the nation’s goto side dish. Chimichurri is  a green salsa made from chopped parsley, oregano, onion, garlic, chilli, olive oil with a sprinkling of lemon juice.

Another trademark disk is focused on cheese, grilled cheese to be exact and is a result of the influence of heavy Italian immigration. It’s called ‘Provoltea’, and uses a sharp pungent cheese topped off with chilli flakes, herbs and then grilled. It’s served crisp on the outside and melted on the inside – great with a side of chimichurri.

No exploration of Argentinian cuisine would be complete without mentioning street food. Given that football is the nation’s most well known sport (its national sport is actually ‘Pato’, a kind of polo), Choripan is the goto fast food to try. It’s made from wood fired pork and beef chorizo, split down the middle, topped off with chimichurri (of course), and served in crusty bread – Argentina’s hotdog.

If you’re a rail enthusiast and also a wine lover, then a visit to Argentina is going to be a spectacular experience for you, as Argentina is the fifth largest wine producer in the world.

If you love red wines, then probably the most well known grape variety is Malbec, producing a deep and intense red wine, very easy to drink.  However, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, chardonnay and other international varieties are now being planted.

Argentina has several main wine growing regions, these are the provinces of Mendoza, San Juan and La Rioja. Salta, Catamarca and Río Negro. More recently, southern Buenos Aires has started to produce wines. By far the largest province producing wine is Mendoza, accounting for over 60% of wine production.

Argentina is a large country and as such has a varied climate depending upon where you are. In the north, the climate can be quite tropical / sub-tropical.

The central area encompassing Buenos Aires and the wine growing region of Mendoza is quite mediterranean, with average temperatures around 18C and the warmest months being December, January and February.

The southern region encompassing Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego is much cooler, with average temperatures around 5C. The easiest time to visit the south is between the months of December and March. You can visit between April and May, but the weather becomes more unpredictable. During the winter months of July and August, most things close down.

Our Argentinian rail tour currently centres around Patagonia in the south, although we do spend a day or so in Buenos Aires.

Bueno Aires is mild to warm in March, so you need something comfortable to walk around the city in.

Patagonia in March starts to get cooler from a moderate 19C to 15C at the end of the month. Evening temperatures can drop to 6C, so always have  some light-weight warmer clothes handy.

March sees rainfall begin to increase, but with climate changes, it’s less predictable. It’s always advisable to have a light raincoat with you.

To say our escorted Argentinian rail holiday is an immersive experience is probably a bit of an understatement. you’ll begin by being immersed, quite literally, in Buenos Aires underground (subway) system, exploring with fellow local railfans how the locals get around the city.

La Trochita (the Old Patagonia Express) is the ultimate adventure for railfans, and PTG is offering this rare train holiday that winds through the Patagonian plains.

The experience then shifts to the foothills of the Andes, in Patagonia; San Carlos de Bariloche and the spectacular lake district. Experience a variety of railways, from a unique, dual gauge, three rail line allowing narrow and broad gauge trains to share the line. Steam locomotives include 2-8-0’s, 2-8-2’s and a Henschel 0-6-0.

We’ll visit the old steam railway workshops and museums and experience the steep climb out of the Esquel Valley and up to the Patagonian Plateau at Nahuel Pan – very picturesque. There will be plenty of opportunities for photo op run-bys too. Check out more details on one of our complete itineraries above.

  • In Patagonia: Bruce Chatwin
  • The Old Patagonian Express: Paul Theroux
  • The Argentina Reader: edited by Gabriela Nouzeilles and Graciela Montaldo
  • Che: Pierre Kalfon
  • Fervor de Buenos Aires: Jorge Luis Borges

Why choose PTG Tour’s escorted rail tours through Argentina

  • Established in 1998, PTG has evolved into a leading tour agency offering rail-based holidays with a focus on culture and heritage.
  • You can choose from a diverse product range, based on your preference and budget.
  • Your escorted rail tour comes with a professional tour leader who will take great care of you, plus local guides when applicable.
  • All hotels and restaurants included in your package are vetted and approved by the local teams.
  • You can travel in confidence as all of our tours are ATOL and ABTA protected.