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Image: Pablo Curras via flickr
Some homes were primly painted in pastels, green lawn manicured as far as the brown water’s lapping edge. Others were clashing primary colours, the gardens wild. Still others seemed about to be reclaimed by the delta, their docks careening drunkenly into the water, the occasional boat’s skeleton half-submerged.
Dad was visiting, and we were in Tigre. This delta town some 35 km from the centre of Buenos Aires has come back into fashion over the last few years, and is a popular getaway for wealthy porteños (Buenos Aires dwellers). We visited on a Thursday to avoid the crowds: this made for a very peaceful day, but did mean that the amusement park was closed and many of the restaurants weren’t doing parrillas. I’ll leave readers to guess which of these bothered us most.
There are regular ferries and catamaran trips around the delta, often including lunch somewhere on the island. We had my dog, Manu, so we opted for a private 1 hour motorboat tour (ARG350, or US$80). The contrasts are astounding: elegant, ivy-draped rowing clubs and country clubs with spas; secluded twists of the river hiding poorly-maintained shacks. All with the green-and-brown sunshine-draped lethargy of inland water systems: I was reminded of my hut on the Mekong River’s Four Thousand Islands, and any film I’d ever seen featuring the Mississippi Delta. At any minute I expected someone to press play on a John Lee Hooker album.
Next time I go I want to stay. Rent a little shack in ill-repair (I’ll need someone to kill the spiders first, though), read a book on my dock in the sunshine, let Manu paddle in the mud. I’ll need a hammock, and some good Argentine blues to while away the days. I will not need Internet connection.
If you go:
Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat, especially if you’re going out on the water. Consider packing a picnic, although there are plenty of restaurants in town. And remember, trains to Tigre, as well as the town itself, are likely to be packed between Friday and Sunday. Think seriously about visiting mid-week (unless you’re dying to hit the amusement park).
We had a hire car, but there are regular trains from Retiro (ARG2.7 return). You can also take the Tren de la Costa, a hop-on hop-off service that visits several other sites along the river on the way to Tigre. This leaves from Maipú (ARG32 return, ARG16 one way). To reach Maipú, take the Mitre line from Retiro to the final station.
Once there, you can enjoy the casino or amusement park (Fridays, Saturday, Sundays), the enormous market, and various water-related activities. Down on the docks in the mainland part of town are several stalls selling different packages for delta trips so shop around.
The Museo Sarmiento displays Domingo Sarmiento’s home encased in an imposing glass box: the seventh president of Argentina was a champion of democracy and equality in education, and an advocate for Tigre.
The Museo de Arte (ARG12, Wednesday to Sunday) is housed in a stunning columned mansion, once a country club, casino and hotel. They have a small permanent collection of Argentine artists as well as visiting exhibitions.
Flight Centre, the sponsor’s of this post, offer cheap international flights. Their website is a great place to start planning your trip to South America.