Your personal Buenos Aires Photo Tour

September 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Photographer

Buenos Aires Zoo

November 22, 2007 by · 10 Comments 

It’s all happening at the zoo…

Elephants at Buenos Aires Zoo

The Buenos Aires Zoo is spectacularly charming for anyone with an afternoon to spare. Located in the heart of Palermo off the Plaza Italia subway stop, the zoo spans the distance between Avenidas Las Heras and Libertador. Home to over 350 species and known for some of its exotic breeding, the zoo is the perfect place for families, a romantic date or an afternoon alone.

On sunny weekends this attraction is packed full of children, which isn’t always entirely different from the weekdays, when many school field trips attend. Nevertheless, the best time to visit the zoo is on a sunny weekday afternoon, when you can lounge in front of the white tiger enclosure or elephant house with few others peering over your shoulder.
Feeding time at the Buenos Aires Zoo

Buenos Aires Zoo details

The zoo’s entrance is located on the corner of Avenida Las Heras and Avenida Sarmiento. Cost varies depending on what you want to see and how much you want to spend. General Admission (Entrada General) gives you access to most of the zoo. However, there are several exhibits requiring the more advanced pass (Pasaporte), which gives you access to exhibits such as the Aquarium, Reptiles and Rainforest, as well as the ‘Dragon House’ and a boat ride on the lagoon.

The General pass shouldn’t be overlooked however, as the majority of the zoo is indeed found within the General layout. Meanwhile, the Aquarium has penguins with both fresh and saltwater fish (including piranhas) in large tanks and the reptile area is eerily captivating (especially for the boys). However, if after purchasing the general pass and you find yourself thinking that the Rainforest exhibit looks too good to pass up, a few pesos extra at the entrance to each additional exhibit will grant you entry.

Nice views in the Buenos Aires Zoo, Palermo

Don’t feed the animals (or do!)

OK, so you have your pass… now, where do you begin? Upon admittance you’ll see a large entrance where you can purchase disposable cameras, snacks and also rent lockers. They also have professional photographers if you want to capture the moment without any blurs or overexposures, which is ideal considering the entrance is next to a picturesque lagoon where flamingos lounge on the far side of the fountains. (Look closely and you’ll also see snapping turtles!)

The entrance area is also an excellent chance to buy some animal food (Comidas Animales) – throughout your journey you’re welcome to feed elephants, alpacas, monkeys, camels, deer, zebras and other feed friendly animals. The food bags are affordable, as are the larger bins. While you’ll find yourself wondering how it’s possible that all of these different animals eat the same food (maybe save yourself some cash and try it out on the kids… just kidding!), it’s a wonderful way to interact and gain the attention of the more commonly aloof critters. Some of the animals will even play up to the food, with elephants raising their trunks and monkeys motioning for you to throw more.

Some of the enclosures are so close to the animals themselves that sneaking in some petting (while you’re feeding the camel, for instance) isn’t difficult. Naturally, it’s important to be socially conscious of the safety of the animals and yourself, so be mindful when you’re petting the zebra. If the kids are complaining that you’ve run out of food, then there are stations located throughout the Zoo where more can be purchased.

Also, if the Comidas Animales didn’t go over so well as the kids’ snack, then there are stands where popsicles and other treats can be found. However, like most zoos, these are extremely overpriced… so, if you go over to the sides of the zoo (by the fence) you will often find street vendors that will sell you a larger variety at half the price, right through the gaps in the fence! In Buenos Aires, where there’s a will, there’s a way .

A Camel has the hump at Buenos Aires Zoo

You are HERE

The layout of the zoo is simple so you don’t have to worry about missing anything. Posted maps along the way indicate your position, but by following the main path you’ll surely see it all. If you’ve taken this zoo-pert’s advice and headed RIGHT upon entry, your first stop will be the polar bears with their large swimming pool and the Aquarium, should you choose to view it.

The elephant house is enormous and the elephants seem to spend most of their time near the perimeters in hopes of catching some snacks purchased by zoo goers. Again the intimacy of the Buenos Aires zoo is spectacular and it’s breathtaking to see these amazing animals up so close.

The zoo is also known for its success in breeding white tigers and these, along with the other large cats (pumas, cheetahs, jaguars and lions) are all in well built enclosures where they’re easy to spot. Each enclosure lists the animal with some basic information for those wishing to educate themselves on the wildlife. Information such as where you can find them in the wild, the types of food they eat (interestingly enough, none mention the Comidas Animales!) and other key characteristics about each inhabitant is listed.

If the white tigers aren’t impressing the kids and they’re getting rambunctious, not to worry. The middle of the zoo houses a playground fully equipped with swings and slides for them to exert all that extra energy. The zoo also has two carousels located at the back and far left. The one in the rear is always running and is nearby a rest area with food. It’s a great halfway point and the perfect load off.

Zoo and more

The region dedicated to Africa is located on the left side of the zoo which again bodes spectacularly intimate views of anything you’d hope to see. This gives way to a petting zoo where at the end of your journey (you’re actually allowed to here!) to pet a family of goats, donkeys and Shetland ponies.

If you haven’t had your fill by this time, take another loop. Or, if you have, you’re back at the lagoon and ready for home… Once you’re home and realize that house cat of yours isn’t exactly living up to those white tiger cubs, visit the zoo website to see what other activities and adventures the zoo has to offer. This includes information on birthdays, guided tours and other specialized events: www.zoobuenosaires.com.ar (one such specialized event at the moment is night time zoo opening, as reported on here in Buenos Aires Weekly).

Giraffe at Buenos Aires Zoo

Location of Buenos Aires Zoo

Corner of Avenida Las Heras and Avenida Sarmiento, Palermo

Website: http://www.zoobuenosaires.com.ar/

Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

October 7, 2007 by · 8 Comments 

A quiet nature reserve just steps from the city

Viewpoint in the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

The hustle and bustle of the City Center are lost in the cooling mood of the only ecological reserve in the city, the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur. A stone’s throw away from the trendy, modern neighborhood of Puerto Madero and you find yourself walking along the park’s boardwalk littered with nuzzling couples, parillas (steakhouses), and more pigeons than you can throw a stick at.

The Costanera Sur’s walkway borders the front of the reserve and from there you can see the greater landscape that opens up into the park. The boardwalk itself is entertaining, with beautiful architecture and sculptures, casual eateries and dozens of pickup games of futbol. Your initial examination of the swampy marshland is only an introduction to the many more birds and interesting views that await you upon entering.

Patio area in the Costanera Sur nature reserve

Buenos Aires grows its own ecological reserve

The city of Buenos Aires has seen its fair share of change over the years, and the history of the reserve is part of this constant transformation. During the city’s modernization in the mid-20th century, remnants of demolished buildings and construction debris were discarded into the Rio de la Plata. Gradually the debris, mixed with sand from the river began to create the marshy foundation for what is now the reserve. Soon, the plants began to grow, and not long after the birds followed. The ecological park is the result of this interesting history, and a great location for observing that fascinating border where city and country convene.

So although you may see more than a few empty bottles and wrappers that have been thrown all over the small concrete divider at the start of the boardwalk, just remember that debris and waste is the reason you’re there in the first place! And don’t worry, once inside, the heart of the park is much cleaner and well kept.

Nature consuming the city at the Costanera Sur?
[Photo Credit: jmpznz, under this CC licence]

Rent a bike to help explore the nature reserve

The park has two entrances. The main entrance is located on the southern side of the boardwalk and is an excellent place to rent a bicycle for the afternoon. This isn’t a bad way to go if you want to maximize your time bouncing around from view to view.

The entire walk around the reserve will take you more than an hour and that’s without stopping to peer through the reeds and to try and identify birds. The reserve offers several viewpoint stops that allow you a moment to pull out your binoculars and scan over the marshes that navigate through the wetlands. If you forget to bring your own, a few monedas (coins) will allow you a peek through the public binoculars that are placed along decks that skirt out over the marshlands.

Spectacular views with interesting backdrops

The views in the reserve are spectacularly endless. From the parks entrance a quick look back gives you a different view of the boardwalk with the city stretching up behind it. Wandering through the dirt laid paths are benches that offer a brief rest while you take in the quiet escape you’ve earned from your walk.

Perhaps most breathtaking are the views on the eastern side of the park. The Rio de la Plata borders this edge of the reserve and boats can be seen sailing in the distance. The air here is cooler and cleaner than in the busy city and the grassy areas for sitting are a great place to settle down for a relaxing view…

Costanera Sur View in Buenos Aires

This side of the reserve not only boasts amazing views of the river, but one of the best of the city. As you’ve chosen an afternoon away from the crazy downtown streets, it’s more than rewarding to see the city settled in the distance among a foreground of reeds and cattails.

Hide away from busy Buenos Aires down by the river

If you’ve entered the park from the south your walk continues past more scenes of the city and river. The river offers a true boardwalk where with some innovation and a keen eye you can find the entrance from inside the reserve and walk out along the river. On a hot day, or if you’re looking for a truer sense of solitude, this is one of the best hiding places in the city.

A closer look at the passing barges and water below will bring you even further away from the demanding pace of downtown. The northern side of the park offers many other surprises for those with a sharp eye. If you’re riding your rented bicycle too fast you may miss the small veterinary clinic and adoption center at the northern entrance of the park. Designed to offer veterinary assistance to the many birds that inhabit the reserve, you can see hawks and larger birds of prey that may usually be flying too high overhead for such a close examination. The small building also houses some wayward dogs that are now up for adoption; probably a better bet if you’re a Buenos Aires inhabitant rather than a traveler.

The Rio de la Plata as viewed from the Costanera Sur

The end of a relaxing day at the Costanera Sur, Buenos Aires

From here, you’ve almost completed your circle. Your choices of return are to take the northern exit and walk back using the footpath, stopping for any number of snacks along the way (sure to be meat). Or, heading back from inside the park instead gives you a chance to prolong your afternoon oasis and take in more of the reserve.

When you do in fact decide to head on out of the nature reserve, Puerto Madero and the water diques (canals) are your transition home. You’ve probably found yourself hours later and the countless restaurants and bars located here are a perfect way to end your afternoon, or begin your evening. Whether you’re a Buenos Aires native or first time visitor, the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur is an ideal way to escape from the city without the headache of organizing day trips or the burden of their cost. Whether you’re a country mouse stuck in the city, or simply looking for an afternoon off, put this attraction near the top of your list.

Location of Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

Av. Tristán A Rodríguez 1550, near Padre M Migone, Puerto Madero

The Buenos Aires Japanese Gardens

December 12, 2006 by · 9 Comments 

Escape to the Jardin Japones

Japanese Gardens, Palermo, Buenos Aires

Tucked away in the Bosques de Palermo (Palermo Parks), you will find the peaceful Japanese Gardens, an oasis of calm and serenity in the middle of the crazy, busy, noisy city of Buenos Aires. The gardens are also recommendable as a nice place for couples to go when in Buenos Aires, or to take a date on if you are lucky enough to charm an Argentine while in town.

To be fair, you can just about hear the drone of cars on the main avenues in the background, which spoils your zen a little, but not completely. Also watch out for the occasional school trip of noisy children, or young family, partly because the abundant koi carp and ducks are happy to be fed by visitors, which kids usually seem to enjoy.

Koi Carp in the Japanese Gardens, Palermo

Beautifully Maintained Gardens

Me and a zen stone in the Jardin JaponesThe park itself is wonderfully kept and very pretty all year round, as the different plants, trees and bushes show their lovely colors at varying points in the calendar. Apart from the koi carp and ducks in the cutely landscaped ponds, there are other easy on the eye features such as sculpted shrubberies, ornate arched red bridges, pattering mini rock waterfalls and zen-like stone and sculpture formations (see right).

Apparently the horticulture on show includes black pine trees, gingko, sakura, and of course, the ubiquitous bonsai trees, that will impress all budding gardeners and karate kids alike.

In case you are wondering ‘why exactly are there Japanese gardens in Buenos Aires?‘, well, they were given as a ‘thank you’ to Argentina, by Japanese immigrants living in Buenos Aires, when they constructed this lovely five acre park in 1967.

Japanese Tea Room & Restaurant

Attached to the gardens, in a pagoda style building, a Japanese tea room and restaurant combo is found (closed on Tuesdays). During the day this offers a range of oriental brews, green teas and cakes, and then during the evening it transforms into a restaurant with authentic Japanese food, specializing in sushi. (If sushi is what you crave, look on Saltshaker for reviews of the best sushi spots all over BA).

Additionally, there are sometimes exhibitions and shows of Japanese culture held inside the same building – try calling ahead to find out if anything like this is happening, on 4804 9141.

Getting There & Getting In

The Jardin Japones is open from 10am to 6pm daily, year round, and costs a small fee to get in. To get there you can take a number of buses, including the 10, 37, 67, 102 or 130.

Failing that, try a taxi, or take a pleasant walk to get there – either through the rest of the Palermo Parks that run along Avenida Sarmiento, before turning onto Avenida Berro, or if you are starting from the Palermo Chico area (where the Malba art museum is located), you could walk along Avenida Figueroa Alcorta, turning onto Avenida Casares to reach the Japanese Gardens. Well worth a sightseeing visit, however you arrive there.

Location of Japanese Gardens / Jardin Japones

Corner of Av. Casares & Av. Berro, Palermo

Plaza Dorrego

November 7, 2006 by · 22 Comments 

Buenos Aires “Must Do”

San Telmo Outdoor Market

Spending a Sunday in and around Plaza Dorrego is one of the few things that ranks as a ‘must do’ sightseeing attraction for visitors to Buenos Aires. On the seventh day of the week, when the rest of the city is resting, the city closes much of neighboring Defensa street to traffic, and this part of San Telmo explodes into a mass of around 8,000 people, locals and tourists alike. They come to peruse antiques and knick knacks, watch the outdoor tango dancing and other performers, sit for a coffee or beer outside a classic old cafe, or just aimlessly wander around the interesting chaos. This, more or less, is the Plaza Dorrego Sunday market, also known as the Feria de San Telmo.

Some San Telmo History

The Dorrego Bar in San Telmo

Plaza Dorrego is one of the oldest public spaces in the city, dating back to the 18th century, when it was an area reserved for the wagons that brought in produce to Buenos Aires from all over the country. Just before the turn of the 19th century it was turned into a public square. The coffee shops and bars surrounding the Plaza only sprung up in the 1930s, when it became an area for wine, song and dance, as it remains today. Bar Plaza Dorrego is the most famous of these establishments, with its lovely old wooden fixtures and counter, although the former has been etched with graffiti over the years – but then many would say this adds to its charm.

Plaza Dorrego Sunday Market / Feria de San Telmo

Tango Dancers in Plaza Dorrego, San TelmoThe market started in 1970, and it is still going strong with more than 270 stands offering antiques, phonographs, period clothes, jewelery, old books, crafts items and other knickknacks. It is open on Sundays from around 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. While this fair is going on, Argentine tango and folklore singers and dancers, and other performers, put on outdoor shows throughout the day.

If you have no more than a casual interest in tango, then Plaza Dorrego on a Sunday is an excellent time and place to enjoy an introductory sampling of the dance, if you don’t want to go full-out and pay for a proper Tango dinner-show in Buenos Aires. Also, in the late afternoon and early evening, after the stalls begin to pack up, free impromptu outdoor Tango lessons are often given in Plaza Dorrego, which can be quite good fun if you are not ashamed of making a fool of yourself in public.

If you don’t want to get that involved, it is nice just to sit at one of the bars that surround the Plaza and take in the action from there, while partaking of your favorite liquid refreshment.

Antiques Fair

Initially the outdoor market was antiques only. These days, to cater for visitors, all kinds of other knick knacks and local crafts are available in addition to the more expensive antiques. But despite this small change in the outdoor market away from tradition, this area of San Telmo still remains very much the antiques quarter of Buenos Aires.

Odds and ends in Plaza Dorrego Market Stall

San Telmo Indoor Market

Keeping up the antiques theme, nearby to Plaza Dorrego, surrounded by the streets Bolívar, Carlos Calvo, Defensa, and Estados Unidos, is the San Telmo Indoor Market, a massive iron structure built back in 1897, which fills the whole block. Back then it was a produce market, but when the outdoor fair started in 1970, it soon shifted to antiques, and these days it is just as interesting to wander around as the outdoor version. It is also quite poignant to see a few of the food produce stalls holding on to their past trade, side-by-side with the antiques. Some of the smells are not what you would usually expect when looking at such valuable old pieces.

San Telmo market

[Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/denise_mayumi/3216605354/sizes/m/in/photostream/ CC BY 2.0 ]

Defensa Street

The nearby street of Defensa is also full of antique shops, most of which contain items far out of many tourists’ price range. However, they still make for a nice spot of window shopping, looking through the Argentine and European period pictures, 18th and 19th century furniture, jewelry, colonial silver and classic toys. In fact, this area of San Telmo is now considered one of the most important antiques centers in the whole of Latin America. And yet strangely, there seems to be an obsession with selling plain old soda siphons, as pictured below (although actually, they can be quite beautiful when many different colored siphons are all displayed together on one stall).

Soda Siphons in Plaza Dorrego Market Stall

Whether or not you do buy anything, you are still sure to have a great time in and around Plaza Dorrego on a Sunday – a true Buenos Aires experience.

Location of Plaza Dorrego

Corner of Defensa and Humberto Primo, San Telmo

Choose your currency:

Close
Converted prices are for reference only - all orders are charged in $ US Dollars ($) USD.
  • USDUS Dollars ($)
  • EUREuros (€)
  • GBPPounds Sterling (£)
  • AUDAustralian Dollars ($)
  • BRLBrazilian Real (R$)
  • CADCanadian Dollars ($)
  • HKDHong Kong Dollar ($)
  • NZDNew Zealand Dollar ($)
  • CHFSwiss Franc
  • ZARSouth African Rand