Argentina is a country with so much to explore from mountain to beaches to countryside. Buenos Aires boasts some of the best nightlife in the world and not a single person I’ve met who has been has not enjoyed all it has to offer. We took a day trip 17 kilometers (45 minute drive) outside of Buenos Aires for some nature to the Delta de Tigre and enjoyed a beautiful day of serenity in nature.
The Tigre tour is hosted by a lovely couple named Ana and Ralph, known in the small community as “The Swiss Couple”. They live in a rustic house along the river, only accessible by a 15 minute private water taxi from the city station or by public boat 45 minutes away.
Homemade Breakfast Served
Just the short distance on the taxi boat from the station to their home takes your breath away and you begin to imagine a life disconnected from the general civilization. Upon arrival, the friendly couple welcomes you to their home with a tour and history of the Delta.
Breakfast is then served with their own homemade bread, true-to-local recipe jams, coffee or tea. Once our bellies were filled, 7 of us visitors set sail with Ana and Ralph in their unique hand-built wooden boat towards the serene river “Paraná de las Palmas”. Ralph, who’s originally from Switzerland has had decades of experience as a Chef on various Cargo ships. Ana grew up in the Patagonia region of Argentina. The have an adorable son named Octavio who is 3 years old with a bundle of energy, that is absolutely adorable.
Cruising Down the Tigre
Delicious Lunch on the Boat
After an enjoyable boat ride through the sub tropical landscape on the narrow streams and wide rivers of the Delta’s second section, we anchored by a willow tree for lunch. We cleared the back of the boat to set up their mini kitchen and stove as Ralph, our on board Chef, cooked a whole feast. In the mean time, we tasted a variety of appetizers prepared earlier by Ralph.
Honestly I did not have high expectations for a lunch served on our mid-size wooden boat and would have been delighted with anything. To all of our surprise, Ralph began grilling meat: fresh Argentine beef, juicy locally grown chicken breasts and pork. Ana brought out a spread of appetizers including empanadas, salad, fruits and copious amounts of wine and beer.
If you are a vegetarian, they will prepare special sides for you enough to eat, just let them know ahead of time when you book the trip via email. Ana & Ralph are incredibly hospitable hosts and very knowledgeable in the history of the area, environment, and it’s natural inhabitants.
Argentinians Love their Wine & Beer
The verbal consensus seems to show that Stella Artois beer is the most common preference for Argentines. The wine preference though, almost always stays local within the country. I would have a few glasses of wine every night and not feel a headache, which we believe is because the local wines do not contain sulfites (a food preservative / enhancer). Ana & Ralph are always experimenting with small wineries and certainly have a nose and taste for it.
The red wine we had on board is from near by in the Delta, the small city of Diamante which is 7700 sq. miles long, province of Entre Rios, which is a bit more south than Santa Fe and north of Rosario.
In Argentina, the 2 main grapes are Torrontes and Malbec. Torrontes is a white Argentinean grape that grows in the north west of the country (Salta region as the grape thrives in cold dry, windswept conditions), which produces fresh, aromatic wines with moderate acidity, smooth texture and a mouthfeel. It has a soothing distinctive peach and apricot aroma on the nose. Malbec is a thin-skinned purple grape grown in warmer climates throughout Argentina but a good amount in Mendoza region (west Argentina).
All foods, breads, deserts are prepared by Ralph, while Ana will give you an insight into the Tigre Delta and the lifestyle of its inhabitants, and answer any questions you may have. The afternoon sail back becomes a blur as you are gluttonously drowned in so much food and wine. Some of us took a nap on the hood of the boat as we sailed another route back to their house.
The Parana Delta covers about 5,400 sq miles and forms the city of Sante Fe and Rosario. The Delta is split into 3: Upper Delta, Middle Delta, Lower Delta, which covers about 200 miles in length.
In the small community, there are public education and island rural schools. We learn about the unique, non-conventional, artistic school system they have in their community where their 3 year old son attends. Considered a public school, which is a civil association between parents and teachers. The parents support the school by working there. They produce breads, cookies, cakes, origami, various handicrafts to sell to tourists and to each other to raise funds for the school: salary for the teacher, painting, repairs, new bathrooms or anything they need. What impressed me the most was their focus on mindfulness. An example being the school’s “Tea Time”, half an hour after the mid-morning break where all students and teachers sit in silence as they drink their tea. Even the small children have mastered it!
Unplugging into the Delta
There is beautiful bird and various wildlife spotting as you completely unplug from the outside world and relax in this magical space called nature.
Traditional Mate Tasting
We arrived back to their home around 4pm and were once again served with homemade snacks, ice creams, cookies and jams. It is certainly an acquired taste not preferred by all, but certainly worth a try when you are in Argentina.
Ana shared with us the history of Mate, a traditional Argentine pastime favorite. People in the big city as well as the country enjoy mate. There are a certain technique on how to sip the mate properly which Ana will share.
We each passed around the Mate and enjoyed some sips which brought me to a special kind of tea-high I have not experienced before.
Price per person $2500 (ARG pesos) around u$d165 (US dollars).
What to Bring / Things to Note
- Wear comfortable clothes (better not black, because the mosquitoes like it)
- Pack Sunblock, Mosquito Repellent
- Hat to protect from the sun, Jacket in case it’s cold
It was truly an unique experience, visiting Ana & Ralph at their beautiful rustic home on the delta river, and learning about the history of the area, and the progress they have taken to where they are today: as a community, as a family, as a respected business.
Ana and Ralph
Delta Unplugged / www.delta-unplugged.com.ar
Once you book the reservation, they will provide you exact directions to their home. If lost, just ask the locals to direct you to “Lo del Suizo” (which means “The Swiss’s)