Argentina is full of extremes, from cactus-spotted deserts to immense glaciers, providing the perfect opportunity for photographers. After you have finished taking snapshots of nature, you’ll find that even the country’s capital, Buenos Aires, there’s no shortage of fodder for your Instagram. However, knowing exactly what to share and how to get those perfect photographs takes a little know-how–it also requires knowing where to go in this vast country! Here are just a few of the must-see and must-snap places in Argentina.
This region borders both Bolivia and Chile at the very northernmost part of the country. The mountains are the centerpiece of this area and they’re known as the Cerro de los Siete Colores (or mountains of seven colors). Take the Paseo de los Colorados hike in order to explore them in all their multicolored beauty. Outside of the mountains, you’ll find indigenous towns like Tilcara and Purmamarca where you will want to make sure to check out their local markets.
When photographing people from indigenous groups, be respectful. They may not want their photo taken for a number of different reasons, including religious beliefs. They also might not want you to photograph whatever it is they are selling. Be sensitive to this, and if they tell you no, listen.
Just a little south of Jujuy, Salta has one of Argentina’s most stunning sights: the salt flats, or Salinas Grandes. The ground is blindingly white salt, the sky is impossibly blue, and it’s nearly impossible to take a bad photo here. Even if it rains, the reflection of the sky on the ground is truly breathtaking. Everything here is bright, so be aware of this when you’re shooting–you’ll almost certainly need to play with the exposure settings while you’re there.
Los Glaciares National Park
Once you have taken pictures of salt and desert, you need to head to Patagonia for snow and ice. Visit Los Glaciares National Park where you can view the massive Perrito Moreno glacier. There are lots of paths that will give you various views. The walking path can give you a good view of the top of the glacier and a sense of its reach, while a boat tour will help you understand its height. If you want to photograph both and decide which to post later, you might need a whole day to see it from all sides. The park is open from 8 am to 7 pm, but we’d suggest arriving on the early side for the best lighting.
This rugged mountain range projects a striking image. The region is lush and green, but the snowy peaks of El Chaltén provide a strong contrast of icy blues and greys. If you’re an avid hiker, this may be one of the highlights of your trip–there are hiking paths that range from 3.5 miles to a whopping 40. If you opt for some more intense trails, it may be more convenient (and you will risk less damage to your equipment) if you bring a point-and-shoot rather than your phone. In any case, be ready to play with your camera settings–there are beautiful clear pools that create stunning reflections and the peaks of the mountains make great shadowy contrasts.
Mendoza sits closer to Santiago than Buenos Aires at the foot of the Andes mountains. It’s Argentina’s biggest wine producing region with more than 1,500 wineries scattered in the area that you can explore on foot or by bike. If you prefer, you can hike through the surrounding mountains or raft along the Mendoza River. For those with more urban proclivities (and without an action camera), Mendoza’s Plaza Independencia has some lovely architecture and the Gómez building is the perfect vantage point to see this square from above.
The temperate climate of Mendoza means there will be lots of gorgeous fall foliage to see in Argentina’s autumn, which lasts from March to June. If you haven’t shot wineries in the past, get ready to play with lines and perspective: most grapevines are planted in even rows, leading to a visually compelling composition.
This is undoubtedly Buenos Aires’ coolest neighborhood, and you can see this in the new trendy restaurants and bars to stunning street art and murals. You’ll find lots of natural beauty at Parque Tres de Febrero or the Botanical Gardens, or if street photography is more your style, this neighborhood has plenty of people-watching. We suggest heading to Sta Rosa Street and Thames, where you can grab a hot sausage sandwich (also known as choripan, the city’s most famous street food) before you snap the artwork covering the walls of the surrounding streets.
It may seem morbid to head to a cemetery to take photos, but this is one of the most beautiful places in Buenos Aires, and certainly one of the most photographed. There’s a saying that it’s more expensive to be buried in Recoleta than to live your entire life in Buenos Aires, and based on the scale and intricate detail of some of these marble mausoleums (one contains famed Argentinian first lady and actress Eva Perón). Whether you’re interested in the monuments themselves or the cats draped over coffins, this cemetery is worth a visit.
The cemetery is open daily from 8 am until 6 pm, but the light is perfect in the morning. You can take a guided tour which will ensure you find all the major mausoleums (this place is like a city, so it can be difficult and confusing to navigate). There is one main “road,” so to speak, that bisects the cemetery, so if you want to take a photo that captures the scale of the cemetery, start from one of the ends of this road. Bring lots of lenses and watch out for the smallest details–there are plenty in this massive place.
If you’ve seen photos of Buenos Aires, you have almost definitely spotted the buildings in the neighborhood of La Boca, especially on El Caminito, which is arguably the most photographed road in the city. While it may seem to be mostly filled with touristy shops and gimmicky tango photo ops, there’s an interesting history behind the colorful facades. The dock workers who used to live here used scraps of corrugated metal to construct their homes, and when painting the exteriors they’d use a color until it ran out, then pick up with whatever else was left. Local artist Benito Quinquela Martín decided to freshen up the colorful buildings of El Caminito in the 1950s, making it the Instagram hotspot that it is today.
When photographing here, watch your belongings since this area is known for pickpockets. It’s also not the safest place to go at night, but you will want good light for your Boca photographs and this shouldn’t be too much of a concern. Coming earlier and shooting in the softer light will also help you avoid the harsh shadows that can occur later in the afternoon.
What are your recommendations for photographing Argentina?
Header photo by Eduardo Sanchez.