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Harry Hastings Fantasy South American Fortnight

Harry Hastings, 37, left university “in desperate need of adventure” and, over nine years in Buenos Aires, took an internship at the city’s Herald newspaper before moving on to Time Out where he wrote about travel and nightlife. He set up Plan BA, a city concierge company covering the Argentine capital, before founding luxury tour operator Plan South America in 2005.

I picked his brains recently about where he dreams of travelling once lockdown is over and what his “fantasy fortnight” in South America would be.

What would be your ideal day of gluttony in Buenos Aires if you were eating out for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails? And where do you recommend friends or clients stay when they’re in town?

I’d have breakfast at Cafe Crespin in Villa Crespo, and for lunch I’d eat at Caseros in San Telmo or Invernadero in Recoleta. For dinner, definitely steak at Don Julio in Palermo Soho, which now is very well known, but I've been going since it was a neighbourhood dive so am deeply attached to it.  If I wanted cocktails I’d head to Doppelganger or Florería Atlántico. As for hotels, I’d suggest either Palacio Duhau in Recoleta or Legado Mitico in Palermo Soho.

If you had a couple of weeks spare what would be your ideal road trip in South America?

I’d take an Andean road trip from Mendoza up to Salta. It’s a hell of a journey, some 1,500 to 2,000km in a 4X4 taking in some of the least travelled parts of Argentina. You can do it either direction, but I’d say it’s best heading north from Mendoza in November before it gets too hot and when everything’s coming into bloom.

Mendoza is pretty well developed in terms of accommodation and quality of roads, restaurants and all the rest of it. But as you trace your way north things become significantly more rustic as well as infinitely more interesting culturally, with wonderful markets and people selling goods along the road. The landscape and geography are breath taking.

Some of the spots I’d suggest checking out en route include Barreal, Valle de la Luna (or Parque Provincial Ischigualasto as it’s also called), Famatina, Cuesta de Miranda, Laguna Brava, Belen, Laguna Grande, Cafayate, Cachi, and then carry on to Jujuy and Iruya, both north of Salta.

Accommodation could be a contemporary winery or an owner-run farmstead; some simple, some remarkable from an architectural design perspective, but always incredible for their views and landscapes.

Places I recommend to my clients to stay overnight include El Puesto or Casa de Uco in Mendoza, Cañon del Talampaya, Posada Paso de los Patos, Hosteria el Peñon, Estancia Colme, Casa del Tejedor in Cachi, Estancia El Bordo in Salta, Hosteria Iruya and Hosteria El Peñon.

Along the way you’ll find high altitude vineyards, subtropical jungle, desert, cactus forests and dusty market towns. It’s increasingly indigenous as you head north, so in terms of faces, food and culture it gets much more similar to Bolivia and Peru.

PHOTOS = Harry Hastings and Will Hide

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