Since 1981 the UNESCO has distinguished Argentina by including eight Argentine attractions in their World's Natural and Cultural Heritage sites list, read about them:
Iguazú National Park (Iguazu Falls)
Within the Iguazú National Park, located 18 Km. (11 miles)away from Puerto Iguazú and declared World Natural Heritage by the UNESCO in 1981, are the famous Iguazú Falls (Iguassu Falls). The river flowing waters fall from a height of 70 meters (210 feet), through 275 falls, and over a 2.7 Km (1,6 miles).-long area. The border with Brazil goes through the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat), where many cascades produce sprays of water and colorful rainbows.
The National Park protects the subtropical vegetation surrounding the falls with over 2,000 plant species - gigantic trees, ferns, lianas, orchids, - 400 bird species - parrots, hummingbirds, toucans - jaguars and yacarés (caimans).
The Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis
The Jesuit Missions of Guarani Indians - San Ignacio Miní, Santa María La Mayor, Santa Ana and Nuestra Señora de Loreto (Argentina), and São Miguel das Missões (Brazil) – “represent an unprecedented economic and socio-cultural experience in history”, as stated by the UNESCO in 1984, when the missions were granted World Heritage status.
San Ignacio, Loreto, Santa Ana and Santa María, located in the Province of Misiones, can be visited within a 296-Km-long (185 miles) circuit of great scenic beauty. These missions, established in Argentine territory during the first half of the 17th century, were part of the 33 settlements comprising the Jesuit Province of Paraguay.
Los Glaciares National Park
Breathtaking landscape of impressive glaciers descending from the continental ice field. Thirteen glaciers on the Atlantic side break into huge ice towers which plunge into the waters of lakes Viedma and Argentino. Glaciers Perito Moreno, Mayo, Spegazzini, and Upsala’s fronts fall into the latter, at a short distance from glaciers Agassiz, Onelli, Ameghino, and Frías. Tertiary granite elevations covered with thick Andean forests are also part of this spectacle. You can go sailing on the lakes to better appreciate the glaciers’ front, or you may go trekking and climbing on ancient blocks of ice.
El Calafate is the closest service center, which can be reached by air from Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, or by bus from Río Gallegos.
There are several natural reserves with various species of marine fauna along the Patagonian coast, but none of them offers such a spectacular concentration of wildlife as Peninsula Valdés. This peninsula located 1,400 Km. to the south of Buenos Aires, projects into the sea forming two gulfs of sheltered waters, and it is a meeting point for the southern right whales, which arrive here to complete their breeding cycle between May and December.
In the northern part of the Peninsula’ is the world’s most important southern sea elephant continental breeding colony. The name of these animals comes from their trunk, which resembles that of an elephant, and which is dilated by males during the rut. Elephant seals can reach 7 meters in length and have an average weight of three tons. They feed on fish, squid, and octopus, and they can dive up to 200 meters in search of a prey.
There are also many sea lion colonies with a rich variety of birds, while the rest of the peninsula is teeming with other animals such as rheas, Patagonian cavy and guanacos.
We recommend that you go to the Interpretation Center at the Ameghino Isthmus, where you will be provided with all the information and advice you may need.
The Isla de los Pájaros Reserve has thousands of sea birds (cormorants, gulls, terns, herons). There are trips departing from Puerto Pirámides to observe the southern right whale.
Cueva de las Manos at the upper Pinturas River
To the south of the town of Perito Moreno, there is one of the most significant displays of cave painting in Patagonia. Over 9,300-year-old handprints and hunting scenes fill the caves and rocky walls of the Pinturas River canyon.
Cueva de las Manos (Hands Cave) receives its name from the human hand stencils appearing in the cave; however, there are not only human hands but also many animal depictions, such as guanacos (Lama guanicoe), rheas, and pumas, which are still common species in the region. The hunter-gatherer communities responsible for the paintings inhabited this remote area of the Patagonia until the arrival of European settlers in the 17th century.
Cueva de las Manos was declared World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO in 1999.
The Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba
The Jesuit block includes the Compañía´s church, the Capilla Doméstica (local chapel), the Priests’ Residence, the Rectorado (former Colegio Máximo of the Compañía de Jesús), as well as its administrative offices, the university council, the Salón de Grados, the Biblioteca Mayor (main library), and the Colegio Monserrat.
The Jesuit settled in Córdoba in 1599, in the area granted by the Cabildo (Old Town Hall), where there was a little hermitage since 1589 which was not big enough to house the clergy, students, and the faithful. For that reason, in 1606 the construction of the new buildings began, historic buildings that are now part of the Manzana Jesuítica or Jesuit Block. Later on, other buildings were erected: Colegio Máximo (1610), the University (1622), Real Colegio Convictorio de Nuestra Señora de Monserrat (founded in 1687 but relocated in today's site in 1782 when the Compañía was expelled) and the Novitiate (in 1710). The church and the Capilla Doméstica were built between 1644 and 1671.
The Jesuit Estancias (ranches) in the Province of Córdoba, which are still in good conditions thanks to a well-preserved and carefully-executed architecture, are a unique example of the productive organization of the Jesuit fathers in Argentina.
Although history shows that these ranches were acquired by the Jesuit Order for economic reasons, namely to finance the order’s schools and colleges, they “also participated in a missionary purpose, and thus became centers of religious dissemination”.
The Jesuit Estancias in Jesús María, Caroya, Santa Catalina, La Candelaria and Alta Gracia can be visited within a 250-Km-long (157 miles) circuit through picturesque mountain roads.
These 17th century rural establishments within the Manzana Jesuítica – all of them national historic monuments – were declared World Cultural Heritage in year 2000.
Quebrada de Humahuaca
Departing from San Salvador de Jujuy, we reach this natural road leading to the altiplano (high plateau). Vividly colored landscapes frame a group of villages with adobe houses, historical chapels and Pre-Hispanic ruins, where time seems to stand still.
One of the most beautiful villages is Purmamarca, an indigenous village lying against the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Seven-color Mount) which strata illustrates various geological ages. Further on, there is an area of mountains with bright-colored stripes, known as La Paleta del Pintor (The Artist's Pallet), in Maimará. One of the most outstanding attractions in this ravine is the Pucará de Tilcara, a fortified town built by the Omaguaca natives in pre-Columbian times. A monolith marks the Tropic of Capricorn, where each June 21st at midday the sun casts an exactly perpendicular shadow, and the celebration of the aborigines’ new year begins (Inti Raymi - Sun Festival). Humahuaca was founded by the Spanish by the end of the XVI century. Its church and Carnival Museum exhibit some of the region’s customs. Approximately 12 Km (7,5 miles) away, the mysterious ruins of what used to be terraces for growing Coctaca can be seen.
Quebrada de Humahuaca was declared World Cultural Landscape by the UNESCO in July 2nd 2003.
Ischigualasto - Talampaya National Park
Ischigualasto Provincial Park, in the Province of San Juan, is one of the most important paleontologic sites in the world. It is 25 Km (15 miles) long and 10 Km (6 miles) wide, and has fossil remains of vertebrates that inhabited the place in the Mesozoic era 180 million years ago, footprints of dinosaurs, fern leaf prints and petrified araucaria trunks. The landscape displays an extraordinary diversity of forms and colors.
The major attraction of Talampaya National Park (215.000 hectares), in the Province of La Rioja, are its steep cliffs of brick-red rock with thousand of distinctive shapes carved by erosion, where condors nest. The most popular area is a 3-Km-wide (2 miles) canyon with all kinds of sandstone formations and 150-meter-tall (450 feet) walls. The place is rich in precious archaeological remains such as stone mortars and pre-Columbian petroglyphs.
Ischigualasto and Talampaya, which share a geological basin of about 5,000 sq. Km (3125 sq. miles), were inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Natural Heritage List in December 2000.