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Isla Martin Garcia - Other Activity Buenos Aires - Argentina

About 50 families share the peaceful confines of this island, which is less than one square mile in size and located off the coast of Uruguay. Martín Garcia is a haven of dense, lush forest (a protected nature reserve), home to squawking green parrots, two species of owl, eight kinds of hummingbirds, red deer, reptiles, and frogs to name just a few.

For history lovers, the island served as a strategic outpost in a number of important battles – including the Argentine War of Independence – in the 1800s, and for a short time it existed as a micro-state, jointly controlled by Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. It later served as a penal colony, and a number of presidents were imprisoned here, including Juan D. Perón. Later, the island was used as a quarantine zone, where those affected by the epidemics of the late 19th Century were housed. More recently, it was the site of detention and torture during the dictatorship of 1976-83.

The ruins of fortifications are still visible today, and tourists can visit the Island museum, the infirmary, old Chinatown and the lighthouse. For lunch, stop off at El Comedor Solis, which serves up typical meats and pastas, or for a sweet souvenir, call into Panaderia Rocío, and pick up some Pan Dulce, or fruitcake. Fragata Hércules is an OK option for lunch if the others are closed.

Most people take in the island on a day trip, but it’s not impossible to stay overnight. The campgrounds have hostel facilities at certain times of the year (Tel: +54-11-4958-4978), or ask about bungalow rental at Hosteria Martin Garcia (Tel: +54-11-4749-2369).

The temperature on the island is an average of 55 degrees in winter and soars into the 80s in summer. There are no banks or ATM machines, and many places won’t take credit cards, so come with a wallet full of pesos.

Tigre, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Other Activity Types:
Wildlife refuge

By Jessica McGovern
20 Sep 2010

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