Tora Adventure

Two people exploring the world, seeking adventure & unique experiences.

Buenos Aires and the big cats of Lujan Zoo [Day 457]

Buenos Aires

This would be where we would both meet up again after Toby did some travel in Uruguay and to Iguazu Falls while Rodora did her cruise to Antarctica. This city gets a lot of hype from travellers but we suspect it is mostly because of the party scene than anything else. Beware the hostel you choose as there are a lot of party choices and if you like your sleep you’re at risk of not getting much if you do pick a party choice.

 

We both liked Buenos Aires. It’s got a nice colonial feel to it with some beautiful areas to explore. The metro system is easy to use with a single one way ticket costing 5 pesos ($0.40). Google maps didn’t like finding stations or giving directions which was quite annoying. It still suffers one of our pet peeves being that it is a city of around 3 million people, so you simply won’t get that “local” type feeling a smaller location usually offers.

 

Our hostel of choice was the Rock Hostel. It was cheap with a 6 bed dorm room costing 95 pesos ($7.50) including breakfast. It’s probably worth the upgrade to an air conditioned room at 120 pesos ($10), especially in the hotter months. It had a nice communal kitchen and rooftop patio to relax on. The manager and staff were all really friendly and helpful.

 

One thing to be careful of in Buenos Aires is crime. With inflation and the economy as it is at the end of 2014, there are plenty of opportunistic criminals around. Use common sense and don’t go flashing around large amounts of money or expensive toys (phones/cameras). We didn’t have any problems, but we heard regular stories of pickpockets and others. There was a famous one where tourists on bicycles were attempted to be robbed by a guy on a motorbike that was all caught on a GoPro. Check the link here.

 

 

 

Casa Rosada (Pink house)

For the fans of Evita (Eva Peron) or Argentinian history, you’re probably aware of the balcony at this famous location. This is located on Plaza 25 de Mayo which is a very photogenic area and located at the end of a metro line. Be careful that this is the most common place for protests and rallies to be held and at the time it was a very common thing to happen. As a foreigner it’s often best to stay well clear of these types of situations.

 

This building has the office of the President that you get to visit as part of free tours held in Spanish and English, though you’re not allowed to take photos inside the office. The inside of the building is really nice to look at and well worth the hour or two of your time to visit.

 

 

The view from the balcony at Casa Rosada

The view from the balcony at Casa Rosada

Inside Casa Rosada and the press room used by the President

Inside Casa Rosada and the press room used by the President

Casa Rosada

Casa Rosada

 

Lujan Zoo

This place sure has some controversy linked to it if you google you will find plenty of different stories. This was a tip off from someone Rodora went to Antarctica with and a really good one at that. You want to allow at least half a day to do this depending on your mode of transport. The cheapest way is by bus, but allow at least 1 hour each direction actually on the bus. The bus starts at a Plaza outside the Estacion 11 de Septiembre on Avenida Rivadavia (also known as Plaza Once). You want to get on the express bus (number 57) to Lujan, the zoo is about 5km before Lujan itself just off the main highway and the bus will drop you a couple of minutes walk away, but be sure to tell the driver as you get on where you are headed. You will need a pre-charged bus pass (useful for all metro and buses in Buenos Aires). Cost going out was 29 pesos ($2.25) and coming back was 24 pesos ($2).

 

The entry to the zoo cost 300 pesos ($24) and included everything. You could then tip money at each location for the handlers.

 

The zoo first opened on November 24, 1994. We were there nearly 20 years to the day after it had opened. It is much bigger than it was when it originally opened with what appears to be a quite successful breeding program. A quick look at the map below shows the variety and quantities of animals you can see.

 

Lujan Zoo Map

Lujan Zoo Map

 

The controversy here lies in how the animals are treated and how dangerous it appears to let regular members of the public to be so close to these animals. This is evidenced by our first photo with a 3 year old Lion.

 

Toby with a 3 year old Lion

Toby with a 3 year old Lion

 

What should be noted here is that we arrived at around 2pm with the outside temperature somewhere around 35C. The animals do seem a bit sleepy, but so were we in the heat. The keepers only allowed a couple of people in at a time and were often extremely cautious with what we did and how we acted.

 

Rodora with a large female Tiger

Rodora with a large female Tiger

Toby with a white Siberian Tiger

Toby with a white Siberian Tiger

 

There’s a lot of online talk about the animals being drugged. You really have to think about it though, are they going to drug an animal daily? How long is an animal going to live if it’s constantly drugged? It just doesn’t seem possible.

 

The training of the animals becomes clearer as you find the young cubs. We were lucky to spend some time with 3 month old cubs. They were all together with young puppies. This is how it works, from birth, the dogs, animals and trainers develop a relationship. The lions/tigers see the interaction of humans with the dogs and imitate the same actions. The relationship continues for the life of the dog as we saw fully grown dogs with the larger cats.

 

Rodora with a 3 month old Lion cub

Rodora with a 3 month old Lion cub

Tiger cub taking a nap

Tiger cub taking a nap

Rodora with a young Tiger cub

Rodora with a young Tiger cub

Toby and Rodora with a 3 month old Lion cub

Toby and Rodora with a 3 month old Lion cub

 

Of course there’s a potential for things to go wrong but there’s no known history in the 20 years so far so they must be doing something right.

 

There were some other quite cool animals to spend some time with. The Elephants were one of our favourites. We were given half an apple to hold up in the air and the Elephant then ate it from out of our hands. Certainly a very weird feeling.

 

Toby and Rodora with an Elephant

Toby and Rodora with an Elephant

 

There was also a very large collection of cars, trucks, old army vehicles, tractors and farm machinery to look at if you were interested.

 

 

Plenty more to explore. Keep following the blog and our Flickr account for updates. http://www.flickr.com/photos/toraadventure/

 

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This entry was posted on January 27, 2015 by in Argentina.
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