Hidden Treasures of South America - Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Bolivia

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Download Hidden Treasures of South America Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Buenos Aires

Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, you are met and transferred to our centrally located hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore the city of Buenos Aires. In the evening, we have our introductory meeting and dinner. Overnight in Buenos Aires.

 

Day 2: Buenos Aires city sites

Today, we discover the highlights of Buenos Aires. Travelling by bus and walking through the unique "barrios", we will have a close look at daily life in Buenos Aires.

We visit Parliament Square, where we see the pink Presidential Palace, Mayo Avenue and the Palacio del Congresso. We also visit some of the neighborhoods of the city; La Boca (a section of Buenos Aires built by Italian immigrants) with many colorful buildings and Recoleta (the most affluent of Buenos Aires' neighborhoods), which is home to Cementerio de la Recoleta, where Evita Peron is buried.

Tonight enjoy dinner as we watch a live Tango Show called "La Ventana". Overnight in Buenos Aires.

 

Day 3: Ferry Crossing to Colonia, Uruguay

This morning we enjoy a relaxing morning, sailing on a slow boat to the historical city of Colonia, the 17th century Portuguese contraband port and fortress. We cross the Rio de la Plata to arrive at this colonial gem. Our walking tour explores some of the buildings and laneways dating back to 1680, when it was founded. The area is known as the Barrio Historico.

We see the restored Puerto de Campo, the Calle de los Suspiros, the Casa de Lavalleja, the ruins of the 17th century Convento de San Francisco and the restored 19th century lighthouse. In the afternoon, we return by high speed ferry to Buenos Aires. Dinner and overnight in Buenos Aires.

 

Day 4: Fly to La Rioja, Villa Union

Transfer to the domestic airport for our midday flight to La Rioja at the foot of the Velasco mountains. The region is famous for several reasons including its wine. We enjoy the scenery as we make our way through the countryside, we watch for the wildlife that is commonly found in this area - including guanacos, Andean condors (the second largest bird in the world) and foxes. Overnight Villa Union.

 

Day 5: Talampaya National Park

After breakfast, we set off to explore the Talampaya National Park. Its dramatic geology of Yacoraite formations has created a deep red canyon with some of the most bizarre and exquisite rock formations on earth. After lunch we will make our way back to the hotel, where you will enjoy an afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Villa Union.

 

Day 6: The Triassic Park of Ischigualasto

We explore the deep-white, sandstone landscape of Ischigualasto Provincial Park by car, where we discover ancient remains of the world's history, such as fossilized leaves and amazing wind erosion formations in the only Triassic Park in the Americas. Overnight Villa Union.

 

Day 7: Miranda Gorge, Mythical Inca Ruins of Shincal

Today we pass by the marvellous Miranda Gorge; followed by arrival at Chilecito in the Famatina Valley in La Rioja Province. The drive takes us past wide vineyards and through Londres (or London); the second oldest city in Argentina founded in 1558 by the Spanish. We also visit the largest Inca ruins in Argentina, at El Shincal. Overnight in Belen.

 

Day 8: The Indian Ruins of Quilmes

Continuing north, we visit the Quilmes ruins. The Quilmes Indians were one of the cultures who fiercely resisted the Incas but eventually fell to the Spaniards. The ruins are possibly the most extensively preserved in Argentina and date back to around 1000 AD, when they housed approximately 5000 people. Overnight in Cafayate.

 

Day 9: Quebrada de Las Conchas, Wine Vineyards of Cafayate

We begin our day with a walk from Quebrada de Las Conchas, through a dry riverbed of the Yesera River. See beautiful rock formations with fanciful names like "The Obelisk", "The Window" and "The Castle" with layers of green, grey and red that are highlighted beautifully by the sun. Strips of gypsum form white lines running through the red soil. We can enjoy this beautiful area during our picnic lunch.

For those who want to hike up to the top of the gorge (400ft; 130 meters) you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the mountain range.

In the afternoon, we visit the famous wine cellars of Cafayate and partake in some wine tasting. SALUD! Overnight in Cafayate.

 

Day 10: Cafayate - Wine Experience

After breakfast enjoy a half day visit to Bodega El Porvenir de los Andes. It was founded in 1890 by a family of Italian immigrants who settled in the Cafayate Valley. Later it was reborn as a premium winery upon being bought by the Romero-Marcuzzi family, who knew the region and were inspired to develop a successful vitivinicultural project.

They offer a complete "Porvenir" experience including a visit to the exclusive winery and their vineyard where visitors will be able to understand the year-round work in the vineyard and learn about the different types of grapes and the terroir of the region. During the visit to the winery, we may have the opportunity to enjoy an exhibition of Andean textile art.

The visit includes wine tasting with some of their well known brands: Laborum & Amauta as well as Torrontes, Cabarnet and Malbec, just to name a few. Enjoy a regional lunch with drinks (wine and mineral water) during your visit to the vineyards.

Evening visit to the Cafayate Wine Museum. Overnight in Cafayate.

 

Day 11: Las Flechas Gorge, Town of Cachi

Our drive today takes us into the Calchaquies Valley and through the stunning Las Flechas Gorge. The gorge was formed by the folding of deep white sandstone to an almost 90 degree angle. The white spears contrast sharply with the green of the valley.

We enjoy a short walk among the spears before continuing on. Arrive at the charming Indian town of Cachi in the foothills of imposing Mt. Cachi. Overnight in Cachi.

 

Day 12: Cachi - Los Cardones National Park - Salta

Depart from Cachi to the edge of Los Cardones National Park where we will do a 90 minute hike to absorb the breathtaking views of the Cuesta del Obispo (The Bishop's descent).

After the hike, we continue with a 3 hour drive to Salta down the amazing Obispo Gorge, probably the most stunning view for people who love mountain roads, descending approximately 1000 meters to the Lerma Valley. Overnight in Salta.

 

Day 13: Salta

Salta is known as 'La Linda' the beautiful one, due to the mountains that surround it. Enjoy a leisurely morning before we explore picturesque Salta, with its squares and markets, beautiful architecture and colonial history. We will walk through the Balcarce Street Market, learning about the history of why Salta is the land of folklore. If the weather permits we will take the Teleferico gondola ride to the top of San Bernardo Mountain for stunning views of the city and surrounding mountains. Overnight in Salta.

 

Day 14: Humahuaca Gorge, Purmamarca

Today we drive north to the famous Humahuaca Gorge, through La Cornisa road, a beautiful mountain road winding through a cloud forest.

Continuing north, we will stop for a visit at the indian villages of Leon and Volcan before arriving into Purmamarca, a tiny colonial town in the foothills of the famous Seven Colours Mountain. After lunch we will take a relaxed walk to view the surrounding landscape as we head to Los Colorados behind the Hills of Seven Colors. Overnight in Purmamarca.

 

Day 15: The Indigenous Villages of the North

Drive through the Humahuaca Gorge before stopping at the Indian villages of Maimara, Tilcara (with its ancient ruins), Humahuaca and Uquia. It's an easy day without too much driving but plenty of handicraft shopping, colonial churches and great indian culture and scenery.

Driving to Tilcara, enjoy the unique orange and yellow coloured beautiful sights at the foot of the"Paleta del Pintor" in Maimara, Hill in Tilcara. Visit the Pucara (Omahuacan-Incan fort and archaeological site) and its museum.

On the way to Humahuaca, pass through the tropic of Capricorn and visit the church at Uquia after arriving in Humahuaca. Visit the town and the handicraft market. Return to Purmamarca for a relaxing evening. Overnight in Purmamarca.

 

Day 16: Traversing the Andes

Today we head west, ascending with every switchback along the Lipan Gorge, until we reach the high Puna (or Andean Plain), with roaming wild herds of vicunas and guanacos crossing deep-white salt flats.

We arrive in Chile (the highest pass we use: 15,748 feet, 4,800 meters) and are surrounded by beautiful volcanoes such as Lascar and Licancabur.

Late arrival at the oasis of San Pedro de Atacama where we spend the next 5 nights. Overnight in San Pedro.

 

Day 17: The Atacama Desert, Moon Valley

We spend the morning at leisure in the legendary and original adobe town of San Pedro de Atacama, an oasis in the world's driest and perhaps most beautiful desert, with its impressive geological formations and stunning scenery. We visit San Pedro's great museum highlighting its ancient civilizations, including several mummies, which pre-date Egyptian history.

In the late afternoon, we visit the magnificent reddish clay and salt range, better known as the world famous Moon Valley. Watching the sunset here is a must. Overnight in San Pedro.

 

Day 18: The Atacama Desert, Tatio Geysers

Very early morning drive to visit the massive and impressive area of Tatio Geysers. There are hundreds of geysers in the area and most of them are active. The best time of the day to see the geysers erupting is in the early morning when the low temperature allows us to see the steam, but is not strong enough to hide it. It is truly a remarkable sight. Return to San Pedro with some time at leisure this afternoon. Overnight in San Pedro.

 

Day 19: Bolivia: Mud pools and the flamingos of Laguna Colorada

We spend this wonderful day journeying into Bolivia. Once we are finished with immigration, we continue our journey to a small but interesting spectacle at Sol de Manana, with boiling pools of sulphur and mud. During our journey, we stop at the beautiful emerald Green Lake, Laguna Verde, Chalviri (Petrohue) which changes color to brilliant green, due to the composition of the lake minerals and the angle of the sunlight hitting it.

Today is a day of stunning and surreal scenery which must be seen to be fully appreciated. The highlight is our visit to Laguna Colorada with its bizarre pinkish hue. This naturally occurring color results from the rich source of algae in the lake, which is the main source of food for the thousands of flamingos (three species of flamingos which may be found here) and other water birds found on the lake. Laguna Colorada is also the single largest nesting site in the world for the rare James's Flamingo. Overnight in San Pedro.

 

Day 20: Puritama Hotsprings

This morning we walk to the delightful Puritama Hotsprings, a series of boiling pools. A perfect place to feel completely cleansed and refreshed before heading back to San Pedro for lunch.

This afternoon is free to explore the town. You can even hire a bike or horse for the afternoon! San Pedro is a great place to get around on your own as there is almost no traffic; everything is accessible by foot, from the handicraft market to the town post office. Overnight in San Pedro.

 

Day 21: Drive to Calama, Fly to Santiago

Enjoy our last glimpse of the Atacama region during the drive to Calama and during the flight to Santiago, with stunning views of the Andes. Arrive in Santiago late afternoon. Overnight in Santiago.

 

Day 22: Depart Santiago

Today we depart for our homeward flights or join our extension to Easter Island. Note, if you wish to sightsee in Santiago, we recommend you stay an additional night.

 
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