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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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