Argentina and Chile - Patagonia and the Lakes District

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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

We explore Argentina's capital today beginning with neighborhoods like La Boca, which retains the spirit of Italian immigration and Palermo with its open green spaces, exclusive avenues and first class bars and restaurants.

Recoleta, marked by French style, is one of the classiest residential neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, with great cultural activity and spaces dedicated to the arts. The Colon Theater, the National Congress and the Presidential Palace are some of the sites that we see. We take a trip through history to Recoleta Cemetery to see the mausoleums and crypts of national heroes including Eva Peron.

This afternoon, we visit the National Museum of Fine Arts, which houses one of the most extensive collections in South America. In the late afternoon we have arranged for Tango Lessons! We learn this sensuous national dance of Argentina in a typical district house and then we enjoy dinner and a tango show. Overnight in Buenos Aires.

 

Day 3: Tigre Delta

Today we have a full day excursion to Tigre and the 2000 km maze of waterways that make up the Tigre Delta at the confluence of the Rio Lujan and the Rio Tigre. The town was founded in 1820 and named after the local "tigres" (jaguars), which are now extinct. The old fruit market is now a crafts fair and there are antique shops, riverside restaurants and many beautiful old buildings including the lovely Argentinean Rowing Club. We will explore some of the Delta's rivers and streams from the comfort of riverboats, passing many of the "Belle Epoque" buildings, and the natural beauty of the Parana River Delta. We continue exploring the area on the Coastal Train before we return to Buenos Aires.

This evening we will experience more of the cosmopolitan atmosphere that Buenos Aires is famous for. Overnight Buenos Aires.

 

Day 4: Fly to Ushuaia, End of The World Museum

An early morning transfer to the airport for our flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. This afternoon we take a sightseeing tour of the town to visit the Casco Antiguo - the port and steep streets that offer colorful panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the Beagle Channel.

The visit ends with a visit to the Museum at the End of the World, located in one of the oldest buildings in the city. Dinner and overnight in Ushuaia.

 

Day 5: Tierra del Fuego, Beagle Channel

Today we have a full day to explore Tierra del Fuego National Park. The day begins with a 1-hour walk along a beautiful coastal path before we board a Zodiac to explore Ensenada Bay. We navigate along the shore of the Beagle Channel to Redonda Island to see the Rocky Cormorants nesting in the jagged cliffs. Our journey continues on to Lapataia Bay to see a variety of seabirds before we return to Ushuaia.

 

Day 6: Penguin Rookery, Gable Island

Today, we continue our exploration of Tierra del Fuego; its history, its magnificent flora and fauna and its traditions. After breakfast, we drive east to historic estancia Harberton, where we board our Zodiac for Gable Island (the largest in the Beagle Channel). We start with a 2-hour walking tour of Gable Island with unforgettable views of the Beagle Channel.

After the walk, we navigate to the penguin rookery at Martillo Island, inhabited by Magellanic and gentoo penguins. The unique location of this island gives us the chance to view an incredible variety of sub-aquatic life, making it an amazing spot for bird watching. Afterwards we return to Harberton to start the return trip to Ushuaia.

 

Day 7: To El Calafate

This morning we have some time to soak up the adventurous atmosphere of Ushuaia before flying to El Calafate, the gateway to Patagonia. This afternoon, we will have time at leisure to explore this charming rural town. You may want to visit the Regional Museum and learn about the first settlers and the difficulties they had when they arrived in the area. Overnight in El Calafate.

 

Day 8: Perito Moreno Glacier

We begin our day at a look-out for some amazing panoramic views of the mountains and glaciers of Los Glaciares National Park in southwest Santa Cruz province. The Park is famous for the Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the many glaciers that make up the Southern Patagonia Ice Field; the world's third largest reserve of fresh water.

At Perito Moreno we enjoy a boat cruise along the front of the glacier for a very different perspective. In this area the glacier is 60 to 70 meters high. We return to El Calafate for the evening. Overnight in El Calafate.

 

Day 9: To Torres del Paine National Park

Today, we drive to Torres del Paine National Park, enjoying the spectacular scenery on the way. We will leave Argentina and arrive in Chile. We will stop for lunch at a beautiful working estancia (sheep ranch), feasting on their organically grown produce. Torres del Paine National Park, in Chilean Patagonia, is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is one of the most remote, unspoiled and beautiful places on earth. Overnight in the Paine area.

 

Day 10: Nordenskjold and Grey Lakes

We spend the day exploring Torres del Paine National Park, including unique views of the towers and horns, as well as the colorful Nordenskjold and Grey Lakes, with their pristine blue waters and icebergs.

We have short walks during the day (an hour or so in length) and for those who wish more walking, this can also be arranged. There is a variety of flora and fauna found in the park, from grasslands to forests. Some of the fauna that populate the park include guanacos, rheas, condors, mountain lions, foxes and a wide variety of birds. Overnight in the Paine area.

 

Day 11: To Puerto Natales

Today, we explore the northern part of Paine National Park for yet more spectacular views of Chilean Patagonia. We then visit Milodon Cave, where, in the late 19th century, Captain Eberhard found bones and fur of a long extinct giant ground sloth. We then continue on to Puerto Natales. Overnight in Puerto Natales.

 

Day 12: To Puerto Varas

Some time for sightseeing on this leisurely travel day. Enjoy the scenery as we drive to Punta Arenas for our short flight to Puerto Montt and then transfer to Puerto Varas.

Located on the southern shore of Lago Llanquihue, facing the cone of the Osorno Volcano, Puerto Varas combines the best of the area's nature and culture. Originally settled by the Germans in the mid-to late 19th century the town itself is charming. Overnight in Puerto Varas.

 

Day 13: Volcanoes and Petrohue Rapids

Weather permitting, today we will have breathtaking views of some of the many stunning volcanoes found in the Lake District. We drive along the lake towards the Osorno Volcano, most likely one of the most beautiful cones in the world, due to its nearly perfect shape. On our way, we pass close to the Calbuco volcano with its blown-off top. As we drive up the Osorno, which may be still in the clouds, we will have better views of the Puntiagudo and Tronador volcanoes, the latter one being the highest peak in the area (over 11,000 ft) and on the border with Argentina.

Once back at lake level, we drive further east to reach the stunning All Saints Lake (Todos los Santos) with its emerald colour and will have lunch close to the shore.

After lunch we drive to the Petrohué rapids in the Petrohoé river that drains the All Saints Lake. We will have time for one or two short strolls and enjoy unbelievable views of the rapids with the Osorno in the back and the forested mountains around. After our visit, we will drive back to Puerto Varas. Time permitting, you may be able to visit the town on your own. Overnight in Puerto Varas.

 

Day 14: To Santiago

A short drive this morning takes us back to Puerto Montt where there may be time visit the Angelmo Flea Market before boarding our flight to the capital, Santiago de Chile. Upon arrival, we take in the sights of the city - visiting the historic center, which includes the Presidential House "La Moneda" and Constitution Square, the ex-National Congress and Justice Tribunal buildings en route to the impressive Plaza de Armas.

We visit one of the world's largest urban parks: San Cristobal Hill. This lush park includes a zoo, a cable car, international gardens and restaurants. At the top of San Cristobal Hill, there are spectacular panoramic views of the city. Crowning the hilltop are beautiful tiered gardens and an impressive statue of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception that can be seen from most points in the city. Overnight in Santiago.

 

Day 15: Valparaiso and Vina del Mar

Today, we discover the exceptional beauty of Valparaiso, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003. Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal in 1914, the Port of Valparaiso was the most important in the South Pacific. Ships from around the world called here once they rounded Cape Horn or passed through the Strait of Magellan.

Here we explore a labyrinth of streets that stretch over the many-tiered hillsides facing the bay and see an antique funicular (wooden cable-car elevator) that transports residents up and down the hills. We see the imaginative architecture and bright colors of the centenarian homes built by the first European settlers - most of which were English and German.

Enjoy the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean as we visit the 21st of May Hill with its Naval Museum and barracks. Other highlights include the Turri Clock, Stock Exchange, and El Mercurio Newspaper Building, as well as the "Plaza Sotomayor" with its impressive Naval Heroes Monument, ex-Intendencia and Justice Tribunal buildings. Contrasting the colonial elegance of Valparaiso is the "garden city" of Vina del Mar, also known as the "South American Riviera". Vina del Mar is renowned for its beautiful gardens, avenues lined with immense old trees, well-kept parks, popular resorts, long sandy beaches and holiday fun.

En route to Vina, we will see the impressive National Congress Building, Plaza Victoria, and Santa Maria University that flank the coastal road. We will also see the summer Presidential Palace, Brunet and Wulff Castles, and the posh Vina del Mar Casino and Luxury Hotel. We return to Santiago for our overnight.

 

Day 16: Wine Tasting in the Maipo Valley

Today, we learn all about the history and magic of wine-making in some of the most prestigious wineries in Chile. We visit a winery to watch the wine-making process, and take a walk around the vineyards, the production plant, the wine cellar and see the final product bottled.

We hope to visit at least two wineries today before returning to Santiago for our farewell dinner and overnight.

 

Day 17: Depart Santiago

We say a fond farewell to our new friends today as we transfer to Santiago airport for our departure flight.

 
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