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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

ARGENTINA & CHILE

To the end of the world
The incomparable Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital city, is our first destination on this tour and we enjoy a few days of exploring the sights of this dazzling metropolis that would alone warrant a trip to Argentina. We tour cathedrals and fascinating historic landmarks, before getting closer to nature by visiting wildlife reserves and gazing in awe at the unrivalled natural beauty of glacial peaks, crystal clear lakes, deep fjords and lush forests.

We travel across the lake from Bariloche and the Argentinian Lake District into Chile, where we explore the famous Torres del Paine National Park, before heading to Ushuaia and an exciting cruise on the Beagle Channel, named after the ship on which Darwin sailed through in 1832. We then return to Buenos Aires with time to sample this cosmopolitan city's colourful night life before heading home.
ITINERARY
Day 1 • Arrival in Buenos Aires
Arrival in Buenos Aires.

Nearly 40% of the country's 33 million citizens live in Gran Buenos Aires (Greater Buenos Aires), which at first makes the city almost as imposing as New York or London. However, after a brief orientation, you will find that the compact city centre is accessible and easily explored on foot, by bus, taxi and underground.

Overnight in Buenos Aires.
Meal plan: Dinner
Day 2 • Buenos Aires: City Tour
We begin our day's tour at the political center of the city. We arrive to the historical May Square, the place where Buenos Aires was founded. Here we will admire the Pink House (Government House), which houses the mythical balcony from where Evita used to address the people. We will also see the Cabildo, the colonial city-hall, and the Metropolitan Cathedral. There we will visit the spectacular mausoleum of General San Martin, Argentina's independence hero.

We continue our way down May Avenue which joins the Pink House with the Congress, with its Art Nouveau buildings, old hotels, theaters and cafes. We will visit the traditional Cafe Tortoni, inaugurated in 1858, much frequented by intellectuals and artists.

We continue our journey towards San Telmo, a neighborhood of bohemians, artists, antiques shops and cobbled streets. We will pass around Dorrego Square, popular for its weekly antiques market.

Our tour goes on in the neighborhood of La Boca, with its colourful tenements, where a lot of artists open their studios and workshops. We will walk along the mythical street of Caminito to breathe the characteristic atmosphere of the area, with its love for tango and soccer.

We continue our visit in Puerto Madero. This neighborhood was totally redesigned in the 1990's. Its new residential area, very close to the river, houses three design hotels, chic restaurants and exclusive apartment buildings.

We leave Puerto Madero and we head towards the north, where we find Retiro. We will visit San Martin Square, surrounded by elegant buildings and French architecture, and continue to the traditional neighborhood of Palermo, a favourite for strolling large parks, rose gardens and ponds.

We end our tour in Recoleta, where we find the colonial style church of Our Lady of Pilar, the second oldest in the city. Here we enter the legendary cemetery to visit Evita's tomb.

This evening, after our group dinner, we'll have a look at some of BA's exciting nightlife!

Overnight in Buenos Aires.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 3 • Buenos Aires: Continued
Today we have a half-day WALKING tour.

Our first stop is the Centro Naval, one of the city's most exquisite buildings and a masterpiece of cast stone architecture. It's not generally open to the public, but sometimes they let you into the circular lobby.

The Kavanagh Building, at the time of its construction in 1936, was the tallest building in South America, standing at about 120 m (400 ft) with over 30 stories. Designed as a residential structure, it took more than 16 years to sell the apartments in this Art Deco building.

Palacio Paz is perhaps the most beautiful of the Beaux Arts mansions in Buenos Aires; the Circulo Militar looks plucked from the Loire Valley. It was the home of the Paz family and took almost 12 years to build; the patriarch who commissioned it died waiting.

The General Jose de San Martin Monument celebrates General Jose de San Martin, who battled against Spain in the wars of independence and is known as the founder of the Argentine nation. The Palacio San Martin is another of the grand mansions that line Plaza San Martin, this was the home of the powerful Anchorenas family whose prestige dated to colonial times in Argentina. The Islas Malvinas-Falkland Islands Memorial honors the more than 700 Argentines who died in the war over the Islas Malvinas/Falkland Islands chain in the brief war with Great Britain in early 1982.

The Torre Monumental (British Clock Tower) is a 1916 gift from the British community in Buenos Aires, along with all other things British, was renamed in response to the Islas Malvinas/Falkland Islands War and is called the Argentine Big Ben by some. Decorated with British royal imperial symbols, the base was partly destroyed by an angry mob during an Islas Malvinas-Falkland Islands memorial service. Inside the tower you'll find a small Buenos Aires City Tourism Information Office.

Retiro Station was opened in 1915 and was built with British technological assistance. Four British architects designed it, and the steel structure was made in Liverpool, England, and shipped to Argentina to be assembled.

Our tour ends in the Galerias Pacifico in time for your lunch break. This is the most famous shopping mall in Buenos Aires, opened in 1891. The building was designed to recall the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, with its long halls, glass cupola, and several tiers of shops.

Overnight in Buenos Aires.
Meal plan: Breakfast
Day 4 • Buenos Aires - Bariloche
A direct flight from Buenos Aires brings us to Bariloche, located in the heart of the Lake District. The Nahuel Huapi National Park extends over 750,000 hectares, of which 330,000 is a National Reserve. Situated in the southwest of Neuquen Province and northwest of Rio Negro, it stretches from the Patagonian steppes to the high Andes. On account of abundant rainfall and summer melt from snowfields and glaciers, there is a great number of lakes and also rivers that flow either to the Atlantic or the Pacific oceans. Lake Nahuel Huapi, covering an area of 60,000 hectares, is the largest in the area.

This afternoon we visit the Francisco P. Moreno Patagonian Museum, inaugurated by National Parks in 1940. It is named after the famous explorer of the Andes and the Patagonian rivers, who donated the lands that were later transformed by the government into the first national park in Argentina. It has halls specializing in natural science, ethnography, pre-history and local and regional history. It also has a library and a bookstore.

Bariloche has a very strong Central European influence; most of the first settlers were of Swiss, German, or Northern Italian origin. These people gave the city its European style, with Swiss chalets, ceramics, chocolates, and neat shop windows. However something tells you that you are not in Europe; boats are seldom seen in the huge Nahuel Huapi Lake, the roads are swallowed up in the wilderness as soon as they leave the city and at night, there are no lights on the opposite shore of the lake.

You will have time to explore the lakeside and to visit Bariloche town with it's chocolate shops and excellent visitors' centre.

Overnight in the Bariloche area.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 5 • Bariloche Area: Small Circuit
Today we have the classic half-day tour of the Bariloche region. We will get a general overview of the surrounding area along a 60 Km (40 mi) partial loop excursion, all on a paved road. Our outing heads westward from Bariloche on the highway to Llao Llao along the southern shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi. At Km 8, the road passes Playa Bonita, a small harbour and popular beach. Cerro Campanario, the Belltower Hill, is at Km 18 (mile 12), where our bus may stop on the outward leg or when returning. The view from the top of this hill, reached after a seven minute chairlift ride, is the highlight of the trip. The Catedral Ski Village, at the base of the ski slopes, and part of the city of Bariloche, are visible from this spectacular 360 degree look-out.

The tour continues toward St Eduard's chapel and the Llao Llao Hotel. It is after passing the hotel's golf course, at the 100 inch yearly rainfall boundary, that the Valdivian Rain Forest begins. This is a temperate rain forest, with vines canes and lush vegetation. Our tour continues through a thick beech forest surrounding the western Moreno Lake passing by the base of Lopez Mountain, a sheer 3650 m (12,000 ft) face of rock.

We'll have a short stop further along the road for a breathtaking view high above Moreno Lake, the Puerto Panuelo Harbour, Victoria Island and smaller islands on the lake. On the return trip, the road crosses the bridge between the Moreno lakes and then joins the main road back to Bariloche.

Overnight in the Bariloche area.
Meal plan: Breakfast
Day 6 • Bariloche, Argentina - Lake Crossing - Puerto Varas, Chile
The Andean Lakes Crossing is the most scenic way to travel from Argentina to Chile. This spectacular crossing of the Andes takes us through lakes and mountain passes from Bariloche
to Puerto Varas, and occurs in a very well-orchestrated combination of boat and bus. Our luggage is handled for us -- you just sit back and enjoy the scenery.

After breakfast we leave by bus to Puerto Panuelo, where we will board the ship to navigate to the Puerto Blest Port, where we will arrive at 11:30. From there we will travel by bus to the Puerto Alegre Port at 13:30 where we will embark to navigate further. We then board a bus that will take us across the border to Chile at an altitude of only 976 m (3,200 ft); we continue on to Peula from which we embark towards Petrohue, sailing on the Lago Todos los Santos. Weather-permitting, we will have views of the Osorno Volcano, and the mountains, Puntiagudo and Tronador. Imposing views of the volcano Volcan Osorno y Calbuco dominate the landscape. At the Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales, we will visit the Saltos del Petrohue Falls, capriciously-shaped volcanic rocks, bathed by emerald water falls.

At 19:30 we arrive in Puerto Varas, the City of Flowers.

Overnight in Puerto Varas.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 7 • Puerto Varas - Punta Arenas - Torres del Paine
Today we fly to Punta Arenas and continue by road to Torres del Paine National Park, a full day of travel.

The Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine) are spectacular granite pillars which soar almost
vertically more than 2000 m (6,000 feet) above the Patagonian landscape. The park in which the high peaks sit may be considered the finest national park in all of South America. With turquoise lakes, roaring waterfalls, rivers and creeks, dense forests and sprawling glaciers, this is an unequalled destination.

Overnight at Torres del Paine.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 8 • Torres del Paine National Park
Today we spend the entire day at Torres del Paine National Park.

Some say "Paine" come from the name of an early settler. Others say the name comes from an ancient Indigenous word meaning blue -- hearkening to the intense blue of the area's lakes. Whatever the name comes from or means, this is a spectacular park, comparable to Yellowstone or Yosemite in the US. Founded in 1959, Torres del Paine takes in 180,000 ha (450,000 acres). In 1978 UNESCO gave the park World Heritage status, recognizing it as a biosphere especially worthy of international recognition.

The park is part of the Paine Massif, which lies east of the high central Andean spine. These medium high mountains emerge suddenly from the plains of the Patagonian steppes. The mountains are granite, capped by crumbly sedimentary rock that used to lie on the valley floor. Before the park was acquired by the Chilean government, it belonged to ranchers who overgrazed and also burned down forests to increase pasture area.

The park is still recovering from this devastation, but it's a chance to see what nature can do to fix itself if given a chance. The glaciers of the park are in quick retreat -- up to 17 m (56 ft) a year for the last 90 years, creating a fascinating study of plant succession and soil build-up from bare rock to forest. The flora of the park ranges from grassland to southern beech forests. Many parts of the park were too remote for the cattle ranchers and exist today in a pristine state.

The animal stars of the park are the guanacos and the rheas. Rheas are an ostrich-like bird; guanacos are wild South American cameloids, related to the domesticated llama and alpaca. Native peoples hunted both across the plains, using every part for food and sheltering hide and feathers. When the Europeans came, the guanaco were slaughtered to make way for cattle, and almost became extinct.

We will travel through the park in our coach stopping at various points of interest and scenic viewpoints. We will also have an opportunity to walk one of the many easy-going trails that afford expansive views of the mountains, glaciers, and waterfalls for which Patagonia is famous.

Overnight at Torres del Paine.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 9 • Torres del Paine, Chile - Calafate, Argentina
Today we travel by road to El Calafate, a resort town on Lake Argentino situated at the entrance to Los Glaciares National Park.

Overnight in Calafate.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 10 • Calafate: Perito Moreno Glacier & Glaciarium
We leave the shores of Lago Argentino and ascend through sub-Antarctic forest which marks the gateway to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Its centrepiece is the Perito Moreno Glacier which, because of unusually favourable local conditions, is one of the world's few advancing glaciers. Huge icebergs on the glacier's 60 m (180 foot) high face calve and collapse into the Canal de los Tempanos as it advances about 100 m (300 feet) a year. The roar of the gigantic ice wall as it crashes into the surrounding channel is an unforgettable experience.

The geography at the nose of the glacier is also unique, in that it is possible to stand on a hill with spectacular viewpoints directly opposite the huge imposing wall of ice. The hope, of course, is to witness active calving, which results in a thunderous noise and oooo's and ahhhh's from its spectators. We will have plenty of time to stroll and enjoy fantastic views from every angle, and the unique plant and bird life.

While in the Calafate area, we will also visit the Glaciarium, a modern interpretation glaciological centre, and one of the few glacier museums in the world. The understanding of glaciers and environmental awareness are our main subjects. The exhibits include models, dioramas, photographs, screens, interactive representations, and a 3D documentary.

NOTE: Though weather may seem fine in Calafate, the weather near the glacier can be completely different. Generally the nose of Perito Moreno is characterized by cold wind and highly changeable conditions. You should be prepared with layered clothing and a warm hat.

This afternoon we return to Calafate.

Overnight in Calafate.
Meal plan: Breakfast
Day 11 • Calafate: Upsala Glacier
This morning we depart early from our Calafate hotel to drive the short distance to the boat dock at Puerto Bandera at the western end of Lago Argentino. Here we board our boat for a picturesque trip across the pristine, exquisite turquoise waters to the Upsala Glacier, the other famous glacier near Calafate, only accessible from the water. At fifty kilometers long, ten kilometers wide, and many hundred meters thick, it is classified as one of three major glaciers in the park. Visitors are greeted with breathtaking vistas of crystal blue ice meeting vast blue skies and towering Argentinean mountains in the background.*

There are several outside decks that offer excellent views. Cold weather clothing is suitable today.

* The closeness of our approach depends on winds and the number of icebergs in the vicinity.

We return to Calafate late in the afternoon.

Overnight in Calafate.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 12 • Calafate - Ushuaia & Tierra del Fuego National Park
Today we fly to Ushuaia on the island of Tierra del Fuego.

Ushuaia is considered the world's southernmost city. In 1520, Magellan passed through the strait that now bears his name, in search of a sea route to the spice islands of Asia. The Yahgan Indians built the fires that inspired Europeans to give this region its name -- "The Land of Fire". At first, very little attention was paid to this rocky and glacial shoreline, and its indigenous Indian population. It was not until the demise of Spain's colonial domination of the region in the late 1800's, that other Europeans began settling here. Ushuaia lies on the north shore of the Beagle Channel, at the very heart of the archipelago, and just east of the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. Since 1950, the town has played host to an important naval base, supporting Argentine claims in Antarctica.

Ushuaia has one of the world's most dramatic settings: surrounding jagged glacial peaks rise from sea level to nearly 1500 m (4,500 ft). In 1870, the South American Missionary Society, a British-based organisation, made Ushuaia its first permanent outpost in the Fuego region.

This afternoon will be spent in the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Just a short drive from town, this pristine nature reserve is home to hundreds of species of birds, in addition to bountiful varieties of plant life. At Lapatoia Bay we reach the southern end of the Pan-American Highway, which starts in Alaska and runs all the way down through Canada, the USA, Central and South America.

You will also have time to discover this interesting town. We suggest a visit to the old prison of Ushuaia located within the confines of the Naval base. The penitentiary was constructed by the prisoners themselves between 1902 and 1920. Now this impressive complex houses the Antarctic museum, the maritime museum, a modern art gallery as well as a restored wing of the prison, complete with cells inhabited by some of the infamous prisoners.

Overnight in Ushuaia.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 13 • Ushuaia: Beagle Channel Cruise - Buenos Aires
Today, weather permitting, we include a cruise on the Beagle Channel, named after the ship on which Darwin sailed through here in 1832. The island of Tierra del Fuego is divided between Argentina and Chile and the Beagle Channel forms part of the border between the two countries. In addition to spectacular scenery, we should see many species of marine mammals and birds, including a penguin colony.

Please note: As Tierra del Fuego is so close to the Antarctic Circle and surrounded by water, the weather here is extremely changeable hour by hour. In order to maximise our sightseeing, we may have to alter the sequence of our activities. Your Tour Leader will do his/her best to ensure that you see all the items listed on these days but, in the event of extreme weather, other activities may have to be substituted.

Later today we fly back to Buenos Aires (possible late evening arrival).

(Breakfast and lunch OR dinner at your Tour Leader's discretion).

Overnight in Buenos Aires.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 14 • Departure
Departure from Buenos Aires.

BUEN VIAJE!
Meal plan: Breakfast

For detailed itinerary (PDF), click here
For hotel samples, click here
INCLUSIONS
  • Breakfast and most dinner (hotels & local restaurants) daily; some lunches
  • All transport, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters
  • Domestic flights via local scheduled carriers as per the itinerary
  • Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates
EXCLUSIONS
  • Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international (if applicable) and domestic air taxes, visa fees, excursions referenced as 'optional'
  • Airport transfers for Land Only customers
  • Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping
OUT FACTOR
Recent liberalization in the laws effecting gays and lesbians in Argentina, plus the devaluation of the Peso, has prompted a boom in gay tourism. In 1996 measures forbidding discrimination on the basis of, amongst other things, sexual orientation were introduced, making Buenos Aires the first Spanish-speaking city in Latin America to do so.

Outside of the capital, things are more conservative in this predominantly Catholic country, though not as much as one might expect from a Latin American country. Chile has some catching up to do, but the guanacos and Andean condors don't really care who you are. test
PLEASE NOTE
This itinerary is correct at time of publishing. For a more detailed itinerary, download a PDF here. We reserve the right to make changes as necessary due to reasons beyond our control. For booking terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Terms.
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TRIP NOTES
Group size
10-18 plus Tour Leader
Staff & Support
Tour Leader, driver(s), and local step-on guides at various locations.
Accommodation
Well-located, air- conditioned / heated, mid-range hotels and inns (3/4 star) used throughout. All hotels have en suite toilet and bath, though some may have shower only (no tub). Porter service is usually available though you should be independent with your luggage, especially at airports. Single rooms are limited in number and likely smaller than twins.
Transport & travel conditions
Ground transport by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Though we will have some full bus days, roads are generally in good condition though a little winding on some stretches. Numerous optional walking opportunities and walking tours on uneven surfaces. Several internal flights via domestic carriers. This is a full itinerary with plenty of moving around.
Weather/seasonality
Weather conditions can vary greatly from place to place. Most of our time is spent in the south where conditions can be very changeable at any time of year. We visit in the Austral summer (Nov-Mar), when Buenos Aires is hot and Patagonia is at its warmest. That said you must be prepared for windy, possibly rainy conditions. November and March tend to be less windy than mid-summer (Jan), which can also be quite busy in places. Our November date should coincide with the annual Gay Pride Parade in Buenos Aires.

The following is a sampling of our preferred properties in some of the locations visited on this tour and is meant to be indicative only. Hotel properties are not confirmed until 30-60 days before trip date. You can click on the hotel photo to view the official hotel website (if available). For sample hotels in other locations on this tour, please contact us.

Hotel Kenton Palace


Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Buenos Aires
Country: Argentina

Framed by Nahuel Huapi Lake and with the mountains in the background. These two elements create a spectacular picture of Patagonia Argentina. We are strategically located in the city of San Carlos de Bariloche, opposite the Civic Centre, 1 block away from the Commercial Centre and 200 meters away from Nahuel Huapi Lake.

With the intention of creating a hotel that matches the environment, we succeeded in diluting the limits between outdoors and indoors in the interior design of our hotel, by placing big glazed walls which make us feel even closer to the gardens of Parques Nacionales’ historical building.

The hotel is decorated with black and white pictures, original pictures of emblematic places and buildings of Buenos Aires, and accompanied with natural materials from the area, in the public areas as well as in our 72 rooms overlooking the lakes and mountains outside.

Click here to visit hotel website

Edelweiss Hotel


Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Bariloche
Country: Argentina

Conveniently located in the downtown area, only steps away from Nahuel Huapi Lake and the Civic Centre, the refurbished and modernized infrastructure is in perfect harmony with the natural surroundings; mountains, forests and lakes.

Click here to visit hotel website

Cabanas del Paine


Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Torres Del Paine
Country: Chile

The Hosteria Cabanas Del Paine Hotel provides 4 pavilions of lodging where each with comfortable rooms all with living room and a wonderful view to Serrano River and Paine mountain range.

There is a dining room with grill and with a capacity for 80 people and a bar to enjoy the regional gastronomy.

Click here to visit hotel website

El Quijote Hotel


Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: El Calafate
Country: Argentina

We are a family business that provides accommodation and food service
for over 39 years in El Calafate.

Our hotel is renowned not only for his career, but also for the warmth, professionalism and following tracks of a staff committed to their work.

Our commitment is to provide a service that exceeds your expectations, positioning us as an excellent hotel.

Click here to visit hotel website