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Buenos Aires & Grand Chile, including Patagonia


ARI16S
16 NIGHTS
FROM £2,995
International flights quoted separately
Combine a few days in vibrant Buenos Aires, with its amazing cuisine & culture of tango, with the stunning landscapes of Chile. Visit Santiago, the moonscapes of the Atacama Desert, the beautiful Lake District & glaciers of Torres del Paines National Park in Patagonia. End your holiday relaxing in picturesque Valparaiso. English speaking guides, all transfers & specified sightseeing included.
Patagonia Lake District Photo Atacama Desert Chile Torres Del Paine Valparaiso
• 
Buenos Aires
• 
Tango Show
• 
Santiago
• 
Atacama Desert
• 
Salt Flats & Geysers
• 
Moon Landscapes
• 
Lake District
• 
Chilean Patagonia
• 
Torres Del Paine
• 
Valparaiso
• 
Buenos Aires
• 
Tango Show
• 
Santiago
• 
Atacama Desert
• 
Salt Flats & Geysers
• 
Moon Landscapes
• 
Lake District
• 
Chilean Patagonia
• 
Torres Del Paine
• 
Valparaiso
Day 1
You will be met at Buenos Aires Airport and transferred to your hotel in this exciting city, situated on the estuary of the Río de la Plata (or "River of Silver").
 
Check in and relax in this capital of Argentina, known for its wonderful architecture, tango dancing and rich culture, including the highest concentration of theaters in the world.
Day 2
This morning enjoy a half day tour of Buenos Aires, a cosmopolitan city influenced by the many immigrants who helped form it and offering beautiful architecture, history and culture.
 
Our tour starts at the Plaza de Mayo, the historical, political and cultural centre of the city. Here you can see the Pink House (Presidential Palace), the Pyramid de Mayo and Metropolitan Cathedral. We continue down Avenida de Mayo, with its wide avenues and spacious green areas, past the Obelisk to the neighborhood of San Telmo, one of the oldest in the city with cobbled streets and colonial houses. Every Sunday an antiques fair takes place here around the Plaza Dorrego. The vibrant area is the centre for most of the tango parlors, restaurants and bars of the city.
 
Going further south, we visit the Italian port neighborhood of La Boca, with its colourful houses in Caminito Street and many “cantinas” (small restaurants). Also the trendy modern neighborhood of Puerto Madero, where the old piers have been converted into upmarket offices, apartments and restaurants with views of the Rio de la Plata. We visit the residential neighborhood of Palermo with its elegant mansions surrounded by spacious parks, before arrivinge in glamorous Recoleta, where there is the option to visit the famous cemetery where Eva Peron is buried, with its rich architecture (pay locally). Next to the cemetery is the church of Our Lady of Pilar, the Recolete Cultural Centre (originally a convent) and the Palais de Glace exhibition centre.
 
Afternoon is at leisure to relax, before you are collected in the evening for a Tango Show. Born in the brothels of the city amongst a racial mix of Gauchos, Italian, Spanish and African immigrants, this dance and its music originated as a combination of Cuban and Spanish rhythms, with some polka and African beat. Enjoy the show and dinner, including mouth-watering Argentinian beef and Malbec wine.
Day 3
At leisure to explore Buenos Aires independently.
Day 4
Transfer to Buenos Aires Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Santiago Airport and transferred into the capital of Santiago de Chile.
 
Check into your hotel in this sophisticated and cosmopolitan city, situated in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped Andes Mountains and the beautiful Chilean Coastal Range.
Day 5
This morning enjoy a shared tour of the modern city of Santiago.
 
We start in the downtown area of this relatively compact city, where modern buildings have transformed the landscape, and visit Santa Lucia Hill where the city of Santiago was founded in 1541.
 
We continue to the Plaza de Armas in the heart of the old colonial city and bustling Ahumada Boulevard with its many shops, street performers and vendors. Here you will be able to see some beautiful neo-classical buildings – including the 18th century Cathedral of Santiago and the early 19th century Royal Court Palace, which now houses the National History Museum. Also enjoy outside views of the Municipal Offices, the Post Office and the current Presidential Palace, La Moneda. You will have the opportunity to taste a ‘Pisco Sour’, see local handcrafts and walk through some of the more traditional streets of the city, before being dropped off at your hotel.
 
Afternoon is at leisure to explore more of this lively city independently.
 
Note: Most museums are closed on Mondays.
Day 6
Transfer to Santiago Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Calama Airport and transferred 1.5-hours through the Domekyo and Salt Mountains to San Pedro in the vast Atacama Desert.
 
Extending for over 600 miles (1,000 km), this enormous plateau of salt lakes, sand, larva and stony terrain is situated between two high mountain ranges - the Andes to the east and the Chilean Coastal Range to the west. As a result, the Atacama receives virtually no rain whatsoever - making it the driest and oldest desert in the world, with landscapes that will take your breath away.
 
After checking into your hotel, in the afternoon head out on a shared excursion to the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountains) to view the dramatic lunar landscapes of Moon Valley situated in the National Flamingo Reserve. Here you can see natural mineral sculptures formed by wind erosion, including ‘The Three Mary’s. We also visit Death Valley, favoured by sand boarders, with its amazing sculptured salt formations. Our day ends with a magical sunset at Kari Viewpoint, one of the highest points of the Salt Mountains.
Day 7
Today enjoy a full day shared tour to the crystalline Atacama Salt Flats, the largest in Chile and one of the largest in the world. The lake under these salt flats has one of the largest lithium reserves in the world, with small lagoons having formed where holes have broken through the crusted salt.
 
A highlight is our visit to Chaxa Lagoon in Los Flamencos National Reserve, with its vast flocks of pink flamingos. You will see 3 different species here - Chilean, Andean & James’s - as well as other birds such as the puna plover and red-gartered coot that nest and feed on these mineral-rich waters. Most activity occurs around sunrise, with a pinkish hue rising over the horizon. As the air warms up, this dissipates as huge flocks of these birds take flight over the lake.
 
We then travel further into the Altiplano to view the amazingly blue lagoons of Meñique and Miscanti located at over 14,000 ft (4,300 m) at the foot of their impressive volcanoes that were formed when the Andes Mountains rose from the sea. Afterwards we drive to the small village of Socaire for an included traditional lunch at a rustic restaurant.
 
In the afternoon we visit the picturesque village of Toconao, with its main square and classical Atacamenian bell tower - built in 1750 from cactus wood, mud and straw. We also visit the church of San Lucas, before returning to San Pedro.
Day 8
Depart before dawn this morning for a shared excursion to the El Tatio Geysers, the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere and the third largest in the world. Situated at over 14,000 ft (4,300 m) above sea level, the geysers in this geothermal field have steam fumaroles that can easily reach over 33 ft (10 m).
 
Arrive at sunrise when each geyser is surrounded by a column of steam that condenses in the cold air, against a backdrop of the imposing Andes with its multiple colours and varied fauna, including the vicuña - an American camelid with an elegant walk and adapted to live in extreme weather conditions. Enjoy a guided walk before these steam plumes disappear as the air warms up. If you take your swimming costume, you can have a refreshing dip in these hot geyser waters.
 
After breakfast at the geysers, take in spectacular views of the Torcopuri y Sairecabur Volcanoes as we return to San Pedro. On the way back we make a short stop in the Putana Wetlands, where you can see different species of birds against the backdrop of the Colorado Volcano, and at the small village of Machuca with its original Altiplanic architecture in St. James Church.
Day 9
This morning participate in a shared tour to one of the most important archeological sites of the region.
 
Pukará de Quitor is a pre-Colombian 17th century stone fortress that was the site of the Battle of Quitor in 1540 - one of the first clashes between the indigenous people and the invading Spanish conquistadors. We continue to the well-preserved ancient village of Tulor, probably the first settlement of the Atacama salt flats, to learn more about the local culture. We also visit the Church of San Pedro, before returning to our hotel.
 
Afterwards transfer 1.5-hours to Calama Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Puerto Montt Airport and transferred 30-minutes to Puerto Varas - the "City of Roses", surrounded by the mountains of the enchanting Lake District.
 
Check into your hotel and relax in this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Day 10
Today we suggest an optional full day tour of the spectacular Lake District.
 
We start in Puerto Varas, where the streets and avenues are adorned with rose bushes. Here we drive up Philippi Hill for wonderful views of vast Lake Llanquihue, the second largest in Chile. We continue to Puerto Montt and the fishing village of Angelmó with its fascinating selection of arts and crafts, before returning to Puerto Varas for lunch (own account).
 
In the afternoon we continue through Ensenada and enter Vicente Perez Rosalis National Park to view the imposing Osomo Volcano. We walk through a forest of coigues and other native trees, making a stop at 1,000 m to view La Burbuja Crater before continuing to the ski centre where there is the option of taking a ski lift (own account) for panoramic views of the landscape.
 
Afterwards we return to  Puerto Varas, with evening at leisure.
Day 11
At leisure to explore more of Puerto Varas and the surrounding lakes and mountains of the Lake District.
 
Situated on beautiful Lago Llanquihue, two snow-capped volcanoes - Osorno and Calbuco - are clearly visible from the lakefront. Puerto Varas is known for its strong German traditions.
Day 12
Transfer 30-minutes to Puerto Montt Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Punta Arenas Airport and escorted to the bus station for the 3-hour public bus ride to Puerto Natales - the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park.
 
You will be met on arrival at Puerto Natales bus station and transferred to your hotel in this former fishing town situated on the Ultima Esperanza Sound.
Day 13
Weather permitting, an early departure this morning for a full day excursion by boat to the spectacular Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers.
 
We sail at 08.00 from Puerto Natales and enjoy an onboard breakfast as we navigate through the beautiful Ultima Esperanza Fjord. After 3-hours we arrive at the icy blue Balmaceda Glacier in Bernardo O´Higgins National Park. This astonishing glacier is over 1,000 years old and offers a magnificent display when "calving" - as huge chunks of ice detach and crash into the waters below. You can hope to see cormorants and sea lions here.
 
We disembark at Puerto Toro at the end of the fjord and walk 3/4 mile (1 km) through an indigenous forest to the foot of the Serrano Glacier, another fantastic natural wonder that is part of the Southern Patagonia Icefields.
 
On the way back we stop at an Estancia (ranch) to enjoy an included 'Asado al Palo' (typical Magellanan barbeque), before sailing back to Puerto Natales. We disembark around 17.00 and transfer back to our hotel.
 
Note: This excursion is available from October to April only.
Day 14
Today enjoy a full day excursion travelling across the dry scrubland of the Magellanic Steppe to Torres del Paine National Park - a 242,000 hectare UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its soaring mountains, electric-blue lakes and many glaciers.
 
We drive past Figueroa Lake and stop at the village of Cerro Castillo, where you can enjoy a coffee and buy typical handcrafts of the region. A variety of rare wildlife can be seen in these pampas (lowlands), including large herds of elegant guanaco - a type of humpless camel related to the llama - and the lesser rhea, which is related to the ostrich and emu. You may also see giant condor birds soaring in the thermals.
 
We then enter Torres del Paine National Park, where the landscape changes dramatically to spectacular glacier lakes frequented by marine birds, lofty waterfalls and magnificent granite mountain peaks covered by ice. The enormous Campo de Hielo Sur icecap gives the park four main glaciers - Grey, Dickson, Zapata and Tyndall. Two other glaciers descend from the west side of the central massif.
 
From the Lake Sarmiento viewpoint, enjoy postcard views of the Paine Massif. Weather permitting, from the Lake Amarga viewpoint you will have one of the best views of the three granite Torres Del Paine ('Towers of Blue') from which the park takes its name. We also stop at the Lake Nordenskjold lookout, with its view over the different peaks of the Cordillera Paine – including the famous Cuernos del Paine and the highest mountain in the Park, the Paine Grande at 10,000 ft (3,050 m).
 
After a 15-minute walk to the powder blue Salto Grande Waterfall that flows into Lake Pehoé, enjoy an included picnic lunch. Afterwards we stop on the shores of Grey Lake and walk across a hanging bridge over the Pingo River to the beach, from where spectacular blue icebergs can be seen against a backdrop of the distant Grey Glacier.
 
We then leave Torres del Paine, stopping on our return journey at the Milodón Cave on Benitez Hill. The remains of several extinct animals have been found here - including the sabre toothed tiger, the American horse and a gigantic herbiverous mammal known as the Milodon. You will need to walk for half an hour to reach the main cave, which is 200 meters deep, 80 meters wide and 30 meters high. Here you can see stalactites and a life-size replica of the Milodon. We return to Puerto Natales in the late afternoon.
Day 15
Transfer to the bus station for the 3-hour public bus ride to Punta Arenas Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Santiago Airport and transferred 2-hours to the historic seaport of Valparaiso on the Pacific Coast - a UNESCO World Heritage site and the second largest city in Chile.
 
Prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, this was the most important Pacific seaport on the crucial trade route that linked the American west coast with Europe, via the Strait of Magellan. Its many stairways and old funicular elevators that lead up the 44 hills on which the city is built are a real feature. Check into your hotel in this lively and chaotic city, with its quirky and eclectic architecture.
Day 16
At leisure to relax and explore the port city of Valparaiso.
Day 17
Transfer 2-hours to Santiago Airport for your flight home.

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