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Argentina & Chile: Rainforests, Glaciers + Deserts


ARO17B
17 NIGHTS
FROM £3,795
International flights quoted separately
Explore the jungles & waterways of the Iguazu Rainforest on this holiday, that combine the scenic highlights of Argentina & Chile with its wildlife. Visit the mighty Iguazu Falls, the lakes & icefields of Patagonia & walk in Los Glaciares National Park. Then fly to the Atacama Desert in Chile to wonder at its salt flats, moon landscapes & geyserss. English speaking guides, all transfers & specified sightseeing included.
Photo: Iguazu Rainforest Patagonia Atacama El Calafate Santiago
• 
Buenos Aires
• 
Iguazu Falls
• 
Iguazu Rainforest
• 
El Calafate
• 
Patagonia Icefields
• 
Upsala Glacier
• 
Los Glaciares National Park
• 
Atacama Desert
• 
Saltflats & Geysers
• 
Santiago
• 
Buenos Aires
• 
Iguazu Falls
• 
Iguazu Rainforest
• 
El Calafate
• 
Patagonia Icefields
• 
Upsala Glacier
• 
Los Glaciares National Park
• 
Atacama Desert
• 
Saltflats & Geysers
• 
Santiago
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 Aeroparque Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Puerto Iguazu Airport and transferred to your hotel located near one of the greatest waterfalls in the world, regarded as one of Latin America's most awe-inspiring sights.
 
The mighty Iguazu Falls, whose name means "Great Waters", straddles the border between Argentina and Brazil - although almost 80% of the falls are on the Argentinian side. It is situated in a huge tropical rainforest that has been declared a World Heritage site, with countless flora and fauna species.
Day 5
Today enjoy a half day tour of the Argentinian side of the incredible Iguazu Falls.
 
Comprising approximately 275 separate cascades, the falls form a curtain of foaming water that crashes over a vast granite amphitheatre and into the jungle below. Resembling a reversed letter "J", most of the Iguazu River plunges down through an area known as The Devil’s Throat, with the rest spreading out over a wide shelf that splits into hundreds of different waterfalls.
 
There are a series of walkways that lead above, below and behind the falls, with breath-taking views. You can also hope to see monkeys, toucans, parakeets and other wildlife in the rainforest.
Day 6
This morning we cross the border for a half day tour of the Brazilian side of the incredible Iguazu Falls, with panoramic views of the nearly 2-mile (3 km) cliff edge. We take an elevator down to the base of the waterfalls and stop at different viewing points.
  
The volume of water flowing over the falls varies greatly by season, depending on the rainfall. The heaviest rains are from December to February, when the flow of water is at its greatest, but many trails are closed then due to the rains. The shoulder seasons of March/April and August/September are generally regarded as the best time to visit, but the falls are a spectacular sight at any time of year.
Day 7
Today transfer to the lodge meeting point. From there travel 2-hour on a shared transfer to your jungle lodge, situated deep in the pristine Iguazu Rainforest.
 
Check into your private wildlife reserve in the green jungles of Misiones province, surrounded by the flora, fauna and bird life of the upper Iguazu River.
Days 8 To 9
Today is devoted to exploring the wildlife of the lush Iguazu Rainforest, upstream from the mighty Iguazu Falls.
 
With over 10 miles of jungle trails, you can discover its natural treasures on foot accompanied by a local guide, or travel its waterways by boat and become aquainted with the native Guarani people.
 
The fauna of the park includes yacare caiman, coati and several endangered species such as the jaguar, jaguarundi, South American tapir, anteater and ocelot (a wild cat). You can also see an abundance of vivid bird life including large toucans, tirica, black-fronted piping guan, harpy eagles and great dusky swifts. There is also a great diversity of butterflies.
Day 10
Transfer 2-hours to the lodge meeting point, with another transfer to Iguazu Airport for your onward flight.
 
Note: Your flight must depart after 14.30 as your transfer will arrive at the meeting point around 12.30.

You will be met at El Calafate Airport and transferred to your hotel in this small town, situated on Lake Argentino in Santa Cruz province and the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park.
 
Check in and relax surrounded by the scenery of the spectacular Southern Pategonia Ice Field.
Day 11
This morning depart (around 07.00) for your thrilling Estancia Cristina Discovery excursion.
 
From Port de la Cruz, we sail up the northern arm of Lake Argentino to the western front of the Upsala Glacier. Here we admire the stunning scenery, before continuing up the Cristina channel to the estancia (ranch), with guided visit to the Costumbrista Museum (a former shearing shed). This involves an exciting 4x4 ride up steep gradients, with panoramic views.
 
After an included lunch, we walk 30-minutes over glacial erosion to the Continental Ice Refuge to admire the eastern front of the Upsasla Glacier, Guillermo Lake, the Southern Patagonian Icefield and the Andes. We then sail back to Port de la Cruz, arriving at around 19.00.
Day 12
Today enjoy an 8-hour shared excursion to Los Glaciares National Park, the second largest national park in Argentina covering an area of over 725,000 hectares and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
 
This is an area of exceptional natural beauty, with towering mountains and many glacial lakes. The giant ice cap in the Austral Andes that feeds these 47 glaciers is the largest outside Antarctica and Greenland.
 
Over half the park is covered with enormous glaciers and you can walk along paths in front of the famous Perito Moreno Glacier to get closer views. With luck you may see it "calving", when huge chunks of ice break off the glacier and splash into the lake below. There is also an optional 1-hour boat ride to view the glacier from water level (pay locally).
 
After lunch (own account), there is some free time to explore the park before returning to your hotel in the afternoon.
Day 13
Transfer to El Calafate 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 14
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 15
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 16
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 17
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 Santiago Airport and transferred to your hotel situated close to the airport.
Day 18
This morning enjoy a tour 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.
 
Afterwards transfer to Santiago Airport for your flight home.
 
Note: Most museums are closed on Mondays.

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