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Grand Argentina (with some self drive)


ARG22B
22 NIGHTS
FROM £3,795
International flights quoted separately
Explore the dramatic landscapes & vibrant culture of Argentina in depth. View the desert landscapes & indigenous cultures of the Salta region, self-drive in the Mendoza Winelands & the beautiful Lake District. Visit the glaciers of spectacular Patagonia & Iguazu Falls. Also experience the sophisticated capital city of Buenos Aires. All transfers & car hire included.
Photo Grand Tour Argentina Salta Winelands Lake District Patagonia Iguazu
• 
Buenos Aires
• 
Salta
• 
Gaucho Ranch
• 
Tango Show
• 
Iguazu Falls
• 
El Calafate
• 
Pategonia Icefields
• 
Los Glaciares
• 
Perito Morino Glacier
• 
Discovery Cruise
• 
Buenos Aires
• 
Salta
• 
Gaucho Ranch
• 
Tango Show
• 
Iguazu Falls
• 
El Calafate
• 
Pategonia Icefields
• 
Los Glaciares
• 
Perito Morino Glacier
• 
Discovery Cruise
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 shared 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
Transfer to Puerto Iguazu Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Salta Airport and transferred to your hotel in this capital of the mountainous northwest.
 
Check in and relax in this city, situated in the beautiful Lerma Valley with a timeless Spanish colonial atmosphere reflected in its many excellent museums and folk music clubs.
Day 8
Today enjoy a half day tour of Salta, one of the most picturesque cities in Argentina with an attractive contrast between its traditional colonial buildings with their railed balconies and modern urban architecture.
 
Plaza 9 de Julio is at the heart of the city and surrounded by some of its most important buildings, numerous bars and restaurants. The 18th century Church and Convent of San Francisco has been declared a minor basilica by the Vatican. The Cabildo and Historical Museum of the North was the former seat of government of the Spanish Viceroy and subsequently the provincial government. The 16th century Convent of San Bernardo, whose portal is carved from an algarrobo (carob) tree, is considered a jewel of colonial art. The Italian designed Basilica Cathedral housese the remains of General Martín Miguel de Guemes, a hero of the battle for independence.
 
Afterwards drive to Cerro San Bernardo, where the monument to General de Guemes is located. From this hill there is a panoramic view over the city below and the Lerma Valley. Your tour ends at the  Mercado Artesanal (Craft Market), where you can admire the mastery of local artisans with pottery, weaving, textiles, ponchos and tapestries, as  well as with musical instruments.
 
At the end of your tour visit the MAAM High Mountain Archaelogical Museum (Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña) with its collection of Incan artifacts, including mummies of girls found in the Llullaillaco Volcano.
Day 9
A full day of exploration today as we leave Salta on a small group overnight tour and travel 5.5-hours to see the majestic Salinas Grandes Salt Flats, the largest in Argentina and the colourful landscapes of Humahuaca Gorge, staying overnight in the indigenous Indian village of Purmamarca.
 
We follow the scenic route of the 'Train to the Clouds', which allows you to admire this marvellous feat of engineering with its many curves and zig-zags cutting deep into the Quebrada del Toro gorge. Enjoy the bright blue skies and multi-coloured hills covered with cacti and shrubs, in this pristine Andean environment.
 
On arrival in the small town of San Antonio de los Cobres we visit the La Polvorilla Viaduct, which rises 63 m above the ground at an altitude of 4,197 m. Built between 1930 and 1932, this was a great work of engineering in its time.
 
We then continue northwards along the old Route 40 to the remote Salinas Grandes Salt Flats situated at the foot of the Sierras de Córdoba Mountains. This spectacular 200 square mile (525 sq. km) salt plain is located some 11,000 ft (3,350 m) above sea level, with a salty crust of up to 20 inches (0.5 m) thick in places. On a bright day you will need sunglasses to take in the blinding contrast between the brilliant white expanse of cracked and crusty salt and the bright blue sky.
 
In the afternoon we descend through the Cuesta del Lipán (a series of steep zigzags in the road), where condors are often sighted and travel to the Indian village of Purmamarca for overnight.
 
Note: The salt flats are at a very high altitude, so take precautions for altitude sickness.
Day 10
Today we leave Purmamarca and travel 4-hours to Salta.
 
Along the way we stop at the indigenous town of Humahuaca, situated nearly 10,000 ft (3,000 m) above sea level. This village was founded in 1594 and today has many beautiful adobe colonial houses, narrow cobblestone streets and colonial lanterns. Most historic buildings are set around the main square including the church, museum and monument to the wars for Argentinian independence, known as the Monument to the Indian.  
 
From here we view the dramatic and unusual landscapes of Humahuaca Gorge (meaning 'broken'), a narrow mountain valley that is a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site.  View Pollera de la Coya - the Hill of Seven Colours - and the Church of Uquia.
 
After crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, we travel through the town of Tilcara where we visit the Pucara, a partially reconstructed pre-Columbian fort and Archaeological Museum, with its fascinating collection of pre-Colombian items. We return to Salta, travelling southwards along an ancient Inca route and passing through the Posta de Hornillos staging post and several small indigenous villages.
Day 11
Transfer to Salta Airport for your onward flight.

Arrive at Mendoza Airport, collect your hire car and drive to your hotel in the heart of Argentina's wine country.
 
Check in and relax in this region that is famed for its Malbec and other bold red wines.
Day 12
At leisure to independently explore the wine and olive oil capital of Mendoza with its wide leafy streets, lined with modern and art-deco buildings
 
At the Plaza Independencia you will find the underground Museum of Modern Art, with its four surrounding plazas offering many opportunities to shop or simply to relax at a charming coffee shop.
 
Its many bodegas (wineries) are popular for wine tastings, and you can drive into the beautiful wine growing regions.
Day 13
Today drive 5-hours from the winelands of Mendoza, along undulating roads that cut through desert landscapes, to the small town of San Augustin del Valle Fertil.
 
It is a testament to just how dry it is here, that this semi-arid valley is called 'The Fertile Valley'. Check into your hotel in this town that is the gateway to Talampaya National Park.
Day 14
Today drive to Talampaya National Park, situated in a basin between the Cerro Los Colorados to the west and the Sierra de Sañagasta to the east.  Here you will see dramatic landscapes, eroded by wind and water (pay entrance fee locally).
 
Covering an area of 830 square miles (2,150 sq km), Talampaya and adjoining Ischigualasto ('Valley of the Moon') have been declared a World Heritage Site due to their many ancient archaeological and palaeontological sites. Dinosaur fossils have been found in the dry bed of the Talampaya River and the remains of indigenous settlements have also been discovered here, including the astonishing petroglyphs of Puerta del Cañón.
 
Talampaya Gorge has reddish walls nearly 470 ft (150 m) high, and its many rock formations have interesting names such as the Monk, Tower, Worm, Sphinx, Mushroom, Submarine and Bowling Court. There is an interesting local botanical garden at the narrowest point of the canyon and you may see wildlife such as guanacos, hares, maras, foxes and giant condors soaring on the thermals.
 
Afterwards drive to the small town of Villa Union for overnight.
Day 15
Today drive from Villa Union through amazing desert landscapes to Mendoza.
 
Along the way you can stop at the modern city of San Juan in the Tulum Valley. This is an important wine producing region, with many trees irrigated by a system of canals that have earned it the nickname 'The Oasis'.
Day 16
Drive to Mendoza Airport for your onward flight.

Arrive at Bariloche Airport, collect your hire car and drive 1.5-hours to your hotel in the small town of Villa de Angostura in Argentina's beautiful Lake District.
 
Relax in this region of great natural beauty, surrounded by the snow-capped Andes Mountains.
Days 17 To 18
At leisure to explore the lake and mountains around the small town of Villa La Angostura in the beautiful Lake District.
 
Here we recommend a visit to the magnificent Myrtle Forest, which has tall trees over 400 years old. This can be done by hydrofoil from Bahia Mansa to the Quetrihue Peninsula, or if you are very fit on a 7 mile (12 km) hike each way.
Day 19
Drive 1.5-hours to Bariloche Airport for your onward flight.

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 20
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 21
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 22
Transfer to El Calafate Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Aeroparque Airport in Buenos Aires and transferred to your hotel in this capital city.
Day 23
Transfer to Buenos Aires Airport for your flight home.

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