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Food and wine: Vineyards of Argentina and Chile

14 days from £4,223pp

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Food and wine: Vineyards of Argentina and Chile:
Trip Dossier

This holiday is a blissful journey for lovers of wine and unsullied mountain landscapes. You'll stay at a few of our favourite wineries in the golden wine-country of the eastern and western slopes of the Andes in Argentina and Chile. These are atmospheric and welcoming properties where you can enjoy not only the glorious countryside but also top-quality regional cuisine and locally produced wines. 

Your holiday begins in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, considered to be Latin America’s most sophisticated and European city with wide boulevards, colonial architecture and café society. It ends on the other side of the continent at Santiago, the equally vivacious capital of Chile.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires. Transfer to your hotel in arty San Telmo.

Day 2

Food-tasting tour of San Telmo.

Day 3

Walking tour of Retiro and Recoleta.

Day 4

Fly to Salta in the northwest; walking tour.

Day 5

Transfer to Cafayate; winery tour with tasting.

Day 6

Transfer to Molinos and Estancia Colomé.

Day 7

At leisure on the Estancia Colomé.

Day 8

Return to Salta via Cachi.

Day 9

Fly to Mendoza and transfer to nearby Club Tapiz.

Day 10

Visit wineries in the Mendoza region.

Day 11

Fly across the Andean watershed to Santiago, Chile.

Day 12

Culinary tour of Santiago.

Day 13

Transfer to Casa Real on Santa Rita vineyard.

Day 14

Transfer to Santiago airport for international flight.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires. Transfer to your hotel in arty San Telmo.
 
Buenos Aires

You will be met at the airport and escorted to your top-quality boutique-style hotel in San Telmo by one of our local representatives. This villagey-feel neighbourhood is crammed with quaint age-old houses interspersed with antiques shops, artisan street markets, tango bars and classy restaurants.

Overall, Buenos Aires is an elegant, cultured and cosmopolitan city famed for its interesting museums and the fascinating port district of La Boca, with its cobbled streets and brightly painted houses; it was here that the tango was born. The centre of town is home to the colonial heartland, government buildings and churches, as well as chic shopping districts, which have a nostalgic Parisian feel. Slightly further out of the centre is the Recoleta district, even more evocative of the French influence, while Palermo is a stylish neighbourhood of wide avenues lined with colonial mansions. The city zoo, the botanical gardens and racetrack are all here. 

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Buenos Aires

Day 2

Food-tasting tour of San Telmo.
 
Steak and chips

Join other real-food enthusiasts for a culinary-themed lunchtime walking tour of San Telmo. With a focus on down-to-earth venues where the locals go, an English-speaking guide escorts you around some of the neighbourhood's best off-the-beaten-track eateries. On the way you’ll savour authentic Argentine dishes, including snacks from the city's traditional hole-in-the-wall parrillas.

Visiting several venues, you’ll sample mouth-watering traditional street food such as choripan and empanadas; followed by a variety of classic grilled meat cuts all washed down by local wines. Round off your meal with a choice of flavourful artisan ice creams.  All that you eat is included in today's tour. The rest of the day is free to continue exploring on your own.

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Steak and chips

Day 3

Walking tour of Retiro and Recoleta.
 
Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires has always aspired to be one of the world's leading cities, never more so than in the early 20th century when the city's aristocracy enjoyed an unprecedented prosperity. Looking to the Old World for inspiration, wealthy families sought to replicate the graceful architecture of belle époque France, covering the upmarket residential areas of Retiro and Recoleta with palatial façades lining shady cobbled boulevards.

This walking tour takes you to former palaces and mansions which now have much more practical functions; the Military Society, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Parks HQ.

The Academicist style Retiro station, built according to British design and with British materials, was nevertheless inspired by the ornate French gares.  Follow meandering Arroyo street with its art galleries, and finally stroll down illustrious Alvear Avenue.

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Buenos Aires

Day 4

Fly to Salta in the northwest; walking tour.
 
Salta

The city of Salta sits on a fertile plain east of the rolling foothills of the Andes, where the snow-draped peaks can be seen rising beyond. The climate is balmy and the streets and parks are pleasantly studded with palm trees.

The city is renowned for its colonial architecture, friendly population and elegant claret-red ponchos, a legacy of the War of Independence.  It lies in a fertile plain at the foot of the arid foothills of the Andes, the only Argentine region where vestiges of indian heritage are still visible. Nowadays Salta is a opular base for visitors to the adjacent wineries of the Calchaqui valley, carpeted in vineyards.

As you wander round the city centre with your guide, you will appreciate the large number of intact baroque colonial buildings lining the geometric grid of streets and spacious squares. The city was an important centre in imperial times, but its influence waned in favour of Buenos Aires and its infrastructure more or less fossilised. The ornate cathedral with its frescoes is particularly gorgeous. You’ll also be accompanied on the cable car which ascends the hill on the edge of town for a panoramic view of the city skyline.

If you have time after the tour, we recommend you visit the MAAM Museum next to the Cathedral, which houses the haunting ice-mummified remains of sacrificed Inca children as well as other relics of the pre-Columbian period. 

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Salta

Day 5

Transfer to Cafayate; winery tour with tasting.
 
salta to cafayate

The 3hr drive to the wine-producing town Cafayate passes through the fertile Lerma Valley, dotted with small towns dedicated to plantation cultivation, in particular of tobacco. Leaving the fertile valley behind, you enter the dramatic, rust-red Las Conchas gorge which reveals a succession of arid and skeletal mountain views, punctuated by contorted rock formations fashioned by erosion.

Today you will visit one of the prestigious wineries perched on the sunny slopes just outside town. This may be the vineyards of the Piattelli estate which crouches at the foot of sun-bleached, craggy mountains speckled with cacti. Andean snowmelt, intense sunlight, free-draining sandy soils and high altitudes create perfect conditions in which the grapes can thrive. Enjoy a winery tour with tasting (Malbec, Torrontes and Cabernet Sauvignon are produced here) followed by lunch at the vineyard’s restaurant.

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salta to cafayate

Day 6

Transfer to Molinos and Estancia Colomé.
 
salta area

Drive through the Calchaquies valley to Estancia Colomé. This is another spectacular route: set off along a scenic gravel road climbing high on the arid slopes of the Andes and through the fabulous Quebrada de las Flechas gorge with its unusual multi-coloured rock formations. The final hour of the journey, from the tranquil village of Molinos to remote Estancia Colomé, is on an unmade single track road.

The property is an early 19th century winery situated at 2,300m above sea level: the highest commercial vineyard in Argentina, and one the most remote estancias in the north-west. The journey alone is a memorable experience, and your two night stay offers opportunities to sample fine wines and relax whilst enjoying the fabulous scenery of the Andes, with their star the 6,380m snow-draped summit of Nevado del Cachi. 

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salta area

Day 7

At leisure on the Estancia Colomé.
 
estancia colome

The Colomé estate is renowned for the quality of its crisp white Torrontes as well as its rich Malbec blends, which are exported internationally. You have a free day to enjoy the property’s facilities, which include a lounge, library, fitness room and swimming pool. You may also explore the vineyards on foot or go for walks in the surrounding countryside. We’ve included a wine-tasting experience which you can arrange with the management.

You may visit the on-site James Turrell museum, the exhibits of which are part of the personal collection of the Hess family, the estancia's owners. 

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estancia colome

Day 8

Return to Salta via Cachi.
 
cachi

The delightful six-hour journey to Salta features some dramatic scenery as you pass through Los Cardones National Park, famous for the hordes of giant cacti which stand rigid on the hillsides like battalions of silent, watchful soldiers. The mineral-induced colours of the arid rock faces around you range from dark green through purple and tangerine to deep red. Cachi is a particularly delightful white-washed colonial village from which there are gaping views over bright lime-green, ribbon-thin oases below. There's a final descent from the 3,340m Cuesta del Obispo pass to Salta. 

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cachi

Day 9

Fly to Mendoza and transfer to nearby Club Tapiz.
 
Mendoza vineyards

Your accommodation is in a small winery surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, which has a popular restaurant and a well-stocked wine cellar. Other facilities include a lounge/library, outdoor pool and spa area. Wine tasting is offered each evening.

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Mendoza vineyards

Day 10

Visit wineries in the Mendoza region.
 
Wine tasting

The ideal combination: enjoy beautiful, scenery of rugged Andean mountains and fertile valleys while you relish the increasingly sophisticated wines of this sumptuous, welcoming region. Almost two thirds of all Argentine wine comes from the high altitude (1,000m) vineyards of the Andean foothills close to Mendoza, ideal for the cultivation of leggy Malbecs.

Although a relative newcomer to the European table, Malbec wine has been produced in Mendoza for well over 150 years. Cabernet, Tempranillo and Chardonnay are also produced here. Today you'll visit two vineyards, where you'll be introduced to the wine-making process by a sommelier and this is followed by a tasting of the delicious product.

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Wine tasting

Day 11

Fly across the Andean watershed to Santiago, Chile.
 
Santiago

It is only an hour’s flight but a bit of a culture shock when you arrive at your hotel in the centre of buzzing Santiago, Chile’s huge and cosmopolitan capital. But you are staying on the edge of a pleasant, arty neighbourhood, Lastarria, and close to the tranquillity of Santa Lucia Hill, one of the capital’s most romantic spots.  

Santiago is set in a broad valley between ranges of the Andes, with majestic ice-clad peaks, and a smaller coastal range with a distinctly Mediterranean feel. It’s a vast metropolis, a mix of the old and the contemporary, with neighbourhoods of tree-lined avenues and affluent tranquillity and others overflowing with commercial bustle. The historic core, with its Plaza de Armas, presidential palace, museums and other buildings of cultural significance is within walking distance of your hotel and is easy to explore independently.

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Santiago

Day 12

Culinary tour of Santiago.
 
Santiago, Chile

Chilean food and wine is gradually increasing in sophistication and popularity. Traditional pasties (empanadas), meats and seafood dishes have always been on the menu, but tastes are now becoming more refined, with added ingredients and subtle flavouring. There's no better way to explore Santiago than by sampling local specialities on this guided tour, as you move between the city's blend of historic, Bohemian and modern neighbourhoods.

Along the way you’ll call in at a couple of the city’s most important food markets, awash with the paintbox-bright colours of Mediterranean style fruit and vegetables and the marine products of the Pacific. Taste a few of the famous street food products on sale here.

From the historically significant main square, the Plaza de Armas, you’ll be driven to Providencia, an upmarket residential district and home in on a traditional Chilean restaurant for lunch, washed down by a glass of fine Carmenere Chilean wine, a variety rapidly gaining international reputation. Drive on to the up-and-coming Barrio Italia district for dessert. 

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Santiago, Chile

Day 13

Transfer to Casa Real on Santa Rita vineyard.
 
Santa Rita vineyard

It’s less than an hour’s drive to the Maipo valley, the closest wine producing region to Santiago. You’ll be staying on the historic country estate comprising the Santa Rita vineyard and Casa Real hotel, within easy reach of the neighbouring vineyard and wine cellars, yet secluded within its own peaceful and immaculately landscaped grounds.  You have the rest of the day to enjoy the house's elegant facilities, the museum displaying a private collection of Andean artefacts, and its lovely gardens, ancient trees and ponds dotted with black-necked swans.

Your stay will include a tour of the Santa Rita winery and the chance to taste its splendid premium wines.

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Santa Rita vineyard

Day 14

Transfer to Santiago airport for international flight.

Essential information

Transport

3 flights (1-2hrs);  4 road journeys, various shorter road transfers.

Accommodation

Argentina and Chile have a fine choice of excellent estancia and country wine estate accommodation. The estancias and wineries are intimate, cosy, and stylish properties. They all have beautiful settings, good facilities and a range of activities. The standard of cuisine at the countryside properties is exceptional and a good range of national wines is available.

Your city hotels are also superior, characterful properties. 

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch day 2, 5, 12; full board day 13.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 35 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

  • Flavours of Buenos Aires.
  • Walking tour of Retiro and Recoleta, Buenos Aires.
  • Walking tour of Salta.
  • Vineyard visit in Cafayate.
  • Wine tasting at Estancia Colomé.
  • Wineries tour in the Mendoza region.
  • Flavours of Santiago.
  • Wine tasting at Santa Rita winery, Chile.

Summary of nights

14 days, 13 nights: Buenos Aires 3; Salta 1; Cafayate 1; Estancia Colomé 2; Salta 1; Mendoza 2; Santiago 2; Santa Rita Winery Maipo Valley 1..

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

• International flights to Latin America.
• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
• Optional excursions.

Currency

The unit of currency in Argentina is the Argentine peso, in Chile the Chilean peso.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. 

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Tipping

Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. 

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

Given the long distances to cover on this holiday we have chosen domestic flights as the most convenient way to get around. There are several very scenic road journeys and transfers. 

This holiday is suitable for all able reasonably fit visitors. However some wineries have a minimum age limit for children - please enquire. If you are travelling alone or have a disability or other special requirement, please do call us.

Climate

Buenos Aires is hottest January-March (very humid with tropical showers, occasionally over 40°C during the day). They can be cold and cloudy July-August, so weather conditions are best for a visit in spring and autumn. 

Mendoza and Salta are year round destinations with plenty of sunshine. Temperatures dip from a high of 30°C to 15°C in winter but most rain falls in the southern hemisphere summer. The vineyards near Mendoza are stunning when cloaked in the fiery red of their autumn plumage.

In the Santiago area expect a Mediterranean type climate. In October, November, March and April  temperatures range between 15°C  and 25°C and there’s a good deal of sunshine. January and February are hot, around 30°C or higher. The winter months of June-September are chilly in Mendoza and Santiago.

Clothing and special equipment

The southern hemisphere summer will be hot, therefore in Buenos Aires take loose-fitting light clothing for maximum comfort at this time. An umbrella is a good idea in case of a tropical shower. Spring and autumn are milder and less predictable.

South America is in general a relaxed continent and you won’t need clothes for formal dining but you may wish to take some smart casual wear for dining at the estancias or at top of the range restaurants.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements. Protection against malaria is advisable for the Amazon cruise. 

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.

This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.

Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.
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