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Journey to the solar eclipse: Argentina 2 July 2019

10 days from £2,506pp

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Journey to the solar eclipse: Argentina 2 July 2019:
trip-dossier

This very special one-off holiday departure is a feast for all the senses. Built around the observation of a rare total eclipse of the sun, set to be visible in the central sierras - easterly foothills of the Andes - it also harnesses the opportunity to listen to live performances of tango rhythms in Buenos Aires and savour the flavours and aromas of street food in the capital. Reach out and touch the sculpted arid landscapes and ornate curves of baroque architecture in the cities and villages of the Andean northwest to complete a truly sensual experience.  

Your will stay in Córdoba, a pleasant city and convenient base for your astronomer-guided day trip to the town Rio Cuarto, where, skies permitting, the eclipse can be witnessed in unobstructed splendour. It’s one of only a few sites across the globe where the moon will totally obliterate the normally blinding disc of the sun, plunging the landscape around into inky darkness - if only for a few fleeting minutes. Accommodation and other services in the area around 2 July, when the eclipse takes place, will be in great demand so we suggest you book now to avoid disappointment.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

June 25

Arrive Buenos Aires, guided walking tour of Retiro and Recoleta districts.

June 26

Savour the street food of Buenos Aires; evening tango show.

June 27

Fly to Salta. Guided walking tour of the colonial city.

June 28

Full day shared guided tour of Humahuaca gorge.

June 29

By road to Cachi in the Andes.

June 30

Return to Salta via the wine capital Cafayate.

July 1

Fly to Córdoba in the central sierras.

July 2

Guided excursion to Rio Cuarto to observe the eclipse.

July 3

Fly back to Buenos Aires

July 4

Transfer to the airport for your international flight.

Detailed itinerary

June 25

Arrive Buenos Aires, guided walking tour of Retiro and Recoleta districts.
 
Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is probably the most cosmopolitan metropolis in South America. Certainly it has more of a European appearance than any other capital with wide boulevards, monumental architecture, art deco cafeterias and designer-label shops. This seductive city oozes historical atmosphere and nostalgia, with its colonial buildings, antique markets, shady squares and tango halls. That's not to say Buenos Aires is just stuck in its past - it's equally vital and contemporary with a vibrant arts scene, cutting edge top-drawer restaurants, ultra-chic boutique hotels and a pulsating nightlife.

Looking to the Old World for inspiration, leading 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 boulevard

Your guided walking tour takes you to former palaces and mansions which now have much more practical functions including the Military Society and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Academicist-style Retiro station, built according to British design and with British materials, was nevertheless inspired by the ornate French gares.  Later, follow meandering Arroyo street distinguished by its art galleries before strolling down illustrious Alvear Avenue in Recoleta, historically the most prosperous and elegant neighbourhood in the capital, home of aristocratic French Belle Epoque-style mansions and classy boutiques.

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Buenos Aires

June 26

Savour the street food of Buenos Aires; evening tango show.
 
Tango show in Argentina

Join other real food enthusiasts for a culinary-themed lunchtime walking tour, where an English-speaking guide escorts you to some of Buenos Aires' 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, provoleta and empanadas; followed by a variety of classic grilled cuts of meat washed down by local wines. Round off your meal with a choice of flavourful artisan ice creams.

In the evening you’ll be back out on the streets to visit a 'milonga', or traditional dancehall, where porteños (citizens of Buenos Aires) gather to display their tango skills. Venues range from spit-and-sawdust backstreet boltholes to grand ballrooms which exude faded glory. For visitors it’s not easy to track down an authentic milonga but a small number of them open their doors early and offer a more authentic and interactive experience than the touristy tango shows. Your venue is in villagey San Telmo, the beating heart of the tango and pocked with bars by night and antique and flea markets by day. It’s one of very few which hosts a live orchestra. You'll not only learn about the traditions and thrills of the tango, but have the opportunity to try out a few moves for yourself (not compulsory)

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Tango show in Argentina

June 27

Fly to Salta. Guided walking tour of the colonial city.
 
Salta

It’s a flight of a couple of hours from the capital’s domestic airport to Salta in the far northwest. This friendly city, founded in 1582 on a Spanish trade route, is believed by many to be one of the most pleasant in Argentina. It's the capital of the only region of Argentina with a strong indigenous heritage still in evidence and it’s the base for visits to Humahuaca Gorge, Cachi and Cafayate, the latter centre of a burgeoning wine producing area - vines thrive in the sunny climate.

Close to the eastern foothills of the Andes as well as some attractive forested hills, it has a delightful colonial core, and a view over the city is offered from the top of a hill within the city limits, reached by a public cable car. Low colonnaded buildings line the narrow streets and the palm-shaded main square is particularly appealing, with its ornate, brightly painted baroque cathedral. Your guided walking tour today will take in many of the highlights.

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Salta

June 28

Full day shared guided tour of Humahuaca gorge.
 
salta area

With its spectacularly contrasting coloured rock strata and cacti-studded canyons, dazzling white colonial churches and pre-Inca ruins, the Quebrada de Humahuaca is justifiably popular with visitors to north-west Argentina. Depart Salta early along the paved highway which runs all the way to the Bolivian border. Once past Jujuy, the road scenically snakes its way into the dramatic Humahuaca gorge. Here, a string of ancient towns and villages offer a flavour of Argentina's  northern neighbour, Bolivia, with quaint adobe houses, colonial plazas and colourful handicrafts. Your first stop will be at pretty Purmamarca, at the base of the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Seven Colour Hill). Continuing through the gorge, you cross the Tropic of Capricorn at Uquia to arrive at the workaday Andean town Humahuaca (2,940m). You may also call at Tilcara, which sports a pre-Inca Pucara fort.

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salta area

June 29

By road to Cachi in the Andes.
 
Cachi

Today you leave Salta with your driver and private car to head up into the Andes proper, here a region of shadowy canyons, tortured desert formations and vivid green oases. Begin your road trip heading to the Calchaquies Valleys, beginning a 520km journey to last two days. You can expect to see varied mountain scenery, lunar-like landscapes rising to the stark but ethereally beautiful puna and descending to orchards and vineyards, while passing through quaint highland villages perhaps the most impressive of which being  Cachi, set between the snow-capped Nevado de Cachi and an emerald oasis bursting with peppers. A blend of indigenous and Spanish colonial influences, this little place has a simple church with a cactus wood roof. Deceptively tranquil the village has a strong community life and hosts fiestas throughout the year. You will spend the night there.

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Cachi

June 30

Return to Salta via the wine capital Cafayate.
 
salta to cafayate

Head off to the tranquil hamlet Seclantas, a village with simple colonial style houses and a 19th century church: the place is famous for its intricate weaving and you can buy a poncho direct from the workshops. On through exquisite landscapes with a backdrop of the craggy, towering Andes to the colonial village Molinos, where there’s a fine gold-embellished  17th century church.  Continue along a rough road which passes through crop-filled fields and orchards and travel through the Las Flechas gorge, where rocks and cliffs the size of tower blocks have been carved by the wind to create complex peaks and contorted sculptures. Visit the villages Angastaco and San Carlos before stopping at Cafayate, a pleasant town with a large leafy main square. The town is surrounded by sunlit vineyards and is renowned for its excellent wines. Finally head onward to Las Conchas gorge, where the sandstone blends a palette of ochre, terracotta and deep crimson and hosts amazing wind and rain carved caves, amphitheatres and statues. Return to Salta.

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salta to cafayate

July 1

Fly to Córdoba in the central sierras.
 
cordoba

It’s a morning flight of just 90 minutes to Córdoba, an attractive city second only to Buenos Aires in size, but with a very different vibe. More harmonious in style than the capital, it is considered the best example of a Spanish colonial city in the country.  Following the colonisation of the area and establishment of a trade centre in the 16th century, Córdoba was settled by Jesuit missionaries and there is an evocative neighbourhood, Manzana de los Jesuits - featuring their Mission church intact - protected by UNESCO listing status.  You have the afternoon to wander around and explore. In the evening you will meet your astronomer, who will join you for a guided observation of the night sky, in anticipation of the eclipse the following day.

(Should you choose to spend more time in the Córdoba region you can head out to the glorious pre- Andean foothills flanking the city; estancia stays and horse-riding are especially popular).

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cordoba

July 2

Guided excursion to Rio Cuarto to observe the eclipse.
 
eclipse

Today you will set off by car accompanied by the astronomer to the large town Rio Cuarto, a drive of around three hours. The eclipse will be observed from a spot especially chosen to be free of visual distractions. In the late afternoon, the moon will, over a period of around two hours, trace an arc over the face of the sun, reaching a point where the planet totally obliterates the star’s disc - only the bright haze of the sun’s atmosphere is visible rimming the coal black sphere. The Earth’s surface below, where you will be standing, will be plunged into a moody darkness, shadows scampering across the land, like a speeded up video of nightfall. (Totality will last just a couple of minutes).

The sun’s dominance then reasserts itself as the moon’s trajectory passes on and normal daylight is resumed, with sunset encroaching. Following a dinner to celebrate the experience you will be driven back to your hotel in Córdoba.

Naturally, your experience will be defined by the weather conditions and cloud cover on the day. If you have good luck and it is sunny, don’t look directly at the sun, to avoid damaging your sight.

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eclipse

July 3

Fly back to Buenos Aires
 
La Boca

Return to the capital where, according to the time of your flight, there will be time further to explore the capital. The many districts fit together seamlessly but offer great contrasts: colourful La Boca is the arty neighbourhood, cradle of the tango, whose character was moulded by Italian immigrants and Recoleta is the home of aristocratic French Belle Epoque style mansions and boutiques - beyond which is a string of lazy urban parks. You might visit the old port area, Puerto Madero – reachable on foot from the hotel –which has been refurbished as a pedestrianised promenade, fringed by blossoming trees with restaurants and bars spilling out across the pavement.

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La Boca

July 4

Transfer to the airport for your international flight.
 

If you’d like to extend your visit to Argentina to discover other highlights, such as the Iguazú Falls, or southern Patagonia (bearing in mind it is winter at this time), please enquire with us.

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Essential information

Insurance and documents

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

Transport

3 domestic flights (longest 2hrs); three days touring by car (car and driver guide) in the northwest with stops, two 3hr transfers Córdoba to Rio Cuarto and back.

Accommodation

This holiday offers mid-range accommodation, well located  in the cities and small town Cachi.

Meals

Breakfast daily; lunch day 2; breakfast lunch and dinner day 8.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 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. You'll be accompanied by an astronomer on your excursion to view the solar eclipse. 

Included excursions

• Guided shared walking tour of Retiro and Recoleta, Buenos Aires..
• Guided shared tour of eateries in the capital.
• Guided shared visit to milonga for a tango experience.
• Guided private motor tour of the northwest's villages and landscapes. 
• Full day shared guided excursion to observe the solar eclipse with astronomer and meals included.

Summary of nights

10 days, 9 nights: Buenos Aires 2; Salta 2; Cachi 1; Salta 1; Córdoba 2; Buenos Aires 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.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.

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.

Budget

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50-70 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants in cities 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. Please see out briefing dossier for advice on tipping guides. 

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.

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 spectacular size of Argentina, there are distances to cover on this holiday so we have chosen domestic flights as the most convenient way to get around. Note that this departure is taking place in the Argentine winter, although you should not experience extremes of temperatures.

This holiday is suitable for all able reasonably fit visitors, including families. If you are travelling alone or have a disability or other special requirement, please do call us. 

Climate

In Buenos Aires, June and July experience temperatures between 10 and 15°C and a good deal of sunshine.

Salta has plenty of sun throughout the year but may be cool in June, although normally temperatures in the day reach 20°C  but it is relatively dry - you'd be unlucky to get any rain.

In the Córdoba region the temperature will also be around 18°C during the day with little chance of rain. The region receives on average 6 hours of sunshine a day.

Clothing and special equipment

The winter (Jun-July) has weather will be cool and dry, so layered clothing including a light fleece will be appropriate.

If you plan to go to good restaurants or out on evening entertainment trips, you might bring something a bit smarter as well (although formal attire will not be required).

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: polio; tetanus; typhoid. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

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 applied for by you personally.
Passports must also be e-passports with a digital chip. 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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