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Signature Argentina: Patagonia, Lake District and Iguazú Falls

13 days from £3,314pp

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Signature Argentina: Patagonia, Lake District and Iguazú Falls:
Trip Dossier

This holiday will give you a real taste of the variety this huge country has to offer the visitor. Much of the natural landscape is on a huge scale, ranging from sub-tropical jungle to frozen ice-caps. Here you are taken to experience the most captivating highlights.

Beyond the infinite skies, shimmering glaciers and ice-spiked Andean mountains, this is the cradle of the tango and a producer of fine wines. Its capital, Buenos Aires, is one of Latin America’s most stylish; its people, cultured and welcoming. This heritage, forged by waves of immigrants (including Italians, English and Welsh), is unique. Fly south to the wilderness of remote Patagonia, with immense glaciers and sprawling sheep ranches. Move on to the lake district, peppered with waterfalls, azure lakes and snow-dusted volcanoes. End your trip at the monumental Iguazú waterfalls surrounded by rainforest, leaving you perfectly positioned, if you wish, to move on into Brazil.. 

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires and transfer to your hotel.

Day 2

City tour including visit to Teatro Colón. Dine at a live tango show.

Day 3

At leisure in Buenos Aires.

Day 4

Fly to El Calafate in southern Patagonia.

Day 5

Drive into Los Glaciares National Park; visit the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Day 6

Boat across Lago Argentino to see icebergs and nearby glacier; lunch at an historic estancia.

Day 7

Fly to Bariloche, northern Patagonia, in the lake district.

Day 8

Sail to Victoria Island and explore Arrayanes forest.

Day 9

Full day excursion in Nahuel Huapi National Park; visit Tronador Glacier.

Day 10

Fly to Iguazú Falls

Day 11

Visit the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls.

Day 12

Visit the Argentine side of Iguazú Falls.

Day 13

Transfer to airport.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires and transfer to your hotel.
 
La Boca, Buenos Aires

You will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel in the chic residential district of Recoleta by one of our local representatives. 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, and Diego Maradona honed his footballing skills.

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. The bohemian quarter of San Telmo is full of quaint old houses interspersed with antiques shops, tango bars and classy restaurants. Slightly further out of the centre is the Recoleta district, even more evocative of French belle époque and Italian influence.

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La Boca, Buenos Aires

Day 2

City tour including visit to Teatro Colón. Dine at a live tango show.
 
Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires

Guided tour of the city including the Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the widest boulevards in the world and studded with the Obelisk - an emblematic symbol of the city. Along this majestic highway is the 19th century Teatro Colón which, in terms of its architecture and design, as well as its excellent acoustics, is considered one of the best in the world. There’s a guided tour of its lavish interior.

On to the Plaza de Mayo, with the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace. Continue to the colourful bohemian barrio of La Boca, which was settled and built by Italian immigrants and has streets lined with brightly painted corrugated iron-clad houses. Drive north to Palermo, an elegant neighbourhood of wide avenues lined with colonial mansions. Finally, visit the artistic district of Recoleta, stopping at the cemetery where generations of the Argentinian elite have been buried, including Evita.

In the evening you’ll dine at one of the capital’s many tango shows where you can appreciate the athletic skills of the dancers.

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Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires

Day 3

At leisure in Buenos Aires.
 
Buenos Aires

A full day at leisure to explore the many facets of Argentina's capital city. Your city tour will have given you an overview of its distinctly different neighbourhoods but you may welcome the opportunity to retrace your steps or discover new ones. Soak up the atmosphere of bohemian San Telmo, perhaps have lunch in leafy Palermo or browse the upmarket shops of Recoleta.

If you'd like to explore further afield we can organise a full-day trip across the River Plate to Colonia del Sacramento, in Uruguay. Colonia was founded in 1680 and UNESCO has recently declared its beautifully preserve historic core a World Heritage Site. The modern part of town is lively and neat, its wide avenues lined with trees. The historic centre has narrow, winding cobbled streets with colonial buildings. One feature of many provincial Uruguayan towns is the number of 60 and 70-year-old cars that are still in use.

Other options include a trip to the River Plate delta. With elegant suburbs such as Tigre and San Isidro and its network of rivers and channels, the delta region is an attractive and popular retreat for residents of Buenos Aires, a world away from the big city. A day trip to an estancia (ranch) on the cattle pasture of the pampas is also possible.

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Buenos Aires

Day 4

Fly to El Calafate in southern Patagonia.
 
Estancia Cristina

Fly to El Calafate in southern Patagonia. Youi'll be escorted to your hotel in this resort town on the southern shore of turquoise Lago Argentino. Tourism in the last twenty five years has transformed it into a bustling entrepôt for access to the nearby scenery of glaciers, lakes and impossibly steep peaks. It still has a bit of a frontier feel, though it is very busy in summer.

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Estancia Cristina

Day 5

Drive into Los Glaciares National Park; visit the Perito Moreno Glacier.
 
Perito Moreno Glacier

Today you will discover one of Argentina's most loved natural places - Perito Moreno Glacier. It’s an early morning departure on a guided tour from El Calafate to Los Glaciares National Park, followed by a drive to the walkways and the viewing platform overlooking the glacier. The thundering shards of falling ice are a breathtaking spectacle as you pass at a safe distance along the walkway in front of the Canal de los Tempanos, which separates Brazo Rico from the main part of the lake.

The Glacier is five kilometres wide and stands 60m above the surface of the lake. Its ice masses are fed by the southern continental ice field from the west, and from other smaller surrounding glaciers.

Later, board the Safari Nautico or Moreno Fiesta for an hour-long cruise on the lake beneath the glacier, with a commentary. Alternatively, you can just walk and contemplate, away from the other visitors.

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Perito Moreno Glacier

Day 6

Boat across Lago Argentino to see icebergs and nearby glacier; lunch at an historic estancia.
 
uppsala

Guided excursion to Estancia Cristina. This full-day trip departs from the jetty at Punta Bandera, a 45min drive from El Calafate and explores the iceberg-strewn fingers of Lago Argentino. There are about 15 bumpy minutes as the comfortable motor cruiser crosses the southern arm of the lake. Soon, the first icebergs come into view as the boat continues towards the Spegazzini Channel and the Spegazzini Glacier. How close you get to the glacier depends on the floating ice in its vanguard but the surrounding scenery is wonderful.

Continue into the Cristina Channel, and dock at Estancia Cristina. Explore one of Patagonia's most remote historic estancias, established in 1914 by English pioneer Joseph Masters and named after his daughter. Some of the infrastructure was damaged by fire in 2009, but a guided tour will take you to its surviving buildings and museum. Have a typical, hearty Patagonian lunch at the estancia, with time in the afternoon to contemplate your remote, peaceful surroundings (there are also options to go on scenic 4x4 trip or a full day hike).

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uppsala

Day 7

Fly to Bariloche, northern Patagonia, in the lake district.
 
San Carlos de Bariloche

Fly to Bariloche, the principal town in Argentina's lake district, on the southern shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi.  Beyond the town, the lake district has a more remote feel than you'd expect from somewhere so accessible, the craggy Andean mountain peaks, splashed with snow and cut through by glaciers, brood silently over a tightly wooded landscape pitted with lakes of gemstone clarity. Steep slopes shelter ski runs while the landscape is criss-crossed seductive hiking trails.  The town is a centre for skiing in winter (July and August), and walking in summer.

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San Carlos de Bariloche

Day 8

Sail to Victoria Island and explore Arrayanes forest.
 
Bariloche

Today you have a full day guided exploration of Victoria Island and Arrayanes forest. You'll be driven to Lake Nahuel Huapi and sail to the port at Anchorena on Victoria Island, where there is time to explore the network of trails on foot. The island is almost all dense evergreen forest - cypress, spruce, pine, monkey puzzle tree and coihue are all present. There are also lots of wild flowers and blackberry and rose bushes.

The island is a habitat for large woodpecker, hummingbirds and Patagonian geese, as well as mammals such as deer and wild boar. Get back on board the boat to continue to Quetrihué for a visit to the Bosque de Arrayanes, where the protected myrtle trees' trunks are distinguished by cinnamon-coloured, flaky bark  with white flowers and purple fruit. The trees can reach 15m in height and live for 300 years - some in fact are twice this age.

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Bariloche

Day 9

Full day excursion in Nahuel Huapi National Park; visit Tronador Glacier.
 
Tronador

Set out on a guided adventure to Tronador mountain and the Nahuel Huapi National Park. Follow the road along the lakeshores of Lago Gutierrez and Lago Mascardi, the so-called 'Lake of the Seven Colours'. Beyond, the road emerges from a dark forest to reach Ventisquero Negro composed of black rock and ice. The cacophony of sound that accompanies ice and rockslides is where the 'Thunderer' (Cerro Tronador) gets its name.

Continue to the base of the mountain, the highest peak in the Nahuel Huapi National Park at 3,554m. Head past scenic lakes, waterfalls and rushing rivers, culminating in an uphill walk to reach the viewpoint of the Cascada La Alerces.

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Tronador

Day 10

Fly to Iguazú Falls
 
Toco toucan, Iguazu national park

Fly to Puerto Iguazú on the border with Brazil. Transfer to your hotel just outside the town with views over the river. The immense cataracts known as Iguazú Falls form unquestionably one of the most extraordinary natural phenomena in the world. A total of 275 falls thunder over a rust-coloured cliff surrounded by dense tropical forest. The U-shaped Devil’s Throat is the most dramatic sight, here the frothing water of the Iguazú river crashes over a 1.5km-wide precipice and columns of vapour are thrown skyward.

Elsewhere the river flows decorously through the rainforest breaking up into dozens of smaller cascades. You can usually spot colourful toucans and many other exotic birds perched in the foliage above the tumultuous waters.

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Toco toucan, Iguazu national park

Day 11

Visit the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls.
 
Iguazu Falls

Your guided tour will take you to the walkways on the Brazilian side of the falls which offers an overall panoramic vista. Most impressive perhaps is the 1.5km paved walkway leading along the granite cliff to a viewpoint close to the rim of the Floriano Falls.

Closer to the road there is an elevator which takes you back up from the spray-splashed walkway at the bottom of the falls to a point level with the top  where there is a small shop, restaurant and terrace.

Return to your hotel in Argentina, where you have free time to relax by the pool or stroll in the grounds. There are also opportunities to explore the area by bike, or take a boat trip, bookable through the hotel.  

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Iguazu Falls

Day 12

Visit the Argentine side of Iguazú Falls.
 
Iguazu Falls

Now's your chance to explore the Argentine side of the falls on a full day guided excursion. Start at the National Park Visitor Centre, where there is a display illustrating the biodiversity of the tropical rainforest. From there, a little natural-gas-powered train transfers you to Cataratas station where the Upper Walk begins.

This sequence of causeways and passerelles links dozens of tiny, basalt islands at the top of the rock face. These walkways cross the myriad streams of the river Iguazú as they cascade over the lip of the precipice. A succession of lookout points allows your gaze to follow the water, as it plunges onto the rocks below.

You can then continue to the Lower Walk, which gives you a totally different perspective of the falls. Climb back up to the train and continue to Devil's Throat Station. From here, a kilometre-long walkway leads you across the river to view the thunderous Garganta del Diablo from the Argentine side, a spectacular vantage point from which to peer into the thundering vortex below where the water swirls and roars in an agitated maelstrom. 

 

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Iguazu Falls

Day 13

Transfer to airport.
 
You might consider staying on to visit Brazil: you can fly from Iguazú to Rio de Janeiro in just two hours.
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Essential information

Transport

3 flights (longest 3.5hrs). 

Accommodation


You will stay in mid-range hotels with well-equipped rooms, private bathroom and heating or air-conditioning.

Meals

Breakfast daily; dinner day 2; lunch day 6.

Included excursions

  • Buenos Aires city tour, including Teatro Colón.
  • Dinner at a live tango show.
  • Full day guided excursion and boat trip to Perito Moreno glacier.
  • Guided boat trip across Lago Argentino and lunch at historic estancia.
  • Guided exploration of Victoria Island and explore Arrayanes myrtle wood, lake district.
  • Full day excursion in Nahuel Huapi National Park and Tronador glacier.
  • Guided tour of the Argentine side of the Iguazú Falls.
  • Guided tour of the Brazilian side of the Iguazú falls.

Summary of nights

13 days, 12 nights: Buenos Aires 3; El Calafate 3, Bariloche 3; Iguazú falls 3.

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 (except connecting flight from Foz do Iguacu airport on day 13).
•    Accommodation as specified.
•    Meals as specified.
•    Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

•    International flights to Latin America.
•    Connecting flight from Foz do Iguacu airport on day 13.
•    Tips and gratuities.
•    Meals other than specified.
•    Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket.
•    Optional excursions.*

*Where a local company organises an optional excursion it does so as a principal and not as an agent of Journey Latin America.

N.B. Occasionally local governments may impose additional levies to taxes already paid on tickets, if this should happen, the payment is made locally.

Currency

The unit of currency in Argentina is the Argentinian peso.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$40 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 welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $10 per person for a half day and $20 for a full day for guides and half that for drivers.

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

Be prepared for some early mornings ahead of the excursions and potentially some extreme weather in Patagonia.

This holiday is suitable for all able reasonably fit visitors, including families. In other cases if you have a disability or other special requirements, please do call us. 

Climate

In Buenos Aires, October to November and March to April see temperatures between 15 and 25°C and a good deal of sunshine. January to February are hot, with temperatures over 30°C.

The lake district has weather not dissimilar to the UK’s, but with more sunshine in summer and perhaps more rain in winter.

The weather in the south is notoriously unpredictable throughout the year. In Patagonia during the southern hemisphere summer (October to March) you should be prepared for everything from a blizzard to a heat wave. Strong winds and rain are possible at any time and it can get extremely cold.

Clothing and special equipment

In the southern hemisphere summer it will be hot in Buenos Aires so take loose-fitting, light clothing for maximum comfort. An umbrella is a good idea in case of a tropical shower. 

For day-to-day wear in Patagonia you should go prepared to encounter all seasons. Both warm clothing and a sun hat are essential at altitude; a light fleece jacket and a Gore-Tex outer shell makes a good combination. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well. If you plan to eat in smart restaurants, although clothing is not formal (no need for jacket and tie), something quite smart would be appropriate.

Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring insect repellent, sun block and sun glasses. You should take swimwear for pools.
 
Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts.

Vaccinations

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

As of 2018, visitors to Brazil travelling on our holidays should be protected with a vaccination against yellow fever, and carry the corresponding certificate. In April 2013, the World Health Organisation Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation concluded that a single primary dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and lifelong protection against yellow fever disease, and that a booster dose is not needed.

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. Clients with a different nationality should refer to our Briefing Dossier and 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 digital e-passports with an embedded 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.

Water-To-Go

We’ve partnered with Water To Go to offer Journey Latin America clients a 50% discount on 7cl filtered, reusable water bottles with every booking. The bottle can be refilled at any water outlet and has a filter that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing the water to be safe to drink.
Contact your Travel Consultant for more information and to include the purchase in your booking.
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