On this tour, you’ll be accompanied from start to finish by one of our exceptional Journey Latin America tour leaders. From the moment you land in Latin America until the day the tour ends they will deal with all the practicalities, expertly adapting to the circumstances and individual needs of the group. Rather than different guides in different cities, your leader will get to know the group and keep you informed and entertained as you go.
3 flights (longest 3 hours), 4 road journeys (longest 6 hours), 1 full day journey by boat.
For our Discovery Journeys we aim to use good quality, value-for-money accommodation, in a mix of larger more modern and smaller family run hotels. All the properties we use are well maintained and rooms will have a private bathroom with hot water.
The focus of these trips is on getting outside, seeing the sights, and experiencing local restaurants and cafes, therefore a few hotels may not have evening dining facilities. If you prefer more luxurious accommodation, please see the Lapwing Tour which follows a very similar route.
Examples of the hotels include:
• Santiago: Hotel Torremayor Providencia
• Puerto Varas: Park Inn
• Puerto Natales: Hotel Vendaval
• Torres del Paine: Hotel Paine
• El Calafate: Hotel Kapenke
• Buenos Aires: Hotel Kenton Palace
On very rare occasions these hotels can change, however please speak to one of our consultants who can provide full details for each departure if you have any doubts. Address and contact details will be sent out with your final documents.
Breakfast daily, lunch days 4 and 6.
• Santiago: walking tour of city
• Chiloé: full day tour of the island
• Puerto Natales: full day boat excursion to Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers
• Torres del Paine: stops to see Salto Grande and Laguna Amarga
• El Calafate: Perito Moreno Glacier
• Buenos Aires: city tour
Summary of nights
12 days, 11 nights: Santiago 2; Puerto Varas 2; Puerto Natales 1; Rio Serrano 2; El Calafate 2; Buenos Aires 2.
Included in the journey price
• Services of a Journey Latin America tour leader
• All land and domestic air transport
• Accommodation as specified
• Meals as specified
• Excursions as specified
Not included in the journey price
• Tips and insurance
• Meals other than specified
• Optional excursions
• Some domestic flight taxes
There is a range of optional excursions available which are booked locally through your tour leader once you are in Latin America. Not all excursions available will suit everybody, whilst others only operate within certain seasons, with minimum numbers or may not be included due to time constraints. A budget of around $200 USD should cover participation in most of the following options, but prices can fluctuate depending on the size of the party and so cannot be provided accurately until travel commences.
The list below is only a guideline, so please enquire with your tour leader for any further areas of interest:
• Santiago: a day trip to the port town of Valparaiso
• Torres del Paine: boat trip on Lago Grey to the Grey Glacier
• Torres del Paine: hike to the base of the towers
• Buenos Aires: evening tango show with dinner
There is no extra cost for single travellers who are willing to share a room. You will be accommodated with a same-sex member of the group who is usually also travelling solo. For single travellers who wish to be sure of having their own room there are a limited number of single rooms available, which carry a surcharge.
The unit of currency in Chile is the peso chileno, and in Argentina the peso argentino.
A budget of around $45 USD per day should cover the cost of meals, drinks and the odd souvenir for most of the tour. In Argentina this might be more like $50-60 USD. Although economic instability in Argentina means that prices can change frequently.
How to take it
Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so a debit or credit card with a PIN 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 you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. These bills should be in good condition as soiled or torn bills may be refused. Travellers’ cheques are increasingly less favoured by travellers who find them difficult to exchange as well as offering a poor rate of exchange. If you do decide to carry some with you they should be US dollar cheques only (American Express are by far the most accepted brand).
Tips are normally welcomed and expected. Local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $3USD (or local equivalent) per person per day for each of guides and drivers, depending on the size of the group.
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.
If you would like to show your appreciation to your Journey Latin America tour leader, who you may feel has exceeded your expectations, a discretionary gratuity would be gratefully received. As a guideline we recommend an amount of between $4 and $6 per person, per day. You are obviously free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality.
Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance
International departure tax and domestic airline taxes are normally included in the price of the ticket.
This is an active trip. Walks vary in length from 4-10 hrs and cover steep and sometimes slippery terrain. On the whole trails are clear and good underfoot. A good level of physical fitness is required to make the most of walks in Torres del Paine. Paths are linear, so you can turn back if you feel that you do not want to carry on. If you don’t want to walk, alternative ways of enjoying the landscapes can be arranged.
Consult your tour leader if you need any advice about the specifics of the walks. Be prepared for some early mornings, and for extreme weather conditions in Patagonia.
In Santiago and Buenos Aires, October, November, March and April see temperatures between 15 and 25°C and a good deal of sunshine. January and February are hot, around 30°C or higher, with tropical rain showers possible in Buenos Aires.
The weather in the south is notoriously unpredictable throughout the year. During the southern hemisphere summer (October to March) you may be subjected to anything 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
A daypack is essential for carrying rainwear, snacks, books and a water bottle. Those who feel the cold should take thermal underwear. To ensure your comfort while walking in Patagonia, you should bring good waterproof walking boots (tried and tested so you don't get blisters) as well as a good water/windproof (not just shower-proof) jacket and trousers, a warm hat and a scarf.
The sun can be strong so take a hat with a visor, sunglasses and sunblock. Some walkers find hiking poles helpful, and binoculars are useful for bird- and wildlife spotting.
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.
Reduce plastic waste
Journey Latin America has partnered with Water-To-Go to offer JLA Group Tour passengers the opportunity to purchase 75cl filtered water bottles for a 50% discount. 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. Please call your contact at JLA to add it your booking and it will be delivered to your address. More information about this initiative can be found on our website here
Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.
You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.
Holders of a full British passport do not require visas for entering Chile and Argentina, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Other nationalities should enquire or check with the Chilean or Argentine consulate. Even where visas are not required, there may be a reciprocity fee to pay (e.g. USA and Canada).
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.