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Luxury Chile and Argentina: Simply Patagonia

Day 1

Arrive in Santiago. Transfer to hotel, afternoon walking tour of old Santiago.
 
Santiago Chile

Transfer from the airport to your classy boutique hotel in Santiago. It’s in the delightful bohemian quarter of Lastarria. Santiago is set in a broad valley between ranges of the Andes, with majestic snow-capped peaks, and a smaller coastal range with a distinctly Mediterranean feel. Santiago is a huge metropolis, a mix of the old and the contemporary, with quarters of tree-lined avenues and affluent tranquillity and others full of commercial bustle. Poorer districts sprawl on the outskirts.

You’ll have a guided walking tour of historic Santiago narrating Santiago's evolution to the present-day metropolis of 5 million. Your guide will identify Santa Lucia Hill where Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded the settlement of Santiago de Nueva Extremadura on February 12th, 1541. Explore the Plaza de Armas (main square), nucleus of the city's earliest urbanisation. Santiago's cathedral, the main post office, and the city hall are all located around the square.

You'll have a chance to linger in the Plaza de la Constitución, where the La Moneda government palace was the target of aerial bombardment in the 1973 coup which deposed the Marxist elected President Allende and brought General Pinochet to power. There should also be time for a glimpse of one of the oldest 'barrios' (neighbourhoods) of Santiago: Republica and Concha y Toro.

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Santiago Chile

Day 2

Guided visit to Perez Cruz winery in the Maipo Valley.
 
Maipo Valley vineyards

Travel into the heartland of Chile's wine growing region. Pirque in the Maipo Valley is home to several of the country's top vineyards, thanks to its favourable climate and varied elevations here in the foothills of the Andes. It's about an hour's drive to the Perez Cruz winery, a family-run operation producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Malbec. You will have a tour around the bodega, the mezzanine floor and cellar followed by a tasting and lunch, usually taken at the atmospheric Tesoros del Chile restaurant situated in a quaint 19th century residence in Pirque .

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Maipo Valley vineyards

Day 3

Fly to Punta Arenas in southern Patagonia. Transfer to Explora lodge in Torres del Paine National Park.
 
Torres del Paine

Transfer to the airport and fly to Punta Arenas in southern Patagonia. (4hrs). On a clear day you have other-worldly views of the swirling meringue of the southern icecap, its fjords, volcanoes and glaciers. Approaching Punta Arenas you see the rust-brown stain of the Patagonian steppes, pitted with small lagoons stretching out towards the Straits of Magellan.  The region’s fortunes were only briefly revived during a short-lived gold rush, and to add to its woes, the sheep-rearing business has never really recovered from the collapse of the price of meat and wool.

From the airport, drive into the awesome Torres del Paine National Park (5 hrs-ish, a wonderful wilderness where you’ll see silvery iceberg-dotted rivers, aquamarine lagoons and savagely wind-carved rocks, cliffs and ice-clad mountains. Guanacos (cameloids) graze peacefully while ostriches scamper across the plains and condors soar above. The road takes you across inhospitable plains, battered by perpetual winds. The scenery becomes more dramatic as you approach the towering massif which looms up on the horizon. You’ll be staying at the Explora Patagonia hotel, the park’s original luxury property and still unsurpassed for its exceptional setting and views, leisure facilities and sheer choice of excursions and outdoor activities.

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Torres del Paine

Days 4-6

Excursions from the hotel to explore the park.
 
Cuernos del Paine

The hotel has a superb location at Salto Chico (little waterfall) inside the national park with magnificent views. The exclusive and ground-breaking hotel introduced a new concept to wilderness exploration and accommodation - comfort, grace, a range of professionally-run excursions, sophisticated cuisine and even wine are all included in the price.

The hotel's contemporary design, with light beech-wood flooring, wicker furniture and enormous picture windows overlooking the towering ice-mantled massif just outside, adds to the feeling of intimacy with the natural world, enjoyed from a vantage-point of warmth and friendliness. There's an indoor swimming pool and several open-air hot tubs for the use of all guests. Other facilities include a spa, sauna, gym and TV room. A comprehensive programme offers guests up to five different options a day - either on foot, by van, horseback and launch. Each excursion is classified according to duration and fitness requirements and includes English-speaking guide, food and equipment.

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Cuernos del Paine

Day 7

Scenic drive across the border to El Calafate, Argentina and on to Eolo lodge.
 

It’s an all-day drive towards and over the frontier to Argentina across the bleak and scantily-populated Patagonian steppe, but the beauty of the mountainous scenery is staggering. In the afternoon you reach the shores of the milky turquoise Lago Argentino, and the little town of El Calafate.  Tourism in the last 20 years has transformed it into a bustling entrepôt for access to the nearby scenery of glaciers, lakes and impossibly steep peaks.  From there, you continue to Eolo, a luxurious, estancia-style retreat with a fabulous setting the midst of the vast Patagonian steppe, with views towards Lago Argentino.

Day 8

Excursion to Perito Moreno Glacier with boat safari.
 
Perito Moreno

Guided excursion to Perito Moreno glacier. It’s an early morning departure from El Calafate to Los Glaciares national park, a 90 min drive to the walkways and 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 5km 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 launch 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

Day 9

Transfer to El Calafate airport, fly to Bariloche in the lake district, transfer to Villa La Angostura.
 
Bariloche

Transfer to El Calafate airport and fly to San Carlos de Bariloche, the main town in Argentina's lake district, a popular yet unspoilt region of sleeping snow-stifled volcanoes, dark sapphire lakes fringed by dense forests, small Alpine-style towns and scenic drives. Its multitude of national parks offer outdoor activities from hiking to fishing and cycling to horse riding.

There’s a European-style cuisine of fondues, creamy cakes and cool blond Bavarian-inspired beers. Just over an hour from the city is Villa La Angostura, a small, appealing town on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi. It's a chic little place with a selection of gourmet restaurants and smart hotels. The town is a centre for skiing in winter (July and August), and walking in summer - set against a stunning backdrop of glacial green-blue lakes framed by the mountains of the Andes.

You’ll be staying at the hotel Las Balsas, with a superb waterside position on the shores of the lake defined by its ancient cypress woods. Like a brightly painted dolls-house, this quaint property is one of our favourite in Argentina.

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Bariloche

Day 10

At leisure at beautiful Las Balsas hotel.
 
Argentina's idyllic lake district

At leisure to enjoy the hotel’s facilities, excursions and activities. You're truly immersed in the lake district here, and with its idyllic setting, gourmet restaurant and superb spa, you may not feel any need to wander far. Slightly further afield, you may choose to explore Los Arrayanes national park, and its boardwalks through a magical centenary myrtle forest.

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Argentina's idyllic lake district

Day 11

Transfer to airport and fly to Buenos Aires.
 
La Boca

Transfer to the airport and fly to Buenos Aires. The Argentine capital 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 the French influence, where Evita Perón was laid to rest. 

You’ll be staying at the Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau in Recoleta, a smart residential quarter in Buenos Aires with much belle époque and Italianate architecture including part of the hotel itself.

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La Boca

Day 12

Guided city highlights with visit to Teatro Colón. Evening tango show with dinner.
 
Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires

Your guided city overview takes you along Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the widest boulevards in the world and studded by the Obelisk, an emblematic symbol of the city. Along this majestic highway is the 19th century Teatro Colón (guided tour included) which, in terms of its architecture and design, as well as its excellent acoustics, is considered one of world’s best.

On to the Plaza de Mayo, enclosed on three sides by the Metropolitan cathedral, the Town Hall and the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace. The tour continues to bohemian, arty La Boca, which was settled and built by Italian immigrants and has streets lined with brightly painted corrugated iron-clad houses.  Visit the district of Recoleta. 

Evening guided visit to a tango show with dinner. The passage of time has given respectability to a dance once confined to the seedy underworld bars of the red-light La Boca district. Nowadays, a number of 'tango houses' offer a dinner and show as an evening out - prior to the performance you can even try out a few steps yourself as an informal group tango lesson is included. La Gala is an intimate venue with a French colonial style complete with crystal chandeliers and a refined ambience.

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Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires

Day 15

Transfer to airport for international flight home.
 

Transfer to the international airport.

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Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today. Luxury Chile and Argentina: Simply Patagonia

  • Estancia 3 days from £763pp

    Throughout Argentina prestigious rural estates have been adapted to accommodate visitors. La Bamba is a colonial-style property oozing with atmosphere and history, restored to its former elegance in parkland, with a good-sized pool. A few days here will allow you to relax and savour life on the pampa prairies, while feasting off delicious food and wine.

    Day 1:  Transfer by road from Buenos Aires to the gaucho town San Antonio de Areco in the heart of the pampas (90mins). The town has a compact centre of cobbled streets and colonial buildings. The Río Areco cuts through, flanked by parks and linked by a pedestrian bridge leading to Gaucho Museum. Arrive at the Estancia La Bamba just outside town.

    Day 2: At leisure on the estancia. This colonial-style former post house harks back to more opulent times when these establishments were the backbone of a thriving economy. Following its acquisition by French proprietors, it has been renovated to an extremely high standard, and resembles a grand countryside chateau.

    Public areas are cosy and crammed full of plush sofas and old artefacts. The pulpería has a design based on the 18th-century bar which served as an inn for the gauchos, and bristles with atmosphere - open fires, brick walls, flagstone floors and deep sofas. Meanwhile, the  guest rooms offer large shuttered windows and luxurious beds.

    Activities include horse-riding, polo (experienced only), walking and carriage rides in the surrounding pampas.

    Day 3: Return to Buenos Aires to continue your holiday or to connect with your international flight.

    UK clients arrive home the following day.

    Dinner day 1, full board day 2, breakfast day 3.

  • Iguazu from Buenos Aires 3 days from £847pp

    One of the continent’s most awe-inspiring attractions, the Iguazú Falls – which straddle the border between Argentina and Brazil – is a vast basalt amphitheatre veiled by a curtain of foaming water which crashes through tangled sub-tropical jungle. This is one of the great must-see highlights of Latin America, indeed the world.

    Day 1: Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú and continue to Hotel Sheraton, a luxury resort inside the national park, just a short walk from the falls.

    You’ll have a private guided tour of the falls from the Argentine perspective. A little train takes you to the Upper Walk. a sequence of causeways which links dozens of tiny, basalt islands at the top of the rock face. Myriad streams of the Iguazú river cascade over the lip of the precipice, and a succession of lookout points allows your gaze to follow the water as it plunges onto the rocks below.

    The train continues to a passarelle leading you across the river to the thunderous Garganta del Diablo with a spectacular vantage point over the thundering vortex below.

    Day 2: Guided tour of the Brazilian side of the falls. At the entrance to the national park you'll board a shared service to continue to the water’s edge. There's a 1km walkway with viewpoints - you get a panoramic view of the whole sweep of the cataracts, an entirely different experience from the Argentine side. Towards the end of the walk, there's an observation tower and a walkway at the bottom allows for a closer,(and much wetter) look.

    Day 3: Transfer to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires to continue your holiday or to connect with your international flight.

    UK clients arrive home the following day.

    Breakfast daily.

  • Iguazu and Rio de Janeiro 6 days from £1,753pp

    One of the continent’s most awe-inspiring attractions, the Iguazú Falls – which straddle the border between Argentina and Brazil – is composed of a vast basalt amphitheatre veiled by a curtain of foaming water which crashes through tangled sub-tropical jungle. Continue to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro, the continent’s most vibrant and colourful city.

    Day 1: Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú and continue to Hotel Sheraton, a luxury resort inside the national park, just a short walk from the falls.

    Day 2: You’ll have a private guided tour of the falls from the Argentine perspective. A little train takes you to the Upper Walk, a sequence of causeways which links dozens of tiny, basalt islands at the top of the rock face. The myriad streams of the Iguazú river cascade over the lip of the precipice, and a succession of lookout points allows you to watch the water as it plunges onto the rocks below.

    The train continues to a passarelle leading you across the river to the thunderous Garganta del Diablo, with a spectacular vantage point over the thundering vortex below.

    Day 3: By road across the border to Brazil with a visit to the Brazilian side of the falls. There's a 1km walkway with viewpoints - you get a panoramic view of the whole sweep of the cataracts - an entirely different experience from the Argentine side. Towards the end of the walk, there's an observation tower and a walkway which leads out for a closer (and much wetter) look. Continue to Foz do Iguaçu airport and fly to Rio de Janeiro; transfer to your contemporary first class hotel, Hilton Copacabana.

    Day 4: The beaches of Rio are legendary. But the city also has a huge urban forest, a restored colonial centre and excellent restaurants. Music and sport are everywhere. A guided tour takes you to the foot of Corcovado mountain; the cog-wheel train journey starts here, climbing through the tropical Tijuca rainforest, with its abundant flowers and fruit trees, to the steps below the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer. At 701m above sea level, it offers stunning views of the city.

    Day 5: At leisure to enjoy Rio. Highlights abound – the cable car ride up Sugar Loaf mountain, the serene botanical gardens, the artists' colonial quarter of Santa Teresa, downtown museums and art galleries, and the stupendous Niterói Bridge over Guanabara Bay.

    Day 6: Continue your holiday or transfer to the airport for your international flight.

    UK clients arrive home the following day.

    Breakfast daily.

  • Atacama 4 days from £1,215pp

    The Atacama’s inhospitable desert landscape is harsh and rugged, but it echoes the legacy of its pre-Columbian inhabitants, while the volcanoes and geysers hiss into life. Oases splash the tawny landscape with vigorous vegetation. A few days here will give you a surprisingly varied experience of desert life.

    Day 1: Fly from Santiago to Calama (2hrs) and on to the Andean town of San Pedro de Atacama (2,450m). The town is easy-going, with adobe houses and an accent on outdoor activities. You’ll be staying at Hotel Altiplánico on the edge of town. Here you can take advantage of an outdoor pool, Jacuzzi and terrace.

    In the late afternoon drive past spectacular rock formations to the Valle De la Luna (Moon Valley) where the lunar landscape is astonishingly photogenic. Huge sand dunes sweep across a panorama of salt-encrusted canyons, gullies and eroded rock sculptures. Walk up to the top of one to watch the valley at sunset - a dazzling palette of gold and reds. 

    Day 2: Today’s adventure takes you past Licancabur volcano to the village of Toconao, typical of the small oasis settlements of the area. Continue south, entering the Atacama salt flats, a national reserve. Pink flamingoes haunt the lagoons of the featureless white salt flats, and cacti stride towards the horizon.

    Day 3: Depart before dawn for a guided trip to Tatio geysers, at 4,300m the highest geyser field in the world. The geysers are a surreal sight at sunrise – blow-holes send jets of water and steam into a cloudless sky and, as the sun rises, the pools of water turn to shimmering silver. Later, you have time for a soak in hot springs (40°C). Please note that these can be closed for essential maintenence work.

    Day 4: Return to Calama airport to fly to Santiago to continue your holiday or connect with your international flight. (An overnight stay in Santiago may be required).
    UK clients arrive home the following day.

    Breakfast daily

  • Easter Island in depth 6 days from £2,274pp

    Polynesian Easter Island (Rapa Nui) lies 3,790km off the Chilean coast in the remote sub-tropical South Pacific. Windswept and grassy on one side, lushly vegetated on the other, and with a benign climate, it is famous for the clusters of huge enigmatic stone heads standing starkly against an azure skyline. Experience the unique atmosphere and friendly welcome.

    These few days on the island, with private excursions guided by enthusiastic experts in the field, will give you an insight-filled experience to satisfy your curiosity about the unique Rapa Nui culture. Triangular in shape, Easter Island measures no more than 8 miles at its widest point - with a huge, extinct volcanic crater at each of its extremes.

    Day 1: Fly from Santiago to Easter Island and continue to the secluded Hotel Altiplánico.  At 3km from the main town, Hanga Roa, it’s just a stone's throw from the ocean. Guest rooms resembling traditional boat houses are scattered over its tropical gardens. Facilities include a terrace and small pool.

    Day 2:  Full-day tour to introduce Easter Island's most iconic moai statues and intriguing archaeological heritage, encompassing the highlights of the island's north and east coast. There’s time to inspect the statues, explore a volcano and its extinct crater, and swim off a white-sand beach.

    Day 3: Explore geological and historic highlights in the south of the island. View 6 toppled statues, with admirable close-fitting Rapa Nui stonework. Continue to the quarry of the topknots, or 'hats', which adorned many of the moai, and on to view a 1km long collapsed lava tube used by early Easter Islanders as a dwelling. Next stop is the inland ahu (ceremonial platform) of Akivi, one of Easter Island's iconic and most photographed sites.

    Later visit Rano Kau, an extinct volcanic crater 1.6km across and 200m deep.  It is Easter Island's most spectacular natural attraction. Continue to Orongo, dramatically perched between the cliffs and the crater's edge, the site of the historic Birdman competition.

    Day 4: At leisure. You might take an optional 11km cliff-top walk which showcases the gloriously rugged coastline and volcanic landscape, with sweeping vistas across the Pacific Ocean. The hike ends at Anakena, a white coral beach.

    Day 5: Witness the citrus-hued sunrise at Ahu Tongariki. This vivid display of an artist's palette of colour can be especially memorable between October and April when the sun rises directly behind the 15-moai platform.Transfer to the airport and fly back to Santiago.

    Breakfast daily.

    You will need a positioning night in Santiago at either the beginning or end of your visit to Easter Island, depending on your itinerary. A stay at an airport hotel has been included in the cost.

  • Winery 3 days from £681pp

    The Chilean Central Valley, with its rich soils and sunny Mediterranean climate, is Chile’s breadbasket. Orchards flourish, and the slopes of the Andean foothills support vineyards producing world class wines. Several now welcome visitors: here you visit one of the most attractive and luxurious.

    Day 1: By road to the Casablanca valley (1.5hrs), celebrated among the world’s wine cognoscenti for the shiraz and pinot noir grapes which thrive among orchards and woodland of cedar, chestnut and almond.  You’ll be relaxing in the classy surroundings of  La Casona at Matetic which has intimate accommodation in a 100-year-old estancia refurbished in plush colonial style.

    Day 2: At leisure at the vineyard, including a tour of the award-winning winery, with wine tasting.

    Day 3: Return to Santiago to continue your holiday or connect with your international flight.

    UK clients arrive home the following day.

    Breakfast daily, dinner days 1,2.

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Chile and Argentina: Luxury Patagonia tour

13 days from £7,679pp

Price excludes international flights at the beginning and end of the trip

 

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