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Signature Patagonia: Highlights of Patagonia

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This is a comprehensive Patagonia highlights holiday exploring the indigo lakes, ancient woodland and snow-capped volcanoes of the lake district. Further south are the ice caps, glaciers, jagged mountains and lakes at the tip of the Andes in Chile and Argentina. This adventure includes a visit to the cathedral-high Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina, and Torres del Paine National Park, Chile’s best loved and well-established reserve.

While the lake district in northern Patagonia has lakeside resorts and many visitors in summer, there are little seen fairyland forests and lonely roads carving their way through a virgin landscape. The south is, in parts, a true wilderness, where just a few rough roads cut through a frost-bitten landscape of glaciers, lagoons, icy pinnacles and steppe, Patagonia is nevertheless readily accessible to visitors.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Santiago. Transfer to hotel, afternoon half day walking city tour.

Day 2

Full day excursion to vineyards of Maipo Valley.

Day 3

Transfer to Valparaiso.

Day 4

Half day walking tour of Valparaiso.

Day 5

Fly to Puerto Montt, by road to Puerto Varas.

Day 6

Full day excursion to Chiloé Island, visit the Puñihuil penguin colony.

Day 7

Picturesque full day Andean boat crossing to Bariloche, via Petrohue waterfalls.

Day 8

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

Day 9

Fly to El Calafate.

Day 10

Visit Los Glaciares National Park and Perito Moreno Glacier.

Day 11

Transfer to Torres del Paine National Park.

Days 12-13

Outdoor activities in Torres del Paine National Park.

Day 14

Transfer to Punta Arenas, fly to Santiago.

Day 15

Transfer to airport for international flight home.

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Places visited on this holiday

Signature Patagonia: Highlights of Patagonia

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Santiago and the vineyards
Santiago and the vineyards
With a backdrop of snow-draped Andean peaks in a sunny fertile valley, Chile’s huge capital lies at the heart of the country. A multi-layered place of contrasting neighbourhoods it is worth getting to know.

There’s a tiny colonial heart which displays an often poignant history, offset by the glittering malls, skyscrapers and shady boulevards of a modern economy. Interspersed are European-style centres for shopping and eating out such as Italianate Bellavista and newly vibrant, villagey localities among which is trendy Lastarría. The surrounding Mediterranean landscape is the perfect setting for vineyards and wineries producing Chile’s well respected wines.
When's the best time to visit Santiago and the vineyards?
Santiago has a hot dry summer and cool winters with some rain and even snow. Spring and autumn (Sep-Oct and Apr-May) are pleasant times for a city visit. The vineyards are at their prettiest in spring (Sep-Oct) but a visit may be most interesting at harvest time (Mar-Apr).
What is the official language in Santiago and the vineyards?

Spanish.

How can I get local currency in Santiago and the vineyards?
Chilean Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. There are also many banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash; rates for euros and sterling are harder to find and frequently poor.
What's the time difference between Santiago and the vineyards and UK?

GMT -4 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, from Sep/Oct to early Mar. 

What places combine with Santiago and the vineyards?

Valparaiso, colourful Pacific port growing in popularity among visitors, 106km (2hours by road); a beach wind-down in Chile’s principal resort, Viña del Mar (100km, 2 hours); a few days on Polynesian Easter island (5 hours direct by air); winter skiing in the family resort of Valle Nevado (65km, 1 hour 40mins by road).

How do I get to Santiago and the vineyards?

There are no direct flights from the UK, average flight time is 16 hours; a change of plane is required in Europe, Brazil or the USA.

What are the festivals and cultural events in Santiago and the vineyards?

Feria Internacional de Artesania: Nov; Parque General Bustamente, Centro, Santiago, the city’s best craft festival.

Feria Internacional del Libro: Nov, Machopo station, Santiago. A Hay Festival is imminent for Santiago – watch this space!

Fiesta de la Vendimia: Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, An annual grape harvest festival in early Mar. 

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Valparaiso and Vina del Mar
Valparaiso and Vina del Mar
Drive from Santiago northwest through the coastal cordillera and you arrive at these two Pacific towns: one a historic and busy port, the other a beach resort. Valparaiso’s aspect and atmosphere differ totally from the capital. Shoals of crammed painted houses career down vertiginous hillsides, accessed by wooden lifts and staircases. These hilltop quarters now offer boutique hotels and chic and interesting restaurants. Down below the port area’s heavy Victorian-style architecture recalls an era when British influence was strong. A few kilometres north is the resort of Viña del Mar, historically chic but now a popular family seaside spot and commercial town.
When's the best time to visit Valparaiso?
Valparaiso and Viña have a hot dry summer and cool winters with some rain. Spring and autumn (Sep - Oct and Apr - May) are pleasant times for a city visit; summertime (Dec - Mar) the best time for the beaches which can be crowded with visitors.
What's the official language in Valparaiso?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Valparaiso?
Chilean Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. There are also many banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash; rates for euros and sterling are harder to find and frequently poor.
What's the time difference between Valparaiso and UK?

GMT -4 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, from Sep-Oct to early Mar.  

What places combine well with Valparaiso?

Santiago, vast multi-layered capital, 106 km (2 hours by road); a stay at one of the vineyards in the Colchagua, Maipo and Casablanca valleys, 177 km by road.

How do I get to Valparaiso?

It’s a 2 hour drive on a fast highway from Santiago to either destination.

What are the festivals and cultural events in Valparaiso?

New Year: Valparaiso: 3 days of festival attended by over a million visitors, with a firework display on the bay.

International Music Festival: Viña del Mar, a week in Feb. This event once attracted stars of international renown, nowadays it is more a showcase for aspiring Latin American pop stars. 
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Chilean Lake District (south)
Lake District

Chile’s lake district is a picturesque region of ancient forests straddling rugged hills lorded over by snow-capped volcanoes, hot springs and crystalline streams, interspersed by flowery meadows and cattle pasture.

The southern part of the region includes the Bavarian-style resort Puerto Varas on the shores of the vast lake Llanquihue, overlooked by the perfect cone of the Osorno volcano. Not far from here are the Petrohue Falls, a popular break in the journey for visitors on the Lakes Crossing route to Argentina. Puerto Montt is a large town with a busy fishing port from where it’s a short ferry ride to the deeply traditional island of Chiloe.

When's the best time to visit Chile south Lake District?
The southern lake district has a temperate climate, with plenty of warm sun but also showers in summer, while winters (May-Aug/Sep) can be cool and very rainy. Dec-Mar is very crowded with local holiday-makers. If you prefer a less lively atmosphere, spring and autumn (Mar-Apr, Oct-Nov) are good choices.
What's the official language of Chile south Lake District?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Chile south Lake District?
Chilean Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs in Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. There are also many banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash at a lower rate; rates for euros and sterling are harder to find and also frequently poor.
What's the time difference between Chile south Lake District and UK?

GMT -4 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, from Sep-Oct to early Mar.

What places combine well with Chile south Lake District?

The northern lake district, centred on Pucón or Villarrica (5-6 hours by car); the Argentine lake district via the Lake Crossing from Bariloche in Argentina’s lake district to Puerto Varas; the wilderness Aisén region of glaciers, fjords and islands to the south (drive from Puerto Montt down the Carretera Austral or fly to Coyhaique from Puerto Montt (1 hour 47mins); Torres del Paine in Patagonia (fly from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas, 2 hours 12mins). 

How do I get to Chile south Lake District?

There are flights from Santiago to Puerto Montt (1 hour 40mins). Drive south from Pucón or Villarrica in 5-6 hours (322km).

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Argentine lake district
Nahuel Huapi Lake
It’s part of Patagonia, but with a touch of Switzerland or Scandinavia. Argentina shares a picture-book-perfect lake district with Chile on the other side of the Andes, linked by one of the continent’s most exquisite passes, the Lakes Crossing.  It’s 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.
When's the best time to visit the lake district of Argentina?
The main towns of the lake district are full of visitors in the summer months Dec-Feb, when the weather is at its best. Mar-Apr and Sep-Nov can be lovely seasons with rich autumn colours and blossoms respectively, and the towns and hotels won’t be bursting at the seams. Winter (Jul-Aug) is the ski season.
What's the official language in the lake district of Argentina?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in the lake district of Argentina?

Argentine Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs along calle Mitre in Bariloche and calle San Martín in the town of San Martín, using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows.

What's the time difference between the lake district of Argentina and the UK?

GMT -3 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, but this is announced ad hoc on a year-on-year basis.

What other places combine well with the lake district of Argentina?
Chile’s lake district, a full day trip by boat and road across the Andes; Mendoza in the wine producing region, twice weekly flights (1hr 45mins; El Calafate and Ushuaia in southern Patagonia, sporadic service in summer only (1hr 40mins) or via Buenos Aires.
How do I get to the lake district of Argentina?

There are many daily flights from Buenos Aires to Bariloche (2hrs 10mins) and 3 flights a week from the capital to San Martín (2hrs 20mins).

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El Calafate and Los Glaciares National Park
Perito Moreno Glacier
The vast ice fields in Los Glaciares National Park, southern Patagonia, are a primeval wilderness from which flow 13 huge glaciers into the waters of lakes Viedma and Argentino. Visitors can only see a small part of it, from bases which are surprisingly accessible, but get a real sense of the remoteness of this unpopulated region.  The emerald beech forest and the wind-strafed steppes framing the ice add to the landscape’s beauty. El Calafate is a small lakeside town with tourist facilities which still has a frontier feel. It’s the base for visits to the Perito Moreno, Upsala and Onelli glaciers.
When's the best time to visit El Calafate and Los Glaciares National Park?
Weather-wise it’s best to visit in the summer (Dec-Feb) when days are long and mild, but at this time – especially Jan – the area is very crowded with both Argentine and foreign visitors. Mar/Apr or Sep/Oct can be sunny and clear, but it can be windy. In the winter months Jun-Aug it is very cold and access routes can be blocked by snow. Many facilities are closed then, too.
What's the official language in El Calafate?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in El Calafate?

Argentine Peso. There are a couple of banks with ATMs accepting foreign cards. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. There are also some money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash but rates are not good; you may be better off changing money in Buenos Aires or another large city before heading to El Calafate.

What's the time difference between El Calafate and the UK?

GMT -3 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, but this is announced ad hoc on a year-on-year basis.

What places does El Calafate and Los Glaciares National Park combine with?
El Chaltén in the northern sector of the park, to visit the Fitz Roy massif, 215 km (3hrs); Peninsula Valdés (1hr 20 mins’ flight); Tierra del Fuego for visit to Lapataia National Park and Beagle Channel (flight 1.5hrs); Torres del Paine National Park, Chile, 210 km, (4-5hrs scenic drive).
How do I get to El Calafate and Los Glaciares National Park?

Daily flights from Buenos Aires take 3.5hrs; from Ushuaia, 1.5hrs. You can reach El Calafate by road from Puerto Natales in Chile (5-6hrs).

What are the cultural events in El Calafate and Los Glaciares National Park?

Lago Argentino Day: El Calafate, 15 Feb, live music, barbecues and dancing.

Dia de la Tradición: El Calafate, 10 Nov, horse-riding presentations and barbecues. 

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Torres del Paine National Park
Torres del Paine

 

Torres del Paine National Park in southern Patagonia is the pinnacle of Chile’s natural landscapes, fast becoming one of the world’s most popular places for walking holidays. Cuernos del Paine is a granite massif which has been sliced apart into needle-sharp spires by glaciers. Beyond are the vertical triple towers of the Torres del Paine. Wind-battered grasslands lead up to sheltered glacial valleys with flowery meadows; torrential rivers surging with ice are interlaced with glassy lagoons. Wildlife abounds everywhere, from geese to guanaco; condors and puma may be spotted, especially in the low winter season from April to October.

When's the best time to visit Torres del Paine NP?
The best months for hiking are Mar-Apr. Many hikers also visit in summer (Dec - Jan) along with non-trekkers so it can be very busy at that time. Days are long and mild then but it can be windy, as in spring (Sep - Oct). For non-hikers, a visit at any time is recommended outside the winter months Jun - Aug when it can be very cold and access routes can be blocked by snow. On the other hand, it is frequently less windy in winter and you have a better chance of spotting wildlife as there are few tourists around. Many facilities are closed then; however, each year, a few more stay open to cater for this off-season traffic.
What's the official language in Torres del Paine NP?

Spanish.

How canI get local currency in Torres del Paine NP?

Chilean Peso. Bring sufficient pesos for your needs from a previous larger destination.

What's the time difference between Torres del Paine NP and UK?

GMT -4 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer.
What other places combine with Torres del Paine NP?

Puerto Natales, picturesquely located town on Last Hope Sound which still has a frontier feel, famous for its black-necked swans, 3 hours by roadEl Calafate in the Parque Nacional de los Glaciares, Argentina (to visit the Perito Moreno glacier), 425km (7 hours scenic drive); the Aisén Region, a wilderness of little-visited forests and rivers north of the park, 4.5 hours drive to Punta Arenas then 1.5 hours by air the Chilean lake district (2 hours away by air from Punta Arenas).

How do I get to Torres del Paine NP?

Daily flights from Santiago take 3 hours 50mins to Punta Arenas, thence it is 3-5 hours by road to Torres del Paine.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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