Chile & Argentina

Explore some of the natural features and lesser known cultures in Chile and Argentina from Chile's engaging traditional Mapuche community to Argentina's Aymara culture in Salta. In Atacama, experience more ancient cultures including the Incas, reaching back in time like no other location in Chile. End your journey at the cultural epicenter of the Aymara culture Argentina, a location where everything can be found in place – Salta. Explore the wines of Cafayate, and explore on horseback or on foot, go skiing in winter or sailing in summer. Savor this well-rounded journey into two dynamic countries.

Country Information

Chile & Bolivia

Argentina & Uruguay

Chile & Argentina Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

Chile & Bolivia

,

Argentina & Uruguay


(Interest Type(s))

Sustainable Travel

,

Adventure Travel


(Tour Length)

17 Days


Tour Highlights

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  • Discover colorful Santiago, Chile’s cosmopolitan capital city with its Spanish and European influences
  • Visit Patagonia’s fabulous Marble Caves of Carrera Lake, the second largest freshwater lake in South America
  • Experience the Atacama Desert, an immense region that is not only the driest desert in the world, it is also the highest at 2,500 meters/8,200 feet above sea level
  • Travel to Cafayate, well known for its wines and especially the white grape Torrontés, and enjoy wine tastings at several established bodegas
  • Open the doors to adventure – go exploring on horseback or on foot, skiing in winter or sailing, practice yoga and learn about indigenous cultures

Day 1: Santiago, Chile
Welcome to Chile! When you exit the airport, you are welcomed and privately transferred to your hotel. Built to blend seamlessly into the neighborhood of Lastarria, The Singular Santiago combines the style of early 20th century buildings with neoclassical French architectural influences. The result is a striking new addition to the Santiago cityscape. The hotel is not only bounded by natural beauty, though; Lastarria is the epicenter of the arts here in Santiago.

You can easily walk just a few minutes to find the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Visual Arts, and the Gabriela Mistral Center and more. This afternoon, enjoy a half-day city tour of this vibrant city. Take in the iconic landmarks including the old district with its provincial atmosphere; the sophisticated, European-style modern districts of Vitacura, Las Condes and Providencia; and the Spanish colonial churches and gardens. Stroll through La Moneda Presidential Palace, a stately building, representing the official seat of the Chilean government. Built in 1784, it was originally the national mint, hence its nickname the Coin Palace.

Visit Club Hipico Racecourse opened in 1870. The building was constructed by the architect Josue Smith and is based on the design of the French racecourse Long Champs. Its parks and gardens are in French baroque and are incorporated into the building via a terrace and staircase. Enjoy a short walk and savor the panoramic views from the crest of San Cristobal Hill. At its summit, a 36-meter/120-foot-high, white statue of the Virgin Mary dominates the horizon. Experience Central Market, an architecturally inspiring wrought-iron structure that was shipped out piece by piece from England in the 19th century and is always bustling with a lively seafood market and dining options. The Singular Santiago Hotel

Day 2: Santiago / Balmaceda / Coyhaique
This morning, you will be transferred to the airport to board your flight to Balmaceda. Upon your arrival, you are met by our representative and transferred to your boutique hotel, situated on the banks of the River Coyhaique a few blocks from city center. All rooms and suites look out over the river. The remainder of the day is free. Nomads Hotel Coyaique (B)

Day 3: Coyhaique / Aysen - Puerto Tranquilo
This morning, you are driven to Puerto Tranquilo, where you will join others on a boat to take in the magnificent Marble Caves, partially submerged in the turquoise waters of Carrera Lake. Set in Patagonia, this is the second largest freshwater lake in South America. The marble system of caves is a network of what many consider to be the most beautiful caves in the world. Lake Carrera is one of the world’s ten deepest lakes with a maximum depth of 589 meters/1932 feet. The lake sits on the border between Chile and Argentina, with the caves located approximately in the middle, but on the Chile side. The three main caves are the Chapel, the Cathedral and La Cueva cave, and can be explored using a small boat or kayak. This rare natural and unspoiled gem is currently threatened by plans to build a huge dam in the area. El Puesto Hostal (B)

Day 4: Aysen
Today you will discover Laguna San Rafael National Park, the main attraction in the Aysén region with its dazzling vertical walls of blue ice that flow 45 km/28 mi from the Northern Ice Field. They stretch 4 km/2.5 mi across the Laguna San Rafael. It's the closest sea-level ice field to the Equator. Around these walls, thousands of aquamarine icebergs form floating, jagged sculptures. The glacier is actually receding, and quite quickly. It may well stop dropping ice into the lagoon within a few years, but in the meantime, you will likely see numerous, heavy chunks of ice plunging into the deep water. The first explorers here in 1800 described the glacier as having filled three-quarters of the lagoon. Today, you see how much has disappeared, and the speed at which it is shrinking is unsettling. The national park is a staggering 1.7 million hectares/4 million acres. Most of the park is accessible only by ships that cruise through narrow canals choked with thick vegetation. Like Torres del Paine, Laguna San Rafael is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. El Puesto Hostal (B)  

Day 5: Aysen / Puerto Guadal
Today, you drive two hours to Puerto Guadal and your lodge, which offers a great location to explore the southern part of the Carretera Austral. On the southern border of Lake General Carrera, the lodge’s rooms have a unique view of the turquoise waters of the lake and the glaciers of the Northern Ice Field. Famous natural resources like the Marble Caves, Exploradores Valley and Patagonia National Park in the Chacabuco Valley are all about an hour drive away. El Mirador Del Guadal (B)

Day 6: Puerto Guadual
Today is at leisure to enjoy the range activities offered by the hotel. You can choose between activities that can be done on your own and guided activities. Some options are horseback riding, trekking to an old mine, jet boating, kayaking, rafting and glacier walks.   El Mirador Del Guadal (B)

Day 7: Puerto Guadual / Temuco /Pucon
Today you are transferred to Balmaceda airport to board your flight to Temuco. Upon your arrival, you will be taken to your hotel in Pucon. Set along the shores of the Liucura River in the lush native forest, this place beckons you to explore… and you can enjoy a new adventure every day. Horse trekking in the cordilleras, hiking in one of the many natural parks, skiing in winter, or sailing on the Lake Villarrica are just some of the activities. You can also explore the hacienda, which is a working farm, and has developed a state-of-the-art milk and cheese dairy. If you want to practice yoga, yoga classes are offered in this amazing landscape, led by a certified Hatha Yoga teacher, who is also an owner of the hotel. There is an Mapuche style Ruca just to provide the perfect settings for meditative and inspiring classes of Yoga. Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira (B,D)

Days 8/9: Pucon
Savor your time in this extraordinary environment. In addition to the variety of activities available, you can also learn about the local indigenous people, the Mapuches, which translates to people of the earth. This ancient civilization has gone through a difficult history, continually facing opposition, but they have remained free and independent. The Mapuche are known for their beautiful metal work, especially silver jewelry such as head dresses and necklaces as well unique wooden carvings. They also have an ancient tradition on weaving textile and carpets. Pucón has a small Mapuche Museum and many places where you can still explore the traditional Mapuche way of living, eating and socializing. Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira (B,L,D daily)

Day 10: Pucon/Temuco/Santiago
Today you transfer to the airport to board your flight to Santiago. The remainder of the ay is at leisure. The Singular Hotel Santiago (B)

Day 11: Santiago / Calama /Atacama Desert
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Calama, the gateway to the Atacama Desert. Upon arrival at Calama airport, you are met by the staff of explora and transferred to the explora Atacama. Between the Pacific Ocean and the Cordillera de los Andes, Atacama is an immense extension of land and mystery. The desert and its oasis were important for the pre-Columbian Andean cultures of South America. The remains of their past are landmarks in the area. The people in the small villages work to maintain their traditions in a changing world. Cordilleras, volcanoes, salt flats and hot springs add natural splendor to the human culture. The Atacama culture had important agricultural development and produced particularly beautiful textiles and metallurgy. Their lands were the commercial crossroads for the peoples of Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and the Pacific coast. In Atacama, it is possible to appreciate multiple features of this history, expressed in archeological monuments, cemeteries, churches and villages. The traditions still live in religious festivities, in its crafts and in the local folklore. The Atacama is not only the driest desert in the world, it is also the highest at 2,500 meters/8,200 feet above sea level. For this reason, the year-round climate is pleasant and the transparency of light is unique. The outlandish geography of volcanoes, salt flats and high altitude wetlands, has an unparalleled appeal. But the oasis of San Pedro is simply an introduction, and once you leave it and head to the altiplanos and volcanoes, you experience true remoteness in an untamed place far from civilization. explora Atacama (B,L,D)

Days 12/13: Atacama Desert
In the oasis of San Pedro, explora Atacama puts you in the middle of a host of opportunities to explore this dramatic environment. The hotel’s 52 spacious, luxury rooms, include Jacuzzi and a comfortable sitting area. Every room has unique wood on the ceiling and tile accents on the floor, custom-designed furniture and spectacular views. It boasts four connected outdoor pools and saunas. The roster of daily explorations discovers the many faces of Atacama including sites from pre-Columbian, colonial and contemporary cultures. Learn about the region’s geography, history, fauna, geological features, volcanoes and ancient villages. Some excursions take place in the vicinity of San Pedro, between 2,500 and 3,000 meters/8,200 and 9,850 feet above sea level; others are at intermediate levels between 3,000 and 4,500 meters/9,840 and 13,120 feet; and the most demanding reach heights of up to 6,000 meters/19,680 feet. Explorations have been designed to allow for gradual acclimatization to the altitude. The weather in the Atacama is pleasant throughout the year. Consequently there are usually no limitations to taking all the excursions on any given day. You can choose from eight to ten different options selected according to the weather, your interests, the duration and difficulties. All equipment, horses, mountain bikes, vehicles and food all included, with groups no larger than 10 per guide. All explorations are accompanied by explora guides and are available at all levels of abilities. explora Atacama (B,L,D)

Day 14: Atacama Desert / Salta, Argentina
Today, you travel about seven hours over the remarkable Andes Mountains, rising over 14,000 feet. You drive east across the desert and over Paso Jama to Salta in Argentina. Check in at your hotel. Legado Mitico(B)

Day 15: Salta / Quebrada De Cafayate / Cafayate
Today, you enjoy a journey of about three and a half hours through amazing landscapes. Travel into the Calchaquies Valley, known for its evolving contrast of colors and its unique geography that ranges from mountain desert to subtropical forest. A number of valleys, gorges and rivers within this valley that have their own names such as the Quebrada del Toro, Valle de Lerma near Salta, the valley of the Santa María River, and the Calchaquí River itself. The Quebrada de las Conchas is a deep gorge of red canyons characterized by intense colors and spectacular geological formations, determined by the concentration of minerals in the soil. These valleys were once inhabited by a number of tribes. Ruins of the Quilmes can be found in Tucumán. Other tribes of the area included the Calchaquíes, Tafí, and the Yokavil (Santa María). Decades before facing the invasion of the Spanish colonization, the natives of these lands suffered under the invasion of the Incan Empire. The small towns made of adobe clay that remain today seem to come from another time. During your trip, you stop at the rock formation of the “Anfiteatro,” and soon you spot the white sands that mark the entrance to Cafayate, the most important town in region. It is well known for its wines and especially the white grape Torrontés. Patios De Cafayate (B)

Day 16: Cafayate
After breakfast, you are met by your driver/guide, who takes you to visit some of the best known bodegas in Cafayate. In Argentina, bodega refers to the farm where vine grows but also to the building where the wine is processed. This tour is crafted to your interests and to the time of the year. You may also see the wine process: harvesting, berry selection and first wine tasting of winemakers. San Pedro de Yacochuya is owned by one of the most traditional winemaking families in Cafayate. This bodega is considered to be the very first high-altitude bodega here. The newest addition to boutique bodegas at Cafayate is Piatelli Vineyards is nearby Yacochuya, and is the result of an American construction tycoon fascination with and investment in the winery. El Porvenir de los Andes is in the heart of town. This is a boutique bodega dates from 1892, and has won awards in French and American contests. After these visits, enjoy a picnic lunch or lunch at a bodega, followed by a visit a homemade beer maker at the town of San Carlos a short distance from Cafayate; or, if you prefer, return to your hotel, where the remainder of the day is at leisure. Patios De Cafayate (B)

Day 17: Cafayate / Salta / Depart
After breakfast, you are privately transferred through Quebrada de las Conchas to Salta to board your flight home (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancy: From US$700 per person per day

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