Arrive in Santiago at any time. There are no planned activities so check into our hotel and enjoy the city. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will hold a general briefing in the evening, normally between 7pm and 8pm (a note will be posted in the arrival hotel with details). Santiago is Chile’s largest city and capital, with internationally recognized vineyards and Andean ski resorts very close by. Explore the many museums and parks, and visit the vibrant neighbourhood of Bellavista to see some handicrafts and trendy cafés. Day trips include a trip to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, Chile’s premier beach resort, and to Isla Negra, Pablo Neruda’s seaside home. Although Santiago covers an immense area, the central core of the city is relatively small. It is a roughly triangular shaped region, bounded in the north by the Río Mapocho, in the west by the Via Norte Sur and in the south by the Avenida del Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins (more commonly known as the Alameda). The apex of the triangle is the Plaza Baquedano, where O'Higgins forms a junction with two of Santiago's other main thoroughfares, Avenidas Providencia and Vicuña MacKenna. The centre of this triangle is the Plaza de Armas, the chief plaza of Santiago, bounded on its northern side by the main post office and on the western side by the cathedral. The streets between the Plaza de Armas and O'Higgins are wall-to-wall shops, restaurants, snack and fast food bars, cinemas, expensive hotels and office blocks. The Presidential Palace, La Moneda, is on Avenida Moneda, facing the Plaza de la Constitución. Near the Plaza de Armas is the National Congress building. One of Santiago's main parks, Cerro Santa Lucía, is in the triangle facing O'Higgins. The other main park is Cerro San Cristobal, or Huelén, in the Mapuche tongue. It is a large hill that rises dramatically from the plain to the north of Avenida Providencia. Between this avenue and the mountain, on either side of the Avenida Pío Nono, is Santiago's 'Paris quarter', the barrio Bella Vista. Here you find beautifully landscaped parks and gardens, artists' colonies and impressive views over the city, including the snow-capped peaks of the Andes (when the weather and thick smog permit).
Today we will take a full day guided hike to Cerro Provincia (Province Hill) outside of Santiago in the Andes. We will transfer by private vehicle to the trailhead near the community of Arrayan. From here we will hike for approximately 5 hours to the top of Province Hill, located at 2750 metres above sea level. From the summit and along the way we will be afforded spectacular mountain views of the surrounding areas and down towards the city of Santiago below. Once at the summit we will take time to soak in the views before descending and returning to Santiago in the evening.
Take a spectacular trip across the Andean Range into Argentina and to the picturesque wine-growing region of Mendoza. Mendoza is a lovely city, known worldwide for its fabulous wine; it is home to 1221 wineries producing almost one billion litres of wine yearly, many taking advantage of the crystalline waters of the Rio Mendoza fed by the melting snows of the Andes. The Mendoza valley is most famous for its Malbec variety, grown between 750 and 1100 metres above sea level, and benefitting from the desert-like climate of less than 20cm of rainfall per year. Established where the libertador José de San Martín set out to cross the Andes and aid in the liberation of Chile, Mendoza is a university city with wide sidewalks, tree-lined streets and numerous plazas. The city's beautiful setting, temperate climate and many museums combine to make the perfect atmosphere for wandering and exploring. Mendoza is also the provincial capital, and outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting and skiing/snowboarding are plentiful depending on the season.
Today we will transfer by private vehicle to the winery region outside of Mendoza, either the Luján de Cuyo or Valle de Uco districts. We begin our bike tour, stopping at 2 different wineries for guided tours of the vineyards with sampling of the products of course! Enjoy a typical and hearty Argentine barbecue lunch at the second winery after the tour before returning by van again to Mendoza. Day 5 is a free day to take more optional winery tours, or choose from a variety of optional activities in the area like hiking, horseback riding or white-water rafting (in season). Or simply explore the pleasant city of Mendoza on foot and soak in the culture and atmosphere. Travel by overnight bus to Tucumán on the night of day 5.
Tucumán is a charming city in the north of the country where Argentines proclaimed-and still celebrate-their independence. Enjoy free time today to explore on your own or choose from a variety of optional activities like a city tour or active options outside of the city to explore the surrounding area.
Today we embark on a full day trek in the mountains and forests surrounding the city of Tucumán. We'll depart from the hotel after breakfast and transfer by private vehicle to the start point of the trek, passing by the summit of San Miguel de Tucumán for great panoramic views of the city. We hike for approximately 3 hours on mountain footpaths, with fantastic views of the mountains and passing through small local communities along the way. We'll have a hearty lunch and have the opportunity to taste the traditional typical bread of the area before returning by other mountain trails and footpaths back to the trailhead, where we will be transferred back to Tucumán for the night.
Travel to the city of Salta by public bus. Here we have plenty of free time for optional activities like horseback riding, rafting (seasonal) or exploring the city's cultural and culinary delights on foot. The culture of northern Argentina is strikingly different from the rest of the country, as is the striking geography and landscapes. Soak in the rich cultural history in Salta and choose from the variety of optional activities. A popular optional activity near Salta is the famous 'Train of the Clouds,' however in recent years the train has suffered service interruptions and breakdowns. It has resumed operations but be warned that schedules are inconsistent, however it is possible to follow the route by minivan on an optional tour. Back in Salta, try Empanadas Salteñas - the delicious local specialty. In the evening, experience the local culture at one of the "Peña" folklore shows.
Fly to the capital city of Argentina, Buenos Aires, the city of Tango! Buenos Aires is the ultimate cosmopolitan city. Travellers find that it has more in common with the cities of Europe than the rest of South America. Nearly 40 per cent of Argentina's 33 million citizens live in Greater Buenos Aires, and the Porteños are justifiably proud of their home. The city is comprised of a number of distinct neighbourhoods, some of which have become top tourist draws. For many, the highlight of their time in the capital is a visit to San Telmo for the weekend antiques market and street artistís displays. La Boca was originally settled by the successive waves of immigrants that contribute to the capital's unique character. Its brightly coloured walls and buildings draw Porteños and tourists alike, and it is here that the world-class football team, Boca Juniors, plies its trade. A Sunday afternoon match at the fabled Bombonera is not to be missed. Posh Recoleta, with its cafes, museums and cemetery, is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon. During colonial days Buenos Aires was the seat of the Viceroy of La Plata. Almost completely rebuilt since the turn of the century, the heart of the city is the Plaza de Mayo, with the historic Cabildo (Town Hall), where the Independence movement was first planned, the Casa Rosada (Government Palace) and the Cathedral where San Martín, the father of Argentine independence, is buried. When you are done exploring, settle your weary feet and enjoy a drink in one of the many sidewalk cafes and restaurants and you will begin to understand the contemplative Argentine way of life. Enjoy free time in Buenos Aires before getting together for one last meal—and a final bottle of wine! This will be your last chance to try Argentina's succulent bife and parrilladas, so dig in and enjoy!
Depart at any time.