Arrive in Buenos Aires at any time. Check into your hotel and enjoy the city as there are no planned activities. 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). The capital city of Argentina, 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. After exploring the city, settle your weary feet and enjoy a drink in one of the many sidewalk cafes and restaurants where you can begin to understand the contemplative Argentine way of life. Buenos Aires will be your last chance to try the succulent bife and parrilladas, so dig in and enjoy!
Fly south into the northern Patagonia and Lake District region of Argentina, to the attractive resort town of Bariloche. Situated on the beautiful shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche is a year-round playground for skiers, hikers and outdoors enthusiasts of all types. Enjoy optional day hikes, hire a mountain bike, or simply relax in a café and enjoy samples of the local product -- fine chocolate! The urban centre of the Argentine Lake District, San Carlos de Bariloche in many ways resembles alpine resorts of Europe. During winter ski season the town fills to capacity with jovial Argentine and Brazilian vacationers whose favourite pastime seems to be eating and drinking. Their gusto is understandable; Bariloche has some of the best food in the country. Sample a beefy parillada, a variety of fresh salmon or lake trout, before working it off during a day hike around Cerro Catedral or by practicing your salsa at one of the town's salsotecas. Approximate Distance: 1350km Estimated Travel Time: 2 hours by local flight
Take a bus north through spectacular scenery to San Martin de los Andes, on the shores of Lake Lacar. Spend the next two days exploring this lake district and its many outdoor attractions. Hike, mountain bike, raft and take excursions in 4x4 vehicles are only a few of the options to view the area over the next few days. Located on the shores of Lanin National Park, San Martin de los Andes is one of the most northern parts of the southern Argentinean/southern Chilean region known as Patagonia. The most impressive sight in the region has to be the Lanin volcano located within the national park. At 3,768 meters above sea level it isn’t among the largest peaks in South America, but it is one of the youngest of the Andes and considered one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Approximate Distance: 250km Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours
Cross the Andes by bus into Chile to Pucón. This is a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, with activities galore. Some of these include a volcano climb, hiking in one of the many national parks, rafting, mountain biking and skiing/snowboarding (in season). There are few areas in the world that can match the Chilean Lake District for scenic grandeur. South of the Rio Toltén and sprawled across the provinces of Valdivia, Osorno and Llanquihué, you'll find everything from snow-capped mountains to deep blue and emerald lakes, smoking volcanoes, forests and glaciers. This is a favourite vacation ground for domestic tourists, visitors from across the Andes, and around the globe. The region’s architecture is unique in that older structures are wooden and resemble central European homes and churches of the 19th Century. This is due to the significant number of immigrants, largely Germany, Switzerland, Austria and some Italian, who settled here over the last half of that century. The regional cuisine also reflects this, with many restaurants specializing in kuchen and other baked delicacies. Seafood dishes abound in this region. Of particular interest to visitors is the curanto Chilote, a hearty seafood stew that’ll leave you ready for a siesta. Villarica is one of the chief resort towns of the Lake District, with impressive views of the active Volcan Villarica. This is a beautiful place to hike, boat, or to sit back and take in the beautiful scenery and reflect on your trip so far. Pucón, the nation’s outdoors and adventure tourism capital, is located on the eastern end of Lago Villarica, opposite the town of Villarica. We spend a couple of days exploring the area, where there are endless options for outdoor pursuits like kayaking, rafting, hiking, mountain biking, wind surfing and horseback riding. Approximate Distance: 400km Estimated Travel Time: 6 hours
A trip further south brings us to the city of Puerto Montt. This is Chile’s most important southern port and it is the gateway for explorers going further south into Patagonia. Take a day trip to the island of Chiloé and sample the seafood! In Puerto Montt there are still many reminders of its German influenced past. Germans settled the area in the mid-19th century and many houses are of northern European design, faced with unpainted shingles, high-pitched roofs and quaint, ornate balconies. Though timber houses make up a large share of Puerto Montt's housing, the pioneer image has long since faded. The large cathedral in the main square, built in 1856 entirely of redwood, is the oldest building in the city and one of the most important reminders of the city's early days. Now, it is the gateway to the southern end of the Lake District, and for the Chilean Patagonia. Approximate Distance: 340km Estimated Travel Time: 5-6 hours
Fly further south to Punta Arenas and transfer to Puerto Natales. Words cannot describe the majesty and beauty of this National Park in Chilean Patagonia. Few people have the opportunity to see this area and those who do find it difficult to forget its vivid colours and tranquility. One of the many thriving legends concerns the origin of the park's name. Locals insist that ìpaineî is derived from the Tehuelche Indian word for the colour blue, while others say it is the name of an original Welsh settler to the area. Spend four days hiking in this spectacular park, with breathtaking views of the Horns of Paine, the Towers, French Valley. Visit the Serrano and Last Hope Sound for a different perspective of the area. The granite Towers of Paine make a sudden and dramatic appearance on the horizon in the midst of a flat, dry, wind-swept plain; they are so extravagantly beautiful that superlatives fail. Despite the almost constant summer winds, this is some of the finest trekking country in Chile. Endowed with severe mountains, sparkling lakes, waterfalls and glaciers, as well as herds of guanacos, majestic condors, flocks of pink flamingos, and large Patagonian hares, the park's international attraction is immediately evident. Once a large sheep estancia, the park was established in 1959 as the Parque Nacional Lago Grey. Prior to this, baqueanos (cowboys) grazed their flocks here and fires occasionally burnt out of control. The devastation wrought near Lago Grey with large areas of burnt forest and charred logs remain visible to this day. More land was added to the park in 1962 and the name was changed to its present one. Torre (Tower) Sur rises 2900m (9512 ft) above sea level, Torre Central is 2850m (9348 ft) high and Torre Norte measures 2600m (8528 ft). The Cuernos (Horns) del Paine, massive blocks of various rock layers visible from great distances, are as spectacular as the towers themselves. Spend the next few days hiking and camping in this spectacular park, visiting the Towers, Grey Glacier and French Valley, before making your way back to Puerto Natales. Camping equipment (except as noted previously) is provided, as are all meals (and cook), during the Paine National Park trek. Hikes are moderate to difficult along clearly marked trails, for about 5-8 hours per day. After exiting the park, the night of day 13 is spent in Puerto Natales. Day 11 Approximate distance hiked: 16 km Estimate hike time: 7 hours Day 12 Approximate distance hiked: 24 km Estimate hike time: 6-8 hours (depending on how far you go into the valley) Day 13 Approximate distance hiked: 11 km Estimate hike time: 4 hours
Travel by bus into Argentina to El Calafate, on the shores of Lago Argentino. Drive west towards the lofty peaks takes us to the dynamic Moreno Glacier, within Glacier National Park. We may spot condors, rheas, eagles or flamingos en route, but the real star of the day is the glacier itself, located at the southern terminus of Glacier National Park. Sliding down from atop the southern continental ice field, Moreno's 60m (197 ft) wall of ice sporadically chokes off the narrow Canal de los Tempanos (Channel of Ice Bergs) creating a natural ice dam, which eventually explodes in a dynamic display of force. The Southern Patagonian ice field, the third largest on the planet (after Antarctica and Greenland) is the source of all the area's glaciers, including Moreno, Onelli, Viedma and Upsala. Moreno Glacier, this massive river of frozen water and huge chunks of ice moves down constantly crashing into the lake waters below. Very dynamic, Moreno is one of the very few advancing glaciers left in the world. It is simply enormous: 1 km (half a mile) wide and 60m (196 ft) high. Approximate Distance: 270km Estimated Travel Time: 5-6 hours
Fly back to Buenos Aires. Enjoy an optional tango show and dinner or take advantage of one last night in the "Paris of the Americas."
Depart at any time.