South America Tour for Active Travelers

A 12 day trip to Argentina & Chile 
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Argentina and Chile offer the pleasures of a luxurious odyssey, combining comfort from the streets of cosmopolitan cities with the adventure of the mountaintops towering over the Patagonian steppe. Horses gallop across the landscape on traditional private estancias and glaciers soar above the bordering waterways. Vineyards glow emerald against the backdrop of the Andes Mountains and tango dancers stare passionately into each other’s eyes. Indulge in opulent accommodations and lavish landscapes, searching for grazing guanacos and sleeping flamingos while wandering mystical forest trails. Your customizable adventure embodies excitement and desire for an indelible South American discovery. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Santiago, Maipo Valley, Puerto Natales, Tierra del Fuego, Balmaceda Glacier, Puerto Bories, Guanaco Island, Torres del Paine, Buenos Aires, El Calafate, Glaciers National Park

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Santiago – Cosmopolitan Arrival 

Santiago Chile rises alongside the Mapocho River and the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Spanish colonial architecture decorates the oldest squares beneath the soaring frames of contemporary skyscrapers. The fountain pushing against the hillside of Cerro Santa Lucia commemorates the spot where Santiago was founded in 1541, offering a tranquil sound of trickling water and views of the surrounding city. Your flight lands at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, where your private transfer meets you upon your arrival. The city brims with activity around the produce stands of La Vega Central Market.

The aroma of coriander blends with the citrus aromas of passion fruit and pineapple. The elegant presidential palace overtakes the central plaza, framed by manicured grass, cobblestone walkways, and captivating statues. The structure was erected in the 18th century with embellishments reflective of Spanish style at time. You easily settle in to the comforts of your accommodation located in the prestigious neighborhood of El Golf. Classic décor frames the views of the snowcapped mountains in the distance, reminding you of the stunning city in which you have arrived.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Santiago – Of Santiago Cultural Flavor

In the morning, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee emanates from a local celebrated café. The baristas provide drinks in the manner of the region of the world in which the beans have been cultivated, making proper Italian café or an alluring coffee accented with honey. After breakfast, your guide meets you at hotel ready to take you on a private tour of Santiago’s captivating streets. The history of the city breathes life into the center of the Plaza de Armas with colonial architecture featured in the cathedral.

The interior tiles glow against the lapis lazuli decorating the altar. The neo-classical features of the Metropolitan cathedral give way to an interior dressed in baroque charm. You enter into the impressive collection of Pre-Colombian artifacts on exhibit in the Pre-Colombian Art Museum, which displays works of interest collected over a period of nearly 400 years. The dim lighting creates an adventurous ambiance before spotlighting wooden statues of Mesoamerica and the Andes. Your guide points out a painted cloth of the Chavin culture that dates back nearly 3,000 years.

In the afternoon, you venture into the Maipo Valley, witnessing the lush vineyards spreading across the flatland until brushing against the ridged foothills of the Andes Mountains. You reach a celebrated winery and tour the vines and cellars for an encompassing look at how the local soil affects the flavors of the grapes. Enter the tasting room, where your guide pours a sample of a world-famous wine offering aromas of dark plum, cassis, and leather.  

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Punta Arenas – The Broad Adventures of the South

In the morning, the coffee shops along Colon Metro open their doors to the city. Locals eagerly step into a celebrated cafe set beneath the comfortable shade of the tree-lined street. The rich scent of roasted coffee beans drifts through the door, accompanied by the buttery, sweet scent of freshly baked pastries. Artists and students venture to the metro station beneath the university to bask in the colorful collection of murals decorating the high-walls, reflecting the tumultuous history of the country and the thriving culture celebrated around the country. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you in the hotel lobby and escorts you to the airport for your flight to Punta Arenas. The city stands at the edge of the Strait of Magellan offering views of the bordering mountains and cobalt waters.

Mansions decorate the streets harkening back to the wool-boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A relaxed ambiance drifts through the streets beneath the historic churches and alongside the bustling port. A lavish recreation of the Nao Victoria, the ship Magellan used to navigate the uncharted waters of the strait, decorates the harbor. Life-size replicas of historical figures stand on the decks looking out to sea. Cypress trees on the outskirts of town offer a herbaceous aroma blending with the scent of the saltwater breeze. Your private transfer collects you at Presidente Carlos Ibanez del Campo International Airport and leads you to an immaculate hotel offering views of the water and silhouettes of the encompassing mountains.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 4: Puerto Natales – Adventures along the Magellan Strait

In the morning, the briny aroma of the Magellan Strait blends with the scent of fresh coffee brewing in the cafes situated on the quiet streets. Fishermen return to port carrying nets brimming with bass and mollusks. Your guide meets you after breakfast and escorts you to the top of Cerro de la Cruz viewpoint to admire the stunning vista spreading from the waters of the strait to the shores of Tierra del Fuego. In the heart of the city, at Plaza Munoz Gamero, a gorgeous statue commemorates the 400th anniversary of Magellan’s voyage.

The monument stands nearly 30 feet tall with the bronze figure glinting in the sunlight above a base of mermaids holding the Spanish and Chilean coat of arms. South of the city the plains open against the shores of strait, highlighting the log-cabin walls of the first Spaniard settlement in the region, begun in 1584 at Puerto Hambre. The reconstructed settlement allows you to wander along the historic grounds in the footsteps of the former settlers, recreating the troublesome first days of establishing a settlement situated at the end of the world.

You venture north, away from Punta Arenas, watching the waters of the Magellan Strait lap at the coast. Fishing boats and ships traverse the mythical waterway, adhering to the strait’s title as one of the world’s busiest navigation routes.  The Patagonia steppe spreads into the horizon, lush with untamed grass and pockets of glistening lakes. Upland geese glide across the sky beneath the distant shadows of circling Andean condors before you reach the splendors of Puerto Natales. 

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 5: Puerto Natales – Ice for a Cocktail

The countryside ambiance of Puerto Natales accentuates the indelible charms of Patagonia. Colorful homes line the waterway and the snowcapped mountains create a picturesque horizon, rolling across the sky with snowcapped peaks. Boutique breweries and chic wineries intersperse tearooms and local boutique shops selling handcrafted crocheted goods. You board a private boat and travel past the historic Puerto Bories en route to Punta de Lobos. The cool sea breeze bites at your cheeks and the cobalt water splashes in the distance with Tonina dolphins playing in the wake.

They shimmer white and black against the dark blue water, growing to an average size of more than five and a half feet long. Sea lions bask in the sunlight spreading over the rocks along the shore. They bark at one another before flopping down to cuddle amidst the pack. Cormorants dip into the water in search of fish before returning to the shore and spreading their wings to dry in the warming daylight. Their wingspans reach a length of more than three and a half feet long when open to their fullest extent.

The scenic ride continues as you pass Balmaceda Glacier, a nearly 1,000-year-old ice field extending nearly 6,675 feet. You watch for icebergs calving from the shelf. The boat docks at Puerto Toro. The aroma of the native beech trees fills the air. You walk along the trails, reaching a viewpoint of Serrano Glacier before pausing for a fruity drink. The skies shine crystal blue, nearly imitating the indigo colors glistening in the pristine ice. You brush your fingers along the ice to prove that the glacier is real, feeling the shivering cold and frosty texture press against your skin.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 6: Torres del Paine – Treasures in the Pines 

In the morning, the sunlight sheds a sporadic light into the depths of Milodon Cave, where giant sloths once roamed more than 10,000 years ago. The dramatic landscape and preserved fossils offer insight into the past and the differences in a world where mystical creatures once roamed. After breakfast, your guide leads you on an adventure through the wonders of Torres del Paine, a UNESCO World Biosphere offering breathtaking landscapes unlike anywhere else in the world. Granite pillars dominate the skyline shimmering with streaks of silver. Jagged peaks strike dramatic poses above the emerald canopy of the dense forest. Follow your guide along the trail, leading you over hanging bridges.

The light sway on the footpath makes you feel like an archaeologist in search of a hidden treasure in the depths of Patagonia. Sunlight pierces the forest canopy in beams, showcasing the light soft moss. You reach the shores of Grey Lake, named the hues of the water as shaped by the surrounding soil and sediment once frozen inside Grey Glacier. Icebergs once attached to the three-mile long wall of the face of Grey Glacier bob and float across the water. You can continue to the top of Paso John Gardner, reaching a height of nearly 4,000 feet above sea level for the best view of the lake, the glacier, and the Paine massif lingering in the distance. 

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 7: El Calafate – Beyond Argentina’s Borders

In the morning, you leave behind the dramatic scenery of Torres del Paine National Park, crossing the Patagonian Steppe into Argentina. The crisp alpine aroma of herbaceous trees and freshwater glacial lakes continues to fill the air. The scenic drive takes you past lingering guanacos grazing on the grasses of the high-altitude plain. The animal is a cousin of the llama and presents similar features, including a graceful, slender neck. You stop at a traditional estancia overlooking the countryside. Gauchos roam along the flatlands herding sheep and exercising the horses. A gentle breeze brushes over the grass, causing waves to run across the mixture of gold and green blades.

Your guide offers insight into the history of ranches in Argentina, dating back to Spanish colonization. Gauchos carry leather pouches filled with wine and ride the horses as easily as a city-dweller drives a car. A tour of the ranch allows you an insider’s view of how the rancheros sheer their sheep. The shed is large and protects the animals and ranchers from the elements. The gaucho sharpens his scissors and effortlessly trims away the wool without complaint from the sheep. You continue to El Calafate, known as the Gateway to Glacier National Park, before settling into the cozy alpine atmosphere of your luxurious accommodation.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 8: El Calafate – Walking with Perito Moreno 

In the morning, the aroma of melting chocolate emanates from the celebrated chocolateries located in the heart of town. Ice cream shops begin to craft their homemade flavors before opening the doors to the public, filling the galleries with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. Alpine architectural styles frame the structures lining Avenida del Libertador General San Martin, showcasing knotted-pine doorways and elegant wooden signs. After breakfast, you make your way to Perito Moreno Glacier inside Glaciers National Park.

The Argentine government designated the protected area in the 1930s to preserve the largest ice cap outside of Greenland and Antarctica, creating the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water. Traveling across the valley offers views of turquoise waters and running ostriches before traveling alongside the shores of the Rico Branch of Lake Argentino. Nires and cherry trees blossom against the rising hillsides. Notros trees glow red, resembling patches of flames flickering in the leaves. You step onto the catwalks winding around the waters of Brazo Rico, the closet point between the glacier wall and the Magallanes Peninsula. From the catwalk, you have tremendous views of the glacier, which has an area of 97 square miles. The ice wall towers nearly 200 feet above the water’s surface, striking a breathtaking figure between the bordering mountains and soaring above the lingering icebergs.  

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 9: El Calafate – A Touch of Thrills and Ice                            

In the morning, a locally celebrated café opens its doors to a warm and inviting ambiance embodied from the walls filled with books. Locals sip coffee or wine amidst the lingering aroma of artisan sandwiches and pastries. After breakfast, you venture to the shores of Lake Argentino, stepping aboard a catamaran to traverse the waters of Argentina’s largest lake. The water reaches a depth up to nearly 330 feet with an area of more than 545 square miles. The water shimmers translucent shades of blue and gray, a product of the glacial melt-water known as “glacier milk.” The boat ferries you to Upsala Channel to view the eponymous glacier.

The stunning indigo and icy blue hues make you feel as though you have stepped into a different world. The walls spread across the waterway, showcasing the power and drama of one of South America’s largest glaciers. Ice crystals glint in the sunlight against the blue sky with sporadic mountain peaks accentuating the scenery. Intermittent rocks and clay deposits fallen from neighboring mountains have moved with the slow movements of the glacier over thousands of years. As you pass the floating bodies of ice, you realize how large the icebergs can grow. You hear a loud thunder. Your captain calls you to the edge of the boat to watch powder erupt from the ice wall. A large chunk of the glacier calves and splashes down into the water, causing waves to spread close to the boat.  

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 10: Buenos Aires – In the Luxury of Buenos Aires

Today your private transfer escorts you to Comandante Armando Tola International Airport for your flight north to Buenos Aires. The city life brims with the essence of the past, from hidden milongas (tango dance areas) filled with passionate tango to shading trees lining cobblestone streets. Lavish mansions overlook the grandeur of the noble cemetery in Recoleta and the antique homes made of sheet and corrugated metals shine with pastel colors in the neighborhood of La Boca. Your private transfer greets you at Ministro Pistarini International Airport upon your arrival and leads you to a hotel blending the classic elegance of the city with desirable contemporary luxury.

The remainder of the day is at your leisure to enjoy the distinct culture of Buenos Aires as shaped by the lavish monuments near Plaza de Mayo and the seductive ambiance embodied by book readers lingering at the tables of outdoor cafes. The Teatro Colon represents the prestige of the city. The structure was erected in the mid 19th century and renovated in the early 20th century to create one of the four best opera houses in the world. The façade overlooks Libertad Street and contains a horseshoe-shaped interior capable of holding nearly 2,500 patrons. The acoustics are impeccable, allowing a whisper on stage to be heard like an echo throughout the gallery.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 11: Buenos Aires – Bountiful Buenos Aires 

The morning air of the city fills with the enticing aroma of coffee drifting out of the countless cafes of the city. Bakeries fill their windows with displays of alfajores and freshly baked empanadas. Artists return to the cobblestones of La Boca to capture the daily life of the cafes and dancers on a canvas lathered with watercolor. Your guide meets you at the hotel eager introduce you to the charms of the city referred to as the “Paris of South America.” The walkways of Calle Florida fill with passersby keen on viewing the new window displays of the bordering shops. The rosy hues of the government palace known as Casa Rosada shines bright in the spreading morning light.

After visiting the regal Recoleta Cemetery, your guide leads you into the unique halls of El Zanjon de Granados, a 19th-century mansion under which stands the antique tunnels of the original city. The mansions exhibit artifacts discovered during the restoration of the original crumbling edifice. African pipes, French tiles, and English china are amongst the items once housed inside the structure during its occupation. They harken back to a different time, when the city revolved around a particular center. In the evening, you return to the beckoning nightlife of the bustling city by partaking in a private tango lesson to learn the importance of passion in the world-famous dance.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 12: Buenos Aires – An Adventure to Remember

In the morning, the light shines over the façade of Palace Barolo, which was erected to coincide with the stanzas of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. The mixture of neo-romantic and neo-gothic design blend effortlessly until reaching the apex of the dome decorated with a mural of Dante and Beatrice. The building opened in 1919, reaching a height of 328 feet tall. Following the path of the epic poem allows visitors to ascend through the gates of paradise to reach the panoramic view of the open floor, taking in the entire city at once. When you are ready, your private transfer meets you at the hotel. You have embraced adventure and reveled in luxury from Santiago to Buenos Aires. You reach the airport ready to venture home, but could always extend the excitement and enticing luxuries by traveling to Rio de Janeiro to extend your time in South America.

What’s Included: breakfast, airport transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$2,995
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.