Day 1: New Zealand –– Santiago, Chile
Today you will depart New Zealand for Santiago, Chile! On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Your adventure begins with a group meeting at the hotel. We’ll be collecting your insurance details and other important information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details available for your tour leader.
Day 2: Santiago (B)
After breakfast, take a walking tour with your local leader (approximately 4 hours). The city centre itself is quite small and simple to get around. You will discover more about this city, which was founded in 1541 by the Spaniard Pedro de Valdivia, and has experienced a turbulent history that has included native wars, floods and earthquakes. Head to the Plaza de Armas, the heart of the city and home to the cathedral. Walk through the central market to try some local specialties. Next, you’ll take the cable car to the top of Cerro San Cristobal for the best view of the city, then finishing the tour in the bohemian Bellavista neighbourhood. Perhaps continue yourselves to explore the modern parts of Santiago to see elegant residential, shopping and financial districts. Evening at leisure.
Day 3: Santiago – – Calama – San Pedro de Atacama (B)
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight to Calama. On arrival, drive to San Pedro de Atacama (approximately 1.5 hours). Your tour leader will take you on an orientation walk around the small town and then the remainder of the afternoon is free at leisure.
Day 4: San Pedro de Atacama – El Tatio Geysers, Atacama Desert (B)
This morning begins nice and early at around 4:30am, but it’s worth it! Head out to see El Tatio Geysers – (located 4,300 meters above sea level) in the Atacama Desert. This is one of the highest-elevation geyser fields in the world. Watch in awe as more than 100 geysers huff and puff around you, shooting streams of water and gas into the frigid air. Travel up winding mountain roads, surrounded by the snow-covered peaks of both active and dormant volcanoes. Magma trapped beneath the surface of the earth heats the water underground, resulting in an explosive release of pressure. Run-off from the geysers drains away into emerald-green geothermal ponds, while small streams trickle down towards lower altitudes. As you walk through the fields, steam rising all around you, keep an eye out for the geyser field’s fascinating local wildlife, which shows that nature’s beauty can thrive even in harsh conditions. This activity will finish around 1pm and the remainder of the day is free.
Day 5: San Pedro de Atacama – Moon Valley, Atacama Desert (B)
This morning is free at leisure. In the late afternoon, we head out to the Moon Valley in the Atacama Desert with an English speaking local guide. Located around 10km away from San Pedro de Atacama, this has been declared a natural sanctuary as part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve. On this tour, you see a geological spectacle of many colours and formations, similar to the moon’s surface. Also, visit the Tres Marias statues, the salt cave and go up to the Gran Duna (Great Dune) where you can admire a beautiful panorama as the sun sets and the colours in the sky change.
Day 6: San Pedro de Atacama – Calama – – Santiago (B)
Transfer back to Calama airport for your flight back to Santiago. Enjoy a free afternoon to further explore Santiago.
Day 7: Santiago – Mendoza (B)
This morning we travel through the Andes and across the Argentinean border on a comfortable local coach to Mendoza (approximately 6 hours). On a clear day it may be possible to see Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas at 6,962 meters above sea level. Please note that crossing the border can take up to an extra three hours depending on local traffic. Once in Mendoza, get to know the city with a gentle stroll around its tree-lined streets, or visit the local cafes and restaurants for some Argentinean fare.
Day 8: Mendoza – Winery Tour (B,L)
After breakfast, we embark on a winery tour. Mendoza is Argentina’s most prolific and significant grape-growing region, producing nearly three-quarters of the country’s wine. The climate produces an excellent variety of grapes, with the region’s signature being Malbec. Visit several wineries and cellar doors, tasting Malbec, Torrontes and other local varietals along the way. Have lunch at around 1pm and return to the city by 3:30pm. In the evening, perhaps test how refined your palate is by attempting to pair the perfect wine with an authentic Argentine asado (barbecue).
Day 9: Mendoza – – Buenos Aires (B, D)
This afternoon we fly from Mendoza to Buenos Aires (approximately 1.5 hour flight). Tonight we enjoy a delicious Argentinian dinner while watching a typical tango show.
Day 10: Buenos Aires – City Tour (B)
Today explore Buenos Aires with a local guide. Visit La Boca and stroll around its well-known and colourful ‘Caminito’ district, walk among the elegant streets and the famous tombs of the Recoleta Cemetery (the final resting place of Eva Peron) and finally head out to the beautiful parks of Palermo, which is also a trendy part of town to spend the evening.
Day 11: Buenos Aires – Walking Tour (B)
After breakfast head out to explore cosmopolitan Buenos Aires on a walking tour (approximately 3 hours). The Porteños (local residents) are justifiably proud of their city, which is comprised of distinct neighbourhoods, each with its own style. Enjoy a stroll along the commercial hub that is Florida Street and then take in views of the presidential palace of the Casa Rosada in the Plaza de Mayo. Next visit the antique markets and artist displays of San Telmo, where you can also often find tango being danced in the streets. The walking tour ends here and the rest of the day is free to explore more of the city.
Day 12: Buenos Aires – – New Zealand (B)
At the appropriate time, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home. Please note, the transfer is based on one group transfer.
Day 13: In-flight
Day 14: New Zealand
Arrive home today.