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Argentina to Chile

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The spectacular landscapes of Patagonia from both sides of the Andes. Chile and Argentina's southern best served up with a good dose of local flavour, like sipping a warming toast with ice from the San Rafael Glacier.

20 day trip described, guide price £5,935pp i

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"Perfect combination"

"Perfect combination"

Perfect combination of adventure, fun & sightseeing. Chile & Argentina are amazing countries & we got more from this holiday than we ever expected. Tony & Delwyn N

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Sample itinerary

Travel to South America

Fly overnight to Buenos Aires. Please note: due to the Skorpios schedule, departures must be timed to coincide with the sailing day. For the itinerary below, this means a UK departure on Saturday though being a tailor made trip, we will keep an eye on this for you. Please note: international flights are quoted separately.

Land in Buenos Aires this morning

You should be getting here early in the morning. You are met on arrival for the drive to your hotel which will be in one of the pretty, quieter areas of the capital, such as Palermo. Despite being close to the centre of the city, this barrio is quiet, leafy and green with lots of pavement cafes. Relax after your journey and have a look around this afternoon, before strolling to one of the restaurants nearby for supper.

Private guided tour of Buenos Aires

Spend this morning in the company of your own private guide who can take you on and off the beaten track in this lively and beautiful city. You will have a car at your disposal, but we recommend getting out and walking for some of the tour. Rather than follow a specific route, you basically just let them know what sorts of things you like to see and they can take you. This afternoon you might like to explore the enormous and rather lovely Recoleta cemetery.

Fly to the Argentine Lake District

The town of Bariloche is tucked up against the Andes next to the beautiful Lake Nahuel Huapi. The town itself is, for our tastes, overly touristy. For this reason, rather than in town, you stay further out towards the Llao Llao peninsula. Your inn sits in an elevated position overlooking the lake, and is a charming spot to relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery.

Full day of guided walking and kayak

Join a small group today for a guided exploration of the area today, to include both hiking and kayaking. This hike is an opportunity to really appreciate the stunning Andean landscapes. Kayaking is a fun way to view the area from a different perspective, and no previous experience is required. Paddle across the amazingly deep blue waters for a tranquil exploration. If kayaking is not your thing, the day can instead be spent hiking.

A day of independent walking

You have another full day to explore the area, or simply relax with a good book overlooking the lake. For a much more gentle hike, you might like to explore the ancient forests on the Llao Llao Peninsula, down near the water. Alternatively, there are a number of other more testing hikes to summits in the vicinity. Your hosts at the inn can help you find the best option for you.

Cross the Andes by boat and bus

Today’s journey takes you sailing over three lakes and right across the Andes Mountains into Chile over around 13 hours. The longest boat trip of the day is across Lago Nahuel Huapi. From there it is by bus and boat over the Chilean border as far as Lago Todos los Santos, often referred to as the most beautiful lake in the world. The final stretch is along the shores of Lake Llanquihue in the shadow of Osorno Volcano to the lakeside town of Puerto Varas. Stay in a lovely hotel in the centre of the village.

Set sail on board Skorpios II

Over the next six days you will sail some 800 nautical miles through the magnificent channels, archipelagos and fjords of northern Patagonia. The destination is the enormous and beautiful San Rafael glacier but in truth there are lots of highlights.The first part of your journey takes you from Puerto Montt around the island of Chiloé Grande. If the weather is clear you should enjoy fantastic views of the snow capped volcanoes which dot the horizon.

Sail through fjords to Puerto Aguirre

One of the things which marks Skorpios out from other cruises to San Rafael is the fact that you don’t just see the landscapes, you also interact with the people. Late this morning you arrive in the quiet fishing village of Puerto Aguirre. Disembark to be guided around the village by the locals, they always come out to meet the boat. There is usually a remarkable variety of nationalities on board but the bulk of the passengers will likely be Chilean, Argentine or Brazilian.

Reach San Rafael lagoon

On this, your third day on board, you cross the San Rafael Lagoon. If the weather allows, you will get into the expedition boats to explore the iceberg filled lagoon. What makes San Rafael so striking is the luminous blue of the ice. Though the face is 60m high, the lagoon is 250m deep so the ice is incredibly compressed, making it almost glow as it calves off into the water. Back on board the ship, you move as close as possible to the face of the glacier.

Sail into the Quitralco fjord

This remote, beautiful fjord is owned by Skorpios which means that it is for the exclusive use of passengers. That is to say that nobody else visits except Skorpios II passengers once a week, and even that is only during the summer season. Suffice to say that it is a pristine and beautiful landscape. Enjoy a soak in hot springs at the edge of the fjord.

Visit Castro, on the island of Chiloé Grande

This morning you cross the Corcovado Gulf which could be your chance to see humpback and even blue whales. As you arrive in the beautiful estuary of Castro, capital of Chiloé Grande, you have a farewell dinner. Passengers being primarily Latin American means that the farewell party is often a great deal of fun and is still going on as you pull into Puerto Montt late tonight.

Travel south into Torres del Paine

Disembark from Skorpios after breakfast to then fly to Punta Arenas, Chile’s most southern city, and gateway to the Torres del Paine National Park. When you arrive meet your lodge based guide. The four-hour drive across the open plains of Patagonia takes you to the edge of the stunning Torres del Paine National Park, the jewel of Patagonia. The park is unique in being home to all off the different landscapes of Patagonia in one small area.

Choose from a range of guided trips

Each day your lodge runs a series of trips into the park and within its own private reserve. Some are vehicle based, others are gentle walks or horse rides and others are full day hikes into the mountains. You choose your level and off you go. The team of guides is first rate.

Walk to a viewpoint of Glacier Grey

Cross the lake by boat to walk to the viewpoint of Glacier Grey. The walk takes a couple of hours in each direction but is taken at a relaxed pace. Enjoy a picnic lunch with views of Glacier Grey before going back to your hotel for a pre-dinner drink. Again, this is only a suggestion of what you might like to do today.

Hike to the base of the towers

This is a world class hike if you have the energy. It's an early start to cross the park by van before setting off up the valley towards the Torres. The day starts off on an undulating path leading through a pretty beech forest. Once you emerge from the forest you find yourself at the foot of the glacial moraine beneath the towers. It is a steep walk to get through this maze of huge boulders but you emerge on the edge of a small lake at the base of the towers.

Cross the border back into Argentina

After ten days or so in Chile, it's time to head to the other side of the border again. This time the crossing is made by road over the wide open grasslands of the Patagonian steppe. Look out for condors, flightless rhea and guanaco as you travel. For the next couple of nights you stay in the somewhat touristy town of Calafate.

Spend the day at Perito Moreno Glacier

Today is dedicated to the Perito Moreno Glacier. Travel around the southern bank of Lago Argentino, into the Los Glaciares National Park. The glacier is one of only three in Patagonia that is not retreating. The glacier moves at quite a pace, which means that it makes the most amazing creaking and splitting sounds, regularly calving great lumps of ice into the water.

Fly back up to Buenos Aires

Fly back up to Buenos Aires today, where you stay for a final night. Celebrate your journey round Argentina with dinner out tonight – there are some particularly good restaurants in Palermo. Puerto Madero is another good option, looking over the water.

Travel home from Buenos Aires

You may have time for some final exploration or shopping this morning before you transfer to the airport for your flight home. Again, please note that international flights are quoted separately.

About this trip

Summary

The spectacular landscapes of Patagonia from both sides of the Andes. Chile and Argentina's southern best served up with a good dose of local flavour, like sipping a warming toast with ice from the San Rafael Glacier.

How adventurous?

Activity
1 2 3 4 5
Comfort
1 2 3 4 5
Culture
1 2 3 4 5

Best time to go i

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Level of activity

This holiday is a thoughtfully paced immersion into the very best of Patagonia’s dramatic landscapes from both sides of the Patagonian Andes. Very much an outdoors journey, the actual level of activity is very largely up to you.

In Bariloche your private guide leads you on a walk and kayak through the dramatic landscape of forested mountains cutting into deep blue lakes on one day, the next you have a car to explore at your own pace.

The Lake Crossing from Argentina into Chile is famously through some of the most beautiful lake scenery in the world – as long as it’s not rainy, or cloudy. It is a day of getting on and off boats and buses so it’s quite a tiring trip in one sense although the surroundings more than make up for the dull practicalities.

The 6 days on board Skorpios are somewhat active with walks through villages, soaks in hot springs and boat rides to the face of the San Rafael Glacier. However, the main focus of your time on board is quite simply the landscapes of northern Patagonia – a part of the world few people really get to experience.

Torres del Paine is somewhere you can explore at almost any pace you like. With a team of guides based at your lodge, each day you are presented with a range of trips into the National Park. Anything from a vehicle based photo safari to a 10-hour trip to hike to the mile-high spires of the Torres or half day horse rides into the foothills above the Serrano River. As with the rest of this trip, the most important thing is not how active you are but how much time you spend feeling the wind in your hair.

The trip through into El Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier is basically about seeing the very dramatic ice though it is possible to hike on the surface of the glacier if you are feeling adventurous. Please contact us for details of this.

The hotels and lodges on this journey are first class throughout.

Weatherwise, the southern hemisphere summer is the only time of year we can offer this trip in full. That means from September through April during which time the days are long and the weather is at its best. Saying that, Patagonia’s weather is notoriously fickle so there is never any guarantee of warm, dry conditions. In fact, it’s far safer to assume that you will encounter wind, rain, sun and snow at some stage in your journey. If you are in luck though, daytime temperatures in high summer (January) can reach the mid-20s in Patagonia. Up in Buenos Aires temperatures will be safely up in the 30s so very warm indeed.

Patagonian nights tend to be cool, verging on cold. A clear, cloudless night in Patagonia may be just a few degrees but you won’t notice too much – you will be looking up at the stars. At least that is what you should be doing.

Level of culture

This holiday is built around the incredible landscapes of the border between southern Chile and Argentina though you do start and end in the fantastic city of Buenos Aires, known as the Paris of South America. This does give you a lovely contrast between urban Argentina and remote southern Chile, cultures which share much are, in other ways, almost completely divided.

Interestingly, as the enormous physical barrier of the Andes gradually fades into the open plains of southern Patagonia, the cultures similarly start to merge into a much more singular entity in the gauchos who ride the plains between the two countries.

The Skorpios cruise takes you to the island of Chiloé Grande, itself very distinctive within Chilean culture. As the last outpost of the Jesuits, it developed in isolation from the mainland to some extent. When blended with the very traditional fishing cultures and a very rich regional folklore, it makes for a rather weird and wonderful place. Though physically rather reminiscent of parts of Ireland, that’s where the similarities end.

From Chiloé, it’s down to Puerto Aguirre, one of the most remote fishing villages of this part of Chile. Your boat carries the post and supplies to the village which means that its weekly landing (in summer) is a big event – it’s always nice to be warmly greeted when you land somewhere! Such is the relationship between the boat and the villagers, the local children often show guests around their village.

Skorpios also manages to delight with its food and its eclectic range of passengers. Meals on board Skorpios tend to be excellent. Good, honest Chilean dishes based around some of the freshest and best ingredients to be found anywhere in the world. The other passengers are largely South American – Chileans, Brazilians and Argentinians make up the majority. You then have an assortment of other nationalities to make up the balance. It’s a way for you to really get to know some South Americans, hopefully realising what great fun they can be to be around. The atmosphere on board is usually wonderfully relaxed, informal and fun.

At the most southerly reach of this trip, Torres del Paine the harsh landscapes were tamed by ranchers who cleared the land just a hundred years ago. To this day it remains a place of gauchos who tend to live solitary lives riding across vast estancias. And yet, hospitality runs deep and sipping mate whilst sitting round a fire with lamb roasting over the coals is one of the great delights of life in southern Chile – or Argentina for that matter.

Practicalities

We have a detailed itinerary for this trip, as set out above. If you would like a copy, please get in touch and we can email it over to you.

Ultimately though, this is a tailor made trip so we would love to have time to talk to you in order to send the most appropriate proposal to you.

In the form set out above, the holiday price includes internal flights, transfers and transport, first class hotel accommodation, superior cabins on board the Skorpios II ship, activities, guiding, excursions and meals as per our detailed itinerary. Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.

Flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best flight routings are to fly in and out of Buenos Aires (airport code: EZE).

Departs

Departs any day of the year, to suit you.

Next steps...

Contact us today to start planning your own personal adventure

01273 676712

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The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.

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Book Send me exclusive content » The stunning landscapes of northern Patagonia Colourful local buses in Buenos Aries Reading the papers in Buenos Aires Tango performers on the streets of San Telmo, Buenos Aires Nahuel Huapi lake Bariloche, Argentina The distinctive peak of Tronador mountain, Bariloche Views over the lakes of Bariloche, Argentina Beautiful blue waters of Lago Todos los Santos in southern Chile The Skorpios boat in the San Rafael lagoon Tiny communities exist in the archipelago of southern Chile A launch takes you close to the face of the San Rafael glacier Sailing the fjords of northern Patagonia, Chile Palofito houses on the island of Chiloé Grande Condor swooping over Torres del Paine Waiting for the right light in Torres del Paine, Chile The beautiful viewpoint of Glacier Grey in Torres del Paine The glacial lake at the foot of the mile-high towers of Torres del Paine The town of El Calafate in Argentine Patagonia There are many vantage points for great views of Perito Moreno Getting ready for lunch in Buenos Aires Crooning on the streets of Buenos Aires