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Flavours of Chile and Argentina

15 days from £4699pp

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Flavours of Chile and Argentina:
Trip Dossier

Argentina and Chile both have a robust and tasty cuisine born of age-old recipes conceived in the countryside. You are probably familiar with a few of them: meaty empanadas, chunky soups, gratinated shellfish; tender sirloin steaks; especially agreeable when washed down with one of the ever-improving local wines.

On this mouth-watering holiday you have a taste of the variety of fresh savoury dishes in the two capital cities - of course more than worth a visit in their own right. Then we take you to the lesser-known northwest: a region of the deserts, oases, fertile plains and foothills on the eastern flank of the Andes. Here you will be introduced to stunning landscapes displaying nature in the raw, wind carved cliffs and blood-red canyons, the vestiges of the historical Andean indigenous communities. You will also be given many opportunities to sample the cuisine and wines. Cookery classes and demonstrations will immediately expand your repertoire in the kitchen at home.

You’ll be staying at intimate, characterful properties with a unique local ambience and small wineries, many with beautiful locations. Your private tour begins in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, considered to be Latin America’s most sophisticated and European city, with its wide boulevards, colonial architecture and café society. It ends on the other side of the Andes at Santiago, capital of Chile, also a developing destination for visitors.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Transfer to your hotel in the arty San Telmo district.

Day 2

Walking tour of the Avenue de Mayo. Guided tour of the city by night including dinner at a live tango show.

Day 3

Full day trip to Gaucho capital San Antonio de Areco and Estancia La Bamba.

Day 4

Fly to Salta; tour of the colonial city and regional dinner.

Day 5

Transfer to countryside hotel in the wine producing region.

Day 6

Visit the vineyards of Cafayate.

Day 7

Drive to highland colonial town Cachi via Molinos.

Day 8

Transfer to Purmamarca via Humahuaca Gorge.

Day 9

Cookery lesson in Tilcara.

Days 10

Visit wineries in the Cafayate region; wine-tasting. Fly to Mendoza.

Day 11

Visit three vineyards in the region with lunch and wines.

Day 12

At leisure in Mendoza.

Day 13

By luxury public coach across the Andes to Santiago, Chile.

Day 14

Visit the capital’s vibrant food markets and enjoy a cookery demonstration before lunch.

Day 15

Transfer to Santiago airport.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Transfer to your hotel in the arty San Telmo district.
 
You will be met at the airport and escorted to your boutique hotel in San Telmo by one of our local representatives. San Telmo is a villagey neighbourhood not far from the colonial centre, renowned for its antique shops, tango bars and markets.

Buenos Aires is an elegant, cultured and cosmopolitan city famed for its interesting museums and the fascinating port district of La Boca, with its cobbled streets and brightly painted houses. It was here that the tango was born, and Diego Maradona honed his footballing skills.

The centre of town is home to the colonial heartland, government buildings and churches, as well as chic shopping districts, which have a nostalgic Parisian feel. Further out from the centre is the Recoleta district, even more evocative of the French influence, where Evita Perón was laid to rest.

San Telmo

Day 2

Walking tour of the Avenue de Mayo. Guided tour of the city by night including dinner at a live tango show.
 
Avenida del Mayo is one of Buenos Aires' principal stately arteries, linking the capital's colonial and political heart at Plaza de Mayo with the Plaza de Congreso, crossing the even more grandiose Avenida 9 de Julio. Built in the 1880s and often compared with similar boulevards in European capitals, it has a definite Old World ambience, with art deco, art nouveau and neo-classical façades shaded by leafy trees lining the route.

Your guided walk includes a stop at the world famous Café Tortoni, crammed with memorabilia. Visit the very ornate Barolo Palace, designed in accordance with the cosmology of Dante's Divine Comedy with floors representing heaven, purgatory and hell.

In the evening, you’ll embark on a culinary and cultural-themed private walking tour accompanied by an English-speaking expert. Shunning smart restaurants and tourist spots, you'll dine out local-style, tasting authentic Argentine dishes in a variety of settings and experience the excitement an authentic tango or peña venue. The evening usually takes place in the neighbourhood of Palermo.

Starting with traditional street food, you move on to a feast of grilled meats from one of the city's traditional hole-in-the-wall parrillas, accompanied by Argentine wine. To round off, sweeten your palette with artisanal ice cream.

Later, visit a milonga - a traditional tango hall. These can be wonderfully atmospheric venues, especially late at night when they tend to get busy with dancing into the early hours.

Steak and chips

Day 3

Full day trip to Gaucho capital San Antonio de Areco and Estancia La Bamba.
 
Inspired by the renowned Argentine gaucho - the lonely rider of the Pampas and the characteristic national icon, today’s excursion starts with a private transfer to the colonial town of San Antonio de Areco, 113km from Buenos Aires. A highlight is the exploration of the Ricardo Güiraldes museum, a converted ranch housing an imitation pulpería - a type of store where gauchos used to gather, and which displays knives, books, paintings, clothes and utensils.

Later you move on to the peaceful and charming La Bamba, an exclusive estancia, where you can relax by the pool, glimpse at rural country life, venture off horse riding, enjoy a trek and spot the various local birds. You'll enjoy welcome drinks and regional snacks, followed by a delicious asado (a traditional Argentine barbeque) lunch before heading back to the hustle and bustle of city life.

Estancia La Bamba

Day 4

Fly to Salta; tour of the colonial city and regional dinner.
 
From the local city centre airport you’ll fly to Salta (just over 2hrs). The city is renowned for its colonial architecture, friendly population and elegant claret-red ponchos. It lies in the arid eastern foothills of the Andes, the only Argentine region where vestiges of indian heritage are still visible.

A privately-guided afternoon walk introduces you to the most traditional quarters of this Spanish-colonial city. Stroll through the fruit and vegetable market to view the variety of legumes, spices and meats used in the cuisine of this fertile region.  avocados, grains, a variety of peppers, spices, gourds and potatoes.

Continue to a traditional colonial house to savour salteñas, empanadas in which a rich meaty filling with egg and olives is enveloped in a savoury pasty. This snack is popular all over Argentina and Bolivia but emantes from Salta, hence its name. They are delicious accompanied by a rich wine from Cafayate, a nearby town which is a centre of viticulture. Complete your dinner with a combination of traditional dishes created in the home of a local resident or visit a gourmet restaurant in the city where the specialty is Andean cooking. 

Salta

Day 5

Transfer to countryside hotel in the wine producing region.
 

Leave Salta and head towards the picturesque Calchaquíes valley, crossing the broad, ultra-fertile Lerma valley to enter a more arid region and the lunar landscape of Las Conchas gorge.

Arrive at Talapampa where you visit a goat farm and learn something about the local varieties of cheese which have flavours and characteristics found only in this territory. Taste some cured cheese accompanied by Argentinian Malbec wine from Cafayate, Treat your palate also to fresh cheese with herbs, delicate ricotta, and the rich, sweet flavours of dulce de leche made from goat milk.

Shortly afterwards, arrive at your hotel, Viñas de Cafayate, overlooking vineyards in the principal wine-growing region of region of Salta. Relax in the well-tended gardens or on the terrace before heading into the smart hotel restaurant which offers a select menu of fusion cuisine complemented by locally produced wines. 

Food Platter

Day 6

Visit the vineyards of Cafayate.
 

Enjoy a traditional breakfast in the salon of the hotel. Later, accompanied by an enologist, stroll through vineyards and a visit winery to learn about wine production and the flavours and grapes indigenous or introduced to the region. You'll have your cooking lessons that will allow you to discover the secret of salteñas (pasties) and the history of this delicacy in the north of Argentina. 

Afterwards, enjoy a wine tasting in the wine cellar with a regional variety of cheeses and the food which you yourself prepared and cooked. Don't miss the Torrontes grape variety, producing an aromatic dry white wine characteristically smooth and fruity in flavour, or the Malbec-Cabernet blend, growing in popularity, with its remarkable body and rich taste. 

It's a scenic evening drive through rust-red gorges towards Cafayate, with a brief walk in the among the cathedral-sized eroded rock formations of the gorge. 

Cafayate

Day 7

Drive to highland colonial town Cachi via Molinos.
 

Head up into the high Andes towards Cachi driving through small colonial villages surrounded by orchards. Upon arrival at the Quebrada de las Fechas gorge you'll venture on a enjoy a walk through multi-coloured rock. 

To keep you going, your guide brings along typical foods from the north of Argentina, with cheeses, salami, bread, and wine. In Molinos, you'll visit a small farm and a weaving centre. Finally you arrive at Seclantas, a small village from where you visit the workshops where craftsmen practice their ancestral techniques of poncho and blanket weaving. 

In the evening arrive in the remote and most attractive, historic whitewashed village Cachi where you spend the night. From Cachi's elevation at the foot of permanently snow-smothered peaks - the highest of which stands at 6,380m - there are views over Martian-like desert landscapes scarcely trodden by man, cut through by stringy, verdant oases.

Cachi

Day 8

Transfer to Purmamarca via Humahuaca Gorge.
 

Return to Salta, crossing the Los Cardones National Park and the Encantado valley to arrive around noon at the city. This is one of the country's most exquisite routes, travelling down from moorland and along a winding road guarded by battalions of cacti to the valley framed by high-cliffed ruddy canyons and past viewpoints over pea-green fields.

Take a stroll in Salta and enjoy some free time before leaving for Humahuaca Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason. The scenery itself is magnificent, with steep, undulating cliffs displaying a kaleidoscope of rainbow colours. But this region is as well known and loved for its authentic indigenous culture. 

Pass numerous villages with squat homes built according to traditional Andean architecture before arriving at the small town of Purmamarca, an attractive place dwarfed by the cream-through-tangerine-to-burgundy fan of colours on the lofty hills behind. Check into your accommodation.

Your eveing is free to enjoy dinner at your leisure. Outstanding among the rest is the gourmet restaurant in tow called El Manantial del Silencio where the chef offers a fusion cuisine of regional flavours with international refinement.

Seven Colour Hill

Day 9

Cookery lesson in Tilcara.
 
Depart for Tilcara, a vibrant little town with a range of eateries and craft shops. There you're received at the restaurant El Patio by chef Mercedes Costa, who will introduce you to various aspects of typical Andean food and its importance to Andean culture.

Here you may have a cookery class, learning to cook using the traditional method tamales de charqui with dried Andean maize which you will later eat at lunch along with local dishes such as mankakanca, hajchalocro, and chairo de tunta. 


Return to Purmamarca in the evening, when there's time to visit the artisan market where local people sell their art and regional products.

tilcara

Days 10

Visit wineries in the Cafayate region; wine-tasting. Fly to Mendoza.
 

Return to Salta and fly to Mendoza in Argentina’s wine country in the shadow of the eastern flank of the Andes. The celebrated vineyards in this region provide the perfect place to enjoy fine vintages and a superb gastronomic experience. You’ll be spending three nights at a boutique hotel situated on an award-winning vineyard.

Wine tasting

Day 11

Visit three vineyards in the region with lunch and wines.
 

This full day tour will include a visit to 3 different vineyards in the Luján de Cuyo or Maipú areas of Mendoza province. Within the rain shadow of the Andes, these zones have been transformed over generations into world-class wine producing regions using both traditional and modern methods of irrigation. You'll have the opportunity to understand more about the processes involved in the cultivation and production of wine as well as the chance to taste the different varieties. Lunch at one of the wineries is included (with wine, of course).

Day 12

At leisure in Mendoza.
 

At leisure. Outdoors, you can enjoy the rural scenery on one of the bikes provided free for guests, or cool off in the swimming pool looking out over the vineyards and the wooden sundeck. As well as wine, the estate produces high quality olive oil, and you are welcome to watch the production process in action. You can also participate in the daily optional activities of the vineyard, from pruning the vines to harvesting the ripe grapes depending on the season.

Day 13

By luxury public coach across the Andes to Santiago, Chile.
 
By road on a scheduled public bus service to Santiago - on a clear day, a truly spectacular trip over the mountains across the continental divide (7-8hrs). The route taken is not along the high old road past the Christ of the Andes, but through what was originally the railway tunnel. At this point, Aconcagua, at 6,962m the highest peak in the Americas, feels almost within touching distance.

Once over the frontier into Chile, the road snakes down past El Portillo ski resort, then flattens out for the last hour before finally reaching Santiago de Chile, the cosmopolitan capital, which has as its backdrop the immense wall of rock of the Andes - snow-capped in winter, a pass through which you have just travelled.

For a panoramic view of the city, If you have time during your stay there, visit the Cerro Santa Lucía, a hilltop park, or take the funicular tram or cable car to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal. A mixture of chic, pleasant tree-lined residential areas and smart office towers surround a compact colonial centre.

Santiago, Chile

Day 14

Visit the capital’s vibrant food markets and enjoy a cookery demonstration before lunch.
 
Take this tantalising gastronomic tour through the bustling lanes of a traditional Chilean market to learn about, and purchase, fresh merchandise ahead of your culinary experience. Begin at the Mercado Central with an introduction into the history of the places you'll be visiting.

You'll head into the historic and fascinating market to buy groceries and watch residents avidly buying and selling their freshly sourced marine produce.

From here, you'll continue on to the El Galeón restaurant, enjoy a refreshing pisco sour while meeting the enthusiastic chef and his team. Observe a cooking demonstration which will follow nicely into lunch.

Mecado Central, Santiago

Day 15

Transfer to Santiago airport.
 

Transfer to Santiago airport.

Essential information

Transport

2 domestic flights; 6 scenic road journeys.

Accommodation

This holiday features a choice of small, service orientated, mostly boutique-style hotels and wineries, with plenty of local character.

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch days 3,6,11,14, dinner days 2,4. The standard of cuisine throughout this holiday is very good and a good range of national wines is available.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

  • Walking city tour of Buenos Aires.
  • Tango show with dinner in Buenos Aires.
  • Day trip to San Antonio de Areco and a luxury estancia.
  • City tour of Salta with dinner.
  • Excursion to Humahuaca Gorge and cookery lesson.
  • Guided walk to a traditional Andean village; cookery lesson.
  • Cookery lessons and winery visit in Calchaquies valley.
  • Visits to vineyards in Mendoza region, wine-tasting.
  • Walking tour of Santiago markets, cookery demonstration.

Summary of nights

15 days, 14 nights: Buenos Aires 3; Salta 1; ; Cafayate 2; Cachi 1; Humahuaca Gorge 2; Mendoza 3; Santiago 2.

Included in the journey price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office.
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
  • All land and air transport.
  • Accommodation as specified.
  • Meals as specified.
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

  • Tips and gratuities.
  • Meals other than specified.
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket.
  • Optional excursions.

Currency

The unit of currency in Argentina is the Argentine peso, in Chile the Chilean peso.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. 

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency, and possibly some travellers’ cheques, though these are gradually falling out of use (American Express are the most widely accepted). Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Tipping

Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. 

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

This holiday is suitable for all able reasonably fit visitors. If you are travelling alone or have a disability or other special requirement, please do call us.

Climate

Buenos Aires is hottest January-March (very humid with tropical showers, occasionally over 40°C during the day). It can be cold and cloudy July-August, so weather conditions are best for a visit in spring and autumn.

Mendoza and Salta are year round destinations with plenty of sunshine. Temperatures dip from a high of 30°C to 15°C in winter but most rain falls in the southern hemisphere summer. The vineyards near Mendoza are stunning when cloaked in the fiery red of their autumn plumage but winters (May – September) in Mendoza can be cold, with much less activity at the vineyards

In the Santiago area expect a Mediterranean type climate. In October, November, March and April temperatures range between 15°C and 25°C and there’s a good deal of sunshine. January and February are hot, around 30°C or higher.

Clothing and special equipment

The southern hemisphere summer will be hot, therefore in Buenos Aires take loose-fitting light clothing for maximum comfort at this time. An umbrella is a good idea in case of a tropical shower. Spring and autumn are milder and less predictable.

South America is in general a relaxed continent and you won’t need clothes for formal dining but you may wish to take some smart casual wear for dining at the estancias or at top of the range restaurants.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements. Protection against malaria is advisable for the Amazon cruise. 

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Clients of a different nationality should refer to our Briefing Dossier and check with the Argentine and Chilean Consulates.

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