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Gaucho: Vintage Argentina

12 days from £2658pp

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Gaucho: Vintage Argentina

12 days from £2658pp
 

Group Journey

 

UK clients depart Thursday on an overnight flight arriving in Santiago, Chile, the following day.
 

Day 1

Guided tour of the city.
 

Those passengers arriving on an international flight will be met at the airport by the tour leader or a local representative. There will be time to relax before your guided walking tour of the colonial centre of the city, and later you may be able to visit independently one or two of the many museums, markets and parks of this cosmopolitan capital. Santiago is laid out in a broad valley below the snow-capped Andes.

For a panoramic view over the city, visit Cerro Santa Lucía, a central, romantic park. For even more panoramic vistas, a cable car leads to the summit of San Cristóbal, where you can join Chilean families wandering along the leafy paths. Afterwards, have a beer at one of the pavement cafés in Bellavista. This is an Italian quarter of narrow streets peppered with bars and shops selling local lapis lazuli (only Chile and Afghanistan produce the stones in commercial quantities).

Santiago

Day 2

Day trip to the historical city of Valparaiso and wine tasting.
 

Today there is a visit to Chile's second city, Valparaíso (2 hours by bus). This lively seaport is built on a series of hills which form a backdrop to the wide bay, with views over the seaside resort of Viña del Mar. You can wander through the steep, winding streets and among the brightly-coloured colonial homes built for 19th century British and German merchants, or take a ride in one of the creaky wooden funiculars which link the cliff-top communities. On the way back we stop to visit one of the vineyards close to Santiago, to sample some highly respected Chilean wine.

Valparaiso, Chile

Day 3

Fly across the Andes to Mendoza.
 

Departing Chile you fly across the Andes to the laid-back city of Mendoza, one of the first places to be colonised by the Spanish in 1561. Although much of the city has been destroyed over the years through fires and earthquakes, its pleasant tree lined avenues, low rise buildings and university city atmosphere make it a great base to explore the region, and a walking tour of the city will help you orientate through its plazas.

Day 4

Tour of local vineyards.
 
Todays 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).
Mendoza vineyard

Day 5

Flight to Salta.
 

We fly to Salta, in the northwest of the country. This friendly town is set in the foothills of the Andes, green and flowery in summer, somewhat more arid in winter. It has an attractive main square with a splendid baroque cathedral and many cafés, bars and restaurants. On the outskirts lies a hill, reached by a long cable car, from where there is a sweeping panorama of the city and the mountains beyond. The best-preserved Inca mummies yet found are displayed in a museum here. They were recently recovered from the peak of a remote mountain over 6,000m high.

Salta

Day 6

Wine tasting in Cafayate, visit the multi-coloured canyon country.
 
From Salta we take a full-day trip to the sleepy town of Cafayate, centre for the region's well respected wineries. The road follows a dramatic, winding canyon; its rocky walls ranging in colour from yellow ochre, through dusty violet to blood-red. There are several stops en route where you can walk up narrow desert canyons for expansive views.

The town itself is set against an Andean backdrop, and we visit one of the many local vineyards, with a guided tour and opportunity to sample wines such as the Torrontés, which is unique to Argentina.

Day 7

Optional visit to Humahuaca gorge and nearby Andean villages.
 

Today there is an optional excursion to visit the Humahuaca Gorge, where the spectacularly contrasting coloured rock strata is as extraordinary as photographs suggest. The higher and dryer hillsides are dotted with battalions of giant cacti. En route we may stop at a few of the colonial/Indian villages, constructed from traditional adobe bricks. These are the only places in Argentina where the inhabitants still wear the intricately woven ponchos of the Andes.

Humahuaca

Day 8

Fly to Puerto Iguazú.
 

Fly to Puerto Iguazú in the subtropical north-east corner of Argentina. The Iguazú Falls constitute one of the most extraordinary natural wonders in the world. A total of 275 falls thunder through dense forest over a distance of 2.5km. At the u-shaped Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) the Iguazú river is sent cascading over a precipice and columns of vapour are thrown skyward. Elsewhere the river flows decorously through the rainforest breaking up into dozens of smaller falls. You can often spot toucans perched in the foliage above the tumultuous waters.

Day 9

Explore the Argentine side of the waterfalls.
 
Today you visit the Argentine side of the falls, starting at the National Park Visitor Centre, which reveals the biodiversity of the region's tropical rainforest. A small locomotive then transfers you to Cataratas Station where the Upper Walk begins. This sequence of causeways links dozens of tiny basalt islands at the top of a sheer rock face and the walkways cross the myriad streams of the Iguazú river as they cascade over the lip of the precipice and thunder onto the rocks below.

The train then continues to Devil's Throat Station and from here a 1km long walkway leads across the river to the Devil's Throat. From this vantage point you can feel the mesmerising power of the water as it plummets into the vortex below. Following this, there is an optional boat trip out to the base of the falls; it's an exhilarating ride that takes you within touching distance of the water and your clothes and hair are soaked with the spray.

Iguassu Falls

Day 10

Guided tour of Buenos Aires.
 
Fly to Buenos Aires an elegant city famed for its grand colonial and belle époque architecture along with the arty port district of La Boca. It was in La Boca, with its gaily painted houses, that the tango was born, and where Diego Maradona honed his footballing skills. The centre of town is home to the historic heartland, government buildings and churches as well as chic shopping districts, which have a nostalgic, Parisian feel. The bohemian district of San Telmo is full of quaint old houses interspersed with antiques shops, tango bars and extravagant restaurants. Close to the centre is the Gallic influenced Recoleta district where Evita Peron was laid to rest. We explore some of these quarters on our guided city tour.

Day 11

Food tour of San Telmo.
 

Today's included excursion is a culinary-themed lunchtime walking tour around the bohemian district of San Telmo. Here you will find some of the best off-the-beaten-track eateries to taste authentic Argentine dishes, including from the city's traditional hole-in-the-wall parrillas. Learn about culture and cuisine visiting several venues, sampling traditional street foods like choripan, provoleta and empanadas; a variety of classic parrilla cuts of meat; wines; and artisanal 'heladeria' ice creams.

Later the afternoon is free for you to further explore this magnificent city and in the evening you might want to finish off your trip at a tango show.

San Telmo

Day 12

Depart for international flight or extension.
 

UK clients arrive home the following day, Wednesday.
 

12 days from £2658pp

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About Group Tours

Our small escorted group journeys are led by award-winning tour guides and follow tried and tested routes that we have been refining for over 30 years. 

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