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Gaucho: Vintage Argentina

12 days from £2,658pp

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Gaucho: Vintage Argentina:
Trip Dossier

Northern Argentina is a vast and varied land with an abundance of attractions, and our new Gaucho Journey is a superb introduction to its impressive geography and rich culture. You actually start the tour in neighbouring Chile, before flying over the Andes to the lively city of Mendoza. These first few days will offer the chance to delve into the wine production for which these regions are famous. This theme continues as you head north to the dazzling paint-box colours and arid canyon landscapes of Salta and the surrounding region, also one of Argentina’s premier wine producing areas. Leave the city behind and fly east to Puerto Iguazú where you spend time exploring the mighty Iguazú falls and spotting the local colourful wildlife, before finishing your tour in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, considered to be Latin America's most European city, with its wide boulevards, colonial architecture and café society.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

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

Day 1

Guided tour of the city.

Day 2

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

Day 3

Fly across the Andes to Mendoza.

Day 4

Tour of local vineyards.

Day 5

Flight to Salta.

Day 6

Wine tasting in Cafayate, visit the multi-coloured canyon country.

Day 7

Optional visit to Humahuaca gorge and nearby Andean villages.

Day 8

Fly to Puerto Iguazú.

Day 9

Explore the Argentine side of the waterfalls.

Day 10

Guided tour of Buenos Aires.

Day 11

Food tour of San Telmo.

Day 12

Depart for international flight or extension.

UK clients arrive home the following day, Wednesday.

Detailed itinerary

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).

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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.

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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.

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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).
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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San Telmo

Day 12

Depart for international flight or extension.

UK clients arrive home the following day, Wednesday.

Essential information

Transport

4 flights (longest 2 hours).

Accommodation

On this journey we use superior mid-range hotels.

Examples of hotels used on this tour include:

• Santiago: Atton El Bosque
• Mendoza: Hotel Sheraton
• Salta: Hotel Sheraton
• Puerto Iguazú: Hotel Panoramic
• Buenos Aires: Recoleta Grand

On very rare occasions these hotels can change, however please speak to one of our consultants who can provide full details for each departure if you have any doubts. Address and contact details will be sent out with your final documents.

Meals

Breakfast daily and lunch days 4 and 11.

Included excursions

• Santiago: walking tour of the city
• Santiago: day trip to Valparaiso and a vineyard
• Mendoza: walking tour of the city
• Mendoza: full tour of local wineries
• Salta: Cafayate canyons and wineries
• Iguazú: Argentine side of the Iguazú Falls
• Buenos Aires: city tour
• Buenos Aires: Parilla tour

Summary of nights

12 days, 11 nights: Santiago 2; Mendoza 2; Salta 3; Puerto Iguazú 2; Buenos Aires 2.

Included in the journey price

• Services of Journey Latin America tour leader
• All land and domestic air transport
• Accommodation as specified
• Meals as specified
• Excursions as specified

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified
• Optional excursions

Optional excursions

There are optional excursions available throughout this tour, which are booked locally through your tour leader once you are in Latin America. Not all excursions available will suit everybody, whilst others only operate within certain seasons, with minimum numbers or may not be included due to time constraints. A budget of around $250 USD should cover participation in most of the following options, but prices can fluctuate depending on the size of the party and so cannot be provided accurately until travel commences.

The list below is only a guideline, so please enquire with your tour leader for any further areas of interest:

• Iguazú: Brazilian side of the falls
• Iguazú: helicopter ride over them or a boat ride up to them
• Salta: day trip to Humahuaca gorge
• Buenos Aires: tango show

Travelling alone

There is no extra cost for single travellers who are willing to share a room. You will be accommodated with a same-sex member of the group who is usually also travelling solo. For single travellers who wish to be sure of having their own room there are a limited number of single supplement places available, which carry a surcharge.

Currency

The unit of currency in Chile is the peso chileno, and in Argentina the peso argentino.

Budget

A budget of around US$50 USD per day should cover the cost of meals, drinks and the odd souvenir.

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 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 you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. These bills should be in good condition as soiled or torn bills may be refused. Travellers’ cheques are increasingly less favoured by travellers who find them difficult to exchange as well as offering a poor rate of exchange. If you do decide to carry some with you they should be US dollar cheques only (American Express are by far the most accepted brand).

Tipping

Tips are normally welcomed and expected. Local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $3 USD (or local equivalent) per person per day for each of guides and drivers, depending on the size of the group.

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.

If you would like to show your appreciation to your Journey Latin America tour leader, who you may feel has exceeded your expectations, a discretionary gratuity would be gratefully received. As a guideline we recommend an amount of between $4 and $6 USD per person, per day. You are obviously free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality. Please refer to our Briefing Dossier for further information.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on the Travel insurance website.

Airport taxes

Departure tax is normally included in the price of the ticket.

Climate

The Santiago and wine regions of Mendoza have a Mediterranean-like climate with mild winters and warm summers.

In Buenos Aires and Salta, October to November and March to April see temperatures between 15 and 25°C and a good deal of sunshine. In January and February it is hot, with temperatures up to 30°C. Most rain falls between December and March.

Iguazú Falls is a year-round destination, but water levels and weather conditions vary with the rainy (Dec-Feb) and dry (Jun-Jul) seasons. The water supply to the falls also varies according to the local control of the dams upstream. It can be busy with tourists in local holiday seasons, for example in Easter.

Clothing and special equipment

A daypack is essential for carrying rainwear, snacks, books/tablet and a water bottle. Those who feel the cold should take thermal underwear.

Bring a hat with a visor, sunglasses and sun block. Binoculars are useful for bird and wildlife spotting. At the Iguazú Falls you can get very wet from the spray. You can take dry clothes in a bag and simply wear swimwear and flip flops.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP, including advice on malaria tablets. 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 should be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Other nationalities should enquire with us or check with the Chilean and Argentine consulate. Even where visas are not required, there may be a reciprocity fee to pay (e.g. USA and Canada).

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online which costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally. Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the departure of flights. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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