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Luxury Argentina: Vineyards, glaciers and gauchos

15 days from £7,992pp

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Luxury Argentina: Vineyards, glaciers and gauchos:
Trip Dossier

Argentina is a vast and varied country with an abundance of attractions. These are easily linked by a comprehensive local flight network, and there are some wonderful top of the range places to stay where you can base yourself to enjoy the landscapes. A few days spent at each of these is an experience in itself, not just top quality accommodation: there are a number of excursions and activities on offer, both included and optional.

We have chosen luxury properties in three of the most interesting and beautiful locations: the pastures and grasslands of the horizon-bending, beef-rearing pampas; the sunlit wine-country on the eastern slopes of the Andes and in Patagonia’s chilly landscape of wind-buffeted plains, jagged snow-draped mountains and glaciers. 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.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires. Transfer to your hotel in the Palermo district.

Day 2

City tour with a visit to Teatro Colón.

Day 3

At leisure. Dine at a live tango show.

Day 4

Transfer to colonial estancia on the pampas.

Days 5-6

At leisure on the ranch.

Day 7

Transfer to Buenos Aires; fly to Mendoza in the wine-producing region.

Days 8-9

Visit wineries from your countryside lodge.

Day 10

Transfer to airport, fly to El Calafate and drive to luxury estancia.

Days 11-12

Activities at your Patagonian retreat.

Day 13

At leisure.

Day 14

Transfer to airport, fly to Buenos Aires

Day 15

Transfer to airport for your flight home.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires. Transfer to your hotel in the Palermo district.
 

You will be met at the airport and escorted to your top-quality boutique hotel in the Palermo district by one of our local representatives. Palermo is a stylish neighbourhood of wide avenues lined with colonial mansions. The city zoo, the botanical gardens and racetrack are all here.

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. The bohemian quarter of San Telmo is full of quaint old houses interspersed with antiques shops, tango bars and classy restaurants. Slightly further out of the centre is the Recoleta district, even more evocative of the French influence, where Evita Perón was laid to rest.

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La Boca

Day 2

City tour with a visit to Teatro Colón.
 

Your guided city tour takes you along Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the widest boulevards in the world and studded by the Obelisk, an emblematic symbol of the city. Along this majestic highway is the 19th century Teatro Colón (guided tour included) which, in terms of its architecture and design, as well as its excellent acoustics, is considered one of world’s best.

On to the Plaza de Mayo, enclosed on 3 sides by the metropolitan cathedral, the town hall and the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace. The tour continues to bohemian, arty La Boca, which was settled and built by Italian immigrants and has streets lined with brightly painted corrugated iron-clad houses.  Visit the district of Recoleta.

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Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires

Day 3

At leisure. Dine at a live tango show.
 

At leisure in Buenos Aires.  Stroll round Puerto Madero, the refurbished port district where former dock installations and features have been preserved alongside a string of excellent restaurants and loft conversions. Beyond the city limits, consider a trip across the River Plate to Colonia in Uruguay.

Travel along a forest-fringed estuary, dotted with upmarket residences, to this peaceful little port, where you can wander among cobbled streets lined by colonial houses, or have a meal or drink in the yacht club.

Alternatively, venture into the watery delta to the small town of Tigre, set on the banks of the Luján River. Have lunch at one of the restaurants on the shores of the Río Paraná, while watching fisherman at work and river-craft gliding by. Evening guided visit to a tango show with dinner. The passage of time has given respectability to a dance once confined to the seedy underworld bars of the red-light La Boca district. Nowadays, a number of 'tango houses' offer a dinner and show as an evening out. Rojo Tango is located within the Faena, a chic and arty hotel in the regenerated docklands area of Puerto Madero. This intimate venue is very much in the style of an old cabaret nightclub with moody red decór. 

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Day 4

Transfer to colonial estancia on the pampas.
 

Transfer by road to Estancia La Bamba. This dusky rose-pink, colonial-style former post house, set in its own attractive parkland, is located 10 mins' drive from the small gaucho town of San Antonio de Areco. It projects a real feel for estancia history, harking back to more opulent times when they were the backbone of a thriving economy. Following its acquisition by French proprietors, it has been renovated to an extremely high standard, and now resembles a grand countryside chateau. 

Public areas are cosy and crammed full of plush sofas and old artefacts, accentuating the country house ambience. There are open fires, four poster beds and large shuttered windows. Meals are taken around a common table, though you can request privacy if you wish. There's a lovely outdoor swimming pool (open in summer) with views over parkland and sun loungers, games room and small library. Activities include horse-riding, polo (experienced only), walking and carriage rides in the surrounding pampas. The estancia offers a peaceful wind-down to its guests, but does accept day visits by groups with entertainment laid on for them. 

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Estancia la Bamba

Days 5-6

At leisure on the ranch.
 
At leisure at La Bamba. 
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Estancia

Day 7

Transfer to Buenos Aires; fly to Mendoza in the wine-producing region.
 

Transfer to Buenos Aires airport and fly to Mendoza in Argentina’s wine country in the shadow of the eastern flank of the Andes, and continue to Cavas Wine Lodge. The celebrated vineyards in this region provide the perfect place to enjoy fine vintages and a superb gastronomic experience.

Cavas Wine Lodge and small vineyard is situated 30km from the city. The main house remains faithful to Spanish colonial traditions. 

The cellar is stacked with dozens of Argentina's most notable labels and the kitchen uses locally produced olive oils, herbs and spices. Along with the outdoor sports facilities there's a small spa offering wine therapy treatments.

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Cavas Wine Lodge

Days 8-9

Visit wineries from your countryside lodge.
 
At leisure at Cavas Wine Lodge. The property is ideally situated as a base to visit some of the regions finest private wineries including Catena Zapata, Chandon, Achaval Ferrer, and Fabre Montmayou. Your stay includes a visit to a different winery on each day and you can also take advantage of one of the outdoor sports on offer which include biking, trekking, horse riding and golf followed by a massage courtesy of the lodge, the ideal pre dinner aperitif. 
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Wine glasses

Day 10

Transfer to airport, fly to El Calafate and drive to luxury estancia.
 

Transfer to airport and fly (via Buenos Aires) to El Calafate in Southern Patagonia (5hrs), a small tourist resort with a frontier feel situated on the banks of milky turquoise Lago Argentino.  Argentina’s Patagonia is a remote land of endless grassy plains, granite mountain peaks tipped with eternal snows, turquoise lakes dotted with icebergs and immense blue-tinged glaciers. 

Continue by road to Eolo. This luxury estancia-style lodge (one of the Relais & Chateau portfolio) is unique in that it occupies land leased from a working farm, Estancia Alice. Designed to look like a large ranch house from the outside, it successfully combines the trappings of an estancia with the creature comforts, modern interior design and innovation of a first class hotel.

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EOLO

Days 11-12

Activities at your Patagonian retreat.
 

Guided excursion to Perito Moreno Glacier. It’s an early morning departure from El Calafate to Los Glaciares National Park, a 90min drive to the walkways and viewing platform overlooking the glacier.

The thundering shards of falling ice are a breath-taking spectacle as you pass at a safe distance along the walkway in front of the Canal de los Tempanos, which separates Brazo Rico from the main part of the lake. The glacier is a staggering 5km wide and stands 60m above the surface of the lake. Its ice mass is fed by the southern continental ice field from the west, and from other smaller glaciers in the vicinity.

In the afternoon, board the Safari Nautico or Moreno Fiesta for an hour-long cruise on the lake beneath the glacier, with a commentary. Alternatively, you can just walk and contemplate, away from the other visitors. 

There's also a guided excursion to Estancia Cristina. This full-day trip explores the iceberg-strewn fingers of Lago Argentino. There are about 15 bumpy minutes as the comfortable motor cruiser crosses the southern arm of the lake. Soon, the first icebergs come into view as the boat continues towards the Upsala Channel and the vast Upsala Glacier. It isn't possible to get close to the glacier because of the floating ice in its vanguard but the surrounding scenery is wonderful. 

Continue into the Cristina Channel, and dock at Estancia Cristina. Explore one of Patagonia's most remote historic estancias, established in 1914 by English pioneer Joseph Masters and named after his daughter. Some of the infrastructure was damaged by fire in 2009, but a guided tour will take you to its surviving buildings and museum. Have lunch before going on a 10km drive by all-terrain vehicle into the mountains to a refuge. Here, walk for half an hour to a viewpoint, offering - weather permitting - a fabulous panorama of the eastern side of the Upsala glacier, the Southern Patagonian ice cap, Lago Guillermo and - of course - the Andes. Drive back to the estancia and in the late afternoon, sail back towards Punta Bandera and your hotel.

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Perito Moreno

Day 13

At leisure.
 

At leisure to enjoy Eolo’s facilities or take one of a number of complimentary optional activities offered, such as hiking around the vast estancia grounds, mountain biking on the property’s dirt tracks, walking on nature trails and bird watching. Horseriding may also be arranged locally, at additional cost. Or you can just sit, relax and contemplate the wonderful views and ever changing, often dramatic, Patagonian weather as from the comfort of the lounge with its comfy sofas and panoramic windows.

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Riding at Eolo

Day 14

Transfer to airport, fly to Buenos Aires

Day 15

Transfer to airport for your flight home.

Essential information

Transport

3 flights (longest 3hrs); 4 scenic road journeys (longest about 2hrs).

Accommodation

Argentina has a fine choice of first class luxury ranch and country estate accommodation (estancia). The estancias are intimate, cosy, and elegant properties – for this holiday we’ve chosen from the very best and most stylish properties available. They all have beautiful settings and top-of-the range facilities. 

Meals

Breakfast daily, dinner days 3, 4, 5, 6, 7; dinner day 10, full board days 8, 9, 11, 12, 13.

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

• City tour of Buenos Aires.
• Tango show with dinner in Buenos Aires.
• Activities at Estancia La Bamba.
• Winery visits in the vineyard country.
• Guided excursion to Perito Moreno Glacier with boat trip.
• Cruise on Lago Argentino to historic Estancia Cristina.

Summary of nights

15 days, 14 nights: Buenos Aires 3; pampas estancia 3; vineyard and winery 3; Patagonian lodge 4; Buenos Aires 1.

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 within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

• International flights to Latin America.
• 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.

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.

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 website.

Airport taxes

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

Journey grade

Given the spectacular size of Argentina, there are distances to cover on this holiday so we have chosen domestic flights as the most convenient way to get around. There’s time to relax, or book up optional excursions at the lodges. Be prepared for potentially some extreme weather in Patagonia.

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

Climate

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

Mendoza is a year round destination with plenty of sunshine. Temperatures dip from a high of 30°C to 15°C in winter but most rain falls in summer. The vineyards are stunning when cloaked in the fiery red of their autumn plumage. 

Patagonia is best to visit in the summer (December-February) when days are long and mild.  March/April or September/October can be sunny and clear, but it can be windy. In the winter months June-August it is very cold and access routes can be blocked by snow. Many facilities are closed then, too.

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.

For day-to-day wear in Patagonia you should go prepared to encounter all seasons. Bring both warm clothing and a sun hat; a light fleece jacket and a Gore-Tex outer shell is a good combination. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well. 

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.  

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.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.
This 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 flight departure. 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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