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Signature Argentina: Pampas, Patagonia and Iguazú Falls

14 days from £4,233pp

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Signature Argentina: Pampas, Patagonia and Iguazú Falls

14 days from £4,233pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires and transfer to your hotel.
 

Transfer to hotel in Recoleta, a smart residential quarter in Buenos Aires with belle époque and Italianate architecture.

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Tango, Buenos Aires

Day 2

City tour including visit to Teatro Colón. Dine at a live tango show.
 

Guided tour of the city including the Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the widest boulevards in the world and studded with the Obelisk - an emblematic symbol of the city. Along this majestic highway is the 19th century Teatro Colón which, in terms of its architecture and design, as well as its excellent acoustics, is considered one of the best in the world. There’s a guided tour of its lavish interior.

On to the Plaza de Mayo, with the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace. Continue to the colourful bohemian barrio of La Boca, which was settled and built by Italian immigrants and has streets lined with brightly painted corrugated iron-clad houses. Drive north to Palermo, an elegant neighbourhood of wide avenues lined with colonial mansions. Finally, visit the artistic district of Recoleta, stopping at the cemetery where generations of the Argentinian elite have been buried, including Evita.

In the evening you’ll dine at one of the capital’s many tango shows where you can appreciate the athletic skills of the dancers.

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Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires

Day 3

At leisure in Buenos Aires.
 

A full day at leisure to explore the many facets of Argentina's capital city. Your city tour will have given you an overview of its distinctly different neighbourhoods but you may welcome the opportunity to retrace your steps or discover new ones. Soak up the atmosphere of bohemian San Telmo, perhaps have lunch in leafy Palermo or browse the upmarket shops of Recoleta.

If you'd like to explore further afield we can organise a full-day trip across the River Plate to Colonia del Sacramento, in Uruguay. Colonia was founded in 1680 and UNESCO has recently declared its beautifully preserve historic core a World Heritage Site. The modern part of town is lively and neat, its wide avenues lined with trees. The historic centre has narrow, winding cobbled streets with colonial buildings. One feature of many provincial Uruguayan towns is the number of 60 and 70-year-old cars that are still in use.

Other options include a trip to the River Plate delta. With elegant suburbs such as Tigre and San Isidro and its network of rivers and channels, the delta region is an attractive and popular retreat for residents of Buenos Aires, a world away from the big city.

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San Telmo

Day 4

Fly to Iguazú Falls, visit the Brazilian side of the Falls.
 

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Puerto Iguazú on the border with Brazil. Transfer to your hotel just outside the town with views over the river. From here, you'll be taken on a memorable excursion to the Brazilian side of the falls. Cross the bridge which spans the Iguazú river and links the cities of Puerto Iguazú in Argentina and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. You'll board a (shared) national park service here and continue by road for the final stretch to the falls themselves.

There's a walkway of about a kilometre, with viewpoints at strategic intervals - you get a panoramic view of the whole sweep of the cataracts - an entirely different experience from the Argentine side. Towards the end of the walk, there's an observation tower adjacent to the falls, and a walkway at the bottom takes you out for a closer and much wetter (plastic macs on sale) experience.

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Iguazu Falls - from the Brazilian side

Day 5

Visit the Argentine side of Iguazú Falls.
 

There’s a guided excursion to the Argentine side of the falls. Start at the National Park Visitor Centre, where there is a display illustrating the biodiversity of the tropical rainforest. From here, a little natural-gas-powered train transfers you to Cataratas station where the Upper Walk begins.

This sequence of causeways and passerelles links dozens of tiny, basalt islands at the top of the rock face. These walkways cross the myriad streams of the Río Iguazú as they cascade over the lip of the precipice. A succession of lookout points allows your gaze to follow the water, as it plunges onto the rocks below.

You can then continue to the Lower Walk, which involves stairs, and gives you a totally different view of these falls. Climb back up to the train and continue to Devil's Throat Station. From here, a kilometre-long walkway leads you across the river to the thunderous Garganta del Diablo, which offers a spectacular vantage point peering into the thundering vortex below. This is a full day tour (around 6hrs) and there's about 3km of walking.

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Toco toucan, Iguazu National Park

Day 6

Fly to Bariloche, northern Patagonia, in the lake district.
 

Transfer to airport for flight to Bariloche in the lake district. San Carlos de Bariloche is the main town in Argentina's lake district, on the southern shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi. The town is a centre for skiing in winter (July and August), and walking in summer - set against a stunning backdrop of glacial green-blue lakes framed by the mountains of the Andes.

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Argentina's idyllic lake district

Day 7

Sail to Victoria Island and explore Arrayanes wood.
 

Full day guided excursion to Victoria Island and Arrayanes Wood. Transfer to Lake Nahuel Huapi and sail for 30mins to the port at Anchorena on Victoria Island, where there is time to explore the network of trails on foot. The island is almost all dense evergreen forest - cypress, spruce, pine, monkey puzzle tree, coihue and so on. There are also lots of wild flowers and blackberry and rose bushes.

The island is a habitat for large woodpecker, hummingbirds and Patagonian geese, as well as other fauna such as deer and wild boar. Re-embark the boat and continue to Quetrihué for a visit to the myrtle forest of Bosque de Arrayanes, known for its centenary trees, smooth and cinnamon in colour with white flowers and purple fruit.

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Bariloche

Day 8

Full day excursion in Nahuel Huapi National Park; visit Tronador Glacier.
 

Guided excursion to Tronador mountain and the Nahuel Huapi National Park. Follow the road along the lakeshores of Lago Gutierrez and Lago Mascardi, the so-called 'Lake of the Seven Colours'. Beyond, the road emerges from a dark forest to reach Ventisquero Negro composed of black rock and ice. The cacophony of sound that accompanies ice and rockslides is where the 'Thunderer' (Cerro Tronador) gets its name.

Continue to the base of the mountain, the highest peak in the Nahuel Huapi National Park at 3,554m. Head past scenic lakes, waterfalls and rushing rivers, culminating in an uphill walk to reach the viewpoint of the Cascada La Alerces.

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Tronador

Day 9

Fly to El Calafate in southern Patagonia.
 

Transfer to airport to fly to El Calafate in southern Patagonia. Transfer to your hotel in this resort town on the southern shore of turquoise Lago Argentino. Tourism in the last twenty years has transformed it into a bustling entrepôt for access to the nearby scenery of glaciers, lakes and impossibly steep peaks. It still has a bit of a frontier feel, though it is very busy in summer.

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El Calafate

Day 10

Drive into Los Glaciares National Park; visit the Perito Moreno Glacier.
 

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 the viewing platform overlooking the glacier. The thundering shards of falling ice are a breathtaking 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 five kilometres wide and stands 60m above the surface of the lake. Its ice masses are fed by the southern continental ice field from the west, and from other smaller surrounding glaciers.

Later, 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.

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Perito Moreno

Day 11

Boat across Lago Argentino to see Upsala glacier; lunch at historic estancia.
 

Guided excursion to Estancia Cristina. This full-day trip departs from the jetty at Punta Bandera, a 45min drive from El Calafate and 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 an easy, guided walk along the nearby river.

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Icebergs Lago Argentino

Days 12-13

Fly to Buenos Aires. Transfer to an estancia on the Pampa.
 

Fly from El Calafate to Buenos Aires and drive to Estancia La Sofia in the yawning cattle pastures of the pampas.  It’s a small, friendly and intimate place with only six guest rooms and a roaring fire in the living room on chilly nights. Here you can take an optional polo lesson if you so wish, or just relax and enjoy the ambience.

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Gauchos on the Argentine pampa

Day 14

Transfer to airport.

14 days from £4,233pp

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