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Signature Brazil, Argentina and Chile: Coast to coast

16 days from £4,715pp

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Signature Brazil, Argentina and Chile: Coast to coast

16 days from £4,715pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro. Transfer to hotel on Copacabana beach.
 
Transfer to your hotel slap bang in the middle of Copacabana beach’s famous promenade. Rio is the most romantic, intriguing and beautiful city on the continent. Sumptuous apartments overlook the sparkling bays against the backdrop of half-built slum dwellings, favelas, which cling precariously to the hillsides. But everywhere the city is being spruced up in time for the World Cup and Olympic Games. Rio has an awesome bay-side location among near-vertical granite mountains. Here, tropical foliage swoops down to white-to-toffee coloured sandy beaches in turn battered by the huge waves of Atlantic surf.
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Copacabana Beach, Rio

Day 2

Guided excursion to Corcovado mountain and Christ the Redeemer.
 

There is probably no better place to appreciate Rio's magnificent cityscape, bays and beaches than from atop the 710m high jungle clad Corcovado mountain, part of the urban Tijuca national park. The ascent is in itself memorable: the rack railway which goes almost to the summit has been here since the late 1800s, although since refurbished. Nowadays, an electric-powered cog-wheel train climbs steeply through the lush Tijuca rainforest, with its abundant flowers and fruit trees, to the steps (or elevators) below the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer.

At 30m high, the statue was erected in the early 1930s, has since become part of Brazil's cultural identity and been declared one of the new Wonders of the World. On clear and sunny days, Corcovado offers stunning views of the city of Rio, including the instantly recognisable Sugar Loaf mountain, Niteroi bridge, and the famous beaches. There's plenty of time to take pictures but no amount of time is enough to totally take it all in. After exploring the viewpoints you'll take the railway back down to the base before returning to your hotel.

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Corcovado

Day 3

Guided tour including Sugar Loaf mountain.
 
A private guided tour takes you to Sugar Loaf mountain, which you ascend by the famous cable car: from the summit you can survey Copacabana beach and Botafogo Bay with its bobbing sailboats and yachts.

You might consider in your free time a visit to the Botanical Gardens, founded in 1809 but recently refurbished to offer a stunning display of endemic and imported shrubs, trees and flowers, including orchids and a large variety of fruit trees. It’s a tranquil oasis in such a buzzy city, many paths are shady and there are benches where you can sit down and wait to spot a curious monkey or toucan.

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Sugar loaf

Day 4

Transfer to airport and fly to Iguazú Falls.
 
It's a 2hr flight to Foz do Iguaçú on the border with Argentina and Paraguay. You’ll be driven into Argentina stopping off on the Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls where there’s a broad panoramic view of these colossal walls of water. Continue to the Sheraton, the only property on the Argentine side of the falls which is in the sub-tropical national park in which the Iguazú Falls are situated. It’s just a short stroll to the falls themselves.

The Iguazú Falls are unquestionably one of the most extraordinary natural phenomena in the world. A total of 275 falls thunder over a 60m high rust-coloured cliff surrounded by dense tropical forest. The U-shaped Devil’s Throat is the most dramatic sight, here the frothing water of the Iguazú river crashes over a 1.5 km-wide precipice and columns of vapour are thrown skywards. Elsewhere the river flows decorously through the rainforest breaking up into dozens of smaller cascades. 

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Day 5

At leisure at the falls.
 
At leisure to explore the falls on the Argentine side. A little natural gas-powered train transfers you to where the Upper Walk begins. This sequence of causeways and passarelles links dozens of tiny basalt islands at the top of the sheer rock face, and the walkways cross the myriad of streams as they cascade over the lip of the precipice. The train then continues to a kilometre-long walkway leading across the river to the thunderous Garganta del Diablo, the Devil’s Throat. From this spectacular vantage point you can feel the incredible power of the water as it plummets into the vortex below.

Early risers might take advantage of the possibility of walking to the Garganta (the park opens at 7.30 but the first coach load of tourists from outside arrives later) – you could be alone there and enjoy a magnificent experience. Later, it can get pretty crowded on the viewing platform.

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Iguazú Falls

Day 6

Transfer to Yacutinga Lodge in the rainforest of Iguazú.
 

Drive to Yacutinga Lodge on the Argentine side, buried away in Atlantic rainforest but less than an hour’s drive from the falls. There are boat trips, bird watching excursions and nature walks for exploration of the forest around the property, and bird watching is very rewarding here.

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Day 7

At leisure at Yacutinga Lodge.
 
At leisure to enjoy the lodge’s facilities and activities or take one of their optional off-site excursions such as a trip to visit a Guarani Indian village and savour the inhabitants’ cuisine.
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Yacutinga

Day 8

Transfer to airport and fly to Buenos Aires.
 
Fly to Buenos Aires. The Argentine capital 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 or Italianate style. 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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Day 9

Guided city tour with 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 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 three 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 also the district of Recoleta.

You might wish to spend the evening at an optional tango show - 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.

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Buenos Aires

Day 10

Day 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 11

Transfer to airport and fly to Mendoza.
 

Fly to Mendoza on the eastern flanks of the Andes. In a broad river valley, in view of snow-draped Andean peaks and surrounded by vineyards, Mendoza is well known as one of Argentina's premier wine-producing districts. The region of Mendoza experienced a massive wine-boom in the 19th century and early 20th century which turned it into the fifth largest wine growing area of the world and the first in Latin America.

Continue to the hotel Lares de Chacras, a friendly and informal family-owned country house right in the centre of the region and a great base for vineyard visits. The small and intimate lodge is well known for its wines and delicious food.
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Lares de Chacra

Day 12

Guided excursion to local vineyards.
 

You have a guided tour today which takes you to two of the local vineyards, where you can taste the wines of their well-known wine cellars. A variety of wines is produced including Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but it is Malbec which stands out for its quality and its grapes are the most widely cultivated. The grape was originally imported from Cahors in France but is now one of Argentina’s specialities. 

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Mendoza vineyard

Day 13

Drive to Santiago.
 
Today you’ll be crossing through one of the Andes’ most picturesque passes to Santiago in Chile. This memorable journey with its border crossing takes anything between 5-8hrs. The trip itself is spectacular with mountain views particularly on the downward descent towards Santiago.

The city is set in a broad Andean valley with the majestic snow-capped peaks as a backdrop and a smaller coastal range with a distinctly Mediterranean feel. Santiago is a huge metropolis, a mix of the old and the contemporary, with quarters of tree-lined avenues and affluent tranquillity and others full of commercial bustle. Poorer districts sprawl on the outskirts.

You’ll be staying in Lastarria, one of the city’s historic quarters which has been recently spruced up and has many restaurants, bars, and boutiques. It is now a centre for the arts with cinemas, theatres, live performances and festivals.

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Santiago Chile

Day 14

Guided walking city tour.
 
There’s a guided walking tour of the centre of the city today. Modern, high-rise buildings dominate the skyline and the history of earthquakes in Santiago's architectural heritage may not be immediately obvious to the visitor.

At street level, however, Santiago retains some fine historic buildings alongside eye-catching contemporary structures. This excursion will acquaint you with some of Santiago's more interesting landmarks and neighbourhoods on foot, allowing you to soak up the atmosphere of the city.

You are of course free to return and explore further in your own time. Historic ports of call include the Museo de Bellas Artes, Cerro Santa Lucia, the Central Market and the former Mapocho railway station. The tour includes a stop at the former National Congress where Salvador Allende was overthrown in 1973 in the coup masterminded by General Pinochet, and culminates in the Plaza Mayor, the heart of Santiago's historic centre.

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Day 15

Transfer to Matetic winery.
 
Transfer to Matetic, a vineyard just 90mins’ drive away between Santiago and the port of Valparaiso on the coast.

This young vineyard is situated in the Antonio valley, where a refreshing microclimate supports the cultivation of Pinot Noir and Shiraz grapes. This huge estate has a very peaceful, rural setting amid rolling hills covered in Mediterranean chaparral forest. It's a state-of-the-art design winery, ultra modern in appearance, established only in 1999 and in 10 years has already won awards for the quality of its wine and its biodynamic practices.

You spend your last night here: facilities include a restaurant specialising in Chilean cuisine with menus prepared to complement the vineyard's excellent wines, a spacious living room, pool table and bar. A tour of the winery and wine tasting is included.

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Matetic Winery

Day 16

Transfer to Santiago airport for international flight home.

16 days from £4,715pp

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