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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:
Trip Dossier

This luxurious taste of Brazil, Chile and Argentina takes you from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean, including three of South America’s most impressive cities. It starts in Rio with its music on every street corner and football on every beach - all with a glorious mountain backdrop.

At Iguazú Falls, step out of your hotel room in the national park to a thunderous roar as the river crashes over granite cliffs. Venture further into the rainforest for a real jungle experience:  you’ll be able to observe exotic birds attracted to fruit trees in the reserve surrounding the lodge where you stay.

Move on to Buenos Aires, a city oozing culture and nostalgia. Head back into the countryside and the sunny vineyards of Mendoza, where some of the best Argentine wine is produced.  Visit a couple of wineries then cross the Andes to Santiago and end your trip at one of Chile’s also highly regarded wineries.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro. Transfer to hotel on Copacabana beach.

Day 2

Guided excursion to Corcovado mountain and Christ the Redeemer.

Day 3

Guided tour including Sugar Loaf mountain.

Day 4

Transfer to airport and fly to Iguazú Falls.

Day 5

At leisure at the falls.

Day 6

Transfer to Yacutinga Lodge in the rainforest of Iguazú.

Day 7

At leisure at Yacutinga Lodge.

Day 8

Transfer to airport and fly to Buenos Aires.

Day 9

Guided city tour with Teatro Colón.

Day 10

Day at leisure in Buenos Aires.

Day 11

Transfer to airport and fly to Mendoza.

Day 12

Guided excursion to local vineyards.

Day 13

Drive to Santiago.

Day 14

Guided walking city tour.

Day 15

Transfer to Matetic winery.

Day 16

Transfer to Santiago airport for international flight home.

Detailed itinerary

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.

Essential information

Transport

3 flights (longest 2hrs); 6 road journeys or transfers.

Accommodation

For this holiday however we have chosen upper mid range hotels and lodges which nevertheless have unique characteristics, outdoor activities or attractions.

Meals

Breakfast daily; dinner days 6, 15; full board day 7.

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

• Guided excursion to Corcovado mountain.
• Guided tour to the Sugar Loaf mountain and Rio botanical gardens.
• Visit to the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls.
• Activities from Yacutinga Lodge.
• Guided city tour of Buenos Aires with visit to Teatro Colón.
• Tour of Mendoza wineries.
• Guided walking tour of Santiago.

Summary of nights

15 days, 14 nights: Rio de Janeiro 3; Iguazú 2; Yacutinga 2; Buenos Aires 3; Mendoza winery 2; Santiago 2; Valparaiso winery 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

• Tips and gratuities.
• Meals other than specified.
• International flights to Latin America.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket.
• Optional excursions.

Currency

The unit of currency in Brazil is the ‘real’ (plural reais); in Argentina it is the Argentine peso, in Chile the Chilean 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 good quality meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the very 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 (American Express are the most widely accepted), though these are gradually falling out of use. 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 page.

Airport taxes

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

Journey grade

There are no long days of travel on this trip. There are two domestic flights by commercial jet.
This holiday is suitable for all but if you have a disability or other special requirements, please call us.

In the summer months of December to March the weather is extremely hot and humid, you might bear this in mind if travelling with small children or elderly persons.

Climate

In Rio, Buenos Aires and Iguazú December to March are the hottest and most humid months, with temperatures sometimes reaching 40°C, and rain which falls in brief, heavy showers. Santiago will be dry and hot, but less humid.

From June to September, temperatures are more moderate (18-23°C) and there is plenty of sunshine, but cold fronts can usher in periods of up to several days of cloud and drizzle. Iguazú can be quite chilly in winter when the temperature can fall as low as 2°C at night. It can snow in Santiago in winter (July/August). 

The vineyards have more of a Mediterranean –type climate with hot dry summers. It can be cold in the mountains in winter, with bits and bobs of snow.

Clothing and special equipment

For day-to-day wear in summer you should take loose-fitting, breathable clothes. Comfortable shoes are important and sandals are useful. A sun hat, sun block and sunglasses are necessary, and you should take a light fleece for cool nights and a Gore-Tex layer, as well as swimwear, a towel, insect repellent and maybe a torch. In the spring, autumn or winter you might bring along a warm jumper, fleece or jacket. An umbrella or waterproof jacket is advised.

You might like to use binoculars for wildlife.  Brazil, Argentina and Chile all have an informal attitude to dress but if you plan to go to good restaurants or out on evening entertainment trips, you might want to bring something smart as well.

At the Iguazú Falls you can get very wet from the spray. You may wish to take dry clothes in a dry bag.

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: polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and 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 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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