For the 2019 version of this tour there is a slight change to the itinerary to be aware of. The tour will be 1 night shorter (a night has been cut from Ushuaia so there will be 2 nights rather than 3). Also the full day excursion to fascinating Chiloé Island (from Puerto Varas) will now be included as part of the tour.
For full details of this change please contact us and one of our consultants will be happy to explain more.
On this tour, you’ll be accompanied from start to finish by one of our exceptional Journey Latin America tour leaders. From the moment you land in Latin America until the day the tour ends they will deal with all the practicalities, expertly adapting to the circumstances and individual needs of the group. Rather than different guides in different cities, your leader will get to know the group and keep you informed and entertained as you go.
4 flights (longest 3.5hrs), 6 road journeys (longest 6 hrs).
On our Discovery Journeys the standard of accommodation varies. We aim to keep the price competitive while ensuring the basic comforts. Hotels / hostels are comfortable and attractive in most places but elsewhere are purely functional. All properties are well maintained and almost all will have a private bathroom with hot water. (If you prefer greater comfort please see our Classic Journeys or Private Journeys on their respective pages on our website).
This tour stays in a Refuge for 3 nights whilst in Torres del Paine in order to make it as competitive as possible. This accommodation is based in single beds in dorm rooms of up to 6 people. We understand that this might not to be to everyone's taste so should you wish to upgrade your room for these 3 nights we are happy for passengers to stay at the nearby Hotel Las Torres. There will be supplement to pay and this is of course subject to availability, so please speak to one of our consultants for further information.
Examples of hotels include:
• Santiago: Hotel Torremayor Providencia
• Pucón: Hostal Geronimo
• Puerto Varas: Park Inn by Radisson
• Puerto Natales: Hotel Vendeval
• Torres del Paine: Refugio Torre Central or upgrade to Hotel Las Torres
• El Calafate: Hotel Kapenke
• El Chalten: El Paraiso
• Ushuaia: Hostal del Bosque
• Buenos Aires: Kenton Palace
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.
Breakfast daily, lunch day 16.
• Santiago: walking tour of the city
• Lake district: Petrohué Falls
• Torres del Paine: stops at the viewpoints in the park such as Salto Grande
• Torres del Paine: guided walks
• Los Glaciares National Park: guided walks
• Los Glaciares National Park: Perito Moreno Glacier
• Ushuaia: Tierra del Fuego National Park expedition
• Buenos Aires: guided city tour
Summary of nights
21 days, 20 nights: Santiago 2; Pucón 2; Puerto Varas 2; Puerto Natales 1; Torres del Paine 3; El Calafate 2; El Chaltén 2; Ushuaia 3; Buenos Aires 3.
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 insurance
• Meals other than specified
• Optional excursions
There is a range of optional excursions available 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 US$550 should cover participation 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:
• Santiago: day trip to the Pacific port of Valparaiso; stop at a vineyard
• Pucón: visit the Huerquehue National Park and hot springs
• Pucón: rafting, cycling or horse riding
• Pucón: climb Villarrica volcano
• Puerto Varas: Chiloe Island
• Torres del Paine: boat trip on Lago Grey
• Torres del Paine: base of the towers trek
• El Calafate: glacier trekking on Lago Argentino
• Ushuaia: wildlife spotting on a Beagle channel boat trip
• Buenos Aires: ferry across the River Plate to Colonia in Uruguay
• Buenos Aires: train trip to the delta town Tigre
• Buenos Aires: evening tango show with dinner
There is no extra cost for single travellers who are willing to share a room. You will be accommodated with another same-sex member of the group who is also travelling solo. For single travellers who wish to have their own room there are a limited number of single rooms available, which carry a surcharge.
The unit of currency in Chile is the peso chileno, and in Argentina the peso argentino.
Based on feedback from other passengers who have done this tour we currently recommend a budget of around US$45 per day. This would cover the cost of meals not included in the itinerary, soft drinks and the odd souvenir.
How to take it
Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so 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 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. Your tour leader is on hand to advise the best time to get out or change money along the way. Travellers’ cheques are increasingly less favoured by visitors 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).
Tips are normally welcomed and expected. Local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately US$3 (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 US$4 and $6 per person, per day. You are obviously free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality.
Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.
Currently all taxes are included in your flights tickets.
Although not a walking holiday the nature, location and environment mean that the main activities of the tour do take place on foot. Hikes can vary in length (between 2 and 10 hrs) and difficulty (some with steep ascents or more uneven terrain). Note that most walks are linear and along good paths, (although some can be slippery in wet weather), so you can follow them as far as you feel comfortable. All trekking excursions are optional, but it should also be noted that the location of the accommodation in areas such as Torres del Paine National Park means that the options for activities other than walking are limited. While there are 2 well known longer walks that are done from the refuge or the hotel in the National Park, there are is also other shorter and less strenuous walks available. Your tour leader is always on hand and with the help of the local guides will always try and make sure that all levels of ability can be catered for. In other locations such as Pucon in the Chilean Lake District and El Chalten in Argentina, there is more flexibility as you are within a small town, however, the main purpose of staying in these beautiful locations is the incredibly scenic walks that are accessible within the surrounding countryside.
The optional ascent of the Villarrica volcano is challenging and participants must be physically fit. No experience is necessary for the optional rafting, horse riding trips or for the mini ice trek (under 65 only). The latter is flat and taken at a gentle pace. Your tour leader can advise about which of the trails would be most suited to you. Throughout the Journey, there is time to relax and explore on your own if you wish. Be prepared for some early mornings, and for occasional extreme weather conditions in Patagonia.
In Santiago and Buenos Aires it can be very humid and temperatures high, frequently over 30°C, during the height of the southern hemisphere summer (Dec-Feb). In these months rainfall totals are also high though rain tends to fall as relatively short, heavy tropical showers. Between then there is plenty of sun. October, November, March and April see temperatures between 15-25°C and a good deal of sunshine, although in Buenos Aires rain showers and stubborn cloud cover can also be a feature of these months.
In the lake district, it can be hot (late 20s°C) during the southern summer but not unpleasantly so, and there is little rain.
The weather in southern Patagonia is notoriously unpredictable throughout the year. In the ‘season’, from October to March, there may be everything from a blizzard to a heat wave. Strong winds and rain are possible at any time and it can get extremely cold.
Clothing and special equipment
In the southern summer you will need light, preferably loose clothing, shorts and sandals for Santiago and Buenos Aires. The further south you go the less predictable the weather and your clothing should be appropriate for all seasons.
Those who feel the cold should bring thermal underwear. To ensure your comfort while walking in Patagonia, you should bring good waterproof walking boots/shoes (tried and tested so you don't get blisters) as well as a good water/windproof (not just shower-proof) jacket and trousers, a warm hat and a scarf.
In the Torres del Paine hostel bedding will be provided (towels are not included but can be hired. We would however recommend bringing your own travel towel in case there are none available). The sun can be strong so take a hat with a visor, sunglasses and sunblock. Some walkers find hiking poles helpful, and binoculars are useful for bird- and wildlife spotting.
A daypack is essential for carrying rainwear, snacks, books and a water bottle.
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.
Reduce plastic waste
Journey Latin America has partnered with Water-To-Go to offer JLA Group Tour passengers the opportunity to purchase 75cl filtered water bottles for a 50% discount. The bottle can be refilled at any water outlet and has a filter that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing the water to be safe to drink. Please call your contact at JLA to add it your booking and it will be delivered to your address. More information about this initiative can be found on our website here
Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements.
You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.
Holders of a full British passport do not require visas for entering Chile and Argentina, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Other nationalities should enquire or check with the Chilean and Argentine Consulates.
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.