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Tangara: Blue lakes and emerald coasts

15 days from £2,798pp

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Tangara: Blue lakes and emerald coasts:
Trip Dossier

This journey is a showcase for Latin America's extraordinary diversity, and visits 3 of its most fascinating cities. Santiago is set in a bowl created by the Andes and surrounded by its colossal snowy peaks. Elegant, sophisticated Buenos Aires has a distinctly European flavour, which can be appreciated alongside sultry tango and huge steaks. And Rio is a high-rise marvel, squeezed between lush, forested mountains and the beaches and surf of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Crossing the Andes from Chile into Argentina is a breathtaking journey amid shimmering turquoise lakes and towering snow-capped peaks. Following on are the magnificent cataracts at Iguazú Falls, which tumble over a vast precipice into a subtropical rainforest alive with birds and butterflies; and tranquillity in the historic colonial town of Paratí set on a leaf green bay.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

UK clients depart Sat arriving in Santiago, Chile the following day.

Day 1

Walking tour of colonial Santiago.

Day 2

Optional excursion to a vineyard or the port of Valparaíso.

Day 3

Fly south to the lake district; Petrohue Falls and overnight in Puerto Varas.

Day 4

Optional excursion to Chiloé island.

Day 5

Cross the Andes to Bariloche, Argentina.

Day 6

Walks in the rugged hills around Lake Nahuel Huapi.

Days 7-8

Fly to Buenos Aires. Walking tour of the city.

Day 9

Fly to Iguazú Falls. Excursions to the Argentine side.

Day 10

Excursion to the Brazilian side of the falls.

Day 11

Fly to São Paulo; by road to Paratí.

Day 12

Excursion by traditional schooner around the bay.

Day 13

By road to Rio de Janeiro. Optional excursion to Sugar Loaf mountain.

Day 14

Excursion to Corcovado mountain with the Christ statue.

Day 15

Depart for international flight or extension.

UK clients depart, arriving home the following day, Mon.

Detailed itinerary

UK clients depart Sat arriving in Santiago, Chile the following day.

Day 1

Walking tour of colonial Santiago.
 
Those arriving on an international flight will be met at the airport by the tour leader or a local representative and taken to the group hotel. Santiago is laid out in a broad valley below the snow-capped Andes. You’ll have a walking tour of the compact colonial centre.

For a panoramic view over the city, visit Cerro Santa Lucía, a central, rather romantic park. For even more panoramic vistas, a cable car leads to the summit of San Cristóbal, where you can join Chilean families wandering along the leafy paths. Afterwards, have a beer at one of the pavement cafés in Bellavista. This is an Italian quarter of narrow streets peppered with bars and shops selling local lapis lazuli (only Chile and Afghanistan produce the stones in commercial quantities).

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Santiago

Day 2

Optional excursion to a vineyard or the port of Valparaíso.
 
An optional guided excursion takes you out of the city through a pretty Mediterranean landscape to a nearby winery. An hour's drive from Santiago is the Central Valley, blanketed in a patchwork region of regimented vineyards. Here you will have the chance to sample some of the wines, and learn about the national grape varieties.

Alternatively, visit Chile's second city, Valparaíso (2hrs by bus). This lively seaport is built on a series of hills which form a backdrop to the wide bay, with views over the seaside resort of Viña del Mar. You can wander along the steep, winding streets which crawl over the hilltops, reached by rickety wooden funicular lifts, or stroll the dark cobblestone lanes at sea level fringed by sturdy homes built for British and German merchants in the 19th century.

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Day 3

Fly south to the lake district; Petrohue Falls and overnight in Puerto Varas.
 
Fly south to Puerto Montt and continue by road to Puerto Varas in the heart of the Chilean lake district. On a clear day you won't tire of the vistas of volcanoes, waterfalls and sweeping forests.

Puerto Varas is situated on the shores of Lake Llanquihue (one of the largest natural lakes in South America). Towering snow-capped volcanoes punctuate a patchwork landscape of cultivated hills and pastures. The town sits in the shadows of the perfect conical peak of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. There is an excursion to visit the nearby Petrohue Falls and time to wander around the town. Originally colonised by German immigrants, it has a distinctive, Bavarian feel, and many inhabitants are fair-haired and blue-eyed. There are some excellent seafood restaurants and cafés to while away a day at leisure.

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Puerto Varas

Day 4

Optional excursion to Chiloé island.
 
We strongly recommend a full-day excursion to Chiloé. This extraordinary island developed largely independently from the mainland and has a distinct history, architecture and mythology. Alighting on its shores is like stepping back into a time of mists and legends. Half the population works in agriculture, the techniques of which have remained unchanged for centuries; distinctive ox-driven carts are to be seen trundling down the island's unpaved roads past unique wood-shingled churches and there are several folksy fishing ports where you can savour fresh oysters.

On Chiloe, from November-March you can take a boat trip to spot Magellanic and Humboldt penguins. The excursion ends with a visit to a chilote family, where the traditional curanto is prepared for you; it’s a hearty dish of seafood, meat, potatoes and vegetables are piled high in a hole in the ground, buried and cooked among glowing embers.

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Chiloe

Day 5

Cross the Andes to Bariloche, Argentina.
 
Today you cross the Andes on a unique journey which passes through the mountains, following forested roads alongside a chain of glacial lakes. Your scenic drive winds its way towards Argentina, overlooked by towering, snowy peaks. On a clear day the conical snow-capped volcanoes offer a stunning backdrop to the turquoise, glacial waters on the lakes below.

You arrive at Bariloche. This resort town is situated on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi, and was founded barely a century ago. It has a distinctive Alpine feel to it, and in winter it operates as a ski resort. There is a museum detailing the history of the native Tehuelche Indians and the story of the area's colonisation. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid lived and ranched not far from here.

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Day 6

Walks in the rugged hills around Lake Nahuel Huapi.
 
Included today are walks along trails climbing up through the mountains through woodland, with wonderful glimpses down over the lake through gaps in the trees.

Spend your free time in cosy cafés savouring locally manufactured chocolate, or shopping for souvenirs. Out of town, venture along the lake-shore for sumptuous views of the forested mountains. There are some excellent walking trails including one which climbs Cerro Otto mountain. You may also wish to enjoy the panorama from the windows of the cable car which takes you to the summit (1,405m); here there is a revolving restaurant and splendid views as the sun sets over the mountainous landscape, dotted with forests and shimmering lakes.

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Days 7-8

Fly to Buenos Aires. Walking tour of the city.
 
Fly to the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, an elegant and cosmopolitan city famed for 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 the city is the historic heartland, with government buildings and churches as well as chic shopping districts, which have a nostalgic, Parisian feel. The bohemian district of San Telmo is full of quaint old houses interspersed with antiques shops, tango bars and expensive restaurants.

Slightly further out of town is the Recoleta district, even more evocative of belle époque French and Italianate architecture. During the winter months, wealthy female residents parade the streets in their fur coats and improbable, towering hairstyles, and take afternoon tea in the city's ornate cafés. You will explore some of the most interesting parts of the city on a guided tour. Make the most of your extra free time to shop, have a drink and a pastry in a tea-room or peruse the items on display in one of the many markets. It’s fun to promenade up and down the quay in the city’s splendidly renovated port district, Puerto Madero, which has trendy loft apartments, a string of open air restaurants and a small marina.

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Buenos Aires

Day 9

Fly to Iguazú Falls. Excursions to the Argentine side.
 
Fly to Puerto Iguazú in the subtropical north-east corner of Argentina (2 hrs). The Iguazú Falls are unquestionably one of the most extraordinary natural wonders in the world. A total of 275 falls thunder through dense forest over a 2.5km stretch. The u-shaped Devil's Throat is the main gorge, where the frothy water of the Iguazú River crashes over a 1.5km-wide precipice and columns of vapour are thrown skyward. Elsewhere the river flows decorously through the rainforest, breaking up into dozens of smaller falls. You might spot toucans with their outsized bright orange beaks perched in the foliage above the tumultuous waters.>

You have a guided tour to explore the Argentine side of the falls. From the National Park Visitor Centre, where there is a display that illustrates the biodiversity of the region's tropical rainforest, a little natural-gas-powered train transfers you to Cataratas Station where the Upper Walk begins. This sequence of causeways and passarelles links dozens of tiny basalt islands at the top of a sheer rock face and the walkways cross the myriad streams of the River Iguazú as they cascade over the lip of the precipice. Your breath is quite literally taken away as the water thunders on to the rocks below.

The train continues to Devil's Throat Station where a 1km-long walkway leads across the river to the thunderous Garganta del Diablo, the Devil's Throat. From this vantage point you can feel the incredible power of the water, and the flow is mesmeric as it plummets into the vortex below.

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Iguazu Falls

Day 10

Excursion to the Brazilian side of the falls.
 

Head out to the Brazilian side of the falls, from where there is a broad panorama of these magnificent cataracts, and some excellent opportunities to photograph the full sweep of the cascades. Before leaving the Brazilian side, you could stop off at the excellent and rather quirky bird park just outside the entrance of Iguaçu National Park. The enclosure is home to a huge variety of birds and wildlife, including toucans, trogons and the coatimundi, from the same family as the racoon.

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Day 11

Fly to São Paulo; by road to Paratí.
 
Fly to São Paulo and continue by road to the colonial port of Paratí. The winding road is bordered by steep mountains covered in lush Atlantic forest on one side, and the ocean on the other. This enchanting bay-side town is steeped in history; Paratí, means ‘river of fish’ in the indigenous Tupi language.

The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s not hard to see why as you wander through its local boutique-linedcobbled streets. Explore graceful baroque churches and check out the local art work in one of the many contemporary galleries. The divine blue, gold and white painted Portuguese architecture has been carefully preserved, and the centre of the town is vehicle free. There are also some excellent places to eat freshly caught fish on the sea-front. The bay itself is dotted with tropical islands and, rising some 1,000m behind the town, are forested mountains intersected by rivers and waterfalls.

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Parati

Day 12

Excursion by traditional schooner around the bay.
 

Travel out to sea in the sheltered bay on the deck of a traditional three-masted schooner. You’ll visit some of the virtually uninhabited little islands in the bay, each with its own hidden picture-perfect sandy coves where you can take a dip in the warm tropical waters.

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Parati

Day 13

By road to Rio de Janeiro. Optional excursion to Sugar Loaf mountain.
 
A scenic drive up the 'green coast' to Rio de Janeiro. 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. 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. The drive into the city gives a fleeting glimpse of the docks and commercial centre as you head towards the magnificent stretch of sand at Copacabana; your hotel is a couple of blocks inland from the beach.

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Rio de Janeiro

Day 14

Excursion to Corcovado mountain with the Christ statue.
 
Today offers a guided excursion to Corcovado mountain. You board a steep rack-and-pinion railway which glides up through tropical Tijuca National Park, the largest urban forest in the world dripping with fruit and flowers, to reach the summit of Corcovado. Here the famous 40m art deco Christ the Redeemer statue soars above the city, arms outspread benevolently. On a clear day the views over the city and out across the ocean and outlying islands are stupendous.

In your remaining hours in Rio you may like to ascend the cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf mountain at sunset, stroll through the exotic botanical gardens or just while away the time at a beach bar with a caipirinha cocktail or an agua de coco in your hand.

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Day 15

Depart for international flight or extension.

UK clients depart, arriving home the following day, Mon.

Essential information

Transport

4 flights (longest 2 hrs), 3 road journeys (longest 7 hrs with stops).

Accommodation

On our Discovery Journeys the standard of accommodation varies. We aim to keep the price competitive while ensuring the basic comforts. Hotels/guesthouses are comfortable and attractive in most places but elsewhere are more functional. All properties are well maintained and all will have a private bathroom with hot water. (If you prefer greater comfort please see the Classic Journeys or Private Journeys on their respective pages on our website).

Examples of the hotels include:

• Santiago: Hotel Torremayor Provedencia
• Puerto Varas: Park Inn by Radisson
• Bariloche: Hotel Kenton Palace 
• Buenos Aires: Hotel Kenton Palace
• Puerto Iguazú: Hotel Esturion
• Parati: Pousada do Principe
• Rio de Janeiro: Hotel Augustos

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.

Meals

Breakfast daily

Included excursions

• Santiago: walking tour 
• Puerto Varas: Petrohue Falls
• Bariloche: guided mountain walk 
• Buenos Aires: city tour 
• Iguazú Falls (Argentine and Brazilian sides) 
• Paratí: Schooner trip 
• Rio de Janeiro: Corcovado mountain 

Summary of nights

15 days, 14 nights: Santiago 2; Puerto Varas 2; Bariloche 2; Buenos Aires 2; Iguazú 2; Paratí 2; Rio 2.

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
• Some domestic flight taxes

Optional excursions

There are optional excursions 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 $320 should cover participation in most of 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: visit the Pacific port Valparaíso and a vineyard
• Puerto Varas: excursion to Chiloe Island
• Argentine lake district: the Circuito Chico route from Bariloche
• Argentine lake district: guided walks
• Buenos Aires: by boat across the River Plate to Uruguay 
• Buenos Aires: by train to the delta town Tigre
• Buenos Aires: tango show
• Iguazú Falls: overfly in a helicopter
• Iguazú Falls: gran safari boat trip to the falls
• Iguazú Falls: visit to the quirky bird park
• Rio de Janeiro: Sugar Loaf Mountain excursion

Travelling alone

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.

Currency

The unit of currency in Chile is the peso chileno, in Argentina the peso argentino, and in Brazil the real.

Budget

A budget of around US$45 per day should cover the cost of meals, 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. 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).

Tipping

Tips are normally welcomed and expected. Local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $US2 (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 $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.

Tipping guifelines can be found on our Briefing Dssier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport taxes

International departure tax from Rio de Janiero is normally included. Domestic flight taxes are approximatly $6 from Buenos Aires.

Journey grade

The pace of this trip is relatively fast; there are some early mornings and long days spent travelling (albeit with stops and fantastic scenery). You should consult your tour leader to make sure you undertake optional excursions which are best suited to you.

Climate

In Rio, Iguazú, Santiago and Buenos Aires, it can be very humid and temperatures high, frequently over 30°C, during the southern hemisphere summer. In these months rainfall totals are also high, though rain tends to fall as relatively short, heavy showers. Between them 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 and Rio rain showers and stubborn cloud cover are also a feature of these months.

In the lake district, it can be hot (late 20s°C) during the southern summer but not unpleasantly so, with little rain. It is chilly in winter (July and August), not unlike a British autumn, and rainfall can be copious at this time. 

Clothing and special equipment

In the southern summer you will need light, preferably loose clothing, shorts and sandals for Rio, Buenos Aires, Iguazú, the lakes and Santiago. The further south you go the less predictable the weather and your clothing should be appropriate for all seasons.

To ensure your comfort while walking in the lake district, especially outside the summer months, you should bring good waterproof walking shoes as well as a good water/windproof (not just shower-proof) jacket and trousers. 

At the Iguazú Falls you can get very wet from the spray. You may like to take dry clothes in a bag and simply wear swimwear and flip flops,
 
 If you plan to go to good restaurants or out on evening entertainment trips, you might want to bring something a bit smarter as well (although formal attire will not be required). 

A daypack is advisable for carrying rainwear, snacks, books, tablet if you travel with one, and a water bottle. The sun can be strong so take a hat with a visor, sunglasses and sun block.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. A yellow fever certificate may be a compulsory requirement for onward travel and immigration purposes. The rules are complex and subject to change. We advise you check the most up to date information at www.iatatravelcentre.com. Please consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on malaria tablets. You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Cases of Zika virus have been reported in parts of Latin America. If you’re pregnant, or planning to be, you should follow the advice of the  National Travel Health Network and Centre

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require visas for entering Chile, Argentina and Brazil, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Other nationalities should refer enquire or check with the Brazilian, Chilean or 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.

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