The Itinerary

Day 1 - 3: SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA

The small town of San Pedro de Atacama is a scenic oasis in the Atacama Desert, surrounded by the imposing volcanic peaks of the Chilean altiplano and located close to several major archaeological and natural attractions – including the ancient sites of Tulor and Quitor, the Atacama Salt Flat, the Altiplanic Lagoons and the Tatio Geysers. As a result, the village has become a significant tourist destination due to its close proximity and despite its small size it encompasses a wide range of restaurants, guesthouses and other visitor services.

 

Day 4: SAN ANTONIO DE LOS COBRES

The small mining town of San Antonio de los Cobres is located in the Andean puna (highlands) in the province of Salta in northwest Argentina. Though it is home to some charming adobe (mud brick) buildings, San Antonio de Los Cobres is a curious destination, in that its chief attraction lies in the rail trip it requires to access the town. The Tren a las Nubes (‘Train to the Clouds’) is the third-highest railway line in the world, and is one of the province of Salta’s most unforgettable travel experiences. These day trips offer spectacular Andean scenery and an exciting ride, as the train passes over 29 bridges and through 21 tunnels on its way from the city of Salta to the La Polvorilla Viaduct.

 

Day 5: CAFAYATE

Cafayate is jaw droppingly beautiful. Vibrant rows of grapevines contrast against the stark ridges and undulating mountain scenery, making travelling to the northern echelons of Argentina well worth it, and this small town attracts wine enthusiasts and naturalists alike. Don’t miss out on the striking geological folds of the Cafayate Amphitheatre or hiking the six-kilometre trail that follows the Colorado River. Wine-loving visitors will be rewarded with lip smacking Torrontes wine, an Argentinean white varietal that can be found in many of the cool bodegas (cellars) around town, while those arriving by road from Salta will enjoy the spectacular views along the scenic National Route 68.

 

Day 6: CHILECITO

Sandwiched between the Famatina and Velasco mountain ranges, in the Argentine province of La Rioja, the city of Chilecito is a stop along the scenic route 40, which traverses Western Argentina. This beautifully positioned city serves as an excellent base for visitors exploring the impressive natural surrounds. Chilecito has a wild west feel with its cactus-dotted landscapes and its rich mining heritage. There are several interesting sights to see, including an abandoned cableway leading to an old mine high in the mountains. Visitors have a choice of spectacular treks and excursions into the surrounding mountains as well as day trips to the Talampaya National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Valle de la Luna, a moonscape in the nearby Atacama desert.

Day 7-9: RODEO

Situated along the spectacularly scenic route 40, in the northeastern corner of the San Juan region, Rodeo is a little picturesque town, best known for its close proximity to one of the world’s leading windsurfing and kitesurfing spots. This adventure hub serves as a base for the throngs of kite and windsurfing enthusiasts, who travel here between October and May to brave the 120 km/h winds on the turquoise waters of the Cuesta del Viento reservoir. The combination of the mystical, lunar landscape and azure reservoir invites visitors to enjoy a quiet morning hiking, fishing or kayaking, while the surfers await the roar of the southeastern winds rising in the afternoon.

Day 10: POTRERILLOS

Resting in the foothills of the Andes in western Argentina, Potrerillos is a district of the Luján de Cuyo Department in the province of Mendoza. The district features some exceptional natural scenery and serves as a popular eco-tourism destination with a range of outdoor activities on offer including canoeing, hiking, fishing, white-water rafting, windsurfing, kayaking, and camping. The lovely Mendoza River meanders past the eastern edge of the town of Potrerillos and discharges into the exquisite trout-filled Potrerillos Dam. The banks of this dam and river are fringed by an array of cabins and inns, providing a peaceful retreat away from the city of Mendoza which lies only 60 km to the south. Must-see sights of the surrounding area include: the small but charming Vallecitos ski resort and the healing hot spring waters of Cacheuta.

Day 11-13: UCO VALLEY

Located in southwest Mendoza, along the beautiful Tunuyan River, the Uco Valley is renowned for its world-class Argentinian wine. Fringed by the magnificent Andean Mountain Range, this viticultural area is popular among tourists on the Argentina Wine Route. The valley is considered one of the top wine regions in Argentina. The undeniable reason visitors frequent this spectacular valley is to soak up the surrounding natural beauty and to sample an array of delicious wines in the foothills of the Andes. Popular varieties produced in Uco Valley include: Semillon, Malbec, Bonarda, Barbera as well as Merlot and Pinot Noir. Spend your days with a glass of wine in hand, gazing at the breathtaking views on offer.

Day 14: MALARGUE

Resting in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, Malargue is a town in the Mendoza province of Argentina. As the closest town to the esteemed ski resort of Las Lenas, Malargue becomes a bustling tourist centre every winter, though it boasts enough sights and attractions to remain a popular tourist destination all year round. The town is also renowned for its proximity to the famous bird watching area of the Argentine pampas (grasslands), as well as the nearby caves of Caverna de las Brujas, and the mountain of Castillos de Pincheira (an outcrop of which bears an uncanny resemblance to a castle, found in a provincial reserve of the same name). For those with more time in the area, a trip to the Reserva Provincial la Payunia – with its snow-capped volcanoes and black volcanic soil – is also highly recommended.

Day 15: NEUQUEN PROVINCE

Located in northwest Patagonia, the Argentinean province of Neuquen is fringed by the soaring Andes and dotted with several exquisite lakes. It is best known for its picturesque towns, spectacular scenery, and numerous national parks. Visitors can look forward to sampling the locally-produced wines, discovering a wealth of paleontological sites and enjoying and array thrilling outdoor activities. Other highlights include: the snow-capped Lanin Volcano in the south, the alpine town of San Martín de los Andes, the 300-year old arrayan trees in Los Arrayanes National Park, and the magnificent Nahuel Huapi National Park, as well as the Lanin and Laguna Blanca national parks. Don’t miss the opportunity to stop over at the provincial capital of Neuquen – the economic and transport hub of the region.

Day 16: SOUTHERN ANDES

The Andes are the longest continental mountain range in the world, stretching for 7000kms. The southern tip of this majectic mountain range lies south of Llullaillaco in Argentina and Chile and is home to the Southern Andean steppe, a unique ecoregion defined by its cold desert climate and tough montane grasslands and shrublands. Because of these chilly, arid conditions much of the vegetation here is endemic (unique to the region). Some of the larger mammals that have adapted to this harsh environment include the puma, the Andean fox and two relatives of the llama – the vicuna (the national animal of Peru) and the guanaco.

Day 17-19: SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES

San Martin De Los Andes has something to offer holidaymakers all year round. In winter, its position at the foot of the Andes, only 19 kilometres (12 miles) from one of Argentina’s most famous ski slopes, Chapelco, makes it a hit with snowboarders and skiers. In summer, the resort town offers a host of adventure sport activities on the shores of Lago Lácar. The Hua-Hum international pass for travel to Chile lies only 45 km (28 miles) from town and is one of the few passes that is open almost all year round, making it a convenient route for travel between the two countries.

Day 20: PUERTO VARAS

Set on the shores of the vast Llanquihue Lake in Chile, the picturesque Puerto Varas is known for its stunning natural scenery, traditional German-style architecture and excellent range of accommodation. The town offers incredible views of the snow-capped but active Osorno and Calbuco Volcanoes and magnificent waterfalls of the lake. The Alerce Andino National Park, in the Andes Mountains to the south, provides another world to explore nearby, featuring lush green forests perfect for hiking and turquoise blue waters ideal for canoeing. Many German families settled in this southern Chilean town at the end of the 19th century and their influences are still evident in the local architecture, cuisine and traditions today. Puerto Varas features an excellent range of guesthouses, hotels, and restaurants serving traditional German food.

Day 21-22: YELCHO LAKE

Yelcho Lake is located in the Patagonia region of southern Chile. A remote but popular area, Yelcho Lake is most easily accessed from the town of Chaiten to the north, or from the port-city of Puerto Montt, and offers a variety of great outdoor activities in spectacular natural surrounds. The waters of this glacial region are vibrant shades of sapphire and emerald, and Yelcho Lake is world-famous as a fly-fishing destination, with the opportunity to catch rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon, chinook and coho. The Lake offers a range of lodging options, as well as a full programme of other outdoor activities, including canoeing and kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking and bird watching.

Day 23: COYHAIQUE

Resting at the confluence of the Coyhaique and Simpson rivers, Coyhaique is the capital and largest city in Chile’s sparsely populated northern Aysen Region as well as a major stop on the iconic Carretera Austral highway. Known as a gateway to remote areas of Patagonia, this rapidly growing modern city is encircled by a crown of mountains and serves as a base for excursions into the picturesque surrounds; from wild forests, snow-tipped mountains and clear cascading rivers to turquoise lakes, vast glaciers and glacial rivers. Visitors can enjoy an array of activities including: rafting down the Simpson river, hiking through dense forest at the Coyhaique National Reserve or spotting a variety of wildlife, such as the elusive huemul deer, at the Simpson River National Reserve.

Day 24: PERITO MORENO

Perito Moreno is a settlement in Argentina’s Santa Cruz Province. Cattle rearing, agriculture, and tourism are the major economic activities in the town. Some nearby tourist attraction in Perito Moreno includes Parque Nacional Perito Moreno, Museo Gradin and Cueva de las Manos. There are a variety of hotels and guest houses for tourists to lodge in. Authentic Argentine cuisines can be enjoyed at any of the local restaurants in the town.

Day 25: SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE

Located in southern Argentina’s, Santa Cruz Province is dominated by the Andes and the ice fields of Patagonia on its western side and meets the Atlantic Ocean on its east. Its native people are the Telhuelches, who remained independent until the late 1800s through almost three centuries of colonialist expansion in the region. The top natural highlight of Santa Cruz is Los Glacieres National Park – particularly the Perito Moreno Glacier, which collapses thunderously every few years in an awe-inspiring spectacle. The town of El Calafate is the main gateway to this frosty wonderland, while the nearby village of El Chaltén is a prime hiking destination at the base of Mount Fitzroy. Puerto Deseado, at the mouth of the Deseado River on the province’s east coast, is a small fishing village with dramatic scenery and rich coastal wildlife, including dolphins, sea lions and both Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins.

Day 26 - 28: EL CALAFATE

Located in deep in Patagonia’s snow-capped netherlands, on the southern shore of Lake Argentino, El Calafate has become a key stopover for travellers headed to nearby Los Glaciares National Park. This icy wonderland that is best known for the spectacular Perito Moreno glacier – a massive, shifting ice cap composed of dozens of smaller glaciers. While Los Glaciares may be the main draw card here, El Calafate has plenty of its own charms: it’s a fun, scenic destination offering a host of outdoor and adventure activities.

Day 29-30:TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK

Known for its spectacular beauty, Torres Del Paine National Park is a rich biosphere reserve in Chile’s Patagonian region. The scenic park stretches over 242 000 hectares of magnificent landscape featuring snow-capped mountains, ancient glaciers, cascading waterfalls, golden grasslands and several lakes that attract a variety of water birds. The incredibly breathtaking beauty of this park attracts flocks of visitors each year. Visitors can view the iconic three granite pillars of the Torres del Paine which tower over the landscape of emerald forests meeting impossibly blue lake, soak up the spectacular vistas, and spot the endemic guanaco lama that roams the hills as well as the Andean condor that soar above the towering peaks.

Day 31: PUERTO NATALES

This former fishing port, situated in the Patagonian region of southern Chile, has blossomed into a tourist haven. This trendy town offers boutique beers, wine tastings and famous brand shops catering to the international set, but it has lost nothing of its relaxed pace in the process. From Puerto Natales, visitors can take a trip to the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine with its impressive rock formations and ice field (the third largest in the world); travel by ferry through the Chilean fjords; or visit the prehistoric caves at the Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument (where the remains of the giant ground sloth were found in 1895).

Day 32: PUNTA ARENAS

The southernmost continental city in the world situated on the Strait of Magellan is best known as a departure point for trips to Antarctica and other bioceanic travelling, but the city’s charms, history, tax-free shopping, good travellers’ services and hospitality are making it a popular destination in its own right. It also has much to offer by way of history – visit the Mayorino Borgatello Salesian Museum, the Shepherds Monument, the Patagonia Institute (a research centre for the history and the resources), and the Nao Victoria Museum where visitors can view a full-size replica of the first ship to circumnavigate the world, Ferdinand Magellan’s Nao Victoria.

Day 33: TOLHUIN

Set on the eastern shore of Lake Fagnano (Lake Cami), Tolhuin is a small town in the southern part of the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, an island resting just off the southernmost tip of the South American continent. The town lies on the National Route 3 and is the only town between the cities of Ushuaia and Río on this motorway. Visitors can look forward to some excellent hiking, horseriding, mountain biking, and wildlife watching in the surrounding forested wilderness areas as well as some low-key, boating and fishing in the tranquil Lake Fagnano.

Day 34: USHUAIA

Widely regarded world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia is a strikingly beautiful destination on the southern coastline of Tierra del Fuego Island, backed by mountains and facing onto Beagle channel. The city’s elegant commercial centre offers a variety of cultural and entertainment activities, while its natural location means that adventure enthusiasts are spoilt for choice, with kayaking, skiing, hiking and sailing all on offer. For a more serene excursion, boat cruises are a popular way to view the glacier off Ushuaia’s coast.