Arrival in Santiago and transfer to the hotel. On today’s half-day tour of “El Centro”, we will start with a visit to the San Francisco Church downtown, dating back to the 1500s, which, along with its adjacent convent, is the oldest surviving colonial building in Chile. We’ll drive through the tiny Barrio Paris-Londres lined by graceful European-style townhouses. Next, the area of Club Hípico, one of the most beautiful thoroughbred race tracks in South America. Next, to the Plaza de Armas, the symbolic heart of Santiago, and the neoclassical Metropolitan Cathedral. From here, we’ll backtrack to the famous Alameda (Av General O’Higgins), Santiago’s colorful main avenue. We reach the magnificent Palacio la Moneda (the President’s office). Afterwards, we’ll drive up to the top of San Cristóbal Hill for the finest views of Santiago and the Andes Mountains. On the way back, see the modern residential areas of the city and finally, is the bustling Providencia neighborhood, home to a large moneyed population, with many high-rise apartment buildings and old, elegant houses now mostly used as offices.
Day at leisure. Optional tours available. (B)
SUGGESTED TOUR: Valparaiso, Chile’s delightful principal port city and Vina del Mar, elegant coastal resort.
Transfer from the hotel to the bus terminal. Public bus from Santiago to Mendoza without guide (215 miles, 8 to 9hs). Today you are going on a full day panoramic bus trip crossing the majestic Andes. After breakfast, transfer to the bus terminal. Board the comfortable public bus from Santiago to Mendoza. Enjoy the spectacular mountain views en route. You’ll cross the Argentine border. Soon you’ll see the Puente del Inca, a strange rock formation resembling a bridge, as you cross the Mendoza River. Your bus passes Los Penitentes, Argentina’s best-known ski resort, before reaching Mendoza, your final destination. Mendoza is world renowned for its excellent wines, snowy mountain backdrop and relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Arrival at the bus terminal in Mendoza and transfer to the hotel. (B)
IMPORTANT! If for any reason the bus from Santiago to Mendoza is cancelled due to bad weather conditions (spring/autumn), passengers will need to take a flight from Santiago to Mendoza, not included.
The Mendoza Province, located in the eastern foothills of the Andes in far western Argentina, is internationally famous for amazing wineries and delicious vintages from vineyards planted at some of the highest altitudes in the world. Mendoza produces 70% of Argentina’s wine and is the main enological center of South America. Today we’ll feel the passion of wine and winemaking with a visit to a local winery. We’ll learn about the history of the winery and how the wine is made before we enjoy a wine tasting. The owners are friendly and informative, so ask questions! The afternoon is free at leisure. Optional tours available. (B)
Transfer to the airport to board your flight to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival, transfer to your Buenos Aires hotel. Later, depart on your Buenos Aires Panoramic Tour. Get ready for this electrifying city! We will drive to the Plaza de Mayo, the heart and soul of Buenos Aires, serving as its historical, political and cultural center. First stop is Casa Rosada (the President’s Palace, from which Eva Peron used to address the crowds), the Cabildo (City Hall) and the Metropolitan Cathedral. The tour continues to the oldest district in the city, San Telmo, which until 1888 was a river port. Today it is one of the most desirable places to live in Buenos Aires. Next to the worker district of La Boca, famous for its colorful tin-houses, and Recoleta a residential neighborhood for the elite of Buenos Aires. It is an area of great historical and architectural interest, largely due to the Recoleta Cemetery, within which you can find the grave of the famous Evita. Then, continuing along the widest avenue in the world, Avenida 9 de Julio, to the Plaza Lavalle with the Federal Court of Justice and the Teatro Colón, the main opera house, and finally to Palermo, the city’s largest barrio. Now it’s back to the hotel. (B)
Day at leisure. Optional tours available. (B)
We will drive along the northern residential districts of the city proper until we reach San Isidro in Greater Buenos Aires. This neighborhood, which ties with Palermo as Argentina’s most affluent, is a pretty, cobblestoned colonial area with mansions fronting the River Plate. Then we’ll proceed to Tigre, a charming town nearby where a great number of summer residences, yacht clubs and rowing clubs create a perfect weekend getaway for many porteños. The Tigre Delta with its rivers, streams and numerous green islands is one of the most attractive areas for visitors. The continuous sediment of the Paraná River, which gives the river and estuary a particular brownish-red color, forms the Delta islands. Enjoy a boat ride (1 hour) along the innumerable channels of the Paraná-Delta to see some of the hundreds of islands covered with luxuriant vegetation. Then we’ll drive back to the city via the Panamericana Highway the world’s longest motorable road. Enjoy some spectacular landscape alongside. (B)
Transfer to the airport to board your flight to Iguassu. Upon arrival, transfer to the Argentine National Park to visit the Argentine side of the Iguassu Falls. We’ll make a short stop at the Visitors’ Center before boarding the small Waterfalls train for a tour through the subtropical forest filled with orchids, colorful birds and dazzling butterflies. Getting off at Cataratas Station, we’ll have a choice of 3 separate trails: Upper and Lower Circuits and Devil’s Throat. The upper offers a panoramic view from above; the lower provides a more intimate experience from below, closer to the falls. The third trail leads, after a series of trails, bridges and boardwalks, to the highlight of the trip: Devil’s Throat, the largest of the waterfalls–14 tumblers combined and crashing 275 feet below, providing an exhilarating, deafening and very wet experience! Transfer to your hotel on the Brazilian side. (B)
In the morning, we’ll visit the Brazilian side of the Falls for spectacular panoramic views of their entirety. The Brazilian National Park, like that of Argentina, is teeming with wildlife and home to many rare and endangered species of both fauna and flora. This side is more sedate and compact with shorter catwalks, but offers equally gratifying views of the Argentine side—water cascades as far as the eye can see. This perspective allows you to appreciate their grandeur and enormity. Walk along the paths following the falls and then along the catwalk that leads very close to the bottom of Devil’s Throat, the masterpiece of Iguassu Falls. There’s an elevator to bring you back up to the road where your coach is parked. (B)
Morning at leisure. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Rio de Janeiro. Arrival in Rio de Janeiro, transfer to your hotel. Remainder of the day at leisure. (B)
We will leave the hotel and proceed to the Cosme Velho Station to board a cog-train for the ride through Tijuca Forest up Corcovado Mountain at 2,340 feet. The ride iis a wonderful opportunity for a closer look at the forest’s lush tropical vegetation and to enjoy scenic landscapes. Once at the top, an escalator will bring you to the pedestal of the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer for a 360 degree view of the “Marvelous City”, as Rio is known worldwide. Then down we go! Our next stop is at Sugarloaf Mountain at 1,280 feet for additional breathtaking views. We’ll then take a ride along Guanabara Bay to downtown Rio. Home to the financial and business centers as well as the historic center, we’ll visit attractions such as the Candelária Church, Saint Sebastian Cathedral, the Lapa Aqueduct, Municipal Theatre, and the Sambadrome, site of Rio’s famous samba school and the exhibition center for the finale Carnaval. (B)
Transfer to the airport to board your flight back home. (B)