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Day by Day Itinerary

Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

Stretching from the southern end of the Andes Mountains in Argentina and Chile to Cape Horn, the Americas’ southernmost tip, are the storied lands of Patagonia. Carved by centuries of geological movement, the Patagonian wilds harbor more fjords than all of Scandinavia, as well as jutting mountains, steep cliffs, winding waterways, towering volcanoes, and majestic glaciers that combine to form a landscape of rugged beauty. We travel to Chile and Argentina to explore alpine landscapes, to cross the windswept steppes where gauchos roam, to discover the many wonders of Los Glaciares and Torres del Paine national parks, and to experience the timeless culture of the remote island of Chiloé. And we’ll begin and end our wilderness adventure in Argentina’s lively capital, Buenos Aires, where we’ll indulge our senses in all that this compelling and cosmopolitan city has to offer, from its striking blend of classic and modern architecture to the passion of the tango.

Buenos Aires Calafate Expand All
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    Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Argentina.

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    Explore Buenos Aires colorful bohemian district La Boca

    We arrive in the cosmopolitan capital of Argentina this morning, where we'll check in to our hotel and meet travelers who took the optional pre-trip extensions to Chile's Atacama Desert or Santiago & Easter Island, Chile and join our resident expert Trip Leader.

    We’ll slip into the swirl of activity that fills the surrounding streets, joining the flurry of pedestrian traffic, business workers, and fashionistas as we get to know our surroundings during an orientation walk. As we stroll the heart of Buenos Aires, we’ll catch a glimpse of the endless options and activities available to us during our stay: sidewalk cafés ideal for people-watching over cortado (coffee with milk) and medialunas (croissants); nearby markets, mansions, and quiet cobbled streets; and wide boulevards showcasing the city’s elegant mixture of classic and modern architectural styles.

    Tonight, we meet for an informative briefing on our adventure with our Trip Leader before getting our first taste of Argentina’s cuisine during a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant. With influences from French and Italian to Spanish and indigenous fare, there’s no telling what you might order—though Argentina’s succulent grass-fed beef (which is less a local specialty than a national obsession) might be a good place to start.

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    This morning, we discover the rich history of Buenos Aires—an epic tale of birth and rebirth, protests and passions, suffering and triumph set against the placid landscape of the Rio de la Plata—from a local perspective, as we explore it barrio (neighborhood) by barrio during today’s excursion.

    Startling contrasts await us as we experience the bustle of the city’s cultural center. We begin with Plaza de Mayo—site of Argentina’s answer to the White House, the Casa Rosada, and the heart of Buenos Aires’ political life. From there, we wander the wide boulevards of Avenida 9 de Julio, and explore the narrow market-streets of Florida Avenue. Then, we stroll the colorful La Boca artists' district, where the Argentinean tango was born, then visit the resting place of Eva Perón in Recoleta’s extravagant cemetery. Afterward, you’ll have the afternoon free to explore the city on your own.

    This evening, we are initiated into the world of the 19th-century milonga, a dance hall where the tango is practiced by newcomers and perfected into an art form by the milongueros and milongueras, keepers of the tango’s code of subtle gestures and customs. We’ll try a few steps ourselves during an included lesson, and afterwards you can further your appreciation during an optional dinner and tango show at Esquina Carlos Gardel—one of the most prestigious tango houses in Buenos Aires—where the orchestra will strike up a romantic tune and professional dancers will show us how this dramatic dance should be done.

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    Discover the foothills of the Andes in Bariloche

    Today, we trade man-made skyscrapers for a natural skyline as we depart Buenos Aires after breakfast for our flight to Bariloche, during which we can gaze out the windows at the frosted peaks that surround this lakeside city nestled in the foothills of the Andes. Set along the banks of the 40-mile-long Lake Nahuel Huapi, San Carlos de Bariloche—as the city is more formally known—is the gateway to Patagonia’s Lake District, and has a distinctly alpine flavor indicative of its strong Central European influence. This is most apparent in the wood and stone architecture of the city center, which—along with its status as an international skiing destination—helps give Bariloche the nickname “Little Switzerland.”

    We'll take an orientation walk in the vicinity of our hotel to start getting acquainted with Bariloche. This evening, enjoy dinner on your own at one of the city's many restaurants.

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    This morning we explore Bariloche, starting with a guided tour of the city before venturing out into the surrounding countryside. At Campanario Hill, we'll enjoy a chairlift ride up this picturesque peak, climbing high above the tree line for a panoramic view of Patagonia's striking scenery. We'll take in the beautiful collage of deep green foliage and snowcapped mountains mirrored in the region’s azure lakes. We'll continue to Brazo Tristeza, an arm of Lake Nahuel Huapi, where we'll hike amid lake and forest scenery.

    Discover Patagonia by horseback on a tour of Argentina

    Later, we'll witness how Bariloche’s land and culture come together when we see how locally grown ingredients are used to brew beer at a family-owned craft brewery. Considering the strong German influence in Bariloche, it's no surprise that locals are experts at transforming their region’s fresh hops, barley, and pristine water into a variety of beers and ales using artisanal methods passed down from generation to generation. We'll have lunch at the brewery. In the afternoon, we'll walk around the city center while discussing a controversial aspect of this area's history as a place where some German Nazis fled after World War II. Dinner is on your own this evening.

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    Discover Patagonia by horseback on a tour of Argentina

    This morning, we'll experience an older side of Patagonia during a discussion with a member of the Mapuche, an indigenous, agricultural people native to southern Chile and Argentina. We'll learn about their struggle for survival and their current relationship with the government. Then you can join our optional excursion to the Limay River, where we'll enjoy a float trip by raft along this gentle river for a close look at the landscapes of the northern Patagonian steppe. A popular site for fly-fishing, this river is home to an abundance of large rainbow and brown trout. Or spend the morning at leisure in Bariloche.

    In the afternoon, we'll visit a local family in their home on the Patagonian steppe, where they live on land they have owned for generations. We'll learn about their way of life, and mount up for a horseback ride that lets us experience this traditional local mode of transportation. This evening we'll savor a lamb barbecue dinner.

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    Explore Vicente Perez Rosales National Park

    After breakfast today, we’ll bid farewell to Bariloche, board our motorcoach, and travel to Chile. We’ll stop for lunch en route. We’ll arrive at our hotel in Puerto Varas in the late afternoon and take a short orientation walk. This evening, dinner is on your own.

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    Explore Petrohu Falls within Vicente Perez Rosales National Park

    This morning, we head towards the Osorno Volcano, whose snowcapped cone towers over Lake Llanquihue, and enjoy a hike in its vicinity. Then we continue to Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park and have lunch with a local fisherman and his family who live inside the park. After lunch, we witness the Petrohue Waterfalls—where clear turquoise chutes of water flow over ancient lava from the Osorno Volcano that has been polished by silt over the centuries into a bed of smooth stone. The Mapuche Indians call this area the meeting ground between man and God, and with its mirror-like lakes, cascading falls, and volcanic mountains, it’s certainly one of the loveliest regions of Chile. We return to Puerto Varas, where you'll have some free time to explore the town and get dinner on your own.

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    Discover local Chilean culture in Quel Quel

    After breakfast this morning, we'll continue our travel in Chile with a visit to a local school (when in session). We’ll meet some young students and get a look at what a small, rural school is like in this part of Chile. Then we’ll be the guests of a local family in the community of Pargua, where they will prepare a traditional meal called a curanto for us. Curanto is a stew consisting of typical local fare—shellfish, meat, potatoes, and vegetables—cooked in a hole in the ground lined with rocks. As the meal is cooking, we'll help prepare a few popular local snacks, like milcaos (fried potato pancakes). Then we’ll sit down to lunch with our hosts, enjoying the flavor of these local specialties. In the afternoon, we’ll take a 20-minute ferry ride to the island of Chiloé, where we’ll transfer to our hotel and have dinner.

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    Explore Puerto Varas on a walking tour

    This morning, we’ll visit villages on the coast of Chiloé Island, including Quinchao Island, Curaco de Velez, and Achao. In Achao, we’ll see one of the 16 historic wooden churches of Chiloé that are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begun by Jesuit missionaries in the 17th century, these churches represent the blending of Spanish Catholicism with indigenous culture, with some details of their construction showing that they were built by carpenters who had learned their trade building boats. You’ll have time for lunch on your own, after which we return to our hotel.

    Later, we’ll ride to the quaint fishing town of Puñihuil. Weather permitting, we'll board small boats and sail out to observe the residents of a local wildlife sanctuary that is home to both the Humboldt and Magellanic penguin (from approximately October to March), as well as sea otters, sea lions, seals and a variety of marine birds. Afterwards, we’ll have dinner in Puñihuil, and then return to our hotel.

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    Explore Punta Arenas on a walking tour

    Today we rise early and take a ferry back to the mainland. Then we fly to Punta Arenas, a bustling port overlooking the Strait of Magellan. Founded in 1848 as a military penal colony, Punta Arenas leapt to international prominence in the late 19th century because of its sheep and wool industry and the discovery of gold nearby. On our way into town, we'll stop at the Nao Victoria Museum, which has a replica of one of Ferdinand Magellan's ships complete with original furniture and hardware. After lunch your own in Punta Arenas, we'll take a walking tour, see mansions built during the city's boom time, and take in panoramic views. We'll also visit Plaza Munoz Gamero—the main square at the heart of town. You'll also have some free time this afternoon.

    Dinner tonight is on your own. Locals recommend seeking the seasonal centolla (king crab) and erizos (sea urchins).

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    Today, we travel overland to Torres del Paine, widely considered to be South America’s finest national park—and one of the most remote and beautiful places in the world. We’ll spend two nights here, giving us time to hike winding trails over rippling currents; witness the ostrich-like rhea (known locally as nandu), condor, fox, and other wildlife protected by this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site; and take in the stunning landscapes of snowcapped mountains rising dramatically over mirror-smooth lakes and flowering fields.

    We’ll stop for a boxed lunch at a scenic viewpoint en route to Torres del Paine, and check into our hotel in the early afternoon. Then we'll hike to Salto Grande, a rushing waterfall set between Lago Nordenskjold and Lago Pehoe. We’ll witness the awesome power of the falls, and have a chance to spot some of the indigenous wildlife—like the guanaco, a cousin of the camel—that comes here to feed on the verdant foliage along the riverbank, before returning to our hotel for dinner.

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    Explore Lago Grey on a guided cruise

    This morning we’ll explore Lago Grey, which is one of the park’s largest and most famous lakes, boarding a small boat for a closer view of the enormous icebergs—calved from Glacier Grey—that float on the lake’s surface. Weather permitting, we’ll navigate around the icebergs and chart a course for Glacier Grey itself, where we’ll enjoy magnificent views of its jagged blue-white walls rising to the sky.

    We then go for a trek along the shores of Lago Grey, where gigantic blue icebergs rest against sandy beaches while Glacier Grey stretches into the distance through the towering peaks of the surrounding mountains, before returning to our hotel for dinner.

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    After breakfast, we depart Torres del Paine National Park and cross the Andes once again as we transfer by coach to Calafate, a town in Argentina that serves as the gateway to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. For 65 million years, the land here evolved from chaotic volcanic eruption and massive glaciers, creating a jagged landscape of interconnected fjords, channels, and mountainside glacial lakes. We’ll view the scenery and wildlife of the Patagonian steppe during our drive and make a stop for lunch en route.

    This evening we arrive at our hotel in Calafate, where we'll take a short orientation walk upon arrival. The town takes its name from the calafate bush—locals say eating its berries will ensure your return to this mystical region. Dinner is on your own this evening.

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    Discover Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park

    Today, we embark upon a full-day excursion to Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Los Glaciares is the second-largest national park in Argentina, and comprises more than 1,700 square miles and nearly 50 large glaciers. These glaciers are fed by a giant ice cap (the largest continental ice extension after Antarctica) that begins in the Andes and occupies well over a third of the park’s total area.

    During our explorations, we’ll discover the wondrous Perito Moreno Glacier, a pristine marvel towering nearly 200 feet above Lake Argentino. It is named after Francisco Moreno, a 19th-century Argentinean explorer who helped resolve his country’s border dispute with neighboring Chile. The constant, cyclical movement of Perito Moreno’s ice mass often forces the glacier to “calve”—an iceberg “birthing” process in which smaller chunks of ice fracture and break off from the glacier to thunderous accompaniment. This spectacle can occur at any time, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we’ll be lucky enough to witness an iceberg calve as we enjoy a boxed lunch in front of Perito Moreno.

    However, ice isn’t the only thing we’ll see today. Just east of the ice fields are areas of southern beech forest and windswept steppe. As we journey overland to and from Perito Moreno, we’ll pass through scenic forests filled with lively birds. We return to our hotel in Calafate late this afternoon. Dinner tonight is on your own.

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    We depart Calafate for the airport after breakfast today, boarding our flight north to rejoin the porteños in Buenos Aires. Once there, we’ll check into our hotel and have the day at leisure to absorb more of the culture, architecture, and character of this memorable port city before gathering for a night of reminiscing with fellow travelers over a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.

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    After breakfast, we spend this morning touring the area where the Parana River empties into the Rio de la Plata on its way into the Atlantic, forming a huge delta. This exotic landscape is just half an hour from the city but seems a million miles away. Traditional houses on stilts (pilotes) are surrounded by lush subtropical vegetation and built on islands that are separated by a twisting maze of waterways. Enjoy a relaxing boat ride in this scenic area, which is one of Latin America’s unique environments. We'll have an included lunch after this tour. In the afternoon, we transfer to the airport for our flight home. If you are taking the Iguassu Falls Jungle Expedition post-trip extension, you have the rest of the day at leisure and remain in Buenos Aires tonight.

Extensions

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Ratings based on percentage of travelers who rated these features "Excellent".

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Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below.  Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.

What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect

Pacing

  • 8 locations in 16 days with two 1-night stays
  • Several long overland drives, including one 6-hour transfer and two transfers of up to 12 hours crossing the borders between Argentina and Chile

Physical requirements

  • Not appropriate for travelers using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids
  • You must be able to walk 3 miles unassisted and participate in 6-8 hours of physical activities each day

Climate

  • Daytime temperatures average between 50-60°F year-round and rain or high winds are possible at any time in the Andes and Patagonia

Terrain

  • Travel over city streets, bumpy roads, and rugged paths; and walk and hike through backwoods on 6 treks of around 2 hours each
  • Agility and balance are required for horseback rides, boarding small boats, and hiking on uneven terrain in high winds

Transportation

  • Travel by minibus (no toilet on board), ferry, horse, chairlift, and 10-passenger small boat
  • Three 6- to 12-hour drives, and 3 internal flights of 2-5 hours each

Accommodations & Facilities

  • All accommodations are hotel-standard and feature private baths

Travel Documents

Passport

Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary:

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.

Visas

U.S. citizens will need a visa (or visas) for this trip. In addition, there may be other entry requirements that also need to be met. For your convenience, we’ve included a quick reference list, organized by country:

  • Argentina: No visa required. Note: Argentina charges an advance reciprocity (entry) fee.
  • Chile (main trip/optional Easter Island extension): No visa required.
  • Brazil (optional Iguassu Falls extension): Visa required. (Necessary to visit the Brazilian side of the falls.)

Travelers who are booked on this adventure will be sent a complete Visa Packet— with instructions, applications, and a list of visa fees—approximately 100 days prior to their departure. (Because many countries limit the validity of their visa from the date it is issued, or have a specific time window for when you can apply, we do not recommend applying too early.)

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then your entry requirements may be different. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your adventure, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Trip Leaders and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Insider Tips

Accommodations

Main Trip

  • Argenta Tower Hotel

    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Constructed in 1998, the modern Argenta Tower Hotel is located just a few blocks from both the heart of Buenos Aires and the shores of the Rio de la Plata. Each of its 97 air-conditioned rooms include Internet access, cable TV, telephone, personal safe, minibar, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath with hair dryer. The hotel also boasts a rooftop swimming pool, spa, fitness center, and an on-site restaurant.

  • Villa Huinid Hotel

    Bariloche, Argentina

    Set on the edge of Lake Nahuel Huapi in Argentina's Lake District, the Villa Huinid Hotel was designed in the European alpine style that echoes throughout Bariloche. Each of the hotel’s 70 rooms features a lake or forest view, as well as a flat-screen TV, minibar, personal safe, and private bath. After hiking in Patagonia, return to relax in the spa and swimming pool here.

  • Solace Hotel

    Puerto Varas, Chile

    The Solace Hotel offers vistas of Puerto Varas, Lake Llanquihue, and nearby volcanoes, and is located just two blocks from the city center. Its 62 rooms feature cable TV, telephone, Internet access, and private bath. Enjoy contemporary cuisine with local flavor in the hotel's on-site restaurant.

  • Hosteria Ancud

    Chiloé, Chile

    Located on the beautifully rugged island of Chiloé, Hosteria Ancud is constructed of locally grown materials and offers a large wooden deck to view the sunset over Ancud Gulf. Its 24 rooms include TVs and private baths. During your stay, enjoy a comfortable bar and lounge, as well as local cuisine in the restaurant.

  • Cabo de Hornos Hotel

    Punta Arenas, Chile

    The Cabo de Hornos Hotel is located in the center of Punta Arenas, a short walk from the shore of the Strait of Magellan. Each of its 112 rooms include cable TV, telephone, Internet access, and private bath. The hotel features a bar, sauna, and on-site restaurant.

  • Hotel Lago Grey

    Torres del Paine, Chile

    The Hotel Lago Grey is a 60-room Patagonian lodge on the western side of Torres del Paine National Park with views of the Grey Glacier. Each room features a private bath, direct-dial telephone, and safe.

  • Kau Yatun Hotel

    Calafate, Argentina

    Converted from a traditional Patagonian estancia (ranch), the Kau Yatun Hotel is set amidst several acres of parkland just six blocks from the center of Calafate, and surrounded by well-kept gardens and stands of aspen, pine, and willow trees. This hotel features a bar, a restaurant serving local and organic cuisine, laundry service, and wireless Internet access. Each of its 44 rooms includes a telephone, TV, hair dryer, safe, and private bath.

Extensions

  • Taha Tai Hotel

    Easter Island, Chile

    Located in the southwest section of Easter Island—just five minutes from the town center of Hanga Roa—the modern seaside Taha Tai Hotel is an ideal starting point for your exploration of the island’s many natural and man-made wonders. Each of its 40 rooms offers air-conditioning, telephone, and Internet access. Enjoy breathtaking natural scenery, as well as the convenience of an on-site swimming pool, bar, and restaurant.

  • La Casa de Don Tomas

    San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

    Though it is located just a short walk from San Pedro’s main street, the 38-room La Casa de Don Tomas is a secluded oasis in the Atacama Desert. Amenities include an outdoor swimming pool and coffee bar.Laundry service is available. Each room has a private bath and a terrace with views of the desert and the Licancabur Volcano.

  • Argenta Tower Hotel

    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Constructed in 1998, the modern Argenta Tower Hotel is located just a few blocks from both the heart of Buenos Aires and the shores of the Rio de la Plata. Each of its 97 air-conditioned rooms include Internet access, cable TV, telephone, personal safe, minibar, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath with hair dryer. The hotel also boasts a rooftop swimming pool, spa, fitness center, and an on-site restaurant.

  • Yacutinga Lodge

    Yacutinga, Argentina

    The only accommodations in the Iguassu jungle, Yacutinga Lodge is a rustic yet comfortable retreat tucked into lush surroundings. A main building sits amidst individual cabins with four rooms, and each room features a wood stove, rain forest views, private bathroom, and 24-hour hot water service. However—in keeping with the lodge's remote location and eco-friendly ethos—these rooms do not include telephone, TV, or air-conditioning. While here, enjoy the convenience of an on-site swimming pool, a bar and lounge with a fireplace, and an on-site restaurant.

  • Amerian Portal del Iguassu

    Puerto Iguassu, Argentina

    This modern-style hotel sits amid the lush vegetation of the Iguassu Falls area, and boasts a spectacular view of the junction of the Parana and Iguazu rivers. Take a dip in either an indoor or outdoor pool, relax in the hot tub, or enjoy a cocktail at either of the hotel's two bars and restaurants that offer both local specialties and international cuisine. Each of the 102 rooms is comfortably furnished and features a private bath.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

You can choose to stay longer before or after your trip on your own, or combine two adventures to maximize your value. Here are more ways to create the OAT adventure that’s right for you:

  • Extend your adventure and lower your per day cost with our optional pre- and post-trip extensions
  • Choose our standard air routing, or work with us to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline, applying frequent flyer miles if available
  • International airport transfers to and from your hotel, including meet and greet service, are available for purchase
  • Stay overnight in a connecting city before or after your trip
  • Request to arrive a few days early to get a fresh start on your adventure
  • Choose to “break away” before or after your trip, spending additional days or weeks on your own
  • Combine your choice of OAT adventures to maximize your value
  • Upgrade to business or premium economy class
  • Extend your Land Tour-only Travel Protection Plan coverage and protect the air arrangements you make on your own—including your frequent traveler miles

The air options listed above may involve additional airfare costs based on your specific choices.

Or, when you make your reservation, you can choose our standard air routing, for which approximate travel times are shown below.

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $3295
w/ standard air $4395

Solo Traveler Stories

Why Travel Solo on Chile & Argentina

We're proud to offer the best value for solo travelers in the industry, guaranteed, with FREE Single Supplements on your base trip and all extensions. Travel with the leader in solo-friendly travel on Chile & Argentina: The Andes to Patagoniaand save up to $1505 per person versus other travel companies.

Our small group size and expert, resident Trip Leaders help solo travelers make personal connections and ensure peace of mind. Here are some thoughts from solo travelers about why this adventure was right for them.

"OAT did a wonderful planning job for this itinerary, including so many places to see and a great variety of activities. Our guide, Raffaele, brought life to those plans. We never seem to run out of included discoveries, and if you did find free time, there was always much more to discover on your own … I just want to thank OAT for making this trip a real adventure, and beyond that, an affordable trip for singles. I want to thank Raffaele for his personal contact and attention not just to me, but to the entire group. This was a great trip to what is still an almost unspoiled part of the world, one not to be missed. "

Richard Singer, 41-time traveler, Studio City, California

"What an incredible water-themed trip. We started with the South Pacific Ocean pounding Easter Island on all sides, including right outside my window. We progressed to Buenos Aries, not much water there, but found plenty in Bariloche and Chiloe in the form of lakes, and onward to the National Parks where the water was frozen, i.e. glaciers. These glaciers performed perfectly for us, calving exactly as we neared them. Then back to Buenos Aires … then on to the incredible water falls of Iguassu … There is so much more I could say about this trip, including our great trip leader Sebastian. He bought the experience to life with his enthusiasm and knowledge."

Jean Holroyde, 3-time traveler, Ipswich, Massachusetts

"What made this trip so delightful was the excellent guiding by well-experienced OAT guide Christian Vera. [His] personality and professional and polished delivery of the itinerary made every day enjoyable as well as adventuresome … The Andes to Patagonia trip is an excellent experience, and the addition of the Easter Island pre-trip and the Iguassu post-trip make it a once-in-a-lifetime adventure."

Esther Perica, 10-time traveler, Arlington Heights, Illinois

"I have been on all the seven continents, and this tour is now one of my favorites. The scenery is stunningly beautiful. The snow covered Andes are majestic. The wild flowers were a show of wondrous color, a feast to the eyes. The magnificent glaciers and lakes with the most beautiful colors of blue, green—what a joy! … Santiago Giorgi, our [Trip Leader], did everything in his power to make the tour memorable. He succeeded. Thanks, Santi!

My advice: Do not hesitate—go. You will not be sorry."

Daissy Owen, 10-time traveler, Iowa City, Iowa

Photos From Our Travelers

On location in South America

Here’s how OAT travelers have captured moments of discovery, beauty, friendship, and fun on previous departures of our Chile & Argentina: The Andes to Patagonia adventure. We hope these will evoke special travel memories and inspire you to submit your own favorite OAT trip photos.

  The mountains of Torres del Paine National Park  

The mountains of Torres del Paine National Park form a dramatic backdrop for local guide Sergio and OAT Trip Leader Raffaele Di Biase in this photo taken by Linda Tanner, 4-time traveler from Bonita Springs, Florida.

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How to submit your photos:

Please submit individual photos in jpeg format to: OATtravelerphotos@oattravel.com.

Please be sure to include the name of your OAT adventure, along with the travel dates. Tell us where you took the photo and, if you’d like, tell us why. And don’t forget to include your name and contact information.

Please note: By submitting a photo, you (i) represent and warrant that the photo is your original work created solely by yourself and does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any party; (ii) grant to Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable right and license to use, in any and all related media whether now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, anywhere in the world, with the right to make any and all commercial or other uses thereof, including without limitation, reproducing, editing, modifying, adapting, publishing, displaying publicly, creating derivative works from, incorporating into other works or modifying the photo and (iii) hereby release and discharge Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates, officers and employees from and against any and all claims, liabilities, costs, damages and expenses of any kind arising out of or relating to the use by Grand Circle LLC of any photo submitted.

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Total donated: $70,982

Supporting a World Classroom: Chile

By seeing how children are educated all over the world, we gain a rare understanding of different cultural values—as well as the common values that unite us all. That's why, providing that school is in session, your itinerary includes a visit to the local school featured below, which is supported by Grand Circle Foundation.

"I especially enjoyed the visit to the school. Children showed us around and danced for us."

Catharine Kerwin
Watertown, Wisconsin

Sol del Pacifico School

Partner since: 2011 • Total donated: $33,443

Sol del Pacifico School

The Sol del Pacifico School serves to educate a group of 19 children—ages 6-12—who live in a rural community on Chile’s Pacific Coast. The school is free to attend, and receives some support from the Chilean government. Grand Circle Foundation began partnering with this school in 2011, and has been supporting some much-needed improvements in the school building. All the floors were in poor condition, and with a combination of local and Foundation funds, the replacement of the floors in both classrooms, the teachers’ room, dining room, and kitchen is being completed. The bathrooms and heating system are also being repaired. As a result, these Chilean students have a much-improved building in which to pursue their education.

School in session:

March through December, though we still meet with students during January and February

Gifts to bring if you're visiting:

  • Pens and Pencils
  • Copy books (blank books for writing)
  • Educational games for 6-to-12 year olds
Alan and Harriet Lewis founded Grand Circle Foundation in 1992 as a means of giving back to the world we travel. Because they donate an annually determined amount of revenue from our trips, we consider each one of our travelers as a partner in the Foundation’s work around the world. To date, the Foundation has pledged or donated more than $97 million in support of 300 different organizations—including 60 villages and nearly 100 schools that lie in the paths of our journeys.

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Save 10% when you reserve by 10/31/14

It’s simple with our Good Buy Plan: The earlier you reserve and pay in full by check or electronic funds transfer, the more you’ll save on your 2015 departure of Chile & Argentina: Andes to Patagonia—a value of up to $719 per person.

This example demonstrates how you can save, based on a 10/10/15 departure:

  ORIGINAL PRICE
per person
SAVE 10%
when you reserve
by 10/31/14
SAVE 6%
when you reserve
by 12/10/14
Land Tour only price: $4295 $3866 $4037
Add a Iguassu Falls extension: $1795 $1616 $1687
Add international airfare out of Miami: $1100 $990 $1034
Total price per person $7190 $6471 $6759

Use our Dates & Prices feature to begin planning your trip, determine your savings with our Good Buy Plan calculator, and Request A Call to speak with our expert Travel Counselors.

Private Departures—New for 2015

How do you arrange a Private Adventure?

It’s simple: You choose the people you travel with. You choose the departure date. You choose the size of your group. OAT does the rest.

Your lifelong memories are only a phone call away: Call us toll-free at
1-800-955-1925

Group Size Additional Cost
4-6 $2500 per person
7-9 $1200 per person

Now you can reserve a Private Departure of Chile & Argentina: Andes to Patagonia for your exclusive group of as few as 4 travelers. Enjoy a truly special adventure—starting from only $1200 per person.

The benefits of your Private Adventure …

  • Travel in an exclusive group of friends or family members
  • Work with your Trip Leader to create unique experiences and special memories
  • Tailor the pacing of activities—spending more time doing what interests your group most at the speed that fits your comfort level
  • Enjoy the security of knowing we have regional offices nearby

This program is available on new reservations in 2015 only, and cannot be combined with any offers, including our Vacation Ambassador Referral program. The additional cost of a Private Departure is per person, on top of the departure price and varies by trip. Private Departures do not include any changes or additions to our standard itineraries. Age restrictions may apply to some itineraries and must be at least 13 years old to travel with Overseas Adventure Travel. Ask your Group Sales Team for details. Additional taxes and fees will apply. Standard Terms & Conditions apply. Every effort has been made to present this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors.

The Andean Llama

One of South America’s best-known animals

by Leigh Kemp, naturalist

A llama’s status in the herd is never static. They can always move up or down the social ladder ...

Mention wildlife of the Andes, and without a doubt, the most recognized animal is the llama. Although domesticated, the llama is one of the more fascinating animals in the world.

One of my most prized possessions is a first edition of E.D. Whymper’s classic Travels Amongst the Great Andes of the Equator, written in the late 1800s, describing his travels in the majestic South American range. A story he relates about his travel companion’s brush with a llama bears testimony to the creature’s special talent: “We came upon a tame llama browsing by the side of the lane. It was the first my companion had seen and he approached the animal to stroke its nose; but alas when he was within a couple of yards, the gentle creature reared its pretty head and spat in his face. Carrel was greatly offended.” And who wouldn’t be?

Llamas that have been brought up badly by humans are prone to behaving badly towards other humans as they grow older—and hence the spitting.

But it’s not just grumpiness that prompts the frothy outbursts, it’s about preserving the social order. Spitting is used to discipline lower ranking members of a herd, and in fights to settle dominance between males. It happens often enough because a llama’s status in the herd is never static. They can always move up or down the social ladder by picking small fights.

Spitting happens most often among males. Females usually only spit as a means of controlling other herd members, or as a way of signaling to a would-be male suitor that she is already pregnant. There’s a gentler side to llama interactions, too: they do take care of each other, and will often hum to each other, as happens frequently between mother and offspring.

The llama’s cousins: alpacas, guanacos, and vicuñas

Speaking of offspring, a day came when my two-and-a-half-year-old son asked me, “Daddy, what are alpacas?” The question was asked while watching one of his favorite television programs here in South Africa, where I live—a show called Nuzzle and Scratch, about two alpacas getting up to all sorts of mischief in the city. ‘They are like llamas,’ I answered, absent-mindedly. “Daddy, what are llamas?”

Add guanacos and vicuñas into the mix, and you have a question suitable for a mastermind contest. Once thought to be related to sheep, the four species, together with the two species of true camels, make up the Camelidae family. Llamas and guanacos make up the genus Lama, and alpacas and vicuñas are of the genus Vicugna. Llamas and alpacas are domesticated animals raised on farms and ranches in much of South America, with llamas used as beasts of burden and alpacas bred for their fleece. Guanacos and vicuñnas are species of the wild, with guanacos roaming the landscapes of Patagonia—in places like Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park—and vicuñas found high in the central Andes.

You might think the four species are spitting images of each other, but the four differ in size with the llama being the largest and tallest at approximately 6 feet and the vicuña, at about four feet, the smallest.

And yes, all four species spit when threatened.