Experience the rugged beauty of Patagonia between two vibrant cities - Buenos Aires and Santiago on this escorted tour. Learn to tango, sip world-class wine, and mingle with the locals. Venture into the vast outdoors of glaciers, bright blue icebergs, soaring mountains fringed by huge lakes, windswept golden pampas plains, and rare wildlife…the beauty of Patagonia never fails to astound.
Day 1 - Arrive Buenos Aires, Argentina
Arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the “Paris of South America,” and transfer to our hotel with our English-speaking local guide. Those of us arriving from the East Coast of the United States will experience just one hour of jet lag! After checking in, you have the remainder of the day to explore this thriving city filled with many places to see and things to do. For a night out head to La Boca, one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods that is a vibrant hub of boutiques, and restaurants. For art lovers, visit the National Museum of Bella Artes (Fine Arts) which has the largest public art collection in South America including works by Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Argentine masters, Pueyrredón, Sívori, Della Valle, de la Cárcova and Cándido López. For a birds-eye view of the city, take a tour of Palacio Barolo, whose design was inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, then enjoy a ride in an elaborate 1920s elevator to the rooftop lighthouse. For shoppers, there is Avenida Florida, a pedestrianized zone brimming with things to buy.
Day 2 - Buenos Aires
After breakfast, we discover the highlights of Buenos Aires with our local expert guide. We will experience firsthand, the charm of Argentina’s capital, from the chic districts of Recoleta and Palermo to the historic Plaza de Mayo, as well as many architectural icons that capture the city’s Belle Epoque era such as the Colon Opera House, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Palace of Congress. Our tour concludes in San Telmo, Argentina’s oldest neighborhood which was home to the city’s aristocracy until the late 19th century. There are cafes, wine bars, colonial buildings, and shops tucked into every nook and cranny of San Telmo’s streets, especially around Plaza Dorrego. Close by, in the neighborhood of La Boca, take time to explore Caminito Street, which was turned into a work of art by the famous Argentine painter Benito Quinquela Martin. Another option is the thriving restaurant scene at the Puerto Madero waterfront area known for its refurbished red brick buildings, modern skyscrapers, and upscale steakhouses. Lunch and the return to our hotel are on your own and the rest of the day is at your leisure.
This evening it is time to Tango! Buenos Aires is the capital of the tango made famous by Carlos Gardel, an Argentine singer and actor celebrated throughout Latin America for his backing of tango music. Tonight we will experience an unforgettable night at the most acclaimed tango show in Buenos Aires at the Aljibe Tango Theater. This exciting show takes place in a historic tango theater in the heart of the San Telmo neighborhood. In addition to the music and dancers, we will enjoy a traditional three-course dinner.
*Kindly note that the return after the lunch is not included.
Day 3 - Buenos Aires - El Calafate
After breakfast, we say goodbye to Buenos Aires and transfer to the domestic airport for the flight to Patagonia. Upon arrival, we will transfer to our hotel in El Calafate. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore this city at the “bottom of the world.” It is fun to wander through this small town along the main road, Avenida del Libertador, which is lined with restaurants, bars, and shops. If you want to buy a souvenir, try the local grilled lamb or the sweet Calafate jam made from the berries of the local Calafate shrub after which this city was named, this is the place to go. To learn more about glaciers, go to the Glaciarium Museum for an engaging introduction to the fascinating world of ice from a variety of perspectives and interactive experiences. For bird lovers, you might want to take a 20-minute walk from the center of town to Reserva Laguna Nimes, a bird lovers’ paradise.
This evening we get together at an Asado for dinner.
Day 4 - El Calafate
After breakfast, we will embark on an incredible excursion to Perito Moreno Glacier, one of Argentina’s most iconic attractions that stretches over three miles across Lago Argentino and rises more than 200 feet out of its frigid waters. At 19 miles long, it is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and one that is not retreating. Most glaciers in the world are retreating, this is one of the few that is actually advancing, growing at an average of seven feet a day!
The first natural attraction that we will see as we head into the Patagonian Andean Forest is the “Curva de los Suspiros” (Curve of Sighs), aptly named for our first sighting of this magnificent natural wonder, the Perito Moreno Glacier.
Our final destination is the Perito Moreno Glacier Park which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. It is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world with an array of walkways that offer a multitude of panoramic views and endless photo ops. As one of the fastest moving glaciers that creeks and crackles, once in a while, a huge block of ice calves from its face and falls with a thunderous splash into the water below. A highlight of our tour today is a nautical safari that brings us nose to nose with this wonder of nature and its calving ice blocks. Our on-the-water adventure will bring us within 1,000 feet of this monstrous and ancient glacier. After our boating safari, we return to our hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Day 5 - El Calafate
Today is a free day to discover and explore this area on your own or take one of two additional tours.
Optional DISTINCT Tour # 1 - Into the Wild
This excursion features a 4X4 Off-Road Adventure to Mount Frias (minimum 2 passengers)
Mount Frias is part of the larger Estancia Alice, a private estate that TOD has access to as does our local tour guide that is registered with this magnificent mountain. Our exclusive 4x4 tour will stop at several viewpoints. On this tour, you will see unique views of Argentino Lake and the Andes Mountains - to the south, you will see Torres del Paine, Chile’s National Park, to the west, you will see Magallanes and Avellaneda peninsulas, and to the North, Fitz Roy Mount. Our entrance, Estancia Alice offers a great opportunity for viewing wildlife and seeing regional flora and fauna in the wild.
Optional DISTINCT Tour # 2 - Glorious Glaciers
This excursion features an unforgettable cruise of this area’s glaciers (minimum 2 passengers)
From the Port of Punta Bandera, located 47 km from El Calafate, we start sailing through the North Arm of Lake Argentino. Soon our vessel cruises into a natural funnel-shaped area known locally as the Devil’s Mouth that brings us to the Upsala Canal. There we will navigate around large icebergs that break off from the Upsala Glacier. Upon entering the Spegazzini Canal we will enjoy up close views of the Spegazzini Glacier as well as views of the Heim Sur and Peineta glaciers. For an inland view, we will disembark our vessel and walk along an easy forest path with incredible views and stations to the recently opened Spegazzini Refuge. Shops, lunch, and more trails with a myriad of viewpoints can be explored before we head back to our hotel.
Day 6 - El Calafate - Puerto Natales, Chile
After breakfast this morning we will say goodbye to Argentina as we transfer by motor-coach to Puerto Natales, Chile, known as the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park, a place where outdoor beauty and adventure reign supreme. This small town is located on the Señoret Channel along a scenic fjord and is set against the dramatic backdrop of the southernmost peaks of the Andes.
Day 7 - Puerto Natales - Torres del Paine National Park
Puerto Natales is a gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. After breakfast, we make our way to Torres del Paine National Park, known worldwide for its cinematic untamed scenery and wildlife for a full-day tour. It is heaven on earth for nature lovers whether you like wildlife, landscapes, natural beauty or just seeing some of the most beautiful and unspoiled terrains on the planet… this experience is unforgettable. Spanning 448,284 acres, this park was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978. Its name references the Cordillera del Paine mountain range within the park. Some of today’s tour highlights include visits to Silla del Diablo, Milodon Cave, Laguna Sofia, Cordillera Prat, Lake Porteño, Lake and Sierra del Toro, Sierra Ballena, Cuernos del Paine, Lake Gray, Paine River, Salto Grande, Nordenskjold Lake Viewpoint, Sarmiento Lake, Amarga Lagoon, and Paine Waterfall. We will have a leisurely lunch amid the majestic lakes and mountains in Torres del Paine before returning to our hotel in Puerto Natales.
Day 8 - Puerto Natales
After breakfast, today’s adventure begins with our exploration of Patagonia’s fjord system and the wildlife and unique flora and fauna that make this area their home. After lunch, our excursion continues with a visit to two of Chile’s most impressive glaciers, the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers. This excursion will give you up-close views of these magnificent natural wonders with the chance of seeing the spectacle of an iceberg detaching into the water. A highlight of this tour is to end the trip with a whisky tasting made from millennial ice!
Optional DISTINCT Tour Excursions - Life of a Gaucho on a Patagonian Ranch
Tour Excursions Estancia Tour (minimum 2 passengers)
If you have seen enough glaciers and want a cultural experience you may want to take our optional full-day Estancia Tour where you will learn about life on a Patagonian ranch. This trip also includes navigating the fjords, and delicious food. For dog lovers, a highlight of the trip is to meet the sheepdogs that live on the ranch and watch the way they help the farmers with livestock. Learn about the region’s holistic livestock management approach and watch sheep shearing and how the process and classification of wool are categorized.
Day 9 - Puerto Natales - Santiago
This morning we say goodbye to Puerto Natales as we head to Santiago Chile. After breakfast, we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Santiago, the capital of Chile nestled in a beautiful valley surrounded by the Andean Mountains. Upon our arrival in Santiago, we head to our hotel and check in. The rest of the day is at leisure before we get together for dinner. For shoppers, the best place to find authentic handicrafts is at the traditional Cerro Santa Lucis handcraft market. Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, this market is a colorful and fascinating place to visit. One product you should keep an eye out for is Lapislazuli, a semi-precious stone that is only found in Chile and Afghanistan.
Day 10 - Santiago
After breakfast, our local expert will take us on a city tour to discover the charms of this thriving capital city. The Spanish colonial architecture of Santiago gives character and charm to this cosmopolitan city. It is upbeat and friendly and the perfect mixture of old and new. It is easy to wander the streets where there are original art galleries, and interesting boutiques, as well as restaurants, bars, and coffee shops around every corner. This tour will take us to the heart of the city and includes iconic sites such as Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral, Santiago’s Central Postal Office, and its Municipal District. We will also visit the Moneda Palace, which is the government’s headquarters as well as the traditional neighborhoods of the historic city center. A highlight of this tour includes a visit to Santa Lucia Hill, where we will have some of the best views of the city. Our tour continues to the historic neighborhood of Barrio Lastarria, which offers a wealth of charming stores, wine boutiques, and some of the city’s best restaurants that are set amid meandering cobblestone streets. The final leg of our city tour takes us to the financial heart of Santiago, teaming with modern buildings, impressive glass skyscrapers, and impressive sculptures designed by prominent national architects.
Optional DISTINCT Tour Excursions - Visit the Garden City
Vina del Mar & Valparaiso (minimum 2 passengers)
Our first stop on this tour is to Viña del Mar known as the “Garden City,” because of its lush gardens and fresh sea breeze from the Pacific Ocean. Initially a fishing village, today, it boasts beautiful white sand beaches, modern architecture, and many shopping centers. restaurants, and bars. One of the most famous photo ops here is the Flower Clock as well as its impressive palaces. You will have the chance to have lunch on your own in this seaside city where you can order up some of the freshest and most delicious seafood that you will ever have.
After lunch, we will travel along the scenic Pacific Ocean seafront to our next destination, Valparaiso. This city is one of the gems of the Pacific Ocean. The port city of Valparaiso rises from the harbor like a giant amphitheater with colorful houses clinging to the steep hillsides encased by meandering cobblestone streets. Valparaiso has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage because of the uniqueness of its location. We will visit the neighborhood of Cerro Alegre, which has picturesque funiculars transporting people to the top of steep hills, colorful houses, and unforgettable sea views that are picture-perfect. No tour of the city would be complete without seeing Sotomayor Square and the Monument of the Heroes of Iquique. In the port area, there will be an additional tour option to take a boat cruise around Valparaíso’s bay to enjoy the views of the colorful hills from a different perspective.
Day 11 - Depart Santiago
This morning, say adios to our adventures in Argentina, Patagonia, and Chile and transfer to the airport.