This itinerary is for a past tour program.
Check out our current tour & cruise packages in South America.
Explore amazingly diverse and fascinating Patagonia, a magnificent "off-the-beaten-path" region spanning portions of Chile and Argentina, where you'll find soaring mountains, windy plains that stretch endlessly toward the distant horizon, lush forests filled with ancient flora and fauna, and pristine glaciers. It is an enchanted voyage filled with contrast and beauty, excitement and adventure, and one that you will never forget.
Begin in Buenos Aires, the beautiful and diverse capital city of Argentina, where a rich history and culture, world-class cuisine and spirited nightlife make this one of the world's most exciting destinations. You'll also visit Santiago, Chile's charming capital city, where Spanish colonial buildings and old churches are juxtaposed against the spectacular, snowy peaks of the Andes Mountains.
At Ushuaia, you'll board your cruise ship, the Via Australis, and sail around the inlets and waterways of Tierra del Fuego and through the Strait of Magellan. The ship's fleet of zodiac boats will whisk you to shore at various points along the way, and en route, you'll enjoy fascinating presentations by the ship's naturalist-guides, all of whom are involved in the study of Patagonia and its natural treasures as well as its preservation.
If you enjoy cruising, you won't want to miss this very special opportunity. Your ship, the Via Australis, provides all the modern comforts you'll need or want, plus important extras that you'll be glad to have—even high-top rubber boots to borrow if you don't bring your own! Delicious and bountiful meals are served three times daily in the ship's dining room that is encircled by huge picture windows so you don't miss a single view. Hot beverages, snacks and even wine and other alcoholic beverages are served, free of charge, each day. Space on the Via Australis is extremely limited, so we strongly recommend early booking.
Want even more? Add a 3-night optional pre-tour extension to Iguazu Falls (also known as Iguazú or Iguaçu), one of the largest waterfalls in the world and very likely the most impressive.
Day 2: Buenos Aires. After arrival formalities, set out on a tour of the city and discover why Buenos Aires is so often referred to as "the Paris of the South."
Your exploration begins at the Plaza del Mayo, historic and political center of the city. Here is located the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace from which Juan and Eva Perón spoke to throngs of adoring Argentinians. Continue to the Obelisk landmark on the Avenue 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world.
Admire the French architecture in the exquisite Recoleta neighborhood, including the beautiful Cemetery of La Recoleta, where Evita Perón is buried. It is one of many ironies of this complex city that Evita, heroine of the poor, is buried in the city's most elegant (and expensive) section. Dazzler Tower San Martin
Day 3: Buenos Aires and Estancia Visit. After breakfast this morning, travel outside the city for a full day excursion to the Argentine Pampas. Visit a traditional estancia (ranch), where you'll discover the life of the Argentine cowboys known as "gauchos." After a sumptuous barbecue lunch including delicious local wine, you'll enjoy a folkloric show with typical Argentine dance, song, and dress. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for dinner and an exciting performance of the tango, Argentina's passionate national dance. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 5: Buenos Aires & Ushuaia. Transfer to the airport this morning for your flight to Ushuaia, the most important city in the Tierra del Fuego province and the southernmost city in the world. The landscapes in this fascinating region range from barren, windburned plains to quiet pine and beech forests, pristine blue lakes, and snowcapped mountains. Learn about the history of this region during your visit to the Museum of the End of the World. Los Yamanas or Fueguino Hotel Breakfast provided.
Day 6: Ushuaia & Tierra del Fuego. Morning excursion to the Tierra del Fuego National Park, home to the Martial Glacier. When Ferdinand Magellan first sailed along these shores in 1520, he saw fires lit by the Yaghan Indians, giving the region its name: Land of Fire.
Later today, board your expedition cruise ship, the Via Australis, the National Geographic Channel's preferred vessel for sailing through Patagonia. The captain and crew will welcome you with a cocktail reception on board. Set sail through the waterways of Tierra del Fuego as you make your way to the mythical Strait of Magellan. Via Australis. (Passengers on the Sept. 24 departure sail on the Mare Australis.) Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 7: Cape Horn & Wulaia Bay. Today's voyage brings you to the legendary Cape Horn, a treacherous milestone on the clipper route for centuries. Sail through the Beagle and Murray Channels to disembark in Cape Horn National Park.
The Horn, a sheer 1400 foot promontory, marks where the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean merge, only 400 miles from Antartica. The Horn was discovered in 1616 by a Dutch commercial expedition and owes its name to the Port of Hoorn, the expedition's departure point. The Horn was originally believed to be part of Tierra del Fuego, then discovered some time later to actually be an island.
Day 9: Magdalena Island, Punta Arenas & Santiago. Early this morning, go ashore at Magdalena Island, home to an immense colony of more than 120,000 Magellanic Penguins and cratered with their burrows. Magellanic Penguins mate with the same partner year after year, with the male reclaiming his burrow and waiting for the female, who can find her mate through his call alone. Reaching 24-30 inches tall when full grown, the penguins provide quite a spectacle, which you'll see up close during a walk to the picturesque lighthouse that guides ships on their way through the Strait of Magellan.
The penguins migrate in early April, so passengers traveling between April and September get a different treat—a visit to the sea lion colony on Marta Island. After this visit, sail to Punta Arenas, disembarking late this morning and transferring to the airport for your flight to Santiago.
Arrive in Santiago, the bustling capital of Chile, located between the Pacific Ocean and the majestic Andes Mountains. Your guide will escort you to your centrally located hotel where you'll meet up with your fellow passengers from the land tour to share stories and experiences of your Patagonian explorations. Crowne Plaza Hotel Breakfast provided.
Day 10: Santiago. This morning, enjoy an orientation tour that showcases both the colonial and modern highlights of the city. Begin at Santiago's famed Jockey Club and then proceed to Centro Civico and Plaza de la Constitución. See the Casa de la Moneda, one of Spanish America's most stunning examples of colonial architecture and the current seat of the Chilean government.
Tonight, enjoy dinner and a colorful folklore performance at Buenos Muchachos, a restaurant decorated in traditional Chilean farm style. Sample local wines and regional cuisine as you experience live music and dance from Chile’s northern and central regions and the Chiloe and Easter Island zones. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 11: Valparaiso. Today's excursion takes you to Valparaiso, a vibrant port city and UNESCO World Heritage site founded in 1536. Valparaiso brims with charming colorful neighborhoods nestled in the hills. More than a dozen cable cars that connect the port with other areas in the city.
Later today, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the USA. Breakfast provided..
Day 12: Arrive USA. Your exciting South American adventure ends today as you arrive in the USA this morning.
Important Note: This tour involves some hiking and walking, and as the Via Australis does not have an elevator aboard, you must be able to walk up and down several flights of stairs.
Why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare to visit Iguazu Falls, one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders.
Day 2: Buenos Aires/Puerto Iguazú. After arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to the national airport for your flight to the Argentinean side of Iguazu Falls. Check in at your hotel, the only one located within the Park.
Upon seeing Iguazu, Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed "Poor Niagara!" You'll soon discover why this UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered one of the greatest natural wonders of the world! Straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil, the Falls consist of 275 inlets and cataracts that cascade down 250 feet, framed by multiple rainbows and mist that rises up to 500 feet in the air. Iguazu boasts the greatest average annual flow of any waterfall in the world.
Take the remainder of the day to explore Iguazu on your own. There's plenty of well-marked trails through the rainforest around the Falls that afford multiple views of the roaring water and excellent picture-taking (be sure to protect your camera if it's not waterproof). Later, relax and cool off at your beautiful hotel pool. Sheraton Iguazú Hotel Breakfast provided.
Day 4: Depart Iguazu. Enjoy a morning at leisure to take advantage of the lovely resort activities at your hotel. This afternoon, transfer to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires. You'll enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in Buenos Aires, before beginning the next leg of your tour tomorrow. Dazzler Tower San Martin Breakfast provided.
For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Argentina, click here.
For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Chile, click here.
Meena and I immensely enjoyed the tour, guide and the company of many friends. The hotel accommodations and the meals were superb. The Lake Crossings to Argentina and the Iguassu Falls were spectacular views. We plan to take China and Egypt tours with Friendly Planet soon. We have been talking to many of our friends to join us in 2008 vacation adventure with Friendly Planet, who makes exciting excellent arrangements, worry-free. Looking forward to the companionship and friendship during our 2008 vacation.
— Ram & Meena Ramachandran, Richmond, Virginia