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Small Group Tours

Antarctica & Patagonia

Antarctica, Argentina, Chile, Brazil

29 days

Summary

Contours Travel has designed this unique fully escorted tour including an expedition cruise to Antarctica and Patagonia’s highlights -Torres del Paine & El Calafate-, Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires and mighty Iguazu Falls.

2018 DEPARTURE
Depart Sydney/ Melbourne 28 October 2018
Return Sydney/ Melbourne 26 November 2018

2019 DEPARTURE
Depart Sydney/ Melbourne 22 February 2019
Return Sydney/ Melbourne 21 March 2019

Highlights

  • Culinary tour in Santiago de Chile
  • Valparaiso & winery tour including premium wine tasting
  • All inclusive 5 day program at Hotel Las Torres located inside Las Torres National Park
  • Full day tour of Perito Moreno glacier and Glacier navigation
  • Explore the off the beaten area of Antarctica on board of the Akademik Ioffe expedition cruise
  • Antarctic vessel’s highlights: it has the highest staff-to-guest ratio in the polar industry, it is a small ship cruising (less than 100 passengers) which means maximum time ashore and there are two shore excursions per day (weather permitting)
  • Antarctic cruise experiences: camping, snowshoeing, trekking, zodiac cruising, whale watching, photgrapher on board,skiing, lectures,
  • Optional experiences at an additional cost: expedition sea kayaking, overnight sea kayaking, backcountry ski touring
  • Discover Buenos Aires’ best hidden gem during the city tour
  • Dinner & Tango Show at Esquina Carlos Gardel, one of the best Tango house in the city
  • Culinary & wine experience with locals in Buenos Aires, learn how to make an empanada and secrets of the ‘Asado’
  • Full day tour of the Argentine side of the mesmerizing Iguazu Falls
  • Tour the Brazilian side of the falls & visit the bird’s park
  • Farewell dinner at one of the best Steak house in Argentina

Inclusions

  • International & domestic economy flights, all taxes included
  • 28 nights accommodation in First Class hotels & expedition Antarctic Cruise
  • 64 Meals included (28 Breakfast, 17 Lunch, 19 Dinner)
  • Expert English-speaking local guides
  • Ground transportation in private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Tips for local guides and drivers
  • All entrance fees to local sights & national parks
  • Unique hand-crafted travel wallets & luggage tags made in Bolivia exclusively for Contours Travel
  • 24 hour assistance by our local offices in South America
  • You will have the use of an expedition gear package free of charge containing around $US900 worth of essential equipment. This kit includes a quality waterproof/windproof jacket and bib-pants plus insulated rubber boots designed for extended walking. We also include a set of binoculars and a trekking pole for use when on shore. A waterproof backpack completes your package. This kit saves you buying expensive clothing and equipment you may only ever use once.

ITINERARY

Day 1 Santiago de Chile

Welcome to South America! On arrival at Santiago International Airport you will be met by a Contours Travel Representative and transferred to your hotel where you will meet your fellow travellers and Tour Director.

Overnight at Cumbres Lastarria (First Superior Class)
Meals: None

Day 2 Santiago de Chile

Depart this morning on a half day walking tour of Santiago including Bellavista, downtown, Cerro Santa Lucia and a visit to the food market and sampling of some of Chile’s favorite home cooked dishes in La Vega Chica.

Overnight at Cumbres Lastarria (First Superior Class)
Meals: BL

Day 3 Santiago de Chile

Depart Santiago this morning, travelling through the Curacavi and Casablanca Valleys to arrive at the UNESCO World Heritage Listed port city of Valparaiso famous for it’s colourful houses perched on the hillside. Walking tour of the highlights of the city: Victoria Plaza, Sotomayor Plaza and the Glorias Navales Monument. Your guide will take you through the winding streets and up the hillsides for lovely views of the port below.
After lunch you will be taken to Santa Emiliana winery, a leading organic vineyard in Chile and one of the largest in the world, for tour of the grounds and a tasting of their fine wines.

Overnight at Cumbres Lastarria (First Superior Class)
Meals: BL

Day 4 Torres del Paine

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Punta Arenas. On arrival you will be transferred to the hotel with a stop at an Estancia were a traditional Patagonian bbq lunch will be served.
Your all inclusive program includes:
• National Park entry fee
• Transfers in and out from Punta Arenas or Calafate
• Visit to Cerro Negro Ranch en route from Punta Arenas
• All meals
• Open Bar (not including premium spirits)
• All excursions inside the National Park
• Bilingual guides Spanish/English
• Wifi in common areas
• A 20% discount in our spa

Overnight at Las Torres (First Superior Class)
Meals: BLD

Day 5 Torres del Paine

Free day to explore the park; Hotel Las Torres offers many different options of excursions to please the needs of every guest. You can choose to horseback ride with experienced gauchos, trek different difficulty level trails, do walks to observe and enjoy flora and fauna with specialized guides, or choose the comfort of a vehicle excursion throughout the most attractive places in the park.

Suggested excursion options include:
– Full Paine: visit the park’s famous highlights while enjoying some beautiful walks where you will be surrounded by the flora and fauna facing the marvellous mountains that form part of the Paine Massif. After enjoying a lunch outdoors we will take you to Lago Grey where you will have the option to take a walk around the lake shore or take the navigation and get close to the Grey Glaciar.
– Salto Grande: drive to the Salto Grande area and enjoy a relaxed walk to a viewpoint over the Paine Massif, before continuing to the Salto Grande waterfall.

Overnight at Las Torres (First Superior Class)
Meals: BLD

Day 6 Torres del Paine

Another full day to continue exploring the park.

Suggested excursion options include:
– Sarmiento Lake: a four hour hike through beech forest and along the banks of Sarmiento Lake. Explore landscapes of pre Andean shrubs, and see the contrasts of the Patagonian colours with a majestic mountain backdrop.

Overnight at Las Torres (First Superior Class)
Meals: BLD

Day 7 Torres del Paine

Another full day to continue exploring the park.

Suggested excursion options include:
Blue Lagoon: a great option for people who would like to see Torres del Paine without all the walking. Enjoy great views of the Towers of Paine and the enormous landscapes that brought great part of the explorers into the area. You will visit Laguna Amarga and discover the different organisms that live there.
Patagón: Hike from Lago Sarmiento to a collection of Aónikenk drawings still visible on a rock wall. We are likely to run into many animals – such as guanacos, rheas and condors – that populated the land during the Aónikenk epoch and are still alive today.

Overnight at Las Torres (First Superior Class)
Meals: BLD

Day 8 Torres del Paine/El Calafate

Depart Hotel Las Torres this morning to your hotel in El Calafate.

Overnight at Mirador del Lago (First Class)
Meals: B

Day 9 El Calafate

Depart this morning on a full day tour to Perito Moreno Glacier with entry to the Los Glaciares National Park included. Situated on the southern arm of Lago Argentino and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Perito Moreno Glacier is an imposing ice river 5 kilometres wide and up to 60 metres high at its front wall; at the centre of the glacier the ice reaches a depth of some 250 to 350 metres. Included in your tour today is the Nautical Safari, which takes you on a cruise across Lake Rico, passing beside icebergs which have calved off the front of the Perito Moreno glacier.

Overnight at Mirador del Lago (First Class)
Meals: B

Day 10 El Calafate

Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Ushuaia. Balance of the day at leisure.

Overnight at Albatros (First Class)
Meals: B

Day 11 El Calafate/Ushuaia

Depart this morning on a half day tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park. This is one of the most important protected areas in the country and the only one by the sea shore.
Later this afternoon board your Antarctic cruise. In the early evening, you will set sail along the Beagle Channel and push out into the Drake Passage, direction Antarctica.

Overnight aboard the Akademik Ioffe (Tourist Superior)
Meals: BD

Day 12 Ushuaia/Cruise

Drake Passage
Continue your navigation through the famous Drake Passage, this body of water between South America’s Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica, connects the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean with the south-eastern part of the Pacific Ocean.

Overnight aboard the Akademik Ioffe (Tourist Superior)
Meals: BD

Day 13 Cruise

Antarctic Peninsula
We awaken today and the magnificent snowy peaks of Antarctica are laid out before us. Over the next week, our itinerary is intentionally flexible to account for early season ice conditions and to take advantage of optimal snow conditions.

Overnight aboard the Akademik Ioffe (Tourist Superior)
Meals: BD

Day 14 Cruise

Antarctic Peninsula.
Our planned exploration starts in vicinity of Mikkelson Harbour and neighbouring Cierva Cove – both beautiful locations and the perfect introduction to Antarctica.

Overnight aboard the Akademik Ioffe (Tourist Superior)
Meals: BD

Day 15 Cruise

Antarctic Peninsula
Our days are spent exploring on and off the ship in the company of our expert guides. Popular activities include guided hikes on shore, visits to wildlife colonies, and exploration of historic huts and science stations. Zodiac cruising in the ice is always a thrill. Based on site conditions, the ski touring group may set off to explore the pristine terrain with our experienced mountaineering guides.

Overnight aboard the Akademik Ioffe (Tourist Superior)
Meals: BD

Day 16 Cruise

Antarctic Peninsula
The expedition snow-shoe group may follow in the tracks of the skiers, climbing to high points which afford breathtaking views. The sea kayakers will head out on excursions which may last all day. Photography enthusiasts will enjoy the chance to spend an entire day with our expedition photographer on an all-day field workshop.

Overnight aboard the Akademik Ioffe (Tourist Superior)
Meals: BD

Day 17 Cruise

Antarctic Peninsula
Everyone aboard will have an opportunity to camp onshore for the night in Antarctica if the weather co-operates. In the comfort and safety of our expedition ship, we range as far south as ice conditions permit; hopefully we are able to navigate to Neko Harbour and into the Errera Channel.

Overnight aboard the Akademik Ioffe (Tourist Superior)
Meals: BD

Day 18 Cruise

Antarctic Peninsula
Witnessing the migration of the penguins early in the season, as they busily re-establish their rookeries and prepare nests, is a fascinating experience. Cuverville Island is always a highlight and is home to one of the largest gentoo penguin colonies on this stretch of coastline.

Overnight aboard the Akademik Ioffe (Tourist Superior)
Meals: BD

Day 19 Cruise

Antarctic Peninsula
Orne Harbour is dominated by Spiggot Peak – a towering landmark seen from miles away. There’s a great hike here up to a colony of chinstrap penguins. The adventure is not over and we plan an additional day of exploration in the South Shetland Islands. Prevailing weather conditions will dictate our landing locations which may include Hannah Point on Livingston Island. In the evening, we navigate into the Drake Passage, charting a course for South America.

Overnight aboard the Akademik Ioffe (Tourist Superior)
Meals: BD

Day 20 Cruise

Sailing back to Mainland.

Overnight aboard the Akademik Ioffe (Tourist Superior)
Meals: BD

Day 21 Cruise

Sailing back to Mainland.

Overnight aboard the Akademik Ioffe (Tourist Superior)
Meals: BD

Day 22 Cruise

Drake Passage and Cape Horn
As we make our way back to Ushuaia we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. If weather conditions allow, we hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.

Overnight aboard the Akademik Ioffe (Tourist Superior)
Meals: BD

Day 23 Cruise/Buenos Aires

Arrive in Ushuaia
In the early morning, arrive into Ushuaia. You will be transferred to you hotel or to the airport for your ongoing flight.

Overnight at Recoleta Grand (First)
Meals: B

Day 24 Buenos Aires

Today’s tour will take you to the Southern parts of the city such as La Boca and famous Caminito street, followed by San Telmo, the oldest district of the city with a visit to it’s underground tunnels . We will also visit the main square and Casa Rosada, the Cathedral and El Cabildo. We will then head towards the northern districts of Palermo, a bohemian neighbourhood with local artist and plenty of restaurants and cafes. We will finish the tour in the sophisticated neighbourhood of Recoleta, where the famous Cemetery and chic international boutiques are found.
This evening you will be taken for a Dinner & Tango Show at the renowned Esquina Carlos Gardel; named after Argentina’s most celebrated tango icon. Enjoy the superb Argentinian cuisine in an exquisitely decorated art nouveau dining room as you watch tango artists perform this sensual dance.

Overnight at Recoleta Grand (First)
Meals: BD

Day 25 Buenos Aires

Tonight you will be give an introduction to the best of Argentine cuisine and culture; it is a fun and unique experience where you will meet and dine with people from all over the world.

Overnight at Recoleta Grand (First)
Meals: BD

Day 26 Buenos Aires/Puerto Iguazu

Today you will fly to Puerto Iguazu. After breakfast we depart on a full day tour of the Argentina side of the Iguazú Falls. From the Visitor’s Centre we take a train on a 15-minute journey up to the ‘Cataratas Station’. We walk along the Upper and Lower trails of the Iguazú National Park to get a closer look of the 275 falls and of the amazing variety of ferns, orchids, begonias, birds and butterflies. Continue by train to ‘Garganta Station’ and from there you will descend 1200 meters to the Devil’s Throat balcony, to share one of the greatest shows on earth. Return by train to the Visitor’s Centre & transfer back to your hotel.

Overnight at Sheraton Iguazu Resort & Spa (Deluxe)
Meals: B

Day 27 Puerto Iguazu

After breakfast we will cross the Tancredo Neves Bridge to explore the Brazilian falls. Walk along the paths inside the park and see the imposing Bozzeti Falls across the border. The path continues to the spectacular lookout over the Garganta del Diablo, or Devils Throat Falls, just 150m away. At the end of the path, you have the option of boarding a panoramic elevator for an even greater view of the surrounding scenery.

Overnight at Sheraton Iguazu Resort & Spa (Deluxe)
Meals: B

Day 28 Puerto Iguazu/Buenos Aires

Today you will fly back to Buenos Aires and enjoy a free day to continue exploring this beautiful city.
Tonight you will have a farewell dinner with your fellow travellers.

Overnight at Recoleta Grand (First)
Meals: BD

Day 29 Buenos Aires

Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back home.

Meals: B

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