Galapagos to Patagonia

Tour Cost ($AUD): $26,450

Tour Dates: 17 February - 17 March 2019

Single Supplement ($AUD): $9,400

Tour Duration: 29 days

Galapagos to Patagonia is a remarkable 29-day exploration of South America, from Ecuador and the unique Galapagos Islands in the continent’s North West, to El Calafate at its southern tip.

Starting with a superb five-day cruise around the Galapagos Islands, the tour then heads to the Andean city of Quito. From here we continue to La Paz, before crossing the greatest salt flats in the world, Salar de Uyuni. Moving into Chile, we cut through the great Atacama, the driest desert in the world, before arriving at Chile’s sophisticated capital, Santiago. From here we explore the lakes area as we cross into Patagonia and travel south to the staggering Perito Moreno glacier at El Calafate in Argentina. Finally, we have three nights in Buenos Aires, the best shopping city in the world!

Tour Fitness Level: Active

Ecuador

  • Five-day Galapagos Island cruise
  • Visit to magnificent Antisana volcano and ecological reserve

Bolivia

  • Visit the extraordinary Moon Valley in La Paz basin
  • Explore the pre-Incan ruins of Tiahuanaco – South America’s 2nd Machu Picchu
  • Enjoy a traditional hangi with a Bolivian family
  • Cross the largest salt desert in the world by 4WD
  • Two-night stay at the world-famous hotel made entirely of salt
  • Exclusive banquet at the extraordinary Uyuni salt flats
  • Marvel at glaciers and thermal hot springs side by side at Polques

Chile

  • Two-night stay at a luxury resort in the Atacama Desert
  • An exclusive cocktail party in Moon Valley in the Atacama
  • Enjoy the bohemian charm of Valparaiso on Chile’s Pacific coast
  • See some of the most majestic scenery on the planet during the lakes crossing between Chile and Argentina

Argentina

  • Two-night stay at the Andean town of San Carlos de Bariloche
  • Experience, close up, calving of the world’s most famous glacier, Perito Moreno at El Calafate
  • See the best tango show in Buenos Aires
  • Visit the vibrant Buenos Aires neighbourhoods of La Boca and San Telmo

Inclusions

  • All flights between Australia and South America (inc domestic from your preferred Capital city)
  • All flights, transportation and transfers within South America
  • All ticketable taxes (may be subject to change)
  • All accommodation (twin-share)
  • All meals as specified
  • Experienced tour leader throughout
  • Expert local guides
  • All entrance fees in specified sightseeing
  • All local sightseeing as per itinerary
  • All visas and courier fees (except Chile visa which cannot be pre-paid – must be paid on arrival)
  • All tips and gratuities

Please note that whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the above pricing, currency fluctuations beyond our control can affect final tour costs. A booking form is to be completed by all passengers, followed by a non-refundable deposit of AUD $3,000 at the time of booking. All tours are based on a minimum group size of 10 people travelling.

17/02/2019 Australia – Santiago – Guayaquil (D)

Fly from your preferred capital city to Sydney, connecting with our Lan flight to Santiago. Crossing the International Date Line, we arrive in Santiago on the same day.

Depart Sydney Lan LA 800,  11.10

Arrive Santiago 13.25

Depart Santiago Lan LA 546,  20.50

Arrive Guayaquil 00.15

On arrival in Guayaquil we transfer to our hotel.

Hotel Oro Verde

Guayaquil

18/02/2019 Guayaquil (BLD)

The dynamic and captivating city of Guayaquil lies on west bank of the mighty Guayas River and the Pacific Ocean. Although not the political capital of the country, Guayaquil is nonetheless the largest metropolis in the country and one of the most important ports on the South American Pacific. Today we explore the old district of Las Penas, where the old wooden houses of colonial Guayaquil still remain. From here we stroll along the beautiful riverside before visiting the superb botanical gardens. In the afternoon we visit the flower and seafood markets.

19/02/2019 Guayaquil – Galapagos (BLD)

Depart Guayaquil Latam Ecuador XL 1411,  09.40

Arrive Baltra (Galapagos) 10.40

On arrival at Baltra Island we board our ship for the voyage to the north shore of Santa Cruz Island and Dragon Hill. As we walk around the island we see various types of birds including stilts, pintail ducks and sandpipers. Moving further inland, we get a beautiful view of the bay and the western area of the archipelago. The Charles Darwin Research Station constantly monitors the area which is a nesting site for land iguanas.

20/02/2019 Bartolome Island, Galapagos (BLD)

On arrival at Bartolome we climb to the highest point via a wooden staircase. Later in the morning there is the chance to snorkel with Galapagos penguins. In the afternoon we visit Santiago Island where we discover colonies of endemic Galapagos sea lions and, at low tide, see marine iguanas grazing on emerald green algae beds.

21/02/2019 Rabida Island, Galapagos (BLD)

This morning we reach the red beach of Rabida. The island, which has large deposits of iron, is the home of sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds and several species of Darwin’s finches. At certain times, the spectacular Greater Flamingos migrate to a salt pond close to the beach. In the afternoon we head for Santa Cruz Island to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, where there is an intensive rearing and captivity programme for the giant tortoises. Strolling down the main street of Puerto Ayoro, we witness first-hand how the Galapaguenos live in this magical paradise.

22/02/2019 Santa Cruz, Galapagos (BLD)

After breakfast we head further inland to visit the island’s most famous reptile, the Giant Tortoise. There are approximately 15,000 ‘Galapago’ left. Today, despite the best efforts of conservationists, the tortoises are still under threat. Domestic plants and animals brought to the islands by settlers are thought to be the main reasons for concern. Poaching is also still a problem and it is estimated that since 1990, 120 tortoises have been killed. The great reptiles can weigh up to 250 kilos and live for more than 100 years.

23/02/2019 Galapagos – Quito (BLD)

This morning we arrive at San Cristobal Island and the lovely port of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the provincial capital of the Galapagos Islands. This is the same island that Charles Darwin first visited in September 1835. We visit the San Cristobal Interpretation Centre, located in a natural setting. The centre allows visitors to obtain information that will help understand the natural history of the islands and conservation programmes. After our visit we transfer to the airport for our flight to Quito.

Depart Galapagos Aerogal AV 1685, 13.35

Arrive Quito 16.40

Hotel Patio Andaluz

Quito

24/02/2019 Quito (BLD)

Today we head to the Antisana Ecological Reserve, an hour’s drive from Quito. Here we see massive glacier-fed lakes and rivers and the fourth highest mountain in the Ecuadorian Andes, the Antisana volcano. Fifty percent of the Andean condors in Ecuador live in this spectacular reserve, as well as many other species of highland birds. Antisana is also home to a wide variety of plants and exotic multi-coloured flowers. In the afternoon we return to Quito and dinner this evening is at a local restaurant.

25/02/2019 Quito – La Paz (BL)

The Andean capital of Ecuador (2,850m) has a setting that few other cities in the world can match. During the 13th century, Quito was the prosperous centre of the Kingdom of Quitus before it became the northern capital of the Inca Empire. In the 16th and 17th centuries the Spanish built formidable temples, monasteries and mansions, creating an urban jewel, which is now a designated World Heritage site. Today, Quito brings the past to life in its museums, convents, stone-carved facades and golden altars of its many churches. After lunch we drive 25km north to the Equatorial Monument, which marks the middle of the world. Here you can enjoy the unique experience of standing with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere! This evening we transfer to the airport for our flight to La Paz via Lima.

Depart Quito Aerogal AV 7388, 18.29

Arrive Lima 20.49

Depart Lima Aerogal AV 7390,  22.27

Arrive La Paz 01.22

On arrival in La Paz we transfer to our hotel.

Hotel Europa

La Paz

26/02/2019 La Paz (BLD)

The amazing city of La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia and, as such, qualifies as the world’s highest capital. Enjoying an incredible location it well deserves its nickname, ‘the city that touches the sky’. Our tour begins in Government Square, from where we visit the Presidential Palace and the Indian handicraft market. We then drive out of the city to the extraordinary Moon Valley. Formed millions of years ago when the area was under water, it is a labyrinth of bizarrely shaped sandstone formations, which give the appearance of a lunar landscape.

27/02/2019 La Paz (BLD)

After breakfast we head to the legendary pre-Inca site of Tiahuanaco. It is thought to have been an important ceremonial centre and to have once bordered Titicaca. The influence of this ancient civilization was far-reaching, extending even to the coast of Peru where Tiahuanaco artifacts are common. These people are believed to have been even more advanced than the Incas in art, pottery, astronomy and mathematics. The site at Tiahuanaco is still under exploration and many of the monoliths have been moved to the Museo Nacional de Arqueología in La Paz for preservation and easier viewing. Still on site are the Gate of the Sun, the Acapana Pyramid and the Kalasaya compound.

28/02/2019 La Paz – Oruro – Uyuni (BLD)

After breakfast we leave the La Paz basin for our three-hour journey to Oruro. On arrival we visit the Lighthouse of Conchupata, which is one of Oruro’s historical specimens and from the top we have a wonderful view of the whole city. After lunch we continue our journey passing through the amazing landscapes of the Altiplano and onto the edge of the salt lake before transferring to our hotel, which is made entirely of salt.

Luna Salada Hotel

Potosi

 01/03/2019 Uyuni (BLD)

Located close to the border with Chile, the Salar de Uyuni is the largest and highest salt flat in the world. The contrasting colours of the blue sky and the dazzling white salt surface make for an amazing spectacle. Today we visit the village of Colchani on the shores of the Uyuni salt flats, where locals pack the salt after adding iodine. The sunset across the salt flats is truly astonishing.

 02/03/2019 Uyuni – Ojo de Perdiz (BLD)

Today we travel across the salt flats by 4WD and explore the area. We visit the isolated Isla Pescado, a cactus-strewn island that lies in a sea of salt, some 60 km from the nearest land. After lunch we head to Galaxy Cave to learn about ancestral burials and see petrified cactus. We then continue to the town of San Pedro de Quemez before descending into valley of Ojo de Perdiz

Tayka Ojo de Perdiz

Ojo de Perdiz

03/03/2019 Ojo de Perdiz – San Pedro de Atacama (BLD)

After an early breakfast we drive to an altitude of almost 5,000m as we travel to the Bolivia-Chile border and onto San Pedro de Atacama. Although it is a long day, the scenery is a visual feast: multi-coloured mountains, cone-shaped volcanoes, bizarre wind-sculpted stone formations, bubbling fumaroles at Sol de Manana and the colourful Laguna Colorado with its many flamingos. After crossing the border we quickly descend 2,000m to San Pedro.

Tierra Atacama Hotel

San Pedro de Atacama

 04/03/2019 San Pedro de Atacama (BLD)

At an altitude of 2,400m, San Pedro de Atacama is an oasis village fed by two rivers and we spend today exploring this delightful place. It is surrounded by the Andes, volcanoes, salt flats, high plateaus, grassy river beds and salt-encrusted caves. Its history stretches back more than 10,000 years and the cultures of the Incas, Aymaras and Atacamenans converge here. Today we explore the town before visiting the extraordinary Valle de la Luna.

05/03/2019 San Pedro – Santiago (BLD)

After breakfast we transfer to the nearby airport of Calama for our flight to Santiago.

Depart Calama Lan LA 343, 09.55

Arrive Santiago 11.55

On arrival in Chile’s capital we visit the historical centre of Santiago. We visit the historical ‘La Moneda’, the Presidential Palace and the main square. In the evening we have dinner in the nearby market place.

Plaza El Bosque

Santiago

06/03/2019 Santiago – Valparaiso – Santiago (BLD)

This morning we leave Santiago to explore the coastal towns of central Chile, travelling through the wine-producing valleys of Curacavi and Casablanca. Of course, we stop to sample before continuing to Vina del Mar, which is known as the ‘Garden City’ for its pretty parks and flower-lined streets. After lunch we continue to the picturesque port of Valparaiso. It was built in the 16th century on a total of 43 hills, which are reached by narrow winding streets, staircases and a series of funiculars. Known for its eclectic architecture, the town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

07/03/2019 Santiago – Puerto Montt – Puerto Varas (BLD)

Early this morning we transfer to the airport for our flight to Puerto Montt.

Depart Santiago Lan LA 275, 08.30

Arrive Puerto Montt 10.10

We transfer to nearby Puerto Varas and check in to our hotel. After lunch we commence a walking tour of this attractive German town.

Melia Patagonia

Puerto Varas

08/03/2019 Puerto Varas – Bariloche (BLD)

Today we start our lakes crossing. We drive through attractive alpine villages that have been heavily influenced by the German settlement that began in 1852. Skirting Lake Llanquihue, we pass the base of Osorno volcano before boarding a boat to cross Los Santos Lake to Peulla. After lunch we reach the Chile-Argentina border and continue through dense forest to Puerto Frias, before crossing the lake. From here we travel to Puerto Blast and board another boat to cross stunning Lake Nahuel Huapi.

Edelweiss Hotel

Bariloche

09/03/2019 Bariloche (BLD)

After breakfast we explore the magnificent forests that surround our hotel and in the afternoon visit beautiful Victoria Island in Nahuel Huapi.

10/03/2019 Bariloche (BLD)

Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapí is one of the jewels of Argentina. This is a spectacular area of lakes and rivers carved from ancient glaciers, majestic mountains, beautiful valleys and meadows covered with wildflowers. During our sightseeing today we visit Lago Mascardi and Cascada de Los Alerces on the way to the spectacular glaciers of Mt Tronador.

11/03/2019 Bariloche – El Calafate (BLD)

We transfer to the airport for our flight to El Calafate.

Depart Bariloche Aerolinea Argentinas AR 1692, 10.35

Arrive El Calafate 12.20

On arrival at El Calafate we transfer to our hotel.

Kosten Aike

El Calafate

12/03/2019 El Calafate (BLD)

Today is a wonderful day as we visit the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier. One of the largest active continental glaciers in the world, UNESCO has declared it a ‘Universal Patrimony of Humanity’. It flows into the south arm of Argentine Lake, breaking into glistening icebergs with a deafening roar.

13/03/2019 El Calafate – Buenos Aires (BLD)

This morning we board a catamaran on Argentine Lake. The vessel gets close to the Spegazzini arm of the lake and enters a channel leading to Estancia Cristina. At this point we are surrounded by towering ice-capped mountains and glowing ice-blue bergs floating in the lake. We then transfer to a 4WD vehicle to drive to the longest glacier in South America, Mirador del Glaciar Upsala. Late in the afternoon we transfer to the airport for our flight to Buenos Aires.

Depart El Calafate Aerolineas AR 1877, 19.00

Arrive Buenos Aires   21.56

La Fayette Hotel

Buenos Aires

14/03/2019 Buenos Aires (BLD)

Buenos Aires, the fabulous capital of Argentina, is the most European city in South America with many beautiful parks and plazas. ‘Portenos’, as the locals call themselves, are fun-loving people who enjoy their city and music. On our city tour we see Government House (Casa Rosada, or Pink House), the House of Congress, the Metropolitan Cathedral, Eva Peron’s tomb in the Recoleta Cemetery and the famous Italian La Boca district. In the evening we experience an exciting tango show.

15/03/2019 Buenos Aires (BLD)

A fun-filled relaxing day today as we head out of the city on a ‘Fiesta Gaucho’ tour. We drive into the fertile grasslands, or pampas, that surround Buenos Aires, to an estancia (horse ranch). After cocktails and delicious empanadas our hosts will provide a traditional Argentinian BBQ and a vibrant gaucho folk show.

16/03/2019 Buenos Aires – Sydney (B)

We transfer to the airport for our flight to Sydney.

Depart Buenos Aires LAN LA 532, 19.05

Arrive Santiago 21.25

Depart Santiago LAN LA 801, 00.35

17/03/2019 Arrive Sydney after crossing the dateline

Arrive Sydney 09.15

On arrival in Sydney we connect with the flight to our chosen Australian airport.