SANTIAGO TO RIO (Patagonia)
11 WEEKS £1750 + US$1500 KITTY
A 10 week adventure through Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay to Brazil. Enjoy glaciers and rafting in the rugged Patagonian outdoors, tango nights in Buenos Aires and finish at Rio Carnaval, the greatest party in the World.
You travel down through the wonderful Argentinian Lake district, past the Chilean ice fields all the way to Ushuaia, the base for Antarctica expedition ships. The hardy inhabitants of Patagonia are friendly and welcoming. Heading north along the Atlantic coast to lazy Uruguay and Paraguay is a real contrast, then excitement builds all the way into Rio.
|DEPART SANTIAGO||ARRIVE RIO CARNAVAL||Trip Code|
|15 DECEMBER 2013||27 FEBRUARY 2014||SR13|
|30 NOVEMBER 2014||12 FEBRUARY 2015||SR14|
The space, peace and incredible natural beauty of Patagonia leaves everyone impressed. Then the climate steadily warms and you can explore the markets and history of Buenos Aires. From here you visit seldom travelled Uruguay and Paraguay to see life in these character-filled countries before immersing yourself into the heady, Caipirinha-fuelled dance through the beautiful landscapes of southern Brazil to the Cidade Maravilhosa.
Bariloche, Rafting Futalefu, Moreno Glacier, Torres del Paine National Park, Tierra del Fuego, Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, The Rivers of Bonito, Parati.
Click for Maps of Main Cities & Attractions
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The following itinerary is our proposed route, because of the nature of our travel, and the counties in which we are travelling it may not be possible to visit all of these places. Also we could find other things to do, so this may not be exactly what we end up doing!
We won’t attempt to fully describe every place in this section as you’d end up with a book. For more information we suggest you try some guide books. Lonely Planet and Footprint give good descriptions and information.
Arrive in Santiago with a few days to spare to relax, organise your things and enjoy the marvellous city. Three or four days is enough time, unless you fancy a trip out to Easter Island (flights go there from Santiago). The day before we leave there will be a meeting to meet each other, finalise paperwork and collect kitty money.
Heading south from Santiago we can compare Chile's vineyards with the ones we recently saw in Argentina and then arrive in the adventure sport mecca of Pucon. From here we can go rafting, canyoning, horse and mountainbike riding, skydiving and most exciting of all climb the live, smoking Vilarrica volcano. With breathtaking views of the lakes and forests below the climb up to the snowy, smoking peak is an enjoyable challenge. And the descent from the volcano's summit is possibly more fun than the walk up...
Crossing back into Argentina we follow the beautiful 'Seven Lakes Drive' through the lush Argentinian lake district and arrive in San Carlos de Bariloche. Sat on the shores of Lake Nahuel Nuapi, this picturesque ski resort has some pleasant summer hiking and has many fine chocolate makers. Back into Chile we begin our drive along the Carretera Austral, arriving in Futalefu for some incredible grade 5 rafting on the Rio Futalefu. Continuing along the carretera we wind our way along forested fjords and stop for a visit to the Ventisquero Colgante, or Hanging Glacier.
Crossing to Argentina we are now in Patagonia proper, and visit El Chalten, a fast growing hiking centre and base camp for climbers waiting to ascend the technical Mt Fitzroy. From here we can try ice climbing and trekking. A short drive then brings us to El Calafate and from here we take a day trip to visit the amazing Moreno Glacier.
Now we visit the huge Chilean national park of Torres del Paine, many serious hikers dream destination. We'll stay here long enough to complete the famous 'W' walk, do some intrepid horse riding, visit glaciers, ride the many rivers on a zodiac and just maybe be lucky enough to see one of the park's wild puma. People preferring to stay indoors can hole up in the nearby town of Puerto Natales and take day trips out to the park. On the way back we can visit the interesting Cave of the Milodon, a prehistoric creature whose remains were discovered there in the 1800's.
Heading further south we follow the shores of the Magellan Straits and take a sea ferry across to Tierra del Fuego and arrive in the world's most southerly town, Ushuaia. This town really does have an 'end of the world' feel to it with wind battered buildings and long summer twilight evenings. There is plenty to do here with wildlife cruises on the Beagle Channel, exploring the Tierra del Fuego national park and many historic buildings and museums. Ushuaia is the port from which ships leave for trips to Antarctica and the Falkland Islands. People wanting to make the 10 day trip to Antarctica can easily do so and catch us in Buenos Aires with enough time to see the city. Now our journey north begins,and crossing back to mainland South America we visit the small Atlantic port town of Puerto Deseado. We can take a boat trip to view wild animals in the Rio Deseado nature reserve, or just relax and imagine the tough isolation of Patagonian life in this windswept outpost.
Some long drives through the vast flatness of Patagonia brings us to Puerto Madryn. From here we go out to see the wildlife of the Valdes Peninsular, can take a speedboat trip in search of dolphins or do a little scuba diving. Next stop is Buenos Aires, Argentina's stylish, historic, exciting capital. No stay here is long enough as everyone falls in love with this city. Tango, football, shopping, music, fine dining and the best nightclubs on the continent are here and there are beautiful historic buildings on every corner. One of the most fun is Cafe Tortoni, head downstairs for an intimate tango show before a night on the town. La Boca's vividly coloured buildings are beautiful in the morning sun,then it's a short walk to the stadium to see the famous Boca Juniors play. If they're at home, you must experience Argentinian football at it's most fevered!
From Buenos Aires we cross the Rio Uruguay into Uruguay and our first stop is Colonia. Then we stop at Montevideo and visit Punta del Este before crossing back into Argentina to visit the Carlos Pelegrini wetland reserve at Lago Ibera. This area is home to a large variety of bird species, feisty caiman, and a colony of howler monkeys. A boat trip around the wetlands at dawn or dusk is always rewarding as the reserve is overflowing with wildlife just meters away from you.
We now head north into Paraguay, rarely visited home of the Guarani people. First we stop for some relaxation in Trinidad, in the southern Itapua province. From here we can head out to see ruined monasteries left behind by Jesuit missionaries and visit a 'mate' factory to see how the popular bitter tea-like drink is grown and prepared. Our campsite also has horses for riding about the ranch or you can just relax in the sun by the pool. From here we continue north to the country's capital Asuncion, a steamy colonial capital with a feeling different to any other South American city. The central plaza is great for relaxing with a cold drink and watching the locals. After here we head towards Brazil, stopping for a shop in the strange Paraguayan border trading town of Ciudad del Este. We enter Brazil at Foz do Iguacu, and here we can see the breathtaking Iguazu Falls and the nearby bird park has some incredible birds and butterflies to see. Many people take a helicopter ride above the falls for a view of the whole area, which crosses from Brazil into Argentina .We can also drive out to see the massive Itaipu dam in nearby Paraguay which until recently was the largest dam in the world, providing hydro power to most of Paraguay and much of Brazil.
Bonito is our next stop in Brazil, with clear rivers for snorkelling, caves, forest trails, waterfalls and adventure sports. Heading to the lush coast we reach Parati, a small but vibrant and charming colonial town. Here you can relax in the old centre enjoying the music and great food, take a yacht cruise to visit the nearby beaches, try scuba diving or marvel at the Capoeira performers in the plaza.
A couple of days in Paraty will just whet your appetite for the giant celebration of Carnaval in Rio. One of the biggest parties on Earth, Carnaval is days of fun and dancing and the whole city takes part. We can go to see the spectacular samba school parades at the famous Sambodrome, join in with the street processions, relax with a coconut milk on the beaches or just sit and watch the whole city partying. Don't forget the other sights of Rio, too: The Sugar Loaf mountain at sunset, Christ the Redeemer and more...
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In order to keep the initial trip cost low we leave most activities as optional. This gives you the flexibility to choose and only pay for exactly what you do.
Included in the TRIP COST are:
- All travel in the truck and use of truck equipment (eg kitchen)
- Services of trip leader
- Truck costs - Diesel, repairs, road tolls, permits, etc
Included in the KITTY are:
- Basic accommodation costs ie: camping or basic shared rooms in hotels/hostels
- Most meals when camping and lunches on driving days
- Ferry costs as a passenger when travelling with the truck
- Ventisquero Colgante (hanging glacier) national Park entrance
- Torres del Paine NP entry
- Valdes Peninsular entry
- Parati yacht cruise day trip
- Guides for group visits
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
- Any visas you might need
- Your personal travel insurance
- Your own spending money
- Any medicines and vaccinations
- Most meals when not camping (i.e. restaurant meals)
- Costs of optional activities and visits
- Any flights or other transport
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Here is a list of some of the extra things to do along the way. This list isn't exhaustive, and the prices are the equivalent cost in US dollars last time we were there, so they may change. But this list is still a useful guide for you to use when budgeting for your spending money.
|Villarica Volcano climb, Pucon||75|
|Rafting Pucon (grade 3)||40|
|Jetski hire per hour||40|
|Villarica Park Entrance, Pucon||15|
|Thermal pools entrance, Pucon||8|
|Rafting, Futalefu (grade 4&5)||100|
|Horseriding, Futalefu, half day||20|
|Walk to view hanging glacier, Puyuguapi||free|
|Horseriding, 3 hour Torres del Paine||25|
|Refugio B&B along hiking trails (book in advance)||20|
|Hiking, Torres del Paine||free|
|Vinyard visit, Cafayate||free|
|Vineyard tour, Mendoza||5|
|Cable car to revolving restaurant, Bariloche||8|
|Glacier walking, El Chalten||40|
|Ice climbing, El Chalten||80|
|Hiking, El Chalten||free|
|Moreno Glacier day trip, El Calafate||30|
|Beagle Channel boat trip, Ushuaia||15|
|Tierra del Fuego Nat Park Entry||10|
|Trip to Antarctica!||3000|
|Dolphin speedboat ride, Puerto Madryn||25|
|Tango show, Buenos Aires||10|
|Ticket to see Boca Juniors play||10|
|Wildlife sunset boat ride, Lago Ibera||6|
|Day trip to Iguazu falls (Arg. Side)||12|
|Speedboat trip under waterfalls||10|
|Day trip to Mate factory and Missions, Trinidad||10|
|Entry to Iguazu falls, Brazil side||13|
|Helicopter ride over falls||70|
|Entry to bird park, Foz||8|
|Entry to public pool, Bonito||6|
|Day trip snorkelling in Bonito's rivers||40|
|Scuba dive, Parati||55|
|Sambodrome carnival ticket, Rio||35|
|Entry to Maracana stadium||5|
|Paragliding/hang gliding over Rio||80|
|Cable Car to Sugar Loaf mountain||13|
|Train to Corcovado (Christ the redeemer)||13|
|Taxi ride Rio||7|
Due to the unpredictable political and environmental conditions in many of the countries we visit it may be necessary to alter the route taken by the trip. In such case we will arrange an alternative route as best possible and cover costs to relocate the truck if necessary, but passengers will be liable for any personal travel costs incurred when away from the truck.
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