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Rental car round trip - Argentina & Chile

Chile & Argentina - Highlights of the Atacama Desert, Patagonia and Buenos Aires

Highlights

  • Must-see for nature lovers: Stay in the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia

  • Spend the night in the Atacama Desert: View one of the brightest starry night skies in the world

  • So cute - watch Magellanic penguins on Isla Magdalena

  • Free SIM card upon arrival incl. USD 10 credit

  • Visit the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires

Description

Chile is wonderful to go exploring on your own. Get into your rental car and explore the highlights of Chile and make a detour to Argentina: the metropolis of Santiago de Chile, the moon-like Atacama Desert, the fascinating Patagonia and the lively tango metropolis of Buenos Aires are just a few highlights of this trip.

Destination

South America

Santiago de Chile - Atacama - Valparaiso - Punta Arenas - Puerto Natales - Torres del Paine - El Calafate - Ushuaia - Buenos Aires

The best time to travel to Patagonia is between October and April, with the absolute high season being December to February. Then mild temperatures around 20 degrees prevail, where outdoor activities can be fully enjoyed. About 14-17 hours of sunshine a day are not uncommon. The months from October to March are also ideal for the Atacama Desert. At this time there are pleasant temperatures and the chances of animal sightings in the higher altitudes increase enormously.

In the Southern hemisphere winter, March to September, many roads in the Patagonia region are closed. Basically, you should be prepared for all eventualities in Patagonia, as the region boasts a particular climate. In July and August, it is rather cold in the Atacama and, at night, temperatures drop to minus 20 degrees.

Today your South America trip finally begins! You can relax a bit on the plane before the adventure starts.

In the morning, you are going to arrive in Santiago and get transferred by private transfer from the airport to the hotel.

After checking in, you are going to take a city tour to see the sights of Santiago: The Presidential Palace, Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral and San Cristobal Mountain, among others, from which you are going to enjoy an impressive view of the entire city and the Andes mountain range. You are going to explore the city today on foot and via public transport - giving you a completely different view of Santiago! You are also going to visit the Mercado Central with its abundant supply of fresh fish and seafood. Lunch is optional.

In the evening, you are going to meet your guide at a welcome dinner in the trendy Pisco restaurant Chipe Libre, where you are also going to receive a short briefing to clarify any open questions about your trip.

Airport - hotel: approx. 20 km / approx. 30 minutes

2 nights in Hotel Panamericano*** or Hotel Galerias*** in standard room with breakfast (and dinner on day 1), Santiago de Chile, Chile

Today you have free time to get to know the capital of the country better. Numerous museums await your visit and the many parks invite you to relax. The Museo Precolombino, for example, is a place where you can learn more about Chilean history.

Optionally, you can book a full-day, off-road car tour. On this unique adventure, you will experience the majestic Andes in the nearby Maipo Canyon. You will drive into the middle of the Andes up to about 3,000 meters and almost reach the border with Argentina. Shorter hikes will allow you to explore the area before enjoying a delicious asado (as the South American barbecue is called in Chile) in the middle of the wilderness and finally relaxing in thermal baths.

In the morning, a private transfer is going to take you to the airport where you will check in for your flight to Calama. Once there, you will pick up your rental car and drive through the desert to get to your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama. Here you will have time for an optional lunch.

We recommend a visit to the Moon Valley and the Death Valley, two magical places where you can also enjoy a spectacular sunset over the dunes and the massive volcanoes in the background. You can do this excursion by rental car or by rental bike.

With a bit of luck, you may even encounter vicuñas, the wild relatives of llamas, which have been hunted to extinction for their fur in recent decades. In Chile, however, vicuñas are now protected.

Hotel - airport: about 30 minutes/ about 20 km

Santiago de Chile - Calama filght: about 2 hours

Airport Calama - hotel: approx. 1 hour 10 minutes / approx. 100 km

3 nights in the Hotel Don Raul*** or the Pensionhotel Katarpe** in a standard room with breakfast, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Another day in the desert awaits you. After breakfast at the hotel, visit Los Flamencos National Park and its breathtaking landscapes of lagoons and volcanoes - perfect backdrops for wonderful photos. You are also sure to get some desert dwellers like llamas or alpacas in front of your lens, as well as the park's namesake flamingos. The Salar de Atacama, Chile's largest salt lake and third largest in the world, should also be on your to-do list. It covers an area of 300,000 hectares and impresses everyone with its unusual beauty.

Today you will drive very early to the geysers of El Tatio. Due to the morning air pressure fluctuations, the best time to see them in action is early in the morning, at sunrise. You can see the natural spectacle up close. Afterwards, take a relaxing bath in the hot thermal waters (entrance fee included). Before leaving the Andean highlands, we recommend a visit to the village of Machuca, where you can observe how the inhabitants of the plateau live.

Optionally, in the evening, if the weather is clear, we recommend stargazing - the Atacama Desert offers one of the most beautiful starry night skies in the world!

After breakfast, you are going to drive your rental car to the Calama airport, where you will return the vehicle. Afterwards, you will check in there for your flight to Santiago, from where you will continue with your rental car to Valparaíso.

Valparaíso lies like a natural amphitheater directly on the Pacific Ocean. It is known for its colorful houses, some of which have been adventurously built on the hillsides of the city. After you have checked into your hotel, you will start your city tour through the colorful alleys of the port city and can be enchanted by its unique flair. Your guide will surely have one or two insider tips for you!

Hotel - Calama airport drive: approx. 1 hour 10 minutes / approx. 100 km

Calama - Santiago de Chile flight: 2 hours

Santiago airport - Valparaiso hotel drive: approx. 1.5 hours / approx. 110 km

2 nights in the Hotel Da Vinci*** or Latitud 33*** in a standard room with breakfast (and dinner on day 7), Valparaíso, Chile

After breakfast, start the day invigorated. We recommend a visit to Viña del Mar, which is only about 20 minutes away from Valparaíso, before you join the typical Chilean cuisine cooking class in the afternoon.

First you are going to buy all the fresh ingredients for today's dishes at the colorful market of Valparaíso together with the cook. Afterwards, you will take to the pots and pans and begin preparing delicious local dishes. With innovative approaches, you will prepare typical Chilean specialties together with a cooking team, from appetizers to desserts, which you are going to then enjoy, of course. We wish you a lot of fun and a good appetite.

After breakfast, you will depart from Valparaíso to Santiago de Chile. From here you are going to fly to one of the southernmost cities in Chile: Punta Arenas. The flight is one of the most beautiful ones there is! On a clear day, you can see the southern as well as the northern inland field with all the glaciers and lagoons of the Andes chain with the many volcanoes and the fjord landscape of Chile.

Once in Punta Arenas, you will pick up your next rental car. The city is located directly on the Strait of Magellan and, if the weather allows it, offers a wonderful view of the strait and the island of Tierra del Fuego.

Time spent traveling from Valparaíso Hotel to Santiago Airport: about 1.5 hours / about 110 km

Santiago de Chile - Punta Arenas flight: about 3.5 hours

Time spent traveling from Punta Arenas Airport to Hotel: about 30 minutes / about 22 km

1 night in the Hotel Chalet Capital*** or the Hotel Finis Terrae**** in a standard room with breakfast, Punta Arenas, Chile

After breakfast, you will continue to the town of Puerto Natales, located on the Fjord of Last Hope. This is the starting point for Torres del Paine National Park - the absolute highlight of any trip to Chile!

On the way to Puerto Natales you are going to take a boat trip to Magdalena Island to see the penguins. The island is located in the middle of the Strait of Magellan about 30 km north of Punta Arenas. The nature reserve is home to about 60,000 pairs of penguins that reach the island every year in September in order to build their nests. In October, they lay eggs that incubate for about 40 days. In April, the cute tailcoats make their way back to the Atlantic or Pacific. It takes about 40 minutes by boat to reach the island from Punta Arenas. Please note that there may be rough seas on the boat. Once on the island, you can observe and photograph the penguins up close on closed-off paths - a very special experience. You can also visit the lighthouse and the Environmental Interpretation Center, where you can get more information about the ecological richness of the island. In total, the excursion takes about 4 hours.

Punta Arenas - Puerto Natales: approx. 3 hours / 250 km

1 night in the Hotel Vendaval** or the Hotel Camino a Santiago*** in a standard room with breakfast, Puerto Natales, Chile

Today another highlight is on the program - the Torres del Paine National Park! After a hearty breakfast, you will set off for Puerto Natales and make a stop at the Milodon Cave. In this impressive cave lived a prehistoric giant sloth, which was up to three meters tall and whose remains were found here.

Continuing to the park, you will have the best views of the Paine massif, formed by the winds. In the park you are going to then pass by the most important viewpoints, such as Lake Pehoé, from which you will have a beautiful panoramic view of the Cuernos del Paine (Horns) and the Torres (Towers). In the late afternoon, you are going to arrive at the hotel, where you are going to spend the night tonight.

Hotel Puerto Natales - Torres del Paine Hotel: approx. 1.5 hours approx. 90 km

2 nights in the Hostel Lago del Toro in a standard room with breakfast, Torres del Paine, Chile

Start the day with a delicious breakfast. Afterwards, today's highlight is on the program: a visit to the Grey Glacier, which you will approach by boat. The trip will take about three hours. With a little luck, you will have the opportunity to observe the Magellanic dolphins from the ship. But also on land you can expect impressive views like rocky slopes, snow-capped peaks and cormorants in the air following your boat.

On the return trip across the lake, you will sail directly along the glacier's approximately 30-meter-high break-off edge, which shimmers in many shades of blue when the weather is nice.

In the afternoon, you are going to have time to enjoy the park.

Today you are going to leave Chile. From Torres del Paine National Park you will cross the border into Argentina through the vast and lonely Patagonian steppe. Arriving in El Calafate and after checking into your hotel, you will have the afternoon at leisure. A walk to Laguna Nimes on the outskirts of town, where you can observe many birds right on the shore of Lago Argentino, is always worthwhile (optional). You also have the opportunity to visit the Glaciarium, a modern museum where you can learn all about glaciers (optional).

Travel time Torres de Paine - El Calafate: approx. 4 hours / approx. 290 km

2 nights in Hotel La Cantera*** in standard room with breakfast, El Calafate, Argentina

After breakfast, you will have the opportunity to participate in optional experiences for the day. Today we recommend an excursion to the Perito Moreno glacier! In the immediate vicinity of the glacier, you can not only see but also hear the mighty ice masses. The glacier moves forward up to two meters every day, so that every minute ice splits off somewhere and partly falls into Lago Argentino with a loud rumble. You will have time to observe the impressive glacier from various angles on the well-developed terraces and let it have its effect on you. During the subsequent boat trip along the break-off edge you will get even closer to the Perito Moreno and get a better impression of the dimensions of the ice masses.

The boat trip takes place before or after the visit to the terraces, depending on availability.

For those who want something more adventurous, today we offer, alternatively and optionally, ice trekking on the Perito Moreno.

After a hearty breakfast, you are going to drive from El Calafate to El Chalten, the trekking paradise in Argentina. The small village is the ideal starting point for short and longer hikes in spectacular surroundings. You can use the afternoon to make a small trek to the Mirador Los Condores. From here you will not only have an impressive view of the nearby mountains Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy, but with a little luck again the possibility to observe condors!

El Calafate Hotel - El Chalten Hotel: approx. 3.5 hours / approx. 215 km

2 nights in the Hotel Kalenshen or Hotel Poincenot in a standard room with breakfast, El Chalten, Argentina

Today you have the day at your disposal. We recommend a hiking trip to the Laguna de los Tres, a lagoon located at an altitude of 1,900 meters. On the way there, you will discover beech forests, glaciers and lakes and be enchanted by the unique nature of Patagonia at Fitz Roy! In the middle of nature, you can also enjoy your picnic to fortify yourself for the way back. In the afternoon, you will return to El Chalten, passing by the famous Capri Lagoon, where you will have a last rest to enjoy once more the beautiful landscape.

Today you are going to drop off your rental car in El Calafate and fly to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia. At the airport, a private transfer will take you to your accommodation in Ushuaia.

In the afternoon, you are going to explore the Beagle Channel by boat and pass the Isla de los Pájaros, an island full of cormorants and Patagonian seagulls, as well as the Island of the Sea Lions and finally arrive at Ushuaia's landmark - the traditional Les Eclaireurs lighthouse.

In the evening, we recommend trying king crab, a specialty of the region, in one of the many restaurants. And don't forget to get the end-of-the-world stamp for your passport!

Time spent traveling from hotel to El Chalten airport: approx. 3 hours / approx. 200 km

El Chalten - Ushuaia flight: approx. 1 hour 15 minutes

2 nights in the Hotel Campanilla** or the Hotel Tolkeyen*** in a standard room with breakfast, Ushuaia, Argentina

After breakfast, you are going to be picked up from your hotel for the excursion in the Tierra del Fuego National Park. During a hike of about 3 hours, you will see beautiful landscapes and learn a lot about the native flora and fauna before reaching the lodge in the middle of nature, where lunch will be served. Afterwards, don't miss the canoe trip that is going to take you to Lapataia Bay. Here ends the famous Panamericana, which goes from Alaska to this point in Tierra del Fuego. You will return to the hotel in the late afternoon.

The full-day excursion is in an international group with an English-speaking local guide to the National Park Tierra del Fuego including a canoe trip in Lapataia Bay and lunch (included).

As an optional excursion, today we recommend a visit to the beavers. In the evening, you will be picked up from the hotel to observe the crepuscular and nocturnal animals in the wild. After dinner, you are going to return to the hotel.

Today you are going to leave Patagonia - from the end of the world, you are going to fly to the vibrant metropolis of Buenos Aires. You are going to be transferred by private transfer from your hotel in Usuhaia to the airport. Upon arrival in the Argentine capital, a transfer will take you to your hotel. You can spend the afternoon exploring - how about a visit to the world-famous Teatro Colon, for example?

Hotel - Ushuaia airport: approx. 10 minutes / approx. 5 km

Ushuaia - Buenos Aires flight: approx. 3.5 hours

Airport - hotel: approx. 40 minutes / approx. 40 km

3 nights in the Hotel Waldorf*** or Hotel Tribeca*** in a standard room with breakfast (and dinner on day 2), Buenos Aires, Argentina

Today you are going to get to know the most important sights of the city. Your private guide is going to take you to the famous port district La Boca, the Plaza de Mayo, the Obelisk and the Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest street in the world, as well as the Government Palace of Argentina, among others. You are going to get to know the city in a very special way, by bus and on foot. During this three-hour tour, your guide will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

In the evening, there is one last highlight on the program: During a coherent dinner you can enjoy an exclusive tango show and then shake a leg yourself under professional guidance - in any case a crowning conclusion to a great trip! The evening program lasts about 2.5 hours.

Today, unfortunately, it is time to say goodbye. You are going to be picked up at the hotel and transferred to the international airport, from where the plane departs for Europe. Would you like to extend your trip or change some of the details? Then contact our experts from our South America team with confidence - they will be happy to advise you.

You are also welcome to start this trip in Buenos Aires.

itravel - for that moment

Hotel Panamericano*** or Hotel Galerias***, Santiago de Chile, Chile Hotel Panamericano*** (2 nights)

The hotel is located not far from the popular Plaza de la Constitución in the city center. Air conditioning, heating and a safe round out the amenities. The in-house restaurant serves international and Chilean dishes.

Hotel Galerias***

This hotel is located in Santiago's historic district. An outdoor pool on the 6th floor, soundproof windows, air conditioning make the service ideal. The restaurant of the hotel will spoil you with Chilean dishes.

Hotel Don Raul*** or Pensionhotel Katarpe**, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile Hotel Don Raul***

This small hotel delights with traditional charm. Rooms are decorated with wooden furniture and artwork by regional artists. The café serves meals made from regional ingredients.

Pensionhotel Katarpe** (3 nights)

This tranquil hotel has cozy rooms with a bathroom. Breakfast is served in the in-house café.

Hotel Da Vinci Hotel*** or Latitud 33***, Valparaiso, Chile Hotel Da Vinci Hotel***

The hotel is located in a beautiful, restored 19th century building and features Italian and Chilean style furnishings. Not far from the accommodation there are numerous charming restaurants and cafes.

Latitud 33*** (2 nights)

The accommodation offers beautiful views of the mountains and the center of Valparaíso. The rooms are cozy and modern and have cable TV. The breakfast room and snack bar serve delicious local delicacies.

Hotel Chalet Capital*** or Hotel Finis Terrae****, Punta Arenas, Chile Hotel Chalet Capital***

The rooms are comfortably furnished as standard. Heating and cable TV are basic amenities. Breakfast is served in the breakfast room on the hotel grounds.

Hotel Finis Terrae**** (1 night)

The hotel is located in downtown Punta Arenas. Rooms feature a minibar and cable TV. At the restaurant, enjoy international dishes from fish to meat and a wide selection of wines.

Hotel Vendaval** or Hotel Camino a Santiago***, Puerto Natales, ChileHotel Vendaval**

The hotel is located close to the bus station. The beautiful terrace of the hotel can be used by every guest. The rooms are authentically furnished with lots of wood. In the morning, you can enjoy the breakfast buffet.

Hotel Camino a Santiago*** (1 night)

The hotel offers a range of amenities, including a terrace, a garden and free Wi-Fi. In the morning, you can enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet.

Hostel Lago del Toro, Tores del Paine, Chile (2 nights)

The hotel is just 500 metres from River Serrano and offers stunning views of the Torres del Paine National Park. The rooms have private bathrooms and all have mountain views. Wi-Fi and parking are also available free of charge.

Hotel La Cantera***, El Calafate, Argentina (2 nights)

The hotel offers country-style rooms with free Wi-Fi, cable TV, DVD player and balcony. The restaurant and bar serve delicious Chilean wines. Fresh croissants and juices are provided at the breakfast buffet.

Hotel Kalenshen or Hotel Poincenot***, El Chalten, Argentina Hotel Kalenshen***

The hotel's rooms all overlook the mountains and have plasma TVs and free Wi-Fi. A swimming pool, spa and fitness center are other property amenities.

Hotel Poincenot*** (2 nights)

This property is located right in Los Glaciares National Park. Room amenities include a flat-screen TV, heating and a bathroom with a bathtub. The hotel's rooms are decorated in wood tones and a touch of urban design. Free Wi-Fi is available in the lobby.

Hotel Camparilla** or Hotel Tolkeyen***, Ushuaia, Argentina Hotel Camparilla**

The hotel was built in the style of the houses of Tierra del Fuego and offers wonderful views of the Martial mountain range.

Hotel Tolkeyen*** (2 nights)

The cozy rooms have private bathrooms, cable TV and minibars. Local and international specialties are served in the restaurant. Free Wi-Fi is available in the public areas.

Hotel Waldorf*** or Hotel Tribeca***, Buenos Aires, Argentina Hotel Waldorf***

Located about 150 yards from Calle Florida. Every morning, fresh croissants and other delicacies are served at the breakfast buffet in the bar. The rooms have a cable TV, minibar and a digital safe. Free Wi-Fi is available in the rooms and in the lobby.

Hotel Tribeca*** (3 nights)

The hotel is ideally located in the immediate vicinity of numerous bars, restaurants and other shopping facilities. The 40 rooms convey an appealing ambience and feature a checkroom, safe, kitchenette, LCD TV and other amenities.

Closest city: Santiago de Chile

Closest airport: Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport

Duration of the trip: 21 days/ 20 nights

Included

  • 20 overnight stays according to the program incl. breakfast
  • Personal assistance & welcome on site
  • Welcome dinner & briefing about the whole trip with documents (vouchers/maps)
  • 24/7 available emergency phone number
  • SIM card with USD 10 credit
  • Additional dinner on day 2
  • Private transfers
  • Rental car from day 3 - 16
  • Day 2: City Tour Santiago de Chile with public transport and guide and on foot
  • Day 5: Excursion in group with English speaking guide to the geysers El Taito incl. entrance fee
  • Day 6: City tour of Valparaíso with funicular and local guide
  • Day 7: Chilean cooking class in Valparaíso
  • Day 8: Boat trip to the penguin colony in an international group
  • Day 10: Entrance fee for the Torres del Paine National Park
  • Day 11: Boat trip in the Grey Glacier
  • Day 16: Boat trip in the Beagle Channel
  • Day 17: Full day excursion incl. entrance fee in an international group with English speaking local guide to the Tierra del Fuego National Park with a canoe trip in Lapataia Bay and lunch
  • Day 19: City tour on foot and via public transport with a guide in Buenos Aires
  • Day 20: Tango show with dinner incl. transfer and entrance fee

Not included

  • International flights
  • Santiago de Chile - Calama flight
  • Calama - Santiago de Chile flight
  • Santiago - Punta Arenas flight
  • Ushuaia - Buenos Aires flight
  • Optional excursions
  • Meals not mentioned
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses such as tips
  • Visa, if needed
  • Day 16: Port tax (approx. USD 3) is not included and must be paid locally at check-in for the Beagle Channel cruise.
  • Day 18: Airport tax (approx. USD 5) must be paid on site before departure.

Services & Notes

Please note that this trip is the standard option. You can always change the accommodations and upgrade the category.

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