Up in the Aires
Bolivia, Chile, Argentina – do South America in style. Touch down in lovely La Paz, rattle around in an old Potosi mine, do wheelies in the Uyuni salt flats and spend a night star-gazing in San Pedro Atacama. Top things off with a Pucon volcano hike, meander the Mendoza with a wine (or two) in hand and tuck into a juicy steak (sorry vego friends) in BA. Que rico!
Unlucky in love? Out for revenge? Need a cure for hayfever? Get your cocoa leaves read, buy a spell or pick up a dried llama fetus (ideal for sacrificing) at the witches market in La Paz.
Day 1-2 - La Paz
In La Paz you can buy potions from a Witches' Market or go to a museum and learn all about the infamous Coca plant (among other things). Latin America will knock your socks off from day one.
- Arrive La Paz, pre-departure meeting at 6pm.
- Go on an orientation walk with your tour leader
- Enjoy free time to relax or explore the cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways and markets of La Paz
- Board an overnight bus to Sucre on Day 2 (approx 12-13 hours), take warm clothes for the bus ride
Day 3-4 - SucreLeave La Paz for Sucre, known as Bolivia's most beautiful city. There are real-life dinosaur footprints at nearby Cal Orck'o too, so you should probably check them out at some point.Perhaps head to Recoleta, an old convent on top of the hill with a great viewSpend some time in Plaza 25 de MayoMaybe visit the 60 million-year-old dinosaur footprints at Cal Orcko
Day 5-6 - PotosiIn Potosi you can take a trip into one of Bolivia's old tin mines. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but those who squeeze through the tunnels will surely be in for an unforgettable (see: dark, dirty and scary) experience.Travel by local bus to Potosi (approx 3-4 hours)Perhaps tour the tin mines and meet the miners - this can be distressing, the conditions are poor and smallAlternatively spend time exploring colonial art and architecture in the town
Day 7-9 - Uyuni- Salar de UyuniEverybody knows that too much salt is bad for you. The Uyuni salt flats, however, aren't bad for you. Jump into some 4WD vehicles and spend three days taking in the multicoloured lakes, wildlife and islands of Salar de Uyuni.Travel by local bus to Uyuni (between 5 and 7 hours)Day 7Explore the salt lake (between December and March the lake can be flooded, the itinerary will be adapted accordingly)Day 8
Drive through amazing landscapes, stopping at Laguna Colorado, a rich red lakeDay 9
Awake early and continue drivingThis trip can be tough going with long travel days in 4WDs on dusty tracks, freezing temperatures, basic toilet facilities and multishare accommodation - it is also amazing and well worth the challengeBreakfast
Day 10 - San Pedro de AtacamaSan Pedro de Atacama isn't the kind of town you'll forget in a hurry. Surrounded by the kind of scenery that makes you happy to be alive, it's a good place to have a look at some Indian artifacts. It's also renowed for being a stargazing hotspot, which is nice.The 4x4 adventure through the Salt Flat region ends in San Pedro de Atacama - Chile, a small town in the Atacama desertExplore tree lined streets, the sleepy plaza, and the fascinating museum with mummies and other Indian artefactsBreakfast
Day 11-14 - SaltaTake a 12-hour bus ride (yeah, we're sorry) to Salta. Showcasing some of the finest pre-Columbian and colonial history, Salta's a damn fine place to spend a couple of days. Go bungee jumping or horse riding, if you fancy it, or just spend your time wandering the streets of 'Salta the Pretty'.Drive on to Salta, Argentina (approx 12 hrs)Explore the colonial architecture and central square, Plaza 9 de Julio - home to the Cabildo, Cathedral and Casa del Gobierno (Government House)Perhaps hike to the top of Cerro San Bernardo, there are 1070 steps in total, for the less active, there's also a gondola - this is a great place to watch the sunsetChoose from a number of optional adventure activities including rafting, bungee jumping and horse ridingMaybe take a paddle boat on the lake, visit the museums or walk the streetsOn Day 14, travel by overnight bus to Mendoza (approx 18 hours)
Day 15-17 - MendozaTour some of Mendoza's wineries and learn about the region's wine making history. If you can remember any of the history when you wake up the following morning, there's a chance you didn't sample enough wine.Spend a day touring the wineries, especially Malbec the region's signature varietyExplore Mendoza itself, there are a number of parks, squares and parks, visit San Martin St with Plaza IndependenciaPerhaps visit the Mercado Central (Central Market) and try local treats - empanadas (meat pastries), cheese, ham, marinated olives and local winesAv. Aristides Villanueva is the place to be at night, try Fernet with Coke - a bitter alcoholic cocktail
Day 18-21 - SantiagoAnother long drive, but arriving in Santiago will make you forget about your numb bum. With more galleries, cafes and bars than you can shake a chacarero (Chile's signature sandwich) at.Travel by local bus across the Andes to Chile and its capital, Santiago (approx 7-9 hours depending on border crossing conditions)Go on a walking tour of the city with your tour leader, visit the Plaza de Armas, the Central Market and Palacio de la MonedaPerhaps take a cable car up to Cerro San Cristobal, and enjoy impressive views on a clear dayYou could visit the Paris Quarter for a look at local life
Day 22-24 - Pucon
Pucon is a thrillseeker's dream. Hike up a volcano, go mountain biking, whitewater rafting, hiking, climbing, horse riding, or whatever else you can think of to get your adrenaline pumping. If adrenaline isn't your thing, blow off some steam in one of the many bars of restaurants.
You have two full days (after your arrival day) in Pucon to enjoy the optional activities - mountain biking, whitewater rafting, hiking, climbing, horse ridingPerhaps visit the casino at Hotel de Lago
Day 25-26 - San Martin De Los Andes
The Lake District of Argentina, San Martin de Los Andes plays host to heaps of lakeside pursuits. Like skiing. Or trekking. Or sleeping.
Travel by local bus across the Andes to San Martin de los Andes, hopefully you'll arrive in San Martin de los Andes before 4pm, depending on the border crossingOn the shore of Lake Lacar, surrounded by the Lanin National Park, San Martin de los Andes is a picturesque town with great skiing and hiking depending on the seasonEnjoy optional activities here
Day 27-29 - BarilocheThere's lots of fine dining to be done in Bariloche, but there's probably lots of less-than-fine dining too. Be careful out there. Pick up some chocolate and oogle over the wooden architecture. If wooden architecture isn't your thing, there's some skiing, trekking or mountaineering to be done.Ski on the peaks of Cerro Catedral (in season), hike or bike around its baseHike or bike to Cerro Otto, the locals' favourite lookout pointPerhaps visit the revolving cafe at the peak with 360° views
Day 30-32 - Buenos Aires
Take an overnight bus to Buenos Aires
Vegetarians, look away. Everyone else, your first order of business is to find the nearest parrilla (steak house) and order a big, plump, juicy piece of the world's best steak.
Explore the sights - churches, cathedrals and historic buildings
Perhaps spend time in a streetside cafe, and enjoy a night of tango at a milonga
Attend optional farewell dinner
What to Know
An experienced tour guide in Bolivia, Chile and in Argentina, and there will be the services of local guides at some sites. All transportation, sightseeing, accommodation and meals as indicated.
- International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
This tour passes through volcanic areas. In the instance a volcano becomes potentially dangerous and authorities declare nearby towns unsafe for travel, the itinerary will be re-routed. Where possible, Geckos will provide advance notice of such changes. At short notice, when this is not possible, your tour leader will provide up to date information on behalf of Geckos.
Trip Dates and Prices
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