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Argentina | Brazil | Chile | Peru | Bolivia | Uruguay | Equador | Belize | Costa Rica

South America pulsates with a vibrant fusion of traditional and cutting-edge culture. While Buenos Aires is uniquely urbane with its southern European heritage, bohemian neighborhoods and the rippling essence of the tango, to the west and south, Patagonia and the rugged range of the Andes provide dramatic beauty, solitude and pristine lakes. A visit to an authentic estancia is a cultural must. A bit further west of this remote region and on the opposite side of the Andean divide stretches Chile with her fjords and vineyards. North of the cosmopolitan capital of Santiago and seaside cities of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, one finds the spectacular desert landscapes of the Atacama with its resident pink flamingoes.

Still to the north, Peru is home to the archaeological wonder of Machu Picchu and ancient Incan city of Cuzco. Lima's trendy sophistication and unsurpassed culinary scene are not to be missed. From Peru, the mighty Amazon flows to and through the massive country of Brazil whose resource-rich terrains and tropical eco-regions, indigenous peoples, colonial cities, expansive beaches and natural wonders like Iguassu Falls have given rise to Rio's sultry sound of the samba.

In our short summary, we shouldn’t fail to mention the pre-historic archipelago and living laboratory of the Galapagos Islands, and the pacific beauty and biological diversity of prosperous Costa Rica. Discover the high-spirited wonders of our immediate neighbors. These remarkable countries - on our doorstep – are only the tip of the iceberg!

The Atacama Desert - where the Stars are Huge!


Atacama Desert

a custom journey – independent or small group travel

The Atacama Desert is a remote playground of geysers, moon valleys and salt lakes - and where at night, the clear skies are littered with thousands of stars. Stretching 965km from Peru's southern border into northern Chile, the Atacama Desert is known as the driest place on Earth. There are sterile, intimidating stretches where rain has never been recorded. Extraordinarily, more than a million people live in the Atacama today. They crowd into coastal cities, mining compounds, fishing villages, and oasis towns. International teams of astronomers perched in observatories on the Atacama's coastal range probe the cosmos through perfectly clear skies. Determined farmers in the far north grow olives, tomatoes and cucumbers with drip-irrigation systems. In the altiplano, the descendants of the region's pre-Columbian natives (mostly Aymara and Atacama Indians) herd llamas and alpacas and grow crops with water from snowmelt streams.

The oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama, founded by the Spanish in 1577, provides a hub from which to explore the area. Activities in the Atacama include stargazing, trekking, horseback riding, mountain biking, or tours in 4 x 4 vehicles. There are also a number of natural and archaeological sites worth visiting: El Tatio, an active geyser field; the Salar de Atacama, a giant salt pan where you can find the Chaxas Lagoon; Moon Valley, featuring an eerily beautiful lunar landscape; Fort Quitor, a twelfth century fortification built by the indigenous Atacameño people; and the Puritama Hot Springs.

Because of its high altitude, nearly non-existent cloud cover, dry air, and lack of light pollution and radio interference from nearby cities, the Atacama Desert is one of the best places in the world to conduct astronomical observations, and thus is home to many sophisticated observatories – one which notably houses ALMA, a radio astronomy telescope built collaboratively in 2011 by Europe, the U.S., Canada, Japan and Chile.

This curious and otherworldly plateau provides a spectacular add-on to most any South American itinerary. Non-stop flights are readily available to Santiago from Buenos Aires, Rio, and Lima .. and Iguassu Falls is accessible by connection.

Here’s a mere sample of what we’re talking about: A classic 12-day sojourn that uncovers the passion of two South American countries in one fabulous itinerary. Bundle Buenos Aires, Iguassu Falls, Santiago, and the breathtaking Atacama Desert into one amazing journey.

Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa

Suggested Itinerary-at-a-Glance:

  • Day 1: Arrive Buenos Aires / Alvear Palace
  • Day 2: Buenos Aires / Alvear Palace (B)
  • Day 3: Buenos Aires / Alvear Palace (B,L)
  • Day 4: Iguassu Falls / Belmond Hotel das Cataratas (B)
  • Day 5: Iguassu Falls / Belmond Hotel das Cataratas (B)
  • Day 6: Santiago / Ritz-Carlton Santiago (B)
  • Day 7: Santiago / Ritz-Carlton Santiago (B,L)
  • Day 8: Santiago / Ritz-Carlton Santiago (B,L)
  • Day 9: San Pedro de Atacama / Hotel Awasi or Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa (B,L,D) *
  • Day 10: San Pedro de Atacama / Hotel Awasi or Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa (B,L,D)
  • Day 11: San Pedro de Atacama / Hotel Awasi or Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa (B,L,D)
  • Day 12: San Pedro de Atacama / Hotel Awasi or Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa (B,L,D)
  • Day 13: Santiago / Departure (B,L)
    * Your Choice

Experience the best of the best when you explore South America with this exciting itinerary, discovering the passion of the tango, the majesty of Iguassu Falls, the delight of Santiago and the wonder of the Atacama Desert.

Begin your journey in Buenos Aires at the Alvear Palace, where quality accommodations and service excell. Enjoy a delicious dinner while watching one of the best tango shows in the country, and then tour the amazing architecture and fascinating cultural facets of the city.

Next stop is the magnificent Iguassu Falls. Enjoy exciting tours of this wonder of nature from your comfortable base at the beautiful Belmond Hotel das Cataratas. Included here is a spectacular helicopter flight over the falls that provides a view both unbelievable and unforgettable.

Move on to Santiago, Chile, and the luxurious Ritz-Carlton, from which base you can discover the wonderful Chilean winelands region and the quaint, colorful city of Valparaíso.

Your adventure rounds out with the stunning scenery of the Atacama Desert, the driest desert on Earth. Enjoy the delightful Hotel Awasi in the oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama or the unique Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa with its six swimming pools, explore the area with a private guide, and discover the natural and cultural history of the region.

 Horse riding at Atacama Desert

Activities in the Atacama

Jeep outings/sightseeing in 4-wheel-drive vehicles
Bicycle excursions
Horseback riding
Bird watching and wildlife excursions
Visit to El Tatio geysers
Archaeological excursions
Stargazing
Trekking
Mountain climbing
Moon Valley exploration
Puritama Hot Springs

Bicycle excursions

in collaboration/Ker & Downey

 


Condé Nast Traveler Award
Resorts & Charted Courses

"World's Top Travel Specialists"
SALLIE MASSIE for Destination MONACO
Four-Time Award Recipient - Condé Nast Traveler

Condé Nast Traveler Award
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