Which will prove the most exciting and the most memorable? Browsing round one of historic Santiago’s liveliest districts or staying in a luxury yurt in the heart of the untouched wilderness that is Torres del Paine National Park? Will you revel in the spectacular frozen beauty of Los Glaciares National Park with its mighty glaciers and crystal lakes, or be warmed by the life and soul of sophisticated Buenos Aries?
Or will the high point of your Patagonian adventure be cruising aboard the Stella Australis through the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel, following in the paths of the famous Portuguese navigator and Charles Darwin?
London – Madrid – Santiago
Your evening flight from London takes you to Madid where you’ll connect with your flight to Santiago, landing the following morning. You’ll be shown to a stylish hotel in one of the most fashionable districts of Santiago and enjoy tours of attractions like the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Alameda Bernardo O’Higgins, La Moneda and the Government Palace.
Chile’s capital is an involving, interesting city full of modern architecture and historic sights, so you’ll find it very rewarding to wander around Plaza de Armas, cruise the market stalls and craft workshops of the Pueblito Los Dominics, visit colourful districts like Bellavista and climb Santa Lucia Hill for panoramic views of the city.
Stay: One night in a superior room in the Lastarria Boutique Hotel.
For a complete change of scenery you’ll take a flight to Punta Arenas and drive into Torres del Paine National Park. Here you’ll be staying in a yurt – a luxurious way of camping that gives you a private bathroom and central heating – but still allows you the sensation of experiencing nature in the wild.
Which is great because you’ll be surrounded by an untouched wilderness and wildlife-rich forest. You’ll make the most of it with kayaking expeditions, strolling on wooden walkways through a lenga forest, exploring the park and relaxing beside picturesque waterfalls. And at night you’ll be able to go star-gazing without leaving your bed; your yurt has a skylight with uninterrupted views of the night sky.
Stay: Three nights in a yurt at Patagonia Camp.
Now it’s time for a highlight cruise. MV Stella Australis will take you on an unforgettable voyage from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia in Argentina – sailing through the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Canal. And along the way you’ll see fjords and bays, impressive glaciers and remote islands.
Your first day takes you along the legendary Strait of Magellan, through Patagonian Channels and around the fearsome Tierra del Fuego. The next brings Ainsworth Bay and the Alberto de Agostini National Park. Land excursions will show you a beaver dam, the subpolar Magellanic forest and perhaps a colony of elephant seals. On Zodiac expeditions you’ll encounter Magellanic penguins and cormorants.
The third day of cruising takes you to through Beagle Channel to magnificent Pia Fjord with its breath-taking Glacier Alley and spectacular ice field views.
On your final day aboard the Stella Australis you’ll navigate the Murray Channel and Nassau Bay to land at Cape Horn National Park – the feared tip of South America known to ancient sailors as the ‘End of the Earth’. Now a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, you’ll land at Wulaia Bay – following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin – and explore a Magellanic forest of lenga, coihue and canelo trees and ferns.
Stay: Four nights in an AA cabin aboard Stella Australis.
You’ll disembark at Ushuaia for your flight to Calafate. Back on terra firma you’ll find a new set of adventures await; your hosteria is part of a 165,000 acre working sheep ranch – the ideal setting for horse riding, mountain biking, fishing and trekking. Not to mention a nautical safari to see the region’s soaring waterfalls.
And then comes your expedition to Los Glaciares National Park featuring the fabled Perito Moreno Glacier, as well as glacier fed lakes, snow-capped peaks, primeval beech forests and massive icebound landscapes. You’ll even have the opportunity to ice-hike across a mighty glacier in a region known as ‘the third pole’.
Stay: Two nights at Hosteria Alta Vista.
San Carlos de Bariloche
One sensational visual experience is now followed by another. A flight from Cafayate takes you to Bariloche and a renowned art hotel decorated with more than 320 paintings and sculptures by famous local and international artists. As well as viewing the artwork you can sail across the hotel’s lake aboard a private launch – you are in the Argentine Lake District after all – and visit the Nahuel Huapi National Park.
Depending on when you time your visit you can go horse riding and paragliding, hike through wild and uninhabited mountains, fish or sail across sparkling lakes fed by glacial water. In winter the region offers superlative skiing and snow-boarding.
Stay: Three nights in a Nahuel studio at El Casco Art Hotel.
After the art and wildlife of Bariloche comes the life and soul of Argentina’s capital. You’ll fly back to Buenos Aries to find you’ll be staying in a chic, art hotel in the heart of the achingly stylish Recoleta area. So you’ll be surrounded by fashionable boutiques, sleek restaurants specialising in steaks, cool bars, tango venues and important museums and galleries.
Not to mention any number of boutique shops, classy stores and busy markets. A tour will take you to see Eva Peron’s grave, the antique fairs of San Telmo, the Teatro Colon and the colourful La Boca area.
Stay: Two nights at the Casa Sur Art Hotel.
Buenos Aires – Madrid – London
Make the most of your final day in Buenos Aries before flying out in the evening, bound for Madrid and London – arriving in the UK the next afternoon.