From busy Buenos Aires you’ll find a soothing contrast in the Parana River Delta at Tigre. You’ll journey from Tucuman through tranquil green hills and seemingly endless forests to the Calchaqui Valleys and – via Little Hell – on to Cafayate.
You can mix visits to churches with tours of wineries and craft markets before heading off to see natural wonders like 60 million year old gorges, Los Cardones National Park, the sparkling mesmeric salt flats around Salta, and the Seven Colors Hills by Purmamarca.
London – Buenos Aires
Take an evening flight from London Heathrow to Buenos Aires, arriving early the following morning. You’ll be met and escorted to your hotel, just 45 minutes away.
Stay: Two nights in a superior room at Club Frances.
Since your hotel is set in the heart of Recoleta – one of the most fashionable districts of Buenos Aires – you’ll have ample opportunity to browse the charming streets, upmarket restaurants and shops of this vivacious area. A half day city tour will introduce you to the ‘Paris of South America’ with its grand architecture and cultural influences from around the world.
You’ll visit parks and La Boca, the old slave market, the flea market, the Plaza de Mayo and the great Metropolitan Cathedral and watch tango performances in the evening. The following day you’ll experience the style of San Isidro and the stunning views from Tigre over the Parana River Delta.
You can walk beside the river, wind your way through quaint streets, visit the fruit market and take an exclusive boat ride to lunch on a private island.
In the morning you fly to Tucuman, known for its beautiful scenery – a mixture of rolling hills and a vast forest. You’ll tour the small agricultural town of Tafi del Valle in an area known for its ancient menhirs, before climbing up to Las Carreras, a small settlement founded by Jesuits around 300 years ago. Today Las Carreras is a luxurious hotel that still reflects its heritage, the art of textile producers using centuries-old techniques and the local culture.
Stay: One night in a standard room at Estancia Las Carreras.
After lunch you embark on a journey to Cafayate that winds through a place called Little Hell, before arriving in the Calchaqui Valleys. The scenery is nothing short of miraculous, and ever-changing. Pushing on, the countryside changes dramatically from svelte grass-cloaked mountains to desert highlands. You pass through the spectacular fortifications of the town of Quilmes dating back to 800 AD and nowadays a centre for the Quilmes Native Community.
After an unforgettable journey you’ll arrive in the small city of Cafayate, known for its Torrontes wine and crafts market. The following day you’ll tour the region’s fine wineries, visit a cathedral with five aisles and tour the Archaeological Museum before exploring the weird natural sandstone sculptures and weather-carved rock formations of the Shells’ Gorge.
Stay: Two nights in a double gallery view room at Patios de Cafayate.
Head off along the Calchaqui River Valley and you’ll be treated to a procession of breath-taking views and untouched villages culminating in the picturesque town of San Carlos which is gathered around the Jesuit mission.
Arrows Gorge will reveal extraordinary geological wonders formed during the last 60 million years, whilst the tucked away wineries of Colome and Tacuil invite you to sample the refined local version of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The snow-capped peak of Nevado Cachi heralds your arrival at your hotel, just a couple of kilometres from Cachi with its white buildings, traditional adobe homes and attractive stone-paved streets.
Stay: One night in a double mountain view room at La Merced del Alto.
Giant cactus will point the way from Cachi to Salta as you travel through Los Cardones National Park, Recta de Tin Tin and the aptly-named Enchanted Valley. You’ll descend from Cuesta del Obispo’s spectacular panoramic views to the Valley of Lerma and on to stay on a working estancia just outside Salta.
Dating back over 200 years the farm now raises cattle, horses and sugar cane. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in the farming, the natural flora and fauna of this 3000 hectare estate, whilst enjoying a choice of cultural, historic and rural experiences devised by the farm staff.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at El Bordo de las Lanzas.
Today the Humahuaca Canyon beckons. Incas once travelled this route which today takes you through irresistible little villages untouched by time, interesting local markets, the remains of Inca fortified towns and settlements where you’ll find small museums featuring some incredible archaeological artefacts.
In Tilcara you’ll be on the edge of the Grande River in a town comprising narrow streets, adobe buildings and a fortress built by the Humahuaca’s original inhabitants, complete with cactus garden. You’ll be staying close to the main square, in the town’s delightful old quarter.
Stay: Two nights in a double suite at Las Marias Boutique Hotel.
Set off early in the morning to Salta and you’ll have plenty of time to discover the colonial village of Purmamarca, set at the foot of the astonishing Seven Colours Hills where different geological eras are picked out in purple, red, green, ochre, brown, yellow and white rocks.
You’ll take in the main church, founded in 1648, and a 500 year old tree. Journey on to the Great Salt Flats and you’ll be able to witness the mirror mirage created by sunshine on the salt surface. On the way to Salta City you’ll pass through the soaring canyons of the Northern Andes as well as visiting the mighty, pre-Inca city of Santa Rosa de Tastil. You’ll stay the night in a mansion in the old part of Salta.
Stay: One night in a deluxe room at Legado Mitico Salta.
It’s time to return to Buenos Aires, but before you depart you can tour Salta’s main square, its cathedral and archbishop’s palace and variety of churches. You can also gain a new perspective on the city by taking a cable car to the top of San Bernardo Hill whilst nearby San Lorenzo offers magnificent mansions with flowering gardens, ancient trees, sparkling streams and picnic spots.
Then it’s time for your early evening flight back in Buenos Aires and another opportunity to explore one of South America’s greatest cities. You could try the optional Tango Rojo Show, complete with banquet dinner, or simply wander around Palermo Viejo – the city’s premier food and drink district.
Stay: Two nights in a superior room at Legado Mitico.
Buenos Aires – London
An early afternoon flight from Buenos Aires International Airport takes you directly to London, arriving at Heathrow the next morning.