Day - 1
Location: Santiago - Welcome to Santiago, Chile. Set within a circle of snow-capped mountains, Santiago is vibrant, artistic and gourmet. On arrival, take an included transfer to the hotel. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive early into Santiago, perhaps take a short walk to get your bearings of the city, with the Andes serving as a spectacular backdrop to your exploration.
Day - 2
Location: Santiago - Today at 10 am get to know Santiago on a walking tour with a local guide (approximately 2.5 hours). You’ll discover more about the city that was founded in 1541 by the Spaniard, Pedro de Valdivia, and has experienced a turbulent history filled with native conflicts, floods and earthquakes. Head to the Plaza de Armas, the heart of the city and home to the cathedral, and walk through the central market to try some local specialities. Next, take the cable car to the top of Cerro San Cristobal for the best view of the city. Finishing the tour in the bohemian Bellavista neighbourhood. Tonight, why not take the chance to dine out at one of the city's famous restaurants and sample some local ceviche.
Day - 3
Location: Valparaiso - Enjoy a free morning in Santiago. Perhaps visit the Mercado Central (Santiago’s celebrated fish market) to savour some breakfast empanadas with pebre, a delicious Chilean condiment of coriander, garlic, olive oil and peppers. At about 2 pm head west towards the coast. Stop for a wine tasting on the way in the Casablanca Valley, located about 45 minutes outside of Santiago. Sitting on a coastal plain between the capital and Valparaiso, the valley is Chile’s fastest growing wine region, with its rich soil and perfect climate making it a wine lover’s paradise. This visit (approximately one hour) is focused more on the sustainability and organic goals of the vineyard and the characters of biodiversity rather than tasting wine. Nice to know however that this area is known for crisp Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, but also for stunning reds like Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah. Continue (approximately 1.5 hours) through the lush green vineyards to the coast and the colourful city of Valparaiso, notable for its brightly hued houses spread across a series of hills overlooking the ocean. As a creative hub, the city has no shortage of options for a drink, so perhaps find yourself a place to sip some ancho reyes alongside locals for the evening.
Day - 4
Location: Valparaiso - Listed as a World Heritage centre in 2003, Valparaiso used to be South America’s busiest port before the opening of the Panama Canal. It has since transformed itself into Chile’s most creative city which you'll learn more about on the walking tour today at 9.30 am with a local guide (approximately 3.5 hours). The ramshackle streets have long been home to artists, writers and musicians so there is no shortage on visual inspiration to prompt some questions about its background. The hills of Cerro Concepcion and Cerro Alegre are dotted with kaleidoscopically coloured houses, with cobbled streets weaving sharply uphill and concealing all manner of galleries, restaurants and shops. Later on, visit the Lukas Museum which houses the collection of original works by the cartoonist, illustrator and chronicler Renzo Pecchenino, Lukas.
Day - 5
Location: Mendoza - At 9 am in the morning, travel through the Andes and across the Argentinean border by local bus to Mendoza (approximately 6 hours on the bus). Please note that crossing the border can take up to three hours depending on local traffic so it’s a good idea to bring plenty of water and snacks, as the trip may incur delays. On a clear day it may be possible to see Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas at 6962 meters above sea level. Once in Mendoza, get to know the city with a gentle stroll around its tree-lined streets, or visit the local cafes and restaurants for some Argentinean fare.
Day - 6
Location: Mendoza - Mendoza is Argentina's most prolific and significant grape-growing region, producing nearly three-quarters of the country's wine. The climate produces an excellent variety of grapes, with the region's signature being Malbec. Expect an 8.45 am pickup today, visit several wineries and cellar doors to see and taste the quality for yourself. Afterwards about 1 pm, stop at a closed door restaurant for an exclusive included lunch. Sit back and enjoy being served delicious food in this unique private eatery. Return to the centre around 3.30 pm. In the evening, perhaps test your palate by attempting to pair the perfect wine with an authentic Argentine asado (barbecue-style food). A visit to Aristides Villanueva Street after dark is a must if you enjoy a bit of nightlife. If you're feeling adventurous, try one of the most popular drinks in town: fernet with coke – an acquired taste and not for the faint-hearted!
Day - 7
Location: Estancia Stay - This afternoon fly from Mendoza to Buenos Aires, which only takes around one and a half hours. On arrival about 6 pm, travel in a minivan for just over an hour to a traditional estancia (ranch). This is where the group will be staying for the next couple of days. During your time here, you could go horse riding, take a cooking class or simply read a book. Estancias are ideal for relaxation and provide a great base for activities. Please remember that activities vary depending on the days that you are there. If in doubt, ask your trip leader for more information.
Day - 8
Location: Estancia Stay - Today, your leader can assist the ranch staff to brief you about the sport Polo. This nail biting game will enthral and impress you; combining skill, endurance, elegance and danger! Meet the horses up close and get a feel for the equipment and gear used. Later, head into the kitchen to take part in an mmpanada workshop! Empanada's are an Argentinean staple that resemble a small pie. They can be sweet but are most commonly savoury. During the workshop you will learn how to make the dough and a traditional filling from scratch. At some point today a local gaucho (cowboy) will pop in to the ranch for a chat.
Day - 9
Location: Buenos Aires - After breakfast travel back to cosmopolitan Buenos Aires (approximately 1.5 hours) to experience its old charm and cosmopolitan streets. Soak up the Argentinean capital’s irrepressible mix of European and Latin culture on an orientation walk with your leader. Visit Florida street, National Congress and the presidential palace of the Casa Rosada (Pink House) in the Plaza de Mayo. If there is time, your group may get to visit the Obelisk and possibly either La Boca or Recoleta. During the free afternoon, perhaps visit the elaborate tombs on display in the famous Recoleta Cemetery, be seduced by the world's most passionate dance at a tango bar, attend a raucous football match, or gorge yourself on the city's sophisticated culture and food.
Day - 10
Location: Buenos Aires - Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. Please not that you must comply with any of the hotel's internal check-out rules. If you're planning to stay on in Buenos Aires we can assist you in booking extra accommodation (subject to availability).