A journey starting in northern Argentina travelling south through the spectacular mountain scenery of the Andes to the southern tip of Chile and beyond. A visually rewarding and varied trip, the dry barren landscapes of north west Argentina and Atacama desert, the lush green forests and volcanoes of the lake district, glacier dominated Southern Patagonia and finishing in the truly remote continent of Antarctica.
Start this epic South American journey in the exciting city of Buenos Aries, a vibrant, cosmopolitan place with a plethora of things to see and do. In stark contrast travel north west to the remote and other-worldly region of Salta. Travel by 4x4 through the high puna area, a dramatic expanse of ochre deserts studded with cacti, incredible rock formations, salt lakes and small mining towns. This is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular places on earth. Miles away from anywhere this is a landscape of untouched, craggy wilderness, where very few people have ever been.
Cross over the border into the Atacama desert in Chile before flying down to explore the Chilean Lake District, a land of glacial lakes, snow-capped volcanoes, hot springs and national parks. Aside from the spectacular scenery, there is every kind of outdoor activity possible from white-water rafting, horse riding through the Andes and for the more adventurous the opportunity to climb to the top of the active Villarrica Volcano. The journey continues over the border to Argentina via the Andean lakes, one of the most scenic border crossings to Los Glaciares National Park and the mighty Perito Moreno Glacier. Travel high over the Andes mountains and back into Chile and the windswept Torres del Paine National Park on the southernmost tip of the Patagonia Ice Cap. A national park with meandering rivers, huge turquoise lakes, glaciers and endless hiking opportunities all dominated by the granite mountain sculpture that is the Torres del Paine Massif.
After a few days of trekking, hiking, horse-riding and sailing - and when you think it can’t get any more remote – take a two hour flight to Antarctica for a five day expeditionary voyage around the peninsula.
For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.
what is included
what is excluded
PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.
Fly London to Buenos Aires overnight
Half Day City TourA fascinating 4-hour tour of the elegant turn-of-the-century districts that earned Buenos Aires the sobriquet 'the Paris of South America'. Begin the tour on the charming cobbled alleyways of San Telmo with its colonial architecture, before moving on to the Plaza de Mayo that is dominated by the the government house Casa Rosada, the Nación Bank, the cathedral and the original parliament houses. Continue up the leafy Avenida de Mayo towards the imposing grandeur of the Palace of Congress, before ending your tour at the historically fascinating Recoleta Cemetery. Discover the facts, stories and anecdotes that make up the colourful tapestry that is Buenos Aires.Known as 'The Paris of Latin America', Buenos Aires is quite simply one of the world's greatest cosmopolitan cities. World class museums and leading restaurants jostle for space with boutique shops and antique markets, and the colonial architecture and cobbled streets of San Telmo contrast with the modern lines and waterfront designs of up and coming Puerto Madero. It is a city with a colourful and fascinating history, which has given rise to a variety of neighbourhoods from the uber trendy Palermo Soho to the bohemian charm of La Boca, the birth place of tango.
You will be staying at Pulitzer, Bed & Breakfast
Day at Leisure with Optional SightseeingFree day to explore Buenos Aires. Here are some of the best ways to spend your time in this vibrant city:- Learn to tango in one of the city's famous milongas (dance halls)- Linger over a martini in the opulent surroundings of the Alvear Palaces lobby bar;- Watch a game of polo involving some of the world's leading players;- Check out the trendy bar and restaurant scene in hip Palermo Viejo;- Explore the riverside suburb of Tigre and cruise the waterways of the Delta;- Experience gaucho culture and traditional rural life on a Pampas estancia;- Make a day trip by ferry across the Plata River to explore the charming UNESCO town of Colonia in Uruguay.
Fly Buenos Aires to Salta
In the heart of the dramatic province of Salta lies the city of Salta itself, a charismatic colonial gem situated in a beautiful, mountainous region that makes a comfortable base for exploration of the dramatic surrounding landscapes. Once you've explored the city's striking architecture, museums and handicrafts market, there are plenty of excursions to consider further afield.
You will be staying at Legado Mitico, Salta, Bed & Breakfast
Salta to Tolar Grande
Salta / Quebrada del Toro / San Antonio del los Cobres / Labyrinth Desert / Tolar Grande100 KM paved Road. 250 KM gravel road Altitude 4.500 MTS Above Sea Level (ASL). to 3.600 MTS ASLJust 30 kilometres from Salta, the Toro Gorge is a natural rise that connects the green valley of Lerma, rich in tobacco, with the Puna, an arid plateau at more than 3500 metres. Over a distance of less than 100 km this wild gorge rises from 1200 metres to the Abra Blanca Pass at 4000 metres above sea level and the gateway to the Puna. The pass was part of the Royal Inca Trail, a strategic trail of 5000km built to unite the Inca Empire from Quito in Ecuador to Mendoza in Argentina. San Antonio de los Cobres, the capital of the Puna, is a dusty village and the last contact with civilisation before reaching the desert. It is also one of the head stations of the Train to the Clouds. Abra Chorrilos is the highest point and there one can learn about the Apacheta and its cultural importance for the Andean culture. After crossing the salt lake of Pocitos, begin a 3-hour drive through wild and untouched nature. The Labyrinth Desert is a 10 million-year fossil dune desert formed by clay picks and gypsum crystals. Today it is possible to drive across this natural wonder, a must for photography enthusiasts. Arrive at the tiny village of Tolar Grande, one of the most remote places on earth. It lies at the edge of a giant depression, the Salar de Arizaro, one of the largest salt flats in the world, and from this tiny old railway village built in 1940 there is a unique view over the western ridge of the Cordillera, an infinite skyline of volcanoes that tower to heights above 6000 meters.
You will be staying at Casa Andina, Full board
Tolar Grande and the surrounding areaTolar Grande has some exceptional sights nearby and so is a great base for exploring the puna's dramatic landscape. Here are some of the highlights:- Located approx 20 minutes from Tolar Grande, Ojos del Mar (Eyes of the Sea) are vivid blue pools of water in the middle of a startling white salar. The waters reflect the surrounding mountains in the morning sunlight and are a gift to all photographers. Top tip - for the best photographs, ask your travelling companion to wear a brightly coloured top to stand out as a reflection.- Cono de Arita - like a mirage, the volcanic cone of Arita rises alone out of the salt flats- From Tolar Grande hike to a hidden sand dune in the middle of the desert for spectacular views of the surrounding peaks, such as the Sacred Macon Mountain and the Llullaillaco Volcano.- Drive to Caipe, the old railway station from where all the minerals being mined in this area were transported to Salta. The station has long been abandoned and so there is a ghost town feel to this site and the views from the station across the colossal Salar de Arizaro are other worldly.- Labyrinth Desert is a 10 million-year fossil dune desert formed by ancient sediment and clay picks. Like enormous earth coloured jelly moulds, the dunes have been shaped by the weather and provide a spectacular back drop for photography
Tolar Grande to El Peñon
Tolar Grande / El Penon. 60 KM Paved Road and 280 KM Gravel and Salt RoadAltitude 4.500 M to 3.400 M.The crossing of the Arizaro dry salt lake follows the ancient itinerary of the shepherds guiding caravans of animals to Chile. The name Arizaro means Vulture Cemetery and comes from a period when many animals (cows and horses) died during the crossing of the salt flats becoming food for the vultures. A secondary road, opened by miners in search of copper and gold, leads to Arita Cone, a pyramid that stands out on the white plains of Arizaro. Antofalla is an important and spectacular example of a Puna oasis. In the middle of a high altitude desert there is a green valley thanks to a natural pure water spring, where poplar and willow trees grow in abundance. Antofalla, together with Antofagasta and Santa Rosa were important stations for caravans of llamas connecting this part of the Andes with the oasis of Atacama. The oasis is located just on the edge of the longest salt flat in the world, between red mountains and stretches of lava. Antofalla is still inhabited by a tiny community of 60 shepherds. Lunch in one of their homes and then cross the blinding white mirror of the salt flats. The valley of Calalaste, just a few kilometres away from Vega Colorada is the best spot to find wild llama and vicuña (the Andean cousins of the camel). It is a big village with more than 2.000 people who maintain their ancient traditions and culture. The name Antofagasta means "place where the sun shines" and it is surrounded by numerous volcano peaks. Overnight in El Peñon, a small village perched at 3.400 metres, where mostly shepherds live and work. It is one of the last authentic Puna villages, where water and green grass allow the grazing of llamas, goats and sheep.
You will be staying at Hosteria El Penon, Full board
Excursions around El PenonThere are plenty of spectacular sites nearby to El Penon, making it the perfect base for exploration of the puna. Here are some of the highlights:- Campo de Piedra Pomez (Pumice stone fields). A volcanic explosion akin to that of a nuclear bomb gave rise to the pumice stone fields just outside El Penon. Like enormous pavlovas, these flat topped rocks have been whipped into shapes by a combination of wind, sand and sun and make for a remarkable sight on the harsh puna horizon. Find your own rock, climb it, sit quietly and enjoy the space and the serenity.- Laguna Grande is a saline lake that sits at an altitude of 4,150 mts and during the spring provides refuge for upto 20,000 flamingoes. Remote, rugged and very photogenic. - Antofagasta de la Sierra is the biggest oasis on the route connecting this side of the Andes with the Atacama in Chile and today is a village with a population of 2,000 people. Antofagasta means "place where the sun shines" and it is surrounded by a myriad volcanic peaks.- Duna Blanco - climb this mighty sand dune and take advantage of one of the best views in the puna.- Salar de Antofallita - vast salt flat dotted with black, volcanic cones and mini blue pools.
El Peñon to Salta
El Penon / Salta. 440 KM Paved Road, 50 KM Gravel Road. Altitude 4.500 M to 1.100 M.After three days of intense travelling on the high desert plateau of the Puna, the North West still has plenty of surprises. The paved road from El Peñón to Route 40 is a 150 km long yellow field of paja brava (native grasses) only broken by white lagoons and a narrow canyon filled with rich vegetation. At Santa Maria, enjoy a real Argentine asado, with a simple parrilla prepared by a local gaucho. After a quick stop in Cafayate, a pleasant town surrounded by green vineyards, and with the best light of the day traverse the Quebrada de las Conchas Gorge, 55 km of scenic sedimentary rock formations, dating from 40 to a hundred million years ago, with geological formations such as the Yacoraite or the Pirguas, arriving back in Salta and its green valley after 5 days of unique adventure.
Bus journey from Salta, Argentina to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
A journey of approximately 12 hours.
Sitting at 2,400 metres above sea level, San Pedro de Atacama is a charming oasis town in the heart of the Atacama Desert. The climate in San Pedro is pleasant throughout the year and the clarity of the nightsky is fantastic for stargazing. The tiny, dusty, oasis town with unpaved streets serves as a base from where to explore the absolutely outstanding, natural, geographic beauty of the area.
You will be staying at Hotel Altiplanico, Bed & Breakfast
Atacama ActivitiesThe Atacama Desert can be explored on foot, on horseback, by bicycle or jeep from San Pedro. Here are some of the best ways to spend your time:Enjoy a spectacular sunset in the eerie desertscape of The Moon Valley.Take a trip to the impressive Atacama salt lake, the largest in Chile, home to migratory birds including flamingos. Watch steam rising in the early morning from the El Tatio geysers. Visit the striking Menique and Miscanti Lagoons.Explore the emerald green waters of Laguna Verde, just over the border in Bolivia, and admire mighty Licancabur Volcano.Visit San Pedro de Atacama’s excellent archaeological museum and adobe church.Hike or mountain bike into the surrounding desert wilderness and stunning mountain scenery. Trek and climb up some of the surrounding mountains: Lascar 5,591m, Licancabur 5,916m, Aguas Calientes 5,924m, Sairecabur 6,010m.4x4 jeep excursions into the desert.Hot air balloon over the Atacama Desert. Astronomical tours in the evening.
Travel from San Pedro de Atacama to Calama airport
A journey of approximately one and a half hours.
Fly Calama to Temuco
Car HirePick up place: Temuco Airport Drop off place: Puerto Varas Airport Duration of hire: 6 days Type of vehicle: Car
Drive from Temuco to Pucon
A 45 minute scenic drive.
Pucón in the Chilean Lake district, has an idyllic setting right on the edge of Lago Villarrica, beneath snowcapped Villarrica Volcano. It offers a great base for a variety of outdoor activities or a wonderful spot to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery. Activities include sailing on the lake, mountain biking, horse riding, rafting, kayaking, fly fishing or walking through the National Parks. For the adventurous it is possible to climb and ski the Villarica volcano.
You will be staying at Monte Verde Lodge, Bed & Breakfast
Pucon activitiesPucón is located on the edge of Lago Villarrica and below snow-capped Villarrica Volcano. From Pucon there are a large choice of activities and excursions: sailing on the lake, visiting hot springs and waterfalls, walking through the Huerquehue National Park, rafting down the River Trancura, riding up to the mountains, mountain biking and fly-fishing. If you are feeling adventurous, climb up to the summit of Villarica volcano itself, from where you will be rewarded with views of the surrounding region.
Drive from Pucon to Huilo Huilo
A journey of about one and a half hours.
The Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve is found in the Chilean Lake District, in the middle of the Temperate Humid Forest in the south of Chile. This private project is located along the shores of Pirihueico Lake, near Panguipulli, and it boasts 60,000 hectares (144,000 acres) of land. There are 250 km. (156 miles) of paths and trails throughout the hundreds of tree species, which enable you to discover untouched beaches, river sources, springs and lagoons, bird refuges and native wildlife.This area is ideal for tracking down animals such as deer, foxes and pumas; horse riding; mountain biking; fly fishing among the waterfalls and underground caverns of the Blanco River; bathing in the hot springs; zip lining or canopy at 70 m (230 ft.) above the ground; or sailing, rafting and kayaking in the Fuy, Enco, and Pirihueico Rivers. There are some lovely gentle walks thought the forest and along the riverside also.
You will be staying at Hotel Nothofagus, Bed & Breakfast
Huilo Huilo activitiesTime to yourself to explore the temperate rainforest reserve of Huilo Huilo with its huge variety of flora and fauna including forty metre trees. Fauna include varieties of reptile, impressive birdlife, mammals such as the pudu deer and guanacos among others. Activities on offer locally include rafting, kayaking, hiking, canopy walks.
Drive from Huilo Huilo to Puerto Varas
A journey of approximately three hours.
You will be staying at Estancia 440, Bed & Breakfast
Car HireDrop off place: Puerto Varas Airport Type of vehicle: Car
Lake Crossing from Chile to ArgentinaA stunning full day journey through the Andes by boat and bus to the pretty Argentine town of Bariloche. The scenery en route is of snow-capped volcanoes and emerald lakes - some of the most striking landscapes that the Chilean and Argentinean Lake Districts have to offer.Travel alongside Lago Llanquihue visiting the spectacular Petrohue Falls en route before crossing Lago Todos Los Santos by boat enjoying views across the deep blue glacial lake of the snow-capped mountain ranges of the Andes. At the small town of Peulla disembark and continue to the Argentine border. From here you then cross beautiful Lago Frias and continue to Bariloche.Puerto Varas, on the southwestern corner of stunning Lago Llanquihue, is a popular destination and base for those that want to explore the breathtaking scenery of the Chilean Lake District. Overlooked by the impressive snowcapped cone of the Osorno Volcano, this pretty resort town is a good jumping off point for a wide variety of excursions in the surrounding area. These include walking amongst 4000-year-old alerce trees in Alerce Andino National Park, climbing Osorno Volcano, rafting down Rio Petrohue, fishing in Lago Llanquihue, bird watching and lake boat cruises.
You will be staying at Posada Los Juncos, Bed & Breakfast
Fly Bariloche to El Calafate
Calafate lies on the shores of Lago Argentino, one of the largest lakes in Argentina. Originally a small outpost catering to the local wool trade, due to its convenient proximity to the Perito Moreno glacier and the Los Glaciares National Park, in recent years the town has experienced phenomenal growth and is now a very comfortable base from which to explore the area with excellent facilities for visitors.
You will be staying at Hosteria La Estepa, Bed & Breakfast
Perito Moreno Glacier full day visitA full day visit to the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier located 80 kilometres from Calafate within Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. This majestic glacier descends from the Patagonian ice cap into Lake Argentino forming a heavily-crevassed glacial front three kilometres wide and up to 60 metres high. It is one of the few glaciers in the world that is still advancing and can be enjoyed by a series of wooden viewing platforms from where you might be lucky to see vast chunks of ice calving off the front of the glacier and crashing into the lake below. Trekking on the glacier with crampons can be arranged (at a supplement, needs to be prebooked).
Travel from El Calafate, Argentina to Torres del Paine, Chile
A road journey of between five and six hours.
Torres del Paine National Park is an UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve of stunning beauty, located on the southernmost tip of the Patagonia Ice Cap. Electric blue icebergs float on vividly coloured lakes of turquoise and aquamarine, while golden beech forests cling to the base of colossal granite pinnacles - this is a landscape of rare beauty.The National Park also supports a fragile eco-system of fauna including the guanaco, fox, condor, rhea and elusive puma. Without question, Torres del Paine and its captivating scenery and ultimate remoteness, is one of the highlights of South America.
You will be staying at Hotel Las Torres Patagonia, Full board
Torres del Paine activitiesDays to spend exploring Torres del Paine National Park. There are many excursions offered by the lodge whether by boat, on foot, on horse back or by jeep:- Visit the iceberg cemetery at the southern tip of Lake Grey- Hike up to the tarn at the base of the Torres del Paine, the near vertical granite spires that give the park its name; this is perhaps the parks most photogenic spot- Sail across Lake Nordenskjold and hike up Valle de Frances for views of the Cuernos del Paine (Horns of Paine), an amphitheatre of majestic granite peaks- Trek or ride to Lake Pingo, Salto Grande (waterfalls) or Mirador Nordenskjold, all three boast superb views- Traverse the Up and Over route passing saline lakes and stunning views- Look out for condor and it is often possible to walk to their craggy nests- Ride from one estancia to another.
Road journey from Torres del Paine to Punta Arenas
A journey of approximately 6 hours.
Situated at the foot of The Andes with striking views across the Straits of Magellan to Tierra Del Fuego, Punta Arenas is Patagonia's liveliest and most interesting city. Made rich by the wool boom following the importation of sheep from The Falklands in the 19th century, vestiges of the town's heyday remain today in the form of fine colonial architecture and interesting history. The town itself is compact with everything within walkable distance. A visit to the extraordinary Palacio Sara Braun and the manicured cemetery are strongly recommended.
Punta ArenasIn the evening you will join the rest of the passengers who you will be joining on the Antarctica XXI Fly/ Cruise to Antarctica tomorrow for a pre-cruise dinner in the Hotel Jose Nogueira.
You will be staying at Hotel Cabo de Hornos, Bed & Breakfast
Fly to South Shetlands to Board the BoatTransfer to Punta Arenas airport for the approx 2 hour flight down to King George Island on the South Shetlands, Antarctic. Met at the Chilean airbase, from where it is a 15 minute walk to the harbour, here the zodiacs leave to join your expedition ship to explore Antarctica.
You will be staying at Ocean Nova, Full board
Aitcho & Deception IslandMorning visit to Aitcho Island and its Gentoo and Antarctic Penguin colonies and then onto Deception Island in the afternoon. This beautiful island was formed by volcanic activity that resulted in a sea-flooded crater, still active today. Your ship will carefully navigate through the narrow gateway, called Neptune's Bellow. Visit to the ruins of the Norwegian Whaling Station and BAS (British Antarctica Survey) shelter, evacuated in 1967 after a volcanic eruption. Guided tour to Neptune's Bellows, a nesting site of the Cape Petrel. If the weather is suitable there will be a dip in hot volcanic waters at Pendulum Cove's hot geothermal springs.
Port LockroyMorning visit to Port Lockroy on Wiencke Island. Located among beautiful narrow channels and steep snow-capped mountains, Port Lockroy provides a sheltered port that was first used by whalers nearly 100 years ago, where you can still see the decayed remains of whale skeletons. During World War II the British set up a base here to establish a firm presence in Antarctic. Research activities such as surveying, geology, and meteorology continued at the base until 1962, when it was abandoned. Whales and other animals are frequently seen around the island, including Gentoo Penguins, King Cormorants, Minke and Humpback Whales. In the afternoon you visit beautiful Paradise Bay, a perfect spot to explore with our Zodiacs, if the weather allows it. The stillness of the water creates a perfect mirror-like reflection of the surrounding mountains and blue glaciers, an image only broken by the floating icebergs and the Zodiacs.
Lemaire ChannelEarly cruise through the Lemaire Channel. As the ship approaches the Lemaire Channel the steep cliffs become so narrow that you will not believe there is a passage through which the ship can sail. Once we enter the channel, weather permitting, you will view one of the most scenic areas in Antarctic, nicknamed the ' Kodak Gap'. Look out for humpback whales that frequent this area. Landing and sighting of Petermann Island, the southernmost spot in the trip, a snow covered and domed island that rises moderately steeply to a rocky summit, more than 650 ft. above sea level. Adelie and Gentoo penguins, Blue-eyed Shags and South Polar Skuas are confirmed breeders in this area. In the afternoon you explore Cuverville island, a small rocky island, a great nesting place of the Gentoo Penguin.
Half Moon IslandMorning landing at Half Moon Island, a small island in between Greenwich and Livingstone Islands which often boasts a large Antarctic Penguin colony.Visit to the Arctowski Polish Academy of Science Antarctic Base where you will be warmly welcomed by the scientific personnel.
Disembarkation at Frei and Fly Back to Punta ArenasReturn to the Eduardo Frei Chilean Air Force Antarctica Base on King George Island for the flight back to Punta Arenas. Depending upon the weather it is anticipated that you are likely to get back to Punta Arenas sometime in the afternoon.
Fly Punta Arenas to Santiago
Fly Santiago to Madrid overnight
Fly Madrid to London
Phone: +44 (0)1285 885 333
Phone: +44(0) 1285 885 333
+44(0) 1285 885 333
+44 (0)1285 885 333
Tailor-Made Holiday Ideas
Cruise Across the Antarctic Circle
17 days from £7,295pp
View Holiday Idea
wildlife group tour
Antarctica, South Georgia & Falklands Cruise with Monty Halls, Sue Flood and Telegraph Tours
24 days from £10,950pp
View Group Tour
Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetlands Cruise
16 days from £5,995pp
Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctic Cruise
24 days from £10,440pp
Fly & Cruise - Antarctica, Weddell Sea & Falklands
12 days from £9,125pp
Fly & Cruise-Antarctic Circle & Weddell Sea
26 days from £11,599pp
Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp
17 days from £7,675pp
Cruise around South Georgia
17 days from £7,925pp
Fly to Antarctica and Cruise the Peninsula
10 days from £8,995pp
Sailing in Antarctica
16 days from £16,775pp
90o South, Camp at the South Pole
7 days from £35,135pp
Cruise to the Weddell Sea & Antarctic Peninsula
16 days from £9,565pp
Land Based Antarctica Experiences
9 days from £15,950pp
Can’t find what you’re looking for?
Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom