- Photos & Video
- Physical Rating
Camp - 5 star camping on the Futaleufu
A note on weather:
One may experience many different weather patterns in the Futaleufú River valley including frequent storms off the Pacific. This also means that the river level can change dramatically if an unseasonable tormenta, or rain storm, passes through. We raft only on days when the river is at a safe level. The sunny months are usually December through March.
- About this Location
- Some of the most extraordinary encounters with nature on the planet await visitors to Chilean Patagonia. Home to Torres del Paine National Park, Chile arguably offers the most dramatic mountain vistas on earth, creating striking natural amphitheatres and granite enclosed valleys across the captivating landscape. The mountains in the area pierce the sky at almost 10,000 feet and the area boasts unique and abundant wildlife. Join a tour to Chilean Patagonia and experience one of the last true wild places.
Never more than 150 miles across, Chile's odd geography is bordered by 2,700 miles of Pacific coastline to the west, Peru to the north and Bolivia and Argentina to the east. Chile also has jurisdiction over the islands off its coast, including Easter Island, 2,300 miles to the west, and claims a large part of Antarctica. Within the chain of the Andes Mountains stretching the length of the country are over 2,000 volcanoes. Chile's distinctive culture has survived the turbulent political events of its recent history and is thriving once again, thanks to a people noted for their resilience. Chile's population is spread between a few sophisticated cities with strong European influences surrounded by rural areas with deeply held indigenous traditions, especially prevalent in the Andean foothills and southern plains.
Republic of Chile
Sebastian Pinera (2010)
National Renewal Party
Runner-up in last presidential election; holds a PhD in economics from Harvard.
Billionaire businessman, co-owner, LAN Airlines and Colo Colo Soccer Club; owns a national broadcasting network.
16,432,674 (2006 est.)
Population 5.6 million
OTHER IMPORTANT CITIES (ranked by population)
Vina del Mar
European descent 5%
Roman Catholic 89%
1/1 New Year's Day
March-April Good Friday
5/1 Labor Day
5/21 Navy Day
6/15 Corpus Christi
6/29 Saint Peter and Paul's Day
8/15 Assumption of the Virgin
9/18 Independence Day
9/19 Armed Forces Day
10/12 Columbus Day
11/1 All Saints Day
12/8 Day of the Immaculate Conception
292,000 square miles
PROTECTED AREAS (19% of its territory)
National parks 31
National reserves 48
Cattleya Orchid Copihue (La pageria rosea) Chilean Bellflower
MAJOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS
Chile is famous for its seafood, prepared simply or in hearty soups and stews, and its premium red and white wines. Beef and chicken are staples, and vegetarian alternatives may have to be requested in restaurants. Among its national dishes are choclo, a beef and chicken pie topped with a basil-seasoned corn mixture and baked in a clay pot, parotos, a bean vegetable dish and cazuela, a stew of chicken or beef. Empanadas (fried or baked dough filled with meat or fruit) and humitas (a version of the tamale made of corn dough often mixed with onion) are popular as snack foods.
Chilean Peso (CLP)
1 hour earlier than Eastern Standard Time
INTERNATIONAL DIALING CODE
220 V, 50 Hz
- Traveling to this Location
- Passport and visa requirements
A valid passport is required to enter and leave Chile. A visa is not required for citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most Western European countries, if visiting for less than 90 days. It is the passenger's responsibility to check with local immigration offices or the Chilean consulate prior to travel to determine up-to-date entry requirements. For more information see www.americanpassport.com or www.chile-usa.org
The following vaccinations are recommended when visiting any area of Chile:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Tetanus-diphtheria and measles (as needed booster doses)
Entry During the flight to Santiago, a flight attendant distributes a Chile entrance form to all passengers. At Customs, travelers are asked to show the completed form along with their passport and are asked how many days they plan to be in Chile. Normally, the passport will be stamped, indicating a permissible stay of 90 days, renewable for another 90 days. A copy of the Customs form will be returned to the traveler.
When arriving by air, US citizens must pay a reciprocity fee of $100US (cash or credit card accepted) which is considered a multiple entry visa valid for the life of the passport. The Chilean government levies this fee in response to one levied by the US for processing visas for Chilean nationals. Canadians pay a $55US entry fee, payable in cash or credit card, also valid for the life of the passport; and Australians $30US, payable in cash and valid for 90 days. There is no fee for EU or New Zealand residents.
Exit There is a departure tax of $30US on international flights and $8US for domestic flights.
The Peso is the official currency of Chile. Current exchange rate information is available on our website under "Traveler Information." Visa and MasterCard are the most recognized credit cards in Chile. American Express is less widely accepted. ATM machines (Visa/MasterCard/Cirrus/Plus), with directions in English, are widely available 24 hours a day in all major cities and large towns providing a convenient and economical way to obtain pesos. Hotels exchange money, and most offer safe-keeping for valuables. On trips of two weeks or less, we recommend carrying only US cash in $20 denominations to exchange as needed. Before departure, we send booked passengers a packet of trip information that contains operating hours for money exchange offices (Casas de Cambio) and more money tips.
In all of Chile, the electricity is 220 volts and 50 cycles. To use 110-volt American-made electrical appliances in Chile (for a hairdryer or to recharge digital camera batteries, etc.), bring plug adapters and a voltage transformer. For video cameras, we suggest packing an extra set of charged batteries.
- Santiago & Surrounding Vineyards - The fertile heartland, this midland area of Chile enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with maximum temperatures averaging 82°F (28°C) in January and 50°F (10°C) in July. The rainy season lasts from May to August. Evenings and nights can be cool, even during the summer.
General Patagonia - The area south of Puerto Montt and Chiloé covers about 30% of the total land area of Chile. It is a rugged, mountainous region of tremendous beauty. Westerly winds and storms often drop enormous amounts of snow and rain on the seaward slopes. In the Magellanes and Tierra del Fuego areas, temperatures in summer average 52°F (11°C). Dampness and wind chill can make it feel cooler so layered clothing and good waterproof gear are musts. The weather year-round is highly unpredictable, and in summer be prepared for incessant winds that lessen in the winter. In the shoulder season months, November and March, winds are not likely to be as strong as during the peak of summer.
Torres Del Paine - The weather is famously unpredictable in this area and it is possible to experience four seasons in the course of a few hours. Average daily temperatures vary but in summer one can expect temperatures ranging between 50° F (10° C) and 70° F (20 ° C) with the occasional hot day of 78° F (25° C). Temperatures can drop to zero at night, and high winds are common in this area. Travelers should be prepared (both mentally and physically) for unpredictable and sometimes challenging weather conditions and pack accordingly. Good head-to-toe, breathable waterproof clothing is essential.
SANTIAGO JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC Max. Air Temp 85 84 80 72 64 58 57 61 65 71 77 82 Min. Air Temp 54 54 52 47 40 40 37 38 40 45 47 51 Avg. Rainfall 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.5 2.3 3.1 3.0 2.1 1.1 0.5 0.2 0.2
PUERTO MONTT JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC Max. Air Temp 66 67 64 60 56 51 50 52 52 52 60 63 Min. Air Temp 48 47 47 43 42 39 37 38 38 38 43 46 Avg. Rainfall 3.6 3.7 3.9 5.6 9.2 8.8 9.0 8.2 5.7 4.8 0.5 4.1
PUNTA ARENAS JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC Max. Air Temp 57 57 54 49 44 39 38 41 46 50 53 56 Min. Air Temp 43 44 41 39 35 31 29 31 32 36 40 42 Avg. Rainfall 1.4 1.1 1.6 1.6 1.7 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.1 0.9 1.1 1.2
San Pedro Atacama JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC Max. Air Temp 76 75 73 70 66 61 61 64 69 72 74 75 Min. Air Temp 50 50 48 44 38 33 33 35 40 43 46 48 Avg. Rainfall 0.9 0.2 0.1 0.1 0 0 0 0 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Easter Island JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC Max. Air Temp 81 81 80 77 74 72 70 70 71 73 75 78 Min. Air Temp 68 68 68 66 64 62 60 60 60 61 63 65 Avg. Rainfall 2.8 3.3 3.8 4.8 6.0 4.2 4.1 3.7 3.4 2.7 2.9 3.4
- When to Visit
- Q: When is the best time to go to Patagonia?A: Most people visit Patagonia from December to February when the weather is driest, warmest and windiest. Some prefer the shoulder months of October, November, March and April when the temperatures decrease but so do the winds. During the winter months (May to September), many of the Patagonian trails are closed.Q: How far in advance should I book a Patagonia tour?A: Like hotels the world over, the reservation system of Patagonia hotels and estancias is deposit-based. When planning a trip to Patagonia, keep in mind that the region's tourist season is short and its accommodations rustic, so hotel availability is always an issue. For this reason, we make the hotel reservations for our passengers as soon as we receive their deposit. Ample alternative accommodations can usually be found should a customer's first choice not be available. If planning a trip to Patagonia for the months of November through December, we recommend booking six to nine months in advance. For trips planned for the rest of the year booking three to six months is usually sufficient. We are sometimes able to accommodate last minute travelers. We recommend booking your tour before your international flight.Q: What can I expect on your Patagonia trips?A: Patagonia is a beautiful, wild and unpredictable part of our planet. For lovers of the outdoors who are used to coping with the challenges of traveling in remote areas (and who have a keen sense of adventure and a flexible attitude) the rewards are plentiful. Our Patagonia guides are experienced English-speaking Southern Explorations representative. They are accompanied by Chilean horsemen known locally as baqueanos who manage the support horses that carry the extra equipment and gear on most trips. Our guests are in extremely capable hands. The leader ensures that the trip runs smoothly and that every guest's scenic and cultural experience is first class. With groups over a certain size, a dedicated chef comes along to prepare meals on some of our camping tours. On camping trips, guests typically set up their own tents. The roads can be bumpy and dusty, the weather can be notoriously unkind and some of the hiking and riding days will be long. Guests should be prepared for these eventualities in order to fully appreciate the sense of space, wild and untamed scenery and indelible life experiences that a trip of this nature offers. We're happy to discuss the Patagonia trips in more detail with you to help decide if they are a suitable vacation option for you.Q: Can I extend my stay?A: Yes. We offer exciting half-day and full-day Santiago and Buenos Aires extension tours to add on to either end of our Patagonian trips. Both are sophisticated cities with a rich history, monumental architecture, beautiful parks, interesting museums, great shopping, markets and first-rate hotels and restaurants. We also offer Argentina extensions to Iguazu Falls and Argentina wine country. In addition, we offer half-day to five-day extensions in Chilean Patagonia including sea kayaking and cruises as well trip extensions into Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park and the Perito Moreno Glacier. Descriptions of all trip extensions are listed on our website. If you would like to discuss the options or arrange an extension, please contact us.Q: How do I get to Patagonia?A: Patagonia and its southern tip, Tierra del Fuego, span the countries of Chile and Argentina. All of our Chile Patagonia trips originate in the Patagonian city of Punta Arenas, which is reached from the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport of the capital, Santiago. Passengers on our Argentine Patagonian trips fly into Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires and from there take a flight to either Trelew or Ushuaia, depending on the trip. Most international flights arrive in Santiago and Buenos Aires in the morning so it is possible to fly to Patagonia the same day, though a stopover in either capital is well worth it. We suggest that guests arrive in Patagonia a day early to rest up before the start of the Southern Explorations tour.Q: Are your Patagonia trips suitable for children?A: On our scheduled trips, we welcome families with children over the age of ten who have the stamina and attitude to complete a trip of this nature. We offer a family Patagonia vacation suitable for children five to fifteen with a flexible itinerary in and around Chile's premier national park, Torres del Paine National Park. The tour features turquoise lakes, sweeping mountain vistas, 150 miles of hiking trails, horseback riding and abundant wildlife.Q: What type of aircraft is used on domestic flights?A: Most domestic carriers in Patagonia use Boeing 727s or similar jets that carry 80-120 passengers.Q: How do passengers get from one destination to another?A: In Patagonia, we use a mix of private and public transportation to get travelers to their destinations safely and efficiently. This includes local air carriers, private vans and cars, comfortable tourist buses, boats, etc.Q: How much driving is involved on your Patagonia tours?A: It depends on the destination. Patagonia is a vast area, so some long travel days of 5-6 hours can be expected. This is especially true on trips that visit both Argentina and Chile. More common are short drives of around an hour to enter a park or to visit a highlight of the trip.Q: When do passengers meet the guide on your Patagonia tours?A: On the first day of our Patagonia tours, the guide meets the tour participants at their hotel around 6pm to discuss the trip and answer questions. The group then usually goes out for dinner to get acquainted and talk about the days ahead. For guests arriving late, information is left at the front desk of the hotel. The group normally sets off at around 9 AM the following morning in a private transfer vehicle. For custom trips, a meeting point is pre-arranged.Q: What are the hotel accommodations like in Patagonia?A: At some locations, we stay at ranches, called estancias, that dot the Patagonian landscape. Some are working estancias, and some have been converted to lodgings. The working estancias offer a family-stay environment with clean and comfortable facilities. All are uniquely situated, and most have extraordinary views. Cattle and sheep are farmed and horses will be seen in a working environment. In converted estancias and hosterias, such as at Estancia Lazo, Hotel Las Torres, Hosteria el Pionero, and Cerro Castillo, the accommodations are comfortable twin shares with en suite facilities. Some trips also visit locations with upscale accommodations that are luxurious.Q: What is a Refugio?A: Found in Patagonia, refugios are wooden generator-powered mountain cabins were built to minimize environmental impacts while ensuring guests a place to sleep in remote areas. They sleep guests in a shared bunk style accommodation. Supplies are usually delivered to the refugios by horse or boat. Meals are served in the convivial dining area, and packed lunches can be prepared on request. Most also offer camping facilities, and it's possible to eat in the refugio while using the campsite.Q: What are the tents like on your Patagonia camping trips?A: We use comfortable three-person tents that are roomy and able to withstand the sometimes high Patagonian winds. Accommodation is based on twin-share.Q: When camping in Patagonia, are showers available?A: Most camping locations and refugios have showers. Hot water isn't an every-day occurrence but most days.Q: What are the meals like in Patagonia?A: In hotels, estancias and hosterias, meals are eaten in the restaurant or with the establishment's family. Dinner consists of beef, chicken, lamb or salmon with fresh vegetables or salad accompanied by rice or potatoes. Patagonia's estancias are well known for their quality restaurants where both native and international dishes are found on the menu. Wine and beer are available at a reasonable cost throughout the trip. The restaurants in the refugios (shelters) offer wholesome food including vegetarian fare. Breakfast includes toast, coffee, cereal, ham, cheese, bread rolls and juice and occasionally eggs. When camping in Patagonia, all meals are prepared for our guests. Breakfast normally consists of hot and cold cereals, toast, jams, marmalade, coffee, tea and juice. Sometimes a cooked breakfast is served. Lunches, consisting of sandwiches (e.g. tuna, cheese, ham, peanut butter, salami), fresh fruit, trail mix, chocolate, biscuits, snacks, etc., are prepared for the guests and carried in saddlebags, backpacks or dry bags, depending on the location. Dinners are varied and wholesome and include fresh salmon and local fish, chicken, beef, lamb, pasta, salad and some local dishes. Local wine (not included in tour fee) is served every night. A dining tent accompanies the group, although sometimes we choose to eat in a refugio or around the campfire (weather permitting). Where possible, vehicle support is arranged to replenish supplies of bread, salad and fresh fruit.Q: How is water supplied on Patagonia camping trips?A: Patagonia is our only destination where we recommend drinking the natural water. In the region's wilderness areas we use local water supplies from rivers, streams and lakes. This water is clean and pure and about as close to the source as possible. None of our guests have ever had any problems drinking this water. For hiking, we treat and boil water each day for our travelers' daily drinking supply. Water is always available at camp and from rivers and streams en route. To passengers who don't feel confident drinking in this fashion, we recommend bringing a personal supply of iodine drops (and the taste inhibitors that are sold with them), as it is impossible to carry an alternative source of water.Q: How physically fit do you need to be to enjoy a Patagonia trip?A: The fitness level depends on the activity. Hiking The type of hiking depends on the itinerary, but generally speaking our trips are considered moderate to challenging. The only trip requiring a greater level of fitness is the Circuit owing to the nature of the trail crossing the pass where travelers must carry their own backpacks for two days. Feel free to discuss fitness or suitability issues with us at any time. Kayaking Experience for Multi-Sport trip The kayaking is essentially a downriver float although in the case of high winds and bad weather passengers should expect to work quite hard. No previous experience is necessary, and there is a full safety and instruction briefing prior to boarding the kayaks. This trip is suited to the open-minded traveler with a flexible attitude and good sense of humor, and those who are comfortable around water. Riding Experience (multi-sport) For their own comfort and enjoyment, riders should be reasonably confident at a walk, trot, and canter. We can provide willing horses to experienced riders who like to go at a faster pace. The horses are all extremely kind to the more novice riders. All riders (but especially novices) would benefit from getting ‘riding fit' before coming here. A few tough, one-hour lessons with lots of trotting immediately before traveling would be a good idea.Q: I've heard Patagonia is very remote. What if I have a medical emergency?A: Our trips enter into some pristine wilderness areas. There are small hospitals in the Patagonia region, some with 24-hour medical assistance that can deal with minor injuries and illnesses. In the rare event of an accident or broken bone, guests would have to evacuated from the wilderness areas (probably by horse) to continue on the long drive out. Helicopters are available for emergencies but cannot fly during high winds. All of our guides carry extensive first aid equipment for dealing with minor injuries and incidents. Any guest with a medical condition or using medication should discuss this with us prior to travel.Q: How much should I budget for a trip to Patagonia beyond the tour fee and international airfare?A: In the past few years, the improving Argentine economy, the revaluation of the Chilean peso and inflation in the tourist sector has increased travel costs in these countries substantially. Though Patagonia is no longer as inexpensive as it once was, by US standards, it is still a bargain. Allow $10US - $15US per meal for additional meals not included in trip price; $60US - $150US for tips $138US for arrival and departure taxes (Chile) $50 departure taxes (Argentina) The markets can be a shopper's paradise. Budget according to your tastes.Q: What is phone service like in Patagonia?A: Cell phone coverage in Patagonia is very limited. The estancias have radios for emergencies, and some are equipped with satellite phones.Q: How does one handle laundry in Patagonia?A: Some of the Patagonian hiking trips are true 'wilderness' style experiences with only a river or lake for washing. Some locations have washing facilities where guests may do laundry. Passengers should bring biodegradable soap for hand-washing their clothes.
- Futaleufu MultiSport
- Day 1 ARRIVE BUENOS AIRES - BARILOCHEArrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina – transfer to domestic terminal for flight to Bariloche. Overnight at a local hotel by Lake Nahuel Huapi and enjoy a group welcome dinner. (D)Day 2 BARILOCHE - FUTALEUFUBeautiful drive 185 miles south through deep valleys and open pampas, passing the headwaters of the Futaleufu. Cross the border into Chile and arrive early afternoon at camp. Camp orientation, swim, hot tub, and welcome happy hour. (B,L,D)Day 3 FUTALEUFU RIVER RAFTING – MUNDACA – PUENTEAwaken to the warmth of the sun on the banks of the Fu and enjoy your first morning in camp where breakfast is served around 9 AM. A pre-breakfast yoga class is available on our customized yoga platform with river views. After a thorough safety briefing, the rafts will be launched from base camp, stopping at a safe 'eddy' a short distance downstream, to practice rescue drills and prepare to raft as a team. Your raft is headed by a highly-trained and instinctive river guide with ace kayaking safety skills, who guides the boat from a stern-mounted oar frame. Guiding with oars does not detract from the paddling experience and provides greater control in pointing the bow straight through bus-size holes and fifteen-foot high 'haystack' wave trains. In addition, the rafts are supported by safety kayakers and a cataraft to ensure a safe experience. This style is consistent with any high-volume river that has strong currents where rapids graded IV to V+ rage on. Welcome to the Futaleufú! The first section from camp down to Puente Futaleufú (the Futaleufú Bridge) is only six miles but offers more rapids per kilometer than anywhere else on the river. This non-stop fun is the perfect warm-up run. The rapids of note are El Cojín, the Cushion, and Mundaca, a local family name. A vehicle will be waiting at take-out for the twenty-minute ride back to camp. Those who would prefer a lower body workout to complement their paddling are welcome to run or mountain bike back to camp. At the base, go fly-fishing, try out a kayak, do yoga, nap in a hammock, enjoy the sauna, have a massage, go for a hike, play a game of chess or cards, or soak in the hot tub. A hot shower, either indoors or out, is a luxurious treat while camping in the remote wilderness of northern Patagonia. Of course, for the hardy, the river provides a refreshing dip for another memorable experience on your Chile tour. Try the (short) cliff jumping, too! Every late afternoon is Happy Hour with an open, hot tub side bar stocked with beer, wine, cocktails, soda and juice. Candlelight dinners featuring fresh locally-grown produce and delicious breads baked fresh daily by the neighbors are served in the open-air kitchen and dining area. After dinner, enjoy the campfire and the stars before retiring to your cozy tent on your private platform where the sound of the river will lull you to sleep. (B,L,D) **Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from!**Day 4 FUTALEUFU RIVER RAFTING - MAS O MENOS - CASA DE PIEDRAAfter breakfast and optional early morning yoga, you will launch your raft from camp following the same exciting route as yesterday to master your rhythm. You’ll break to have lunch on the river. This second day of your Chile rafting tour we’ll pass the Puente Futaleufú (yesterday’s take-out) and meet a big stomping continuous cascade of waves known as Mas o Menos, "More or Less". This is a good stepping stone towards the first true technical Class V rapid, Casa de Piedra (House of Rock) waiting around the next corner, which you'll have an opportunity to scout beforehand. It forms a series of water wheels that channel all of their fury into a final churning pit with a dragon's back highway through it; that is, if you hit it on line. The remaining rapids on today's trip are Class III and IV. If you have the energy and desire, you may again mountain bike back to camp. For everyone else, a vehicle will be waiting. Enjoy the rest of the day and get ready for yet another fabulous dinner and peaceful night riverside. (B,L,D) **Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from!**Day 5 RIO ESPOLON KAYAKINGAfter two days of mastering the raft together, today you learn how to navigate your own inflatable kayaks (or “rubber duckies” as they are endearingly known). Even for the river veteran, these inflatables are surprisingly fun and often a trip highlight. Lago Espolon, the source of the clear Rio Espolon Class II/III rapids offers the perfect learning opportunity to master your kayak with the help of your river guide and several safety kayakers. For those interested in trying out a hard shell, whitewater kayak this is the perfect place. Rio Espolon is a major tributary to the Futaleufu, where it meets right above the Inferno Canyon, your afternoon take-out. Return to base camp for another relaxing late afternoon filled with your choice of activities or a relaxing massage. (B,L,D) **Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from!**Day 6 RIO AZUL VALLEY HORSEBACK RIDING - RIO AZUL KAYAKINGToday's horseback adventure travels deeper into the heart of Patagonia to the Rio Azul valley, where you’ll be surrounded by snowcapped peaks along an eight-mile trail paralleling the turquoise waters of the Rio Azul, with a stop for lunch along the way. Patagonia horses are quite the different variety--well-mannered but incredibly powerful work horses that are as mellow or as exciting as you would like to push. The local expert equestrians and our horse-ready river guide will lead you on an adventurous, three-hour ride. You stop for lunch and try paddling on the challenging Class III/IV Rio Azul for the afternoon. From the Rio Espolon, this is a sizeable step up in difficulty. Return to camp for Happy Hour at the sunset bar and the much deserved hot tub. (B,L,D) **Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from!**Day 7 FUTALEUFU TOWN - RAFTING RIO ESPOLON - INFERNO CANYON!After an early breakfast in camp, travel twenty-two miles up the road to visit the town of Futaleufú. You will have about an hour to stroll around this sleepy mountain town and its central plaza filled with fragrant rose bushes and cedar trees. This morning’s drop in is the Rio Espolon, a crystal-clear river that meanders for two miles before it flows into the Rio Futaleufú, one mile above the Inferno canyon. The upper canyon, where aggressive Class V paddling is required, is the most difficult section of whitewater on the river so we offer tamer river options for those who prefer a little less excitement. Five impressive rapids form a tight winding river passage creating an intense flow and the rushing adrenaline you dreamed of when you chose this Patagonia tour. Coming out of "Exit," the last of these rapids, you enter into a long calm of many miles, though the current remains swift. After a relaxing float, things pick back up at the ferocious Zeta rapid, where portage (walk around) is mandatory. There the crew will "ghost" boat the rafts through this treacherous rapid while you enjoy lunch on the rocks and the view of the crushing intensity of the rapid. The afternoon begins with "Throne Room," a Class V+ rapid for kayakers, a ghost boat rapid for rafts. Walking around this rapid notice an almost 'river wide' hole that could destroy a raft. Back on board, a continuous Class IV corridor of rapids doesn't let up until take-out at the Rio Azul footbridge. Here the rafts are left for the night, tethered onshore. Early evening is spent in camp getting ready for the evening festivities, a journey to the neighboring farm of Miguel Toro who at seventy years young is one of the most colorful and charming residents of the valley. At his Casa de Ti, his daughter, Blanca, and her partner, Umberto, will prepare a very special treat, a delicious Curanto dinner, the cuisine typical of the south of Chile and the island of Chiloe. (B,L,D) **Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from!**Day 8 FUTALEUFU RIVER RAFTING - TERMINATOR - CASA DE PIEDRAToday is the trip's peak on what is considered the best day of whitewater in the world, an unforgettable highlight of your Chile tour. After a wholesome breakfast, you head up river back to re-launch the crafts. Shortly downstream, the Rio Azul merges into the Fu and the river opens up offering breathtaking views of snowcapped peaks and the jagged ridges of the mountain called Las Tres Monjas ("The Three Nuns"). A four-mile stretch of warm-up rapids leads to "The Terminator," the longest and toughest of the rapids of the trip. After scouting and studying your line, you'll take the plunge and drop in to three miles of non-stop, exhilarating rapids. After this aerobic workout, the “Himalayas,” a mammoth haystack wave train, await. River calm returns, offering a gentle float into lunch served at base camp. The afternoon is yours to decide. For the river addicts, return to the rafts to complete the last challenge of the day: tackling as much whitewater as possible from camp to below Casa de Piedra. At take-out, cold beers and tea are waiting our triumphant day of exploration on the Fu. For the evening's festivities, our neighbors, Rolando and Nelli, will prepare a typical Chilean asado of lamb roasted over a bed of coals, salad, potatoes and fresh-baked bread. Under a starry sky, the group, guides and crew spend one last night together on the banks of the majestic Futaleufu. (B,L,D) **Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from!**Day 9 FUTALEUFU – BARIILOCHE – BUENOS AIRESIn the morning, our van will take you back to Bariloche for your mid-day flight back to the real world of Buenos Aires, upon arrival transfer to your hotel. The rest of the early evening is free on your own to explore this amazing city. (B)Day 10 BUENOS AIRES - HOMEFree day for you to enjoy Buenos Aires on your own. At the appropriate time, transfer to the International Airport for your return flight home, marking the end of Southern Explorations services. (B)**Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from including horseback riding, inflatable kayaking, fly-fishing, mountain biking, or repeating one of the more relaxing, less intense rafting days. We can also arrange special instruction for those interested in trying their hand at whitewater kayaking.**
- Per Person$3,695DOMESTIC AIRFARE:
$650 Airfare (Buenos Aires/Bariloche/Buenos Aires) – subject to change
Contact us for single supplement.
A single supplement is the additional cost of a single traveler not sharing a room in double occupancy.
- Trip Dates
- Can’t find a date that works for you in the list below? Southern Explorations can arrange a private departure on any date that works with your schedule. Custom tours are also available. Contact us for details.Wednesday, December 9, 2015 to Thursday, December 17, 2015AvailableFriday, January 8, 2016 to Saturday, January 16, 2016AvailableSunday, January 17, 2016 to Monday, January 25, 2016AvailableFriday, January 29, 2016 to Saturday, February 6, 2016AvailableSunday, February 7, 2016 to Monday, February 15, 2016AvailableTuesday, February 16, 2016 to Wednesday, February 24, 2016AvailableSaturday, February 27, 2016 to Sunday, March 6, 2016AvailableMonday, March 7, 2016 to Tuesday, March 15, 2016AvailableThursday, March 17, 2016 to Friday, March 25, 2016Available
- Included in tour cost
- Mountain biking gear
- Rafting equipment
- Yoga mat
- All airport/hotel transfers
- All hotel accommodations
- All listed activities
- English-speaking certified guides
- Entrance fees for all scheduled tours, national parks & archaeological sites
- Meals as indicated
- Southern Explorations pre-departure services
- Excluded from tour cost
- Airport taxes, international and local
- Domestic airfare within South America
- International airfare to and from Central & South America
- Tips and gratuities
- Medical & travel insurance (highly recommended)
- Hiking boots and other necessary sports gear
- Reciprocity fee
- Bucket List
- “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn." (Dr. Seuss)
At age 15, adventurer John Goddard penned a list of 127 things he wanted to do before he died. It included 16 mountains he planned to climb, 13 cultures he wished to study, 5 lakes in which he hoped to swim, and an eclectic assortment of other experiences, from playing the viola to catching a 10-lb lobster. By age 47, he had accomplished 103 of them. It is the magic of list-making, dramatically increasing our chances of accomplishing what it contains. It is the starting point for turning dreams into working plans.
MATCHING THE REALITY TO THE DREAM
Bucket lists are idealized versions of the experiences we desire. Some, like visiting the Amazon, we dream up in childhood. Others, like Machu Picchu, make the list after seeing extraordinary aerial photos. We envision these places without a tourist in sight. Though that won’t happen, there are ways to make the reality more closely resemble the dream. Traveling in small groups helps. So does choosing a tour that puts you at the destination when the crowds aren’t. Some of our Machu Picchu tours for instance arrive at dawn, allowing you to photograph the citadel at its most photogenic, before everyone else arrives. Sometimes it’s a matter of where you stay. The lodgings for our Argentina tours to Iguazu Falls are located right in Iguazu National Park so while most tourists are eating breakfast, packing up and driving to the falls, you’ll be gazing at rainbow mists.
DESTINATIONS OBVIOUS AND OBSCURE
When it comes to an area as varied and vast as Costa Rica to Antarctica, the possibilities for trips of a lifetime are limitless. Our bucket list category of trips of course contains destinations that appear on many people’s lists such as Machu Picchu. For cruises to the popular Galapagos Islands and the much less visited Antarctica, we’ve included some of the vessels that passengers seem to love. It’s at least a starting place for what can be an extensive search when contemplating a trip to either of these locations. Some trips on our list are there because we travel many roads less traveled. Though they are places you may not have considered visiting, they could end up on your list of “Best Trips Ever Taken.”
Some of our bucket list trips give you the best bang for the buck, fitting in one, two or three of South America’s top attractions. Of course, a bucket list is in the mind of the beholder. If you tell us a bit about your interests and dreams, we can suggest which of our trips you may wish to consider. We can also customize a trip that enables you to visit more of your bucket list destinations in one trip than you thought possible. Are the Galapagos and Machu Picchu on your list? We offer several itineraries that include both. What about walking among penguins and learning to tango in Buenos Aires? Easy-peasy. And perhaps in this life we should plan for a second visit to one or two of the places that left an indelible impression the first time. We’d be happy to help you arrange that trip too.
- Southern Explorations offers camping trips in most of the South American countries where we travel. Many of what we call “camping trips” technically only camp some days. For instance, during our camping trips in the Andes, the 10-day Cordillera Blanca tour camps during the 5-day trek in Huascaran National Park. The other camping trips travel to Machu Picchu and camp during the days on the Inca Trail (or alternative route) to reach the citadel, but not at other destinations such as Lake Titicaca or Colca Canyon. A few trips camp all or most of the way, such as our 12-day Peru Raft, Bicycle and Hike trip. The same goes for our seven Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego camping trips.
BACK TO NATURE 2.0How fortune to live in a time since the invention of glamping. Roughing it like the good old days still exists, but even at the most remote locations of South America, more and more indigenous and other local lodging providers are adding in creature comforts that appeal to those who thought their camping days were over. Freeze-dried meals and sleeping on the ground are so yesterday. We don’t think you’ll feel cheated of the old-fashioned camping experience. You’re still in the wilds after all. Adding tasty meals prepared from fresh, local ingredients for you, not by you, and a soft sleeping surface make the great outdoors that much more pleasant.
Take our Galapagos Safari Camp for instance, which is an opportunity to stay on the islands instead of on a boat. Your canvas tent rests on a platform that allows you to step outside for morning coffee overlooking the Pacific. There’s also an infinity pool on the grounds to enjoy after a day of hiking, bicycling or snorkeling in the Galapagos. Chile has perfected the Patagonia camping experience with refugios that provide shelter from the elements in stunning locations, with chef-prepared gourmet meals and premium Chilean wines to top off unforgettable days of whitewater rafting on the Futaleufu. If you are a kayaker, our 8-day Amazon kayaking trip is an exotic way to see experience the river and the rainforest. It travels through Yasuni National Park along the Shiripuno Amazon tributary, with tent accommodations and gourmet meals prepared by the indigenous Huaorani on their ethnic reserve. Until the 1950s, the tribe had no contact with the outside world. The Yasuni is Ecuador’s largest national park where the rainforest is believed to date back to the Ice Age and contains over half of Ecuador’s wildlife species, including over 500 birds.
ICONIC CAMPINGCamping on a multi-day hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu may come the closest to what campers are used to. It’s what you sign up for, knowing that the challenges of the hike, the elevation and the rudimentary accommodations are all part of the classic version of that experience. Most travelers choose an itinerary that puts them in hotel rooms for at least part of this journey. Once you arrive at Machu Picchu, everyone goes indoors for the night, either in nearby Aguas Calientes where hikers may soothe their aches and pains in the hot springs above the town, or for those on bigger budgets, lodgings on the edge of the citadel. Camping in Antarctica isn’t for everyone, yet for anyone who chooses it, nothing compares to a night of watching the Southern Hemisphere’s constellations and the experience of silence like nowhere else.
- The countries of South and Central America are filled with art, crafts and historical artifacts. Here are a few examples to whet your appetite, some of which are included in our itineraries. We also build in free time so our passengers can explore on their own according to their interests.
HISTORYGold In colonial times, gold mostly left the New World for the old, but that which remained and is today housed in South America’s gold museums reflects the craftsmanship of the continent’s indigenous populations. The two most famous are located in Bogota and Lima. The Cuzco School Visitors on Peru tours will be able to view representative works of the Cuzco School, paintings from the 300-year colonial period that incorporated Roman Catholic themes, European painting styles and an indigenous slant, with bright colors and gold leaf plus native flora and fauna. The largest collections are housed in Cusco and Lima museums.
QUIRKYChile Chileans call Pablo Neruda “the people’s poet” because they understood what he had to say about love and life. The Nobel Prize winner filled his three charming homes between Santiago and the coast with items he collected in his travels as writer, diplomat and rebel-on-the-run that today are popular museums. Uruguay Begun before paved roads, built over decades and today a prominent landmark on the Uruguayan Riviera, Casapueblo is the studio, gallery and guest lodgings of abstract painter, Paez Vilaro. It is also a divine spot for cocktails at sunset.
MODERNBrazil After a decade of prominence in the contemporary international art scene, Brazil’s distinctive grafite has begun to flourish at home, since the decriminalization of street art on buildings with the consent of the owner. To see the city’s largest street art collection, visit Rio de Janeiro’s upscale Botanical Garden (Jardim Botanico) north of Ipanema Beach. Street art walls may also be seen in the Santa Teresa neighborhood. Another arresting street mural that has made international headlines is by French street artist, JR, and consists of realistic-looking eyes painted on many hillside buildings in the Providencia favela, a Rio slum. Another favela, Santa Marta, contains Tudo de cor para voce, a brilliant block-long recoloring of facades, painted by neighborhood residents with donated paint. Colombia: Travel to Colombia and you are bound to see renowned Colombian artist, Fernando Botero’s mammoth rounded human and animal sculptures. The best place is Medellin, Botero’s home town, where his works are everywhere. One spot is Botero Plaza in front of the Museum Antioquia where 23 of his bronze pieces are located. Uruguay: Dramatic 15-ft tall concrete Los Dedos, by Chilean sculptor, Mario Irarrazabal, resembles a partially buried human hand, fingers extended in the sand. It is located on the La Brava beach peninsula that divides Punta del Este’s calm waters on the Rio de la Plata side from the rough Atlantic waters.
CRAFTSMEN WORKING CRAFTSMEN SELLINGCrafts are a way of life in some villages. To name a few, in some places, whole villages make their livelihood from crafts. From the Andes, you’ll find camelid fleece apparel, shigra totes and plenty of exquisite silver and gold jewelry; from the Amazon, carved tagua nut jewelry; from Panama’s Kuna Yala, one-of a kind molas; and from Ecuador, Panama hats for as much as you want to spend. In addition to stopping at craft markets in Ecuador, Peru and elsewhere, our tours also get you into studios where crafts are being made, continuing centuries-old traditions of indigenous cultures. The challenge will be how much you can pack into that suitcase.
- From the most placid to the most exhilarating experience, kayaking in Central and South America runs the gamut. Kayaking is one of the activities we include in almost all of our multisport trips to the Galapagos and Patagonia. It is also a popular activity that kayakers seek out on their own during the free time we build into many itineraries.
WARM AND BLISSFULWarm-weather kayaking is a pleasant experience that passengers get to have in many locations where Southern Explorations travels. In the turquoise waters of the Galapagos, you may find yourself paddling around marine turtles, sea lions and fur seals. The archipelago offers sheltered coves and calm shorelines where wildlife encounters are endless. While kayaking in Puerto Villamil’s protected bay on Isabela Island, you may encounter Galapagos penguins, sea turtles and rays. During four days of our 12+-day Galapagos by Land and Sea trip, we arrange your days so you may spend them according to your interests. If you’d like to paddle every day, we’ll make it happen. Some of Panama’s best kayaking is found in Bocas del Toro, located on the Caribbean coast near the border with Costa Rica and a place so beautiful, TV shows like to film episodes of “Survivor” here.
KAYAKING AND MOREIn many locations that Southern Explorations travels, a lot of other activities beckon on the way to paddle or afterwards. For instance, north of Quito, you may take a 1-day kayaking excursion on San Pablo Lake, one of Ecuador’s largest, stopping at one of the world’s top craft markets, Otavalo, afterwards. Even on trips that are almost all about the kayaking such as our 8-day Amazon Kayaking Adventure, passengers spend time getting acquainted with the indigenous Amazon lifestyle from the Huaorani people and take night walks in the rainforest to search for nocturnal species. The guided trip ventures into wildlife-rich lakes and flooded forests. At the end of the day kayakers enjoy forest to table cuisine and camp at the Shinipuno Lodge The trip is considered moderate to challenging but requires no previous kayaking experience. While enjoying a stay in Buenos Aires, kayaking enthusiasts may schedule a guided half-day paddling excursion in the Parana delta, the world’s fifth largest river delta, located just outside of town where the scenery and bird watching are spectacular and the water markets one-of-a-kind. On weekends, the excursion includes a stop at the Puerto de Frutos crafts market.
COOL AND BLISSFULThere is kayaking, and then there is kayaking amongst ice bergs like in Torres del Paine’s Grey Lake. The scale, the colors and the silence make it an unforgettable experience. In Patagonia, you may also sidle up near a glacier. While visiting the mountain town of Bariloche and Nahuel Huapi National Park in Northern Patagonia, you have your choice of lakes. One memorable paddle is a full day of kayaking in the park’s scenic namesake lake and a picnic on shore. Tierra del Fuego National Park is blissful too aboard inflatable kayaks along the Ovando River, Laguna Verde and Lapataia Bay that offers some of the area’s most breathtaking views. Sea-kayaking in Antarctica is the ultimate paddling adventure because it brings you closer to whales, penguins and seals than what Antarctica Zodiac boating excursions do and allows you to navigate through narrow fjords bordered by icebergs. Kayaking in
We can discuss with you how to get in the most kayaking on your travel to Central or South America. Give us a call.
- Luxury Tours
- Not everyone can afford to travel in high style but if you can, what creature comforts await in Central and South America. If it’s just the lodgings you want to make sure are first-class, know that on most all of our standard trips, passengers may select 5-star hotel upgrades at any destination where such accommodations exist. For passengers who want to go all the way, we offer luxury trips to some of our most popular destinations such as the Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Patagonia and Costa Rica as well as the least traveled places we go such as Panama and Antarctica. The following gives you an idea of our available luxury trips.
LUXURY ON LANDPanama
Our 8-day Luxury Panama trip spends time on the little visited Azuero Peninsula of the Pacific coast. Costa Rica Active travelers will appreciate our 9-day Luxury Costa Rica trip that includes two days of exhilarating whitewater rafting on the Pascuare and plenty of pampering off the river. Peru This is travel too good to be true—a rigorous hike by day followed by a massage topped off by a gourmet dinner accompanied by premium wines. You will still exert yourself some getting to Machu Picchu but with plenty to make up for it on both our 8-day Luxury Peru tour and our 10-day version that adds the Peru Amazon into the itinerary with top of the line eco-lodge accommodations in a sublime setting.
Here we offer two luxury trips. On the mainland, our 11-day Andean luxury trip includes hiking in two national parks, visits to some of the world’s most famous craft markets, and relaxing, one-of-a-kind accommodations. If you are planning to travel to the Galapagos Islands and would prefer land-based lodgings instead of a cruise, you can glamp at a 7-day Safari Camp.
Peru and Ecuador Amazon
Check out our boutique lodgings at La Selva Lodge or Peru’s Reserva Amazonica, both set in paradise with many comforts of home.
We offer two luxury trips to Patagonia, our 11-day Luxury Patagonia tour that includes hiking in both Argentina and Chile Patagonia, starting in Buenos Aires and ending in Santiago, and a 14-day Luxury Patagonia and Wineries trip that visits Northern and Southern Patagonia plus the top wine region of Argentina, in and around Mendoza.
LUXURY ON WATERAmazon
You have a choice of two luxury Peru Amazon river boat cruises, with fine dining, fine service, fine views. Having a massage on your private deck is about as exotic as it gets.
We offer eight luxury class vessel options for your Galapagos cruise, accommodating between 16 and 32 passengers with a variety of itineraries. Staterooms are finely-appointed, and meals are prepared by excellent chefs. Spaces are generally larger than on the less expensive vessels. Windows are bigger and decks, both inside and out, more expansive. The same goes for the Galapagos Cruise Ship vessels which tend to be high-end and offer similar amenities and level of service.
Except for the outside temperatures that tell you you’re in Antarctica, the amenities, services and accommodations a passenger receives aboard these luxury class cruise vessels could be anywhere. The vessels are spacious, with 5-star accommodations, some with private verandas. They offer gourmet cuisine with full service bar plus such amenities as a library, Jacuzzi, spa and fitness center.
- Multi Country
- Several of our trips visit two countries. Sometimes, the reason is geography. For instance, hiking in Patagonia is sublime. Once there, hikers shouldn’t have to miss some of the most famous trails, the W trek and Paine Circuit, if they are in Argentina; and the Fitz Roy sector if they are in Chile, just because these idyllic hiking spots lie on the other side of the border. For other travelers, it’s a matter of time. You may figure that your chances of getting to South America again soon (or ever) are slim, so if you are going to see the most famous of the continent’s sights, it had better be now, and in one, not multiple, trips.
IN THE HOODSeveral of our Patagonia tours include two of the world’s top hiking destinations by combining Chile’s Torres del Paine and Argentina’s Los Glaciares national parks in Southern Patagonia. Another trip, which should perhaps be called the Patagonia Grand Tour, travels from one end of Patagonia to the other. Passengers get to walk among thousands of penguins at Punta Tombo on the Valdes Peninsula, hike and kayak in the northeasterly and most southerly national parks, Nahuel Huapi and Tierra del Fuego, explore Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares and see one of South America’s biggest attractions, the Perito Moreno Glacier. In a sense, because Argentina and Brazil share Iguazu Falls, any of our Iguazu trips that start in Brazil are multi-country trips because they also travel to Argentina to get a different view. The ones that start in Argentina give the option of traveling over to the Brazil side if arrangements are made in advance through Customs.
SO MANY DESTINATIONS, SO LITTLE TIMEOur most popular combination of destinations is Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands. Some of these trips include a Galapagos cruise with a choice of vessels. On others, the Galapagos segment is land-based and multisport, designed for the active traveler. For the really active traveler, we even make the Machu Picchu segment multisport too. We also offer trips that travel to Machu Picchu, the Galapagos and the Amazon, destinations that sound much farther apart than they actually are.
ECLECTIC ON OR OFF THE BEATEN TRACKSometimes, our off-the-beaten-track itineraries cross borders. On our 9-day Atacama and Mendoza wine and sun trip, you will photograph flamingos taking flight in Chile’s Atacama Desert and taste wines in Argentina’s premium wine region of Mendoza, a unique itinerary for the senses. We offer another winetasting itinerary to both countries that builds in time for hiking on Mt. Aconcagua or whitewater rafting and gets you to a museum once the home of Chile’s beloved poet, Pablo Neruda. We now combine any of tours to Uruguay with any of our Argentina or Patagonia trips. You can taste wine in all three countries if you like.
Since our specialty is putting together customized tours from our itineraries that suit our every passenger’s every need, we’re sure we can design a multi-country itinerary to your liking. We offer a wide range of tour extensions that helps fit these trips together in a way that gives you what you are looking for. And of course, just because we don’t usually combine them, doesn’t mean we can’t. Perhaps you’d like to travel to Panama and neighboring Colombia in the same trip. We can do that.
- Multi Sport
- Some people like to hike, some to whitewater raft, some to mountain bike on their vacations whether to the Grand Canyon or Timbuktu. For those who prefer to do it all, to stay active most of the time wherever they go, we have designed one or more multisport itineraries in several of the countries where we travel. We carefully plan these itineraries to match the destination with the activity, making the most out of each day’s experience. Where marine iguanas nap beside a Galapagos trail, you hike. In lakes filled with icebergs, you kayak. Where pampas stretch out as far as the eye can see, horseback riding is the obvious choice. You get the picture. It’s how our staff likes to travel and we know our destinations well, so we are confident you will appreciate the same match-ups. We offer multisport trips to Argentina and Chile Patagonia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. They range from eight to twelve days. Horseback riding is an activity during two of our three Patagonia multisport trips.
MULTIPLE MULTISPORTSTwo of the three trips we offer to the newest of our destinations, Colombia, are multisport itineraries. You travel to the area called Colombia’s adventure sport capital on one trip. On the other, the 10-day Coffee Triangle and Medellin multisport trip, you take time out to tour a signature coffee plantation and learn about quality coffee from the horse’s mouth. We make learning about something new an adventure too. On our Ecuador multisport trip, another new itinerary, you’ll mountain bike from the Andes into the Amazon. Almost half of our Brazil itineraries are multisport trips. Though some days are rigorous, you also spend days on leisurely hikes with plenty of time to get into that warm, beautiful surf, if only for a swim.
NOT QUITE MULTISPORT TRIPSWe don’t name every active tour a multisport trip. For instance, during our 8-day Costa Rica Adventure trip, you’ll spend two days whitewater rafting on the picturesque Pacuare, hike in a rainforest near your eco-lodgings, and snorkel at a coral reef on the Caribbean in Cahuita National Park. It might not be active enough for some, but most adventure travelers will think so. Though only three of our many Patagonia tours are multisport, this is a part of the world with endless adventure opportunities as you can see from the rest of our adventure trips there, they are designed for those with tight schedules or all the time in the world. Plus we offer so many tour extensions that depending on the destination, travelers will be able to add on more days to get the heart pumping, from helping the gauchos with a round-up in Uruguay to glacier hiking in Patagonia. Neither of our Peru trips containing multiple sports have “multisport” in the trip name. They are our 9-day Active Machu Picchu trip, and our 12-day Raft, Bicycle and Hike tour. On the most active of the active, we pair out Galapagos multisport with our Active Machu Picchu itinerary, not everyone’s cup of tea, but for travelers who like to get active and stay active, this is the trip for you.
If you are partial to one sport over another and there isn’t enough of it in the itinerary of your choice, we can also add more days of it as tour extensions.
- Trekking and Hiking
- Some hiking routes are famous because of what you see along the way, like the famed Patagonia treks in Chile’s Torres del Paine Park, the many orchid species in Ecuador’s misty cloud forests, the monkeys swinging through the trees of Costa Rica and Panama’s rainforests. Others are famous for what you see when you arrive, like Machu Picchu. Of the seven South American countries that share the Andes, we arrange hiking trips to five, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. South America’s landscapes are so varied that you can hike in both the Andes and the Amazon in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Although we arrange for passengers to hike famous trails, many itineraries include ones you’ve never heard of but will be telling everyone about when you get home. Los Nevados National Park in Colombia, for instance, is located in an area of eight volcanoes and Andean forests with 100-ft trees. Our two trips to Argentina’s northern canyon country hike among red variegated cliffs where geology is the star attraction and in an exotic landscape comprised of thousands of huge Cardon cacti. Two of our new Ecuador trips hike into Pululahua, a dormant volcano so large people live and farm there, though active volcanoes such as Costa Rica’s Arenal as well as Ecuador’s Cotopaxi are also among our destinations.
SERIOUS HIKINGOur itineraries that require stamina and conditioning all contain the word “hike” in the trip name. Five of our Patagonia tours, ranging from 11 to 15 days are hiking adventures. The most famous of the Patagonia routes, Torres del Paine’s W hike takes four days and the Paine Circuit six days, both with refugio camping along the way. Age restrictions also apply on some of our glacier hiking excursions. The same is true for those who choose to travel the longest segment of the Inca Trail. Machu Picchu isn’t the only place to hike in the Peruvian Andes. Huascaran National Park in the Cordillera Blanca attracts trekkers from throughout the world where we offer a 10-day hiking trip. Some Antarctica trips provide an optional 3 to 4-day tour (depending on the weather) for those who wish to trek across South Georgia Island as British explorer, Ernest Shackleton did.
DAY HIKESSouth America’s most famous hiking regions aren’t just for the intrepid. Some of the most memorable Patagonia hikes are day-hikes such as those in the northerly Mt. Fitz Roy sector of Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park or are divided into day-long segments, with stays in scenic estancias. Several of our Patagonia tours are lodge-based. We tuck day-hikes of various lengths into many of our itineraries as one of several activities. Though we don’t call it a hiking or multisport tour, our 13-day Bahia Rhythms, Canyon and Beaches Brazil tour hikes virtually every day to one destination or another, including Salvador’s Pelourinho neighborhood where South America’s largest complex of colonial architecture is located, deserted white sand beaches surrounded by coconut plantations along the Coconut Coast and waterfalls in Chapada Diamantina National Park. On some routes in Florianopolis, Brazil, a delicious seafood lunch on a pier is the destination. All Rio de Janeiro itineraries include an option to hike in the Tijuca rainforest, a national park within the city limits and climb instead of travel by conveyance to the city’s two famous monuments, Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain. We even offer day-hike excursions on the Western Hemisphere’s highest peak, Mt. Aconcagua in the central Andes of Argentina.
- Whitewater Rafting
- Travelers who love whitewater rafting will have a choice of eight countries and multiple trips to enjoy the experience if they book with Southern Explorations. We include rafting excursions in our tours to Argentina and Chile Patagonia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica and Panama. If rafters want more, whitewater excursions are listed among our available day-trips and multi-day tour extensions in most countries that may be added on to any itinerary. One lovely attribute that distinguishes whitewater rafting in Central and South America is that many of the rivers are warm so no bundling up is required.
GREATEST HITSAs we assemble our itineraries, we make sure that rafting enthusiasts get to experience the best of the best. Many of our whitewater trips are considered the best one-day whitewater rafting excursion in the country or at least the river. For whitewater rafting in Costa Rica, you get to raft the Pacuare River, one of the world’s top whitewater experiences on two of our trips, one during our 8-day Costa Rica Adventure or twice on our 9-day Luxury Costa Rica or Rainforests and Beaches trip. The Pascuare passes through lush rainforest teeming with wildlife. Ecuador’s whitewater excursion on the Jatunyacu River in Llanganates National Park is called Ecuador’s best one-day rafting trip, an excursion we include in our 9-day Ecuador Multisport trip. The Jatunyacu is famous for its Class III and III+ rapids, its big waves, fun holes and high volume of water. The Futaleufu offers Chile’s best one-day river excursion, traveling through very scenic canyon terrain that visitors experience on this Patagonia multisport trip.
NEW TO THE LISTInternational visitors have stayed away from Colombia for so long that this country offers a whole new territory even for visitors who have rafted elsewhere in South America. Our Colombia Multisport trip includes what is considered that country’s best one-day rafting trip, through the Chicamocha Gorge, which is called South America’s grand canyon. Our 7-day Coffee Triangle and Medellin multisport trip takes a one-day whitewater rafting trip on the crystal clear Rio Buey through scenic cloud forest and remote farmland, with mostly Class III rapids.
AND MORE THRILLSTwo of our Costa Rica trips include one-day excursions on the Savegre River near Manuel Antonio National Park, our 7-day Coast to Coast trip or our 10-day Classic Costa Rica trip. Passengers who take our 11-day Panama Highlights trip have the option of spending a day on the Chiriqui, a river known for its non-stop Class III and IV rapids through highland jungle scenery. While some passengers are tasting wines in Argentina’s premium wine regions in the vicinity of Mendoza, whitewater enthusiasts can take a revitalizing break by spending a day in Aconcagua National Park for a whitewater adventure on the Portrillero River. One of our Brazil tours to Florianopolis, the 7-day Brazil Adventure, rafts down the Cubatao River with Class II and III rapids. You can even whitewater raft during your travel to Machu Picchu. You may spend two days on the rarely-visited Apurimac River during our 12-day Raft, Bicycle and Hike trip through a labyrinth of deep scenic canyons. We also offer two different day trips on the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley, one more advanced than the other.
Just about every place Southern Explorations travels, there is a whitewater excursion waiting for you.
- Virtually every trip Southern Exploration arranges includes wildlife sure to awe travelers from the most experienced birder to ten-year olds seeing their first monkey outside of a zoo. These are some of the species and destinations that our passengers have in store.
THE MAJOR WILDLIFE MECCASSouthern Explorations goes where the wildlife goes. To be awed by the most exotic of wildlife, the jaguars, the ocelots, the primates, the tapirs and all those other rainforest species one sees in books, most everyone wants to travel to the Amazon. We offer many Amazon tours to get them there. South America’s other top wildlife destination is the extraordinary Galapagos Islands, and we offer countless options for making that dream come true too. And then there is Antarctica, home to a multitude of species, including a preponderance of penguins. One place we don’t send many people but would if they knew what they were missing is the little-visited Pantanal, an area of Brazil’s interior the size of France where wildlife is just as diverse, profuse and unafraid of humans as in the Galapagos. Our 13-day Brazil Water Paradises trip goes there.
AND OTHER POPULAR SPECIESWe get asked about several animals more than others. Turtles Southern Explorations travels to several locations where turtles nest. Three top locations to have the once in a lifetime experience of watching this nighttime phenomenon are Panama, Costa Rica and Brazil’s Praia do Forte. In all of these places, poaching has been replaced by eco-tourism in local projects that are helping to bring back these mostly endangered species. Whales From Costa Rica to Antarctica, whales are in our itineraries. The baleens and many toothed species inhabit these waters at certain times of year.
BIRDS OF MANY PARADISESBirds together Seeing large groups of birds all in one place is an unforgettable experience. There are clay licks in the Amazon that attract hundreds of macaws, with hidden nearby places for humans to watch. Visitors who travel with Southern Explorations will probably see more penguins together than any other bird species where in places they number into the millions. Big birds South America is home to many large species. You’ll find three different species of flamingos in some places such as the National Flamingo Reserve Chile’s Atacama Desert and elsewhere in the Atacama Desert where vicunas, the tiny, soft wild camelids congregate too. If flamingoes are on your bird bucket list, the Atacama is the place to go. We offer several short trips to this region of Chile that may be added on to Patagonia tours. Fortunate is the traveler to South America who gets to see the largest of the vultures, the Andean condor. Two most likely spots are Colca Canyon where parents teach their wee ones to fly, and Colombia’s Los Nevados National Park where the government is working with the San Diego Zoo to reintroduce the species. To see the world’s largest population of black-necked swans, the Uruguayan coast, east of Punta del Este is the place. The signature bird of Brazil’s Pantanal is the jabiru. The ibis may be seen in many parts of Argentina. Pretty birds The world’s most beautiful bird, the Resplendent Quetzal, resides almost exclusively in Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Panama’s Volcan Baru National Park.
We go all these places. You just tell us what wildlife you want to see and we’ll tell you where to go.
El Morado National Park
Hiking, Bird Watching
Soak in natural pools of varying temperaturesOne Day
10 Hours $220Approximately three hours of moderate hiking in one of Charles Darwin's most adored locationsOne Day
10 Hours $270Visit the Pacific Coastal city of Valparaiso
Enjoy a seafood lunch at a local restaurantOne Day
Outstanding Chilean wines
La Vega & the Mercado Central Markets
Top RestaurantsOne Day
Stay at the Vik Guest House after a day of unforgettable wine tasting and toursMulti-Day
From arrival to departure this trip, from an organizational stand point, felt like a ballet… seamless and fluid. We couldn’t have done it without you – Thanks Southern Explorations! - Lori Schrader, New York (Patagonia)
Southern Explorations created an amazing custom trip to one of the most beautiful places on earth. They worked with us to fine tune the details of what our perfect vacation to Patagonia would be. The reservations, the accommodations, the transfers and the guides were spot on, very informative and professional. Will we use Southern Explorations for our next trip to the southern hemisphere? You can be certain of that. - Jim Balsitis and Kathy Kalp (Patagonia)
Thank you for a wonderful introduction to South America and excellent vacation. We will be returning to other SA venues in the coming years and will be sure to contact Southern Explorations for assistance. - Gordon McPhee, South Carolina (Chile & Argentina)
Our words to describe our trip are Spectacular, Exciting, and Remote! We got to see basically everything we had hoped for, and more! -Ann Huston, California (Patagonia)
Sadly, I am back from my AMAZING trip to S. America. I just wanted to thank you for everything. Your professionalism, responsiveness, & knowledge of S. America were incredible. I truly had the trip of a lifetime thanks to Southern Explorations. You guys left no stone unturned from the Galapagos, to Peru, to Chile, to Patagonia..............my expectations were exceeded 10-fold. I already recommended you guys to the gentleman on the plane next to me. It was really nice to get to meet Justin in Patagonia. It is obvious how hard he has worked to establish such strong contacts, guides, etc. I could tell that our guides were a step above the rest. I just wanted to thank you for making my dream come true. My mom & I will never forget this the rest of our lives. - Ami Jampolis (Galapagos Island Cruise, Peru, Chile & Patagonia)