Trips of a Lifetime- Chile, Argentina & Rio de Janeiro


As we continue our Trips of a Lifetime series – in which we take a look at some of the most memorable and impressive trips our team of South America and Central America travel experts have designed – we take a look at an impressive itinerary custom built for a group of Southern Explorations guests who knew what they wanted to see and came to us to help make their dream a reality. As soon as we started putting together our list of the most incredible itineraries, this one immediately came to mind.
This 19-day South America travel experience explored parts of Chile, Argentina, and Brazil and provided a mix of remarkable wildlife viewing, vibrant city tours, unforgettable views, and ancient mysteries. From sunset dinners in the desert to glacial hikes, sailings across mythical passages, up-close moments at Christ the Redeemer, explorations of the southernmost city in the world, and exceptional accommodations in picturesque Patagonia, it was incredible how this tailor-made itinerary was able to bring together so many of the highlights we offer across our trips collection.
It began in Calama, Chile, where our guests were welcomed at the airport before a drive out to accommodations in the midst of an oasis in the world’s driest non-polar desert. The rich pre-Colombian history still reverberates through this piece of the Atacama Desert and is reflected in the traditional artisan crafts and the renowned archaeological museum here.
From the Valle de la Luna’s lunar-like landscape and the mesmerizing colors of the mountains and a free evening to acclimate, Day 2 of the trip saw our guests move on to Laguna Cejar for some relaxation in the middle of the Atacama salt flat, and then on to another day at the National Flamingo Reserve, located in Chile’s largest salt flat and home to three species of flamingo, as well as a stop in the agricultural and artisan town of Toconao: population 600.
The first portion of this incredible itinerary wrapped up with a pre-dawn wake up to take in the sunrise at the Tatio Geyser Field some 14,000 feet above sea level, with stops at a llama herder’s settlement before heading off to Santiago for an exploration of the bustling city and some of the lesser known barrios.
From Santiago, it was on to legendary Easter Island for four days of exploration of the island’s history, visiting the Moai statues, ancient temples and archeological quarries, as well as volcanic hikes and leisure time for lounging and swimming on the island’s white sand beaches.
On the ninth day, the trip returned to the South American mainland with a flight to Puerto Montt, Chile, for more time at leisure, relaxing and percolating on the fantastic experiences of Easter Island, then off for a day-long excursion to Osorno Volcano, with stops at rapids and waterfalls along the way.
At this point the adventure transitioned to the Patagonia-portion of the itinerary as the guests landed at Torres del Paine National Park, settling in at the Hotel Las Torres, for three days of touring the park on awe-inspiring hikes in one of the most breathtaking destinations on earth.  
The exploration of Patagonia continued as our guests boarded the Stella Australis Expedition cruise ship at Punta Arenas for a four-day expedition cruise sailing across the Strait of Magellan, the Patagonia channels, Ainsworth Bay, and the Beagle Channel through gorgeous Glacier Alley, with explorations of elephant seal and Magellan penguin colonies, as well as epic glacier hikes, all along the way, before rounding the famed Cape Horn and reaching Ushuaia; the southernmost city in the world.
Our intrepid travelers were met by a Southern Explorations guide in Ushuaia for a city trek that included a panoramic hike before they traveled to Ushuaia Airport to catch a flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina. There they enjoyed an evening at leisure exploring one of the great cities of the world, followed by a morning flight to Rio de Janerio, Brazil.
There they were picked up at the airport and headed off to their hotel ahead of an afternoon of strolling around the neighborhoods and boardwalks, followed by a night free to savor the vibrant nightlife.
The final two days of this expansive multi-country experience included historic tours, trips to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, incredible dining, and antique train rides through Tijuca Forest, the large national park in the middle of the city, before finally concluding with one last relaxing night taking in Rio’s endless energy and enthusiasm for life, followed by a morning flight home.