INCREDIBLE HIGHLANDS 2016

Argentina - Bolivia - Chile 13 days / 12 nights

  • Day 01  Buenos Aires – Tucuman – TafĂ­ del Valle
  • Day 02   TafĂ­ del Valle - Cafayate
  • Day 03   Cafayate - Cachi
  • Day 04   Cachi - Salta
  • Day 05   Salta
  • Day 06   Salta – Purmamarca - Humahuaca
  • Day 07   Humahuaca – Uyuni
  • Day 08   Salt Lake Uyuni
  • Day 09   Uyuni – San Pedro de Atacama
  • Day 10   San Pedro de Atacama
  • Day 11   San Pedro de Atacama-Santiago
  • Day 12   Santiago
  • Day 13   Santiago

DAY 1

BUENOS AIRES – TAFI DEL VALLE - / - / -

In the morning transfer from your hotel to the domestic airport AEP for early flight to Tucumán- TUC. Arrival in San Miguel de Tucumán. Welcome by the local guide and private transfer to the hotel.

In the afternoon brief city tour of Tucuman and drive on Fernando Mate de Luna Ave around 20km of paved road surrounded by forest. The road climbs up to 1,570 m.a.s.l. Once at San Javier temperature is around 15° less than in Tucumán city. Here you are in the middle of a totally green environment, called "yundra" or "cloudy jungle" by the "tucumanos" (inhabitants of Tucuman). The statue of Christ The Redeemer on top of Mount San Javier is a mandatory stop for pictures.

From San Javier the road leads us to join route 307. From there onwards, follow a not very easy road that sinks into the deep forest. These 100 km are covered in about 4 hours on a mountainous, very narrow road with only one lane at some stages. The unique landscape turns in only a few kilometers from green to brown and later on arid. On the way you have the chance to see the monument in honor of the CalchaquĂ­ Indians, a stone mass. Further ahead, entering the valley, you pass through El Mollar, a little village similar to Tafi.

More ahead you find the Parque de los Menhires, where cave stoned pieces made by the native Indians can be seen. Tafí del Valle is a peaceful village surrounded by a unique landscape. It's a pleasure just to have a walk on its streets. It has a 17th century chapel, which is also an archaeological museum. Among the gastronomic specialties of the region find the typical cheese seasoned with paprika or marjoram; pircas, alfeñiques (toffee-like paste), molasses, "huminta en chala" (a paste made from grated corn, cheese, pumpkin, cumin and ground paprika and wrapped in the leaves of the corn).

Overnight at the selected hotel in Tafi del Valle

 

DAY 2

TAFI DEL VALLE – CAFAYATE B / - / -

After breakfast, continue on the same road passing by Amaicha del Valle (visit to the Pachamama cultural complex) to reach the Ruins of the Quilmes, an old Indian settlement located 1,700 m.a.s.l. In the past this place lodged 2,500 aborigines inside a perfectly planned citadel. All this area was the scene of great battles against the Spaniards. The Quilmes Indians were persecuted and removed from its territory. The view from this citadel is outstanding! Some kilometers ahead you leave Tucuman Province to enter Salta Province, arriving at Cafayate, one of the most important villages located at the southernmost limit of the Calchaqui Valleys at 1,660 m.a.s.l. This is "the grape growing area".

Within the urban area is the parish church, which special characteristic is that it is one of the few earthquake-proof religious buildings with 5 naves. Other interesting places are the Handicrafts Market in the square, the Wine Museum and the Archaeological and Colonial Museum.

In the afternoon if you wish, you can make a wine tasting visit at one of the local wineries (optional).

Overnight at the selected hotel in Cafayate

 

DAY 3

CAFAYATE – CACHI B / - / -

In the morning you leave Cafayate along Route 40, driving to the charming town of Cachi, crossing mountains, landscapes with important archaeological sites and visiting on the way picturesque villages that live off agriculture, where you are able to purchase homemade wines or jams among other products. Animana, San Carlos, Angastaco, Molinos and Seclantas are some of the attractive towns. You have time to enjoy the breath-taking “Las Flechas gorge”.

In the afternoon arrival to Cachi.

Overnight at the selected hotel in Cachi

 

DAY 4

CACHI – SALTA B / - / -

Cachi is considered a gem due to its environment and architecture. In the morning you can visit San Jose church and the Archaeological Museum.

After lunch, you leave Cachi, crossing the Los Cardones National Park, Cuesta del Obispo at 3,348 m.a.s.l. and the Tin Tin straight. Arrival to Salta.

Overnight at the selected hotel in Salta

 

DAY 5

SALTA B / - / -

In the morning enjoy a city tour in Salta (04 hrs). Departure from the hotel for a panoramic sightseeing tour of the city of Salta, one of the most picturesque cities in the country, known as 'Salta, the beautiful', probably due to its privileged setting in the lovely Lerma Valley and to the eye-catching contrast of its old colonial buildings with its modern urban architecture. Salta is, beyond any doubt, the Argentine city, which has best preserved its colonial heritage, with its one-story houses and its typical balconies with richly ornate colonial-style bars.

The neuralgic centre of the city is 9 de Julio Square, around which some of the most important buildings in the city are situated, as well as the main hotels and many bars and restaurants. The visit makes it possible to have a look at the most precious gems dating back to colonial times, such as: the Church and Monastery of San Francisco, rebuilt in the mid XVll century, declared Minor Main Church by the Vatican in 1997; the 'Cabildo and Historic Museum of the Northwest' (old seat of the vice-royalty government and of the provincial government later on), main attraction in the city, which construction started the same day of the foundation, but whose current building was completely rebuilt by the late XVII century; the San Bernardo Monastery, dating back to the late XVI century, which boasts a carob-tree main gate considered a jewel of the local colonial art; and the Italian-style building of the Main Church, built in the XX century, that houses the mortal remains of the hero of the Independence Wars, General MartĂ­n Miguel de GĂĽemes. The tour goes on towards the city outskirts, up to San Bernardo Hill, where the Monument to General MartĂ­n Miguel de GĂĽemes stands. From the hill you will get a great view of the city and the Lerma Valley. The visit ends at the Handicraft Market, where some of the most assorted examples of the local craftsmen's skills can be appreciated. All around the province of Salta nice pieces of pottery, basketry, knitted 'barracan' fabrics, tapestries and 'ponchos' are produced, as well as music instruments.

Afternoon at leisure

Overnight at the selected hotel in Salta.

 

DAY 6

SALTA – HUACALERA B / - / -

In the morning, you leave Salta to move further north towards the Humahuaca Gorge, on route stopping at the small town of Pumamarca with its view of the “Seven colours hill". You can visit the handicraft markets and explore the town. The tour then continues to Tilcara, passing by the village of Maimar. Upon arrival in Tilcara, you can visit the Pucará de Tilcara, an old pre-Colombian aborigine stronghold partially rebuilt and you may also visit the Historic Museum of the Province in front of the main square, which displays an interesting asset of Inca art pieces coming from different sites in Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.

The journey then continues on to Huacalera, the route that crosses the Capricorn Tropic. In UquĂ­a you may visit the local parish church, which holds a collection of paintings coming from Cuzco representing the harquebusiers angels.

AfYou finally arrive at Humahuaca, located at 2,939 m.a.s.l. founded by local aborigines in 1594 and unique for its pure colonial style with its abode houses, its narrow cobblestones streets and colonial style street lamps, but mainly because of the exquisite kindness of its people. It is interesting to stop for a minute at its main square, surrounded by the most important buildings and monuments, such as: the church, the old Town Hall and the Monument to the Wars of the Argentine Independence (currently known as Monument to the Aborigine) as well as the city fair.

Overnight at the selected hotel in Huacalera.

 

DAY 7

HUACALERA – UYUNI B / BL / D

We set off this morning heading northwards towards the border with Bolivia. Finishing at La Quiaca (arriving at around 12:00 lunchtime).

Pick up at border and overland drive to Uyuni, visiting on route Salo, Atocha, Cerdas

Atocha is a beautiful village in the Province South Chichas in the region of Potosi. Its principal highlight are the ruins of Atocha Vieja, where many years ago lived the Spanish, since supposable this is where a lot of minerals were found. You can still see the antique smelters which they used during these times.

In the surroundings you can also observe the strange scenery, as the hills in shapes of animals, the great African lion in Chorolque, the crocodile, the camel, the sleeping elephant, the chimps, the ice bear, etc…all these were shaped by nature.

Overnight at the selected hotel in Uyuni

 

DAY 8

SALT LAKE UYUNI B / - / -

Today excursion on the Uyuni Salt Flats- the largest salt lake on earth, located on the Bolivian Andean Altiplano with 10.000 square Km; the Bolivian Andes offer stunning sceneries which can be hardly matched. It has to be -a once in your life time journey-. The sound of silence makes the heart beat faster and the surreal pentagons of crystalline salt, the pure sky, the cacti and the flamingos certainly make you feel that there is no place like this in the whole world

Drive to Isla Pescado. At a distance this island has the shape of a fish. Its historical name is Inka Wasi. It is located at the center of the Uyuni salt pan. Nature has bestowed a singular type of flora on this place. The surface rocks contain fossils of marine algae. This is the largest island in the group that forms an isolated oasis-type ecosystem within the salt pan; the landscape against the background of the salt pans that extend to the horizon makes it an ideal place for photography fans. Lunch

Overnight at the selected hotel in Uyuni

 

DAY 9

UYUNI – SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA B / BL / -

Overland drive to San Pedro de Atacama with visits: The Laguna Colorada, with an area of 60 km2, at an altitude of 4,278 mtrs. It is characterized by the red tone of its waters and it is inhabited by three species of flamingoes: tokoko -with red plumage-; chururu -with whitish plumage- and jututu, with pink plumage. The scenery is exceptionally beautiful and it is considered to be the most important flamingo watching site in the region. Also Vicuñas, Llamas and Vizcachas can be seen. Box lunch included. Continue to Green lagoon, which water surface has the appearance of a giant emerald. From this Lagoon there is an impressive view of Licancabur Volcano, at an altitude of 5,865 mtrs. The special brightness of the green waters in the afternoon is dazzling. The intensely green coloring is due to their high magnesium content.

After crossing the border, bus transfer to San Pedro de Atacama. Drop off at your hotel

Overnight at the selected hotel in San Pedro de Atacama

 

DAY 10

SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA B / - / -

In the morning overland drive to the Salt Flats of Atacama. On route visit the village Toconao, where the houses and church is built out of white vulcanic stone giving this place its own character.

On a small, green main square you find the tower separated from the church. Continue to the 3000 km2 Salt Flats, rich in minerals as Borax and Lithium and home to different Flamingos species. The Chaxa Lagoon, part of the “National Flamingo Reserve”, offers great options to watch these birds up close in their natural habitat.

In the afternoon visit the Moon Valley – Valle de la Luna – to enjoy this bizarre, moon resembling landscape. The Lincancabur Volcano in the back round makes this excursion unforgettable.

Overnight at the selected hotel

 

DAY 11

SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA – CALAMA – SANTIAGO B / - / -

Early in the morning optional tour to the Geysers El Tatio (pre-booking). The Geysers lie at an altitude of 4.500 m over sea level on the high plateau and give their visitors a spectacular show. You find around 40 Geysers and thermal fountains, all bubbling and sizzling meters high. The morning sun gazing upon them lets them shine in different colors.

In the afternoon transfer to the airport of Calama for your flight to Santiago. On route you see the incomparable „Cordillera de la Sal“ – the Salt Mountains. Arrival in Santiago and transfer to your hotel.

Overnight at the selected hotel

 

DAY 12

SANTIAGO B / - / -

Day at leisure for optional tours. Optional tour to ValparaĂ­so (pre-booking)

The historic city of Valparaíso is Chile’s oldest port. It is also home to the senate and Chilean Congress, which was moved here from the capital after 1989, when democracy and therefore a national Congress were re-established.

The city’s many hills are a multi-coloured panorama of painted houses crowding every nook and cranny that provide a spectacular backdrop and also ensure Valparaíso’s unique flair. There is a good reason why the historic city centre of Valparaíso, with its fine 19th century architecture, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. The upper and lower sections of the city are connected by 15 funicular elevators that were built at the turn of the 19th century and still provide good service to this day. From Valparaiso you drive to the beaches of Viña del Mar, called the city of gardens due to its many parks and green areas. Viña del Mar is an active city with sand beaches, modern hotels, first class restaurants, elegant bars and the Casino, built 1932. At sunset return to Santiago.

Overnight at the selected hotel

 

DAY 13

SANTIAGO B / - / -

In Santiago de Chile, the best features of a vibrant, modern metropolis are paired with the old-world charm of a former colonial capital, and this private tour introduces you to both sides of the city. You begin with a visit to the presidential palace, named La Moneda because the splendid building once housed the national mint. Many other sights in the historic centre are clustered around the always-bustling Plaza de Armas: the impressive cathedral; the beautiful old post office; the Palacio de la Real Audiencia, now home to the National History Museum; and the Casa Colonial, once the Spanish governor’s residence.

Leaving the centre, you travel west toward the soaring Andes, past the Cerro San CristĂłbal, an outpost of the mountains which towers over the city with a great white statue of the Virgin Mary crowning its summit. Your tour concludes with a visit to the fashionable business districts of Providencia and Las Condes, with their broad boulevards lined with modern high-rises and shady side-streets flanked by fine restaurants and trendy boutiques. Rest of the day at leisure until your transfer to the airport for your flight back home.

 
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