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Altiplano & Gaucho Explorer
SAVE UP TO $238 on this tour

This is a journey across the roof of the Andes, from the high Altiplano to the heart of Argentina’s grasslands. It crosses the spectacular passes of the Andes three times along remote seldom travelled routes with spectacular volcanoes and high lakes studded with flamingos.

This is overlanding at its best and you will travel from the high plateau to the depths of the Atacama, the driest desert on Earth and the desert settlement of San Pedro, before heading to the west of the Andes and the grasslands of Argentina.

It contrasts the historic cities of La Paz and Salta with the cosmopolitan centres of Mendoza and Santiago, capital of Chile. It offers a wonderful insight into the life and culture of the Argentinean Gauchos as we spend a couple of days exploring the cordilleras with gauchos on their horses at a working Estancia.

  • Duration: 21 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Active/Adrenaline, Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites, Equestrian, Parks & Nature Reserves, Sailing, Rafting
  • Physical rating: Light
  • Supplier Tour ID: ZZS2/157995
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Starts: Santiago, Chile
  • Finishes: La Paz, Bolivia
  • Age requirement: 18 +
You will Visit
  • Santiago
  • Mendoza
  • Córdoba
  • Estancia
  • Tafí Del Valle
  • Cafayate
  • Quilmes Ruins
  • Salta
  • San Pedro De Atacama
  • Bolivian Altiplano
  • Uyuni
  • Salar De Uyuni
  • La Paz

Itinerary

01

Day 1-2: Santiago

Border information: if you are joining in Santiago, you will most likely enter Chile at Santiago Arturo Merino Ben tez International Airport (IATA code: SCL).

Welcome to Santiago, the cosmopolitan Chilean capital! There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting.

In Santiago we will stay in a centrally-located hostel.

02

Day 3-4: Mendoza

Border information: Exit Chile at Paso Cristo Redentor, enter Argentina at Los Libertadores.

Today we will drive over the stunning Cristo Redentor pass in the high Andes, passing Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere) and heading to the Argentine wine capital of Mendoza, nestled in the dry flats underneath the shadows of the largest mountains of the Andes. Mendoza is the centre of Argentine wine production, and one of the nine 'Wine Capitals of the World' - it is especially famous for its Malbec, grown at some of the highest-altitude vineyards to be found in the world.

Estimated Drive Time - 11-12 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

On the following day we will have a free day to explore the incredible region, head out on various adventure activities, or of course take a tour of some of the many wineries in the region.

In Mendoza we we stay in a centrally located hostel in dorm accommodation.

03

Day 5: Córdoba

Today we have a full days drive to the bustling city of Cordoba, we will have a free morning here tommorw to explore.

Estamiated drive time: 10 hours

In Cordoba we will stay in a centrally located hotel or guesthouse.

04

Day 6-8: Estancia

Today we will have a leisurely start to the day, with time to explore Cordoba. After lunch we will complete our drive to the Estancia.

Estimated Drive Time - 2 hours.

On the following two days we will head out horseback riding. This is a magical experience in a beautiful location, and many people's highlight of the trip!

Please note that some of these activities are subject to weather conditions. Please also note that there is a strict weight limit of 15 stone (210lbs) or 95kg to partake in the horse riding - if you should weigh more than this, then unfortunately you will not be able to participate in the horseback riding.

In the Estancia we will camp with facilities in the grounds near the main house.

05

Day 9: Tafí Del Valle

Today we will drive north across the lush flat pampas and start climbing into the drier mountains.

Tonight we will camp in a basic campsite in the town of Taf del Valle.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.

06

Day 10-11: Cafayate

Today we will have an included visit to the ancient ruins of the indigenous city of Quilmes en route, then arrive in the serene town of Cafayate. This small unassuming town is the centre of one of Argentina's principal wine producing regions, famous for the quality of its Torrentes and Tannat wines! We will have the opportunity to go to a few of the vineyards nearby to see how the wine is made, and of course to try them!

In Cafayate we stay at a campsite with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

07

Day 12-13: Salta

Today we will drive through the spectacular rock formations of the Quebrada de las Conchas, and reach the beautiful colonial town of Salta.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

On the following day, we will have a free day to explore the town of Salta, visit its many museums, or explore the beautiful surrounding hills on foot or by mountain bike. We will also have the chance to take the cable car to the viewpoint on San Bernardo Hill overlooking the town, or take the famous 'Train to the Clouds' through some of the incredible mountian scenery nearby.

In Salta we will stay in a local hotel or guesthouse.

08

Day 14-15: San Pedro De Atacama

Border information: Exit Argentina at Paso Jama, enter Chile at Paso Jama.

Today we will have a drive day to cross the mighty Andes, cross the border into Chile, and then descend all the way into the Atacama desert.

Estimated Drive Time - 12 hours.

On the following day we will have a free day to explore the incredible highlights of the Atacama desert surrounding San Pedro. In the evening we will take an included trip out to the extraordinary Moon Valley, where we will hopefully see an incredible sunset. At night we will also have the chance to go stargazing, in one of the world's premier regions for astronomy (please note that this is only possible when there is not a full moon).

In San Pedro de Atacama we will stay in a centrally located hostel.

09

Day 16: Bolivian Altiplano

We will depart San Pedro de Atacama early today to drive to the world's highest Geyser field, at 4300m above sea level, the El Tatio Geysers are an impressive sight first thing in the morning. After time to explore, we will continue our journey into the Reserva Nacional Alto Loa, we will have plenty of opportunities for photographs along the way on this scenic drive.

Tonight we will bush camp in a beautiful, remote spot close to the Bolivian Border.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

Please note: The weather in this region can be unpredictable and has been known to close the road to the border. On these occasions we will take an alternate route across the Altiplano, crossing into either Chile or Argentina at a different border point. Your Tour Leaders will keep you informed of any changes that may be necessary.

10

Day 17: Uyuni

Border information: Exit Chile and enter Bolivia at Ollague

After breakfast we will break camp and cross the border into Bolivia. We will take our time to enjoy the views on the way to the town of Uyuni, the gateway to the incredible salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni.

In Uyuni we will stay in a friendly hotel, famous for serving the highest pizzas in the world!

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

11

Day 18: Salar De Uyuni

Today we will venture out onto the salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni, spending a full day exploring this phenomenal location by jeep and on foot. En route we will explore the nearby train graveyard and the cactus-filled 'Fish Island', and take all the time we need to get plenty of perspective-bending photographs!

12

Day 19-20: La Paz

Today we will leave Cochabamba and drive north to La Paz, Bolivia s seat of government and the highest administrative capital in the world!

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

On the following day we have a free day to explore the city or take part in optional activities.

In La Paz we will stay in a good hotel in the historical centre.

13

Day 21: La Paz

Border information: if you are finishing in La Paz, you will most likely exit Bolivia at La Paz El Alto International Airport (IATA code: LPB).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in La Paz. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Spend 3 unique days at an Anglo-Argentinian estancia to experience the Gaucho way of life
    • Visit the Quilmes ruins
    • Visit the impressive rock formations of 'El Amphiteatro' and 'La Garganta del Diablo' en route through the primeval landscape of the Quebrada de las Conchas
    • Explore the dramatic landscape of the Moon Valley
    • Experience the incredible El Tatio geysers in the mountains high above the Atacama Desert
    • Take the epic journey across the Altiplano - an incredible high-altitude adventure through a surreal desert landscape, taking in bizarre rock formations and stunning lakes
    • Take jeeps out onto the dazzling Uyuni Salt Flats
    Tour Staff
    • 2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary
    Accomodation
    • 30% Camping - 70% Hotels
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Tour Highlights:
  • Adventure Activities
  • History & Culture
  • Horse Riding
  • Nature & Wildlife
  • Overland Journey
  • Sailing & Rafting