Mendoza and Northwest Argentina , Argentina

The Northwest of Argentina encompasses half of the history of the country and remains off-the-beaten tourist track. From the Incas and other local cultures, to the Spanish domain, the native population and its lifestyle are a vivid example of the strong impact of history. The inhabitants preserve their ancient customs and traditions intact: their colorful dresses, their expressive artwork and handicrafts, music, colorful markets and street fairs and delicious gastronomy. Since this area was originally colonized by the Spaniards, this region holds the most ancient traces of Spanish heritage: towns with typical colonial architecture, adobe churches and hidden chapels, old traditional fincas (ranches).

This is a land of great contrasts, especially in its landscapes, geology, flora, fauna, its archaeology and native population. Spectacular geological formations, amazing deserts and high altitude lakes can be found in this impressive landscape. In the lowlands on the eastern slopes you will find the dense mountain forests or yungas: very large trees, giant ferns and hanging gardens of epiphyte plants where explorers can find abundant wildlife like toucans, shining hummingbirds, monkeys, tapirs and even jaguars. Climbing through the canyons to the west you will reach the vast Puna Highlands around 11,000 feet above sea level. There, among the yellow pastures, numerous vicuña herds can be seen, as well as families of llama herdsmen living according to ancient traditions in the most favorable places. The Puna presents a paradise with enormous volcanic plains and extensive salt plains alternating with large lakes inhabited by large flocks of birds with numerous endemic species. In the past, the Argentine Puna was inhabited by numerous Indian groups and was once part of the extensive Inca Empire of the Sun. Proof of this fact are the numerous petroglyphs (ancient carvings on rocks), roads, dwelling places and fortifications which are patiently brought to light by professional archaeologists.

Overland circuits from Salta include the Humahuaca Canyon (a UNESCO Patrimony of Humanity) via San Antonio de los Cobres and Salinas Grandes; the Calchaqui Valleys via Cafayate, Cachi and Molinos. Other routes include Tucuman to Salta via Tafi del Valle and the Calchaqui Valleys. You can also journey overland from Salta over the Paso de Jama to Chile and the Atacama Desert.

Activities include overland touring (featuring the ‘Road to the Clouds’), overnight trekking, multi-day horseback treks. Accommodations include charming lodges and inns, luxury wine lodges, estancias.

Day 1 : Buenos Aires

Upon your arrival in Buenos Aires you will be met by your bilingual guides who will transfer you to your hotel.  

Overnight at the Hotel Bel Air, located in the prestigious neighborhood of Recoleta, very close to the shopping area of Santa Fe Avenue, close to business and tourist districts of the city.

Daily breakfast included - 3 nights.

On one of your nights in town we can arrange a VIP Tango Show with Dinner at one of Buenos Aires' best theaters. 

Day 2 : Tigre & Parana Delta Tour

You will be met at your hotel by your guide and set off to explore one of the most beautiful areas of Buenos Aires surroundings - the northern riverside districts of San Isidro and Tigre. The San Isidro neighborhood was in the past an area of summer mansions which belonged to the traditional families.

You will continue to Tigre, a district overlooking the Delta of the Parana River. Here, you may explore the “Fruit Market,” located in the port of Tigre, where the streets are full of colorful rustic fabric, furniture and accessories made in cane and willow, delicious jams and honey, brilliant flowers, and variety of native fruit co-existing in absolute harmony.

After free time for lunch, you will take a riverside walk and a boat trip down the Parana River, with beautiful views of the riverside villas, Victorian docks, English gardens or traditional rowing clubs.

Day 3 : Buenos Aires Colon Theater

With its excellent acoustics, the Colon Theatre is among the top 5 World's best opera houses, along with Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam and Boston theaters. It is part of the opera tradition of Argentina, known for its erudite and demanding public. It has hosted artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Callas, Enrico Caruso and Arturo Toscanini, and the Argentines Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Mercedes Sosa, among other major Argentine and international artists.

Day 4 : Buenos Aires - Mendoza

You will be met at your hotel and transferred to the domestic airport for your flight to Mendoza.  Upon arrival you will be met by a representative of your wine lodge who will take you to your vineyard experience.

Overnight at Club Tapiz, daily breakfast included - 3 nights. 

Club Tapiz is located in Luján de Cuyo, 30 min away from the Mendoza airport, in an estate built in 1890 and surrounded by 10 hectares of vineyards. The house was restored preserving its Renaissance-style villa structure and maintaining vintage elements, such as the patio and pinewood floors, the connection with its surroundings and enthralling views of the Andean range. On June 2006, the building was declared a historical, architectural and tourist heritage of the Maipú Department. A few meters away from the house there is an old winery that produces artisan wines. Club Tapiz offers a unique experience in an exclusive site amidst mountains and the taste of good wines. There are only 7 rooms, and the multiple facilities include a reception area, restaurant, wine cellar, bar, lounge room, garden, swimming pool, spa, business center, medical emergency center, laundry/valet, bilingual staff, room service from 7am to midnight, luggage storage, reading room with library, table games, fax service, internet, and easy access for the disabled. Sport and recreational facilities include golf, trekking, rafting, horseback riding, wine sampling, and visits to wine cellars located just a few minutes away.

Mendoza is the perfect city for the sophisticated and adventurous alike. You will spend the next 3 days exploring the vineyards that surround your lodge. You will also have the option of many outdoor activities such as rafting, golf, cycling, horseback riding or sightseeing.

Day 5 : Full-day 3 Wineries tour

You will be picked up at your hotel and set off with your private guide for a full-day tour that will include visits to three wineries. The Province of Mendoza is no doubt Argentina´s leading wine producer. Of the 210,000 hectares of cultivated vineyards in the country, 145,000 correspond to Mendoza alone. The vine reached Mendoza towards the middle of the 16th-century and found an excellent land on which to develop. Visiting the wineries is a means of discovering a great part of this history of pioneers and entrepreneurs. History, geography and the people combine to explain the amazing development and essence of the wines of Mendoza.

This full-day visit to three different wineries will allow you to delve into this world of wines that took Argentina to be fifth-largest producer in the world and also the producer of some of the world's finest wines. You will be able to choose the wineries you will visit, subject to availability: Recommended Wineries (Lujan de Cuyo): Vistalba / Norton / Clos de Chacras / Tapiz / Melipal / Sottano / Dominio del Plata / Terrazas de los Andes / Belasco de Baquedano / Ruca Malen / Fabre Montmayou / Séptima / Renacer / Bonfanti / Lagarde / Finca Decero / Nieto Senetiner / Alta Vista / Carmelo Patti / Dolium / Luigi Bosca or similar. Recommended Wineries (Maipú): Lopez / Tempus Alba / Cecchin / Destilería Tapaus / Familia Zuccardi / Museo La Rural / Navarro Correas / Trapiche or similar.

Free time will be allowed for lunch (can be added at additional cost).

Day 6 : Mendoza

Day at leisure.  A menu of optional guided excursions can be provided. Optional activities include:  additional winery tours, winery tours by bike, hiking, cooking class, horseback riding, 'High Andes' excursion.

Day 7 : Mendoza - Salta

Today you will fly to Salta, gateway to the northwest of Argentina - a colorful landscape with ancient Incan customs and traditions evident in many of the small towns with expressive artwork and handicrafts, music, colorful markets, street fairs and delicious cuisine. Since this area was colonized by the Spaniards, the region holds traces of Spanish heritage in towns with typical colonial architecture

Upon arrival you will meet your private guide who will transfer you to your hotel in the historical center of Salta. This hotel will be your base as you explore the diverse region in the following days.

Overnight at the Design Suites Salta, breakfast included. 

Day 8 : Calchaqui Valleys

You will be picked up at your Salta hotel and depart along the fertile Lerma Valley, an important tobacco growing area. Then you will take a winding road along the banks of Las Conchas River and will start finding strange shapes made of brightly colored sandstone deposited in the Tertiary Period, about 60 million years ago. Garganta del Diablo and the Anfiteatro, huge open cracks in the earth, are amazing. Gradually the arid countryside will be replaced by extensive vineyards, revealing that Cafayate is near.

This town has become the most important site in the Calchaquí Valleys. Located at an elevation of 1,660 meters, it is well known because of its famous Torrontes wine, product of the exquisite combination of temperature and humidity that provides the ideal environment for the growth of this sweet and deep fruit flavor vine, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah and Chardonnay. Besides visiting the wineries, you can also visit the Cathedral with five aisles, the Archeological Museum and watch craftsmen work clay, wood and weaving are worth the visit.

Afterwards, depart to the north following Calchaquí River Valley. During the trip, you will be able to enjoy amazing landscapes and small towns which preserve their colonial heritage as if time had stopped.

San Carlos is a town with colonial houses and narrow streets. Since its foundation it was destroyed many times by the Indians. The Jesuits settled here and founded the "San Carlos Mission", giving origin to the actual town.

Then you will start traveling along the impressive Quebrada de las Flechas (Arrows Gorge), with its extraordinary geological formations produced by erosion on the colorful sedimentation of sandstone over the past 60 million years.

The road continues northwards to Cachi, a beautiful town with white buildings, adobe houses, stone-paved streets and impressive architectural and cultural constructions. Cachi means "salt" in quechua due to the fact that natives mistook the top of "El Nevado" with a salt mine.

Day 9 : Salta

On the following morning depart from Cachi and drive east. The trip continues through the Calchaquí Valleys to Salta. At both sides of the road tall and elegant cacti will start to appear, indicating the proximity of Los Cardones National Park, which will be seen while traveling through Recta de Tin Tin. After Enchanted Valley, you will start a spectacular descent through Cuesta del Obispo, a landmark that gives a wonderful panoramic view of the surroundings. Running down, you will reach Valley of Lerma dominated by the city of Salta.

You will end up at your base hotel In Salta where you will get a good night's rest before your next cultural venture.

Day 10 : Salta - San Antonio de los Cobres - Salinas Grandes, Purmamarca

You will depart Salta by car following the famous route of the "Train of the Clouds" toward San Antonio de los Cobres through breathtaking canyons of the northern Andes, visiting Santa Rosa de Tastil, which was the largest pre-Inca city in the country.  From here you will head through the Puna (high plateau) to Salinas Grandes, a huge salt deposit in the northern province of Jujuy. Continue down the famous winding “Cuesta de Lipán" to reach a highlight: the colonial village of Purmamarca.

Purmamarca is a small town of pre-hispanic origin settled at the foot of the polychromatic "Cerro de los Siete Colores" (Seven Colors Hill), where purple, reddish, green, ocher, brown, yellow and white rocks illustrate various geological ages. The village, with adobe buildings of cardon roofs and mud tiles, was designed around the main church, built between 1648 and 1779 in front of an “algarrobo”, a characteristic tree of the region, more than 500 years old. As in many churches of this area, you will notice they are built with cactus wood and house paintings and outstanding sculptures brought from Cuzco

You will spend the night in either Purmamarca or Tilcara.  Suggested properties:  Marques De Tojo, La Comarca, Las Terrazas Boutique Hotel.

Day 11 : Purmamarca - Humahuaca Canyon - Salta

You will spend a full day enjoying the multicolored landscape of the Humahuaca Canyon, the peaceful villages, old chapels, native markets, small museums with astounding archaeological pieces and remains of ancient pre-Inca fortified towns.

Humahuaca, Uquia, Tilcara, Maimara and Purmamarca will be some of the fascinating stops during the day.

Before reaching Humahuaca, you will cross the Tropic of Capricorn. Humahuaca is a colonial city with narrow stone-paved streets, streetlamps and adobe houses that made it one of the most important trade centers of Alto Perú until the end of the 19th-century.

Afterward, you will continue to Salta, where you will spend the night. Overnight Design Suites, breakfast included.

Day 12 : Salta - Iguazú

Transfer to the Salta Airport for your flight to Iguazú. This mighty system of waterfalls has become a natural wonder for travelers from all over the world. Enjoy a few days exploring this formation that marks the border between Argentina and Brazil.

You will be met at the airport and transferred to your Puerto Iguazú hotel.  Overnight Jardin de Iguazú, daily breakfast included - 2 nights. 

Hotel Jardin de Iguazú is located in the heart of the city of Puerto Iguazú. Services and facilities include swimming pool, bar service, wireless Internet access. 

Day 13 : Iguazú Falls

You will be picked up at your hotel by your private guide to set off and explore the Argentine side of the falls. This side of the mighty falls offers three different tracks into the forest, each with self-explanatory signs describing where cataracts drop into the canyon. You'll see the Devil's Throat, with its breathtaking view. You and your guide will explore the upper and lower trails close to the falls. You will take the train and then a short hike to the lookout point over the Devil's Throat, with impressive views of waterfalls on three sides. The access to San Martin Island is by way of the catwalks of the lower circuit. National Park entrance fee included. 

Day 14 : Iguazú - Buenos Aires - Int'l Departure

Hotel pickup and transfer to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires.  You will be met at the domestic airport upon arrival and transferred to Ezeiza International Airport.  

Price from $4,495.00 per person, based on double occupancy
Days 14
Nights 13
Includes:

3 nights Hotel Bel Air

3 nights Club Tapiz

2 nights Design Suites Salta

1 night Marques de Tojo

2 nights Jardin de Iguazu

Daily breakfast at all hotels

Half-day Tigre & Delta tour (private)

Colon Theatre visit (private)

Full-day Mendoza 3-Wineries tour with wine tasting (private)

Calchaqui Valleys overnight package (includes private transfers, accommodations, privately-guided excursions, meals per itinerary)

Salta-Purmamarca-Humahuaca Canyon circuit tour (includes private transfers, accommodations, privately-guided excursions, meals per itinerary)

Full-day Iguazu Falls tour, national park entrance fee included (private)

Airport-hotel transfers

Excludes:

International & domestic airfare

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Mendoza and Northwest Argentina

Be on your own schedule. Activities or day tours can be private or shared. Join a scheduled, multi-day group tour. All-inclusive travel by cruise ship.

Including accommodations, transportation, and activities/tours.

Any specific destinations or interests (e.g. culture, food, wine, romance, adventure, wildlife, etc.)? Special occasion? Relaxing vs. fast-paced trip? What would make this your dream trip?

Travel Tips
Try to pick up at least a few basic greetings, directional questions, and common curiosities in the native language(s) before you leave for your trip.
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