• Hoogtepunte van Suid-Amerika

Iguassu – Buenos Aires – Ushuaia – Australis Cruise – Santiago de Chile

21 Oktober – 4 September 2021

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The Tango, Asado, Land of Fire, “End of the Earth”, Cape Horn, Strait of Magellan, Penguins, Waterfalls, Glaciers… all wrapped in warm Chilean and Argentine hospitality. Malbec and Carménère, to toast the most beautiful scenery in the world. Patagonia will take your breath away. You will be overwhelmed by the food and the passion of our local guides. You will feel strangely familiar in Chile and Argentina, countries so different from ours but the same warm-hearted people. This is a very special combination of the best South America has to offer. Every day is a highlight.

We meet at OR Tambo airport, and check in for our flight to São Paulo, where we clear customs, get our luggage and check in for our flight to Iguassu (where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet)

We are met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. We enjoy our first dinner as a group at the hotel.

This morning we visit the Iguazú National Park (Argentinian side). The Iguazú Falls, called Foz do Iguaçu in Portuguese and Cataratas del Iguazú in Spanish, lie on the Argentina-Brazil border. They form part of the 55 000 ha Iguazú National Park, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.

These falls are shaped in a semicircle, and are 2 700 meters wide and up to 72 metres high. Depending on the river flow, the number of waterfalls varies between 150 and 300. No-one can visit these falls without being amazed by their beauty. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to watch the water plunge the height of a 24-storey building into the Iguassu Gorge below. The roar can be heard from miles and miles afar.

The National Park has two circuits to be covered: a lower and an upper circuit. The lower circuit reaches the base of the falls from where their magnificent beauty can be appreciated. On the upper circuit one can see unique landscapes from footbridges and viewpoints. It is quite impossible to describe this natural wonder – it is a phenomenon that must be seen to be appreciated.

We enjoy lunch at the Fortin Cataratas Restaurant. Dinner for your own expense

After breakfast we enjoy a half-day tour to the Brazilian side of the falls. From a giant balcony the waterfalls can be viewed in all their beauty. We also have the choice of observing them from a distance and at wider angles. The area is explored on a circuit of footbridges, which are located in front of the falls, offering a panoramic view that is really astonishing.

We also visit the well-known bird park today. (Should you wish to do the flight over the falls, it will have to be done in that time). We enjoy lunch at the Puerto Canoas Restaurant.

Late afternoon we fly to Buenos Aires.

Welcome to Buenos Aires, the “Paris of South America”. We are met at the airport and transferred to our hotel.

Today we discover the magic of Buenos Aires during a half-day tour of the city. We explore the best- known landmarks and get an overview of the city, the outstanding building of the National Congress, the Ancient Council, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Capitol (better known as the “Pink Palace‟ or Casa Rosada. From its balconies, Juan and Eva Perón talked to the nation and Madonna crooned from here for her movie Evita.

The tour also includes the magnificent areas of Recoleta and Palermo with their beautiful parks and buildings as well as many other buildings and palaces of architectural, historical and cultural value like the Colon Theatre, one of the five most important opera theatres of the world. It has astounding acoustics, occupies an entire city block and seats an audience of 2 500 persons with standing room for 500 more.

We visit the San Telmo area, one of the most ancient districts of the city, as well as the Boca District with its caminito – a picturesque pedestrian street – where we will see the famous and colourful metal sheet tenements. Finally, the tour takes us to the recently recycled district of Puerto Madero, an old area of the Buenos Aires port.

After breakfast, you will have the full day at leisure to enjoy the magic of Buenos Aires on your own.

We recommend an optional tour, which you can enjoy by yourself or along with some of the other tour members:

Tigre Tour (6-hour tour) – A visit to the Parana Delta, a subtropical rainforest area comprising a thousand islands and islets, where you will appreciate the generosity of nature in a very singular place. We will leave Buenos Aires City going to the north of the Great Buenos Aires looking for the natural scenery of the Delta and its islands. The way of life of the isleños (people who live on the islands) is very special. We will experience their costumes, culture and their way of life.

We will also see elegant residences located in the residential neighbourhoods of the northern suburbs, as well as visit the San Isidro neighbourhood and the amazing cathedral. On the way back to Buenos Aires City, we will pass by the Presidential Residence (Quinta de Olivos), where all the Argentinian presidents used to live during their presidencies. Included is a private boat tour + lunch.

Optional: Dinner and tango show in a well-known music show venue of the city. While enjoying an excellent dinner of international level, we watch the show that covers the history of the tango and life at the beginning of the previous century. Different dance couples and famous singers of the tango will perform (±2,5 hours).

After breakfast, we will depart for the local airport and fly to Ushuaia.

Ushuaia is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world. It is located in a wide bay on the southern coast of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, bounded on the north by the Martial mountain range and on the south by the Beagle Channel.

Ushuaia was founded in 1884 and was one of the original points of encounter between the native Yamana and Anglican cultures – the first settlers were British missionaries. Its name derives from the Yamana word for „penetrating bay‟ – a good description.

The city is surrounded by the last high peaks of the Andes where the mountains meet the Southern Ocean in a sharp skid, making way for the city before reaching a sea of lapping currents. Today, it is one of the largest cities on Tierra del Fuego Island, with about 65 000 inhabitants.

On arrival we will be transferred to the city centre to enjoy lunch and explore the city and museums on our own. Our tour leader will check our luggage in at the hotel and join you later.

Tonight we enjoy a typical Patagonian meal – Cordero!

This morning we enjoy a half-day tour of the national park. Inside the national park we are able to view the lakes and rivers. Here guanacos (related to the llama, but looking like hump-less camels), red foxes, beavers and condors live together among forests of cherry trees, lenga trees and Antarctic Beeches (ñires in Spanish). It is the only national park in the country with a marine coast.

During the tour we go deep into the rugged topography and cross the mountains to reach the Lapataia River, where we have an excellent view of the Green Small Lake and Lapataia Bay. Here we get a clear idea of the original inhabitants (Onas or Yamanes). We also visit the train station of the Southern Fuegian Railway – „The station of the end of the world‟ (train tickets are not included).

On our return we complete boarding procedures and leave our luggage to be taken to the boat.

Time for lunch on your own and last-minute shopping before we are transferred to our cruise ship!

We board the Australis at 18:00. After a welcoming toast and introduction of the captain and crew, the ship departs for one of the most remote corners of planet Earth. During the night we traverse the Beagle Channel and cross from Argentine into Chilean territorial waters. The lights of Ushuaia disappear as we turn into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and the Hoste Islands.

Cape Horn & Wulaia Bay

By early morning, MS Ventas Australis cruises across Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago that includes Cape Horn National Park.

Weather and sea conditions permitting, we shall go ashore on the windswept island that harbours legendary Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos). Discovered in 1616 by a Dutch maritime expedition, and named after the town of Hoorn in West Friesland, Cape Horn is a sheer 425-metre (1 394-foot) high rocky promontory overlooking the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage.

For many years it was the only navigation route between the Pacific and Atlantic, and was often referred to as the “End of the Earth.” The park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005. The Chilean navy maintains a permanent lighthouse on the island, staffed by a light keeper and his family, as well as the tiny Stella Maris Chapel and modern Cape Horn Monument.

Sailing back across Nassau Bay, we anchor at fabled Wulaia Bay, one of the few places in the archipelago where human history is just as compelling as the natural environment.

Originally the site of one of the region‟s largest Yámana aboriginal settlements, the bay was described by Charles Darwin and sketched by Captain FitzRoy during their voyages on the HMS Beagle in the 1830s.

This area is also renowned for its mesmerizing beauty and dramatic geography. After a visit to the Australis-sponsored museum in the old radio station – which is especially focused on the Yámana people and European missionaries in the area – passengers have a choice of three hikes (of increasing degrees of difficulty) that ascend the heavily wooden mountain behind the bay.

On all of the hikes you will be strolling through an enchanted Magellan forest of lengas, coigües, canelos, ferns, and other indigenous fauna to reach a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the bay. Before leaving Wulaia Bay, drop something into the wooden mail barrel inside the museum – letters or postcards meant to be hand delivered by future travellers – an ancient mariner tradition revived by Australis.

Pia Glacier and Garibaldi Glacier

Casting off from Wulaia Bay, we retrace our route to the Beagle Channel and sail westward along the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego into a section of the Alberto de Agostini National Park called Glacier Alley or Avenue of the Glaciers. Flowing down from the Darwin Mountains and Darwin Ice Sheet are a number of impressive tidewater glaciers, most of them named after European countries – Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain and France.

Amongst this frozen league of nations we enter the narrow Pia Fjord and board the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. No one knows for certain how the hulking glacier got its feminine moniker, but one theory says it was named for Princess Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), daughter of the Italian king. After disembarking we take a short hike to gain a panoramic view of the spectacular glacier, which extends from the mountaintops down to the sea or a longer much more difficult walk up a lateral moraine of the old Pia Glacier.

Making our way further west along the Beagle Channel, we enter another long fjord and drop anchor near Garibaldi Glacier for another shore excursion. Garibaldi is one of only three glaciers in Patagonia gaining mass rather than staying the same or slowly shrinking.

This time we hike through virgin Magellanic forest to a glacial waterfall, a towering wall of ferns and moss, and spectacular viewpoints looking down on the glacier and fjord. The walk is demanding – a very steep, negligible trail with rough footing – and not for everyone.

For those who choose to stay on board, our captain will point the bow towards the beautiful sky blue Garibaldi Glacier so everyone can enjoy the panoramic view from the upper decks.

Agostini Sound – Águila Glacier – Cóndor Glacier

Early in the morning, we will sail through the Cockburn Channel and enter Agostini Sound. From there it is possible to see the glaciers that descend from the middle of the Darwin Mountain Range, some of them reaching the water.

This morning, we will disembark and go for an easy walk around a lagoon, which was formed by the melting of the Águila Glacier. We will reach a spot right in front of that glacier with stunning views. In the afternoon, we will approach the Condor Glacier via Zodiac and hopefully see some of the abundant Andean Condors in the area.

Magdalena Island & Punta Arenas

After an overnight cruise that takes us back into the Strait of Magellan, we anchor off Magdalena Island, which lies about halfway between Tierra del Fuego and the Chilean mainland. Crowned by a distinctive lighthouse, the island used to be an essential source of supplies for navigators and explorers and is inhabited by an immense colony of Magellanic penguins.

At the break of dawn, weather permitting, we go ashore and hike a path that leads through thousands of penguins to a small museum lodged inside the vintage 1902 lighthouse. Many other bird species are also found on the island. In September and April, when the penguins dwell elsewhere, this excursion is replaced by a ride aboard Zodiacs to Marta Island to observe South American sea lions.

After a short sail south along the strait, disembarkation at Punta Arenas is scheduled for around 11:30.

We are picked up at the pier and transferred to the PUQ airport for our flight to Santiago de Chile. On arrival in Santiago, we are transferred to the hotel .

The capital of Chile is located in the Central Valley, framed by the majestic Andes Mountain range. It is a city where the French classic, baroque and colonial Spanish architecture blends with modern high-rise buildings. Elegant hotels are located only a few minutes away from the main commercial avenues and in just a few minutes, the modern metropolitan subway covers the distance to Providencia or to the Las Condes districts featuring important commercial areas, exclusive boutiques, open-air cafes and restaurants.

In the morning, we enjoy a City tour with lunch included.

Visiting points of interest are Lib. Bernardo O‟Higgins Avenue, also known as Alameda, the backbone of the city up to Plaza Italia where it turns into Providencia Avenue; Santa Lucia Hill, site of the foundation of Santiago in 1541; colonial and historical areas; Moneda Presidential Palace; Santiago City Council (1785-1790); Metropolitan Cathedral (1748); Forestal Park; and the National Museum of Fine Arts (1880).

Next, we undertake a tour of the new sector of “Sanhattan” (popular name), located at the convergence of the communes of Las Condes, Providencia and Vitacura, east of the city. The area has more than 50 standard premium office towers. Since the early 1990s it has become the main financial centre displacing the downtown area, surrounded by major hotels, designer boutiques, gourmet restaurants and open-air cafes.

After breakfast, we will depart for a full-day wine-tasting tour to the Santa Rita winery and Viňa Concha & Toro.

The vineyard was founded in 1880, by Domingo Fernández Concha, who introduced French strains, giving birth to world famous wines. The winery, declared a National Monument, combines working the traditional barrels of French and American oak with modern production techniques, which that give its wines a unique aroma and body. The house, surrounded by a beautiful park, also declared National Monument, complements this traditional vineyard landscape. Here, we will also enjoy a delicious farewell lunch to end off this incredible trip.

According to the legend, Don Melchor Concha y Toro – advised by the leading French experts of the time – started in 1883 producing high-quality wines, which he kept in his personal cellar. Soon the excellence of the wines produced became famous. We walk through the gardens, the park and the outside of the summer residence of the Concha y Toro family towards the end of the 19th Century. We will learn where Concha y Toro wines come from in our Grape Variety Garden, a place with 26 varieties of wine grapes and afterwards visit the Old Pirque vineyard.

Transfer to the airport for our flight to Johannesburg via São Paulo

Arrive in Johannesburg after a memorable holiday.

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