Migrating southern right whales, one of the world’s largest nesting colonies of Magellanic penguins, breathtaking scenery and some of the world’s finest wines are just a few of the highlights that await you on Conservancy Travel’s new Wine and Wildlife of Argentina and Chile adventure. An exciting and rare combination of three unique regions creates an adventure to delight the senses as you journey from the wildlife-packed Atlantic shores of the Valdes Peninsula to the Andean paradise that is Argentina’s wine country and all the way to Chile’s premiere wineries on the Pacific Coast.
Under the guidance and leadership of a professional IE Expedition Leader, local guides and oenologists, guests on IE’s new Wine and Wildlife of Argentina and Chile journey will search out interesting and unique species of the Patagonian steppe and Atlantic waters, walk amongst Magellanic penguins at one of the largest nesting colonies on Earth, witness the peak of the of the southern right whale migration where roughly 1,000 congregate to mate and give birth, and pay visits to some of the premier wineries that Chile and Argentina, the world, have to offer. A combination of the best wildlife and wine will make for a rewarding and memorable journey while multiple optional extensions can add even more to the experience.
Wine and Wildlife of Argentina and Chile Itinerary
- Day 1 Santiago Upon arrival in Santiago you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel, the Ritz Carlton Santiago. Join your fellow travelers and Expedition Leader for lunch and a tour of this historic city. (L,D)
- Day 2 Santigo / Maipo Valley Visit some of Santiago’s most interesting neighborhoods and important sites before paying a visit to Santa Rita winery. Founded in 1880 by Domingo Fernandez in the same area of Alto Jahuel where its main facilities stand today, from the end of the 19th century to mid-1970s the winery developed under the ownership of the García Huidobro family. The high quality of wines and rich history of the vineyard has given Santa Rita winery a prestigious and privileged position as a top producer and leading exporter of quality premium wines. (B,L,D)
- Day 3 Santiago / Casablanca Valley The unique cool-weather climate of the Casablanca Valley results in a longer ripening period. This produces distinct and outstanding sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, as well as pinot noir. Visit Casas del Bosque, learning about the area’s varietals from local experts. Casas del Bosque produces award-wining chardonnay, Riesling and sauvignon blanc as well as syrah and pinot noir. The premium carmenere and cabernet sauvignon are some of the best in Chile. After lunch, freshen up at the hotel prior to dinner at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)
- Day 4 Santiago / Mendoza A highlight of your trip is crossing the Andes by road from Santiago to Mendoza, taking in the changing and contrasting landscapes along with unmatched mountain views along the way. At Los Libertadores Pass you’ll see Mt. Aconcagua (weather permitting), known as the “Colossus of the Americas.” At 22,841 feet above sea level, Mt. Aconcagua is the highest mountain outside of Asia. Arrive in Mendoza and check in to Huentala Hotel. (B,L,D)
- Day 5-6 Mendoza Argentina’s wine region has more continental weather patterns, with hotter summers and cooler winters than Chile’s wine regions. There is also plenty of water coming from the mountains. All this combines to provide ideal conditions for the production of complex, distinct wines. With two-thirds of Argentina’s wine coming from Mendoza province, this is the most important wine center in Argentina and one of the eight “Great Wine Capitals” of the world. Explore this historic city on a guided walking excursion before your local wine specialists, known as oenologists, and your IE Expedition Leader immerse you in the wine cultures of the Uco Valley and Maipu area, two of Argentina’s preeminent and most prestigious. Known especially for Malbec, merlot, pinot noir, semillon and torrontes varieties of wine, the Uco Valley is probably Argentina’s most popular and rewarding wine region at this time. High quality white wines, such as chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, are also being grown here. Not to be confused with Maipu Valley in Chile, though its name does derive from that region, the Maipu area of Argentina is also known for high quality Malbec, as well as other acidic and strong red wines. Here we find the highest altitude wineries, from 5,500 ft and up. Many of the wineries in the Maipu area have been family-run for generations and you can be assured that all the wineries you visit will be filled with friendly locals eager to share their culture with you. Visit three wineries in each region, learning about the different varieties, processes, care, breeding and fractionation of different types of wine while you also drink in the awe inspiring scenery. Picture-perfect vineyards, blue skies and rolling hills stretch to the horizon where they meet the imposing and towering Andes Mountains. Careful attention will be paid to the current overall quality of experience (quality of wines, best menus, best service, visitor numbers, etc.) when our local staff selects the wineries and restaurants you will visit. Enjoy boutique accommodations at Huentala Hotel in Mendoza City. (B,L,D Daily)
- Day 7 Mendoza / Puerto Madryn This morning, board your flight to Puerto Madryn and transfer to Terrirotio Hotel for check-in. Spend the afternoon with your Expedition Leader, exploring this lovely coastal city. (B)
- Day 8 Puerto Madryn / Peninsula Valdes The fantastic Valdes Peninsula Reserve is home to roughly 32,000 southern elephant seals, nearly 8,000 southern sea lions and the largest breeding population of southern right whales on Earth. Every year between early June and mid-December up to 1,000 of these majestic cetaceans gather here for mating and to give birth to their young. They spend up to 7 months a year in the pristine waters of this remote paradise. Venture out on a whale watching/photography excursion to get up-close and personal with these amazing creatures. Your expedition has been timed for when the mothers are raising their young in preparation for leaving the area until the following year. With luck and good weather the photo opportunities and whale viewing should be excellent. Watch for orcas, dolphins, Magellanic penguins and many other sea creatures while on and along the water. During your time on the peninsula you’ll stop at any of a number of seaside lookout points and walkways to watch and photograph the seals and sea lions. You may even be lucky enough to spot orcas hunting these aquatic mammals as they lounge, unsuspectingly, in the sun onshore. Herds of guanaco roam freely on the peninsula where they are a protected species. As such, they are quite abundant here. Also in great abundance are Magellanic penguins. Visit Estancia San Lorenzo, a private property where around 50,000 penguins nest along the shore and into the Patagonian steppe. Magellanic penguins dig their own nesting burrows under bushes or in open areas not far from the shore. They are quite accustomed to the presence of humans in their breeding grounds and do not run from the visitors. Quite the contrary, with penguins standing and walking right next to your feet the photo opportunities and simple joys of wildlife watching are endless. Enjoy a typical Argentine BBQ lunch in the estancia’s great hall. Also found on the peninsula is the largest rodent in Patagonia; the mara (Patagonian cavy). A smaller cousin of the mara, the lesser Patagonian cavy, is frequently found soaking in the sun just outside Magellanic penguin burrows where they find shelter. Two species of armadillos live there as well. Dwarf armadillos are normally very tame and do not hesitate to get close to humans. Shyer mammals such as the Patagonian grey fox might be spotted and keep an eye out for South America’s largest bird, the flightless rhea, along with eagles and many other species of birds as you spend your days combing the coast line and interior of the peninsula enjoying the wildlife and vistas. (B,L)
- Day 9 Puerto Madryn / Buenos Aires A boat excursion will give you the unique chance to see Commerson’s dolphins. These waters are one of the few places they can be seen along mainland South America. They are known to be one of the most curious species of dolphins, not at all shy about approaching the boat and enjoying surfing in the wake from the engines. Watch for more marine wildlife on your excursion before your flight to Buenos Aires.
Spend this even at Madero Hotel. (B,L,D)
- Day 10 Buenos Aires / Depart This morning explore Buenos Aires with your Expedition Leader. After lunch, relax in your room until it’s time for your independent overnight flight home. (B,L)
Things to Know
What is included in the price of IE’s Wine and Wildlife?
- Accommodations on group dates
- Excursions, activities, and meals as listed in the itinerary
- Services of experienced English-speaking guides
- Arrival and departure transfers between the group hotel and airport regardless of day or time
- Selected beverages included with lunch and dinner
- Potable water
- Medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation insurance
What is the level of activity for our Wine and Wildlife?
A trip to Argentina and Chile requires good health and mobility. While we have time scheduled for rest, your itinerary in has a moderate pace, involving activities and transportation from place to place to ensure that you have maximized opportunity to interact with the wildlife and local culture. Consult your physician if you are in doubt about your ability to enjoy this adventure and please contact our office with any questions.
The Valdes Peninsula is a large place, requiring visitors to drive long distances to get from place to place. The drive from Trelew to Puerto Piramides is two hours, one way, on good roads. Your days on the peninsula will start early to beat the heat and can last all day, with wildlife-viewing at the best spots on that particular day. You will drive from place to place and then walk to sets of stairs along the coast where you descend to get closer to the wildlife. There can be up to 100 stairs or as few as 20. You will also take a boat for whale watching. Life vests are provided. In addition, Rawson and Punta Tombo are on the mainland and reachable only by road. Punta Tombo is a four-hour drive from Puerto Piramides. At the penguin rookeries you will walk up to two miles roundtrip on mostly even surfaces in the open sun. Walking is at a leisurely pace and there are some places to sit. Driving in the Mendoza region is not long from place to place and the roads are good. It’s a full day driving from Mendoza to Santiago but that includes stops for photos, WCs, and lunch. Your visits to wineries involve little walking and are not strenuous.
What is the expected weather for our Wine and Wildlife?
September/October is springtime for our destinations. Buenos Aires will be mild to warm, and we can expect the same at the Valdés peninsula, though typically at least a bit cooler so pack some warm clothes as well. It will be cool to cold in the mountains and Santiago, with little rain expected.
Do you offer optional extensions to our Wine and Wildlife?
We do offer optional extensions to other wonderful places in the region to enhance and complete your experience, should you choose to do so. Information on these extensions is listed on the webpage for this program and feel free to contact our office for more info.
Are you able to customize a trip to Chile and/or Argentina to feature destinations and activities of my choice?
Yes! If our group itinerary does not suit your desires please contact our Custom Department where a specialist can craft the kind of experience that will make your adventure the trip of a lifetime.
- Southern right whales, elephant seals, fur seals, orcas & more sea life of the Atlantic coast
- Walk among Magellanic penguins at one of the world’s largest rookeries
- Watch for herds of guanaco as well as rhea, lesser & greater cavy, Patagonian fox and more
- Exceptional wineries in the world-famous wine regions of Argentina and Chile
- Travel from Atlantic shores, over towering Andes to Pacific coastline
The Paradise Hosteria features just 12 rooms, all of them with fully-equipped private bathroom. Services include heating and A/A, TV, IDD and NDD, Fax, Wi-Fi, maid, room service and hot water 24 hours a day.
This boutique hotel is located on the edge of town with wonderful views of Gulfo Nuevo. Built in the spirit of a traditional sheep shearing farm with infusions of modernity and elegance, the hotel features a lounge, restaurant and highly attentive staff. 36 rooms all feature individual temperature control, mini-bar, hair dryer, en suite facilities and free Wi-Fi. The hotel offers a fitness room and laundry services.
Huentala means “Valley of the Guanacos” and its name honors the ancient Huarpes, one of the first settlers of Mendoza. Opened in 1976, the hotel is a landmark in its four-star category. Located in downtown Mendoza City, on a beautiful cobblestone street, Huentala Hotel is just one block from San Martin Ave. and is in walking distance to the main attractions of the city. Classic rooms include free Wi-Fi, AC, LED TV, hairy dryer, and mini-bar. The hotel offers a pool, gym, spa, laundry service and even a wine tasting cellar. Authentic regional cuisine combines with elegant and peaceful atmosphere in Champay (House of Friends) Bistro while Kunuk Bar is known for its elegant cocktails, including a chinch corn drink for which the bar is named.