Argentina & Chile Cultural Immersion Journey

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194
15 days
Availability : Nov. 7, 2020 - Nov. 21, 2020
Mendoza, Argentina
Argentina & Chile
Max People : 20
Tour Details

Join us for a truly unique trip! Connect with the people, be immersed in the culture, feel the warmth of a South American hug and a shared cup of yerba mate tea, connect with the beautiful landscapes, and enjoy food, wine, music, art and dance! Join us for a truly transformative travel experience and bring purpose back to vacation.

What to Expect

Explore Argentina and Chile in one trip!  For travelers who want a deeper, more intimate experience and a chance to get off the tourist track, come join us to learn about the people of these beautiful countries.  Nature, Customs, Music, Art, Food, Wine and deeper connection, personal transformation, and truly unique and original experiences.  We’ll participate in cooking classes, artisan experiences, dance demos (step out and give it a try if you like!), horseback riding in the shadows of the Andes Mountains, soaking in hot springs, hiking in alpine environs, spending a day with the indigenous Mapuche community, touring vibrant seaside Valparaiso city, hiking in lava fields near a volcano, and always eating incredible food and enjoying local wines!  We value ethical travel and you’ll be staying in beautiful, locally owned and operated lodgings, connecting with locals to learn about their lives, work, and beliefs, and patronizing local communities as much as possible.  This trip is about people, about relationships, about seeing a new world, learning about a different way of life, opening minds and hearts, and enjoying a lively, lovely and beautiful people and land all at the same time!

Price Includes

  • 14 Nights Lodging at locally owned, lovely Certificate of Excellence hotels
  • Private transportation for ground transport.
  • 3 flights while on trip: Mendoza to Santiago, Santiago to Temuco, and Temuco to Santiago
  • Breakfast (included at hotel each morning)
  • 7 Lunches
  • 8 full dinners
  • 2 light dinners (following a couple of very large, heavy lunches, we'll enjoy a light appetizer reception or light dinner at the hotel.)
  • Optional yoga classes: stretch, meditate, and prepare yourself for the activities of the day with an open mind and an open heart; We've arranged english speaking yoga classes on several mornings of the trip
  • Tours & Activities: all classes, workshops, tours, entrance tickets, and activities listed in the Tour Guidebook are completely covered.
  • Gratuities: for private tour guides, restaurants, and drivers
  • Trip Host: Simply Culture trip hosts will be accompanying you on the entire trip. Cindy Hilton will be your hostess from California and Belen Gurruchuga is your native Argentine hostess.
  • Trip Guidebook: more than just an itinerary, this book is full of details, from where you need to be when, to detailed descriptions and interesting information about the places we'll visit

Price Excludes

  • Flight to South America: you'll purchase your flight from your home airport to Mendoza, Argentina and home from Santiago, Chile back to your local airport.
  • Airport Transfer: On arrival, you'll need to arrange your transport from the airport in Mendoza, Argentina to the Lares de Chacras Hotel in Chacras de Coria.
  • Trip Insurance: not included, but HIGHLY recommended; you can get price comparisons and make a purchase at www.insuremytrip.com.
  • Free Time Transport: when we have free time for independent exploration, if you venture farther afield, you'll be responsible for your own transportation expenses.
  • Laundry
  • 4 Dinners & 7 Lunches
  • Personal Purchases
Itinerary

Day 1: Sat, November 7Welcome to Argentina

Our group trip begins in the evening, at Lares de Chacras, a family-run, boutique hotel in the village of Chacras de Coria, the heart of wine country, just south of the big city of Mendoza, Argentina.  This small, 10-room inn, provides the perfect, intimate and luxurious atmosphere for our introduction to Argentina.  The hotel features a lovely swimming pool with hot tub, a wine cellar where you can select local wines, and a play room with pool table.  Beautiful rooms are charming and well-appointed, providing you all the comforts you need to rest after the flight from home.  We’ll kick off our South American adventure with a delicious wine-pairing dinner at one of the top-rated local restaurants.

Important Note:  Please plan to arrive at the Mendoza, Argentina airport by 3:00pm on November 7th in order to arrive at the hotel in time for our departure to the Welcome Dinner.  Arriving a day ahead or earlier on that morning is an even better plan!

Optional Daytime Activity

If you arrive a day early, join us on a Wine Country by Bicycle day tour.  We’ll ride through the relatively flat wine country near Chacras de Coria (steering clear of busy roads!) and enjoy tours and tastings at a couple of wineries including a wine-pairing lunch at a local restaurant.  

Do you love Malbec?  Are you familiar with this Argentine wine?  You may have been hearing a lot about it lately, as it is quickly gaining popularity in the States.  Mendoza is Malbec country!  This zone has some of the same beauty and sophistication of Burgundy or Napa with the added, jaw-dropping backdrop of the snow-covered, dramatic Andes Mountains to enjoy as you ride along.  

While this is a wonderful and enjoyable activity for adults, it wouldn’t be much fun for kids.  Age 18+ on this activity please.

November 7 11:00-5:00

$120, includes transportation to tour office, private guide for our group, bicycle and helmet, wine tasting and tours at each stop, multi-course lunch with wine pairing, and gratuities

Day 2: Sun, November 8Gaucho Day in the Country: Cooking & Horseback at an Estancia

Gauchos are Argentine cowboys with a storied past!  We’ll spend a day at an estancia (historic ranch) up in the mountains where gauchos and wild horses roam.  We’ll enjoy a hands-on cooking class where we’ll learn how to make empanadas, the delicious Argentine turnover and learn about different cuts of meat and what goes into a delicious asado (grill), and learn about the highly ritualized custom of drinking yerba mate tea.  While our food cooks, we’ll go for a horse ride in the shadow of the Andes Mountains and perhaps even meet a few wild horses, if we’re lucky!  Upon our return, we’ll enjoy the fruits of our labor with a nice glass of local wine.

Late afternoon return to the hotel with a light appetizer (picada) dinner.  Enjoy the pool, walk around town, or simply sit on the patio with a cup of hot tea or glass of wine.

Day 3: Mon, November 9Seasonal, Multi-Course Meal & Winery Tour & Tasting

While we won’t have another winery tour on this trip, we’d be remiss to leave this world-reknown wine region without a visit to one of the premier wine and olive oil producers, Familia Zuccardi.  We’ll begin with a multi-course, seasonal lunch menu, each course paired with a Familia Zuccardi Wine.  Following the meal we’ll have a tour of the winery and a wine-tasting.  Our private driver awaits us for our drive through the Argentine countryside to the small, off the beaten International tourist track, town of Merlo, San Luis, nestled up against the Comechingones Mountains.  Settle in for a nap on the 5-6 hour drive to our home for the next five nights.

Day 4: Tue, November 10Welcome to Merlo

Begin the day with  yoga if you like, and then join the group for a welcome talk and tour around the property.

From there, we’ll head to the little town with it’s main square,  picturesque church, stores, folklife museum and museum dedicated to the local poet who made it big writing about the natural world in this area.  After an included lunch, we’ll spend a couple of hours with  a local artisan learning about the ancient handicraft of dying and spinning wool.  We’ll collect plants to make natural dyes and dye the wool that we’ll use for a project later in the week.  

We have time this afternoon to take a siesta or a dip in the swimming pool  before going out to dinner.

Day 5: Wed, November 11Hiking & Horsebackriding Above the Treeline

The Comechingones Mountains, named for the indigenous people of this area, loom large as the backdrop of La Quinta Resort.  Today we’ll venture up into them, all the way to the top.  We’ll need 4 Wheel Drive to go where we’re going!  We’ll begin our hiking adventure at Toño’s home, the high mountain sheep farmer and “guardian” of these mountains.  We’ll hike down, down, down to  an old abandoned mining town which happens to be in a lovely river-side setting.  On the way, we’ll hike by the Salto de Tigre Waterfall.  It’s a long hike down, but don’t worry, you’ll have the option of riding horseback or hiking the three miles back up to Toño’s house, where he’ll have lunch ready for us.  This is a heavy, large, farm-style lunch, all handmade by his family and served to us in their rustic home.

Free evening for relaxing at La Quinta or taxi to town to a restaurant or just to explore on your own.

Important Note:  This day requires hiking on steep, rocky and uneven terrain.  Good mobility necessary.  

While Toño offers horses for the ride out of the canyon, they do NOT offer helmets. and they use unconventional, rustic saddles.  These are high mountain farmers and we’ll be doing things the Argentine way!

Please note that riding the horses is optional and our trip host, Belen, will be hiking up out of the canyon, accompanying anyone who prefers to hike.

Day 6: Thu, November 12Hiking, Alfajores Cookies, Tango Class and Argentine Fiesta

Begin your morning with yoga, if you’d like, then we’ll start the day with a hike up the creek, where we can enjoy beautiful views and waterfalls.  There will be time for a swim in the creek, if you can handle chilly water!  After exploring, we’ll stop a locally famous restaurant and enjoy an included lunch.  We’ll return back to the resort for the rest of the day and spend time with Belen learning how to make the delicious Alfajores cookies, stuffed with Dulce de Leche.  After our cookie class, take a siesta or relax at the pool.  Save your energy for our evening Argentine Fiesta!  We’ll have tango instruction, followed by a traditional Argentine Asado and enjoy a music and dance show while we dine with our new friends from La Quinta Resort.

Important Note:  The hike requires climbing over many rocks. 

Day 7: Fri, November 13Traditional Local Artisans & Farewell Dinner

We’ll spend the morning at a local art cooperative completing our wool working project, enjoying folk music, and learning about different artisans and their craft, including a mate tea gourd carver, a local silversmith jeweler and a painter.

A light lunch will be served back at the resort and you’ll have the afternoon free to relax as you see fit before we head out for our farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

And if you’re superstitious, don’t worry!  You’re in Argentina where it’s Tuesday the 13th, not Friday the 13th, which is the unlucky day.  

Day 8: Sat, November 14Farewell Argentina, Hello Chile!

This is a travel day.  We’ll leave for the drive to the Mendoza Airport, take a short, hour long flight, up over the Andes Mountains to Santiago, Chile.  From there, our private driver will transport us to the vibrant, seaside city of Valparaiso, Chile where we’ll stay for the next 3 nights.

Valparaiso must be seen to be believed!  It is a city living a loud and colorful reaction of protest to the gray days of the dictator from the 1970’s.  Every inch is covered in art and music and energy pulse through air of this incredible city.   Not only is there the art and music, but Valparaiso is set in a spectacular location, on hills, similar to San Francisco, hanging over the Pacific Ocean which looms large and blue on the horizon.  We love the life, the energy and the quirky that is Valparaiso and we know you’ll love these days spent in this fascinating city.  Especially when you are staying at Hotel Cirilo Armstrong where you’ll have views of the city from your bed! This charming, design hotel is  located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site, on Cerro Alegre.  Locally owned and operated, this small hotel has just 11 rooms, perfect for individualized attention and personal service!

Day 9: Sun, November 15Valparaiso's Hills & Pablo Neruda

“Valparaiso is a balcony hanging almost at the middle of the Pacific Ocean.”  – Marjorie Agosin

Colorful Murals, UNESCO World Heritage Hills, Steps and Historic Ascensors (type of elevator), Musicians on the Corner, Dancers in the Street, Architectural Styles from different European Countries.

We’ll spend our morning with Felipe & Karina, our local hosts in Valparaiso, as they share about their lives and experiences while telling us all about this intense city.  After our walking tour, we’ll enjoy lunch together and then take an audio tour of Pablo Neruda’s House, La Sebastiana, perched high, high above the city.   Pablo Neruda was a Nobel Prize winning poet, Chilean politician and all around colorful, larger than life character.  Love him or hate him, his house offers a fascinating visit for it’s historical context, artistic touches, and stunning views. Together or individually, we will wander back down to our neighborhood on Cerro Alegre (Happy Hill).

Free Evening – Dinner not included tonight.

Day 10: Mon, November 16Independent Day with Options

Free day today to sleep in, go shopping, wander on your own, or choose one of the optional activities we offer.  We will meet up again this evening at 7:00 for dinner at a local restaurant.

Optional Activities:

Chilean Culinary Experience:  A comprehensive foodie experience, including shopping at the local market and selecting the foods that will be used to cook your mid-day meal.  This hands-on activity begins at 11:00 and will end between 3:30 and 4:30.  A driver will pick you up at the hotel and deliver you back when the meal is finished.  Includes: Private driver, trip to market, cooking instruction, appetizer, main course, dessert, tea or coffee, mineral water, Chilean wine and a digestive to end the evening.  Minimum number of participants: 3  Maximum: 6 – This is an exclusive, personal experience and only available until filled.  Price: $100

Seaport  & Working Neighborhoods Walking Tour :  On this tour, you’ll leave the colorful, artsy, touristy side of Valparaiso and go down below to the big city, government buildings, and seaport.  Take the trolley, see the little fisherman’s boats lined up, already back after a morning of fishing, dwarfed next to the massive shipping vessels.  Learn about the realities of life in this city – it was an extremely wealthy stop on an important trading route but has been in decline for the past 100 years.  Minimum 6 people; $45

This tour requires more walking than the previous day’s walking tour.

Day 11: Tue, November 17Flight to the Lakes District

Goodbye Valparaiso,  Hello Stunning Natural World!

The Lakes District of Chile features Valdivian rainforest blanketed slopes, high mountain, jewel-like lakes as well as massive crystal clear lakes, rivers, and active volcanoes with smoke rising out in wisps.  Thanks to that volcanic activity, the countryside is full of hot springs, spas and natural thermal baths, with steam rising up into the forest.  This countryside is the heartland of the Mapuche culture, Chile’s indigenous community that resisted and survived the Spanish Empire and still have a strong, but struggling community.  This area is known as the “Switzerland of Chile” and you’ll be enchanted by it’s scenery.

We’ll depart Valparaiso in the morning, take a short flight down to Temuco and be transported from there over to Caburga, near Pucón.  We’ll arrive in time for a delicious home cooked meal by Christian and Graciela, the owners of the cabins where we’ll be staying for the rest of our trip.  This farming family has built cozy, little wooden cabins spaced out on the side of a hill on their farm.  When the sun rises, you’ll have a breath-taking view of the snow-capped volcano that looms large across the valley.  Their farm is set amidst 25 acres of parkland on the edge of Huerquehue National Park and is 11 miles from the center of town.  These cozy cabins are made of wood, but feature modern conveniences and are heated by wood pellet stoves, providing just the right atmosphere for a mountain get away!  The owners are known for the kindness and accommodations and always have a big smile as a greeting.

Day 12: Wed, November 18Mapuche Culture Day

What an honor to spend the day with the Mapuche Community, in Curarrehue, where 80% of the population is Mapuche.  We’ll learn about what this community is doing to preserve their traditions and earn an income in order to stay on their lands.  We’ll spend the entire day with them, learning about their work and beliefs.  We’ll sit around the fire in a ruka (the indigenous fire house) while the lonko (chief) shares his story through a translator about how his people came to this area.   He’ll share some fascinating stories that illustrate not only their challenging history, but also their spiritual beliefs and how those beliefs have delivered them to this point and place.  Enjoy a lunch prepared by the lonko’s wife.  She prepares delicious Mapuche cuisine and serves it in a natural and beautiful setting.  After lunch, we’ll end the day with a hike up to a nearby waterfall, followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant.  

Day 13: Thu, November 19Soak up Nature: Waterfalls, Lakes & Hot Springs

Begin your day with an optional yoga class and prepare your muscles for our day of hiking!

Our wilderness guide for the day will lead us on two different hikes, one short loop to see the Ojos de Caburga, natural, turquoise pools that bubble up from a spring and gush forth, down waterfalls and through the Valdivian Rainforest.  Our guide is an easy-going guy who is knowledgeable about the plants, animals and really loves the outdoors.  From there, we’ll head up to the National Park where we can spend time hiking along the edge of the lake.  

After spending some time out in the parks, we’ll soak in one of the natural hot springs pools resorts.  

We’ll end our day with a special farewell dinner at an incredible restaurant,.  This restaurant serves delicious food in a building that is a work of art, all nestled in an lovely setting.  Although our last night is tomorrow, this will be our last group meal together!

Day 14: Fri, November 20Villarica Volcano

Villarrica Volcano produces an iconic wisp of volcanic smoke, making it a wonderful sight to behold.  We’ll visit this national park today, spend time learning about and hiking in the lava fields and appreciate the views of not only the volcano, but also the town and beautiful lake below.  One of the unique sights at this volcano are its volcanic caves, the only visitable caves in an active volcano on earth.  One can travel a few meters in (not too far!) and see the hardened remains of what was once an active lava flow oozing out of the mountain side.  Inside, you’ll see crystallizations of gold, silver metals, oxidations and staphyllites among others.  

After our volcanic adventure, we’ll have a few free hours for exploring the cute little lakeside town of Pucón.  Eat dinner on your own in town before we head back to our countryside cabins.

Day 15: Sat, November 21Goodbye Pucón & Chile

Today is a travel day.  We’ll depart the cabin resort for our drive to the airport in Temuco and take a short flight up to Santiago, Chile, where our group trip ends early afternoon.

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