January 2022 Patagonia and Iguazu Falls vacation

We are offering two Patagonia & Iguazu journeys in early 2022!  The other one takes place from January 13–26 with an Easter Island extension from January 27–31.  If you’d prefer that journey, please see RetreaTours.com/PatagoniaJan2022.

Trip Highlights

  • February 10–23, 2022
  • Optional trip extension to Easter Island, February 24–28
  • This journey is triple carbon offset
  • Escorted by BJ & Lauren, owners of RetreaTours
  • Explore Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world
  • Sail the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego and walk with the penguins
  • Discover Tierra del Fuego National Park at the “End of the World”
  • Wander the wilderness of El Chaltén, the “National Capital of Trekking” in Argentina
  • Enjoy the rugged blue beauty of Perito Moreno Glacier, truly a world wonder
  • Spot wildlife & stunning vistas in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile
  • $6999 per person (based on double occupancy). Easter Island extension is $1750 USD. Please see the full list of inclusions and single supplement price in the “Price & Inclusions” toggle below.

Iguazu Falls

Tierra del Fuego

El Chalten

El Calafate

Torres del Paine

Easter Island

Santiago, Chile

South America is a continent bursting with natural beauty, running the gamut from lush rainforest to pristine glaciers, from pumas to penguins. Which end of the spectrum to start with? Why not both?

Patagonia is a grand, vast region that covers the windswept southern tip of South America, occupying a third of Argentina’s total land and almost half of Chile. It is home to the striking landscapes of the Andes Mountains, the Southern Patagonia Ice Field, and Tierra del Fuego. The name itself, “Patagonia,” comes from the word patagón, a term meaning “giant” that Magellan used in 1520 to describe the natives of this region. That sentiment is fitting, as this environment is best-suited for those with giant imaginations, giant spirits, and a giant sense of wonder.

On a similar scale, Iguazu Falls showcases raw beauty and power on a scale rarely seen. Let the largest waterfall system on the planet take your breath away at every turn, as it cuts dramatically between the rainforests of Argentina and Brazil. It is a true joy to witness the elements come together here in such spectacular, powerful fashion.

Itinerary at a Glance

February 10   We’ll meet you in Santiago, Chile and fly this afternoon to Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world (overnight on the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls)

February 11   This morning we’ll get an early start to explore the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls! (overnight on the Argentinian side, with a view of Iguazu Falls)

February 12   Today we’ll head to the Argentinian side of the falls and discover a whole new perspective on these 275 cascades (overnight on the Argentinian side, with a view of Iguazu Falls)

February 13  Let’s head south–as south as you can get on the continent! We’ll fly to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego today, the “End of the World” (overnight in Ushuaia)

February 14   Boat tour of the picturesque Beagle Channel and penguin excursion on Martillo island (overnight in Ushuaia)

February 15 Visit Tierra del Fuego National Park, part of the subantarctic forest (overnight in Ushuaia)

February 16  Fly to El Calafate, Argentina, and head north to the cozy town of El Chaltén (overnight in El Chaltén)

February 17–18  There are plenty of hiking and strolling opportunities in El Chaltén, for every level of activity and desire. There are also tons of cute cafes and restaurants (along with great beer & wine) in this mountain town (overnight in El Chaltén)

February 19   We’ll head back to the charming Patagonian town of El Calafate on the shores of Lago Argentino (overnight in El Calafate)

February 20  Today is all about Perito Moreno Glacier–be ready to have your breath taken away by this giant blue beauty (overnight in El Calafate)

February 21  Today we’ll drive to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile–a whole new set of peaks and lakes to blow you away (overnight in Torres del Paine)

February 22  We’ll sightsee around Torres del Paine, around every curve awaits an awe-inspiring vista and a chance to spot wildlife (overnight in Torres del Paine)

February 23 Today we’ll fly to Santiago, Chile via Puerto Natales, and our trip comes to an end this evening–or does it? We’re offering an Easter Island extension until February 28 for those interested!

Who is this journey for?

This trip is for lovers of nature–those who know that the breath is sweeter by a waterfall, the eyes see more clearly in the mountains, and the spirit is more restful in the woods.

You do not need to be an avid hiker to join this journey. There are many levels of activity to choose from when admiring your surroundings, be it admiring from a bench, strolling for awhile, or taking an invigorating full-day hike.

Please see our detailed “Suggested Fitness Requirements” section below for more information.  

Detailed Daily Itinerary

We’ll begin our journey together in Santiago, Chile, a convenient and easy city to fly into from most anywhere. We’ll fly together on the afternoon of February 10 to Iguazu Falls. 

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls is the largest waterfall system in the entire world. Although there are higher falls (Victoria Falls) and larger annual flow rates (Niagara), the totality of Iguazu is just jaw-dropping. There are around 275 distinct falls that make up the Iguazu Falls system, creating a panorama of falling water as far as the eye can see. Iguazu Falls makes up part of the natural border between Argentina and Brazil, and the two sides of this spectacular site are actually very different.

We’ll begin our journey on the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls, arriving there in evening of the 10th. Our hotel is across the street from the entrance of the falls, allowing us an easy early start tomorrow. 

Legend has it that upon seeing Iguazu, the United States First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaimed, “My poor Niagara!”

The morning of the 11th we’ll walk across the street to the falls entrance and be on the first bus through the forested Iguaçu National Park to the actual falls! The Brazilian side is a great introduction to the falls, each viewpoint gaining in beauty and intensity, with beautiful walkways allowing 360° views of these basalt staircases. Iguazu means “Great Waters” in Tupi-Guarani, the language of the local indigenous people; when you find yourself feeling the rumble of the water though Devil’s Throat canyon, you might just find that to be an understatement.

This evening (and tomorrow night) you’ll sleep in Argentina, at the only hotel in Argentina with a direct view of the falls—a huge plus if you’re like us and can’t take your eyes off of them. And the great news is that we’ve upgraded everyone to Falls View rooms! 

 

On the 12th we’ll explore the Argentinian side of the falls. You saw them yesterday from Brazil, but being immersed within that landscape lends a whole new perspective. The Argentina side is expansive and offers everything from a dizzyingly beautiful look directly down Devil’s Throat to winding tree-covered paths through the upper and lower part of the falls. Today will be an opportunity for independent exploration of the falls, depending on your energy levels and your viewpoint preferences (although we will surely join you on your explorations).

Iguazu isn’t all about the waterfalls, either. Both the Brazilian and Argentinian National Parks are home to some amazing creatures; have you ever seen a coati before? What about a toucan that wasn’t on a box of Froot Loops?

We truly cannot decide which country’s view is our favorite, and we can’t wait to hear what you think!

On February 13th we’re going to change our surroundings in a big way. From the Amazonian rainforest to the sub-antarctic forest of Tierra del Fuego–welcome to Patagonia!

Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the southern tip of South America, split between Chile and Argentina. The name Tierra del Fuego, “Land of Fire,” was given in 1520 by the explorer Ferdinand Magellan, a name inspired by the bonfires of the Yaghan people that he was seeing from his ship. We’ll be flying into Ushuaia (pronounced Oos-WHY-uh), the capital of Argentinian Tierra del Fuego and the world’s southernmost city.

[Now, before any Chileans get sore at us: Chile’s Puerto Williams now claims to be the southernmost city in the world, but with a population a mere fraction of Ushuaia’s and the singular goal of snatching that title for tourism’s sake, we’re going with Ushuaia on this one.]

Ushuaia is a charming city, with the Martial mountain range at its back and the Beagle Channel unfolding in front of it. This channel was named after the HMS Beagle, the ship that carried Charles Darwin around the world in the 1830s. Darwin also has a mountain–and a mountain range!–named after him in Tierra del Fuego.

On the 14th we’ll head out onto the Beagle Channel for a boat tour of this scenic strait, full of sea lions and all manner of birds. But this isn’t just any boat tour–it’s one that culminates with us walking around with penguins on Martillo island! This tiny island is home to Magellanic penguins and a small colony of Gentoo penguins, but King penguins have been know to ‘vacation’ there, too. We’ll have a traditional lunch at an estancia and have the opportunity to visit the tiny but mighty informational museum on site before heading home, by way of the otherworldly wind-bent “flag” trees of Tierra del Fuego.

Tomorrow we’ll head into the Tierra del Fuego National Park. This waterfront park is rich in dramatic scenery, with a number of hikes to choose from, based on your interest. The park is home to the end of the Pan-American highway, which starts in from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska! According to the Guinness World Records, this 19,000 mile (30,000km) network of roads is the world’s longest motorable road. The park is also home to the “End of the World Post Office,” the southernmost post office in the world. This tiny bay-front tin shack is often closed but still a quirky site to behold among the windswept waves and jagged peaks.

We’ll also have time to stroll the main streets of Ushuaia, quite a happening town for the “End of the World!” Some of the best empanadas we’ve ever had the good fortune to dig into are from Doña Lupita–don’t worry, we’ve already ordered some for you! And craft Patagonian beer is simply delightful. King crab is also a local specialty here in Ushuaia and we can point you in the right direction.

El Chaltén

On the 16th we’ll say goodbye to Tierra del Fuego and fly to El Calafate, Argentina. We’ll return to this lakeside Patagonian town soon, but for now we’ll head directly up to El Chaltén (~3.5-hour drive), on the edge of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. El Chaltén is a cozy frontier town that was founded in 1985, developed solely as a base for tourists wishing to spend time in these breathtaking mountains. In 2015, El Chaltén was #2 on Lonely Planet’s “Top 10 Cities to Visit.” The main attraction is Mount Fitz Roy, named after the captain of the HMS Beagle. However, El Chaltén is named after Fitzroy’s indigenous Tehuelche name, meaning “smoking mountain,” a fitting description for the often cloud-enshrouded peak.

There are plenty of walks and hikes geared toward your preferred level of activity and desire, and there’s plenty of time to explore over the next two days. The town is packed full of truly wonderful restaurants, quite a surprise in the middle of nowhere! And although hiking is not a prerequisite, it makes the hot chocolate, Patagonian beers, and local locro stew go down all the better.

There are many hikes accessible from town, and we can get dropped off at the trail head and walk back to town for longer ones. We take great pride in having found the “secret” water fall and we made sure to mark it on our maps so we can take you there!

El Calafate & Perito Moreno Glacier

On February 19th we’ll say goodbye to El Chaltén and head back down to El Calafate. Perched on the shores of Lago Argentino, El Calafate is named after a yellow-flowered berry-producing bush native to the area, and you can try calafate berry ice cream and calafate liqueur throughout the town. Once again, the quality of restaurants in this town must be mentioned; beyond the ever-present grilled Patagonian lamb, some of our favorites included pulled guanaco sandwiches and local lavender ice cream. After all of this delicious Patagonian cuisine, perhaps a stroll to the lake is advisable, where you can often spot the local population of Chilean flamingos at Reserva Laguna Nimez; flamingos and snow-capped mountains, we know, it’s wild!

We clearly have a sweet spot for the town of El Calafate, especially its well-cared-for and affectionate street dog population. As much as we love the town itself, the star of the show lies a 90-minutes drive west of here–Perito Moreno Glacier.

Perito Moreno Glacier is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Los Glaciares National Park, and is one of the 48 glaciers of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. The scale of Perito Moreno glacier is staggering: covering 100 square miles (250 km²), this single glacier is the third largest reserve of fresh water in the entire world (surpassed only by the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets). The terminus of the glacier (or, the edge we will be looking at) is 3 miles across and rises over 250 feet above the lake’s surface.

Perito Moreno Glacier is around 18,000 years old, but it’s still growing! Despite global warming putting almost every other glacier on Earth on the run, Perito Moreno is actually advancing around 6 feet (2m) per day. Because of this, you’ll get to witness the glacier calving—giant chunks of blue ice breaking off the glacier’s front wall and splashing dramatically into Lago Argentino. Scanning the glacier for perceived “loose bits” and listening for that tell-tale “crack” is addictive.

We’ll spend the day enjoying the glacier from the boardwalks and viewpoints facing Perito Moreno, providing convenient ways to see this glacier from different vantage points. Alternatively, you can choose to go with a tour operator in town for a hike on the glacier itself! These trekking tours are fun and allow you an up close and personal look into the glacier. You’ll take a short, guided hike in cramp-ons, with the opportunity to toast your experience with a drink full of glacier ice! (Please see the “Suggested Physical Requirements” toggle below for more information about these glacier treks.) There is also a short boat tour you can opt to take if you want to saddle up to the northern face of the glacier.

Torres del Paine

Ready for more? On February 21st we’ll say goodbye to El Calafate and drive (~3.5 hours) to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. Paine means “blue” in the native Tehuelche language, and Torres is “towers” in Spanish–and towers they are. These majestic obelisk-like towers were also given the nickname “Cleopatra’s Needles” in 1880 by one of the first foreign tourists to the park. The peaks here are arresting, and you’ll have a fantastic view from our very own hotel, perched on an island within Lake Pehoé.

This massive park (181,414 hectares or 700 square miles) is as gorgeous as it is diverse, from the icebergs of Lago Grey, to lakes and waterfalls every shade of turquoise, cobalt, and green, to rugged peaks that look as old as time itself. We’ll have the entirety of the day on February 18th to explore; we recommend covering more ground by vehicle, with frequent stops for short walks, wildlife spotting, and photography. However, if you’re keen to hike into the mountains, we can help arrange that.

Torres del Paine is rich in wildlife; you’ll fall in love with the fuzzy families of graceful guanacos, relatives of the llama. You may see foxes, and if you’re really lucky, a puma or an endangered Huemul (south Andean deer). There are many gorgeous bird species within the park, including the Andean condor, the ostrich-like Darwin’s rhea, black-necked swans, the well-coiffed southern crested caracara falcon, and yes, more flamingos!

On the 23rd, the time has come for us to say goodbye to Patagonia and head to Santiago, Chile (via Puerto Natales,~2-hour drive). Our trip comes to and end upon arrival to Santiago in the afternoon–or does it?

How about we head to Easter Island together instead? Keep reading for more information on Easter Island; otherwise, you can skip down to the toggles for FAQs and some nitty-gritty details about the Natural Wonders of South America trip.

Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Santiago, Chile is the gateway to Easter Island—want to head over and check it out? With a minimum of 4 guests (and max of 12), BJ and Lauren will join you and personally escort you around the island by private vehicle; otherwise, we can help arrange a solo itinerary for you on the island.

If you choose to stay on, we’ll spend the the 23rd in Santiago, and early on February 24th we’ll start our journey with a 5-hour flight to Easter Island.

We have carefully crafted what we consider the best possible itinerary to explore Easter Island, taking into account the best light for photos and the easiest way to avoid the crowds & tourist buses. We’ll be renting our own vehicle to show you around; this way we can all decide how long to stay in a spot and when to move on. Over the next three and a half days, we’ll show you what makes this island truly magical. (You might ask, is three and a half days enough time? We promise it is, without feeling rushed, although you can certainly stay on in Easter Island, if you wish!)

Easter Island is one of the most remote places on the planet. Set in the South Pacific (as the most southeastern point of the Polynesian Triangle), it is almost 2,200 miles from mainland Chile and more than 1,200 miles away from the next inhabited island. This island is called Rapa Nui in the native language (and the language is also called Rapa Nui) and Isla de Pascua in Spanish. This 63 square mile (163 km²) island has around 7,500 inhabitants and is considered a special territory of Chile.

Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen encountered the island on April 5, 1722–you guessed it, Easter Sunday. Of course, by then, this island had long been populated–since the 6th to 8th century, it’s estimated. Our first encounter with the island will be landing on a giant airstrip built by NASA for the U.S. Space Shuttle program as an emergency landing spot.

Chances are that, even if you know nothing else about Easter Island, you recognize its iconic statues, or what some people refer to as “the big heads.” You might be surprised to know they’re not just heads! These statues, called “moai” (MOE-eye), are full length, although the exaggerated heads do make up one-quarter to one-third of the statues’ total heights. The only place you really see the famous “heads” is at the quarry, where hundreds of full-length but unfinished moai were abandoned in a standing position, only to be buried up to their necks over the years. The rest of the moai around the island had been placed carefully on top of ceremonial platforms, only to be knocked over by intertribal warfare & earthquakes.

There’s some debate about these moai, but there are some widely accepted ideas. The moai were carved to honor deceased tribal leaders and thought to impart that person’s protective power over the community. They were carved from a central volcanic tuff quarry and moved to a ceremonial platform (ahu) overlooking the respective tribes. A common theory now is that the eye sockets were only carved upon arrival to the ahu and that the protective powers were imparted from the coral eyes implanted in the sockets once the statues were raised.

You may have even seen a moai in a museum; the Louvre and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History house two of these statues, but the most famous and treasured one remains at the British Museum. This fine basalt figure is named “Stolen Friend” in the Rapa Nui language.

We’ll strategically visit these ceremonial ahu platforms around the island, as well as the quarry where the statues were painstakingly carved. There is a small but fascinating museum we’ll visit early our first afternoon to give you a foundation for further exploration of the island. And don’t worry, there will be free time for you to explore the charming town of Hanga Roa. Perhaps you’d like to take a hike up to the highest point on the island, Maunga Terevaka, allowing a 360° view of the island around you! Our hotel faces the sunset over the water, or you can take a short walk along the coast to Ahu Tahai for that postcard sunset silhouette shot! And, of course, there is a lovely beach on the north side of the island to visit if you’re in the mood.

On February 28th we’ll say goodbye to Easter Island and make our way back to Santiago, Chile where the trip ends…or your next adventure begins!

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Price & What is Included

These prices are solely for Iguazu Falls & Patagonia. Please see the Easter Island tab below for all Easter Island extension information. 

This journey is $6999 USD. The non-refundable deposit is $1000 and the balance will be split between 2 other payments (due August 1, 2021 and October 1, 2021). We will email you an invoice (via PayPal) 2 weeks before each due date.

If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $1299* USD and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you will be responsible for the single supplement.  

*Please stay tuned for an option to only have a roommate at Iguazu Falls in order to save a significant portion of the single supplement. 

Price Includes: 

  • Hotel accommodation, beginning on the night of February 10th and ending on February 22nd. Please see below for information about February 9th.
  • All ground transportation starting in Iguazu Falls
  • 4 flights (Santiago to Iguazu Falls; Iguazu Falls to Ushuaia; Ushuaia to El Calafate; Puerto Natales to Santiago)
  • All breakfasts, 9 lunches, and 7 dinners
  • All National Park entrance fees
  • All tips at hotels and restaurants
  • Online photo album after the trip
  • Triple carbon offsetting for the entire journey

Price does not include:

  • International airfare (although will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
  • Regarding the hotel night in Santiago on February 9th, if necessary. Our flight on the 10th will be in the late afternoon, so you can arrive in Santiago the morning of the 10th,if you wish. However, there is a fantastic and convenient airport hotel at the airport in Santiago where you can rest on the 9th, or you can arrive early if you wish to tour around the city or the surrounding wineries in the Maipo Valley.
  • Airport transportation (if necessary) in Santiago, Chile
  • 4 lunches and 6 dinners (although we can make recommendations and we can still eat as a group for those that wish!)
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Alcohol
  • Laundry services
Payments

Please refer to the Price tab for specific information about price & what is included on your journey.

We’re not currently accepting deposits for this journey, but you can register your interest through this link. 

We accept payments via check, credit, or debit card (via PayPal). For our guests outside the U.S., please write [email protected] for the best transfer details, to save you from PayPal’s currency conversion fee.

  • Paying by Check: Checks can be made out to RetreaTours and sent to 8821 NW 14 Street, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024.
  • Paying by Credit Card, Debit Card, or PayPal balance: You can pay the balance with credit card, debit card, or PayPal balance through the button below. Note that you do not have to pay with your PayPal balance; please click here if you’d like further instruction.

We will email you an invoice (via PayPal) 2 weeks before each due date.

Easter Island (Rapa Nui) Extension information

Do you want to continue on to Easter Island after your Patagonia adventure? Great! With a minimum of 4 guests (and a maximum of 12 guests), BJ and Lauren will join you and show you their favorite spots on Rapa Nui.

The Easter Island extension (February 24–28) is $1750 USD (single supplement of $499). The deposit is $500 and the balance is due November 1, 2021.

Includes

  • 4 hotel nights on Easter Island
  • Private transportation to sites on Easter Island
  • All breakfasts, 4 lunches, 1 dinner on Easter Island
  • Hotel night in Santiago, Chile on February 23
  • Online photo album
  • Triple carbon offsetting

Not included

  • Airfare between Santiago and Easter Island (*please see note below)
  • Entrance to Rapa Nui National Park  (~$80)
  • 3 dinners on Easter Island (and dinner in Santiago on February 23)
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcohol

 *This airfare typically runs around $650 USD, but it can be as low as $350 and as high as $1000. We suggest, as soon we tell you we have reached our minimum, that you purchase these flights along with your travel insurance. 

 

This website and corresponding app is a great resource for learning more about Easter Island.

Here is the CDC’s Easter Island-specific ‘Travelers’ Health’ page. Malaria is not endemic to Easter Island.

Registration

Please click here if you’d like to be notified when registration opens!

FAQ: Visas, Vaccines, Food, Money & more

 

PASSPORT/VISA

  • What do I need to know about the visa?    

First and foremost, your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip, and you’ll need three to four empty pages in the Visas section of your passport (make sure they are in the Visa section, not the Amendment or Endorsement section). 

There is currently no charge for a visa to Chile, Brazil, or Argentina for Americans, Canadians, Australians, British, and EU citizens at this time. 

FOOD

  • Can my dietary needs be accommodated?

Most any dietary requirement can be met on this journey. Please indicate any special requests/allergies on the registration form and we’ll reach out to you with any advice or information necessary. 

  • Should I bring snacks?

So glad you asked–yes! Snacks like nuts, protein bars, or other favorites are a nice thing to have on hand, although snacks of that nature can be bought in El Chaltén before any hikes you may choose to go on. 

  • Can I drink the water?

Please stick to filter or bottled water in Rio and Iguazu Falls. However, Patagonia is one of the few destinations where it is generally ok to drink from the tap, although you may choose to filter your water with a device brought from home or purchase bottled water. 

 

HEALTH & VACCINES

  • What vaccines do I need?

No vaccines are required to enter our destinations, but we highly encourage you to work with your local travel clinic or the travel department of your local health department (often a much cheaper option).

Please see the CDC’s general advice for:

Please see the NHS’s general advice for:

As you can see in the CDC and NHS recommendations above, the Yellow Fever vaccine is recommended for Iguazu Falls (although proof of vaccination is not required to enter any countries on this itinerary). 

  • What about malaria?

Both the CDC and NHS sites indicate malaria is no to low risk on this itinerary (the only “low risk” area being Iguazu Falls).

  • Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance is required on this trip; please see the separate “Travel Insurance” toggle on this page.

MONEY

  • How much money should I bring?

You’ll be buying 4 lunches and 6 dinners on this itinerary, and generally food is very affordable, especially in Patagonia. The amount of money you bring depends on any extra excursions you may wish to participate in (helicopter ride at Iguazu, glacier trekking) and we can help you figure that out. It also depends how much amazing Patagonian beer you wish to sample! 

  • How do I get the local currency?

You can either exchange cash or use local ATMs upon arrival, although exchanging cash will be much easier.  Argentinian banks tend not to play nice with U.S. debit cards and the fee to withdraw money can be quite high; in addition, cash in Argentina can fetch a higher exchange rate than that of a credit card. Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used halfway across the world.

HOTELS

  • What kind of hotels will we be staying at?

Please see the separate “About our Accommodations” toggle on this page.

  • Will I be able to charge my electronics (phone, iPad, etc)?

Yes, just be sure to bring along a Universal Travel Adaptor that can go with you anywhere in the world!  

COMMUNICATION

  • How can my family get ahold of me in an emergency?

We will give you our WhatsApp numbers and an American number good for text messages and voicemails that you can pass along to your family. Any international phone plans should work in our destinations, with the exception of El Chaltén which receives no cell service at all. In addition, we’ll give you a list of our hotels and their phone numbers that you can pass along to your family.

  • About the Wifi

You will have access to wifi at all of our hotels, although it may not be as fast as you are accustomed to, particularly in remote El Chaltén. 

Our Carbon Negative commitment

RetreaTours is Climate Positive!

We purchase triple carbon offsets for your travels with us—that’s from your home, through the entire tour, and back to your home again, times three

RetreaTours is officially a Carbonfree® Partner with Carbonfund.org, as well as a partner with Cool Effect.

You may have heard the term “carbon neutral,” which means that a company offsets as much carbon as it produces. With this 300% offset, RetreaTours is actually offsetting more carbon than we produce each year, making us “carbon negative” (or “climate positive,” which has a nicer ring to it!)

Since 2012 we’ve focused on making travel safe and easy for our guests; with our triple carbon offset tours, we’re pleased to make our trips as sustainable as they are memorable.

Please see more at RetreaTours.com/CarbonNegative

Suggested Fitness Requirements

There are no strict fitness requirements required for this trip because in almost every destination you can choose your preferred level of activity. However,  here are some details to consider when deciding whether or not this trip is physically right for you!

Iguazu Falls

On the Brazilian side we’ll walk 700 meters (0.4 miles) from our hotel to the National Park entrance (and we’ll walk back to our hotel from the entrance at the end of the day). From there a bus will take us to the Falls. You have two options from there.

  1. You can get out at the first stop and walk on path along the falls 850 meters (0.53 miles) to the main viewpoint area, with many smaller viewpoints along the way. This path gives you a wonderful, suspense-building introduction to the falls, and you can see many of the small cascades in the system on the Argentina side from here.
  2. You can stay on the bus for 3 more minutes and get dropped off at the main viewing point and cafe with seating. From here there are accessible walkways and ramps, as well as an elevator so you can see upper and lower viewpoints.

The Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls has many walking paths with lots of viewing options, which is why it’s more of an independent exploration day (with BJ and Lauren able to take you to desired vantage points!)  It may seem a bit overwhelming, but to give you an idea, here are the paths on the Argentinian side!

It Is possible to see everything in one day (not even a full day!) and we can help you narrow down what might be of most interested to you. Think of it as 3 segments: Devil’s Throat, Upper Trail, and Lower Trail.

The Upper Trail leads you along the river and the top of the waterfalls, for viewpoints like the one below. The roundtrip circuit is 1750 meters (1.09 miles) and is 100% wheelchair accessible.

The Lower Path winds you through the forest and gets closer to the cascades as they fall, like the view below. The lower circuit is 1700 meters (1.06 miles) and is 70% wheelchair accessible.

You take a train to get to Devil’s Throat, the main fall at Iguazu. From our hotel, it is a 20-minute walk to the train station (and we recommend being on the very first train at 9 AM!)  From the train’s end point to the actual viewpoint, it is a 2.2 km (1.37 miles) roundtrip walk on a metal-slatted walkway, over the Iguazu River, part of which you can see below:

 

Ushuaia & Tierra del Fuego National Park

You’ll need to transfer from a dock to a covered zodiac boat for a 10-minute boat ride from Estancia Haberton to Martillo Island to see the penguins. We spend one hour with the penguins; we only cover a 100-200 meters at most, mostly on gravel and grass.

In Tierra del Fuego National Park you can choose to enjoy the scenery from the National Park Office and cafe, or to go on a short hike (~1 hour and ~3-hour options).  There will even be a nice 30-minute option for those wanting to get into the woods but don’t want to commit to a longer option!

El Chaltén

Due to the numerous hiking options depending on your level of interest, El Chaltén is truly the “Choose Your Own Adventure” portion of this journey! This website is a good overview. We have specifically chosen the hotel with the best view in town so you can enjoy a view without trekking, as well.

We’ll help you choose the best option for you, whether it’s an 9-hour trek to Laguna de los Tres or it’s relaxing over a Patagonian beer and local locro stew (or both!)

El Calafate

Perito Moreno glacier has many walkways (map below) with upper and lower viewpoints–similar to Argentinian Iguazu but on a smaller scale! The white line on the map below is completely accessible and provides stunning sweeping views of the glacier. The other paths do contains stairs to varying degrees.  We’ll suggest routes for you depending on your interest level.

You can also choose to go trekking on the glacier itself. This activity is not included but we can help you arrange this excursion with a local operator. There are two options: a mini-trek and the “Big Ice” trek and we can tell you more about both if you are interested. The Big Ice trek is limited to those age 50 and under (we know, we know–insane) and the mini-trekking to those under 65. While these excursions do provide an up close and personal look at the glacier, we don’t believe they are necessary to fully appreciate the beauty of Perito Moreno!

Torres del Paine

While Torres del Paine does offer many trekking options, its beauty can be appreciated from viewpoints and with short walks. To that end, with our one full day in Torres del Paine National Park, we are choosing to show you the highlights of this massive park via vehicle and short walks. If you would prefer to spend this day on a longer trek in one area, we can help you arrange such an excursion.

Easter Island Extension

On Easter Island, the one place requiring a bit of an uphill walk is the famous quarry. This is not a strenuous climb or walk, and there is so rush. There are optional stairs to see some of the higher moai but the rest of the walk is on a dirt, gravel, or stone path.  Each of the other moai sites do require a walk from the parking area to the moai, but this tends to be only ~100 to 200 meters at most. 

About our Accommodations

We’ll provide you with a complete list of hotels before the journey, but please know that each of these hotels was carefully chosen for their comfort, location, and amenities. They each have their own private bathrooms, heat (or air conditioning at Iguaza Falls), and hotels have wifi access, although it may be stronger in common areas (lobby, restaurants, etc).  

We are very happy to tell you, though, that we’ve secured Falls View rooms for everyone at the ONLY hotel that has a view of Iguazu Falls, Gran Melia Iguazu! 

Travel Insurance

If you are traveling with RetreaTours, we require that each guest carries travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and emergency evacuation and repatriation. 

We suggest trip cancellation insurance, as well, as you never know what obstacles life can toss at you leading up to a trip. However, we do not require this coverage, we only suggest it highly.

Below you will find some options to look into, if this is a new world to you. However, we ask that you carefully consider your choice in travel insurance. What works for some people may not work for others, particularly if you have any pre-existing conditions. Please do take the time to consider the best policy for your individual needs.

World Nomads provides medical coverage for guests under 70 that includes trip cancellation, as well. You can use the box on this page to get a quote and see coverage.

InsureMyTrip.com is a good place to see and compare many policies at once, and you can refine the options by what coverage you would like.

It may also be a good idea to check with your credit card companies, especially American Express, to see if they offer any medical coverage for travel.

About your International Flights

We are more than happy to recommend international flights, but ultimately you will make the purchase yourself. Here is some important information if you would like to research flights yourself.

ARRIVAL

We’ll take a flight together to Iguaza Falls in the afternoon of February 6, so it is recommended you arrive in Santiago before the morning of February 6. There’s a comfortable hotel (Holiday Inn) attached to the Santiago airport, very convenient for the night of the 5th (and it is where we will be staying with the guests who join us on Easter Island before this journey). 

DEPARTURE

The trip comes to an end on February 19th when we fly from Puerto Natales, Chile to Santiago, Chile.  We are not scheduled to arrive in Santiago until ~7 PM on the 19th, so please schedule any outgoing flights accordingly. 

Temperature & Suggested Packing List

This journey between the rainforest and Tierra del Fuego understandably runs the gamut of weather conditions, with highs in the 90s and lows in the 40s, with humid conditions in Iguazu Falls and characteristic wind in Patagonia.

We’ll provide a packing list well before the journey, but the gist of it is: layers, layers, layers! 

Temperature by location

These temperatures are based on historical averages and actual January 2020 temperatures.

  • Iguazu Falls: 70°F to 90°F (21°C to 32°C), with high humidity
  • Ushuaia: 40°F to 57°F (4.5°C to 14°C), with strong winds
  • El Chaltén: 50°F to 80°F (10°C to 27°C)
  • El Calafate: 40°F to 65°F (4.5°C to 18°C)
  • Torres del Paine: 45°F to 65°F (7°C to 18°C)
  • Easter Island extension: 67°F to 82°F (19.5°C to 28°C)

Please note that this journey requires soft-sided luggage in order to fit inside the vehicles in Patagonia.

Contact RetreaTours
Please write [email protected] for any questions you may have about this journey.  If you have not received a reply within 48 hours, please do check your spam folder.
About BJ and Lauren of RetreaTours

 BJ Graf and Lauren Rathvon at Torres del Paine. We love our tours to Patagonia!

You’ll be joined on this journey by BJ & Lauren, owners of RetreaTours–and we are so excited to show you the natural beauty of South America! 

BJ & Lauren created RetreaTours in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make world travel accessible, authentic, and astounding. In order to focus fully on this passion, they moved out of the U.S. in January 2013 to reside full-time overseas. Each day is spent exploring new destinations, strengthening local ties & relationships, and creating memorable, transformative, one-of-a-kind retreats and tours (aka, RetreaTours™!)

BJ & Lauren take great pride in the itineraries they plan, as they can personally vouch for every hotel, every restaurant, and every activity that you will experience. They craft each element of the trip with intention, and they understand that it is this careful attention to detail that sets them apart.  Fueled by their passion, armed with know-how, and supported by knowledgeable local professionals in all of their destinations, BJ & Lauren set the scene for the vacation of a lifetime. The dynamic duo are available to answer any and all questions before the trip begins. From giving advice on the best flights and travel insurance to providing a packing list, FAQ, and even a tiny “phrasebook,” BJ & Lauren pride themselves on these ‘nuts & bolts’ of personalized service.

In addition, as a guest, you receive free travel consulting services (normally a $300 value) should you choose to extend your travels. As one of their most ‘frequent fliers’ put it recently, BJ & Lauren make everything easy for you. The research has been done, the itinerary carefully laid out, the reservations made, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. All you have to do is show up and take in all your destination has to show you!  So….let’s get going!

Photo Album

Please click a photo to see an enlarged version; you can use your arrow keys or mouse to navigate within the album.

ALL photos in this album were taken by BJ or Lauren in 2019 & 2020 in the same areas we’ll be visiting!

Easter Island photos

Please click a photo to see an enlarged version; you can use your arrow keys or mouse to navigate within the album.

ALL photos in this album were taken by BJ or Lauren in 2020 in the same areas we’ll be visiting!