Day 1: Welcome to SANTIAGO DE CHILE
Arrival to Santiago and airport meet and greet and transfer to your hotel/lodge.
Day 2: Sightseeing around Santiago de Chile city
After lunch, we pick you up to discover Chile's main city. We will visit the most important historical sites of Santiago including the downtown area surrounding the Plaza de Armas and the Presidential Palace. We will also pass by the Mercado Central, one of Chile´s largest fresh seafood markets and take a stroll by the many bustling stalls to see the tremendous variety available from Chile´s beautiful sea.
We will visit some of the lesser know barrios of Santiago including, Republica and Concha y Toro. There will be time to walk around and take photos of the many styles of architecture from dating back to the 19th and early 20th century. Continuing through the Lastarrias neighborhood we will walk through the Parque Forestal passing by the Bellas Artes Museum. For a scenic vista of the city, we will visit the top of Cerro San Cristobal hill 600 feet above the city. During the tour you will have the option to visit one Santiago´s many excellent museums such as: The Cousino Mansion, the former home to one of Chile's wealthiest 19th century families; or, the La Chascona Museum, the former home of Pablo Neruda, Chile's most famous Nobel laureate; or, the Pre-Colombian Museum, containing one of the richest collection of Pre-Columbian culture of Latin America.
Day 3: MAIPO VALLEY, the classic Chilean terroir
Departing Santiago at 09.00 am, we will drive south along the foothills of the Andes to the wine appellation closest to Santiago, the Maipo Valley. Named after the Maipo River, this is Chile´s most traditional wine region, home to many of Chile's famous wineries such as Concha y Toro, Cousino Macul and Santa Rita. Moreover, the excellent soil and climate condition is a perfect match for growing Cabernet Sauvignon.
An informative and fun experience is in store at our first stop in the small winery of Roberto Muñoz. Aptly named Paseos del Vino (Wine Steps), he passionately describes his artisan winemaking process where everything is done by hand. Perez Cruz is our next stop. With its ultra-modern architecture, state-of-the art technology and their diverse soil conditions from clay texture to smooth pebbles & sand, they are producing highly acclaimed Malbec, Carmenere & Cabernet Sauvignon. We will stop for lunch in the town of Pirque in the eclectic Septimo Cielo. Finally, we will visit the small boutique winery Aquitania where two well-known agronomists and wine makers from Bordeaux, France, Paul Pontallier (of Chateau Margaux) and Bruno Prats (former owner of Cos d'Estournel) are producing delicious wines and still labeling bottles by hand.
Day 4: Trip through the Andes mountain range
After breakfast, we departure for our scenic tour across the striking landscape of the Andes range. The high mountain peaks invite us to enter into a world of giants!
The Andes and Argentina beckon! On our breathtaking route through a gorge hugged by snow-capped mountains we may well see condors soaring against the peak of Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Andes. On the journey we stop for lunch at the border and to view Aconcagua. As we travel away from Chile´s plains there is a dramatic change; green, tropical crops and lush vegetation give way to bare, dramatic mountains and desert scrub of cacti and acacia. During our trip,we will appreciate the wine area of Aconcagua Valley, Chile´ s smallest wine valley but very well known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah production. Then, we continue to the International Tunnel "Cristo Redentor", through a meandered path "The Snails of Portillo" that in only 16 Km., it rises 1000 meters and it counts on 32 curves of 180º. It is an exciting experience you can´t miss!
Once in Mendoza, a wonderful viewpoint allows us to see the Aconcagua Mt in all its splendour, which stands at 6,962 meters (22,841 ft.) above sea level. The mountains in the Andes of Mendoza are the highest in the world outside of the Himalayas. The trip continues towards several other small mountain towns like Puente del Inca, a natural bridge where Las Cuevas river has drilled into the mountains forming this incredible natural attraction. Thermal water emerges from different areas and several pools are being used by the climbers as a free spa.
The following section of the route leads us to Uspallata, framed by mountainous landscapes with changing colours, filled with various geological formations and many tunnels on the road. The famous film "Seven years in Tibet" was filmed in this valley.
The adventure continues towards the tiny lake village of Potrerillos, where we´ll enjoy an unbeatable view of the Potrerillos dam which forms a breathtaking artificial lake. Check in at your hotel in Mendoza
Day 5: Sightseeing around MENDOZA City
Today, be ready to explore Mendoza city, visiting sites like the foundation area -known as the Old Town-, and the New City with its beautiful squares and main streets. The city of Mendoza is alive with tourists and beauty queens parading around during the run-up to the Vendimia celebrations. Streets full of trees, as few are in the world, a remarkable network of irrigation ditches and canals, beautiful squares, modern buildings and active trade, parks and neighbourhoods that climb the mountains towards the sky, in short, Mendoza is all that, besides being a synonym for well-being and peace.
Day 6: MALBEC EXPERIENCE
Today explore the different microclimates in the region of Luján de Cuyo to better get to know Argentina´s most beloved grape - Malbec.
In the morning, we set forth on a voyage into the the diversity and vibrancy of authentic Mendocinean cuisine. Our first visit will be to Bodega Domaine St. Diego. Hidden off a country road next to an old ivy-covered church, chime the bell of this tiny garage winery whose owner and winemaker is considered one of the fathers of Mendocino terroir: Ángel Mendoza. We´ll try their hand-crafted wines and pair them with homemade breads, olive oil, walnuts and almonds, while visiting this enchanting place with the family. This is as local as it gets! Then we continue to Bodega Renacer . The winery was built in 2004 and is under the supervision of talented winemakers: the Tuscany-born Alberto Antonini, who is considered as one of the most renowned flying winemakers from Italy, and the Mendocinean Hector Durigutti, who has an extensive knowledge about Malbec and the terroir. ¨Winemaking is really quite a simple business¨, Baron Philippe de Rothschild likes to tell visitors to his château near Bordeaux. ¨Only the first 200 years are difficult¨. However, in Bodega Renacer, this is a little different: to make the most out of those first 200 years.
We continue to Bodega Ruca Malén where we´ll enjoy a one-of-a-kind dining experience. From the foothills of the Andes Mountains, the focus of Ruca Malen is producing wines that speak of the land and their commitment to the environment. There, you will taste their entire wine list, including their famous and iconic "Kinien". The dining room is located inside a glass room in the vineyards with a view of the Andes. The menu is amazing and the courses are universally excellent, with clever taste combinations, great presentation and appropriate wine matching.
Day 7: Wine tasting in the Andes - UCO VALLEY
Located an hour south of the action in Luján, the high-altitude Uco Valley has extended beyond Malbec. Many wineries are experimenting with new varietals like Cabernet, Tempranillo, and Syrah. Well inside the first mountainsides of the Andes foothills, the Uco Valley presents the highest altitudes at which wines are produced in the province of Mendoza: up to 1,400 meters above sea level. A lush agricultural valley amid a parched desert, the valley floor is dotted by almond trees and orchards. The Andes feel like they are at arm´s length.
Our first visit will be to Bodega Salentein. Respectful of the land´s vibrantly textured past, Salentein is equally inspired by the land´s remarkably promising future. It is this delicate balance of old and new- of blending the tradition of long-celebrated European winemaking methods with the bold ingenuity of the New World- that defines the Salentein style. Then, we move towards Bodega La Azul. Tiny is the impression you have as you drive up to La Azul. It is hard not to look around wondering where the rest of the winery is. A single stark building, not much larger than other winery’s garages is all that is required to make some of the finest wines in Argentina.Hosted by one of the winemakers, we´ll taste their Cabernet and Malbec wines, which have grabbed much attention for their distinct personality and excellent value.
We continue for lunch at one of the great rising stars of the region: Andeluna Cellars. Andeluna would look quite at home in a remote part of Texas as a hunting lodge. This is not accidental, Andeluna has deep roots in Texas. Ward Lay, the owner of Andeluna is the son of the late Texan Herman Lay, founder of Frito-Lay. Situated at the foot of the Andes just outside of the town of Tupungato in the Uco Valley, Andeluna has magnificent views of the mountains. The huge windows of the dining room are designed to take advantage of the effect, allowing us to enjoy the view as much as the food. The winery invites us to live an unforgettable dining experience that put together regional recipes, products from the Uco Valley and above all, its people hospitality.
Day 8: To home
Check OUT from the hotel and transfer to Mendoza airport. Ask about optionaladd-on trips to the cosmopolitan glamour of Buenos Aires, wi ne tasting in the foothills of the Andes in Salta, to the thundering majesty of Iguazú Falls, and outdoor activities in the pristine natural beauty of Patagonia . Extra days must be arranged in advance. End of our services.
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s shake. The great affair is to move”.
-ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, TRAVELS WITH A DONKEY