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kcsherri Sep 16th, 2008 07:33 PM

Chile/Argentina in Nov.--guides, activites and other questions
My husband and I are going to Chile and Argentina with some friends in November. I have read many posts on this site (and others) that have assisted me in planning much of the trip. Thank you all for such wonderfully detailed posts!
Here is our itinerary:
Days 1-2 Santiago (2 full days in Santiago)
Lodging at Lafayette Suites in Providencia
Day 3 Fly to Puerto Montt
Days 3-6 Kayak trip in Lakes District (3 1/2 days)
Lodging is camping w/ last night at Vicki Johnson Guest House in Puerto Vargas
Day 7 fly to Mendoza (thru Santiago), arrive in evening
Days 7-11 Mendoza (4 days)
Lodging at La Posada de Rosa
Day 12 fly to BA
Days 12 - 14 BA (2 days)
Lodging at Miravida Soho
Day 14 fly to Puerto Iguazu, arrive in evening
Day 14-16 Iguazu (2 days)
Lodging at Hotel Posada la Sorgente
Day 16 fly back to BA
Days 16-18 BA (2 days)
Lodging at Cahuel Buenos Aires Hotel in Palermo
Fly home evening of Day 18

My husband and I are very active (he-runner, me-triathlete). We also collect wine. In addition, we enjoy the arts and music.
The collective wisdom of the group would be greatly appreciated regarding the following:
1) Has anyone had a particularly awful experience at any of the hotels/posadas where we are staying? (We still have time to cancel and make other reservations!)

2) Can you recommend a tour of Santiago for our first day? A walking tour would be nice, but isn't required.

3) Can you recommend a tour guide for wine tasting for our 2nd day in Santiago, when we plan to tour the wineries outside Santiago? We speak very little Spanish so we need someone bilingual. We do not want to do the wine train, as we want something more personalized. Also, how much should we expect to pay per person for such a tour? There will be 4 of us together that day.

4) Can you recommend a tour guide for wine tasting trips in Mendoza? We have been quoted a price of $125US per person for a guided visit to 4 wineries plus lunch. Is this reasonable (ie, is it in the range of what we should expect to pay)? There will be 4 of us for 1 tour and 2 of us for another day.

5) Can we just show up in Mendoza and arrange for a 1-day rafting trip when we arrive, and what should we expect to pay?

6) What about a 1-day hiking trip? Can we arrange for that when we get there and what should we expect to pay?

7) With regard to BA and Iguazu, I have been reading the posts for ideas, but I'm not sure if I need to book activities in advance. Are there any activites in BA or Iguazu that you highly recommend for which we will need advanced reservations?

Sorry for such a long post. Thank you in advance for your time and advice.

owlwoman Sep 17th, 2008 06:12 AM

Sounds like you have a great trip planned.

When we went to Mendoza our TA arranged the tour to the wineries, so I don't know the cost pp, but considering you usually get a driver/guide and the wineries are pretty far apart, $125 pp doesn't sound too bad. Plus, the lunch we had was late and like a dinner with unlimited wine (glad we were not driving).

Since you're both active, I would also recommend hiking Anconodaga (sp) which is outside of Mendoza, we did a mini-trek, it's beautiful up there. They also have horse-back riding and rafting in this area. I'm sure your hotel can arrange everything for you when you get there (or e-mail them ahead of time). We stayed at Finca Andelesia and the people in the office were more then happy to arrange tours each day. (heard other people doing that) We had all ours pre-arranged from our TA.

In Iguazu, no you do not have to pre-arrange any activities for the falls. The falls are mostly self-guided and the boat ride under the falls, highly recommended, you just buy tickets when you get there.

In BA, I highly recommend you take a 1/2 day city tour, just to get acquainted with all the neighborhoods.

It's too bad you aren't doing the lake crossing from Puerto Varas - Bariloche, it was one of the highlights of our first trip. I'm not sure if it exists anymore.

Also, I'm not familiar with any of the places you're staying, sorry.

Have a great time, you will love AR.

kcsherri Sep 17th, 2008 05:17 PM

Thank you so much for your tips and advice. I have read some of your posts and we appreciate all the information.
It is ashame that we won't have time to do the lake crossing, but we will be kayaking in and out of the fjords so I'm sure we'll be overwhelmed by the beauty.
Thank you,

ddtraf Sep 17th, 2008 08:31 PM

My husband and I are also heading to Argentina late Oct/early Nov, and are both active individuals as well.

We don't have enough time to do Aconcagua fully, but owlwoman what was the mini-trek you did? Did you have a guide?

Also, have you checked out the biking wine tours? I've been looking into a couple of those, but haven't seen anyone else comment on them.

owlwoman Sep 18th, 2008 07:59 AM

We had a guide/driver for a day trip to the Andes, just did a little hike (maybe 1/2 hour or so), to take pictures. My husband has trouble w/altitude, so we couldn't go very far.

The kayak trip sounds great, I'm sure it will be beautiful around there. Puerto Varas is very cute, like a little Swiss village. We had stayed in Puerto Montt the night before the lake crossing, it's just a big city. When we stopped in PV to pick people up I couldn't believe how cute it was and why we hadn't stayed there. It's only about 1/2 hour from PM and there's a public shuttle bus between the two cities that runs frequently and, at that time, was 1 peso.

Hope you both have a great trip!

georgewoodie Sep 18th, 2008 08:44 AM


My wife and I visited Mendoza for 4 days starting on Feb. 7, 2006. During that time the local agent we had was Baco Tours, guide Ricardo.

Our two month trip, Punta Arenus - Santiago - Mendoza - Buenos Aires and many stops between for the most part was great.

Except for Mendoza.

Ricardo of Baco tours knew less about Mendoza than we did from our tour books and research. The agency was misleading and just as bad. We were booked into and paid in advance for our stay at La Escondido B&B we were denied our accommodation when we arrived. As this was last minute, we were shuttled from place to place each night, none of which were of a class equal to what we had booked and paid for.

I suspect that there might have been a problem between the B&B and the Tour people regarding payment. I can not imagine anything else.

When I got home, I wrote to La Escondido B&B but never got an answer.

While we were in Mendoza we took a day tour with Huentata and that was excellent. That tour was to the 'High country', well worth it.

We took in a wine tour and the wineries each did their guided tour while Ricardo relaxed some place. We visited 4 places and even though I am not particularly interested in wine, it was an interesting tour. Ricardo was only the driver, no other benefit on that day's tour. As you seem to be keen on wine, that or similar tour should be right up your alley.

I am guessing, but I expect that you can hire a vehicle with a driver once you arrive to Mendoza and arrange your own wine tour. I do not know how you could get a recommendation as to which places to visit.

We found Mendoza itself to be a pleasant tree lined town. Good Italian food.

I hope you can get some positive guide recommendations from some of the local Argentinians who regularly post on this site. That might be your best way to get a good guide.

The poor experience we had in Mendoza was NOT typical of our Argentine travel. Not this two month trip nor the previous two month travel.

Have a great trip.


kcsherri Sep 25th, 2008 08:16 AM

Thank you, Woodie, for the information on what to avoid. That is very helpful.

Ddtraf, what bike tours are you finding? That sounds like something my husband and I would enjoy.

We have now arranged our wine tours with Javier of the B&B Plaza Italia (who was recommended to me by Isabel, the travel agent.)

I haven't had time to study them yet, but here are some websites Javier gave me for rafting and hiking.
Hiking: Cordon del Plata Agency

Rafting: Argentina Rafting Expeditions
I'd be happy to share info back and forth with you as it sounds like your trip is only a few weeks before ours.


ddtraf Sep 25th, 2008 12:40 PM

kcsherri - definitely in for sharing research, sounds like you guys are into the same type of trips as we are.

there are a couple companies i've come across for biking wine tours. check out this one... not sure if anyone on the forum has any further input. with this company it sounds like you are given a bike and a map to the 5 wineries that they have set up for you to visit, and you go at your own pace. kind of biking meets wine tasting meets scavenger hunt?

we're also looking into rafting in the area. i've checked out argentina rafting expeditions, but also found this company (Ser O Outdoors) last night so i'm going to do some comparing.

for hiking i'm not sure if one needs to go with a guide/tour company or if there is adequate maps/trails for day trekking? i'll check into the company you listed as well.


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