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mistadobalina Apr 13th, 2007 10:04 AM

Seeking Feedback on 3 week trip to Chile/Argentina/Brazil
I am planning this for next April. The weather seems to be fair in all of the places I want to go. I'm just trying to get an idea for how this sounds:

Saturday/Sunday: Fly to Punta Arenas, via Santiago, arrive at Explora Lodge in Torres Del Paine
Monday: TDP
Tuesday: TDP
Wednesday: TDP
Thursday: TDP
Friday: TDP
Saturday: TDP
Sunday: Fly to Santiago
Monday: Santiago
Tuesday: Fly to Buenos Aires
Wednesday: Buenos Aires
Thursday: Buenos Aires
Friday: Fly to Iguazu Falls
Saturday: Iguazu Falls
Sunday: Fly to Pantanal Area
Monday: Pantanal Area, Photo Safari on Transpantaneira Highway
Tuesday: Fly to Rio
Wednesday: Rio
Thursday: Rio
Friday: Rio
Saturday/Sunday: Fly back to LAX

Will it matter that I'll be at Iguazu Falls on a weekend (or does that just matter during the summer)? Anything else I should pay attention to on this? Anything you recommend? Travel agents you recommend that arrange these sort of trips?

Thanks in advance.

atravelynn Apr 15th, 2007 05:38 AM

I am going on my first Brazil trip in August, which will concentrate on the Pantanal, so I don't have a lot of advice on itinerary construction. You seem to have a nice cross section in your plan.

I'll mention the agent I'm going with, which is heavily into nature, wildlife viewing and birdwatching--Focus Tours in New Mexico.

GMT2272 Apr 15th, 2007 06:42 AM

It seems like a long time in Torres del Paine.

mistadobalina Apr 15th, 2007 09:02 AM

I think we're going to cut the days in Santiago for one more day in Buenos Aires, one more day in Iguazu, and one more day in the Pantanal. We've been to Santiago before - all these other places are new to us.

We are staying at the Explora in Torres Del Paine - that was the main impetus for the trip. We really enjoyed their program in Rapa Nui, which at the time was far more rudimentary than the Torres Del Paine setup. Explora either has 4 day or 8 day stays, and 8 days seemed best for all the hikes and excursions we want to do.

For Buenos Aires, I read some reviews saying the Sheraton is good - anything changed on that?

For Iguazu, I read the Sheraton there was good too, and definitely looks it. Anything better there?

For the Pantanal, it's tough to tell, but the Araras lodge looks good - anyone have experience with this one (or one they chose instead)?

And for Rio, we really don't know what part of the city to stay in. We'd like to keep cab rides to a minimum. Copacabana? Ipanema?

mikemo Apr 15th, 2007 01:22 PM

The Iguazu Grand Hot and Casino is wonderful: we got a 3 night package on with a great 740 sq ft suite (seriously nice) for about $0.30 on the $1.00US - all transfers; a dinner with wine; internet; spa/massages, etc.
I would not stay at the Sheraton in Iguazu.

hills27 Apr 15th, 2007 02:32 PM

I've been to Explora in Torres del Paine and think you made the right decision on 8 days (which is really only six because of the travel to/from). We wished we had had more time. My advice is to take lots of Gortex. The weather can vary wildly and unpredictably from one minute to the next, especially in April.

Unfortunately, I think you might miss the penguins outside Punta Arenas if you go in April.

mistadobalina Apr 15th, 2007 02:58 PM


We'll see the penguins 9 months later. We are going to book a Falklands/South Georgia/Antarctica cruise for January 2009.

Since we can't go for 3 weeks at a time, we decided to do Torres Del Paine as part of this trip I'm asking about.

Thanks for the input.

meghanc Apr 15th, 2007 02:58 PM

Hi, I'm trying to plan a trip for October 2007 to Explora Patagonia + Australis cruise. Are you working with a godd trael agent? I want one that does a lot of business with Explora Patagonia and Australis...see if I can score a free upgrade or something??. Thx

hills27 Apr 15th, 2007 03:25 PM

Mistadobalina, let me know if you want more details on what to pack.

Meghan, I would not waste the chits with your TA on upgrading at Explora. You're not in the room enough for it to be worth it - showering and sleeping, that's about it. Not that I even remember them having different quality rooms, but I may be wrong.

siberia_ba Apr 16th, 2007 10:56 AM

I concur with the other poster; too long a stay in TDP. It only makes sense if you are a big time hicker/outdoors person. Otherwise, I would spend more time in Buenos Aires.

hills27 Apr 16th, 2007 05:41 PM

Have you been to TDP?

mistadobalina Apr 16th, 2007 06:05 PM

No, I have not. But I have heard nothing but good things, and if it is ANYTHING like the Explora Lodge in Rapa Nui, I will have no regrets about staying a week. In Rapa Nui we had only 3 days for excursions, and we easily could have done 2-3 more. Torres Del Paine has double the # of excursions as Rapa Nui.

So now, after a bit of tweaking, the current best guess is:

Torres Del Paine (Explora) - 7 nights
Buenos Aires (Sheraton) - 3 nights
Iguazu (Sheraton) - 3 nights
Pantanal (Caiman Lodge) - 3 nights
Rio (???) - 3 nights

Any recommendations for places to stay in Rio (I read up this afternoon on a bunch of places, but all seem to have significant detractors)? Any suggestions on how to get from Iguazu to the Pantanal - do I have to go via Sao Paulo?

hills27 Apr 16th, 2007 07:15 PM

Sorry, should have directed my question at Siberia. I think you'll be thrilled with 7 nights.

Dondiega Apr 17th, 2007 10:42 AM

Tell us about your current choices in Rio, what detractors do they have?

mistadobalina Apr 17th, 2007 02:54 PM


I have garnered input from here, other travel sites,, and people who have been to Rio and lived in Rio, and...I'm perplexed.

Overall, no one seems to think that there is a "legit" 5-star hotel. Overall, the quality of hotels seems to be highest in Copacabana, but that is relatively the least safe at night (understanding that no place is safe). Barra seems to be the safest, but also the farthest away from the action (which I guess makes sense). Some of the best hotels (e.g. Caesar Park) seem to be regarded as dated and overpriced. So I looked at places like the Marina All-suites and Marina Park in Ipanema, the Caesar Park (despite its detractors), the Copacabana Palace (despite price and neighborhood), the Sheraton Rio (which seems a little too far west), and finally the Porto Bay Rio Internacional.

The Porto Bay seems to get universally high marks, has ocean views and balconies in all its rooms (a big plus), and it looks as though I can get a suite there for less than a room at the Caesar Park, Sheraon, or Copacabana Palace.

But I'm still reading up. I noticed you usually have some strong opinions on lodging in Rio, so I'd be interested to get your take.


Lakukaracha Apr 17th, 2007 05:04 PM

Dear Mistadobalina,

I agree with some previoues posts: I think you're staying for too long in TDP. I would rather have few more days in Buenos Aires...

I think you'll be fine visiting Iguazu Falls in April, even during the weekend.

Enjoy your trip!

hills27 Apr 17th, 2007 05:39 PM

I'm really curious if any of you that think 7 nights (really 5 days because of the travel) in TDP is too much have ever been.

Dondiega Apr 19th, 2007 01:33 PM

I think your choice of the Rio Internacional is a good choice, good price and a newer hotel, I have passed it many times, it looks good.

Caesar Park is a good hotel and great location. When I go to the beach many times I go to the beach in front of this hotel plus it is in walking distance to many restaurants in Ipanema.

I have never stayed there but I think the Marriott is very nice and on the corner of Ave Atlantica and Rua Santa Clara which is a very nice street in Copacabana.

Sai May 11th, 2007 02:28 PM


looks like you are covering a lot. Only comment I have is depending when you are arriving in Rio, 4 days maybe too much in RiO. 2 Days in Rio should be enough. Extra day in Pantanal or Ouero Preto would be better.

Sai May 11th, 2007 02:34 PM


one more thing - Sheraton in Iguazu is on the Argentinian side . You should see the falls from Brazilian side as well and there is an airport there as well. To fly to Campo Grande you may need to fly from the Brazilian side-Foz du Igaucu - check on this.

We stayed at the Tropical Das Cataratas on the Brazilian side and it is within the national park and you can walk to the falls from the hotel at 6:30 a.m-7:00 a.m and see lots of wild animals / birds before the crowds/buses arrive.

mistadobalina May 14th, 2007 08:45 AM

Sai, thanks for the input. Here's what I ended up deciding on.

Atacama Desert - Explora (4 nights)
Torres Del Paine - Explora (4 nights)
Buenos Aires - Bobo Hotel (4 nights)
Iguazu Falls - Sheraton (2 nights)
Pantanal - Caiman Ecological Reserve (3 nights)
Rio - Porto Bay Internacional (3 nights)

We do plan on seeing the falls from both sides. Waking up early before everyone gets there should be nice.

Again, thanks to everyone for the input on my trip.

siberia_ba May 15th, 2007 11:44 AM

I don't deny the beauty of TDP; I have only seen pictures and it looks amazing; however, such a long stay as you suggest seems fit for an outdoor type person (like you, probably). Judging by mistadobalina's itinerary, it looks like he/she is trying to do a more general tour of S.A., that covers a lot of nature, as well as urban destinations. From that point of view, 7 days in TDP looks unbalanced to me.

mistadobalina Jun 6th, 2007 05:13 PM

In the process of making reservations (based on post 2 above this one) - pretty excited.

If anyone has any tips on things to do, places to eat, I'd love to hear them.

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