Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > South America
Reload this Page > OAT Chile & Argentina / Andes to Patagonia trip
Notices

OAT Chile & Argentina / Andes to Patagonia trip

Reply

Dec 7th, 2009, 06:43 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 79
OAT Chile & Argentina / Andes to Patagonia trip

I guess I am getting lazy, but this OAT trip does sound good to me. But what do I know?
It is 16 days.

Begins in BA for 2 nights

Bariloche for 3 days and nights:
Itinerary includes intro to Mapuche culture, chairlift to view Patagoinan Lake District then a forest trek of this area. Also, Museo de Patagonia and Ezequiel Bustillo city center (native cultures), Limay River float and ranch visit.

Chiloe Island 2 nights: (Via Puerto Varas)
Native culture with local family visit, tour in Castro, do a trek on trails.

Puerto Varas, 2 nights:
Punahuil, take small boat to see penguin colony, otters and seals, visit Petrohue Falls, do forest walk, go to Vicente Perez Rosales NP, trek in rain forest, home visit.

Fly to Punta Arenas for 1 night:
Experience town's culture.

Torres del Paine NP/Salto Grande trek: 2 nights:
Hike and navigate Lago Grey to view Glacier Grey.

Calafate 2nights:
Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and Perito Moreno Glacier

Back to BA for 1 night

After the OAT tour, we would spend another 11 days, visiting Iguazu Falls for 3 of those days, then just enjoying BA. I would love to go to the NW as well, but it may be too much.

I am sorry to be missing Santiago and Valparaiso, and would love time in the Lakes District. We could do this trip on our own, but the logistics are a bit daunting for a couple 66 and 70 years old. We've also learned that we gain far more knowledge of a country when we do a tour with OAT's excellent local guides. We have more fun in a small group (16) than we do by ourselves in an area like this.

And yet, I'd love the critical opinions of those of you who are familiar with these areas.
Are we missing too much? Should we spend our extra days differently? Logistical advice greatly appreciated. I am always conflicted when I cannot "do it a

I believe that with OAT, unless we can manage to do our own air, we can only "break away" at the end of our trip, and for no more than the 11days (a total of 30 days from departure is allowed.).

Our plan is to go in mid-February or very early March.
They do offer a pre-trip to Santiago and the Easter Islands, but it is pricey ($2000) and allows almost no time in the Santiago area.
The post-trip is to the Falls, but I think we can do our own version for quite a bit less.

Anxious for your opinions, as I really am rather late in planning this trip.
Thank you for your time and knowledge.

Makinghay (not as fast as I'd like, however...)
makinghay is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 7th, 2009, 07:21 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,277
I think it sounds fine. I doubt you could pull it all together yourself this close to your travel dates. If you already know the company and have had good experiences, then go for it. February is high season in both countries. March gets quieter as schools start. If it is the very beginning of March the weather should still be good, though the south can get rain at any time of year.
Huentetu is online now  
Reply With Quote
Dec 7th, 2009, 09:35 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 16,121
If you can afford Oat and enjoy their method of travel, then I say fine. I found it rather difficult to self-plan trip to Torres del Paine and although I would suggest more time there, you won't be hiking so it's alright. I just hope the weather is settled so that you hit it on a good day.
mlgb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 7th, 2009, 10:43 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 79
Hummm. Does not sound like I've chosen the ideal time to do this trip...and I've researched each area so carefully! We always try to travel in shoulder season to avoid crowds, but in this trip, have to plan around high winds, dwindling waterfall,hot weather, and,of course, rain.

My Frommer's (sorry)says that the upper Patagoina and Tierra del Fuego area is "calmer weather from mid-March to late Nov." We would be there late Feb and into the second week of March. Bad plan?

What would be the IDEAL time to visit all these areas in one trip? My goal was to travel when my garden doesn't need me, so winter in California is an easy time to go.

Are the crowds significant in all these areas? We would do our BA travel, and Iguassu in March. Any later, and I was concerned that the spectacular falls would be thin...like when travelers visit our Yosemite Falls NP in October and expect water in the falls (almost none by then). Comments please!

As to the cost of the OAT trip. We've done 3 others with them, and after much research,could never beat their price, except on air,at times. However, I was initially shocked at the cost of about $4000,land only,since I keep hearing that So.America is among the cheapest places to visit. What has happened here? I rationalized that it does involve a number of domestic flights, and getting to/from the Patagonia glacier areas is pretty complicated to do on ones own.

Here is where you can really help me. Does this price sound outrageous? It does include almost all domestic transportation,meals,lodging,guides,bus, and is a small group of only 16. I wouldn't do a large group trip.

You're right,too late to put this together on my own. But if the timing is bad, I'd rather post-phone the trip than waste money or have a disappointing trip.

Locals want to chime in? Anyone who's done this at a really good time or for a really good price?
makinghay is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 8th, 2009, 08:48 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 16,121
As far as Torres del Paine I think Feb-mid March is probably as good as you can do.

I can only comment that I do think OAT trips are a bit on the pricey side but certainly not the worst value out there.

Chile prices are about the same as US prices in my experience. Torres del Paine was expensive but worthwhile. Lodging and meal costs inside TdP are comparable to Yosemite. A day tour to see Glacier Grey cost me about $160.
mlgb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 8th, 2009, 08:40 PM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 79
How about if we did everything EXCEPT the So.Patagonia part on our own. Does anyone have a experience with a particular tour group that does this area well?
makinghay is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 9th, 2009, 06:37 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 16,121
Do you want to break out both Argentina and Chilean Patagonia? Transfers and internal air get pretty complicated and expensive if you are doing both countries.

I only have experience on the Chilean side. ( I flew roundtrip from Santiago to Punta Arenas, then bus to Natales and a van tour into TdP, and stayed about a week in the park). To cut costs I stayed several nights in the Refugios inside Torres del Paine, and booked a few nights at Hotel Las Torres at the B&B rate.

YOu might look at www.lastorres.com who operates one of the all inclusive programs in Torres del Paine. They have some good brochures online and you can also online chat with them. They can arrange or include some transfers between Punta Arenas, Calafate, etc. I thought their guiding services were very good, but their location does not have a view of the Cuernos.

Another option might be to stay a few nights in Rio Serrano which does have Cuernos view, check out recent reviews on TripAdvisor.

This will be one of the most expensive parts of the trip so be sure you know exactly what you want to do there!
mlgb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 10th, 2009, 08:27 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,267
We've been to AR three times and covered all the areas you are going to, each time we've used a local BA travel agent who has been excellent and felt we did much better pricewise than with a tour. All our hotels, flights were pre-booked, we were met at every airport for a "private" transfer and the local day tours were excellent. I suggest you price out the itinerary this way. We used Mercedes from Argentina Escapes.

March is a great month to travel to Patagonia, it's like travelling here in Sept., crowds are more or less gone, but the weather is still good. BTW, we've been told the Patagonia is always windy and after our past trips there, I believe them!

Have a great time.
owlwoman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 24th, 2009, 11:24 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 191
Makinghay.

We're seriously considering the same OAT tour for next November. We will also do a post-trip to Iguassu Falls on our own, since the OAT add-on is very pricey. The OAT add-on also requires that you get a Brazilian Visa, which is very expensive. Also, going into Brazil requires a yellow fever inoculation. We will probably just stay on the Argintinian side of the falls and avoid those extra costs. The air logistics may be complicated, though, since the return home from Iguassu Falls will require a change of airports in Buenos Aires for us. We plan to use frequent flier miles for the air portion of the tour.

We have traveled many times with OAT and appreciate the expertise and commentary of their tour directors which in our experience has been much more informative and insightful than we've experienced with day tours arranged through an independent travel agent. We just returned from an OAT tour of South Africa, which was absolutely excellent.

We've been to Easter Island on a tour that we arranged with a travel agent in Santiago. Seeing Easter Island was a fantastic and memorable experience. It is a very long flight from Santiago, though. You could probably add that on cheaper than OAT charges. In fact, when we went there several years ago, we stayed at the same hotel that OAT uses.

Also, my advice is not to take the OAT insurance. I always do a comparison of various travel insurance policies on insuremytrip.com, and purchase a policy online. We inevitably save on the insurance and get a more comprehensive policy.
sandys is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 26th, 2009, 03:33 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 249
Regarding travel insurance from OAT, I don't buy it from them since OAT charge is almost double you can get from others like insuremytrip. But then, with OAT insurance, you can cancel for any reason, which may be very important to some. Do read thoroughly what your policy covers as far as cancellation is concerned. It's surprising to see what cancellation coverage does not cover.
banares is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 18th, 2010, 05:13 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 191
We did book this trip for very late September. We used frequent flier miles for the air with American Airlines. For an additional 10,000 miles per person, we were able to get Iguassu Falls added on.

Like usual, we did our insurance through insuremytrip.com. Even though OAT covers cancel for any reason, some of the refund is in travel certificates that must be used during a one year period. The extra cost for OAT insurance is not worth it to us - and we get better insurance coverage with other companies.

We love traveling with OAT, but their insurance is not a good deal IMHO.
sandys is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 18th, 2010, 08:46 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
That doesn't sound like such a high price for what you get. Patagonia is expensive. March should be fine, too. It's always windy so you can't really avoid it. Never book insurance through the company you travel with-if they go out of business you lose your trip and any recourse. If you get insurance buy it when you make your deposits and most of the time you get cancel for any reason insurance thrown in. I use insuremytrip.com too. Med/evac is essential and when we travel to exotic places we upgrade the med coverage.
christabir is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 25th, 2010, 04:41 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 811
Makinghay, Sandys-
Did either of you take this trip with OAT and how did you enjoy it? Did you go to Iguassu Falls on your own - on the Argentina side? Considering this for late Feb- March.
NGail is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 25th, 2010, 06:18 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 191
NGail. We don't leave until the end of September. We have booked Iguazu Falls on our own for 3 nights. We will be staying on the Argentine side at a B&B. If we do decide that we want to go to the Brazilian side, we will get a visa in Puerto Iguazu. We do need to get yellow fever and malaria vaccines for the Argentine side, according to the CDC. If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me.
sandys is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 25th, 2010, 09:08 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 811
Sorry, sandys- I misread the dates.
I didn't know you'd need yellow fever shots for the Argentine side of Iguassu Falls. I'm hoping to avoid them as we're over 70 and they have more frequent and serious side effects with age. We may have to skip the Falls.
Don't think there's yet a vaccine for malaria. Malarone has always worked well for us.
Have a wonderful time on your trip.
NGail is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 31st, 2010, 09:15 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 191
NGail. We just got our prescriptions for Malarone tablets. We still need to go to a travel clinic to get the yellow fever vaccine. We're also just over 70, so hope that there won't be a problem. We really want to visit the falls and already have our reservations set.
sandys is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 1st, 2010, 08:53 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 811
sandys-
Please let us know if there were any cautions given to you at the travel clinic about the yellow fever shots. The cdc site make it sound more risky for over 65s - especially for those taking it for the first time (which we would be). On the other hand, the cdc tends to be very conservative.
Meanwhile we're considering Odysseys Unlimited's Patagonia trip as another option. We've only traveled with OAT till now but OU seems similar though a smaller outfit.
Thanks.
NGail is online now  
Reply With Quote
Aug 1st, 2010, 09:43 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 16,121
RE Yellow Fever: You should be able to get a waiver from a physician and they fill out the Medical Contraindication section on the International Certificate.
mlgb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 1st, 2010, 06:14 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 811
mlgb-
But the question is whether you want to travel in an area that has yellow fever without having the vaccine??
NGail is online now  
Reply With Quote
Aug 2nd, 2010, 09:15 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 16,121
Actually the question is: Is there really yellow fever or just a vaccine certificate requirement?
mlgb is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:24 PM.