How can you capture South America's rich tapestry of welcoming people, sophisticated cities, mouthwatering cuisine, and passionate music in one itinerary? Experience them in a small group with us and find out! We show you the undiscovered gems and highlights of South America travel — Santiago, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Chile's wine country, Colonia, and Iguassu Falls. And with just 18-24 travelers in your group, you can experience the little things that make the best South America travel memories: an exclusive wine tasting, a private tango lesson, lunch in a local home, and much more. Only Vantage Adventures includes three nights in Uruguay, a tiny, European-flavored country, where you'll witness a fascinating gaucho demonstration at a rural estancia. Comfortable, centrally located hotels make for a relaxing stay, and our unmatched small group value on this South America adventure puts the continent's rich cultural tapestry well within reach.
This is your chance to experience the best of South America travel on one comprehensive and enhanced journey. You won't want to miss out on this incredible itinerary, which includes visits to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and two Wonders of the World sites. Join us in 2018 for our fascinating South America adventure at the best value in deluxe small group travel!
Fly overnight to Santiago, Chile
Your South America adventure begins with an overnight flight to Chile.
Or, if you crossed another destination off your bucket list by joining our extension to legendary Machu Picchu and Peru, you'll meet up with the base tour on Day 2.
Stroll the Alameda on a panoramic tour of Santiago’s highlights
Upon arrival in Santiago, you’ll be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel for an early check-in. Afterward, embark on a panoramic tour of Santiago that contrasts the past and present highlights of the city, including a visit to the famous Alameda — Santiago’s bustling main avenue — and the Plaza de Armas. This evening, our small group will get better acquainted over a Welcome Dinner at the hotel.
A day at leisure, or venture on an optional full-day tour to Valparaíso
You are at leisure to explore Santiago today from the convenience of your hotel. Or take advantage of our optional full-day tour to Valparaiso, one of the most important seaports on the South Pacific and the second-largest city in the country. Set in a natural amphitheater overlooking the sea, the city boasts a historic quarter that has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its 19th-century architecture and urban planning. Today, Valparaiso is renowned as an educational center and lively center of Chilean culture. We’ll see its highlights on our tour and enjoy lunch in one of the best restaurants in Valparaiso.
Join us on a full-day optional tour to Valparaiso, one of the most important seaports on the South Pacific and the second-largest city in Chile. Set in a natural amphitheater overlooking the sea, the city boasts a historic quarter that has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its 19th-century architecture and urban planning. Today, Valparaiso is renowned as an educational center and lively repository of Chilean culture. We’ll see its highlights — including Latin America's oldest stock exchange, the continent's first volunteer fire department, and Chile's first public library — on our tour and enjoy lunch at one of the best restaurants in Valparaiso.
Pre-Columbian art, a walking tour of Santa Cruz, and pisco sours
Today, we’ll transfer to Santa Cruz, the capital of Chile’s wine-growing region. Settle into your balcony room at our small, colonial-style hotel and enjoy lunch on your own. We regroup this afternoon for a visit to the Museum of Colchagua, which houses the largest collection of pre-Columbian art in Chile, followed by a walking tour of Santa Cruz. Cultural Discovery: This evening, learn how to concoct a traditional Chilean pisco sour before our dinner at the hotel.
Tasting Colchagua Valley vintages and a home-hosted lunch
Unforgettable Moment: This morning, you'll enjoy a visit to a local winery in the Colchagua Valley, where we’ll discover the region’s fine vintages. Our winery experience includes a presentation about the region's soil and climate, the history of wine, and the wine-making process. We’ll also savor an included tasting of the winery's offerings, including Carménère, a traditional Chilean grape. Our tour continues with a cable car ride to Cerro Chaman for stunning views of the valley and vineyards. Here, if you wish, you can tour replicas of houses of the indigenous people of Chile and discover how they lived in harmony with nature, their rituals and beliefs, and how they inspired the local wines.
Cultural Discovery: Then, join a traditional Chilean family in their home for a lesson on how to make empanadas, a savory Latin American pastry, followed by an intimate lunch and conversation about fruit production in the area. Later, gain an understanding of life in rural Chile as we set out for a visit to the town of Lolol, located in an area reminiscent of the American West. During our town tour, you’ll see sites such as the historic central plaza and church. After arriving at our hotel this evening, the rest of your day is at leisure.
Board a flight to Montevideo, Uruguay
Today, we transfer back to Santiago, where we’ll catch a flight across the Andes to Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital and largest city. This Latin American jewel has a true international flavor, with colonial, art deco, and neoclassical architecture interspersed with outdoor cafés. Upon arrival, we’ll transfer to our centrally located hotel. Dinner is included at the hotel this evening.
Exploring Montevideo’s historic gems — and its cowboy culture
Discover Montevideo's monuments, parks, and gardens today on a walking tour of the Old City, then board a bus to visit the Cathedral, and Constitution, Independence Squares, and other monuments. We’ll also view the Congress Building, an immense structure that is the pride of Uruguay. We’ll also ride past El Prado, a lovely neighborhood and home to one of the oldest parks in the city. Cultural Discovery: We’ll enjoy lunch together at a local restaurant before continuing on to the Gaucho Museum to learn about Uruguay’s cowboy traditions. Housed in the ornate Palacio Heber, this museum displays a superb collection of historical gaucho artifacts, including horse gear, silver work, and whimsically designed bombillas.
A day at the ranch with Uruguayan cowboys
Our South America travel itinerary gets us closer to Argentina today while remaining on the Uruguayan side of the widest river in the world, Rio de la Plata. We depart Montevideo and begin a scenic drive through the flat Uruguayan plains known as the pampas to Colonia del Sacramento. Cultural Discovery: On the way, we’ll visit an authentic working estancia (ranch) for a variety of activities, including a carriage ride around the property, interacting with real gauchos (cowboys) and learning about their traditions. We’ll also enjoy lunch here with a traditional asado, a gaucho-style barbecue, and a demonstration of how to make mate, a South American herbal tea. Following the ranch visit, we’ll continue on to Colonia del Sacramento, a historic port with a rich Spanish and Portuguese history. Stroll along the magical cobblestone streets of its historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ferry to saucy Buenos Aires and savor a private tango lesson
After breakfast this morning, we’ll join the locals on the high-speed ferry across the Rio de la Plata to Buenos Aires. Once we check in to our luxury hotel, you’ll have the afternoon to pursue your own interests in Buenos Aires, one of South America's cultural capitals. Take time to discover why this lively city represents the rich past and heritage of this continent. Cultural Discovery: This evening, learn how to tango during a private lesson, and enjoy dinner and a fiery tango performance at El Viejo Almacen, the oldest tango hall in Buenos Aires. The tango show includes multiple variations of the dance, from the most traditional performances to modern acrobatic styles, as well as orchestra solos and tango singers.
City tour of Buenos Aires, including lunch at renowned Café Tortoni
Our Buenos Aires adventure continues as we embark on a city tour that includes the Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada, and La Boca, a colorful and lively neighborhood. Cultural Discovery: We'll cap off our city tour with lunch at the famous Café Tortoni. The quintessential Porteño café, Tortoni was founded in 1858; it’s majestic ambiance, intricate moldings, and marble-topped counters have beckoned artists and scholars alike for over a century. Later, we’ll return to the hotel, where the rest of the day is at leisure.
Exploring Recoleta’s mansions and historical highlights
Today, we explore Buenos Aires’ opulent Recoleta neighborhood. As we stroll the elegant Avenida Alvear, we'll admire the grand mansions and green oases. We’ll also enjoy a guided tour of the renowned La Recoleta Cemetery, where Eva Peron and other luminaries are interred. Adjacent to the cemetery is the Recoleta Fair, an open-air handicraft market where you will have time at leisure to browse. We will regroup this evening for dinner at the hotel.
Our tour begins at the magnificent Teatro Colon Opera House, a stunning edifice that is acoustically considered one of the top venues in the world. We’ll then drive by the Palacio de Agus (Palace of Running Water), a impressive water supply building from the 19th century that occupies an entire city block! Be sure to have your cameras on hand for our next stop, the El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore. Built inside a 100-year-old converted theater, this must-see shop was named one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. We'll stop along the way to enjoy lunch in the Pulpería Quilapán, a fantastic restaurant that gives you a taste of Argentina's flavors and heritage in one charming location. Designed as a classic pub merged with a market from the 1800s, you'll feast on mouthwatering empanadas and Choripán (a grilled chorizo sandwich) as you soak in the colorful atmosphere. Our final stop on the tour is San Telmo, Buenos Aires’ oldest neighborhood and home to a weekly market filled with antiques, food, and art. We’ll take a stroll and soak up the unique atmosphere of this market, stopping as we explore to snack on delectable treats and learn a bit about local traditions, before returning to our hotel this afternoon.
The spectacular views at Iguassu Falls
We fly to awe-inspiring Iguassu Falls National Park this morning, located on the border of Brazil and Argentina. Our first views of the park will be from the Argentinean side, where we'll marvel at varied views of the falls found on the Lower Trail. Then, explore further as we walk the Upper Trail, where you'll enjoy an eye-popping vantage point as we literally walk over the water! After enjoying lunch in the park on your own, we'll cross the border to the Brazilian side and check into our centrally located hotel for dinner.
Trekking Iguassu's Brazil side, and an optional Macuco safari
Unforgettable Moment: Today, we'll revel in panoramic views when we explore Iguassu Falls from the Brazilian side. The tour will conclude at Puerto Canoas, where you'll enjoy lunch on your own. Relax and take advantage of your hotel amenities this afternoon, or join an optional Macuco Safari on the Iguassu River between Argentina and Brazil. This thrilling speedboat tour will take you right to the foot of the misty falls!
Cultural Discovery: After dinner in the hotel this evening, we'll head out for an authentic South American night on the town; head to a nearby venue for drinks and a lively samba show, the perfect way to envelop yourself in the spirited culture of this unique region.
For a close-up view of spectacular Iguassu Falls during your South America adventure, join this special excursion that begins with an open trolley ride through the dense rainforest near the falls, during which you can observe flowers, birds, and butterflies. As you ride through the undergrowth, your jungle guides point out orchids, palm trees, bromeliads, and centenarian trees. Arriving at a stopping point, you’ll make your way down to the water’s edge. At the dock, we’ll board special speed boats make our way into the gorge, where falls thunder in from three sides. First, take the opportunity to snap some photos worthy of National Geographic magazine. Then, get ready to get wet! Your experienced river pilots, who know these waters intimately, will give you a thrilling ride through some rapids, guiding you right up next to the splashing cascades. This incredibly fun experience is not to be missed! (The speed boat operator will provide you with plastic bags to keep your camera and other valuables dry. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, casual clothes, and prepare to get soaked!) Afterwards, you will have a private transfer back to your hotel.
Rio de Janeiro — from Copacabana to Corcovado
Today we'll transfer to the airport for the final leg of our adventure. Located in a beautiful natural setting, Rio de Janeiro is tropical, musical, and spectacular. Unforgettable Moment: This afternoon, we’ll arrive in this colorful city and ride a cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain — the granite peak that overlooks the city, where we’ll enjoy sweeping views of the bay, the curve of the Copacabana, and the peak of Corcovado before heading to our hotel in the heart of world-famous Copacabana beach. This evening will be at leisure, with dinner on your own.
A train ride through Tijuca Forest, then a Farewell Dinner in Rio
Set off on a scenic ride aboard a cog rail train through the Tijuca Forest to the top of Corcovado Mountain, site of the huge Christ the Redeemer statue — one of the New Seven Wonders of the World — for the best view of Rio de Janeiro. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore Rio at your own pace. Tonight, reminisce about your experiences in South America with your small group during a Farewell Dinner at the hotel.
A morning at leisure in colorful Copacabana, and exploring Rio's architecture
Spend the morning at leisure enjoying the hotel’s unbeatable location in the heart of Copacabana Beach. We’ll enjoy our last views of Rio during an afternoon tour that showcases this city’s colonial side, beginning with the old buildings found downtown, as well as Rio’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, a modernist masterpiece reminiscent of Mayan pyramids. Afterward, we’ll arrive at the airport for our return flights home.
Your overnight flight from Rio will arrive in the U.S. today.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.
Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary. That hotel ratings are based on the Hotel and a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.