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Close to people's heart

Secrets of the Andean Peaks

Chile/Argentina/Bolivia - Discovery – Self-guided tour –14 days / 13 nights
SecretsdesAndes
Highlights…:

• Visit three awe-inspiring salt flats: Uyuni, Atacama and Salinas Grandes ;
• Taste the great wines of the Andes ;
• Explore geysers, colourful lagoons, volcanoes ;
• Visit Santiago, Mendoza, Salta and San Pedro de Atacama.

Nature : box black box black box black box black box black -  Culture : box black box black box withe box withe box withe
Encounters : box black box withe box withe box withe box withe

 

Starting from $ 2539 USD*

 
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A journey to appreciate three beautiful Andean countries in total freedom. Discover the finest salt flats and the most picturesque villages of North Chile and Argentina. Let the imposing landscape of Bolivia's southern Altiplano inspire you. Take some time to talk to the locals, know their stories and traditions. Taste the flavours of these regions and the wines of the Cordillera, experience the pure air and vastness of the Altiplano. You will come across a great variety of native fauna and flora: flamingos, vicunas , llamas, alpacas, condors, vizcachas and cacti of all types.

 

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ITINERARY…

Day 1 – VALPARAISO
Arrival by international flight
After landing in Santiago our driver will take you to your hotel in Valparaiso. This city is a harbour open to the ocean, surrounded by twelve hills upon which many colourful houses have flourished. Visit the Cerro Alegre area, acknowledged World Heritage Site (UNESCO). This open sky museum will take you to discover narrow streets, filled with frescoes painted by local artists. Pay a visit to the house of the famous Chilean writer Pablo Neruda. End the day in a typical bar-restaurant singing tango songs.
  • Transport: private transfer - 1h30
  • Accommodation: family run hotel
  • Included meals: dinner
  • English speaking guide
  • Entrance to the sites included
Day 2 – CROSSING THE ANDES: MAJESTIC ACONCAGUA
Free morning to continue your visit of Valparaiso or enjoy the beaches of Viña del Mar. Take a bus to Mendoza in the early afternoon: cross the Andes at around 4000m above sea level, at the foot of Mount Aconcagua with its impressive 6997m. Arrive in Mendoza late in the evening where you are transferred to your hotel.
  • Transport: regular bus service - 8h + private transfer
  • Accommodation: hotel***
  • Included meals: breakfast, snack on the bus
Day 3 – GREAT WINES OF ARGENTINA
Visit Mendoza, one of Argentina's main cities, known for its wines but also for its parks, ingenious irrigation system and shady streets, which make it a true oasis. In the afternoon, visit two emblematic bodegas of the region: Giol, one of the most important of Mendoza, and Carinae, one of the tastiest.
  • Transport: private transfer
  • Accommodation: hotel***
  • Included meals: breakfast
  • Afternoon with an English speaking guide
  • Wine tasting included
Day 4 – SALTA LA LINDA
Flight Mendoza > Salta
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Salta where you arrive at midday. Our driver will be waiting for you to take you to your hotel. In the afternoon, visit this marvellous city nicknamed La Linda meaning the beautiful. Salta boasts well preserved colonial architecture and two colourful churches, the pink Cathedral and the red and gold San Francisco Church. Another fascinating attraction is the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology which houses the well preserved mummies of three children, found on the summit of Volcano Llullaillaco. The museum will offer you an insight into the pre-columbine culture of the Andes.
The rest of the day is yours.
  • Transport : private transfer - 1h
  • Accommodation: hotel**
  • Included meals : breakfast
Day 5 – CAFAYATE, VINES AND LANDSCAPE 
Start the day travelling south of Salta on a van passing several villages before entering the stunning Seashell's Valley where wind and water erosion have shaped rocks into peculiar figures. By midday, stop at Cafayate, a touristic village famous for its high-altitude vineyards, especiallyTorrontés. Enjoy a free afternoon to visit wineries and wander around El Cafayate.  
  • Transport : van - 4h30
  • Accommodation: hotel***
  • Included meals : breakfast
Day 6 – CAFAYATE – SALTA VIA CACHI
Continue your acclimatization with a visit of the small village of Cachi. From Cafayate the road is extremely scenic, especially in the Arrows Valley, where the wind shaped the mountains into spiky arrows. Once you reach Cachi at midday, we recommend you to visit its peaceful square and its white church made of cactus wood. In the afternoon, discover the long straight road of the "Recta de Tintin", the National Park of Cardones and take a walk among thousands of these unusually large native cacti. Then, from 11 880ft (3620m) you will descend the “Cuesta del Obispo” to reach the fertile valley just south of Salta, where you arrive at the end of the afternoon. 
  • Transport : van - 6h30
  • Accommodation: hotel**
  • Included meals: breakfast
Day 7 –  CROSSING THE ANDES THROUGH THE SALT DESERT
Departure at 6:30 am for a long day bus journey across the Andes, from Purmamarca to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, with an absolutely fabulous scenery. First you wil head to San Salvador de Jujuy and then to Purmamarca, to admire the Seven Colour Hills. You will then ascend the impressive Lipan Slope, a steep zigzag road taking you to the spectacular salt flat Salinas Grandes before reaching the Argentine customs. While descending, the landscape starts to change, from barren plains back to the colourful mountains, before arriving at the Chilean customs at the entrance of San Pedro de Atacama. Arrive in San Pedro de Atacama around 4.30pm. Your hotel is located about 500m from the bus terminal.
  • Transport :regular bus service - 10-11h
  • Accommodation: family run hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast, snack on the bus
Day 8 – GEYSERS AND THE ATACAMA VALLEY
Early departure to reach the Geysers de Tatio before sunrise. An impressive show will then gradually unfold, the temperature of the air will fall, and the water vapour will start spurting out several meters above the ground. Return to San Pedro de Atacama and pass through the small village of Machuca where you can appreciate the traditional architecture of a high altitude village, together with its fauna and flora. Return to San Pedro de Atacama early in the afternoon. Later explore the Valley of the Moon and its salt caves, the Death Valley and Las Tres Marias. Sunset on the salt mountain range before heading back to your hotel.
  • Transport : van - 6h
  • Accommodation: family run hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast
  • Entrance to the sites not included
Day 9 – SUD LIPEZ, BOLIVIA
Depart for the south of Bolivia at around 8am. Discover the Lipez area, with its vast territory of mountains and rock formations sculpted by the wind, with beautiful lakes, lagoons with improbable colours, volcanoes and multi-coloured deserts. Travel by 4x4 at 4000 m with other travellers. Cross the border and you arrive at the foot of volcano Licancabur, with white and green lagoons. Then cross the "Dali Desert" (named after the scenery reminiscent of one of his paintings) and admire the geysers "Sol de Mañana", a geothermal field at an altitude of over 4300m, from which sulphurous fumes escape in the morning light,. By mid-afternoon, you will reach the Laguna Colorada, populated by flocks of flamingos that come to feed and breed, wrapped in solitude and silence.
Note : You will sleep at an altitude of 3950m, reaching 4600m during the excursion. We highly recommend you to keep hydrated, eat light, and avoid alcohol.
  • Transport : van + 4x4 - 6-7h
  • Accommodation: refuge (basic comfort)
  • Included meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Entrance to the sites not included
  • English speaking guide/driver
Day 10 – THE ANDEAN JEWELS ROUTE
On the "Road of the Jewels” you will appreciate a beautiful valley of rocks sculpted by the wind. The dirty road follows on through the beautiful high altitude scenery of the Siloli desert, with black, yellow and green lagoons, before arriving at the stunning Salar of Uyuni. Tonight’s accommodation is unique: stay in a double room in a salt hotel in the village of San Juan.
  • Transport : 4x4 - 7-8h
  • Accommodation: refuge (basic comfort)
  • Included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Entrance to the sites not included
  • English speaking guide/driver
Day 11 – UYUNI SALT FLAT
A dramatic drive through the stunning scenery of the Salar de Uyuni, takes you to the heart of the Salar on Fish Island and Inca Huasi. Of volcanic origin, covered with stromatolites and giant cacti, this island was a refuge for the Incas. On the way you will visit the salt exploitation of Colchani. Leaving the bright light of the salar behind, you will finally arrive at Uyuni where you will enjoy a two hour break before returning to San Pedro de Atacama. Night in Villa Mar refuge.
  • Transport : 4x4 - 7h
  • Accommodation: refuge (basic comfort)
  • Included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Entrance to the sites not included
  • English speaking guide/driver
Day 12 –  BACK TO SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA
Wake up early to make your way back to the Bolivian border; you are scheduled to arrive at the Chilean border around 10:00am. Arrival back to San Pedro de Atacama scheduled at around 13:00.
  • Transport : 4x4 - 7h
  • Accommodation: family run hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast
  • English speakign guide/driver
Day 13 – SANTIAGO DE CHILE
Flight Calama  > Santiago de Chile
Transfer to Calama airport early in the afternoon to take your flight to Santiago. Our driver will be waiting for you to take to your hotel in the center of Santiago. Night of leisure in the capital.
  • Transport : bus - 1h30
  • Accommodation: aparthotel
  • Included meals: breakfast
Day 14 –  FINAL DAY CHILE
Departure of the international flight
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport 3 hours before the departure of your flight.  
  • Transport : private transfer - 45min
  • Included meals: breakfast
End of your adventure in the altiplano…

This program is only given as an indication. TransHumans reserve the right, directly or through its local partners, to replace transportation, accommodation, itinerary, as well as dates and departure times, without the participants being able to claim any compensation.

Dates and Prices

PRICE 2016 (in USD per person)

N° of participants  2 to 3 4 to 5   6 to 7  8 or more
 Price per person ($)  2869 2739  2639 2539

The price includes:

  • Domestic flights : Mendoza > Salta ; Calama > Santiago ;
  • Ground transfers as mentioned in the program ;
  • 3 nights in hotel***, 2 nights in hotel**, 1 night in aparthotel, 4 nights in family run hotel, 3 nights in refuge - double room ;
  • An English speaking guide the first day in Valparaiso ;
  • Excursion to wineries in Mendoza ;
  • Excursion to the Tatio Geysers ;
  • Excursion to the Moon Valley ;
  • 4 day excursion in the Sud Lipez region with an English speaking guide/driver ;
  • All the meals mentioned in the programme ;
  • A log book with all the information necessary for the smooth running of your stay; ;
  • A mobile phone to be in contact with us 24/7.

The price does not include:

  • International flights ;
  • Entrances to parks  ;
  • The single occupancy supplement : $ 250 ( no single room available in the refuge and with the host family);
  • Drinks and personal expenses ;
  • The comprehensive insurance and repatriation assistance.

... and more generally all that is not mentioned in « the price includes » section.

Some important facts

  • National flights are included ;
  • Transfers to/from airport/hotel/airport are included ;
  • Accommodation is included and selected based on quality and hygiene ;
  • Local partners are fairly compensated ;
  • 3% of the price of your trip goes directly to support a local educational project for cultural and environmental development .

Practical Information

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Accompanying English and Spanish speaking guides
The day of your arrival, you will be received by an English speaking member of our staff. He/she will hand you a road book and a mobile phone, allowing you to be in contact with us 24/7 if needed. If specified in your program, he/she will also accompany you around the capital, giving you the basic practical information about the country or countries you are visiting.

During excursions, you will be accompanied by a certified Spanish speaking guide, often also speaking English.

When to travel ?

Between May and October, snow is not excluded from 2500 m above sea level between Chile and Argentina, which can prevent the bus from crossing the Andes. During this time you will have to fly from Santiago to Mendoza.
Aside from the crossing of the Andes, the whole trip can be done throughout the year. 

Local Transportation

Travelling by bus is the most popular and cheapest way to discover these countries. Classes range from Semi-Cama to Cama Suite with wider seats which are reclining to a horizontal position almost like being in bed. Distances are long and it takes nearly 20 hour bus ride from Salta to Mendoza. Bus lines connect major cities together. The buses run at an average speed of 80 km/h. For long distances, the plane remains the most convenient mean of transportation.

NOTE : TransHumans offers the option of booking for you the international flight ticket; we will seek and book for you the best deals. Price may vary depending on the time of purchase but can vary between $1000 and $1600 insurance included.

Formalities

PASSPORT & VISA : A valid passport is sufficient for most European and US citizens; a tourist visa will be issued at entry to the territory. If the stay exceeds the three months, it will be necessary to apply for a visa at the Embassy in your country.However, U.S. citizen tourists must pay a US$160 reciprocity fee, prior to arrival in Argentina.  Contact your local embassy, or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements. IT'S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO HAVE THE CORRECT TRAVEL DOCUMENTATION.
REMINDER : Make copies of all your important documents (passport, flight tickets, insurance, and credit card). Leave one copy of each at home and pack one with you.


EQUIPMENT

GOOD GEAR WILL ALLOW YOU TO BETTER ENJOY YOUR TRIP…

Clothing : 
Given the great variation in temperature between day and night it is necessary to pack both light and warm clothes. Wearing layers of clothes can be a good idea to easily adapt to the weather conditions. Typical layers include: t-shirt, sweater, fleece, wind/water proof layer. We highly recommend lightweight, quick-drying technical clothing. Avoid rain capes as they easily get stuck to branches with the wind.
Remember to take a good insect repellent, cap and sunglasses (minimum lens category 3)!

Miscellaneous
-Toiletry bag (biodegradable products are preferred) 
-Small quick-drying towel 
-Sunscreen lotion
-Insect repellent DEET (+ 40% for good protection). Also useful against fleas which can be a nuisance for people with sensitive skin.
-Head torch (with spare batteries and bulbs) 
-Bottle and/or camel bag  
-Pocket knife (checked luggage) 
-Money belt or pouch to safely store your passport, currency, credit cards, personal papers, insurance papers. 
-A copy of your passport. 
-Power sockets in Argentina are type C and I; Voltage: 220 V. Power sockets in Chile are those commonly find in Europe type C and Italy type L; Voltage: 220 V.

Medical Kit : 

Luggage : Please arrange your belongings in two bags : 
-Small backpack (capacity 25/40 litres).This is your hand luggage you will take with you on the plane as well as every day during hikes, excursions and transfers. 
-Large waterproof backpack to check-in (capacity 60 to 90 litres). 
-Large plastic bag to protect from moisture your belongings in your backpacks.


HEALTH
Vaccines
The country does not present any health risks, and the water is potable almost everywhere. No vaccine is mandatory for Chile, but some are recommended:
-Tetanus-diphtheria
-Polio
-Pertussis
-Hepatitis B
For children and those born before 1980: measles, mumps - rubella.

Other risks

Avoid contact with insects and protect yourself from mosquitoes, they can carry dengue. You must protect yourself against fleas which can be a nuisance for people with sensitive skin. Regular insect repellent is also useful against fleas. 

Altitude sickness
Altitude sickness is due to a rapid ascent to higher altitudes and the decreasing level of oxygen available at those altitudes. The symptoms include shortness of breath, irritating dry cough, severe headache, nausea and exhaustion. The first solution is to descend to a lower altitude (at least 500 m).
Proper acclimatization of the body to increasing altitudes is the best way to prevent altitude sickness. Once above 3000 meters it is wise not to increase the altitude at which you sleep by more than 500 meters. Stop a day if the altitude increases by 1000 meters in a day, keep hydrated and avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
The best way to acclimatize to the altitude is to climb gradually. Given enough time, your body will adapt to the decrease in oxygen at a specific altitude.

Medical Assistance
Medical care is excellent in most tourist areas in Argentina and Chile. For more remote areas, in case of urgent medical assistance, contact your local Embassy. We highly recommend you to contact your insurance as soon as possible.

LOCAL CUSTOMS

The Atacama People (Atacameños) - Atacama Desert - Chile
They are descendants of the early settlers of this region. Heavily influenced by the Aymara and Quechua cultures (southern Andean altiplano), they render tribute to the Pachamama (Mother Earth), they celebrate every year during the month of August with offerings and religious ceremonies. Cultural exchange can generally be difficult at first, since the Atacameños can be suspicious. Yet, gradually, they will gain confidence. At least this is our experience. Opening to them, patience and humility are key for successful exchanges with them. “Indigeno” is not derogatory to the Atacama people, quite the contrary; while “Indio” is, so do not use it when speaking to people of the altiplano or when referring to them.

The Kolla People - North West Argentina
Neighbours with the Atacamenios, the Kolla people were inhabitants of the North West Argentina, a geographical area corresponding to the South of the Inca Empire. The name Kolla was given to them by the Spanish. It refers to the Quechua word Kollasuyo meaning South Empire. The actual territory of the Kolla stretches across the Bolivian Altiplano, the Argentinean pampas, the Atacama Desert and the Yungas. The Kolla tribes traded with remote ethnic groups, and have diverse and varied beliefs and traditions. The language used by these tribes for trade was Quechua. The Kolla believe in the Pachamama that they celebrate every year during the month of August with offerings and religious ceremonies directed to both family and community. 

Responsible Tourism

RESPONSIBLE TOURISM

Our Vision & Commitment

Cultural awareness is very important to us. Sensible to the local cultural traditions and beliefs, the beauty of the landscapes and the biodiversity of the ecosystems, we choose to limit the negative impact of our activities on the local environment. In addition to designing trips that aim at preserving the natural, cultural and social resources of the territories in the long term, we also include the concept of “Territorial Compensation”. The idea of Territorial Compensation is to help local people protect and conserve their ecosystem, enhance their cultural heritage and develop sustainable projects for their territory.

Based on this concept of Territorial Compensation, TransHumans donates 3% of the total price of each trip to this cause. The money goes directly into a solidarity fund that finances our ERECA program (Education Relative à l'Environnement et aux Cultures Aborigènes), an environmental and cultural program. Since 2007, we have supported various projects aimed at training and awareness-raising for the local communities.

If you want to know more about this+ : http://www.transhumans.fr/en/solidarity-project-transhumans