3 weeks in Argentina, Chile & Brazil



In January, 2006, we went on an organized tour of South America. For us that's  "unusual" because we never take organized tours. We did it this time because it was our first visit to South America and because we knew that a comprehensive trip like the one we wanted to do  involved extensive logistics, so we decided on an organized tour. This trip involved 7 flights within South America and all in all was a great success. The group was great, the guide was a wonder, and it served our purpose as an introduction to Latin America. Next trip, we'll plan on our own, although the scope won't be so wide.

We went with an Israeli company called Pegasus, and below is a map of southern South America which shows everywhere we were except for the cities of Brazil.

Roll your cursor over the map below and follow our itinerary in Patagonia.

For another detailed and colorful map of Patagonia, click here.

Below is a summary of our itinerary.


Buenos Aires - 2 nights

BA is a beautiful city with a European atmosphere. 2 days in BA wasn't nearly enough

Flight (#1) to Bariloche in Argentinian Patagonia Bariloche is in the northern part of Argentinian Patagonia on the southern coast of the Nahuel Huapi Lake.  It's famous for chocolate and skiing. Here we took a ski-lift to the top of Mt. Campanario for a view of the surrounding lakes district.
Combined boat and bus rides through the lake region into Chile Beautiful ride through breathtaking lakes. Visited Peurto Vares and stayed overnight in Peurto Montt on the Pacific Ocean. 
Flight (#2) south to Peurto Arenas Visit the town and the Magellan Penguin Reserve
Drive to Puerto Natales and visit the nature reserve of "Torre del Paine" More breathtaking scenery with the spectacular granite towers of Paine.
Drive to El Calafate, Argentina El Calafate is a rapidly developing tourist town which is the gateway to the glacier park. We visited several glaciers, with the most spectacular being Perito Merino
Fly (#3) to BA for a quick overnighter. In the morning fly (#4) to Iguazo. Here we visited the absolutely incredible falls on the Iguazo river. We stayed 2 nights on the Brazilian side, but visited the falls both from the Brazilian and Argentinian sides.
Flight to Recife,  visit Recife, and a 4 hour drive to Natal. Most of the group agreed that the visit to Recife was unnecessary and that it would have been better to fly directly to Natal. Natal is on the eastern most coast of Brazil and has become a top tourist attraction.
Flight (#5) to Salvador, the third biggest city in Brazil. 3 nights in Salvador Salvador was the main entry point for slaves from Africa and became a fusion of African and Brazilian cultures. A most interesting city!
Flight (#6) to Rio, 3 nights in Rio What can I say about Rio? One of the most beautiful (and hottest) cities in the world.

Below are some pictures and stories from this great trip.



Here are Naomi and Alisa in front of the supreme court building in Buenos Aires enjoying the wonderful weather we had almost the entire trip.


To the left is a picture of Boca, the colorful fishing port area of Buenos Aires. It's full of colorful souvenir shops, restaurants and a craft fair which you can't see in this picture.

To the right is a beautiful sculpture called Floralis Generica which is located in the United nations plaza in Buenos Aires. It's a flower which responds to the sun just as a real flower does, more light, it opens, less light, it closes. It was designed by architect Eduardo Catalano.

After Buenos Aires, we flew to San Carlos de Bariloche. Here's a picture of Alisa enjoying the view from the top of  of Mount Campanario. Here's Alisa to the left enjoying this fantastic view of the surrounding countryside which is part of the Nahuel Huapi National Park.

From Bariloche, we took a series of boat and bus rides in order to cross the lakes region which spans Argentina and Chile. To the right is a picture of our fearless guide Gideon giving an explanation of the geography using a map on the bulkhead of the boat.

On the Chilian side of the border we visited the Petrohue Falls, which are located within the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. I couldn't find a picture that does justice to this incredible array of rapids and cascades, so here's a picture of Alisa and me with an unnamed volcano in the background.

From Port Montt, we took a flight to Porto Arenas. Porto Arenas is in the far south of Chilian Patagonia. To the right is Alisa picking out a colorful handmade hat at a spot overlooking the city. Behind Alisa is the Indian merchant whose Mother hand knitted much of his wares. From here, we visited the penguin reserve on Magdalena Island  home of Chile's largest colony of Magallenic penguins.

Farther north we visited one of the most beautiful parks in the world, the Torres del Paine National Park. This is the a view of the what the name of the park means - the towers of Paine. You can see the three granite towers in the center of the picture to the right.

There is so much beautiful scenery in the Torres del Paine Park. There is also the famous Patagonian weather. To the right is a picture of  members of the group fighting the ferocious wind on the approach trail to an impressive waterfall called Salto Grande.


After leaving Torres del Paine, we drove back into Argentina and arrived at the town of El Calafate. El Calafate is right out of the American wild west and is a very unusual town Situated in the middle of nowhere and undergoing a building boom due to the hordes of tourists. At present there are about 8,000 residents, and about 20,000 tourists during the high season. Its popularity is due to its being the gateway to Argentina's Glacier Park. To the left is a view of the town and Lake Argentina from the hotel we stayed in - "La Cantera. The town has lots of nice hotels and great restaurants.  More about the restaurants later.

To the right is a picture of Alisa with Gideon and the "chef" of a local restaurant we visited on the vast windswept plains of Patagonia. In Alisa's hand is a mug of "mateh", the local mind altering tea drink. Alisa was the only one of us brave enough to try it. Her mind wasn't altered.

From Calafate, we visited the Glacier Park, where we spent two days, one on a boat visiting Upsala Glacier, the largest glacier in South America, and a few others whose names I don't recall, and the Perito Merino Glacier which is approached via trails and where we spent a couple of hours watching it break apart. Below to the left is a picture of the group with this glacier in the background.  Below to the right is a picture of Alisa eating a 5 star meal at a restaurant in Calafate called Piscasio.


From Calafate we flew back to Buenos Aires, where we only spent the night and continued in the morning to Iguazu, the largest (albeit not highest) waterfall in the the world. I have no words to describe the grandeur, and the beauty of the Iguazu falls.

It's truly spectacular - 4.5 kilometers of falls. Pictures cannot capture its full beauty. You'll have to visit yourself to appreciate it.    Above is just a small sample.

We also visited a local Indian tribe living in a small reservation. This visit was very educational. We were given a guided tour by one of the tribe guides. Here he is on the left.  The tribe is very poor and they make money by providing guided tours to tourists.

Here's a picture that Alisa demanded I post. It's a herd of sheep in Patagonia. Sheep are about the only domesticated animal that can flourish in Patagonia, and here is a herd of thousands...

From Iguazu, we flew to Recife in Brazil for a short visit and from there drove to Natal one of the eastern most points on the continent of South America. Natal has become a very popular vacation resort. In Natal we had a fun day riding on dune buggies on the sand dunes on islands nearby. To the left is an "oasis" we stopped at for a cool drink (capperinia).

One of the biggest crops of Brazil is the cashew. This tree grows wild and all kinds of products are made out of its fruit. We visited the biggest cashew tree in the world (covering 3 acres) . To the right is a picture of the cashew fruit. The nut is protruding from the top. Both the fruit and the nut  are utilized.

After Natal, we flew to Salvador, one of the biggest cities in Brazil. Salvador was one of the main entry points for slaves from Africa, and because of this, Salvadorean culture became a fusion of Brazilian and African cultures. One of the highlights of our visit to Salvador was the performance we attended dedicated to the local culture, shown on the left.

We loved the fruit juices in Brazil. It's the tropics and there are so many fruits we have never heard of and never tasted. Below is a picture of a fruit market in Natal with some of those delicious fruits. In Rio we went from juice bar to juice bar and tasted them all. My favorite was mangabe, and Alisa's favorite was maracujia.

Below is a picture of a the place every visitor to Rio goes to - Mount Corcovado. This is where this incredible statue of Jesus is located. It's 30 meters high and is one of the best known landmarks in Rio. It can be seen from everywhere in the area. The views of Rio from here are incredible. The picture at the top of the page was taken from here by Udi.

Below is a great picture of what we did on the last day of this trip. We took a boat to the tropical islands located about 2 hours from Rio. That's Hanan with Alisa and me on the prow of the boat. It was a fun day and a great way to finish the trip. We had a Samba trio with us and we danced all the way to the islands.







Restaurants and general observations.

In Calafate, we ate at 2 nice restaurants:

Piscasio where we ate a really nice 5 star meal. Very nice. Sorry, no website.

Casamiro, where we returned a second time with 20 members of the group. It was a fun place with a varied menu. It has a web site but it's only in Spanish.

In Salvador we ate at a wonderful Italian restaurant called "Alfredo di Roma". Very elegant, very upscale, and it was a 2 minute walk from our hotel. The website is only in Portuguese but gets the message across.

In Natal, we ate at Camaroes, which means shrimps in Portuguese. Specializes in exactly that - shrimps. The food was delicious and the portions were huge. the waiter kindly warned us upfront that the portions were big enough for 2. There are two of this restaurant in Natal. I couldn't get past the first page of the website.

Rio is loaded with buffet style restaurants, but we found a delightful little restaurant with great service and wonderful food. It was located just a few blocks from our hotel and several of the group enjoyed it enough to go back. The name of the restaurant is "Manoel & Juaquim", and is located at Rua Siqueira 12-B in Copacabana.

Fogos Dos Pampas is a buffet and all the meat you can eat restaurant where we ate in Sao Paolo. This style of restaurant is very popular in Brazil. The buffet was huge, the food was delicious, and they brought giant skewers of grilled meat to the tables. I counted 12 different types of grilled meat which were all delicious. No website.

We stayed at quite a few hotels but none are worth mentioning except for the Altiplanico in Peurto Natales in Chilian Patagonia.  I believe that this hotel was designed by a mad architect and I couldn't describe it if I tried. It is mostly underground and is covered by sod to make it environmentally friendly. The rooms were very elegantly appointed, although the facilities were not very practical. Go check the web page to see some good pictures.

What are the prices like in South America?  Of the three countries we visited, Argentina was the cheapest, Brazil was a bit more expensive, and Chile was the most expensive, although it still  cheap by American standards. It's particularly cheap in Argentina where they artificially pegged the Peso to the Dollar during the country's financial crisis of several years ago. Since then the Peso has devalued to 3 to the dollar, but the prices haven't caught up.  Also be careful regarding the symbol for the Peso. It's very similar to the Dollar, but it's not the same.  All the prices in Argentina were quoted and posted in pesos.

 Below are some useful links if you are planning a trip to South America

Southwind Tours Excellent description of Patagonia
Maps of Patagonia Also descriptions and tours
Exploring Chile A good general info site on Chile
Georgetreks George Wang's excellent travel site
Patagonia travel tips  
Galen R. Frysinger's site Excellent collection of pictures
Review of touring in BA  
Places to visit in BA  
patagonia net 2 sites on touring Bariloche
gochile A site full of information on Chile
interesting facts about Iguazu  
National Geographic articles on Chilian Patagonia  
Chili 2000/2001 A travelogue with loads of pictures




This is a page from our site "Travels with Steve & Alisa".  It describes one of the many trips we have made together.  We've built these pages not just to describe our trips, but to help other travelers if we can.  Please use the information we've provided freely, and let us know if you have any questions we might be able to answer about your own planned trip, or just let us know if we have helped you. Or perhaps you have some information we could add to the site. Visit our home page using the link to the right.                 

Enjoy your next trip!!                         ~Steve & Alisa~

LAST UPDATE: October 28, 2009