South America is an intoxicating fusion of culture, surprising landscapes, history and tradition set to every backdrop you can imagine: buzzing cities, diverse coastline, arid deserts, ancient Incan ruins and imposing mountain peaks. To tread on South American soil is to spark a journey that will leave you forever hooked. South America is also the gateway to the final frontier that is Antarctica. A heartbreakingly beautiful and wild destination where the wildlife and landscape reign supreme, it is often seen as the ultimate; the seventh continent we dream of or stash for a milestone event.
South America and Antarctica might be overlooked in favour of the usual haunts of Asia, the US and Europe, yet it is just a hop from Australia compared to the endless journey to London. With a direct flight time of under thirteen hours from Sydney or Melbourne to Santiago, this is the starting point for your South American and Antarctic adventures. The following destinations can be taken individually or linked together for longer itineraries, combining both South America and Antarctica.
Heat it up in Chile
Stretching over 4000km north to south but only 350km at its widest point east to west, Chile is a slither of South America offering a spectrum of experiences. Start your trip in the cosmopolitan capital city of Santiago de Chile where the streets are alive with a flurry of European influences plus a spectacular view of the Andes to boot, before heading out to the nearby wine regions for a taste of some of the world’s finest wines. North of Santiago lies the Atacama Desert. Nightfall in the desert is when the stars come out to play; as the sky becomes a glittering black canvas it is clear why this place has the reputation of being one of the world’s best stargazing destinations. The finale of any trip to Chile is the overwhelming Torres del Paine National Park where a day of hiking, biking or horse riding in beautifully fresh mountain conditions is tempered by the cosy and ambient accommodation options nearby.
Machu Picchu, lodge to lodge. The road less travelled
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is up there with the most coveted experiences. Camping along the famous Inca Trail is a popular option but we’ll let you in on a little secret: lodge to lodge trekking via the Lares region is a lesser known route where it may just be your group and the alpacas for hours. Despite the remote location, a day of hiking is rewarded with luxury at a community run mountain lodge. Balcony views stretch out over the Sacred Valley, the cuisine highlights regional flavours and when sleep beckons, a cosy hot water bottle and soothing herbal pillow will be waiting. Luxury aside, the feeling of immersion into rural Peruvian life remains long after the walking boots have been hung up.
Enjoy Argentina en route to Antarctica
Most Antarctic cruises depart from the world’s most southerly city of Ushuaia in Argentina, reached via Buenos Aires. Touching down in BA is an experience you won’t forget; passion, history and energy bounce off the streets and its European touches are evident in the food, architecture and people. Travelling south reveals the world of azure lakes, dense forest and snow-dusted mountains that is Bariloche. From here, make the journey to El Calafate which lies on the edge of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Perito Merino glacier is one of the few in the world which is still advancing; it is not unusual to witness huge swathes of ice calve and crumble into the water below.
The magical Antarctic Peninsula
Say goodbye to life as you know it. The ethereal quality of existence in Antarctica will find you looking back and wondering if the mountains really were that big, if the wildlife could possibly be that peaceful and if serenity like it will ever touch you again. Two days at sea with not a glimpse of land make arrival at the Peninsula all the sweeter. Once there, time is spent cruising amid glittering ice fields where seals lounge atop icebergs as if they were feather cushions and setting foot on shores where penguins will shuffle past on their regular route to the sea or higher ground.
No two Chimu itineraries will ever be the same so take advantage of Chimu’s expert knowledge and allow their talented team to assemble a unique South American and Antarctic experience for you.
Chimu Adventures are the Polar and South America experts. Their Destination Specialists have lived or travelled South America’s contours extensively; they know the mechanics and will work with you to create a bespoke itinerary from start to finish. Whether your preference is cruising or trekking, a touch of luxury or just somewhere comfortable to rest your head, Chimu make it happen. Most of the Chimu team have also travelled to Antarctica on our small ship cruises (under 200 passengers). They have soaked up the power of this destination first hand and can talk you through the expedition itineraries and ship options according to interests and budget. Sustainability and authenticity are Chimu’s mantra, resulting in a better experience for you and the places you visit.
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