Argentina: Hikes in the Andes, Wine Tours in Mendoza, Patagonia Lakes plus Buenos Aires

November 7-22, 2015

Trip Highlights

Hike in the Andes with views of the nearby glacier-capped Mount Aconcagua, at 22,841 feet, the tallest mountain outside the Himalayas.

Explore, hike & kayak in the Patagonian Lake District, with its lush forests, emerald lakes, blue skies, extinct volcanoes, & majestic snow-capped mountains.

Tour Argentina’s scenic wine country to visit vineyards, boutique wineries, & enjoy wine tastings & gourmet lunches.

Explore Buenos Aires, a passionate Latin city with grand boulevards, historic plazas, spacious parks, the world’s best steak houses, sidewalk cafes, & a tango culture.

Visit Colonia, a historic Portuguese port town with cobble-stone streets & magnificent architecture, in nearby Uruguay.

Experience the vibrant & inviting gay culture of Argentina.

Trip Overview

This exciting adventure takes us to Argentina to explore pristine national parks along the crest of the Andes, the Mendoza wine region, the Patagonia Lake District, Buenos Aires, the cosmopolitan and gay friendly capitol of the country, and Colonia, a historic port town in nearby Uruguay. The tour begins and ends in Buenos Aires. After our overnight in Buenos Aires, we fly 650 miles west to Mendoza; a Spanish colonial city built in 1561 and located on the pampas grassland at an elevation of 2,500 feet just east of the massive peaks of the Andes, the highest mountains in the world outside of the Himalayas. To the west and visible from Mendoza, the awesome glacier-capped 22,841 foot tall Aconcagua forms the border with Chile. Mountaineers from all over the world challenge Aconcagua every year and skiers enjoy the world-class ski resorts in the nearby mountains. This picturesque semi-arid Mendoza region has a pleasant climate with 9 inches of rainfall annually and over 300 days of sunshine per year. Mendoza has tree-lined canals, large parks, interesting plazas and abundant outdoor cafes, a population of about one million and a relaxed welcoming atmosphere. The Mendoza area, one of the great wine regions of the world, has over 1,500 wineries. Argentina is the seventh leading wine producer in the world and 80% of Argentina’s wine is produced in the Mendoza region. Water from glaciers in the Andes is used to irrigate thousands of acres of vineyards initially planted by the Italian, Spanish and French immigrants in the 1500’s on the fertile pampas grasslands east of the Andes. Today, the Mendoza region is a top destination for wine tourism and is renowned for the high quality of its Malbec wines. We spend two enjoyable and relaxing days touring vineyards and boutique wineries to sample some of the best wines in Argentina and enjoy gourmet lunches at the wineries with a selection of their best wines.

While in the Mendoza area we also venture out for day-hikes on the sunny slopes of the nearby Andes. We hike on the lower slopes of Mount Aconcagua and have incredible views of this massive peak which rises 14,000 feet above our path. When we hike to Mount Vallecitos, we will be surrounded by mountains with huge glaciers and peaks towering to over 19,000 feet.

Next we fly to Bariloche, a year-round tourist destination in the Lake District about a thousand miles southwest of Buenos Aires. The Lake District has a stunning pristine landscape with picture-perfect glacial lakes surrounded by luxuriant forests, the jagged peaks of the Andes and extinct volcanoes. Bariloche is located on the south shore of Lago Nahuel Hupai, a huge glacial lake in the middle of Parque Nacional Nahuel Hupai, Argentina’s oldest national park and the most visited. Bariloche, which is located at an elevation of about 2,600 feet, has a four season climate with dry summers, cold winters and a rainfall of about 30 inches. The nearby Andes are a hiker’s and trekker’s paradise, and in winter numerous world-class ski resorts attract tourists from all over the world. Bariloche was founded in 1902 by Swiss, Germans and Italians, and today has a population of about 100,000. These immigrants gave the town an alpine atmosphere with Swiss-style chalets, fondue restaurants and chocolates. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, America’s most notorious bank robbers, lived near Bariloche from 1901-1905 and legend has it that they were killed by the Bolivian army when they ventured north to rob local banks. However, many people in the area claim to be descendants of these outlaws whom they say melted into society.

While in Bariloche we sail across Lago Nahuel Hupai to visit Victoria Island in Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes. The Parque was established to protect the rare arrayan trees which can live over 600 years and grow to 100 feet in height. While on the Island we explore the ancient arrayan forest, hike its many trails, observe the varied flora and fauna, and visit isolated beaches. If we are lucky we may spot the Pudu pudu, the smallest deer in the world. On another day we will hike to Tristeza Peak, a granite outcrop, for impressive views of the blue lakes below. After lunch, we will kayak on the serenely beautiful and tranquil Moreno Lake. On our final day in Bariloche, we hike to the foot of Mount Tronador, an extinct volcano at 11,722 feet in height, to see its rivers, waterfalls and glaciers.

The last four days of our tour is spent in Buenos Aires, an elegant cosmopolitan city with broad tree-lined avenues, grand boulevards, spacious plazas, beautiful parks, European-style architecture, and referred to as the Paris of South America. This city, which was founded by immigrants from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, is cultured, seductive, sophisticated, yet earthy. The people of Argentina are as passionate about good food and drink as they are about life, music and the tango. Buenos Aires’ cuisine rivals that of European cities and its beef restaurants are the best in the world. Buenos Aires, the gay capitol of South America, has an active gay culture with an abundance of clubs, bars and restaurants, and is Latin America’s preeminent gay travel destination.

We venture out with our gay cultural guide to explore the city and its interesting barrios. We visit the Plaza de Mayo, the political and historic center of the city; Recoleta, the city’s most exclusive neighborhood; La Boca, a lively Italian neighborhood with cobblestone streets and famous for the brightly colored wooden corrugated iron houses; San Telmo, a Bohemian artist neighborhood; Retiro, with its magnificent San Martin Plaza; and Colonia del Sacramento, a historic port town in Uruguay with colorful Portuguese architecture and a UNESCO world heritage site. With our gay cultural guide we will venture out to explore the gay culture and its many venues.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1. Saturday November 7. Depart USA

Day 2. Sunday November 8.  Arrive Buenos Aires
Arrive early in the morning on your international flight to Ezeiza International airport in Buenos Aires, clear customs and be transferred to the InterSur Hotel in Recoleta, the most exclusive area of the city for an overnight stay. The hotel is located in an entertainment area close to many interesting tourist attractions. Hotel amenities include a restaurant, bar/lounge, full-service spa, fitness center, rooftop terrace, free WiFi and plasma TVs in the rooms. After check-in you will have the remainder of the day to relax or explore on your own before our welcome dinner at Cabona Las Lilas, one of the best steak houses in Buenos Aires. It is located on the Puerto Madero riverfront, a scenic area with an active nightlife. (D)

Day 3. Monday November 9. Buenos Aires to Mendoza – City Tour
After breakfast, we will be transferred to the domestic airport for our morning flight to Mendoza. Upon arrival we will be escorted to the Hotel Argentino located in the heart of the city on the Plaza Independencia, a beautiful area with outdoor cafes and live street music and theater. Hotel amenities include a pool, restaurant, cable TV, and free Wi-Fi. After checking into our hotel we have lunch at an outdoor café on the Plaza.

After lunch with our local guide, we visit the picturesque plazas and parks in this beautiful city with its tree-lined streets and canals. At the four main plazas we learn about the history of the city. The highlight is Parque San Martin, considered the most beautiful public park in all Latin America. It was designed by Carlos Thays in 1896. The 960 acres of this park contain valuable sculptures and monuments, an artificial lake, several pedestrian paths, over 5,000 roses, a university campus and several health clubs. We walk through the park to enjoy the perfectly manicured trees and bushes that are the pride of the city. (B,L,D)

Day 4. Tuesday November 10.  Wine Tasting & Gourmet Lunch Tour
This classic Argentina wine tour takes us 28 miles south of Mendoza to the Lujan Valley, a landscape of vineyards, snow-capped mountains on the western horizon, magnificent blue skies, and some of the best wines in the world. We’ll taste the offerings of three wineries in the Agrelo sub-appellation where Malbec reigns supreme. We will visit the Bodega Caterna Zapata, Finca Decero, and the Benegas Wineries.

Bodega Caterna Zapata is the family winery of Nicolas Catena, widely recognized for showing the international wine community the potential of the Mendoza terroir. At the Finca Decero Winery, we’ll enjoy a gourmet lunch with regional wines. Once a bare patch of dirt in the Andean foothills, this winery now boasts one-of-a-kind growing and harvesting methods, where vines are nurtured by hand and sustainable winemaking standards are uncompromising. A combination of French and Argentine viticultural traditions characterizes the distinctive wines of the second-generation, family-owned, Benegas Winery. Annual production is only 30,000 cases. In the afternoon after the tour we return to our comfortable hotel and have the evening to explore the town. (B,L)

Day 5. Wednesday November 11.   Mount Vallecitos Hike
In our van we travel west toward the beckoning snow-capped peaks with our local hiking guide. The first Andean mountain range we will come to is called the Pre Mountain Range, and the snowy peaks further to the west are part of the Cordillera Frontal. We drive through the Potrerillos Valley, which lies between these two ranges, and pass Potrerillos Lake and then head into Cordillera Frontal and proceed to the Vallecitos Ski Resort, the starting point of our hike.

Our hike begins in a gorge surrounded by massive mountains. On our left, we will see the 16,400 foot tall Mount Franke and on our right the 14,400 foot tall San Bernardo Mountain. The trail follows a stream to a fertile tract of land with fresh-water springs. We continue the hike and when the majestic 18,044 foot tall Mount Vallecitos comes into view, we stop and have a grand vista for lunch. After lunch, we hike for an hour to a glacial valley with earthen and rock moraines. On this hike we may see herds of guanacos and condors. After the hike we return to Mendoza and the comforts of our hotel. The 6 hour (round-trip) hike starts at an elevation of 9,100 feet and extends uphill to 11,500 feet, an elevation gain of 2,400 feet. (B,L,D)

Day 6. Thursday, November 12.  Boutique Wineries Tour
Today we return to the pastoral and scenic Lujan Valley, a landscape of vineyards with views of the snow-capped peaks of the Andes to the west, and visit boutique wineries. We will sample handcrafted, premium wines of four up-and-coming boutique wineries that produce vintages in small lots. We will visit the Achaval-Ferrer, Caelum, Piattelli Vineyards and Carlos Pulenta Wineries.

Achaval-Ferrer, founded in 1998 by two Argentine friends, is dedicated to limited production, single vineyard Malbecs. In its short history, it has become known for some of the most highly-rated Malbecs in Argentina, including its Finca Altamira and Quimera from the Uco Valley. After ten years of growing grapes for others, the Caelum Winery began as a family project in 2009 with a small production of 40,000 cases that has now expanded to 90,000. The picturesque winery is surrounded by pistachio trees.

We’ll enjoy a gourmet lunch accompanied by regional wines at the Tuscan-style Piattelli Vineyards. With guidance from one of Mendoza’s most recognized winemakers, this eight-year old winery in the Agrelo sub-appellation produces high quality, organic wines at affordable prices.

Carlos Pulenta Winery is surrounded by 130 acres of 40-year-old vineyards. A young winery established by fifth-generation vintners, it combines modern technology with years of experimentation in high altitude vineyards and is known for its top rate Malbec blends. At the end of the day’s Argentina wine tours, we return to our hotel for a free evening. (B,L)

Day 7. Friday November 13.  Mount Aconcagua Hike
Today we drive west towards the Chilean border. The awesome scenery of this area, colorful mountains and dramatic rock formations, is the site where the movie Seven Years in Tibet was filmed. The road snakes along the Mendoza River through the Uspallata Valley. After driving past small mountain settlements, we stop to see the Puente del Inca, a natural rock formation painted and shaped due to the sulphur in the water. From there, we drive another 10 minutes to get to Parque Provincial Aconcagua. Our hike begins at the park ranger’s hut. Our trail leads north towards the majestic 22,841 foot tall south face of Aconcagua. We follow the magnetic view, pass Laguna de Horcones, pass a ravine known as “Quebrada del Durazno”, and continue to Confluencia, a base camp on the trekking route to the top of Aconcagua. This 7 hour hike (round-trip) starts at an elevation of 8,900 feet and extends to 11,500 feet for an elevation gain of 2,600 feet. (B,L,D)

Day 8. Saturday November 14. Mendoza to Bariloche
In the morning we will be transferred to the airport for our flight to Bariloche, which connects through Buenos Aires. We arrive late in the afternoon at this scenic resort town in northern Patagonia, perfectly situated on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi. We will be transferred to the View Hotel, a small, quiet, comfortable and romantic hotel located near downtown and with great views of the lake. The hotel has a bar/lounge, café, cable TV and free WiFi. Tonight we have dinner at the Hotel Lloa Lloa, a famous luxury resort in the foothills of the Andes overlooking the crystal blue lake water of Moreno and Nahuel Huapi Lakes. (B,D)

Day 9. Sunday November 15.  Sail to Victoria Island & Hike in Ancient Arrayanes Forest
From the small pier at Tunquelen, we’ll set sail and navigate the waters of the Nahuel Huapi Lake for about 30 minutes until we reach the Northern end of Victoria Island, a linear-shaped island in the lake. Our comfortable boat will dock at Puerto Anchorena, from where we will have the chance to explore the island. Once on the island, we’ll follow one of its many trails to panoramic lookout points, observe the varied flora and fauna, and visit isolated beaches and shorelines. We’ll explore the ancient arrayán forest, a myrtle variety with its distinctive cinnamon-colored bark and white flowers. We will also look for the Pudu pudu, the smallest deer in the world.

We resume the navigation and get close to the Millaqueo Mount, the entrance of Brazo Blest and Tristeza, areas of stunning beauty. We circumnavigate the San Pedro Peninsula to the Mirador de Bustillo (Bustillo Lookout Point). From this point we’ll have a panoramic view of the city of Bariloche and if we are lucky enough to have a clear day, we’ll have views to the 11,722 foot tall Mount Tronador, a landmark in the area. (B,L)

Day 10. Monday November 16.  Hike & Kayak
After breakfast we head to Lopez Bay and hike to the Tristeza’s granite lookout for lunch and impressive views of the Lakes Region. Next, we travel to Moreno Lake and receive a kayak safety briefing. The rest of the afternoon we will spend paddling this beautiful lake with our guide before returning to our hotel. (B,L)

Day 11. Tuesday November 17. Mount Tronador Hike
Today we hike to Mount Tronador, an extinct volcano, which is the highest (11,722 feet) peak in northern Patagonia. Its name refers to the frequent rumbles caused by ice falling from the face of the glaciers that cling to the mountain’s three peaks.

We leave Bariloche, head south and drive along the entire length of the Gutiérrez and Mascardi Lakes. Further on, the road reaches the West Arm of Mascardi Lake and we follow a winding road to Hosteria Pampa Linda and then drive towards the Saltillo de las Nalcas, a small waterfall. Upon arrival we hike across a hanging bridge to a small lenga (Nothofagus pumilio) and canes (Chusquea culeou) forest to a lookout point at the waterfall. The waterfall is surrounded by the impressive “nalca” plant (Chilean rhubarb) that has leaves that grow to over three feet in width. We return to Pampa Linda for lunch and in the afternoon we visit one of Mount Tronador´s glaciers, the Manso Glacier commonly known as Ventisquero Negro, black glacier. From our lookout point at the foot of Mount Tronador, we have amazing views of three imposing peaks including the 11,660 foot tall Mount Argentino, the 11,660 foot tall Mount Internacional and the 11,188 foot tall Mount Chileno that define the natural border between Argentina and Chile.

On the way back, we detour to visit the Cascada Los Alerces and the Los Alerces Waterfall of the Manso River, which originates on the summit of Mount Tronador and flows to the Atlantic Ocean. We return to Bariloche late in the day. (B,L,D)

Day 12. Wednesday November 18.  Bariloche to Bueno Aires
We have the morning to relax before we catch an early afternoon flight to Buenos Aires and arrive late in the afternoon. We will be met at the airport and transferred to the InterSur Hotel in Recoleta. Tonight we go to a gay restaurant, the INSIDE, with Marcello, our gay cultural guide. (B,D)

Day 13. Thursday November 19.  Buenos Aires – City Tour
Today Marcelo, our cultural guide, escorts us on a tour of Bueno Aires. Our tour begins at the Plaza de Mayo, the political and historic center of the city with palm trees, fountains and the City’s most impressive buildings. We will see the Casa Rosada (from its balconies Eva Peron addressed the adoring masses), the Metropolitan Cathedral, City Hall, and the Mother of May Square. We will stroll along the Avenida 9ta de Julio and the Avenida de Mayo, impressive broad tree-lined avenues, to see the Obelisk, Opera House/Theatro Colon. After lunch we visit Recoleta, the city’s most exclusive neighborhood with its distinctly European and French architecture, tree-lined avenues, fashionable restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and art galleries, tour the Recoleta Cemetery with its enormous expansive mausoleums competing for grandeur, and visit Eva Peron’s tomb, and then we stroll down the elegant Alvear Avenue. We end the tour with a short visit to the Museum of Contemporary Latin American Arts. In the evening we enjoy dinner and a tango performance at the Esquina Carlos Gardel. (B,L,D)

Day 14. Friday November 20.  Tour to Colonia, Uruguay
Our guide will meet us at our hotel and escort us to the ferry boat terminal to catch the one hour ferry across the Rio Uruguay to Colonia del Sacramento, in nearby Uruguay. Colonia, a historic Portuguese port town and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, has a population of 27,000 today. It was built in 1680 and has colorful architecture, winding cobblestone streets, art and craft shops, museums, and excellent restaurants. We will walk to the historic town center, the oldest part of the city, to see its historic architecture. In the afternoon after lunch, we return to the ferry terminal for the ride back to Buenos Aires where we will be transferred to our hotel. Tonight, after dinner, Marcello our gay guide will escort us out to explore some of the gay venues. (B,L,D)

Day 15. Saturday November 21.  Buenos Aires- AM Tour & Afternoon Free
We have a morning tour of Buenos Aires and the afternoon free to explore the city on our own. We start with short visits to La Boca, an exuberant Italian neighborhood with cobblestone streets and famous for the brightly colored wooden corrugated iron houses, and then we visit San Telmo, the Bohemian barrio of the city. We end the tour with a visit to Retiro to see the beautiful Plaza San Martin. The afternoon and the early evening are free until we depart for the airport to catch our night-time flight home. We have a day room at our hotel for use until we are transferred to the international airport for our flight home. (B)

Day 16. Sunday November 22.  Arrive USA in Early Morning

Trip Costs

LAND COST: Per person based on double room occupancy.
• 4-7 Participants – $5,500
• 8-10 Participants – $5,100
• Single Supplement – $990

LAND COST INCLUDES: All lodging, land transportation, airport-hotel transfers, American tour director, local Argentine professional English-speaking tour guides, those meals noted in the itinerary,  boat tours, kayak rentals, and entrance fees to national parks, museums and archaeological sites.

AIR FARE COSTS (within Argentina): Buenos Aires/Mendoza; Mendoza/Buenos Aires/Bariloche and Bariloche/Buenos Aires – $1,130 (subject to change)

TRIP COSTS DO NOT INCLUDE: International air fare, lunches and dinners not noted in the itinerary, travel insurance, airport taxes, Argentina reciprocity fee ($160), and personal expenses including drinks and alcoholic beverages, laundry, and tips for guides.

LAND & AIR FARE (within Argentina) COST: Per person based on double room occupancy.
• 4-7 Participants – $6,630
• 8-10 Participants – $6,230
• Single Supplement – $990

This trip is rated as moderate to strenuous in terms of difficulty. We hike on four days for 4-8 hours on well-maintained trails and reach a maximum elevation of 11,500 feet for a vertical gain of 2,600 feet. There is no camping as all lodging is hotel based.

If you would like additional information or have questions, please email us at or call us locally at 303-449-0990 or toll-free at 1-877-440-0990.  Our office hours are 8-12 AM and 1-5 PM (Mountain Time) Monday through Friday.

You may also download our trip application form, and mail it in to us.


Mount Aconcagua South Wall

Bariloche – Lake Nahuel Huapi

Mendoza Wine Country

Buenos Aires

Plaza Independencia Mendoza

Mendoza Vineyard

Mount Aconcagua

Mount Aconcagua



Lake Nahuel Huapi

Lake Moreno Bariloche

Bariloche Lake Nahuel Huapi

Mount Tronador

Lake Nahuel Huapi


Bariloche Lake Nahuel Huapi

Los Arrayanes National Park

Kayak on Moreno Lake


La Casa Rosada

Buenos Aires

Obelisco, Buenos Aires

Recoleta Cemetery

Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires

Building of Congress, Buenos Aires

Tango Couple

La Boca

La Boca



Marcelo Alejandro, our cultural guide in Buenos Aires