A Postcard from South America - Pasquale's travel story

There are not many holidays where you get to scale mountains, sip on endless glasses of wine, explore iconic cities, ride under a waterfall in a subtropical rainforest, relax on a beach and see a Wonder of the World, but that’s exactly what this tour offers and then some.

With an opportunity too good to miss, my friend, Ryan, didn’t take much convincing to join me on this trip. Usually it’s a long (and often painful) task to pick and plan a holiday, but this one lasted all of 10 minutes. Both of us had wanted to visit South America for some time but had never been on a guided holiday before, so it was a step into the unknown, but a step we can both now say we are thankful we took.

From the moment we arrived at the airport and were welcomed by our smiling Holiday Director, Simona, everything was easy and taken care of. So off we went on our South American adventure. 

Our first stop was Chile’s vibrant capital of Santiago. Here we took a guided city tour which started with a cable car ride up San Cristóbal Hill. The hill is one of the highest points in the city and provided incredible views across Santiago and the surrounding Andes Mountains, we also got to try our first bit of South American cuisine – a Chilean empanada.

We then headed into the city to explore on foot. We started in Plaza De Armas, where our guide, Cecilia, took time to explain the importance of the city’s main square and then introduced us to other influential sites, including La Moneda Palace (the presidential palace).

The next day we opted to join the optional excursion to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. We drove through scenic mountain ranges and farmland until we arrived at the colourful port city of Valparaíso. We rode on the Ascensor Reina Victoria funicular, which opened in 1902 and climbed up at a slightly alarming gradient of 57º.  In Viña del Mar we stopped for a superb 5-course lunch, overlooking the beach. The menu included Chilean ceviche, steak and a chocolate mousse topped with cream and berries, exactly what we needed after a morning of exploring. After lunch we had a quick dip in the sea, before heading off to Casas del Bosque vineyard for a tour and wine tasting.

The famous saying “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey” has never felt more true than on the drive from Santiago to Mendoza through the Andes. It was an early start but so worth it! We saw the sun rise over the mountains, weaved through dramatic valleys, and travelled past snow covered peaks. At this point, Cecilia mentioned that some Chileans will take this drive across the border just to do their shopping as items are cheaper in Argentina – I’d do the drive every week just for the views!

Sitting at the foot of the Andes surrounded by vineyards, Mendoza is the heart of Argentina’s wine region. The city itself had more of a town feel with wide tree-lined streets and beautiful plazas dotted across the city. During our time here we of course visited a few vineyards. I wasn’t much of a wine drinker before, but that all changed in Mendoza. The famous Malbec was like drinking velvet, while the Cabernet Sauvignon left flavours of blackcurrant, black cherry and blackberry on the tongue.

I was looking forward to Buenos Aires and it certainly did not disappoint. On our first day we explored the Recoletta cemetery and the famous tomb of Eva Perón, which during our time in Buenos Aires became evident how important she was to the city and Argentina. We then drove past the iconic Obelisk of Buenos Aires to Plaza de Mayo, and it was then onto the colourful district of La Boca. The area was buzzing with people, the restaurants, cafés and bars spilled out onto the streets, kids were playing football on every street corner and shops were full of souvenirs and endless Boca Juniors football shirts.

On our free days in Buenos Aires, Ryan, and myself went back to La Boca, explored the trendy Palermo Soho area and visited a few beautiful steakhouses in Puerto Madero (which was just a few minutes’ walk from our hotel).

The next leg of our journey took us to the rainforest. The hotel in Puerto Iguazú overlooked the Three Frontier Landmark, a site that marks the meeting point of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay and it was the perfect spot to relax after over a week of exploring. Some people in the group went to the hotel’s spa, whereas we made the most of the hotel’s outdoor hot tub and swimming pool.

The next day we headed to Iguazú Falls. It’s the largest waterfall system in the world but nothing could have quite prepared me for how incredible it is. The sheer size of the waterfalls and volume of water is unbelievable – my photos and videos just don’t do it justice. One of my highlights of the whole trip was what followed the tour. We travelled through the jungle down to the river and hopped into a boat for an unforgettable trip under the falls, where even the best waterproof jacket on the market wouldn’t keep you dry.

It was time to leave Argentina behind and visit the third and final country of the trip (and the one I was most looking forward to), Brazil. The iconic city of Rio de Janeiro was all that I’d hoped it to be and more. We travelled by cog railway up Corcovado Mountain to see the imposing Christ the Redeemer statue. It was bigger and so much more impressive in person than it looks in photos. We then visited another iconic Rio landmark, Sugarloaf Mountain. The views across Rio and of Christ the Redeemer from here were simply jaw-dropping.

On the final night the whole group went to a Brazilian Churrascaria. An all you can eat Brazilian barbecue restaurant where the waiters walk round to everyone’s table with all different types of meat. Steak, followed by lamb, chicken, fish, wild boar, ostrich, pork and steak again, all washed down with beautiful wine. I don’t think I’ve ever ate so much in my life, but it was the perfect way to spend our final night.

To round off the holiday, on our last day we took advantage of our hotel’s excellent location on Copacabana beach and relaxed on the golden sands, swam in the sea and sipped on Caiprinha’s. 

This was truly a trip of a lifetime, made even more special by our amazing Holiday Director, Simona, she made sure everything ran smoothly and looked after every single one of us from start to finish.

The tour itself was a wow moment after wow moment, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better we were treated to another highlight. Jaw-dropping, unbelievable, dazzling, extraordinary, spectacular, I simply don’t know enough superlatives to describe our time in Chile, Argentina and Brazil.

More photos from my tour

We can take you there...

  1. Chile, Argentina & Brazil

    A chance to explore breathtaking sights in three fascinating South American countries.

    • Return flights
    • 11 nights in 4 and 5-star hotels, 2 nights in flight
    • 11 meals: 10 breakfasts, 1 dinner

    14 days from
    was £3,999