We are considering Argentina or Chile in November/December 2009. Any suggestions for tour operators (not a "tour group" but someone to help coordinate.) Also, we know NOTHING about the area so would like opinions as to what to see in about 12 days. We have considered the Patagonia region, wine region, and / or the lake region. Any ideas?Any neat accommodations? (we prefer smaller/boutique type properties.) Oh yes, there is not an unlimited budget...we need to be money conscientious! Thanks for any assistance. We are just beginning this project.
My recommendation is Chilean Patagonia, as I've never tried the lake region. Here's some ideas if you end up near Torres de Paine-
1. Punta Arenas. Not the most charming city by any means, but we stayed at the Jose Noguiera Hotel, which I thought was lovely (avoid the restaurant unless you have unlimited time in the evening!) It's in a great location, from which you can walk to lots of restaurants. I recommend La Luna, where the owners plied us with free after dinner drinks and had an amazing chupa de centollas (king crab stew or casserole), by far the best meal we had in Chile. The penguins are a must see here.
2. Torres de Paine. I stayed at Explora and had one of the best vacations ever. The excursions can be a bit strenuous depending on which you choose. I found that if the description says, 350 m. up, they mean straight up! Also it's expensive, but I thought worth it. Food is great there. There are other lodges in the park (Lago Grey?) that may be more reasonable.
Hi N. Thanks for the info. Any info on weather, etc? We will be going in November and our question is how to pack! Did you do anything special? Which month were you there? How were prices/exchange rate? Thanks!
We went in mid-late October and the weather was all over the place. The most notable thing was the wind, which was incredibly strong. You definitely need a warm jacket and layers. I liked having my gloves for cold mornings. It gets warm (70s F) during the day but early AM and in the evening it is chilly, especially with the wind (you'll want some nice warm sweaters). We did lots of hiking so I had a couple of pairs of long weather proof pants (I used my ski pants and they worked fine). We had snow once (pretty briefly) but I think that was a fluke.
The exchange rate was not so great, but this was almost two years ago now and who knows, it might have gotten better. Chile was a little more expensive than Argentina, I thought.
Almost forgot...traveling in either of these countries is MUCH easier by air. LAN was a terrific airline-the newest planes I've ever been on. If you speak Spanish, book through their spanish speaking website, it seems to be cheaper usually.
Hi N. Your comments are so helpful. I did book through AA but they have me on LanChile for three of our flights. We will be getting around mainly by air. Thanks for the weather info. The lodge had sent info as to what to wear/bring but your comments really helped! I am so excited to be visiting in November. Any special things to look for for gifts etc?