Days 1 to 5
Our trip begins in Rio after the chaotic, crowded, crazy celebrations of Carnival or New Year's Eve. On the first day we drive south along the coast to the coastal village of Parati. This unspoilt and picturesque town has remained fundamentally unaltered for three centuries. Cars have been banned from its cobbled streets that run down to the seashore, instead mountain bikes are used and are a good way to get around. Another great way to explore the secluded islands of this pristine coastline is taking a sailing trip in one of the traditional schooners.
Days 6 to 13
We then journey onto the Pantanal region where we organise treks and horserides out into the vast wetlands which is home to over 600 species of birds and 350 kinds of fish, piranha being common, as well as an abundance of reptiles (such as caiman) and capyibaras, the world's largest rodent. Chance to catch and eat some piranha too! Next stop is Bonito where we can swim and snorkel in some of the clearest rivers and lakes in the world. Spectacular walks in the mountainous forests may reveal wildlife that includes monkeys, alligators & anaconda.
Days 14 to 19
We travel to the incredible Iguazu Falls which form the natural border between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Higher than Niagara and wider than Victoria Falls, they are an awe-inspiring place to spend the next three days. The lush tropical forest surrounding the falls has many walking trails leading to smaller hidden falls, ideal to refresh from the steaming heat and abounding with parrots, toucans, woodpeckers and colourful plants. Here you can also undertake a number of optional activities such as whitewater rafting, helicopter flights and mountain bike riding.
Leaving Brazil we cross into Argentina. This area, close to the border with Paraguay, was home to many Jesuit Missions built in the 16th century to convert the Guarany Indians.
Days 20 to 27
Continuing south we arrive in Buenos Aires. A few days in this smart cosmopolitan city & you could be forgiven for thinking you were back in Europe. There is plenty to do, museums, horse racing, football matches, shopping, tango dancing for the confident, restaurants that serve some of the best steak in the world, and many plazas with cafes to sit and observe Argentinean life go by.
You also have the opportunity to travel across the Rio Plata by ferry to Montevideo & Colonia de Sacramento to visit Uruguay.
Days 28 to 37
From Buenos Aires we traverse the vast Pampas grasslands, South America's cowboy country, where gun-toting gauchos on horseback look after vast herds of cattle. Following the Atlantic coast of Patagonia, we stop in Puerto Madryn which was the landing place over a century ago for the first group of Welsh settlers that subsequently colonised and now farm the surrounding area. You have the option to visit Valdez Peninsula one of the marine sanctuaries in this region where we might see Penguins, Sea Lions, Sea Elephants, Sea Birds and maybe even Whales.
We continue south towards the wild and hauntingly beautiful land at worlds end, the island of Tierra del Fuego. We cross by ferry and visit the most southerly town in the world Ushuaia, from where we can view the green waters of the Beagle Channel and the surrounding snow clad peaks.
Days 38 to 45
Heading north we return to the mainland and enter Chile. Torres del Paine National Park is an area of outstanding beauty where huge granite cliffs dominate the landscape. A good way to explore the area is either hiking or by horseback. Back over the border in Argentina we go to the stupendous El Chalten in Los Glaciares National Park has the most spectacular views of Mt. Fitzroy. You can explore this area on foot or on horseback. Near El Calafate is the largest glacier in the world and here we have the option to take a boat ride close up to Moreno Glacier almost 200ft high alternatively you can choose to get closer by trekking on one of the glaciers. For trips that depart Rio in January we are usually able to join the Camino Austral in Chile. Large parts of this road are only open in January and February. It is a breath taking spectacle as we pass tree lined fjords and penetrate deep in to a land of spiralling volcanoes and glaciers and camp next to rushing rivers and rainforest. For tours departing over the rest of the year we continue through the vast wilderness of Patagonia on Route 40, famous as the longest road in Argentina.
Days 46 to 51
Our long drive is soon rewarded as we arrive in Bariloche. This very popular holiday destination for Argentines is the top ski resort on the continent and also has several hiking trails and a great nightlife and Swiss influenced cuisine. Ascending the Andes via some spectacular mountain passes we cross the border again and arrive in Pucon, an outdoors centre in Chile's beautiful Lake District. This will be our base for the next few days from where we can organise whitewater rafting, skiing, water sports, horse riding and one day hikes up nearby Villarrica Volcano.
As our trip draws to a close we pass small villages and leave behind the deep blue lakes and towering mountains and arrive in Chile's modern capital, Santiago.