Hello all! My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Buenos Aires and Patagonia in April. We anticipate that this will be our only opportunity to travel to the end of the world, so we want to make sure we do it right.
First, we have been working with the travel group Viaja Argentina to plan our trip. Has anyone used this company before and has any positive or negative reviews they can share? Also, is it recommended to even use a tour company at all, or more recommended to book each excursion independently? We are only in Patagonia for a limited time and want to make sure we hit all the “must-sees,” but we also don’t want to feel as though we are on a tour. From my communication with this company so far, it seems like they just pick us up and drop us off from various excursions and help us arrange our flights to and from the different regions of Patagonia, so that’s okay, but as far as our schedule when we’re NOT doing excursions, we prefer to be on our own without a tour guide telling us what time dinner is. :-) Any reviews of Viaja Argentina, as well as general reviews of whether it’s more favorable to do Patagonia through a tour company or independently, would be much appreciated!
I also wanted to post our current tentative itinerary for review. If you know anything about the tours or hotels featured, please share! Also, if it seems we are missing a Patagonia “must-see,” please let me know. To give you a little background on us, we are 21 and 25 and are in good shape but by no means Olympians. As I mentioned, we like to be active and want to maximize our time in Patagonia, but we also want to feel as though we have freedom and privacy on our vacation and do not want to feel restricted or hurried, and we like to have a nice, comfortable, private place to return to after a day of adfunture. :-)
April 13-15: Buenos Aires. We will be on our own to explore Buenos Aires for 2 ½ days. Currently looking to stay at the Soco Buenos Aires B&B.
April 16 – 17: Ushuaia. We will be in Ushuaia for 2 days and will be staying at Tierra de Leyendas. Here is the itinerary:
April 16: Arrive in Ushuaia in the a.m.; afternoon sailing the Beagle Chanel to Isla de los Lobos
April 17: In the a.m., we go to Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego via el Tren Fin del Mundo. IS THE TRAIN WORTH IT? We’ve heard mixed reviews, some saying it’s better to just go on our own to the National Park and skip the train. In the p.m., we go to the Pinguinera penguin colony via PiraTour.
April 18 – 20: El Calafate. We are deciding between staying al Solares del Sur cabins or at Miyazato Inn. Any reviews favoring one over the other? Here’s the itinerary:
April 18: Arrive in El Calafate around 1:00 p.m.; we have the rest of the day free. Any suggestions for things to do?
April 19: All-day boat tour viewing all of the glaciers. For those who have done this, is the ride smooth or rocky? My boyfriend doesn't do well with too much rocking back and forth on the water.
April 20: Perito Moreno glacier and mini-trekking excursion; fly to Bariloche in the evening
April 20 – 23: Bariloche. We are deciding between staying at Villa Sofia Resort & Spa or at Lirolay Suites – any recommendations for one over the other? Also, we are currently doing all activities in Bariloche through Viaja Argentina, who will provide us transportation for the activities mentioned in the itinerary below. Would you guys recommend that, or do you think it’s better to rent a car and explore Bariloche on our own? Are the places mentioned in the itinerary below relatively easy to get to in car? What we DON’T want to do is do the rent-a-car option and then miss out on things we would have seen with the tour company because we got lost or something like that, but we also like the idea of freely exploring it on our own without a tour guide. Thoughts? Here’s the itinerary:
April 20: Arrive in Bariloche at night
April 21: Circuito Chico in the a.m., Isla Victoria and Bosque de Arrayanes in the p.m. with a little sailing (The itinerary says “navegacion” – I assume that means there’s some sort of lake there we’ll sail around for a little bit? Please correct me if I’m wrong).
April 22: All-day excursion to the 7 lakes
April 23: Free day – please share any suggestions of things to do. :-) Flight back to Buenos Aires around 5:00 p.m.
Thank you so very much in advance for your help with our many questions! Again, if you have ANY EXPERIENCE or have heard of any experiences, good or bad, through ViajaArgentina tour company, please share! Patagonia is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us, as it is for most people, and we want to make sure we make it the best it can possibly be. :-) Thanks again.