Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Travelers on a field of lupine during a birdwatching excursion in Chilean Patagonia.

Bill Livingood, Lynn Woodhouse, Sandra Quinn, and Stephen Thomas walk through a field of lupine during a birdwatching excursion in Chilean Patagonia.

My husband, two friends and I have just returned from our trip to Chilean Patagonia, and once again, we were in the expert hands of Maita and her team. This was the fourth trip for which I have worked with Maita, Santiago and her group, beginning with their arrangements for a 4-day stay in Buenos Aires before we left for Antarctica (Dec. 2016); a 2017-2018 trip that included Santiago, a luxurious stay at Vina Vik, Rapa Nui and the Atacama; and a 2019-2020 trip that included Santiago, Mendoza, Mari Mari on the beautiful Pacific coast, and Chiloe Island. Needless to say, we have great trust in their expertise and appreciation for their knowledge.

First, we appreciated their recommendation for using Cranky Concierge for all flight arrangements. CC makes all arrangements and tracks all flights, communicating with us and with Maita’s team. Maita’s group uses AXUS, which enables us to have our entire itinerary and all travel documents on our phones, which is handy.

This trip was devoted to Patagonia, and while we initially wanted to spend time in Argentina and Chile, our discussions with the team helped us narrow down to a longer stay in Chilean Patagonia with significantly less travel time between locations. We began with a 3-night stay at the Singular Patagonia, outside of Puerto Natales. What a stunning and unique small hotel in a gorgeous setting overlooking a fjord. One wall of our room was a window onto the fjord and the activity of so many birds. We loved our birdwatching excursion there. With our great guide, we spent literally the entire day hiking through forest, pampa and the wetlands, spotting 41 species of birds. When we got to the end, and were pretty spent, our guide and driver served wine, water, tea, lentil soup and cheese, sausages and crackers. That certainly refreshed us. We enjoyed an afternoon empanada class, and an interesting trek to three different caves. The Singular is definitely worth the stay.

From there, we drove to Tierra Patagonia, just outside Torres del Paine National Park. The lodge, a beautiful wooden building built right into the countryside, overlooks Lago Sarmiento, Torres del Paine, and the Paine Grande. Magnificent view from our huge window in our room!!! We seized the opportunity for multiple excursions, as well as enjoying massages in the spa, taking a swim, and braving the wind for the outdoor hot tub. This was our third stay at a Tierra property, and we enjoy their attention to blending into the incredible environment, the daily cocktails that reflect Chilean tastes, the enthusiasm of the guides, drivers and excursion staff, and the general focus on making the experience an extraordinary one. Each excursion showed us a different aspect and vista in the park and the surrounding estancias. We saw lots of wildlife, wildflowers, stunning sunsets, and on our last morning, the entire dining room was abuzz when we saw a puma saunter across the property in front of us. One of the things we really appreciated about Tierra Patagonia is that it is easy to interact with other guests as well as with staff; this makes the stay even richer. Wonderful stay!

We spent our last night in the Singular Santiago, our second stay there, and it is a lovely hotel in a great location. Our pick-up transport to the hotel and back to the airport were seamless and easy. Before our departure for the US, we had an extraordinary WOW Moment. Maita, Santiago and team had arranged a cooking class and dinner with Tatan, a chef who hosted us at his home overlooking the city and mountains. He was gracious, interesting, and charming. We began with luscious appetizers on the balcony, and moved to the kitchen where he had organized work stations and assignments for each of us as we made ceviche and pisco sours. In addition to having fun, we learned new cooking skills. Gary, our escort to the airport, had to drag us away as we enjoyed our meal and delicious cheesecake on the balcony. With Tatan and Gary, we learned more about life in Santiago and Chile. Maita, Santiago and team—what a fabulous conclusion to such a memorable trip! By the end of the evening, we had begun questioning whether this trip, our third to Chile, would be the last as we learned more about other places and things to do. I cannot recommend Maita and her team highly enough!

Marsha Friedli

Marsha Friedli and husband, Craig, in front of the Moai statue in Vina Del Mar.

Wendy Perrin and her travel experts knocked it out of the park! We, my husband and I, were finally taking a COVID-delayed cruise around Cape Horn starting in Santiago, Chile. We wanted to spend several pre-cruise days, February 16-19, in the Maipo wine region, and visit Valparaiso. Wendy put us in touch with Maita’s office, and our major contact was Eva.

Eva listened to what we wanted to see and visit and made wonderful recommendations. It was hard to choose what to visit and see. So many things to explore, so little time on this trip.

In the Maipo wine region our hotel recommendation by Eva was Casa Real Santa Rita, 2 nights. It was delightfully restful after our long flight and staying here was perfect. Our hostess at the hotel was also our guide and wine steward for the historic property. We had a wonderful afternoon wine tasting on the veranda which overlooked the gardens and pond. We also enjoyed the food and wine pairings that were offered. This is a property to return to again.

In Valparaiso we had a wonderful day enjoying the amazing graffiti that decorates the city. Thanks to Franco, our guide, we had a private showing at an art gallery and were able to see the city and its unusual architecture from 3-4 stories up. Valparaiso is a city of stairs and narrow streets and twists and turns. Fortunately our guide, Franco, knew where to go and when to avoid the crowds on the funiculars. He maximized our limited time visiting. He also had a wonderful way to impart the information so it was not a lecture but a very nice conversational style and sense of humor too!

One of my must-see items on this trip was to visit the Moai statue gifted to Chile that is located in Viña del Mar. And we did! We were also able to walk along the beautiful beach and enjoy the art and the people out and about. Franco also had lunch reservations at a lovely castle-looking restaurant that had a tasty menu of Chilean seafood dishes. As an added plus, our table overlooked the harbor. Delightful!

In Valparaiso, our hotel, Casa Higueras, was a place you wanted to stay and linger longer. Our room had a wonderful view of the harbor and Pacific Ocean. We decided to have dinner at the hotel and were very pleased when another couple we had met in Santiago at Santa Rita walked in and joined us.

This trip was made memorable with the talents of Eva and Maita’s team, along with our guide Franco, and the drivers. They made this a great way to start our cruise and gain a better understanding and appreciation for the beautiful country of Chile.

Hiking in Argentina.

Argentina. Photo: Kathye Faries

Maita’s office did a terrific job of helping plan our trip to Buenos Aires, Santiago and Patagonia. I initially worked with Maita to frame the trip and she zeroed in on exactly what would be perfect for us. She suggested outstanding lodges in Patagonia, as well as excellent restaurants all over South America. We are foodies and we were not disappointed. I worked extensively with Malena Feijoo, who is on Maita’s team, to plan every detail of the trip.

Malena listened carefully to our needs and put together wonderful itineraries for us. One of the highlights when we were in Buenos Aires was a trip to a neighboring town for a cooking demonstration and fabulous lunch with a well-known chef. It was a fantastic experience! Maita recommended a tango show in Buenos Aires which I thought might be too touristy but it was just perfect—a small, intimate dinner club and amazing, skilled dancers. When we were in Santiago we headed out to Valparaiso for a day and were wowed by the art murals all over this wonderful, funky seaside town.

We had a complicated itinerary with several flights between various cities and the need for lots of transfers to and from airports, hotels and lodges. We had total peace of mind from the first day — every guide and every transfer was on time (or early) to greet us. The tour guides in both Buenos Aires and Santiago were knowledgeable, flexible and fun. They altered the itinerary a few times en route at our request and we appreciated the flexibility. Maita’s team “followed” us via WhatApp throughout the trip to check in, make sure all was going well and to inform us of what to expect next. It was nice to have someone watching over us.

The biggest surprise was the beauty of Patagonia. We were awed by the spectacular scenery. At one of the lodges we had our own guide and 4×4 for the 5 days and we were able to tailor the exploration to our desires. During our drives and hikes in and around Torres del Paine National Park we saw pumas, condors, guanacos (like llamas) and lots of other birds. Pure air, pure water and nature’s majesty. It was perfect.

I give this trip a 12 on a scale of 10 and highly recommend Maita if you are going to South America. Without her team’s guidance and suggestions we would not have had the wonderful experience that we did.

Maita and Florencia gave us a truly memorable week in Argentina that began 4 hours after the World Cup-winning soccer team arrived home at EZE airport! I had many concerns about traveling over the Christmas holiday: the crowds, extra expense and pent-up travel demand from Covid. Despite all these obstacles, we had 4 great internal flights that Florencia booked and checked us in for all along the way, 5 terrific hotels and our guides were superlative. We saw such varied things, from the sun-kissed vineyards of Mendoza to the grand colonial architecture in Salta to the whole area around Purmamarca, a real discovery area for us. Ending at Iguassu falls was just perfect. We had to throw Maita and team some curve balls at the last minute: such as securing my husband and his 80-year-old mother last-minute back-up plane reservations and transfers from Ushuaia to meet me in BA on 12/20. They were able to help them on the run. We just loved our trip and we can’t wait to go back and discover more of remarkable Argentina! Next time: Lake district, glaciers and Patagonia! And maybe even more Purmamarca!

Travelers really should book all the internal air through Maita. The Aerolineas site does not work from the USA. Also, the private driver for crossing over to the Brazil side of Iguassu Falls is a must, the crowds were crazy there and we could not wait to get back to the relative calm of the Argentina side. Our driver Alex did a great job in tough conditions. Staying at the Melia right there is worth the extra money times 10!

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