Owen Berg wrote:
My husband and I just returned from the Oct 2, 2011 Essence tour. We arranged a private tour to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar the first day which was really worthwhile...a stop at a winery, tour of Neruda's harbor home, a great lunch with a coastal view. Due to Tauck office, or perhaps just a misunderstanding, thought there would be a Santiago city tour the first day. Actually it was a trip to the Plaza de Armas and little else, no museums, etc. Other guests had taken a Santiago city tour on their free day and were very glad they did. We also went, via the metro (very clean and easily mastered) to the Pueblito Los Dominicos...one nice jewelry shop and the rest were eh!
After joining the tour we were strongly discouraged from using any of the other cities metro systems. Rio ended up being everyone's favorite city. Being in early spring, we were soundly soaked throughout the trip and esp. at both sides of the fantastic Iguazo Falls...it appeared most of the folks who had purchased those plastic ponchos at the hotel came through pretty well except for their feet...we had goretex lined shoes and were comfortable (and dry).
Zip-lining was interesting for a few hardy souls...my husband agreed with the guide...the hardest part was climbing up the high steps to get to the first of several levels.
Re: Carry-ons. Tauck allowed us to tag our carry-on's the night before and they were transported as regular luggage. I had one of those Tote fold-up bags and used just for the flights. All scanning was terrific! Just looking for metal...not liquids. Don't forget however, the day you return to the USA and go thru screening, you will be screening again for liquids and metals.
This is a VERY casual tour...no jewelry necessary...cheap travel watches...no jackets or skirts required, and in fact, save your jewelry $$$ for Rio!
Hope this info helps...