Summary

Destinations: South America
  • 13 Days From
    R 59300
  • Trip code: AAE
  • Activity: Culture, Natural Wonders, Cultural Wonders
  • Min age: 16
  • Group size: 5 - 16
Leisurely / Moderate

Visit four distinct regions to see deserts, glaciers, volcanoes and lakes

Chile’s narrow coastal strip stretches for 4300km and is dominated by the towering peaks of the Andes. Covering over half the length of South America, Chile has an unparalleled range of environments; from the world’s driest desert, the hostile Atacama, with its geysers and salt flats, to the fertile valleys and vineyards of central Chile. To the south lies the Lake District with dramatic, snow-capped volcanoes, deep blue lakes and gushing waterfalls. Further still, we reach Patagonia, a land of ice fields, mountains, glaciers and immense solitude; the ‘uttermost part of the earth’.

Key information
  • 12 nights hotels, all en suite.
  • Travel by internal flights, bus/minibus and boat
  • Some long distances covered
  • Easter Island extension available
Activities
  • 12 nights hotels, all en suite.
  • Travel by internal flights, bus/minibus and boat
  • Some long distances covered
  • Easter Island extension available

Highlights

* Visit the unique and colourful Pacific Coast city of Valparaiso * Excursions to Atacama salt flats, altiplano lagoons, El Tatio geysers * Sunset over the Valley of the Moon in the Atacama Desert * City tours in cosmopolitan Santiago, German influenced Puerto Varas, and the fish market of Puerto Montt * See the Petrohue Falls, enjoy a boat cruise on Lago Lago Todos los Santos, and walk at Osorno Volcano * Patagonia and the famous granite towers of Torres del Paine National Park * Internal flights included, reducing driving distances so that we can visit four distinct regions of Chile

Dates & Pricing

 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
04 Feb 2019
16 Feb 2019
Guaranteed (Fully Booked)
R 62400
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
11 Feb 2019
23 Feb 2019
Guaranteed (Fully Booked)
R 62400
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
25 Feb 2019
09 Mar 2019
Guaranteed (Fully Booked)
R 60200
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
04 Mar 2019
16 Mar 2019
Guaranteed (Fully Booked)
R 59300
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
21 Oct 2019
02 Nov 2019
Guaranteed (Available)
R 63900
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
04 Nov 2019
16 Nov 2019
Guaranteed (Limited Availability)
R 63900
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
18 Nov 2019
30 Nov 2019
Guaranteed (Available)
R 63000
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
02 Dec 2019
14 Dec 2019
Available
R 63000
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
16 Dec 2019
28 Dec 2019
Available
R 64700
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
13 Jan 2020
25 Jan 2020
Available
R 65900
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
20 Jan 2020
01 Feb 2020
Available
R 65900
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
03 Feb 2020
15 Feb 2020
Available
R 65900
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
10 Feb 2020
22 Feb 2020
Available
R 65900
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
17 Feb 2020
29 Feb 2020
Available
R 64800
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
24 Feb 2020
07 Mar 2020
Available
R 64800
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
02 Mar 2020
14 Mar 2020
Available
R 63000
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
16 Mar 2020
28 Mar 2020
Available
R 63000
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
19 Oct 2020
31 Oct 2020
Available
R 64300
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
02 Nov 2020
14 Nov 2020
Available
R 64300
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
16 Nov 2020
28 Nov 2020
Available
R 64300
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
30 Nov 2020
12 Dec 2020
Available
R 64300
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
14 Dec 2020
26 Dec 2020
Available
R 65600
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
21 Jan 2019
02 Feb 2019
Guaranteed (Limited Availability)
R 62400

Full Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1 Land Only

Start Santiago; city tour.

Clients on the group flight will usually arrive in the morning. A walking tour of the city tour is organised today (approx. 4 hours), visiting the squares and streets of the colonial centre and the Presidential Palace. We also visit San Cristobal Hill, on which a statue of the Virgin Mary stands. The summit of Cerro San Cristobal offers a birds-eye view of Santiago, the Andean Mountains and the Maipo-Valley. Without a doubt the best viewpoint in the city! If there is time we will also see the wealthy suburbs of the ‘Barrio Alto’, an area of elegant shops and first class restaurants. Please note that due to the arrival times of the group flights, the city tour will usually start around 2pm or 2:30pm.  Land Only clients wishing to join the city tour would be advised to be at the hotel around 2pm in order to be collected. *Hotel Providencia or similar*

Day 2

Full Day excursion to the enigmatic port city of Valparaiso.

The historic World Heritage city of Valparaíso, or Valpo for short, is Chile’s oldest port and home to the country’s National Congress since democracy was re-established in 1989. The Pacific coast is just a short 1.5 hour drive from Santiago and today’s excursion will give us an interesting insight into Chilean culture. The city’s many hills are covered in a glorious sprawl of multi-coloured houses covering every nook and cranny, creating a spectacular panorama which can be enjoyed from a number of vantage points. Strolling through the streets of Valparaíso is a fascinating experience which enables us to soak up the quirky and bohemian atmosphere, something different to anywhere else in Chile. We’ll visit the UNESCO recognised historic city centre, in addition to the parliamentary building, and the War of the Pacific memorial. Due to the steep terrain in some parts of the city, it is home to numerous funicular lifts which transport residents straight up and down the hillsides rather than them having to zigzag through the maze of buildings. Many of these lifts have fallen into disrepair and sit suspended in time and hidden amid the labyrinth. However, there is a drive to restore as many as possible and we’ll be able to use one of the most iconic functioning lifts on our way to a viewpoint. In the afternoon we will return to our hotel in Santiago. *Hotel Providencia or similar*

Day 3

Fly to Calama; to San Pedro de Atacama.

In the morning we fly to Calama near the Atacama Desert where we transfer to our hotel in the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Once we have checked in. the leader will offer a short orientation tour of the town for anyone who wants to join. At dusk we set out to the Valley of the Moon. This bizarre lunar landscape is set ablaze with colour at sunset, the strange rock formations framed by the Lincancabur Volcano. We’ll stay until the sun goes down to enjoy the array of colours before returning to San Pedro. *Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar*

Day 4

Visit Salar de Atacama & Altiplano lagoons.

Departing our hotel in San Pedro, we will set off towards the Altiplano Lagoons (Lagunas Altiplanicas) and stop en route at the village of Socaire, set at 3218m/10,558ft. The village is noteworthy for its peculiar architecture using rough stonework and the inhabitants here still live by the age-old methods of planting terraced fields with corn, wheat and potatoes. Afterwards, we continue for about another 30km/19miles, climbing an additional 1000m/3,281ft in altitude to reach the highland lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques. The two volcanoes of the same name are visible in the background (almost 6000m/19,686ft high). The twin lagoons are a deep blue, each framed by a white salt crust, which creates a memorable contrast to the yellow highland grass all around. It is completely silent here. Even the duck species that breed here, the foxes, and the grazing vicuñas (a type of camelid), respect the majestic silence. Continue to visit the Salar de Atacama. A salt lake of huge proportions (3000 sq km/1,158 sq miles), its surface is covered by a thick layer of snow-white salt crystals as far as the eye can see, caused by the evaporation of the lake’s water. The world’s largest lithium deposits are found here, but the salt pan is also home to several flamingo species, including the Andean, Chilean and James flamingo, who feed on the micro-organisms found in the saline lagoons. These beautiful birds and other species can be observed in their natural habitat at the Salar de Atacama’s Chaxa Lagoon, which is part of the Reserva Nacional de los Flamencos. After the excursion we will return to San Pedro. *Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar*

Day 5

Excursion to El Tatio geysers; optional night-time astronomy tour.

To experience the El Tatio Geysers we’ll have to get up very early in order to arrive at the geyser field (located over 4300m/14,108ft above sea level) in time for sunrise! The fountains that shoot up to 10m/33ft high occur when the morning sun melts the nightly ice caps that form over the hot springs. The sun’s first rays reflect an array of colours as they mix with boiling jets coming from the geysers to create strong contrasts of steam and light. At around midday we’ll head back to San Pedro for some free time. There is an optional astronomy tour tonight that can be paid for locally but should be booked in advance of departure as availability is limited (Please note that this tour doesn’t operate on full moon days). *Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar*

Day 6

Fly to Puerto Montt; to Puerto Varas on the shore of Lago Llanquihue.

Today we transfer to Calama airport and fly to Santiago and then Puerto Montt, the capital of the Lake District. This is a long travelling day that will likely require an early start depending on the flight schedules. On arrival in the Lake District region we drive for 30 minutes to Puerto Varas on the shores of Lago Llanquihue. Depending on flight arrival time, we can enjoy a brief tour of the ‘City of the Roses’ as it has come to be called because of the tremendous variety of roses all over town. If we arrive on a later flight unfortunately this will not be possible.  If scheduled to arrive on a later flight, we also recommend buying some food at the airport as you may not have any options on arrival at your hotel.  *Hotel Park Inn by Radisson or similar*

Day 7

Lago Todos Los Santos boat trip; walk near Osorno Volcano.

We set out this morning for a full day inside the Lake District. We drive along the shore of Lago Llanquihue and enjoy breathtaking views of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. Our first real stop will be at the Saltos de Petrohue where cooling lava from the Osorno Volcano formed a series of rapids and waterfalls. Together they form an impressive sculpture of extruded volcanic rock shaped by thousands of years of river flow. At Petrohue we board a boat for a short cruise of Lago Todos los Santos (All Saints Lake). The lake is surrounded by high mountains and the lower slopes are thickly forested. As we pull away from the landing and the source of the river Petrohue the view is quickly stolen away by the tremendous size and proximity of snow-capped Osorno Volcano behind us. After our boat tour, we return to Petrohue and take a hike in the lower lava fields of the volcano. We also visit the Green Lagoon (Laguna Verde) before we return towards Puerto Varas in the afternoon. Please note that the order of the itinerary today may change depending on the weather conditions. *Hotel Park Inn by Radisson or similar*

Day 8

Fly to Punta Arenas; transfer to Puerto Natales.

After breakfast we transfer to the capital of the Lake District, Puerto Montt, and take a sightseeing tour of the city. Puerto Montt was founded in 1853 by German colonists on the site of an indigenous Mapuche community. Downtown we take time to walk about the main squares and historical monuments. Afterwards we visit the port, where there is a large handicraft market full of artisan goods. Please note that depending on the flight times, this tour might be moved to the previous day instead. We then transfer to the airport to board a flight to Punta Arenas, Patagonia – the southernmost city in Chile. From here we transfer to Puerto Natales where we spend the night. *Hostal Francis Drake or similar*

Day 9

Full day excursion to see some of the highlights of Torres del Paine N.P.

This morning we drive into Torres del Paine National Park for a day of excursions within a spectacular environment. This is a busy day of travelling and walking including unforgettable views of the Towers and the Torres Massif from the ‘Cuernos’ viewpoint and ‘Salto Grande’ waterfall. In addition to being introduced to the flora and fauna of the region, today we will also visit ‘Laguna Azul’ for more breath-taking views. *Hotel del Paine or similar*

Day 10

Walking at Lago Grey; free time in Torres del Paine N.P.

Another day in Torres del Paine National Park, this time to explore the Western highlights including Lake Grey. This deep lake, fed by the glacier of the same name, is filled with icebergs which have splashed down from the massive ice flow. From the hotel, we’ll drive to a spot to the south of the lake, then start a short hike by crossing a suspension bridge over the Pingo River. From here the path leads through a Legna forest typical to the area, and continues onward to the tip of the narrow peninsula at the lake’s southern end. This viewpoint offers a spectacular view of the lake with its icebergs, the tongue of Grey Glacier at the far northern end, and the snow-covered mountain peaks soaring above. On the way back a stop is made at the Park Visitors Centre to see an exposition of the origin and history of the park. This afternoon is free to relax at the hotel or enjoy some optional excursions in the area. *Hotel del Paine or similar*

Day 11

Optional zodiac excursion to Balmaceda Glacier; to Puerto Natales.

For those that would like to, there is the possibility (optional) of returning to Puerto Natales by zodiac. This excursion involves boarding zodiacs to travel down Rio Serrano. The river ends at the Fjord Ultima Esperanza where we must change to a boat to approach the spectacular Balmaceda Glacier flowing out from the eastern side of Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. For anyone not wanting to take the optional river route, the leader will accompany you on visits to other areas of Torres del Paine including a visit to Milodon Cave (entrance fee not included and payee locally approx. US$ 8 per person). Everyone will meet up in the evening at the end of the tour in Puerto Natales and transfer together to the hotel, arriving around 5.30pm. *Hostal Francis Drake or similar*

Day 12

To Punta Arenas; fly to Santiago.

Transfer through the barren Pampa of Patagonia, an impressive road trip as we journey to Punta Arenas airport. We fly back to Santiago (flight times can vary) and enjoy our final evening in Chile. *Hotel Providencia or similar*

Day 13

End Santiago.

There is a transfer back to the airport for those on group flights. Those on land only arrangements will leave us in Santiago this morning. **

Included

* All breakfasts * Internal flights * All accommodation * Tour leader throughout * Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

Food

All breakfasts are included.

All areas offer good quality local and international meals. Beef is very popular in Chile, especially steak, and the majority of dishes tend to be quite meaty. In Patagonia, lamb takes over as the most popular meat. There is also delicious, freshly-caught fish and seafood in the areas closer to the coast. Service can be slow in restaurants so do not expect European standards.

Vegetarian food is available in many of the restaurants but options may be limited, especially in Patagonia. Please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests.  

Trip Notes

Download the detailed trip notes for everything you could possibly want to know about this trip, including detailed itinerary and full kit list.

Map

Reviews

January 7, 2019

Excellent trip

Rating 5
Q&A
  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
  • Traveling through the different landscapes and climate zones

  • What did you think of your group leader?
  • Alex Aguilera is a very good group leader.

  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
  • It's the excellent opportunity to see different parts of Chile in a single ntrip but any future traveler should be ready to spend a lot of time commuting nfrom one place to another. Itu2019s absolutely worth it but should be noted.

  • Is there anything else you would like to add?
  • To start the tour one day earlier (one more day) and spend an extra day in nthe Lake region

Exhilarating

u2018Discover Chileu2019 was a fantastic holiday and certainly in my top three ntours over the last 20+years. The main reason it was fantastic was that we nhad brilliant weather throughout and considering this holiday was to nprincipally look at the natural landscapes within the country this was nessential. Although it was a certainty that we would have clear weather in nthe desert which was confirmed, the bonus of views of the snow capped Mt nOsorno and others in the Lake District, and also the fantastic Torres del nPaine against cloudless backdrops was the icing on the cake.

Rating 5
Q&A
  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
  • There were many highlights on the tour but these are my top three:nn3.tMt Osorno in the Lake Districtn2.tAntiplano Lakes and Mountain Scenery in the Atacaman1.tTorres del Paine Mountain Scenery in PatagoniannI could never get sick of the view of Torres del Paine from outside my room nin Patagonia.

  • What did you think of your group leader?
  • Ignacio was both competent and very pleasant.

  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
  • Be prepared to spend a considerable time on planes (5 off internal flights) nand the associated waiting time in airports, also early get ups (2 before n5am) and a late finish (11pm). Flight schedules can change at short notice nbut none of ours were seriously affected.

  • Is there anything else you would like to add?
  • Overall the hotels were average with the one in San Pedro (Don Raul) being nvery disappointing (my room (42) looked nothing like the images on nTripadvisor) but the hotel in Patagonia was exceptional in the views that it nhad.nnChile is a long distance from the UK and the tour could have benefited from nan extra two days, one more possibly in the Lake District and one to explore nthe Magellan Strait near Punta Arenas.nnAlthough our tour was not in the absolute high season nowhere we visited was never considered to be crowded, I suppose the busiest area (excepting nSantiago) was San Pedro.nnIt was disappointing to be in the Atacama during the full moon, therefore our nstargazing tour (provided via Exodus) was not available.

Amazing!

I overused the word amazing on this trip which far exceeded my expectations nbecause of the spectacular nature of the country.nIt really is an excellent way to see so many totally different parts of the ncountry in a short space of time.nThe variation in climate from the Atacama Desert down through the Lake nDistrict and to Patagonia was huge and, hence, the spectacular scenery and nwildlife. Go for it!

Rating 5
Q&A
  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
  • So hard to pick but I think it has to be Patagonia. I highly recommend nexiting via the optional zodiac trip!nIn reality, the inspiration to visit Chile on this trip comes from the ndiversity that you experience. I have a myriad of colourful images and nexperiences in my head that will last with me for a very long time.

  • What did you think of your group leader?
  • Ignacio was friendly with everyone and imparted a wealth of knowledge about nhis beloved Chile. He knew people all around the country which helped and he nhelped individuals in the group with any issues such as money, health, eating netc.

  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
  • Pack with layers. You need sun protection everywhere....I used long sleeved nshirts and light trousers, sunhat and trainers in the desert. But, also, it nwas minus 10 at the start of the geyser day so you start with fleece hat, nwarm jacket, etc.nPatagonia was actually warmer than I expected and you don't need full on nEnglish winter walking gear but still go with the layers. I managed it all nin about 16kg but it's worth planning what you take. Waterproof trousers add nan extra layer of warmth and wind proofing but can be removed later in the nday.nWe took anti mossie spray but didn't need it much...so, have some but it's nnot a great problem at this time of year. Take paracetamol.....helps to ward noff altitude sickness in the desert....but, mainly, follow the advice of the nguide to breathe deeply and go slow! Only 1 of our party was affected and it ndidn't last long.

  • Is there anything else you would like to add?
  • GO!nnIf in doubt....and you are looking for a trip that shows you Chile in a short nspace of time, this is the one!nnAlso, I was so pleased with the variety and numbers of local wildlife and nflora that we saw which I hadn't picked up from the trip notes. Brilliant!