DURATION
17 DAYS

DIFFICULTY LEVEL:
EASY

Highlights of Chile

If you are looking to get the most out of every day you have to spend in Chile, we recommend our longest circuit as it will allow you to fully experience the incredible diversity our country has to offer. Because of its geographical extension, which crosses more latitudes than meridians, the geography and climate vary greatly from the north to the south of Chile, so what you experience in Atacama will be totally different to that of Patagonia. With the 17-day circuit you will be able to explore a bit of everything, starting by visiting the three main cities of the country’s central region: Santiago (our capital), Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. You will continue traveling south to enter the forests of Chilean Patagonia and visit the amazing glaciers and volcanoes of both Torres del Paine and Vicente Pérez Rosales National Parks. You will fly north towards the Atacama region to find yourself in one of the most arid deserts in the world. You will visit the desolate lunar landscape of the Valley of the Moon and you will bathe in the warm waters of the Tatio Geysers and discover the lost towns of the highland plateau. And after having passed through every stage of the continental landscape, you will also be able to discover the beauty of two of the most classic islands in Chile: Chiloé and the famous Easter Island. Chiloé is a mythological island where you will find an important vestige of traditional Chilean culture and gastronomy as well as architectural constructions that have been declared world heritage sites. And speaking of world heritage sites, what about Easter Island?! Few travelers know that its real name is “Isla Rapa Nui”, the name that also is given to the language spoken by the natives. You will arrive at Rapa Nui Island to come face to face with the giants that shelter the slopes of their volcanoes: the huge stone heads called “Moai” that watch over the island. After this 17 day tour, you will know almost everything there is to know about Chile, save coming to live here!

Highlights

  • Torres del Paine National Park
  • Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers Navigation
  • Excursion to Chiloé Island, Castro & Dalcahue
  • Petrohué and Peulla boat trip
  • Highland Lagoons
  • Atacama Salt Flats
  • Valley of the Moon
  • Tatio Geysers
  • Easter Island
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Itinerary

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Itinerary

The first stop on your 17 day adventure is the Andean metropolis of Santiago de Chile. Named after the biblical figure St. James, Santiago is situated in the country’s central valley and is surrounded by the awe-inspiring snow-capped peaks of the Andes. Upon your arrival, we will be waiting for you in the airport to transfer you to your chosen hotel. After settling into your hotel, in the evening you will meet your experienced guide and begin your tour of the city. Our guide will accompany you as you explore the immensity of Santiago, uncovering the stories of its diverse geography and impressive Neoclassical architecture in the old centre of town which dates back to colonial times. You will visit the city’s main square, Plaza de Armas, filled with charming fountains, palm trees and bordered by imposing buildings including the Cathedral, the post office and the Santiago municipal building, which your guide will tell you more about. Once you are familiar with the main square, you will continue your tour to the Government Palace and some of Santiago’s older neighbourhoods such as the Plaza Concha y Toro. Then, prepare to jump forward in time, as the tour will bring us towards the east from where you can see explore the modern part of the city and its contemporary architecture, such as the skyscrapers that contrast with the mountains behind. Then our guide will bring you back towards the hotel at the end of the tour. When night falls, we suggest that you visit one of the typical restaurants in the bohemian Bella Vista neighbourhood and enjoy a some of the delicious local Chilean cuisine on offer.
After breakfast you will begin your full day tour to our “Garden City”, Viña del Mar, where the architecture, the streets, the palaces and the “Quinta Vergara”, a huge circular amphitheatre set in the middle of a park, are sure to captivate you. Viña del Mar was founded as a fishing village but when the Spanish came, they divided the town into two big haciendas, and the city is full of greenery, which stands in contrast to the white beaches which border the sea. During the tour, you will see one of the famous stone carved heads, the Moais, from Easter Island, before making your way to the rugged Chilean coast road where the waves crash alongside the highway, that brings you to the picturesque city of Valparaíso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, whose origins date back to 1536. Valparaíso is certainly a magical city, with colourful neighbourhoods and lanes that lead up its famous hills, and which can be descended by the quaint mechanical funicular elevators dotted around the city. While Santiago is the municipal capital, Valparaíso is often thought to be the cultural capital, and you will see many murals and paintings on the walls of the city. You will end the day with a visit to Sotomayor Plaza and the port, where you can choose to sail along the coast (not included), and from where the beautiful views back towards the city and its hills can be best appreciated.
After breakfast we will collect you at the hotel to take you to Santiago airport where you will take your flight to Punta Arenas. On arrival, one of our guides will bring you to the bus terminal for your transfer to the quaint city of Puerto Natales, the jumping off point for your adventure into the Andean wonderland of Torres del Paine National Park (247 km, 3 hour drive). On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel and you will have the rest of the day free to explore the city and it’s beautiful coastline, which borders an incredible Patagonian lake. Puerto Natales is the perfect place from which to prepare yourself to tackle the mountains in the coming days! We recommend drinking some local craft beer, and warming yourself up with some local cuisine in one of the restaurants or cafes dotted throughout the town.
This full day tour to one of the most stunning areas in the country, perhaps even the world starts early, straight after breakfast, so make sure you eat heartily! As the sun comes up, you will drive through the imposing Patagonian steppe towards the park, with fields and mountains in the distance. Firstly you will visit the Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument north of Puerto Natales, where you will find out about the origins of some of the region’s oldest animals, including giant sloths and a mylodon, and animal which has been extinct for nearly 12,000 years. Then you will head for the village of Cerro Castillo to take a short break where can avail of the snackbar, cafeteria and souvenir shop. You will continue on to Torres Del Paine National Park, designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1978, where the beautiful panoramic views of the Paine mountain range will welcome you as well as awe you. You will experience some of the most spectacular attractions the park has to offer, such as the amazing and enchanting Sarmiento, Nordenskjold and Pehoé lakes, and you can also appreciate the park’s rich fauna and see animals including guanacos, foxes and the native Andean condor. A short walk will guide you to the Salto Grande, a powerful waterfall which belongs to the hydrographic network of the park, where you will see and hear the natural spectacle of the water crashing over the edge and into the pool below. Then, getting back on the main trail you can go into the administrative headquarters of the CONAF (National Forestry Corporation) and continue to Lake Gray by walking through an ancient petrified forest. A short 30 minute walk will bring you to a beach that borders a lake where you will see collections of icebergs that have fallen from the glacier bobbing around in the water, and then you will know you are in Patagonia! You will have time to have lunch on the beach or at the Pehué Lodge, depending on the weather. Then we will begin the return journey back to Puerto Natales where you will stay at the hotel you have chosen.
Today, after breakfast, we will bring you to the pier where you will board a boat to start your maritime excursion to the Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers. Glaciers are possibly the most incredible thing about Patagonia, and if you have never seen one before, prepare to witness one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles. The boat trip lasts 4 hours, over which time you will sail through the Última Esperanza Sound – an incredible, expansive body of water owes its name to the “last hope” of finding the Strait of Magellan in 1557 by an expedition that been searching for it from as far away as the Pacific Ocean – until you arrive at the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, one of the largest protected areas in Chile and named after General Bernardo O’Higgins, Chile’s first ever head of state. Along the way you will see nature in all its vibrant glory by passing colonies of sea lions and cormorants, as well as various buildings belonging to the Bories company, one of the largest meat processing industries in Patagonia and a focal point of the local economy, as well as a large variety of flora. Nature’s spectacle truly is breathtaking, and you will see even more of its beauty as we continue sailing to Mount Balmaceda, which is crowned by the great glacier that bears its name and which, unfortunately, today is in a state of decline, a great sadness to all of us that love Chile and have the utmost respect for nature. The Balmaceda glacier can be seen from the deck of the ship, but to visit the Serrano glacier we will take a 20-minute walk along a path that borders the small glacial lake, created by the melting ice that is run-off of the glacier. The tour includes a tasty lunch at the lovely Estancia Perales. In the afternoon you will begin the return to the city of Puerto Natales and you will stay in the hotel you have chosen.
At the arranged time, we will collect you to bring you to the bus terminal where you will take a regular service to the city of Punta Arenas. Upon arrival you will be transferred to the airport to take your flight to Puerto Montt, where one of our representatives will be waiting for you to take you to the hotel you have chosen in Puerto Varas.
Your time in Puerto Varas will begin with a visit to the mythical Chiloé Island, just south of Puerto Montt in the Pacific Ocean. The island is located in the Chilean Lake Region, and is actually an archipelago, the largest of which is technically called the Greater Island of Chiloé, but is informally named Chiloé Island. After breakfast we will leave the hotel and head towards Puerto Montt, where we will take the route that will bring us to the small town of Pargua. Here you will board a ferry to cross the Chacao Channel which separates the mainland from the island. Nature refuses to be kept away, and you will see that a great number of seabirds will come to meet the boat and the playful toninas (little dolphins) will escort you as you cross the channel, following the same route as the ferry, throughout the 30 minute duration of the trip. Once you have reached Chacao, the settlement that will receive you when you land on Chiloé, you will visit the town’s picturesque Iglesia Plaza from where you will head towards Dalcahue, whose coastline boasts a traditional food market where you can try local dishes while looking at the incredible view out over the magnificent Pacific Ocean. There you will visit the artisan market and walk to the church of Our Lady of Sorrows (Iglesia Nuestra Señora De Los Dolores), a typical chilota construction that forms part of the Humanities Heritage. Much remains of the influence of the Spanish missionaries who came to Chile many years ago, and quaint churches can be appreciated all over the country, many still in great states of conservation. You will continue on to visit the city of Castro, the capital of Chiloé Island, where we will stop to take some photos of the amazing Manuel Montt Palafito houses, houses built on stilts that sit above the waterline and one wonders how they haven’t yet fallen into the water! You will also visit the San Francisco church in front of the main city square and its artisanal market, the biggest one on the entire island, as well as the Gamboa viewpoint, where you can take a picture-perfect image of the world-renowned palafito houses on their spindly legs. In the afternoon, you will begin your journey back across the channel to the city of Puerto Varas where you will stay in the hotel you have chosen. Your guide will tell you when and where lunch will be served (optional), and you can reserve in advance or simply continue exploring and have lunch wherever you prefer.
Today you will start your excursion from the idyllic city of Puerto Varas, “the City of Roses”, with its Germanic traditions and architecture set against the Patagonian backdrop, to Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. You will take the scenic route along the picturesque Lake Llanquihue, which is framed by a beautiful postcard landscape of the snow-capped volcanoes Osorno and Calbuco in the background, a defining feature of Chilean geography, until you arrive at the locality of Petrohué, located on the shores of All Saints Lake. There you can take a relaxed walk along the paths that are surrounded by a dense evergreen forest and take in the majesty of the Osorno Volcano and the spectacular turquoise color of the Petrohué River, and experience the singular feeling of being completely overpowered by nature. Upon paying an entrance fee, you will gain access to one of the most beautiful places in the region, the impressive Petrohué Falls, where the Petrohué River flows between large masses of crystallized lava, immune for centuries to erosion, formed by smaller stones united by an eye-catching vitreous material. The water thunders downstream, and the sight of this rushing river with the pyramidic volcano looming out of the earth behind it is, in short, a place not to be missed! From there you will continue to travel for about 5 km past the slopes of the Osorno Volcano and alongside the Petrohué River, after which you will arrive at the Port of Petrohué. There you will board a boat for about an hour and a half, that will take to a lake known as All Saints or Esmeralda Lake, surrounded again by the now familiar but never tiresome scene of evergreen forests, mountains and volcanoes until you reach the town of Peulla, almost on the border of neighbouring Argentina. Once in Peulla you can enjoy the simply stunning Patagonian surroundings, have lunch in the restaurant of the Peulla or Natura hotel (not included) or do an optional excursion in the park. Thrill seekers can get out of their comfort zone and really get involved in the great outdoors by doing a zip-line, going horseback riding, taking a fishing trip, going on a jet boat ride or a 4×4 safari trip. In the afternoon you will take the boat back to Petrohué, where our vehicle will be waiting to take you back to the lovely Puerto Varas.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Puerto Montt airport to board your flight towards Calama (connection in Santiago). Upon your arrival, our local operator will be waiting for you to transfer to your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama. We feel it only appropriate to give you the rest of the day free to rest or, what we would recommend, to enjoy this typical Andean city, better known as “the door of the desert”. San Pedro de Atacama is an obligatory step on your journey, where you will stay before entering one of the largest and most arid deserts in the world, the Atacama desert, a highland plain in Northern Chile which is like no other place on other. We recommend you take a stroll along the town’s main street of “Caracoles”, or visit the artisans’ village where you can pick up some handicrafts and support local craftsmen!
On your first day in the incredible Atacama region you will leave early from your hotel to visit of the town of Toconao. There you can see the typical artisanal handicrafts of the Atacama region (llama wool, alpaca, cactus wood and volcanic stone) and the Tower of San Lucas, the town’s symbol, which is also listed as a national monument. You will continue on to visit the Atacama Salt Flats with the region’s famous undulating brown mountains, blue skies and fluffy white clouds in the background, and head on to the Los Flamencos National Reserve in the Chaxas Lagoon, where, depending on what time of day you visit, the light conditions can vary, creating atmospheric scenes that are a photographer’s dream. Then you will head towards the plateau to the Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoons, which sit at 4150 meters above sea level and appear as water-filled craters nestled in an eerily quiet and absolutely incredible landscape of mountains, desert and sky. Halfway along the route you will make a small stop in the town of Socaire (3200 mts.) to acclimatize to the altitude, and photograph the small church of San Bartolomé. At the end of this amazing day you will return to San Pedro and be transferred to your hotel.
Today you will have the morning free to visit the surroundings of San Pedro and let your imagination run wild with what is in store for you later on in the day, because in the afternoon you will embark on your trip to the world famous Valley of the Moon, definitely one of the highlights of the entire tour, and surely one of the most magical places on earth! It is an elevated desert, a geomorphological wonder carved over time by the force of wind and water, a land sculpted by the elements. Our ancestors called it the Salinas and today it is known world-wide as the Valley of the Moon, due to its resemblance to the lunar surface in terms of the colours present and the textured surfaces that are visible. In 1982 it was declared Nature Sanctuary and is part of Los Flamencos National Reserve where you can see the incredible geological spectacle under the different weather and light conditions as the shadows move and twist across the landscape and the colours of every physical surface change and mutate, especially during the sunrise and sunset. During your visit you will see: the Quebrada de Ckari, the Cavernas de Sal, the famous natural formation known by our ancestors as Los Tres Vigilantes today called Las Tres Marías, probably the largest dune you’ve ever seen – a majestic body of sand – and viewpoints such as the Quebrada Honda and The Coyote Stone. We promise you won’t be disappointed – the Valley of the Moon is one of the natural wonders of the world, an unforgettable experience!
Very early in the morning, you will get ready for your last excursion in Atacama that will take you to explore the incredible Tatio Geysers and the lost town of Machuca. The tour will begin at 05:00 am, so early that you won’t have a chance to think about missing this incredible place on earth before you set off on the next leg of your adventure! You will travel for two hours to reach the geothermal field located at 4320 meters above sea level at a temperature of approximately -15ºC, so make sure to bring warm clothes, and of course, your camera! Take a walk among the amazing geysers to see them come alive up close, and have a one of a kind breakfast in the geothermal field while watching the magnificent spectacle of their activity, bubbling up from underneath the earth’s crust, and sometimes even spurting out sprays of warm water. Then you will stop for about 45 minutes to bathe in some thermal springs whose temperatures are between 25ºC and 30ºC, a rare treat after getting the morning off to a chilly start with sub-zero temperatures! You will continue traveling through the Bofedal of Putana where you will see different migratory birds before finally arriving at Machuca, a small town with a picturesque church dating from 1933. There you will have a wide range of gastronomic offerings if you feel like trying some typical local food. Then continue along the route to San Pedro, arriving at noon. After saying goodbye to this special, special place, you will be transferred to Calama airport and fly to Santiago, where you will stay at the Holiday Inn Airport Hotel.
After breakfast you will fly to Easter Island, a mythical island in the Polynesian Triangle! Our local operator will welcome you at the airport and then take you to your selected accommodation. After that you will have the rest of the day free to explore this incredible island at your leisure.
On your first day on the island, you will begin your tour around 09:00 am from your hotel (to be reconfirmed with the local operator upon arrival) to Ana Kai Tangata, the cave of the cannibals! Easter Island is full of myths and lore, generated by the native peoples the Rapa Nui, and on this tour you will encounter more than one example of these legends. You will see some rock paintings depicting the “manutara” (the sea-swallow, whose egg was central to the mythical bird-man ritual) as you listen to the sound of waves crashing on the cliffs. Then you will visit Ahu Vinapu, a ritual site used by islanders since 1200 B.C., similar to the Incan ruins in Cuzco, Peru, where you can visit three ahu. The first one has six Moai that are now demolished and painted red, the second has a supposedly female Moai with two heads and in the third (the oldest), only some stones have been removed, so it is very intact. You will also be able to marvel at the Rano Kau volcano, where a lagoon dotted with small islands of totora and an abundant vegetation and micro fauna can also be seen. You will continue your journey to the mythical city of Orongo, an ancient and magnificent ceremonial settlement located on the western summit of the Rano kau volcano, composed of about 53 elliptical-shaped houses with slab walls and a small square entrance that faces the sea. The most important ceremony of the second historical period of the island was held here, that of the “bird man”, where Tangata Manu (counselor to the king) was elected, which happened about 150 years after the arrival of the first Christian missionaries. The Tangata Manu was not only an interesting character but also a curious one, as he appears in several engravings as having the shrunken body of a man with a large bird’s beak. After all this, you will make your way back to your hotel (total duration of the morning tour is 3.5hrs). In the afternoon (at 3:00 pm, to be reconfirmed with the local operator upon arrival), you will make your way to the Puna Pau archaeological quarry to the east of Hanga Roa, located in a small crater of red scoria from which the Pukao Or headdresses that crowned the Moai were sourced. You will continue on to visit the Ahu Akivi, the first Ahu to be scientifically restored on the island, in 1960. The platform with seven Moai is characterized by being one of the few located in the center of the island whose statues stand facing the rising sun. According to legend, these seven Moai represented the seven young explorers sent to explore the island before the arrival of Hotu Matu’a. Our adventure then takes us to the cavern of Ana Te Pahu, a place that was used as housing and as a temporary refuge in times of conflict. Finally, we will reach the area of Puna Pau, a small crater of red slag in which the Pukao, a kind of stone cylinder that crowns the heads of many of the island’s Moais, were made. When we are ready, after a day full of wonders, you will begin the return to Hanga Roa (total duration of the afternoon tour is 3.5hrs).
Today you will head to the east coast of the island to visit the Ahu-Vaihu Temple located 10 km from Hanga Roa. It is composed of a well worked stone platform where we will find eight Moais and eight pukao scattered in the vicinity. Passing by Ahu Akahanga – also called the “platform of the king” – we will find four platforms, 12 Moai and eight Pukao. Inside this Ahu is one of the best preserved villages on the island. You will continue the tour by heading towards Rano Raraku, a volcanic crater formed by consolidated ash with a lagoon inside it. The volcano has a historical relevance for the island: the Moais were carved on its slopes, where currently 397 of these sculptures remain. You will continue on towards Ahu Tongariki, the largest ahu of the island, where you will find an incredible 15 Moai! You will then make your way to Ahu Te Pito Kura, which has the highest standing statue of the island: Moai Paro (10 meters high and weighing 85 tons, with a Pukao of 11.5 tons). Next to this ceremonial temple you will find a large spherical stone called “the navel of the world” (Te Pito or Te Henua) that, according to legend, was brought to the island by Hotu Matua’a in his boat. To finish off this adventure, you will go to the wonderful Anakena beach – whose name is derived from a small cave located in an adjacent ravine – that awaits you with its white, coral sands. You will hear the native tale that this idyllic beach, straight out of paradise, was chosen to receive to Ariki Hotu Matua’a, the island’s first king, and his sister, Avareipua, who would establish there the first real settlement there. Finally, to end the day, you will return to the village of Hanga Roa (total duration of the tour: 6 hours).
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport to take the flight back to Santiago de Chile. On arrival you will stay at the Holiday Inn Airport Hotel.
After breakfast and at the necessary hour, you will go to the airport to take your flight home.

Include:

– All transfers mentioned in the itinerary
– 16 night accommodation
– City Tour Santiago, Chile
– City Tour Valparaíso & Viña del mar
– Excursion to Torres del Paine National Park
– Navigation to the Balmaceda & Serrano glaciers
– Chiloé island tour (cities: Castro & Dalcahue)
– Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park tour & Navigation
– Altiplanic lagoons & Salar de Atacama tour
– Excursion to Valle de la Luna
– Excursion to Geysers del Tatio
– Excursion to Orongo, Ahu Tahai & Ahu Akivi
– Excursion to Ahu Vaihu, Akahanga and Tongariki, Rano Raraku & Anakena
– Breakfast & Lunch mentioned in the itinerary

Not include:

– International and / or Internal Flights
– National Parks, Reserves and Museum Tickets (except for exceptions mentioned in the itinerary)
– Optional excursions
– Tips
– Medical or Cancellation Insurance

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