Get up close to the striking granite Towers of Paine
From the arid Atacama Desert in the north to the glacial landscape of Torres del Paine National Park in the south, Chile is an incredible destination for trekking. Walk on volcanic slopes, past glistening salt lakes and alongside remote, cactus-lined canyons. In Patagonia, where icy waters flow from dramatic mountain scenery, we see giant glaciers and hike in the shadow of the world’s second largest ice field. Four nights are spent staying in refuges, situated in privileged locations inside the boundaries of Torres del Paine N.P.
All breakfasts and 7 lunches included. Most of the included lunches are provided as box lunches and prepared by the various accommodations that we stay at to enable us to take these with us on the treks. Restaurants in Chile generally offer good quality local and international food. 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 but options may be limited, especially in Patagonia. Please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests.
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! Please note that due to the hotel check in time of 2pm and the fact that the group flight tends to arrive fairly early in the morning, it is common for the city tour to be conducted prior to hotel check in. This is decided depending on the wishes of the group. Land Only clients wishing to join the city tour would be advised to be at the hotel around 10 - 11am in order to be collected. *Hotel Fundador or similar*
The historic World Heritage city of Valparaíso 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 as well as a chance to stretch our legs on a short walk. The city’s many hills are covered in a glorious sprawl of multi-coloured houses, creating a spectacular panorama which can be enjoyed from a number of vantage points atop the hills. Walking the streets of Valparaíso becomes a great adventure as we encounter the residents of several neighbourhoods and soak up the quirky and bohemian atmosphere, something different to anywhere else in Chile. We’ll visit the former residence of poet and national treasure, Pablo Neruda, called La Sebastiana, and afterwards we’ll have lunch in one of the typical restaurants situated in the port area. Due to the steep terrain, the city is home to numerous funicular lifts that 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 see several of the main functioning lifts. Our city walk will involve lots of steps and steep slopes. From Valparaíso we will continue along the coast to the beautiful beaches of Viña del Mar, named the Garden city for its many parks and green spaces. After stopping in the modern and contrasting surrounds of Viña del Mar, we will return to Santiago in the afternoon. *Hotel Fundador or similar*
Transfer to the airport for our flight southwards (about 4 hours 40 mins) to Punta Arenas in the Magellanes region of Patagonian Chile. After arriving we will take a public coach to Puerto Natales (approx. 4 hours). Today involves a lot of travel as we cover a large distance and enter a remote area of Patagonia. The benefit of doing all of this travel in one day is that tomorrow morning we can fit more activities into the day. *Hostal Francis Drake or similar*
After breakfast we’ll depart Puerto Natales and drive on the gravel road to one of the most beautiful national parks on the planet - Torres del Paine. Starting at the Lago Sarmiento park entrance we’ll hike northwards to Laguna Amarga. This introductory outing in the park will hopefully feature some of the park’s unique flora and fauna, including ñandú (a type of large, flightless bird), indigenous foxes, and wild guanaco (similar in appearance to the domesticated llama). Additionally, we’ll see fascinating ancient rock paintings created by the region’s indigenous population. Following the hike, we’ll drive to Laguna Azul. Located in the east of the park, Laguna Azul (Blue Lagoon) was discovered when the young pioneer Florence Dixie explored this remote area in 1879 and it became the first tourist destination in Torres del Paine National Park. From this glacial lagoon you can walk a path to Las Torres view point to enjoy a picture perfect view of the Torres peaks. Afterwards we will be transferred to the refugio (mountain refuge) in the ‘Las Torres’ area. *Refugio Torre Central or similar*
We transfer to the Pudeto area of the park, boarding a catamaran to cross the icy waters of Lake Pehoe. On arrival, our hike begins towards the Grey Glacier taking the beautiful 'Camino de los Vientos' (the Path of Winds). We reach our first viewpoint after around two hours, with the Grey Glacier in the distance and the giant, deep blue icebergs of Lake Grey below. Depending on weather conditions, the route continues to viewpoints where entire sections of the ice wall can often be seen collapsing thunderously into the lake. Overnight in Refugio. *Lodge Paine Grande or similar*
We set off this morning to hike to the French Valley with the intention of reaching the Italian Camp or the British Camp, depending on the wishes of the group. These names refer to the base camps of famous mountain expeditions that conquered the various rock faces of the Paine Massif. During our hike we should have magnificent views of the French Glacier and see the impressive natural amphitheatre created by the upper valley at the base of the Torres Massif. *Lodge Paine Grande or similar*
Shortly after breakfast we return by catamaran across Lake Pehoe and complete a short hike around the Cuernos del Paine viewpoint. We depart the national park today and transfer to Puerto Natales to board a public bus to Punta Arenas. *Hotel Plaza or similar*
We take a morning flight to Santiago and then another on to Calama in Northern Chile. This is a long travelling day, that will likely require an early start depending on the flight schedules. On arrival in Calama, we transfer to the town of San Pedro de Atacama, our base to explore the region of the Atacama desert. *Hotel Don Raul or similar*
The morning is free to spend at your leisure, but there will be a short orientation tour of the town if you want to join. In the afternoon we'll trek in the Cornizas and Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna). 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. *Hotel Don Raul or similar*
After a short drive from San Pedro towards Puritama, we arrive at the starting point for our hike. We begin our adventure here with a short uphill hike towards the Quebrada del Diablo, the Devil's Gorge. During the walk we’ll experience extraordinary views of the colourful landscape. Finally we hike downhill through a winding canyon in the salt range created by natural water and wind erosion until we reach the fertile Catarpe Valley and drive back to San Pedro. This afternoon we visit the small town of Toconao, where the houses, church and bell tower are built from bricks of white volcanic stone. Today's final stop is Chile's largest salt lake, the Salar de Atacama. Rich in minerals, including borax and lithium, it is home to various species of flamingos as well as many other birds. The Laguna Chaxa, part of the Reserva Nacional de los Flamencos, offers a terrific opportunity to get closer to these birds in their natural habitat. In the evening we return to our hotel in San Pedro. *Hotel Don Raul or similar*
In order to experience the El Tatio Geysers we’ll have to get up very early in order to arrival 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 mingle with boiling jets coming from the geysers to create strong contrasts of steam and light. On our return we shall go for a trek in Guatin Valley. This valley contains the confluence of two rivers, one coming from the Puritama thermal springs carrying earth and minerals in its warm waters, and the other being the Purifica River which flows down from its origin in the Andes. We take the road north from San Pedro and reach the archaeological site of Gatchi. From here we hike in to Guatin Valley, which means ‘Valley of the cacti’. The walk starts inside a creek and follows along the bank of the Vilama River. A profusion of cacti, different geological formations, small waterfalls, brooks, and rocks give the place a special attraction. Altitude is between 3.200-3.500 metres above sea level. *Hotel Don Raul or similar*
We transfer to Calama for our flight back to Santiago. For those on group flights, these will connect back to the UK. Arrangements for land only clients will end at Santiago airport. **
* 12 breakfasts, 7 lunches * All accommodation * All transport and listed activities * Tour leader throughout * Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
This is a diverse trip; hiking in Torres del Paine with mountains, glaciers and forest then onto the Atacama desert with ridge walks and canyons. Lots of wildlife to see including camelids and birds (we were very fortunate and also saw a puma). Our guide, Miriam was excellent in pointing out and identifying the flora and fauna, birds in particular. One element I would mention is that several of the longer hikes did allow for only segments to be done for those not up to more vigorous outings. In addition to the hiking there is some sightseeing including an active geothermal area when in Atacama along with city highlights in Santiago and Valparaiso. Food and lodging ranged from the basis in refuges in Torres del Paine to good hotels in other locales. Three of us did the Easter Island/Rapa Nui extension and would highly recommend that; the island is spectacular.
A great itinerary that covers large distances. Be prepared for long days of travel – both by road and air
excellent trip, tiring but worth ever minute.
A excellent trip that covered a large distances around Chile, Be prepared for long internal flights & road travel & you will enjoy the culture and geology of this part of South America
An amazing trip to a lovely country. The natural beauty is just outstanding.
a really great way to spend 2 weeks. amazing scenery, interesting and knowledgeable group and expectations exceeded.
A lot of travelling but you get to immerse yourself among beautiful scenery in diverse landscapes. Stunning volcanoes, incredible mountain peaks and glaciers, and stark desert landscapes will imprint indelibly your mind's eye.
Fabulous country. Up with Nepal, Vietnam, Peru - all of which I've visited - for variety and beauty of scenery. Great people, great food, excellent guide. Also, feels very safe....you don't feel the need to be so alert/streetwise as (say) Peru or Morrocco.
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
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