11 days / 10 nights

  • Santiago
  • Valparaiso
  • San Pedro de Atacama
  • Santiago
  • Puerto Varas
  • Puerto Montt
  • Punta Arenas
  • Puerto Natales
  • Torres del Paine
  • Punta Arenas
  • Santiago

Day 1

SANTIAGO DE CHILE

Pick-up at Santiago International Airport, with transport to your hotel. In the afternoon, enjoy a city tour, including the Presidential Palace, called "La Moneda," the historic main square or "Plaza de Armas," the Cathedral, and "Casa Colorado," the historic residence of the Governor in colonial times. The best view of Santiago is from the summit of the Cerro San Cristobal ("Saint Christopher Hill"), where a huge statue of the Virgin stands over the city. From here your tour will continue uptown to visit the neighbourhood of "Providencia" – one of the finest areas in Santiago – before you return to your hotel.

Day 2

SANTIAGO - SAN PEDRO - MUSEUM - ALLEY OF THE MOON

Morning transport to the Santiago airport for a flight to the Atacama desert in northern Chile. Following your arrival at the airport in Calama, you will be transported to your hotel in the town of San Pedro de Atacama, enjoying spectacular views of the Cordillera de la Sal along the way. In the afternoon, in San Pedro, you will visit the archaeological museum of Padre le Paige, with its famous collection of artefacts illustrating the development of the Atacameño society. The church of San Pedro dates from the 17th century. After a stroll through the plaza, your guide will show you the crafts market (walking tour).

In the afternoon we shall set out to the Valley of the Moon to see the sunset in this bizarre, almost lunar landscape formed by the erosion of salt mountains. Strange sculpted rock formations in the middle of the desert, with the Lincancabur Volcano in the background make for a particularly rare experience. In the evening we return to the Hotel in San Pedro.

Day 3

QUITOR - SALAR DE ATACAMA

This morning you will visit the pre-Inca fortress Pucará de Quitor nearby and wander on the foot of the Atacameños and Incas. The fortress Pukará de Quitor, only 3 km north of San Pedro was built in the 12th century by the Atacameños and has been fortified by the Incas. In 1540 it was conquered by the Spanish. From the fortress you can enjoy a great view over San Pedro and the Andes mountains with the volcanoes in the back.

After this archaeological morning we shall continue on to visit the world's largest salt lake: the Salar de Atacama. Rich in minerals, including borax and lithium, it is home to various species of flamingoes as well as many other birds. The Laguna Chaxa, part of the Reserva Nacional de los Flamingoes, offers a terrific opportunity to get closer to these birds in their natural habitat. In the evening we return to the Hotel in San Pedro.

Day 4

GEYSERS OF EL TATIO

This day's tour begins very early in the morning, to ensure a timely arrival at the El Taito geyser field before sunrise. The geysers shoot as high as 10m/33ft, but only when the morning sun has melted the nightly ice caps over the hot springs. The morning sun's first rays, reflecting the countless colours of the geysers' boiling jets, create a beautiful contrast with the rising steam and the surrounding mountain summits. El Tatio is situated at 4.500 m above sea level on the Altiplano. The geysers are spectacular in the early morning. There are about 40 geysers, thermal wells and fumaroles. The early morning light striking the water and steam hurling up from the geysers makes for an unforgettable experience. The return drive to San Pedro takes place around midday.

Day 5

SAN PEDRO - PUERTO VARAS

In the morning you travel back to the airport of Calama, with a flight, connecting in Santiago, to the Chilean Lake District in the south. From the Puerto Montt airport you continue with an orientating city tour in Puerto Montt where you will visit the interesting fish- and handcraft market Angelmó. Puerto Montt, the capital of Chile's Lake District, was founded by German colonists in 1853, on the site of an indigenous Mapuche community. Then, you drive on to your lodging in Puerto Varas, half an hour north, on the shore of Lago (Lake) Llanquihue where you will get a first impression of the city on the orientating city tour by bus..

 

Day 6

SALTOS DE PETROHUE - TODOS LOS SANTOS LAKE - OSORNO VOLCANO

In the morning you set out for a full day in the foothills of the Andes, with a drive along the shore of Lago Llanquihue and breathtaking views of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. The first real stop, however, will be at the Saltos de Petrohué (Petrohué Waterfall); then, at the landing at Petrohué, you will board a catamaran and prepare for your cruise across Lago Todos Los Santos. Later on you will drive up the volcano Osorno (2.660m) where the street ends in 1.300m altitude. Here you will enjoy the great view before returning to Puerto Varas in the afternoon.

Day 7

PUERTO VARAS - PUERTO NATALES

Transfer from the airport in Puerto Montt and flight to Punta Arenas, the capital of Patagonia. Reception at the airport in Punta Arenas is followed by a drive north in public bus accompanied by the guide, through the vast Patagonian "Pampa," to Puerto Natales and an overnight stay in your hotel.

Day 8 & Day 9

TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK

Your guide will collect you from the hotel in the morning, for an early departure to the famous Torres del Paine National Park for your two day excursion. Your tour through the park will provide spectacular views of the Torres Massif and its jagged peaks, as well as of Grey Lake and the Grey Glacier. With several short hikes, amongst others the "Salto Grande" ("big waterfall") you can reach the most beautiful lookout points in the park, and acquaint yourself with its wealth of flora and fauna. Overnight stay in a hosteria at the border of the National park on day 8 and return drive to Puerto Natales with overnight stay in Puerto Natales on day 9.

Day 10

PUNTA ARENAS

Transfer to Punta Arenas and visit of the penguin colony Otway.

Drive by public bus with English-speaking public bus until Punta Prat where you will change to a private vehicle that will bring you to the penguin colony Otway and later on to the airport in Punta Arenas. Between October and March each year, it gets very lively at the penguin colony on the Otway estuary, because this is when the animals come on land to breed their young. The colony is just 40km/25mi from Punta Arenas, and the drive there follows the Magellan Strait, looking out towards Tierra del Fuego. Well sign-posted footpaths and discrete observation platforms enable visitors to observe the sociable penguins in their natural habitat without distressing them. There is a 2km/1mi footpath that will take you right into the heart of the colony.

Afterwards you will continue to the airport and fly back to Santiago where you will be received and driven to your hotel.

Day 11

OPTIONAL EXCURSION: VALPARAÍSO

In the morning, you will be met by your English-speaking guide, who will accompany you during this full-day tour of Valparaíso. This city's many hills are covered with a multi-coloured panorama of painted houses that crowd every nook and cranny, providing a spectacular backdrop for the lower city, and reinforcing Valparaíso's unique flair. The upper and lower sections of the city are connected by 15 funicular elevators. Return drive to Santiago in the evening.

Day 12

SANTIAGO AND GOODBYE

Leisure time in Santiago to explore the city this morning, before being transported back to the international airport for your departure flight.

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