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Atacama, Lakes and Patagonia

13 days from £4165pp plus international flights.

This holiday is the perfect introduction to Chile, taking in its most dramatic, beautiful and breathtaking scenery. From deserts to mountains, islands to lakes and waterfalls to caves, you witness the diverse aspects of nature on display in this country, with local guides providing added information and insights.    

You spend a morning exploring Santiago, Chile's capital. This is both an historic city dating back to 1541, and a scenic one, flanked by mountains, and is made up of distinct neighbourhoods. Your tour culminates in a drive up Cerro San Cristobal for sweeping views across the city.

From the city to the desert, as you travel north to the Atacama Desert, one of the driest regions on Earth. Over the next few days you venture into the lunar-like landscape, with its rugged canyons, shimmering salt flats, colourful lagoons and spouting geysers. And after dark you can enjoy some of the best stargazing in the world. It's quite unlike anywhere else, totally fascinating. 

After the aridity of the desert you head to Chile's Lake District, staying in the pretty lake shore town of Puerto Varas. Here you see cascading waterfalls and take a catamaran cruise to enjoy views of the surrounding volcanoes. Leaving the mainland, you take a day trip to Chiloe Island to see the distinctive stilt houses built out over the water, and view pretty village squares and historic churches.

The third destination is Patagonia in the far south of the country. With towering mountains, mirror-still lakes, blue-tinged icebergs and immense glaciers, the landscapes are truly breathtaking. During a cruise along Ultima Esperanza Fjord you spot sea lions and cormorants and get close-up views of glaciers that stretch down from the mountains to the water, and in Torres del Paine National Park you watch gaunacos against a background of jagged peaks and blue skies.

Your hotels are handily located for exploring every destination and provide comfy, en-suite accommodation, and all have a restaurant, swimming pool and Wi-Fi. Flights are used to cover the long distances, leaving more time for you to enjoy in each of these wonderful locations. 

This holiday is also available on an all-inclusive basis using The Ritz Carlton in Santiago, Tierra Atacama, Hotel AWA in Puerto Varas and Tierra Patagonia. This option includes a choice of daily guided excursions in Atacama, Puerto Varas and Patagonia, and breakfast, lunch and dinner and house drinks in Patagonia, Puerto Varas and Patagonia. Please contact us for details and prices.          

Itinerary
The pool at Atton el Bosque in Santiago

DAY 1: ARRIVE IN SANTIAGO

Your flight lands at Santiago airport and, having collected your luggage, you are transferred to your hotel in the city. Nothing has been planned for the remainder of the day, leaving you free to relax after your flight. You might like to unwind with a swim in the pool and enjoy refreshments at the bar. Later you can decide whether to dine in or head out into the local neighbourhood.

Cerro San Cristobal in Santiago

DAY 2: SANTIAGO CITY TOUR

After breakfast you meet up with your guide for a half day tour of Santiago, a good opportunity to see some of the main sites and get your bearings. This includes a walking tour of the city centre to see the main square, the Plaza de Armas, and its impressive buildings: the cathedral, royal palace and central post office. The walk continues along Ahumada Boulevard, one of the main shopping streets, and on to view the grand facade of La Moneda, former royal mint and now seat of the Chilean government. Then, travelling by car, you enter the artistic Bellavista district, and head up to San Cristobal Hill with its impressive Virgin Mary statue and magnificent views over the city towards the Andes Mountains. From here you are driven through the financial and shopping districts and fashionable neighbourhoods, before arriving back at your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Breakfast  

Mars Valley in the Atacama Desert

DAY 3: FLY TO CALAMA FOR ATACAMA

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before departing for the airport for the 2-hour flight north to Calama in the Atacama Desert. A driver is waiting for you and you set out for the hotel, passing through the Domekyo and Sal mountain ranges, giving you your first glimpse of the unique Atacama scenery. Settle in to your hotel, and in the afternoon, you travel out into the descriptively-named Mars Valley and Moon Valley. These areas really do have an other-worldly feel and it should come as no surprise that it's been used as a film location and by NASA to test vehicles. Your visit is timed to coincide with the sunset, when the play of light and shadows renders it especially atmospheric. Breakfast    

See flamingos in the Atacama Desert

DAY 4: ATACAMA HIGH PLATEAU

A full day in the Atacama Desert! You drive into the altiplano, or high plateau, and first visit Chaxa Lagoon in the Atacama Salt Flats, where you should be able to spot 3 different species of flamingos, the Andean, Chilean and James. In the town of Toconao you can see the 18th century adobe bell tower, witness local life in the village of Socaire and spend time in the Flamingos National Reserve among the picturesque lagoons backed by volcanoes. You'll definitely want your camera to capture the stunning scenery. Breakfast, lunch 

El Taito Geysers

DAY 5: EL TATIO GEYSERS AND MACHUCA

You are woken early, setting out at dawn on the journey to El Tatio Geysers, enjoying a packed breakfast on the way. On arrival you have a guided walking tour through the geothermal fields where jets of steam shoot into the air, a reminder of the power of nature. The geysers are at their best in the morning, making your early start worthwhile. On the journey back, you should get good views of Putama Volcano and the Tocorpuri Mountains, and may spot llamas and alpacas. You can stop at Machuca, a small village, to see a typical terrace farming system, traditional mud and straw houses and an attractive church. Breakfast

Lake view from Cabana del Lago in Puerto Varas

DAY 6: FLY TO PUERTO MONTT FOR THE LAKE DISTRICT

You have breakfast at the hotel before setting out for the airport and the flight, via Santiago, to Puerto Montt in the Lake District. From here it's just a 20km drive to the lovely lakeside town of Puerto Varas and your next hotel. Enjoy some free time as you rest after the journey. The bar and restaurant both overlook Llanquihue Lake and there's a heated indoor pool and outdoor jacuzzi. Make yourself at home! Breakfast 

Petrohue Falls in the Lake District

DAY 7: PETROHUE FALLS AND PEULLA

A lovely day is planned, showcasing the beautiful landscapes of the Lake District. You drive around the lake to the Petrohue Falls in Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. The sight and sound of the torrential water cannot fail to impress. From here it's a short drive to the jetty where you board the catamaran for the ride across the lake to the small town of Peulla. Sit back and enjoy views of Orsorno Volcano and the surrounding mountains. On reaching Peulla you are treated to lunch and have the chance to join a guided tour. Later you re-board the catamaran for the voyage back to Puerto Varas and your hotel. Breakfast, lunch  

Palafitos on Chiloe Island

DAY 8: CHILOE ISLAND

Another full day out, this time travelling to Chiloe Island, with its distinctive architecture, culture and seafaring heritage. The ferry crossing takes around half an hour. Visit the village of Dalcahue, where you have time to stroll around the main square and church, a UNESCO Heritage Site. From here you travel to Castro, site of the much-photographed stilt houses, locally known as palafitos, built over the water and painted in different colours. You get a good view of these from the viewpoint at Gamboa. In the town of Ancud you have time to explore the main square, municipal market, regional museum and the 18th century San Antonio Fort, and take in sweeping views over the coast from Huaihuen Hill. On the completion of the island tour you return to the mainland and your hotel at Puerto Varas. Breakfast

Altiplanico Sur in Puerto Natales Patagonia

DAY 9: FLY TO PUNTA ARENAS FOR PATAGONIA

After breakfast in the lovely lakeside restaurant it's time for a change of scene. You are transferred to the airport at Puerto Montt, about a 30-minute drive, for the flight down to Punta Arenas. Flying time is a little over 2 hours. On arrival you are welcomed to Patagonia, scene of the next stage of your holiday. Your hotel, Altiplanico Sur, is a sister property to the hotel in Atacama, and is in Puerto Natales about 3 hours by road from the airport. Take in superb views over Last Hope Sound as you relax at the hotel. Breakfast      

Serrano Glacier in Patagonia

DAY 10: BALMACEDA AND SERRANO GLACIERS

It's an early start this morning, as you depart the hotel for a 3-hour cruise along Last Hope Sound, a picturesque fjord. Take it easy as you travel in comfort though the wonderful Patagonian scenery, finally arriving at the spectacular Balmaceda Glacier, on the west face of Mount Balmaceda. In this area you are also likely to spot cormorants and sea lions. The cruise continues to the far end of the fjord where you alight for the 1 kilometre walk through the forest to the Serrano Glacier, which sweeps down the mountainside towards the fjord. It's a privilege to get so close to a vast glacier. Return to the boat and enjoy more of the wonderful scenery, before stopping for lunch, and arriving back in Puerto Natales in the late afternoon. Breakfast, lunch     

Guanacos in Torres del Paine National Park

DAY 11: TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK

Today you explore Torres del Paine National Park. The drive from the hotel passes through the Patagonian steppe (desert) and scrub, where you can expect to see herds of sheep. It continues into the national park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve containing several ecosystems and diverse landscapes, providing you with plenty of photo opportunities. Your tour includes the Salto Grande waterfall with its blue water, views of the rugged Torres del Paine massif, the azure Lake Pehoe, the deep waters of Grey Lake and Grey Glacier, the largest glacier in the park. There's a stop for lunch, before you begin the journey back to Puerto Natales, stopping off to view Milodon Cave, where in the late 19th century, the remains of several prehistoric creatures were discovered, as well as evidence of the presence of early man in the form of tools, firepits and human remains. From here you are driven back to the hotel, arriving in the early evening. Breakfast, lunch  

Bedroom at Atton el Bosque in Santiago

DAY 12: FLY TO SANTIAGO

After breakfast you pack your bags ready for the transfer to the airport in Punta Arenas and the flight to Santiago. You are met on arrival and driven to your city hotel. Head up to your room to drop off your bags after your travels. You might want to eat at the hotel restaurant tonight or explore the local eateries. Breakfast  

Santiago city view

DAY 13: DEPART SANTIAGO

Following breakfast, you are driven back to the airport in time to check in for your homebound flight. Breakfast

Price & Dates

Guide price from (pp sharing): £4165 (ex. international flights)

Price notes: 2019 & 2020 prices based on 2 sharing: From £4165 to £4360 travelling between May 2019 and March 2020. Upgrade to Lastarria, Casa Atacama, Cumbres Puerto Varas and Costaustralis: until March 2020 from £4595. All-inclusive option until April 2020 from £5735 per person.

Includes: 

12 nights accommodation based on twin share in a standard room staying at Atton El Bosque, Altiplanico Atacama, Cabanas del Lago and Altiplanico Sur; transfers as per the itinerary; halfday private guided city tour in Santiago; afternoon shared Moon Valley and Mars Valley guided tour; full day shared guided tour to Atacama Altiplano; shared guided tour to El Tatio Geysers and Machuca; full day shared guided tour to Petrohue Falls and Peulla; full day shared guided tour to Chiloe Island; full day shared guided tour to Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers; full day shared guided tour to Torres del Paine National Park; entrance fees for included tours; meals listed as included   

Excludes: 

International and domestic flights and taxes; visas; vaccinations; travel insurance; early check-in and late check-out if needed; optional excursions and activities; meals not listed as included; drinks; personal expenditure; tips

Getting there: 

This holiday starts and ends in Santiago, Chile. We can book the return international flights for you along with the domestic flights needed from Santiago to Calama, Calama to Puerto Montt (via Santiago); Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas and Punta Arenas to Santiago.

Departure dates: This is a private, tailor made holiday which operates between July and February and can begin on the day of your choice, subject to availability.  

places you will see

places you will see

Atacama desert
Atacama Desert

Condors soaring above the world’s driest desert, snow-capped mountains act as a frame for deep blue lagoons, mountain villages show life as it has been lived for centuries, geysers erupt from the earth and the sky is full of millions of stars – this is a glorious region.

The photogenic Lake District
Chilean Lake District
Stunning, emerald green lakes set against a backdrop of volcanoes and vast, lush forests - the landscape in the south of Chile is amazing. German-influenced food and historic architecture add to this region's appeal.
Stilt houses on Chiloe Island
Chiloe Island
This large island has glorious landscapes and coastlines, and is famed for its historic wooden churches, colourful stilted houses, penguin colonies and myths and legends.
Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales
Before you head into the Torres del Paine National Park, spend a day exploring Puerto Natales. This cosy former fishing port is the gateway to the park, but it has other charms, and makes a good base for a series of expeditions to the astonishing landscapes of this region.
Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine
In a country full of jaw-dropping natural spectacles, Torres Del Paine National Park is perhaps the most astounding. The vast granite horns and peaks of the Paine Massif dominate. Glaciers and icebergs of staggering scale stand sentry over incredibly clear lakes.You feel as if you are at the ends of the earth - and you're not far off!
Santiago
Santiago

Stunning, emerald green lakes set against a backdrop of volcanoes and vast, lush forests – the landscape in the South of Chile is amazing. German-influenced food and historic architecture add to this region’s appeal.

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WHEN TO VISIT

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facts and information

Time: GMT -4 hours

Flight time: There are direct flights from London Heathrow to Santiago, which operate 4 times a week and take 14 hours 40 minutes. The Chilean airline, LATAM, flies via Madrid.

Language: The official language is Spanish. but other local languages are also spoken. English is spoken quite widely.

Visas: Visas are not currently required for British passport holders staying for up to 90 days, who are issued with a ‘Tarjeta de Turismo-Tourist Card’ on arrival. You must retain this and present it to immigration on departure.

Health: Generally none is compulsory but we recommend the following: hepatitis A and B, typhoid, diphtheria, meningitis, tetanus, rabies and polio. There is no malaria in Chile. A yellow fever certificate is required if you are coming from an infected area.

 

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