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A Gentle Encounter with Glaciers and Desert

13 days from £4670pp plus international flights.

You only have to look at a map of Chile to see how diverse a land this is. It stretches for almost 4,300 kilometres from north to south, and includes desert in the north and iceberg-strewn fjords in the south. This holiday shows you these contrasting landscapes as you explore with expert guides in Patagonia and the Atacama Desert, and is a great introduction to this most photogenic of countries,   

You begin in Santiago, Chile's capital, set in a valley between two mountain ranges, and have a full day to explore at your leisure. Your hotel is in the historical neighbourhood of Lastarria, and wandering along its cobbled streets you come across stylish boutiques and cafes among the fine colonial buildings as you mingle with smartly turned out locals, a suitably relaxed way to commence your holiday.

From here you are whisked away to the far south of the country to a land of jagged granite peaks, mighty glaciers, mirror-like lakes, deep fjords, forests and vast pampas grasslands. There's so much to see and to do that you'll fill every moment of your three days here. Thankfully you have the help of an experienced guide as you choose your options which range from hiking to kayaking and horse riding to cycling, all against the most magnificent backdrops.

At the other end of Chile is a world equally breath-taking. The Atacama Desert genuinely has an other-worldly feel, little wonder it was used by both the European Space Centre and NASA to test Mars rovers. Unleash your inner astronaut with a visit to Valle de la Luna and Valle de la Muerte. Elsewhere you can witness dozens of spurting geysers, watch flamingos at salt lagoons and marvel at pre-Colombian petroglyphs as you wonder about the people who created them.

Heady with discoveries, landscapes and adventures you end the holiday at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Valparaiso, known as the 'Jewel of the Pacific'. From your palatial hotel you can admire views over the city and bay, and have plenty of time to explore the trendy neighbourhood as you stroll along the famous Paseo Yugoslavo. 

You stay at top quality hotels throughout, adding a real touch of luxury to the holiday, as you indulge in spa treatments, dine on haute cuisine and revel in your exquisite surroundings. By flying between cities the time spent travelling is minimised giving you longer to enjoy in each of the destinations, which is what this holiday is all about.  

Itinerary
The Singular Santiago rooftop terrace

DAY 1: ARRIVE IN SANTIAGO

Your flight lands at the international airport in Santiago where you are greeted by a local representative and transferred to The Singular Hotel in the historic Lastarria district, for your initial 2 night stay. With nothing planned for the remainder of the day you are free to take life easy. Head up to the rooftop terrace for a relaxing drink at the bar or a refreshing swim in the pool - lovely ways to unwind after your journey. Later you can decide whether to venture into Lastarria and take your pick of the eateries there, or stay put and dine at the hotel's elegant restaurant.     

Plaza de Armas in Santiago

DAY 2: IN SANTIAGO

You have a free day to explore Santiago at your leisure. One of the best places to start is the Plaza de Armas at the heart of the city. It's surrounded by grand buildings such as the cathedral and the royal palace, which houses the national history museum. The neighbourhood around the hotel is well worth exploring. Barrio Paris-Londres centres around the Iglesia San Francisco and is named after its two main cobbled streets, and the public parks of Barrio Brasil are a good place to rest and watch the world go by. If you're feeling energetic you can climb Cerro Santa Lucia for panoramic views of the city, or you may prefer to relax on the hotel's terrace after your morning's sightseeing. Breakfast  

The Singular Patagonia

DAY 3: FLY TO PUNTA ARENAS AND THE SINGULAR PATAGONIA

You have breakfast at the hotel before your transfer to the airport for the flight to Punta Arenas, at the southern tip of the country. The flight takes about 4 hours and on arrival you are transferred to your hotel in Puerto Natales. During the drive you can expect to see a range of wildlife including guanacos, foxes and nandus, a type of rhea. Your hotel, The Singular Patagonia, sister property of the Santiago hotel, has a commanding location overlooking Last Hope Sound. Facilities include a spa, an indoor pool, 2 restaurants and a bar. You don't need to travel far for dinner tonight, as it's included in your stay. Breakfast, dinner  

Hiking in Torres del Paine

DAY 4: IN PATAGONIA

Patagonia awaits! Glaciers, jagged mountain peaks, lakes and rivers form a stunning backdrop to a variety of activities offered by the hotel. You liaise with a guide to select the excursions that best suit you and make the best use of your precious time. You might opt for a forest hike or a trek to the base of Torres del Paine, after which the national park is named, go kayaking on a fjord, explore on two wheels or on horseback. Half and full day trips are available, and all are included in your stay. Whatever you decide to do, you'll have a full and rewarding day exploring Patagonia. Full board   

Wildlife in Patagonia

DAYS 5 & 6: ACTIVITIES IN PATAGONIA

Two more days to experience Patagonia. The hotel offers a full day trip to Torres del Paine National Park, with walks to lookout points and opportunities to observe guanacos, nandus and foxes, watch Salto Grande waterfalls and see icebergs in Grey Lake. Alternatively you might like to take a half day cruise through the fjords, leaving the afternoon free to relax. En route you can spot cormorants and sea lions, and you stop at viewpoints to get excellent views of the impressive Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers. Full board

Cable car to Cerro San Cristobal

DAY 7: FLY TO SANTIAGO

Following breakfast you head back to the airport in Punta Arenas for the flight back to the capital. On arrival you are transferred to The Singular Santiago. Relax in the now familiar surroundings, or maybe set off for a little independent exploration. Parque Florestal is nearby and is a great place to stretch your legs, and includes the Fine Arts Museum and Mercado Central with its markets and seafood restaurants. You might prefer to take the cable car up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal for fabulous views of the city below. For dinner tonight you can select your favourite restaurant of the many in the hotel's vicinity, or remain at the hotel to enjoy its fine cuisine. Breakfast

Plunge pool and terrace at Alto Atacama

DAY 8: FLY TO CALAMA AND ALTO ATACAMA

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before being collected for the transfer to the airport where you board a flight of just over 2 hours to Calama in the north of the country. From here it's a drive of about 90 minutes to your hotel on the outskirts of San Pedro de Atacama. Depending on your arrival time, it may be possible for a first venture into the Atacama Desert this afternoon. If not, you can enjoy the facilities at Alto Atacama which include several outdoor plunge pools, meticulously designed gardens and a lavish spa, all in a stunning setting in the Catarpe Valley. Breakfast, dinner 

Lunar landscape in the Atacama Desert

DAY 9: IN THE ATACAMA DESERT

Your stay at Alto Atacama includes either 2 half day or 1 full day excursion each day, selected with the help of a resident guide from a menu of over 30 tours that span a range of activities and endurance levels. You can go walking, take longer hikes, and explore by bike, see the El Tatio geysers, the strange lunar landscape of the Cordillera de la Sal, and see flocks of flamingos at Laguna Tara. You'll definitely need your camera at the ready to capture the varied scenery. Full board   

Star gazing at Alto Atacama

DAYS 10 & 11: EXPLORING THE ATACAMA DESERT

More time to enjoy the other-worldly environment of the Atacama Desert. With the help of your guide you can plan each day carefully, achieving your desired balance of action and rest. You might like to spend the morning out exploring salt lakes, sand dunes or archaeological sites, returning for lunch and a quiet afternoon at the hotel enjoying spa treatments and cooling dips in the pools. Alternatively you can select a full day trip into the desert for an in-depth insight into its topography and history. Either way, you should have time to visit the hotel's open air observatory for some top quality star gazing in the company of an expert guide. Full board  

Palacio Astoreca in Valparaiso

DAY 12: FLY TO SANTIAGO AND DRIVE TO VALPARAISO

It's time to leave the desert and head to the ocean! Today you fly back to Santiago and from there travel by road to the historic port of Valparaiso, about an hour and a half from the capital. Your destination is Palacio Astoreca, a grand Victorian style mansion in the smart Cerro Alegre neighbourhood. Make yourself at home. The hotel has a lovely terrace where you can sit and take in views of the Pacific Ocean as you enjoy some refreshments and rest after your travels. There's a spa where you can indulge in a massage, hammam or soak in the jacuzzi. And all in the most stylish of surroundings. Breakfast       

Valparaiso Jewel of the Pacific

DAY 13: IN VALPARAISO, DEPART

Breakfast at Palacio Astoreca is followed by a free day in Valparaiso. The hotel is close to the historic Passeo Yugoslavo, one of the city's first streets, which contains many shops, cafes and the Palacio Baburizza, home to the Fine Arts Museum. The views from the hilltop are superb. On another hill, Mount Florida, you can visit La Sebastiana, former home of Pablo Neruda and now a museum in his honour. If you want to explore downtown Valparaiso, take the El Peral funicular down to Plaza Sotomayor. In the afternoon you are collected from the hotel for the drive to the international airport in Santiago to check in for your flight home. Precise timings will vary according to flight times. Breakfast

Price & Dates

Guide price from (pp sharing): £4670 (ex. international flights)

Price notes: 2019 & 2020 prices based on 2 sharing: Sept 2019 from £4670; Oct – Dec 2019 from £5090; 20 Dec 2019 – 4 Jan 2020 from £7295; 5 – 31 Jan 2020 from £5260; Feb – Apr 2020 from £5075.

Includes: 

12 nights twin share accommodation; meals listed as included; transfers as per the itinerary; 3 days of guided excursions at The Singular Patagonia; 3 days of guided excursions at Alto Atacama

Excludes: 

International and domestic flights and taxes; visas; vaccinations; travel insurance; meals not listed as included; drinks; optiional exursions in Santiago and Valparaiso; 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.

Departure dates: This holiday operates between the end of September and the end of April, to depart on the day of your choice, subject to availability.

places you will see

places you will see

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.

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!
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.

Observatory in northern Chile
Observatories
Few places on earth can eclipse the north of Chile for magnificent night skies, or for superb observatories. The city of Antofagasta has attractive beaches and an interesting historic centre and waterfront.
Valparaiso
Valparaiso & Vina del Mar
Historic buildings, great museums, shops and nightlife, and pretty beaches make these two neighbouring charismatic coastal cities, each with its own distinct character - fascinating and enjoyable places to visit.

customer rating

5/5 from 2 reviews

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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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