15 days from £6955pp plus international flights.
This holiday takes you to 3 iconic destinations in Chile: the Atacama Desert, Easter Island and Patagonia, staying at luxury Explora hotels where you have a huge choice of excursions and activities. You cover huge distances, with flights minimising journey times, giving you more time in each place.
The emphasis is very much on exploring the environment, which is at the heart of the Explora experience. At the beginning of your time in each location you meet with a guide who takes you through the 30 plus excursions on offer and helps you select those that suit you best, according to your interests and abilities. There are always a lot of active options and tailoring trips this way is key to optimising your valuable time.
In Atacama you travel by van, on foot, by bike and horseback if you choose the relevant excursions. You are able to see gushing geysers and the incredible lunar-like landscapes. There are vast sand dunes and salt flats here and you can bathe in geothermal springs. And after dark the star gazing is pretty spectacular, too.
Easter Island is a place unlike any other, with a unique heritage and culture, symbolised by the mysterious moai, the huge statues with their enigmatic expressions that stand guard over ancient villages. Learn about their significance from your local guide. Hike to a volcano rim to see a crater lake and enjoy a slice of beach life.
Patagonia's rugged beauty consists of snow-dusted mountains, azure lakes, giant glaciers, wide expanses of pampas and forests of lenga trees. This really is the great outdoors and you have three full days to plunge right in. Again you have a choice of hiking, biking, riding and boating, and, again, you'll be reaching for your camera time after time.
Explora hotels are more than just a place to rest your head. Indulge in spa treatments, savour fine local cuisine, relax by a cosy fire and let yourself be well and truly looked after. With meals, house drinks and excursions all included, there's nothing left for you to do but enjoy the Explora experience!
Your holiday begins in earnest on arrival at Santiago airport, where you are met by a local representative who accompanies you on the drive to your city hotel, The Singular Santiago. Having dropped off your bags and freshened up you're ready for an afternoon city tour with a local guide. This takes in Cerro Santa Lucia, a hilltop park from which you get wonderful views of the city, the Plaza de Armas, Santiago's main square, with its fine colonial buildings, and the green spaces of Parque Forestal. From here you visit the fashionable Bellavista neighbourhood before driving to the top of San Cristobal Hill for more panoramic views. On completion of the tour you return to The Singular. It's been a long day and you should sleep well tonight, ready for the adventures to come.
Having breakfasted you are taken to the airport for the flight up to Calama and the Atacama region. You are met on arrival and driven the 90 minutes or so to your home for the next 3 nights, Explora Atacama, the first of the three Explora hotels you stay at during this holiday. It is set in extensive grounds near the town of San Pedro de Atacama, and you arrive in time for lunch. At some stage you meet up with one of the resident guides to talk through the many activities and excursions open to you over the next few days to plan your time so that you see and do all that you wish while in Atacama. You should have time this afternoon for an initial activity such as a hike to see some of the amazing scenery near the hotel. For your convenience, your stay includes excursions, meals and house drinks. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Your first foray into the Atacama Desert! With so many options available, you'll be glad of the advice of your guide to help you choose. The Cornisas trip is a good way to get a feel for this very special region. Travel by van to the Catarpe Valley where you alight for a gentle hike in the foothills of the Sal Mountain Range. From here you get great views across the Atacama salt flat and the Sal, Andes and Domeyko mountain ranges. The trail leads down through the Marte Valley sand dunes, as your guide tells you about the history, archaeology and geography of the area. You return by van to the hotel, arriving in time for lunch. In the afternoon you could take the trip to Cuenca del Salar, which starts with a 35-minute drive to the oasis village of Toconao where you have an easy 45 minute hike. The drive continues to Chaxa Lagoon in the Atacama salt flat. Surrounded by volcanoes and mountains, the lagoon is frequented by flamingos and provides excellent photographic opportunities. Your visit is timed to coincide with the sunset, so enjoy the brilliant display before re-boarding the van for the ride back to the hotel. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
This morning you could take to 2 wheels as you cycle from the hotel to the archaeological site of Tulor. This former village thrived until about AD300, when the oasis dried up and the dunes encroached You can still see circular adobe structures enclosed by a wall. You also explore the remains of the colonial settlement at Beter. The insights of your guide are key in helping you understand the signifcance of both sites. The bike ride carries on to Ayllu de Solor, a present-day village where you can see how local people live in the desert. It makes for an interesting comparison to what you've just learnt about life here in centuries gone by. In the afternoon you might like to join a tour to Puritama hot springs. You'll need your swimming costume so you can bathe in the thermal waters. At 32 degrees C this is quite an experience! Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and there should be time to take a stroll in the town of San Pedro de Atacama to explore the craft shops, maybe picking up a few souvenirs, and admire the traditional architecture. Later you are driven to the airport in Calama for the flight back to Santiago. There's no need for a transfer vehicle as you are spending tonight at the Holiday Inn at the airport, just a few moments' walk from the terminal building. This modern hotel has an indoor pool, jacuzzi and sauna, plus a gym for those so inclined. You can choose to dine on site at the hotel restaurant or head over to the airport terminal building where there's a choice of eateries. Breakfast
Breakfast at the hotel is included in your stay, after which you head back to the terminal to check in for your flight to Easter Island. You have plenty of time to look forward to your visit as the flight takes over 5 hours, which only serves to underline how remote Easter Island is. You should have a good view of the island as you approach, and on landing you are driven to Explora Rapa Nui, your base for the next 3 nights. Drop your bags off in your room, pausing to admire the sea views, before exploring the hotel, maybe having a dip in the pool or a refreshing drink in Explorer's Bar. As at Explora Atacama, guides are on hand to take you through the varied activities so you can plump for those that most interest you. Excursions, meals and house drinks are included in your stay, making life easy. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
After breakfast you set out on your first excursion. The Rapa Nui Sanctuaries is a good introduction to the island. Maoi are the iconic statues for which Easter Island is famous, and this morning you visit Ahu Akivi, where there are 7 moai in a line. They are unusual in that they face the sea, whereas most face inland. The volcanic nature of the island is apparent as you walk across a lava field and view a lava tunnel. At Hanga Kioe there is a lone moai keeping watch over the village, and at the ancient ceremonial complex of Tahai you can see a restored moai complete with eyes. You are driven back to Explora Rapa Nui for lunch. This afternoon you might like to view the varied scenery as you walk to the coast through fields, farmlands and archaeological sites, finishing up at Akahanga, the burial site of the first king of Rapa Nui, as Easter Island is also known. There's also a large, unrestored ahu (platform) and fallen moai. Close-up you can admire the carving and workmanship all the better. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
This morning you can learn more about the Rapa Nui culture on the Bird Cult tour. You travel to Ahu Tahira, where the wall formed of perfectly fitting stones is reminiscent of Inca architecture. You are driven on to Rano Kau, the largest volcanic crater on Easter Island, for an easy hike to view the crater lake. Finally, you reach Orongo, where you see the remains of buildings in which participants in the annual birdman competition lived. Your guide is able to provide detailed background information to help you appreciate different aspects of Rapa Nui culture which bring these scenes vividly to life. In the afternoon you might like a change of transport and scene. Cycle to Ahu Tongariki to see the much-photographed platform with 15 moai, expertly restored after being demolished by a tsumani in 1960. Your onward route passes several archaeological sites and ends at Anakena, one of the best beaches on the island, where there should be time for a swim, before you are driven back to the hotel. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
There should be time to take it easy at the hotel, possibly enjoying some time at the spa or by the pool, before departing the hotel and leaving Easter Island. You fly back to the mainland. You can use the flight time to catch up on some reading, maybe researching Patagonia, your next destination. First you have another night at the convenient Holiday Inn Santiago Airport, where you can make use of the facilities and unwind after your journey. Breakfast
This morning, after breakfast, you make the short walk to the airport terminal for the flight down to Punta Arenas. This takes about 3 hours 20 minutes, so sit back and enjoy the flight. You are met on arrival and driven to Explora Patagonia in Torres del Paine National Park. Over the course of the next 4 hours you have plenty of time to relax and admire the scenery. On reaching the hotel you can't fail but to be impressed by the views over Lake Pehoe towards the Paine ridge. It whets your appetite for the next few days in this wonderful location. You might like to talk to a guide to find out what trips and activities are available, so you can ponder your options over dinner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Start the day with a 4km walk along the edge of Pehoe Lake by the hotel. Your guide points out trees and plants, including orchids, that are typical of the area, and you climb to a high point for far reaching views of the wonderfully blue lake and the jagged peaks of the Paine ridge beyond. Retrace your steps enjoying views of the Paine River, arriving back at the hotel in time for lunch. This afternoon you can go to the hotel's stables to join a guided horse ride to Laguna Negra. You ride through varied terrain including rivers, pampas and forests, and pass several tidal lagoons where you can see a number of bird species such as southern lapwings and upland geese. The ride takes about 90 minutes and covers around 4kms. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Stretch your legs with a 5km hike this morning. You travel by vehicle to the Paine River where the hike begins, with a steep ascent of the mountain. As you climb take time to admire the views of the Paine River, Del Toro Lake and Serrano Pampa where you may spot gauchos on horseback, and you can rest once you reach the highest point. You later descend along the same route to the waiting van that takes you back to the hotel. If you want a relatively easy afternoon join the Patagonian Steppe tour, driving to the eastern part of Torres del Paine National Park for some short hikes to view resident wildlife including guanacos, flamings and, with luck, pumas, and to survey the vast grasslands and shrublands of the Patagonia steppe. The trip includes a visit to a viewpiont overlooking Nordenskjold Lake and Paine Grand Falls and stops at Amarga Lagoon where you can observe the famous Torres del Paine, before returning to the hotel. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
This morning you might like to saddle up once more for the horseback ride to Buena Vista. You have time to enjoy the flora and fauna en-route, and the trail passes through a forest of lenga trees to the Buena Vista viewpoint. From here you can see the mouth of the Paine River and the massif beyond. The ride back to the hotel follows a steep but steady path. The duration of this trip is approximately 90 minutes. After lunch you can join the Grey Lake hike. You leave the hotel by van to Grey Lake station, where you alight and cross a hanging bridge over the fast flowing Pingo River, walk through a lenga forest and reach the shores of the lake. From here you have fine views of the huge icebergs that cover much of the water's surface, having broken from the Grey Glacier. You are sure to want your camera to capture these amazing sights. Walk back to the station where the vehicle is waiting to take you back to the hotel. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
After breakfast it's time to pack your bags. You are driven the 4 hours back to Punta Arenas where you board the flight to Santiago. You are met at the airport and driven to The Singular where you can relax, maybe heading up to the rooftop terrace for a drink or a swim in the pool. You have the choice of dining in tonight or venturing into Lastarria with its many restaurants. Breakfast
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before meeting up with the driver for the transfer to the airport, arriving in time to check in for your homebound or onward flight. Breakfast
Guide price from (pp sharing): £6955 (ex. international flights)
2020 prices (pp sharing, excluding international flights):
06 – 21 Jan 2020 from £9885
14 nights twin share accommodation at a patio room at The Singular Santiago, a tulor room at Explora Atacama, standard room at Holiday Inn Santiago Airport, varua room at Explora Easter island and cordillera Paine room at Explora Patagonia; transfers as per the itinerary, including private transfers in Santiago and shared transfers in Atacama, Easter Island and Patagonia; meals listed as included; mineral water, soft drinks, house wine and liquors at Explora hotels; half day private guided tour of Santiago on day 1; daily shared excursions led by an English-speaking guide (either 1 full day or 2 half day trips) on days 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13 including relevant entrance fees; spa use at Explora hotel (massages, therapies and treatments at extra cost)
International and domestic flights and taxes; visas; vaccinations; travel insurance; early check in late check out if needed; meals not listed as included; drinks at The Singular Santiago and Holiday Inn Santiago Airport; premium drinks at Explora hotels; personal expenditure; tips
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 return, Santiago to Easter Island return and Santiago to Punta Arenas return.
Departure dates: This is a private itinerary that operates on set dates from October to April. Please contact us for details.
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.
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.
Experience the beauty and majesty of the desert and Andes highlands as you explore on foot, by bike and horse, returning to the hotel's creature comforts.
Set by a scenic glacial lake backed by mountains, Explora is perfectly situated for enjoying the rugged beauty of Torres del Paine National Park on foot and horseback.
Spend days out hiking, cycling and exploring by boat as you revel in the scenery, history and culture of Easter Island, returning to the creature comforts of your hotel.
A modern hotel with good recreation facilities, a restaurant, bar and comfortable rooms just over the road from the airport terminal.
5/5 from 4 reviews
Find the best time to visit Chile
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.