After landing at Santiago airport and clearing customs, you will be met and driven to your hotel in a private hotel transfer. This afternoon we head downtown in Santiago's modern metro to begin our Santiago City Walking Tour. We get off at metro stop Moneda and surface in front of Chile's famous presidential palace La Moneda, a symbol of Chile’s political past and its famously turbulent history. From here we head along Paseo Ahumada, a city centre walkway famous for its crowds, shops, and diversity of people. At the end of the Paseo we reach Plaza de Armas which is Santiago's main square and Chile's kilometer zero (the point from which all distances in the country are measured). From here we head to Santa Lucia hill where Santiago was founded in 1541by Pedro Valdivia and as we climb up we get great panoramic views of the city and the Andes Mountain backdrop. Our tour finishes by visiting the bohemian Lastarria neighborhood at the bottom of the hill lined with cafes, restaurants, small theaters, bookstores and boutique shops. Duration: 3.5 - 4 hours
In the morning we're picked up from the hotel and driven to wine country. Once we arrive, we offload the bikes and start riding a country road to the vineyards. Riding through the village, you will see the local people, who make their living supporting Chile’s agricultural industries, and experience how they live. Once in the vineyards, the National Landmark hacienda of DoÃ±a Paula Jaraquemada welcomes us to ViÃ±a Santa Rita. This first stop takes you into one of the oldest cellars in Chile - which not only has a a rich history in wine-making but also played a very important role in Chile’s fight for Independence! Getting back your bike, the ride continues through the vineyards, offering you a chance to inspect up-close the vines that produce some of Chile’s most famous wines. The route passes the exact spot that the once extinct Bordeaux grape, Carmenere, was rediscovered and subsequently reintroduced to the
world by ViÃ±a Carmen. With the majestic Andes as the back-drop, you will ride through the vineyards of Santa Rita and Carmen until you reach the Carmen winery, to visit its state-of-the-art production facility, producing some of the finest Chilean wines. Following the winery, the tour takes you into the organic vineyard and gardens of ViÃ±a Nativa, where you will learn and experience the intricate relationship between the vines and flowers, while you stroll through the vineyard with its resident swans, ducks, chickens, llamas and deer. A dressed table in ViÃ±a Nativa’s tasting gazebo welcomes you to try two of the best wines ViÃ±as Carmen and
Nativa have to offer. Following this tasting, the van takes you back to Santa Rita’s wine shop to try your third wine of the day and shop for the best wine to take back home. Lunch is waiting for us with 2 more wines in a local restaurant with Chilean countryside cuisine. Satisfied after great food, wine and the scenic bike ride, we return to our hotel in Santiago.
Duration: Easy to Moderate / 13 kms
This morning you'll check out of the hotel and be driven to the airport in a private transfer. After a short scenic flight you'll arrive in Calama and be driven to San Pedro de Atacama, in the middle of the desert, where you'll check into your hotel. In the afternoon you'll have a little time to relax and acclimatise before being whisked off on a bike tour to Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), located 13km/8 miles west of San Pedro in the Salt Mountain Range. The valley has beautifully strange lunar landscapes and is considered one of the driest places on the planet. Cycling towards Valle de la Luna in time to witness a spectacular sunset, you'll feel the immensity of the desert stretching out all around you. Light refreshments and a specialist guide will be provided.
Today we drive to the great Salar de Atacama, a white endless salt flat with flamingos nesting in the lagoons. Geological research studies suggest this great salt flat is the most important lithium reserve in the world. We visit a nearby village with ancient architecture and inviting locals who produce fine wool knit products and in the afternoon we visit the Altiplano lagoons Miscanti and MeÃ±ique, located at 4,500m above sea level. Unique flora and fauna can be seen and the area is also home to many legends about the Atacama Desert. We end by visiting the town of Socaire, where old Andean traditions still exist today.
(Altitude: Altiplanic lagoons, 4.300 mts)
The very early wake-up call from the hotel will be well worth it when we arrive at the amazing Tatio Geysers and see them in action. From almost 900 meters below the earth, boiling steam bursts up to 40 meters over the surface of these spectacular geysers. A scrumptious breakfast will be served upon arrival before we walk through the geothermal fields with the geysers erupting nearby. As we drive back, there is a magnificent view of the Tocopurri and Sairecabur volcans. We arrive back in town in time to have lunch and the afternoon will be free to rest after the early start, high altitude and low temperature we faced in the morning.
(Altitude: Tatio Geysers 4,200 mts)
Today we're travelling from one extreme to another as we head from the dusty Atacama desert to Chile's luscious Lake District, lined with vast lakes and active volcans. After checking out from the hotel you'll be driven to Calama airport and board a flight to Puerto Montt. Upon arrival in Puerto Montt you'll be driven to nearby Puerto Varas, a beautiful town with a marked German architectural style located on the shore of Lake Llanquihue, where you'll check into your welcoming hotel.
From Puerto Montt to Puerto Varas: 20 km / 12 miles / 15 min driving.
From Puerto Varas to Frutillar: 50 km / 31 miles / 40 min driving.
This morning we are going white water rafting! We are driven to the Petrohue sector, in Perez Rosales National Park, located at the foot of Osorno Volcano next to the flowing turquoise waters of the Petrohue river. Once we arrive we meet our skilled guides who will equip us will all the rafting gear needed (wetsuit, helmet, paddle jacket and life jacket) and then talk us through safety instructions. We board the rafts and start paddling down this beautiful class III river, enjoying the rapids and the views. After completing the designated river section, we have a snack on the river banks and then return to Puerto Varas to spend the afternoon.
Rafting - Petrohue River Level: Class III (Intermediate)
Today we visit a national park named after the millenary Alerce tree, native to the region, undoubtedly one of the most interesting species of tree in Chile. In this Park some of the alerce trees are more than 3,000 years old! We drive down "Los Colonos" route heading to the city of Puerto Montt, passing by the small town of "Alerce" and then we meet the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway). This famous road, cutting through Northern Patagonia, is lined with abundant fauna, flora, and the beautiful lowlands of the Andean Cordillera. Along the road there are also typical small farming villages with a marked European look. We arrive at the 39,255 hectare park, located on the shores of Reloncavi, and start a beautiful hike on the different trails going through the Park. If we are lucky we see some of the interesting animals that live in the park, like the Chilean deer, pumas, pudÃºs (the smallest deer in the world), condors, black carpenter birds, and much more. We stop for lunch in one of the picnic facilities and re-energise. We then continue hiking among the ancient trees, looking out over the lake. We return to Puerto Varas and have time to go for dinner and enjoy a chilled pisco sour, a reward for all our walking effort!
Duration: From Puerto Varas to Alerce Andino National Park: 67 km / 41.5 miles / 1.5 hrs driving. Approximate walking time: 3-4 hrs in total, in different spots. Low altitude trails.
After checking out from our hotel, from Punta Arenas we drive to the EcoCamp located in the world famous Torres del Paine National Park. Please ensure your flight arrives into Punta Arenas before 3 pm to ensure the transfer can be arranged. During summer the sun sets around 11 pm, so as you drive in you’ll have plenty of light to admire the Patagonian steppe with its guanacos and snow-peaked mountain horizon. We will stop at at Puerto Natales enroute, a small but lively town on the shores of Seno Ultima Esperanza - "Last Hope Sound". You’re invited to check the town out, leave any luggage you won’t need in our office and finally enjoy a hearty lunch, choosing from the array of delicious local food before the day ends with an overnight at the EcoCamp, which is nestled in the heart of the park with a view of the Torres.
For the next two days you will have the choice between active or easy excursions to allow you to immerse yourself in the Torres del Paine National Park. The excursions vary depending on weather and the season. Perhaps today we will explore the Western Lakes & Grey Glacier. If a more leisurely day is your preference, you may consider a trip to Lake Peh with a drive south to a beach along the shores of glacial Lake Grey, to enjoy a tasty box-lunch by the lake before embarking on a boat ride across the icy waters to the towering blue walls of Glacier Grey. Those would would prefer a walk will begin the day with a drive across the Park, admiring the view of Paine Grande and its snowy peaks, and Los Cuernos with its black granite horn-like spires. Walking along the shores of the stunning Lake Peh, we see the furious Salto Grande waterfalls where the water from Lake Nordenskjold cascades down into Peh. The walk continues over the gentle Nordenskjold trail until until we reach its spectacular lookout point. Later, back at Lake Peh, we are driven south to a beach along the shores of glacial Lake Grey where we walk to reach the start of the beautiful Pingo Trail taking us through a fairytale like Magellan forest full of local fauna and flora. As we walk, huge rock formations in nearby hills and the strong Patagonian wind give us a good idea of just how wild Patagonia is! We reach a small sightseeing point with splendid views of the Massif’s west face, and then walk back to Grey Beach to meet our fellow travelers coming back from the boat ride. Together, we all head to Ecocamp to enjoy dinner and relaxation time.
There are more options available to us today. For those keen on a more relaxed day, the trip to Laguna Azul, on the north-eastern side of the Park is recommended and the day commences with a drive, stopping at various points en route to admire the local flora and fauna and the mighty Paine Waterfall. Once at Laguna Azul we hike to a sightseeing point with a panoramic view of both the lagoon and granite towers. We then drive down to the shores of Sarmiento lake, home to many limestone formations and herds of guanacos, and walk northwards along the Fauna Trail past the small Goic lagoon and various types of fauna. After around 5km we reach the Laguna Amarga ranger station from where we are driven back to EcoCamp to relax and enjoy the evening meal.
Should you prefer something a little more challenging, a trek to the base of the Towers of Paine is highly recommended. We walk from Ecocamp towards HosterÃa Las Torres and join the uphill path to Ascencio Valley on the Tower's eastern face. Dry mountain spots, beech forests and small rivers line the scenic walk towards the valley. Our big challenge comes as we climb the steep moraine, a mass of boulders leading us towards one of the world's most famous views overlooking the Towers. The famous Torres del Paine (2,900 m/ 9,400 ft) consist of three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. After an uphill slog, the Towers eventually come into full view, rising majestically before us, with the glacial lake visible below. Is there any better place in the world to have lunch? After feasting on the view and our picnic, we backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley and return to EcoCamp.
We board an early morning vehicle, sit back, relax, and enjoy a scenic ride back to Punta Arenas on time to catch the evening flight to Santiago. Once in Santiago we are driven back to our lovely hotel by private transfer and get some well-deserved sleep.
After a final Chilean breakfast and a private transfer to Santiago airport, our trip concludes.