Chile: Highlights of Chile (10 days)
This Chilean tour highlights includes Santiago, Atacama Desert, Patagonia with Torres del Paine National Park, and Valparaiso.
Optional extensions available to Easter Island or a Cruceros Australia cruise of the southern fjords of Patagonia.
2017 Departure Dates & Cost
Departures are available daily based on minimum 2 persons
Cost: $2,874 USD per person
Day 1: Santiago – Arrival and city tour
Encounter Santiago, Chile’s capital, nestled in the central valley, right below the imposing Andes. This city mixes the “Mapuche” legacy, the natives that inhabited this land during the Pre-Columbian era, our Spanish colonial past and the modernity of any thriving city of the world. Walk its streets, visit its museums, engage with its architecture and become a part of it. Historical and contemporary features combined in the heart of Chile. In the afternoon, we journey towards the city center, where we will get to know its main attractions. First, we will visit the Santa Lucia Hill, where the city of Santiago was founded in 1541. Then we will continue to the Plaza de Armas, where we can see the Cathedral of Santiago, the Municipality, the Post Office Building and National History Museum and then Cerro San Cristobal, where we can enjoy a panoramic view of Santiago. The experience continues with a panoramic tour through the Providencia neighborhood and finally, along the Costanera Highway until reaching the elegant Vitacura neighborhood and the Alonso de Córdova Avenue. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 2: Santiago – Calama – San Pedro de Atacama (Atacama Desert)
Transfer to the airport to board flight to Calama. After arrival in Calama we drive into the Atacama Desert until arriving at San Pedro de Atacama, lunch at local restaurant. PM tour to the Moon Valley where we will enjoy the sunset. The Valley of the Moon, declared a Natural sanctuary and monument, is formed by a depression surrounded by small hills with stunning sharp ridges. The tour is an imaginary trip to “out of this world” landscapes that can only be found on other planets.
Head to the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountain Range), where you will visit the “Valle de la Luna” that forms part of the National Flamingo Reservation. This unique place is famous for its natural mineral sculptures, one of them being “Las Tres Marías” (The three Mary’s) formed by the wind erosion, resembling a lunar setting. Finally, end your trip with a magical sunset at the Kari Viewpoint, one of the highest points of the “Cordillera de la Sal” (Salt Mountain Range); before returning to your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama. Dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight.
DAY 3: San Pedro de Atacama (Altiplanic Lagoons & Atacama Salt Flat)
The Atacama Salt Flat, the largest in Chile, is home to one of the most important Flamingo Reservations, the Flamingos National Reserve. Make a soft walk along a path to the Chaxa Lagoon, in order to appreciate the rich fauna of the place. Depart from your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama, while heading by the international highway towards the Atacama Salt Flat, one of the largest in the world due to its large size. Within the Salt Flat, in the area known as Soncor and the Chaxa Lagoon, be delighted with the three species of native pink flamingos. Continue and travel further within the Altiplano, reaching 4,300 meters above sea level. Arrive at the Miñique and Miscanti lagoons, at the foothill of the Miñique and Miscanti volcanoes, with fantastic scenery of bluish waters arising from the background volcanoes. After this visit, we will return to Socaire for lunch at one of the rustic cooking places of the village, that still use the resources cultivated from the ancestral agricultural terraces. Finally, make a stop at the village of Toconao, where we will visit the main square, the bell tower built in 1750 made of cactus wood, mud and straw, and the church of San Lucas, both declared National Monument since 1951. Return to your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama. Dinner and overnight.
Day 4: San Pedro de Atacama (Tatio Geysers + Machuca) – Santiago
On this tour, you will be able to visit the Tatio Geysers; the geothermal centre of the Atacama Desert. Witness its impressive natural spectacle of steam combined with volcanic magma; it’s a visual performance that is waiting to surprise you. Next visit Machuca, a little village that reflects the culture of Northern Chile.
Depart from your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama in the very early morning. Arrival at the Tatio Geysers, located in the Andes mountain range at a distance of 89 km from San Pedro de Atacama; where the show of its fumaroles can best be appreciated at dawn. After watching this delightful spectacle, it is time to enjoy a delicious breakfast to later spend time at the natural hot pool with an average temperature of 36° C.
Visit Machuca where local families dedicate their life to grazing and agriculture. There is a good chance to observe a flock of flamingos, ducks and gulls in the nearby wetlands. Drive back to San Pedro de Atacama. Lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon transfer to Calama Airport to take the plane to Santiago. At arrival, transfer to the hotel. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 5: Santiago (Viña del Mar + Valparaíso)
Visit Viña del Mar (the “Garden City”) and Valparaíso (World Heritage Site), where the most important points of historical, social, multicultural and economic interest can be found. We depart from our hotel in Santiago to the Pacific coast, crossing the Coastal Mountain Range and the Casablanca and Curacaví Valleys. Our first stop will be Viña del Mar, known as the Garden City; because of the great amount of parks and nice gardens that it has. We will make a stop at the Quinta Vergara, Palacio Carrasco, and know an original Moai from Easter Island. Then, we continue along the bay, forming part of the most important central coastline, and get to know the city’s famous flower clock.
Next, we arrive at the city of Valparaíso, World Heritage Site and main commercial port and home to the Congress of Chile. During the tour, visitors are greeted by the multi-coloured houses on the hills, parks and diverse historic monuments, traditional bars and restaurants. We will have lunch at a typical seafood restaurant and get to know the Plaza Sotomayor, the most important civic square of the city, located on the shore. Finally, at this point we will sail across the bay, in order to appreciate the best views of Valparaíso. During the afternoon, we return to our hotel in Santiago. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 6: Santiago – Punta Arenas – Puerto Natales (Patagonia)
Transfer from your hotel to Santiago airport. Pick up at the airport in Punta Arenas and drive towards Muñoz Gamero Square, where we will visit the Monument to Hernando de Magallanes next to Selknam natives. Legend says that anyone who kisses the foot of the native will return to the city. Then, we will ascent to De la Cruz Hill to enjoy a panoramic view of the city, Magellan’s Strait and Tierra del Fuego. Lunch in a local restaurant. We will then drive along the Pampa for around 3 hours in direction to Puerto Natales, a small city located in the heart of the Chilean Patagonia. Overnight at selected hotel. Dinner included.
DAY 7: Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine National Park
Visit National Park Torres del Paine, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful natural places in the world, and recently chosen as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Thus, through our tour we will appreciate some of its main attractions, such as Amarga Lagoon, overlooking the Horns of Paine, Salto Grande and Grey Lake. At noon, we will enjoy lunch in the park and then continue our journey within the park. Overnight in Serrano area.
DAY 8: Torres del Paine – Puerto Natales
In the morning, we will continue to discover the National Park Torres del Paine. After lunch, we will return to Puerto Natales. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight.
DAY 9: Puerto Natales – Punta Arenas – Santiago
Transfer from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas (aprox. 3h driving time). On the way, lunch in a local estancia. Transfer to the airport to fly to Santiago, transfer to your hotel. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight.
****Optional Cruceros Australis Cruise Extension departure day ****
DAY 10: Santiago – Next Destination
Today you have the morning at leisure, at agreed time transfer to the airport.
**** Optional Easter Island Extension ***