Puerto Varas - Torres del Paine - Atacama Desert - Santiago de Chile
Upon arrival in Puerto Montt, the lakeside gateway to Chilean Patagonia, you’ll travel by land to Puerto Varas, which is just 30 min. away. Welcome to Puerto Varas, the first stop in your 2 week travel itinerary to Chile!
This beautiful lakeside town, better known as the “City of Roses”, is the gateway city to the Chilean Lake District, and faces the great Osorno Volcano.
First inhabited by German immigrants, Puerto Varas has kept most of its traditional architecture; wooden houses, alerce trees and German Jesuit churches can be seen all over the place, as well as rose bushes covering every street.
On your first evening in Puerto Varas, visit the rose bushes in Plaza de Armas, or go to Parque Phillipi’s viewpoint to admire Lake Llanquihue from above, walk the different pathways inside the park, and zipline from one treetop to another in the adventure activity center of the park.
The gastronomy of the city is something to savor as well! Taste the “Kuchen” pie, a traditional dish of the first German immigrants, the homemade marmalades (Puerto Varas is famous for their blueberry production!), and the best smoked salmon in the whole country.
Start the day with a pick-up at your hotel in Puerto Varas and begin your route to the town of Ensenada, visiting the enchanting Laguna Verde, Spanish for “Green Lagoon,” at the foot of Osorno Volcano within Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. From Ensenada, your ascent to the Osorno Volcano Ski Center will begin.
Take a moment to enjoy the amazing views; the snow-capped summit of the volcano, the nearby ancient glaciers and volcanoes (like Calbuco), and the teal-colored vastness of the Pacific Ocean.
Then, it’s time to hike in the Vicente Rosales National Park, the oldest National Park in Chile, which is known for its hot springs and Todos los Santos Lake, one of the most crystalline lakes of southern Chile.
Near this beautiful lake, you’ll reach the Petrohúe Falls, an obligatory stop if you’re in Vicente Rosales National Park. These amazing waterfalls, formed by ancient lava traces, are surrounded by the incredible Osorno volcano and the Valdivian forest, two natural wonders of Chile that you’ll enjoy in this 2-week travel itinerary. At the end of the visit, we’ll drive you back to your hotel in Puerto Varas.
This is your free day in Puerto Varas; you have no activities scheduled for today!
But… if you still want to get active, we recommend that you add an optional day tour to experience the “Paso el Solitario “ hike, starting at the base of Osorno Volcano.
Accompanied by your local guide, you’ll reach the base of the volcano and start a moderate-difficulty trek (called Paso el Solitario) that will last about 3 hours, crossing lush woods of native vegetation, like the Ulmo and Cohiue trees.
Enjoy the amazing views of Osorno and Calbuco Volcanoes while walking at your own pace over an irregular, though not challenging, terrain. The valley of Petrouhúe River and Llanquihué Lake (the second largest in Chile) will suddenly appear in the picture, and you’ll make a stop to eat your boxed lunch in the wild. Finally, reach the lava fields left by the last eruption of Osorno Volcano. At the end of the trail, we’ll be waiting to take you back to Puerto Varas.
Today, you’ll fly to Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most famous natural preserves in the world. We’ll pick you up from your hotel and drive you to the airport of Puerto Montt to take your flight to Punta Arenas, from where you’ll be taken directly inside Torres del Paine National Park!
This protected area, declared a Natural Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, is visited by thousands of travelers each year, and the best way to explore it is by foot. From owls to deer, from condors to guanacos (Patagonian llamas), from orchids to blueberries, with the backdrop of an impressive granite mountain face, this magnificent place will blow your mind!
You’ll stay inside the park for 2 days, where you’ll have different hiking options, whether you’re an experienced hiker or just a nature lover, there is an option for everyone. Our team of expert guides will let you in on the best hidden gems upon arrival. In the meantime, read about our hiking recommendations for the next 2 days!
Our recommendation for your first day is to make a solo hike to Base de las Torres del Paine. This is the most famous hike in the park since it takes you to the base of the Paine Horns (8500 f.o.s.l.), a challenge for climbers all over the world. It takes 8 -10 hours round-trip.
The first 2 hours of the trek are very tiring, since you are walking up, leaving the valley where the Hosteria and Refuge Torres del Paine are located. You’ll cross Ascensio Valley, taking its winding path and gazing over Ascensio River until getting to the first stop, Refugio El Chileno. You can rent some horses to reach Refugio El Chileno and save some energy for the hike to the base de Las Torres.
From there, walk for one hour through a lenga forest — the changing landscapes will combat any tiredness until you finally get to the moraine; the last beat of the trek, and the hardest. The last hour will be an uphill climb, but take your time, you’ll definitely make it to the top! Every effort will be rewarded with breathtaking views of these massive granite mountains that extend past a blue lake and up to the sky.
Wake up and breathe in; the smell of adventure is in the air. Today we recommend that you take an optional day tour to visit the Glacier Grey viewpoint.
We’ll pick you up from your hotel and take you to Pudeto, where you’ll cross Pehoé Lake in a medium-sized boat and reach Paine Refuge, the starting point of the trek.
Your main objective, after a 3hr 30min trek, will be to arrive at the viewpoint of the huge Grey Glacier, emerging from the Southern Ice Field! First, you’ll hike around a small lagoon and gaze at the different icebergs floating near Grey Lake Beach.
Continue by ascending on flat terrain full of lenga trees until reaching an altitude of 1480 feet above sea level. You will then have a 15-minute light descent to finally reach Grey Refuge, where the best viewpoint of the glacier awaits.
Learn all about the vegetation that you’ll discover on your way! Return the same way to Paine Grande Refuge, sail Lake Pehoé and get back to your accommodation inside the park.
Today, a shuttle will pick you up from your hotel and take you to Punta Arenas airport, where you’ll catch your flight to Santiago, the modern and vibrant capital of Chile.
This is only a stop in your journey! You’ll spend this night at our selected hotel inside the airport (walking distance from the disembarking area) because tomorrow you’ll fly to Calama, the gateway to San Pedro de Atacama, the jumping-off city to visit the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth.
After breakfast, take your flight to Calama where, upon arrival, you’ll be driven to your accommodation in San Pedro de Atacama, just 2 hours away.
This city of little adobe houses, of unpaved streets and cozy restaurants, is the base to begin exploring one of Chile’s most spectacular environments. You are beginning an adventurous journey that involves multicolored moon-type landscapes, incredible geysers and huge volcanoes!
In the afternoon, take your first tour in Atacama and visit the Cejar and Tebenquiche Lagoons, inside the great Atacama Salt Flats, where you’ll be able to bathe in their clear turquoise waters with and amazing volcano backdrop.
Then, step into the heart of the salt flats and visit the “Ojo del Salar” (Salt Flats’ Eyes), two round freshwater wellsprings in the middle of the desert, where you’ll enjoy a delicious appetizer next to the impressive Andes Mountain Range.
At the end of this relaxing trip we’ll drive you back to San Pedro de Atacama to enjoy the rest of the evening eating a pastel de choclo (a corn-based cake) at one of the cozy restaurants on Caracoles Street (the main road). Be bold in this secluded corner of the globe, and mingle with locals while you explore on the unpaved roads.
San Pedro de Atacama is also one of the best places to stargaze in the whole world. With this altitude, you’ll see the clearest skies of your life. Make sure you don’t waste the opportunity and get out there to chase some starlight!
Today, you’ll travel 40 miles to the north of Atacama Salt Flats, one of the most exciting destinations in your travel itinerary to Chile! Start the day by visiting the Chaxa Lagoon, one of the best places to see flamingos inside the natural reserve. Discover the salt crusts, produced by the evaporation of water, which cover the land from North to South as you move your way through the desert to reach the Highland Lakes, at an altitude of 14,000 feet.
Miscanti and Miñiques, better known as the Highland Lakes, are two neighboring lagoons formed by the eruption of the Meñique Volcano, which can be seen in the background of these pristine waters. Take a lovely picture next to the Meñique Lagoon, which is shaped like a giant blue heart!
Continue your journey by visiting the village of Socaire, where you can taste the best Atacamenian cuisine, and the town of Toconao, an oasis in the middle of Atacama Desert. Fruits and vegetables grow freely in this village that is made entirely from volcanic stone (known as ‘liparita’ stone). After exploring these interesting examples of the culture of Atacamenians, we’ll drive you back to San Pedro de Atacama.
This morning, you’ll see two highlights of the Atacama region: Geysers del Tatio and The Moon Valley. This is a full-day experience, and your last day in Atacama!
First, you will travel to where the crevices of the Earth exhale their millenary breath. At about 4 a.m., we’ll pick you up to take you 60 miles away from San Pedro de Atacama into the Andes to see the geothermal field of Geysers del Tatio (the highest in the world). Here, you’ll see 40 geysers and 70 hot springs fighting against the super low temperatures of the first morning hours (their waters can reach up to 185 °F). Take the most impressive photos, swim in the Tatio Spring’s rich mineral waters, and enjoy a complete breakfast with this magnificent backdrop.
On your way back, visit the quaint village of Machuca (at 13000 f.o.s.l), with barely 20 adobe houses and a traditional church that locals visit daily to ask the Virgin to give them water. This is the perfect opportunity to get closer to the inner mountain culture of the region, and to try one of the best sopaipilla in Chile (a fried tortilla)!
We’ll drive you back to San Pedro de Atacama, where you’ll depart in the afternoon on a 4-hour adventure in the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), an out-of-this-world place. Driving straight to the desert, we’ll start noticing mysterious forms of salt and clay as we get closer to the “Three Marias”. These statues are the female guardians of this cosmic desert, so don’t forget to bow and make a wish to these beautiful monuments. The Atacama Desert is one of the world’s driest and most hostile zones.
After this first encounter, take a winding and hidden path to the Salt Caves, and discover the peculiar salt gemstones that have formed over centuries from the lack of humidity and the altitude of this zone. The highlight of your adventure will appear at sunset, when all the colors of this incredible landscape change their palette. The forbidding Licancabur Volcano will turn pink while the valley awaits the rise of its lunar mother. After the excursion, you will be dropped off in downtown Atacama, and from there you can make your way back to your hotel on your own.
Today we’ll take you to Calama airport for your flight to Santiago, the bustling capital of Chile. Upon arrival, you’ll be driven to your accommodation for the next 3 days.
Between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, this modern city offers all kinds of attractions for curious travelers. From different viewpoints in the city, you can see the natural beauties surrounding Santiago; the snow-capped mountains and the beautiful Valle del Maipo, where the best Chilean wine is produced.
Santiago de Chile is known as the home of Pisco Sour, the delicious Cabernet Sauvignon and the “Sanhattan” district, which is a stylish fusion between Manhattan and Santiago, and heaven on earth for enthusiastic shoppers.
Enjoy your first evening in the city by visiting two of the most interesting places in Santiago: the Santa Lucía Hill, a famous downtown garden from where you’ll have the best views over the city. Visit a museum which used to be the home of Pablo Neruda, the famous Chilean writer. Wander the streets of the most bohemian and colorful district in Santiago, passing by its traditional cafes, restaurants and pubs, and take the gondola to reach San Cristobal Hill, another highlight of the city.
Today, we’ll pick you up from your hotel and take you on a full-day visit to Valparaíso, the most important port of Chile. Why visit Valparaiso? This unforgettable city, constructed on the steep slope of a hill, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and shows off the unique art and culture of Chile.
Starting in Plaza Victoria, covered by Peruvian sculptures, we’ll continue to explore downtown and Plaza Sotomayor, until finally reaching the Prat port. From there we’ll take our first gondola of the day and head to the beautiful Palacio Baburizza, constructed in 1916. Pass by the colorful houses that stare down from above the city and the bay, and descend once again by taking another gondola.
Leaving Valparaiso, we’ll head to Viña del Mar, the favorite Chilean summer-vacation destination. Enjoy a relaxing evening walking on the coast and the pier which extends into the Pacific Ocean, and visit the beautiful “Reloj de Flores”, a giant clock that is entirely made of flowers. At the end of the day, we’ll drive you back to your hotel in Santiago de Chile.
You don’t have any scheduled activities for today… but, we recommend that you keep on exploring! Santiago de Chile is an exciting city, full of history and architectural treasures.
If you want to add an optional day tour, we highly suggest that you take a full day to explore Santiago de Chile and tour the Concha y Toro Winery, one of the most famous wine-producers in the area.
It would go like this… First, we’ll pick you up from your hotel to discover the Palacio de la Moneda (a governmental building) where Salvador Allende, the popular socialist president, killed himself just before the last military coup in 1973, and Santiago’s Cathedral, the main Catholic bastion of Chile. After finishing this urban exploration, we’ll leave the city and head to the countryside to visit a time-honored bodega (winery) called Concha y Toro (30 miles to the south).
Wander around ancient vineyards, which have seen several generations of the Concha y Toro family, try delicious wines and choose which is your favorite. This immersive experience will end at the wine bar, where you’ll be free to taste all the beverages you would like, and we’ll drive you back safe and sound to your hotel in Santiago.
Time to go home, but not empty-handed! At the appropriate time we’ll take you to the airport to take your flight back home.
Is there still a place that you missed visiting? Maybe a traditional dish you couldn’t taste, or a hill you couldn’t hike? Don’t fret… because we have many more travel itineraries that are ready for your next travel adventure in South America.
FLIGHTS NEEDEDFOR THIS ITINERARY
Santiago de Chile - Calama - Santiago - Puerto Montt - Punta Arenas - Santiago de Chile
Flights in South America cost approximately $150 to $300 USD per segment (destination).
We offer special rates on flights for this tailor-made itinerary.
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