Trip reference number: ITN-CHL002
Trip Operator: Rainbow Tours
This two week private itinerary explores Chile's natural wonders, spanning the entire country, and includes a cruise through the Chilean fjords. After two days exploring the city of Santiago, fly to the extreme north and experience one of the driest and most mysterious places on earth, the Atacama Desert. Then head south to the glaciers and fjords of Cape Horn and the Beagle Channel aboard the Australis expedition cruise. This trip ends with a few days to unwind in Buenos Aires before heading home.
Day 1 Overnight flight from the UK to Santiago de Chile.
Day 2 On arrival in Santiago you will be met and transferred to the Lastarria hotel in the historical neighbourhood of the same name in this vibrant and cosmopolitan city. Lastarria is a bohemian gem and home to a host of attractions including quirky craft markets, alfresco street dining options and a plethora of charming architecture. There is often festivals and live performances held on J.V. Lastarria street, a great way to immerse in the Chilean vibe.
Day 3 Set in a flat plain, with magnificent views of the Andes, Santiago has a wonderful setting. Visit the historic core around the Plaza de Armas including the Cathedral and the Archbishop's Palace. For an insight into daily life and the best place for an amazing variety of seafood and crustaceans, visit the Mercado Central. Parque Metropolitano is home to San Cristobal Hill, the perfect spot for views over the city, especially on a clear day. Access from the vibrant Barrio Bellavista neighbourhood, with a diverse range of restaurants, bars and shop such as Montana steakhouse.
Day 4 Travel to the north and the small oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama desert, gateway to the barren but beautiful Atacama Desert. Alto Atacama is set at the base of the Salt Mountains in the beautiful, fertile Katarpe Valley and built in the style of a traditional adobe settlement. Designed to recreate an ancient Altiplanic village, the hotel blends seamlessly into the terracotta coloured backdrop. Experience the tranquility and silence from one of the hotel’s wonderful outdoor lounge spaces as you gaze at endless night sky and the twinkling stars.
Day 5 Atacama is a magical area of lunar landscapes, adobe-built indigenous villages and vast salt flats. Watch the sunset over the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), spot vibrant pink flamingoes and travel high into the altiplano. Marvel at perfect lagoons framed by volcanoes or El Tatio Geysers. As the sunrises over this barren area, be awed by the huge funnels of steam escaping from bubbling pools. Soak in thermal baths surrounded by silence or indulge in a treatment at the Puri Spa, one of the finest in Latin America.
Day 6 Journey high into the altiplano to visit Miscanti and Miñiques lagoons, set on the furthest end of Los Flamencos National Reserve. A mesmerizing combination of desert, mountains and lagoons are a result of the harsh climate and dramatically beautiful setting beneath the shadow of the towering volcanoes. An area of natural richness, the altiplano is home to a variety of wildlife including the Horned Coot, Crested Duck, Yellow-Billed Pintail, Speckled Teal, the Chilean Flamingo, Andean Seagull, Silvery Grebe, and Baird’s Sandpiper. En-route back to San Pedro visit the traditional town of Socaire, taking the opportunity to visit the Altiplanic church.
Day 7 Travel from the far north to the far south and the town of Punta Arenas, gateway to Patagonia. Ideal for an overnight stay, this remote outpost is easy to navigate, most landmarks and museums a short distance from the main Plaza de Armas. Walk to Mirador la Cruz viewpoint for a good panorama of the multi coloured buildings in downtown and the seemingly endless landscapes.
Day 8 Discover the magic and stunning natural beauty of Chilean Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego onboard your 4 night Australis cruise. On this remarkable and unforgettable expedition, visit some of the world’s remotest areas including Cape Horn, the southernmost point of the Americas, en-route to Ushuaia in Argentina. Your Australis ship is specially designed for comfort with expert crew and guides. Get up close to the wildlife such as penguins, sea birds such as albatross and sea lions. View the dramatic sunsets, majestic glaciers and picture perfect snow capped mountains.
Day 9 Navigate through the Strait of Magellan to Almirantazgo Sound and the landing point of Ainsworth Bay. Sited within Alberto De Agostini National Park this is the perfect spot to view the Marinelli Glacier and explore between the scattered pancake ice by zodiac boat. On land, visit the sub polar Magellan Forest to visit the beaver dam for possible sightings. There is also a chance of spotting Southern Elephant Seals although the colony movements are fairly unpredictable. At Tucker Islet get up close to a colony of inquisitive Magellan Penguins, a species indigenous to the Southern Hempishere.
Day 10 Traverse the northwest part of the Beagle Channel to reach Pia Fjord. Take a short hike to the panoramic viewpoint for a spectacular view of Pia Glacier. Embedded within the Darwin Range this majestic glacier displays many shades of blue. Listen out for the deafening sound of calving as huge chunks of ice tumble into the still waters. Continue through the Beagle Channel taking in the landscapes and the awe-inspiring ‘Glacier Alley’ - Spain, Romanche, Germany, Italy, France and Holland.
Day 11 Sail through the Murray Channel, landing at Wulaia Bay the site of one of the region’s largest Yamana aboriginal settlements. The famous Charles Darwin landed here in 1833 during his voyage on the HMS Beagle. Meander through the Magellan Forest of lengas, coigües, canelos and ferns to reach a panoramic viewpoint. Legendary Cape Horn, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, is one of the highlights of the cruise. Weather permitting, visit the monument which marks the southernmost point of the Americas.
Day 12 After breakfast, disembark in the southern most city in the world, Ushuaia. Transfer to the airport for the flight to the Argentine capital Buenos Aires where you will stay for the next two nights at the boutique Mine hotel in the leafy neighbourhood of Palermo Soho. Situated on a quiet street but with a variety of restaurants, shops and bars nearby this is an ideal location to explore this vibrant capital city with its distinct European influenced architecture.
Day 13 Explore the city on a scenic tour which incorporates many of the city's highlights from the Plaza de Mayo and the Presidential Palace (the pink house) to the bohemian, cobblestone streets of San Telmo. La Boca is the home to the famous football team of Boca Juniors and also the iconic colourful 'caminito' houses which are emblematic of this vibrant city. Finish the short tour with a visit to the upmarket Recoleta district and the cemetery where Eva Peron is buried. By evening enjoy a sensual tango show at Esquina Carlos Gardel where the evocative dancers perform their skillful dancing.
Day 14 Transfer to the international airport for your return flight to the UK.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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