Atacama Desert, Chile (Shutterstock)
List Words : Team Wanderlust | 17 June 2019

Best Chile trips: 9 wild adventures from Atacama to Patagonia

Whether you want to trek through the Atacama Desert, take in the sights of Patagonia or revel in Santiago’s thriving foodie scene, these trips will show you every side of Chile at its very peak...

1. Discover untouched Aisen

Hanging Glacier of Queulat National Park (Shutterstock)

Hanging Glacier of Queulat National Park (Shutterstock)

Explore one of Chile’s most remote and beautiful corners on this 15-day journey through the country’s little-visited Asien region, with Journey Latin America.

Tucked between the volcanic lake district to the north and the windswept granite peaks and glaciers of Torres del Paine to the south, Aisen is a wilderness of cool rainforest, glaciers, and sweeping vistas across stunning mountain peaks. 

While the area has begun to open up and new hotels and lodges are being built, this is is very much a journey through a remote and rugged area, so a sense of adventure is essential.

Trip: Untouched Aisen: Little-Known Patagonia

Who: Journey Latin America

Type: Small group

When: Nov & Feb

How long: 15 days

How much: From £3,180 (exc. flights)

2. A local’s guide to Atacama

Moon Valley in the Atacama Desert (Shuterstock)

Moon Valley in the Atacama Desert (Shuterstock)

Atacama is justifiably one of Chile’s most popular destinations – an area of vast, otherworldly landscapes that stretches to an endless horizon. On this tour with Evaneos, led by local guides, you’ll encounter the area’s local culture, customs and traditions.

Your guide will be your introduction to the ancient Licken Antay culture, a totally unique lens to view San Pedro de Atacama through.

You’ll be involved in the daily activities of the local community, immersing yourself in the local gastronomy, traditions and the unique way of life.

You’ll learn about the southern night skies in Moon Valley, be guided through the petroglyphs and the colourful rainbow valley in San Pedro de Atacama, and enjoy a typical meal for lunch. You’ll even get the chance to walk with llamas.

Trip: Chile: Sustainable Tourism: San Pedro De Atacama

Who: Evaneos

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: Four days

How much: £1,130 (exc. flights)

3. A short break in Santiago

Cable car to San Cristobal (Shutterstock)

Cable car to San Cristobal (Shutterstock)

Set within a circle of snow-capped mountains, Santiago is vibrant and artistic city with an up-and-coming foodie scene. You’ll experience it all on this short break adventure with Intrepid.

Your adventure starts with a walk around the vibrant streets of Santiago with a local guide, discovering Santiago's historic centre and hearing its intriguing stories. You’ll also enjoy a specialist foodie tour through the city’s bustling Mercado Central and then the bohemian Bellavista neighbourhood, a hipster district that is home to on-the-up restaurants. 

Throw in a spectacular cable car ride to the top of Cerro San Cristobal for stunning views of the city, and you have the perfect introduction to the Chilean capital.

Trip: Santiago Stopover

Who: Intrepid

Type: Small group

When: Regular departures throughout the year

How long: Three days

How much: From £200 (exc. flights)

4. Get active in Chile's Lake District

Kayaking amongst the marble caves on Lake General Carrera (Shutterstock)

Kayaking amongst the marble caves on Lake General Carrera (Shutterstock)

With its long Pacific coastline, volcano-studded lake district and windswept glaciers and peaks in Patagonia, Chile is arguably Latin America's most rewarding country for outdoor adventure. You’ll experience it all on this active holiday with Journey Latin America.

Making the most of the country’s well-developed infrastructure, you’ll enjoy a range of well-supported and guided activities including hikes, volcano climbing, river rafting, horse riding and mountain biking.

The hikes are challenging. And the weather can be fast-changing. But in the southern summer (November to March), in such epic landscapes, you’re almost guaranteed to have a chance at catching some clear, sunny days.

Trip: Active Chile: Hiking, Cycling And Kayaking In The Lake District And Patagonia

Who: Journey Latin America

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 13 days

How much: From £3,483 (exc. flights)

5. Trek the Atacama

Geysers of the Atacama (Shutterstock)

Geysers of the Atacama (Shutterstock)

Discover a jaw-dropping landscape of salt lakes, flamingo-filled lagoons, bubbling geysers and captivating peaks on this trek through the Atacama Desert with KE Adventure Travel.

You’ll start in the quaint town of San Pedro. You’ll acclimatise by walking and exploring the sites of San Pedro, including the flamingos on Chaxa Lagoon and the Valley of the Moon, immersing yourself in incredible lunar landscapes, remote communities and rich cultures.

After an acclimatisation circuit of Copa Coya (4500m), you’ll relax in hot springs and visit the famed El Tatio geysers before heading to Bolivia to climb the summit of Licancabur. At 5920m, you’ll have the whole of the Atacama Desert at your feet.

Trip: Red Hot Chile Trekkers - The Atacama Desert

Who: KE Adventure Travel

Type: Small group

When: Nov

How long: 11 days

How much: From £2,395 (exc. flights)

6. Experience Chile's highlights in luxury

Your room at the Tierra Patagonia (Tierra Patagonia)

Your room at the Tierra Patagonia (Tierra Patagonia)

Explore the best bits of Chile while staying in some of its smartest hotels and lodges, on this tailor-made luxury holiday with Journey Latin America.

From the achingly beautiful lake district to the fringes of Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia’s deep south, you’ll experience epic landscapes and traditional cultures, all the while enjoying the very highest standards in service and accommodation.

Highlights include a stay on Chiloé, the misty and mysterious island off the Pacific coast, and exploring the mountains and glaciers of Patagonia.

You’ll round off your adventure with a couple of days luxuriating at one of Chile's most prestigious vineyards, set in a fertile valley not far from the capital, Santiago. 

Trip: Luxury Chile: Patagonia, Chiloé And Maipo Valley Vineyards

Who: Journey Latin America

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 13 days

How much: From £6,794 (exc. flights)

7. A sustainable adventure in the Chiloé archipelago

Traditional stilt houses in Castro on Chiloé Island (Shutterstock)

Traditional stilt houses in Castro on Chiloé Island (Shutterstock)

Sail through the stunning Chiloé archipelago on this unique, sustainable adventure with Evaneos.

Over four days, you will sail from island to island, interacting with locals and learning about the traditional customs of the Chono, Cunco and Williche people.

Famous for living in harmony with nature, the people of Chiloé will make your visit a deep, mystical and unforgettable experience.

Trip: Chile: Sustainable Tourism In The Chiloé Archipelago

Who: Evaneos

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: Five days

How much: £2,050

8. Track pumas in Patagonia

A puma in Torres del Paine national park (Shutterstock)

A puma in Torres del Paine national park (Shutterstock)

Join leading Chilean photographer and wildlife professional Diego Araya in Torres del Paine National Park to track and photograph pumas and other wildlife, on this animal adventure with Wildlife Worldwide.

This once-in-a-lifetime photographic adventure allows you to explore the Torres del Paine area and see its remarkable wildlife.

Diego and his team of trackers will help you locate Patagonia's most elusive animals, and then capture your moments with the enigmatic Andean puma and endangered South Andean deer on camera.

Your base for your stay will be the innovative, award-winning EcoCamp Patagonia, famous for its sustainable geodesic Suite Domes.

Trip: Puma-Tracking In Southern Chile

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

Type: Small group

When: Departures Oct to Mar

How long: Eight days

How much: From £4,695 (Exc. flights)

9. Walk the W Trek

Hiker on the W Trek (Shutterstock)

Hiker on the W Trek (Shutterstock)

The W Trek is the most famous walk in the stunning Torres Del Paine National Park, ticking off the park’s iconic sights with pleasing regularity.

This quick six-day hike along the W Trek with G Adventures is the perfect add-on to other Patagonian adventures. You’ll spend four days walking through stunning landscapes surrounding Grey Glacier, French Valley, and the imposing three towers.

While the trek alone is challenging enough, the real contest comes in needing to take your camera out so frequently.

Trip: Torres Del Paine - The W Trek

Who: G Adventures

Type: Small group

When: Regular departures Oct to Apr

How long: Six days

How much: From £999 (exc. flights)

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