Chile - Atacama Desert, Lakes And Torres Del Paine

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Run by: Rainbow Tours

Reference number: ITN-CHL001

From: £3990.00

This tour is a comprehensive Chile holiday exploring the arid, barren northern Atacama region to the rugged peaks of Patagonia, the cosmopolitan city of Santiago and the snowcapped volcano strewn landscape of the Lake District. Travel the length of intriguing Chile, staying in comfortable accommodation throughout with exciting excursions included to get you up close and personal with the highlights of this South American nation. 

Watch the sunrise over the altiplano near San Pedro de Atacama at the highest geyser field in the world as huge funnels of natural steam from bubbling geothermal pools are dotted across the horizon. Spectacular sunsets at Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley) fill the evening sky with a kaleidoscope of colour. At Laguna Chaxa, flamingos take flight as the cold night chill takes over.

Admire the Germanic influenced architecture in the Lake District overlooked by towering volcanoes. Venture to remote areas, climb the gentle slopes of Osorno volcano and listen to the thunder of powerful Petrohue Falls. Chiloe Island's unique 'palafitos' (houses on stilts) brighten Castro town or step back in time in the remote towns amongst the verdant, rolling hills. 

Torres del Paine National Park; towering jagged peaks and vast landscapes make for a picture perfect end to your Chile holiday. Indulge in the remoteness of the area as the sun reflects from glistening glaciers and Patagonian lamb chars on the asado barbecue. 

Itinerary

Day 1 Overnight flight from London to Santiago.

Day 2 Morning arrival to Santiago, a city overlooked by the towering peaks of the Andes. Ease yourself into Santiago with a short stay in the postcard pretty bohemian neighbourhood of Lastarria. Charming cobbled streets make way for some of the city's best museums and art galleries. Experience your first Chilean sunset at the hotels rooftop bar, with a cold microbrew in hand.

Day 3 Morning visit incorporating the main highlights of the city. The traditional Plaza de Armas, is home to the Government Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral, National Museum of History and Central Post Office.Travel through the bohemian neighbourhood of Barrio Bellavisita to San Cristobal Hill for a fantastic panoramic vista of the valley and the backdrop of the snow topped Andean mountains. Choose from a great selection of local restaurants. Visit the Mercado Central, a classic choice for seafood lunch and for dinner Boca y Nariz in Lastarria with its vast selection of Chilean wines or Sur Patagonia with its pretty pavement tables.

Day 4 After an early breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight north to Calama, the gateway to the pretty adobe town of San Pedro de Atacama. In the late afternoon, visit the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) around 15km west of the town and part of the Reserva Nacional los Flamencos. At Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley), famous for ts peculiar rock formations and void of plants of insects this is a truly barren landscape. Admire the spectacular end of the day as the sun dips below the horizon.

Day 5 Departing south from San Pedro de Atacama, visit the picturesque village of Toconao with it’s Bell Tower designed in the classical Atacamenian way. The town's main square is quanit and picturesque, with the San Lucas churchdating back to 1750. For sunset, visit the Laguna Chaxa in the Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos (National Reserve) . This lagoon is an environment ideal for flamingos to live and breed. Admire their vibrant pink plumage against a backdrop of deep blue sky and towering volcanoes before the sky turns red as they day ends over another perfect desert day.

Day 6 El Tatio Geysers are best experienced at sunrise so prepare for a chilly early morning start. From San Pedro de Atacama driive high into the altiplano to an altitude of 4300m above sea level. At this elevation you will experience the world's highest geyser field and the magnificent sight of natural steam columns rising from bubbling geothermal pools. As the sun rises and starts to warm the altiplano, take a short walk around the field before enjoying a warming soak in the thermal waters. As you return to San Pedro, visit Machuca, a picturesque village located at an altitude of 4,000 metres where you can admire the Iglesia de San Santiago church.

Day 7 Travel from the Atacama Desert to the north of Chilean Patagonia and the picturesque town of Puerto Varas. A town of Germanic history overlooking Lake Llanquihue, Puerto Varas is framed by two volcanoes, Osorno and Calbuco. Admire the imposing and colourful Iglesia de Sagrado Corazon from 1915 which overlooks the town. The church is based on Marienkirche of the Black Forest, Germany.

Day 8 Drive through the attractive streets and avenues of Puerto Varas via the Philippi Hill with its wonderful views of Lake Llanquihue and the majestic Osorno Volcano. The volcano walking tour starts at the small village of Ensenada, with several breaks along the way to reflect and admire the scenery. Continue to Saltos del Río Petrohué to walk on the boardwalks and admire the thunderous falls at Petrohue. Complete this comprehensive tour at Todos los Santos Lake for spectacular scenic views towards the volcano landscape.

Day 9 From the town of Pargua, board the ferry for the 45 minute journey across the Charco Channel to Charco. Here you will see the first signs of the classic island architecture called ‘chilota’ – buildings with typical wooden roofs. Start in the magical village of Dalcahue where you can visit the cove, the main square and the Nuestra Senora de Los Dolores church which dates back to 1849. Stop at the city of Ancud to visit the Plaza de Armas square, the Regional Museum and the Municipal Market. The tour concludes in the main city of Castro where you find ‘palafitos’ – typical houses constructed on plots over the sea with wooden stilts.

Day 10 Travel from the Lake District to southern Patagonia. Overlooking Seno Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope Sound), Puerto Natales is a small town with a history founded around wool, mutton and fishing. Nowadays, Puerto Natales is famous as the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park with a blossoming tourist trade. The town retains it's charm with colourful, corrugated tin houses dotted along the streets.

Day 11 Set sail from Puerto Natales navigating the Seno de Ultima Esperanza. As you cruise along the fjord look out for sightings of dolphins, toninas (Chilean dolphin) and sea lions lazing on the rocks. Stop at Puerto Toro, visiting Balmaceda Glacier then after a short hike reach Serrano Glacier where you will be enjoy a glass of whisky with ice cubes from the nearby ice packs. After visiting the glaciers, depart for Eberhaard Fjord with a short hike to Puerto Consuelo ranch for a hearty barbecue featuring delicious Magellan lamb.

Day 12 The UNESCO World Heritage site of Torres del Paine National Park is the quintissential highlight of Chilean Patagonia. Drive through the barren Patagonian steppe and scrub where you find an abundance of wildlife including sheep, large herds of guanacos and a variety of native fauna. Take in the beauty of the natural surroundings, framed by the backdrop of the impressive mountain massif. If time allows visit Salto Grande waterfall, Lake Pehoe and Lake Grey for a view of Grey Glacier in the distance. Returning to Puerto Natales, visit the Milodon Cave where remains of the prehistoric animal, the Milodon were found.

Day 13 Travel along the barren highway south to the city of Punta Arenas for your flight to Santiago. From your Lastarria base, visit Cerro Santa Lucia for a stroll through this lovely manicured park and follow well marked trails to the viewpoint. A short walk across the river, Barrio Bellavista is a hot spot...

This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website

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