Chile - Lakes, Desert & Easter Island

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Run by: Rainbow Tours

Reference number: ITN-CHL012

From: £3940.00

From cloudless skies over the desert plains in the north to the active volcanoes of the Lake District and the wine lodges of the Central Valley, Chile is an ideal year round destination.

During your trip you'll explore the Atacama desert, one of the driest places on earth, and where the boundless horizons make for some of the best stargazing in the planet. Amongst the saltpans and lagoons, you can take a warming dip in the geothermal pools under the shadow of the towering El Tatio Geysers and walk the Martian landscape in Valle de la Luna.

The country's Lake District is no less impressive. Its active volcanoes and sapphire stained lakes can either be a dramatic backdrop to days spent hiking, horse riding or even skiing. In the Central Valley weave around the rows of vineyards before sampling unique Chilean wines.

No visit to Chile is complete without a trip to remote Easter Island. Here, you'll not only see the famous statues, but explore the Rano Kau crater and the Rano Raraku quarry where the statues were carved. 

Encompassing the highlights of Chile, this tour is ideal for older children and for holidays in the UK summer holidays. 

Itinerary

Day 1 Depart the UK for your overnight flight to Santiago.

Day 2 Morning arrival to Santiago and transfer to the Lastarria hotel. This stylish boutique hotel is located in Santiago’s bohemian neighbourhood, ideally located for upmarket cafes, museums such as the ultra-modern MAVI (Museo de Artes Visuales), galleries, antique shops and theatres. Weekends are particularly fun with bustling outdoor flea market and casual alfresco dining at restaurants such as Sur Patagonia. Explore the heart of the city with its impressive colonial buildings and plazas or visit the Parque Metropolitano for spectacular views towards the snow capped Andes.

Day 3 Calama is the gateway to the pretty adobe town of San Pedro de Atacama with the Terrantai Lodge your base for exploring this diverse area of towering volcanoes, deserts and lagoons. Built from local materials the lodge blends effortlessly into the desert landscape. Late afternoon visit to the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) where sand has produced lunar like sand blasted shaped rock formations. Sunset is spectacular with the rocks turning a myriad of warming colours before the cool night air descends.

Day 4 Visit the impressive Salar de Atacama, Chile’s largest salt flat. En-route visit the small Atacamenian town of Toconao with its charming plaza and church dating back to 1744. The salt surface at Atacama is uneven and rough yet an intriguing and attractive landscape dotted with flamingos. Dry air gives fantastic visibility over the seemingly endless salar and as the sun sets, the landscape comes alive with warm oranges, yellows and reds.

Day 5 As the sun rises over the barren Altiplano, view the El Tatio Geysers at their most active. Dramatic temperature difference between the super heated steam and the cold desert air produce huge funnels high into the clear blue skies. There is also the opportunity to take a warming dip in one of the superheated geothermal swimming pools. Back in San Pedro de Atacma explore the town and vibrant markets showcasing local colourful crafts. With perfect atmospheric conditions for stargazing visit the new ALMA observatory. Marvel at the powerful telescopes and learn about astronomy.

Day 6 Travel south to the beautiful Lake District flanked by snow-capped volcanoes. From the contemporary style Patagonico hotel in Puerto Varas admire the views towards Lake Llanquihue and Osorno Volcano. Relax by the lounges warming fireplace with a glass of full bodied Chilean red wine.

Day 7 Located in the Vincente Perez Rosales National Park are the wonderful falls of Petrohue, nestled in lush native forest and easily accessed via a short path. Admire the cascading waters as they crash into the rocks and the shimmering colours of blue and green. Fantastic photo opportunities await at All Saints Lake also know as Emerald Lake for its striking colour. Take a short trek scaling the slopes to 1240m or the more relaxing chair lift option where you will be rewarded with scenic views of the lakes in every direction.

Day 8 Explore the area and indulge in local history of Puerto Varas. In 1852, German colonists settled in the town and it soon grew as the areas principle port. German influence can be found with many pre-war buildings. The main church of Sagrado Corazon, which dominates the town, was built German Jesuits and is based on the famous Marienkirche in the Black Forest. Alternatively take an optional ski trip at the Antillanca ski centre, a short distance from town.

Day 9 Return to the capital of Santiago and the relaxing Lastarria hotel. Rest of day at leisure allowing you to sample some of the charming cafes and visit the different neighbourhoods such as Barrio Bellavista near the main park. Depending on your interests you may wish to visit some of the unique wine bars such as Boca y Nariz to sample and learn about the local varieties. Pair these with vibrant local delicacies such as the wonderful seafood.

Day 10 Escape the city for the coast and visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site town of Valparasio with its colourful buildings and labyrinth of winding streets. A short distance away is the popular resort town of Vina del Mar with it’s pretty sand beach. En-route stop at a winery for some tasting. Another popular option is a day trip to the ski slopes at Valle Nevado to spend a day in this winter wonderland, taking in the crisp Andean air.

Day 11 Visit the remotest inhabited island on earth, Isla de Pascua, also known as Easter Island. This tiny island is most famous for the Moai, huge stone figures carved by an ancient indigenous culture. The Moai remain with most intact on ahu platforms whilst others are overthrown or abandoned at the quarry where they were carved. Although geographically part of Chile, Easter Island retains a distinct South Pacific Polynesian feel.

Day 12 Visit Anakena, the islands main beach, picture perfect South Pacific style framed by white sand and palm trees. Here you find two platforms with the main one featuring seven Moai. Explore the Rano Raraku quarry where the Moai were said to be carved and the Rano Kau crater lake, a unique micro climate with its murky green waters. The town of Hanga Roa is typically Polynesian with it tropical laid back atmosphere and a great insight into typical daily island life.

Day 13

Day 14 Return to the mainland for your final night in Chile. Revisit some of your favourite places or visit new areas. Around the Mercador Central are some of the best seafood restaurants, Las Condes for fine dining or Barrio Bellavista for a diverse selection of dining options.

Day 15 Depart Santiago for your return flight to the UK via Madrid.

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

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