Oases of Chile: Atacama & Patagonia

Explore the rare, remote, and wild geologic wonders of northern and southern Chile
Overview

overview

Explore the most magnificent wonders of Chile's northern and southern ends.

Begin in the Atacama Desert, said to be the driest place on earth, with places where it hasn't rained for 400 years. The desert is so dramatic that, at first sight, it appears never to have sustained any life. However, pink flamingoes together with llamas, vicunas, guanacos, and many other species of fauna and flora can be found living in perfect harmony in the many oases and lakes located in the area. With zero humidity and numerous natural mineral sources, the desert houses rock formations of a fantastic kind. The volcanoes that crown the Atacama Desert are among the tallest on earth and their summits were sacred sanctuaries for the ancient Incas.

Then fly south, to Patagonia, where granite spires and vast glacial ice fields stretch out from the Andes mountains. Deep blue lakes dot the landscape, and long-necked guanacos graze nearby. The trails through Torres del Paine National Park take you to the most iconic sites of this dramatic, picturesque region. While here, stay at the unique, cozy, and personal EcoCamp Patagonia.

From North to South, you will be delighted by the vivid landscapes and thrilled with your decision to explore this fantastic destination.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Santiago
    Santiago is filled with marvelous sights, both old and new

    You will be met at the airport by a member of our staff in Santiago and transferred to your central hotel. On your city tour this afternoon (or on the last day of the trip, depending on arrival times), you can appreciate the history, culture, and architecture of this cosmopolitan city. Visit the church of San Francisco, pass by the palace of Cousino Macul, and visit the old, traditional neighborhoods. You’ll also pass La Moneda, the seat of the government, and the presidential palace before reaching the historical center of Santiago. The historical district includes the Plaza de Armas, the central post office, and the Museum of Natural History. Later you will reach Santa Lucía Hill, cross the Mapocho River, and pass through the bohemian quarter of Bellavista. Then you will ascend San Cristobal Hill, where you will have a beautiful view of Santiago with the Andes Mountains towering in the background. You will continue westward and drive through traditional Providencia to the modern areas of Santiago and its various commercial centers (Santa Maria de Maquehue, Vitacura, and Las Condes) until arriving at the base of the Andes. After this tour, you will return to your hotel, and the rest of the day is at your leisure.

    Lodging
    Hotel La Reve or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Adventure in Wine Country

    Head south by car this morning to wine country. Your first stop is the village of Alto Jahuel in the famous Maipo valley, where you will switch to bicycles and start riding. You will pass by local communities and farms where you have the chance to observe local people living and working in agricultural Chile before heading to the vineyards.

    You will visit three wineries today, varying in history and in the wine they produce. The first stop is one of the oldest wineries in Chile at Viña Santa Rita, where you discover the vineyard's rich tradition in winemaking and find out about the important role it played during Chile's struggle for independence.

    Then continue toward Viña Carmen. Your ride will take you past the very spot that the Carmenere grape of Bordeaux was rediscovered, long after it was thought to be extinct. The grape was reintroduced by Viña Carmen, which still produces some of the finest Chilean wines to this day. On reaching the winery, tour its state-of-the-art production facilities.

    The third winery you will visit is the 100% organic Viña Nativa, where you will learn all about the delicate relationship between grapevines and flowers and stroll through the picturesque gardens full of swans, ducks, chickens, deer, and even llamas. Enjoy a tasting of two of the best wines that Viña Carmen and Viña Nativa have to offer. Finally ride back to the shop at Viña Santa Rita where you can try your third wine of the day and have time to browse and buy wine to take home. After the final winery, drive to a countryside restaurant for lunch.

    End the day with a big dose of adventure. Challenge yourself to try the zip line tour that runs over the rolling landscape of the wine country, giving you an aerial vie of the terrain. Satisfied by your adrenaline fix, return to your hotel in Santiago for the night.
     

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Hotel La Reve or Similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: San Pedro de Atacama
    View Cordillera de la Sal en route to San Pedro. (Photo by Mik Chile)

    Head to the Santiago airport this morning for your flight north to Calama, in the Atacama region. Upon landing you will be met and driven straight to San Pedro de Atacama, past the impressive rock formations of the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountains). In San Pedro, enjoy lunch and a briefing about your plans for your time here. In the afternoon enjoy your first hike in the vast, amazing Valle de la Luna. Walk over sand dunes to an overlook where you can watch the sunset over the valley and see the rich colors of the landscape come to life.

    Overnight in San Pedro.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Hotel Kimal or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: San Pedro / Atacama Salt Flat
    Explore Quitor Fortress (photo by Leslie Veirs)

    Your day today takes you back 8,000 years in time. Start by visiting the nearby Quitor Fortress. The remains of this ancient stronghold overlook the valleys first cultivated by the indigenous Atacameño people in the 12th century, followed by the Incas, and finally the Spanish in the 16th century. Then drive to the ancient Tulor village, a sacred place whose peculiar rounded earth formations remain a mystery today. Finish the morning at the Archaeological Museum of San Pedro, home to an important anthropological collection of artifacts from Atacama.

    After a tasty lunch, drive across the immense, sparkling, white Atacama Salt Flat to Laguna Cejar. This lake has so much salt that a person can float with no effort. Take a dip and enjoy the breathtaking landscape surrounding the lake. Then continue to the Ojos del Salar lagoon and visit Laguna Tebinquiche before driving back to your hotel in San Pedro.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Hotel Kimal or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Geysers of Tatio
    The Geysers of Tatio blast steam high into the air

    The very early wake-up call will be well worth it when you arrive at the amazing Geysers of Tatio and see them in action. From almost 3,000 feet below the earth, boiling steam bursts up 120 feet over the surface of the earth. A scrumptious breakfast will be served upon arrival, before you set out for a walk through the geothermal fields with the geysers erupting nearby. On the drive back, there is a magnificent view of the Tocopurri and Sairecabur volcanoes.

    Arrive back in town in time to have lunch. The afternoon will be free to rest or explore San Pedro after the early start, high altitude, and low temperature you faced this morning.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Hotel Kimal or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Toconao

    After breakfast set out for Toconao, a beautiful Andean village. Toconao is situated on an oasis in the desert, with fertile land for growing fruits and vegetables. Wander its main streets and visit San Lucas church. Then continue to Quebrada de Jerez, the a large canyon that channels the
    waters entering Toconao.

    The next stop will be Laguna Chaxa, a lagoon in the middle of the Atacama Salt Flat, home to beautiful Chilean and Andean flamingoes. Then continue driving towards Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoons, full of turquoise water that shimmers in contrast with the autumnal colours of the Altiplanic terrain.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Hotel Kimal or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: San Pedro / Calama / Santiago

    Relish your final morning in San Pedro to relax and wander around the village, visit its handicraft shops, church and museum. In the afternoon drive back to Calama for your flight on to Santiago, where you will spend the night.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel La Reve or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Punta Arenas / EcoCamp
    EcoCamp Patagonia is located at the base of the Torres del Paine.

    Fly south from Santiago to Punta Arenas, your entry point for Patagonia. From Punta Arenas drive to EcoCamp Patagonia, located in the world famous Torres del Paine National Park. Along the way, you will stop in Puerto Natales, a small but lively town on the shores of Seno Ultima Esperanza - "Last Hope Sound." You may leave any unnecessary luggage in our local office before you take the short walk to see the enormous Cueva del Milodon, a giant geological wonder that once sheltered the remains of a prehistoric sloth. In the southern hemisphere’s summer, the sun sets around 11pm, so you will have plenty of light to admire the Patagonian steppe with its guanacos and snow-peaked mountain horizon as you drive into the park. You will be treated to a wonderful dinner upon arrival, then you'll spend the night at this cozy and unique camp.

    EcoCamp Patagonia is a type of luxury camp similar in concept to the famous African lodges. It is an environmentally friendly camp, especially important in a national park with the characteristics of Torres del Paine. It was designed with comfort in mind, yet stresses the importance of interfering as little as possible with the natural surroundings. You will sleep in big, comfortable two-meter-high domed tents that have wooden floors and are resistant to the strongest winds, rain, and even Patagonian snow. They are each equipped with 2-3 single beds, sheets, blankets, and down comforters. The EcoCamp has a large dome communal tent equipped with a living area, a dining room, and a fully equipped kitchen run by a chef. The EcoCamp also includes a bathroom module/cabin with composting toilets, showers, and solar-heated hot water.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    EcoCamp Suite Domes
    Show on a map
  • Days 9-11: Torres del Paine National Park
    Revel in the stunning vistas that abound in the park

    Spend the next three days enjoying the many activities and scenic views of Torres del Paine National Park. Each day you will have a choice of easier or mor difficult excursions around the park, joining with other EcoCamp guests. Some of your options will include hiking the French Valley, visiting Grey's Clacier, hiking to Laguna los Torres at the base of the actual Torres del Paine rock formation, and cycling to Laguna Azul. Throughout the park, and on all of the excursion options, you will marvel at the fascinating rock formations, glacial terrain, big sky, and proliferation of crystal lakes. The EcoCamp is a marvelous base for experiencing the delights of Chilean Patagonia.

    Meals
    All Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners
    Lodging
    EcoCamp Suite Domes
    Show on a map
  • Day 12: Onward
    Punta Arenas with the Straits of Magellan beyond (used with permission, Wikimedia Commons)

    Early this morning, you'll board the vehicle back to Punta Arenas and arrive at the airport with plenty of time to catch the evening flight back to Santiago. Extend to see more of Santiago or nearby Valparaiso, or connect this evening to your flight home.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$6,730
Does not include domestic flights
Single Supplement:
$2200
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
12 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
2
Comforable hotels and EcoCamp suite domes
Group Size:
2-10
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
4
Comforable hotels and EcoCamp suite domes

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

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