Patagonia Discovery Safari

Delightful exploration of Chile's Lake District and Torres del Paine National Park
Overview

overview

Journey through southern Chile on this trip that takes you to the most scenic and exhilarating places in the Lake District and Torres del Paine National Park. Begin with a day in Santiago, where you will get a taste of the trendy, bustling capital of Chile. Then fly south to Puerto Montt, your entry point for the Lake District. The towns in this area are charming, featuring Bavarian architecture and delightful shops and cafés. But the real features are the lakes and rivers, and the forests, mountains, and even volcanoes, all adding texture to the landscape.

The second half of your trip unfolds in Patagonia, where you enjoy your choice of varied excursions in Torres del Paine National Park. Stay at EcoCamp Patagonia, a delightful, cozy, and unique facility nestled in the shadow of the granite towers that give the park its name. You will live and breathe the beauty of the park for four days, and enjoy the camp that consistently ranks among JOURNEYS travelers' favorite lodges anywhere in the world.

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
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  • Day 2: El Colorado
    The serenity of the Lake District will soothe your soal.

    You will head out of Santiago this morning for a horseback exploration of the Colorado River Canyon. Drive across the Maipo Valley toward the Andes mountain range looming on the horizon. Along the way you will see local families selling empanadas, pan amasado, honey, marmalade, and crafts. When you arrive at the Colorado River you will mount your horses and ride upward into the mountains, passing through old growth forest, green vegetation, and out onto craggy hilltops. Pass waterfalls and springs, and watch out for condors swooping down for a drink.

    It takes about 2 hours to reach Las Ramadas Plateau, your destination for the day. This mountain oasis will be the site of your traditional Chilean barbecue lunch. Enjoy the grand view over a relaxing meal. Then ride back to the canyon entrance and drive back to Santiago.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Hotel La Reve or similar
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  • Day 3: Flight to Puerto Montt

    Transfer to Santiago's Airport this morning to board your  flight to Puerto Montt, where your guide will meet you at the airport. Drive to Puerto Varas, a beautiful town just 15 minutes away on the shore of Lake Llanquihue. On the drive you will glimpse a view of the Lake’s bay and the magnificent Osorno Volcano. You will also notice the distinctively German architecture of the town, a result of German immigration in the early twentieth century. After settling in at your hotel and lunch on your own, your guide will lead you on a tour of the nearby Frutillar village. Another example of old German architecture, Frutillar is also famous for it delicious desserts. Visit the local museum, and afterwards enjoy tea time and taste the local treats. The evening is on your own in Puerto Varas.

    Meals
    Breakfast
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  • Day 4: Alerce Andino National Park

    Today visit an incredible reserve named after the Alerce tree, a distinctive feature of this part of Chile. In Alerce Andino National Park some of these trees are older than 3,000 years old! Drive to the park along the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway). This famous road is surrounded by fauna, flora, and the beautiful Andean Cordillera range. Along the road you will also see typical small farming villages with a markedly European look.

    Once we arrive at the Park, located on the shores of Reloncavi, begin hiking among the ancient trees and past an array of lakes. Along the trail spot wildlife like the Chilean deer, puma, pudú (the smallest deer in the world), condor, black carpenter bird, and more. Stop for lunch at one of the picnic facilities. Return to Puerto Varas for the evening.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
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  • Day 5: Perez Rosales National Park
    Osorno Volcano towers over the Petrohue River

    Today after breakfast drive to one of Chile's oldest parks, Perez Rosales NP, which features splendid hiking trails, fauna and flora, and also kayaking and other water sports. In the park, head to the mighty Osorno Volcano, a conical volcano that towers over the surrounding lakes. Drive up the steep hillside to a viewpoint with a great view of the wild areas around the volcano. Then consider an optional short hike called ‘El Solitario’ along a secluded trail lined with rich, beautiful vegetation. Then continue to Petrohue Falls, a rocky section of the Petrohue River where the turquoise waters cascade through white rapids. End the day by the shores of Lake Todos los Santos at your home for the next two nights, the Petrohue Lodge. The evening is free to enjoy the landscape and plan the activities for next day. Guides from the Lodge’s will take care of you for the rest of your adventure in the Lakes District.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Petrohue Lodge
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  • Day 6: Lake Todos los Santos

    Wake up in the very middle of the Lakes District, on the serene shores of Lake Todos los Santos. Today choose an activity from the Lodge’s excursion menu: kayaking on Todos los Santos, hiking through dense and outstanding millenary forests, and fly fishing are all options. In the afternoon come back to the Lodge and relax, enjoying your last night in this part of Chile.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Petrohue Lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Punta Arenas / Torres del Paine
    EcoCamp Patagonia is located at the base of the Torres del Paine.

    Enjoy one last walk by the lake this morning before departing around midday. Drive out through Perez Rosales NP, past the shores of Lake Llanquihue, through Puerto Varas, and arrive at the Puerto Montt airport in time for your flight to  Punta Arenas.

    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 Dome)
    Show on a map
  • Days 8-10: Torres del Paine
    The famous silhouette of The Horns (photo: Bo Stern)

    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
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    EcoCamp Suite Domes
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Punta Arenas / Santiago / 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, Lunch
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Daily departures, September to April
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$5,235
International and domestic flights not included
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

Prices may fluctuate based on the exchange rate between the U.S. Dollar and the Chilean Pesos.

What to bring: Day backpack for personal items, soft-sided duffel bag (to be carried by porters), waterproof trekking boots, waterproof parka & pants, inner insulating layer (fleece or wool), three changes of clothes for the trek, sun hat, sunscreen, hiking socks, sandals (for after hikes), bathing suit, sunglasses, towel (optional), ski poles (optional), long underwear (expedition weight), gaitors, flashlight/headlamp. A complete booklet with more detailed information about what to bring will be sent to you once you book the trip.

The climate: The vast unbroken stretch of ocean to the west and south of the South American continent leaves the Patagonian Andes very exposed to the winds that circle the Antarctic landmass. Also, both the strong marine influence and the South Patagonic Icefield influence makes the weather hard to predict. In spring or early summer, fine weather may deteriorate almost without warning, bringing rains and sometimes snow. Even in summer (December to March) you should be prepared to find strong, cold winds (up to 130 km/hr) and rainfalls. The average summer temperature is 11ºC/52ºF (24ºC max, 2ºC min).

Duration:
11 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.
Comfort Level:
2
Comfortable hotels and luxury camp
Group Size:
2-16
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
Choose your level of activity

Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation and check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure.  Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well.  Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail, or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Buenos Aires

Duration: 1 days

Extend your trip or make the most of your time in Buenos Aires.

Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia

Duration: 4 days

This exploration of the Southern Andes is a great addition to an Antarctic cruise or a trek in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park.

Torres del Paine Kayaking

Duration: 4 days

This is the perfect way to cap off your Torres del Paine Trek or Patagonia Wildlife Safari: paddling down the Serrano River in a sea kayak. The Torres del Paine kayaking extension is an active adventure in extraordinarily beautiful surroundings.

Atacama Desert

Duration: 4 days

The Atacama Desert, in the north of Chile, is 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 flamingoe... read more

Fitzroy Trek

Duration: 7 days

This trip in Los Glaciares National Park has been designed as the perfect complement to one of our regular trips. Los Glaciares is one of the most impressive national parks in South America. This vast reserve protects around 2,300 square miles of the... read more

Altiplano Wildlife

Duration: 5 days

The Altiplano is a flat plateau located on top of the Andes at an average altitude of 13,000 feet. Its extraordinary natural wonders include active and dormant slender-coned volcanoes, clear blue lakes with abundant bird life, extensive steppes suppo... read more

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