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.
Santiago is filled with marvelous sights, both old and new
Lodging: Hotel La Reve or similar
Day 2 El Colorado
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.
The serenity of the Lake District will soothe your soal.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Hotel La Reve or similar
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.
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
Day 5 Perez Rosales National Park
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.
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.
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.
EcoCamp Patagonia is located at the base of the Torres del Paine.
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.
The famous silhouette of The Horns (photo: Bo Stern)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Lodging: EcoCamp Suite Domes
Day 11 Punta Arenas / Santiago / Onward
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.
Punta Arenas with the Straits of Magellan beyond (used with permission, Wikimedia Commons)
JOURNEYS International has specialized in ecotourism since 1978. We offer you the best nature tours, safaris, treks, adventure travel, family and cultural trips on earth. Whether you call it an eco vacation, adventure travel, ecotravel, ecotour, sustainable travel or responsible travel, for nearly 30 years we have been creating ecologically sensitive and culturally responsible travel to exotic destinations around the world. Specialty ecotrips include women's tours, Kilimanjaro climbs, exploration cruises, festival trips, student group trips and cross cultural and wildlife safaris. Read more about JOURNEYS International.