Splendors of Chile13 days & 12 nights, Escorted Discovery Group
Escorted Discovery Group
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Santiago, San Pedro de Atacama, Atacama Desert, Puerto Varas, Chilean Lake District, Punta Arenas & Torres del Paine
Chile is an extraordinarily beautiful country, encompassing just about every type of landscape on Earth, from the arid desert of the north, through verdant lakes and pastures to the soaring peaks and glaciers of Patagonia. This expansive tour explores Chile's spectacular desert, mountain scenery and Patagonian wilderness, and allows time to discover some great Chilean traditions.
Day 1Arrive Santiago
You will be met and taken to your hotel.Hotel Plaza San Francisco - 2 Nights
Take a city tour, visiting the most important places of interest, including La Moneda Presidential Palace, the Civic Centre, the elaborately decorated cathedral in the Plaza de Armas, and the colorful central market with its picturesque stalls selling fish, seafood and a wide variety of fresh fruits and flowers. Make a visit to the spectacular Sky Costanera observation platform on the 61st and 62nd floors of the 985-foot-high Costanera Centre tower, currently the tallest building in South America. The observation platform offers breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views over the city. With visibility of up to 31 miles on clear days, even the ski centers in the Andes may be visible. Information boards indicate the most important sights of the city and help you to orientate yourself.Hotel Plaza San Francisco (B)
Don Francisco Undurraga was one of the pioneers of winegrowing in Chile and the founder of Undurraga vineyard which is situated in the heart of the Maipo Valley. He personally brought the original plants from France and Germany and produced the first Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Gewurztraminer in 1885. Today, more than 120 years later, Undurraga exports to more than 60 countries around the world. During your tour you will walk through the 19th century park designed by the famous French landscape painter Pierre Dubois. You will be shown the modern wine processing plant and the original underground wine vaults. You can also take part in wine tasting.
Day 3Fly to Calama - San Pedro de Atacama
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport. Board your flight to Calama.Altiplanico - 3 Nights (B)
You will be met on your arrival at Calama airport and transferred to San Pedro de Atacama, through the Domeyko Mountain range, a journey of approximately 1.5 hours.
This afternoon, you will visit the Valley of the Moon, to see the unusual landscape, eroded by water and wind.
Day 4Atacama Desert
Head south from San Pedro de Atacama through the desert landscape to the impressive Salar de Atacama, one of the largest salt lakes in the world. En route, visit Toconao, a small village with buildings made entirely from white volcanic stone and see Laguna Chaxa. This is part of the Reserva Nacional de los Flamingoes, and is a great place to get close to these unusual birds.Altiplanico (B, L)
Next there will be the chance of an insight into daily life on a traditional Atacamena farm. Take a tour of the farmland and learn about regional fruit and vegetable cultivation, as well as livestock farming in this challenging terrain. Learn about the typical homemade products, such as quince juice, fruit syrups, candied quinoa and guanaco pate, then enjoy lunch and sample some of the regional produce. Finally, drive to Tebinquinche lagoon to see the reflection of the Andes in its waters, before returning to your hotel.
Day 5Atacama Desert
Day at leisure. Alternatively you can take optional excursions such as El Tatio Geysers (this excursion will require a very early morning start and involves high altitude of about 14,108 feet above sea level), a visit to the pre-Inca fortress Pucara de Quito or the nearby hot springs.Altiplanico (B)
Day 6Fly to Puerto Montt via Santiago - Puerto Varas
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport in Calama, a journey of approximately 1.5 hours.Cabana del Lago Hotel - 2 Nights (B)
Upon arrival in Puerto Montt, you will be met and taken to your hotel in Puerto Varas; the journey time is approximately 40 minutes.
Day 7Chilean Lake District
The morning begins with a drive along the shore of Lago Llanquihue with great views of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. The first stop will be at the Saltos de Petrohue (Petrohue Rapids). This series of rapids and waterfalls were formed long ago by cooling lava from the volcano forming a barrier to the river. They form an impressive sculpture of hard volcanic rock shaped by thousands of years of thundering water flow. Following a visit to the falls, continue with a cruise on a small boat on the beautiful Lago Todo los Santos.Cabana del Lago Hotel (B)
After lunch (not included), drive to the lower reaches of the immense Osorno volcano (8,727 feet). A paved road leads to an altitude of 4,265 feet where there is a small restaurant and souvenir shop. From here the volcano seems vast. Surrounding views of the volcanoes Calbuco, Antillanca and Tronador, with the Andes towering behind, are awe-inspiring on a clear day. You will be able to take a walk on the surface of the volcano, before driving back to Puerto Varas in the afternoon.
The order of visits may be changed locally due to weather conditions.
Day 8Fly to Punta Arenas - Puerto Natales
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to Puerto Montt airport, a journey of approximately 40 minutes.Hotel CostAustralis (B)
Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, you will be met at the airport and driven to Puerto Natales, a journey of approximately 3 hours.
Day 9To Torres del Paine
You will be driven from Puerto Natales to the Torres del Paine with a full day's exploration of the national park. Total journey time is approximately 8 hours, including stops.Hotel Rio Serrano - 2 Nights (B, Box L)
Day 10Torres del Paine
This 3-hour boat excursion takes you to the Grey Glacier, the largest in the Torres del Paine national park. Depart your hotel shortly after 6:00 am and transfer by road via Hosteria Lago Grey and a short walk through a forest to the landing stage. Cruise up the lake toward the glacier, which reaches 98 feet in height and 3.7 miles in width at its terminus. Pieces of ice, both large and small, regularly break off from the front of the glacier, falling into the water with a crack and a splash, before floating away across the lake. Pass as close as possible in front of the glacier for a close-up view of this majestic sight.
Afternoon at leisure or take optional excursions which can be booked locally.Hotel Rio Serrano (B)
Day 11To Punta Arenas
You will be driven from Torres del Paine to Punta Arenas, visiting a traditional Patagonian estancia en route. Total journey time is approximately 5 hours, excluding stops.Cabo de Hornos - 1 Night (B, L)
Drive from Torres del Paine to Estancia Cerro Negro via Puerto Natales, a journey of approximately 3 hours.
Estancia Cerro Negro dates back to 1904 and the pioneer days of sheep farming in Patagonia. The spirit of this era is still alive here and, after a hearty welcome, you will be shown around by local experts and introduced to the typical work on an estancia, such as dog training and sheep shearing, before enjoying a typical lunch of spit-roasted lamb.
After lunch, continue to Punta Arenas, a journey of 1.5 hours.
Upon arrival, enjoy a short tour of Punta Arenas. The tour begins with an ascent of "Cerro de las Cruces" Hill, which offers an expansive view of the Strait of Magellan and the city of Punta Arenas. Continue through the principal streets and avenues of the city and visit the Plaza Munoz Gamero, which features a monument to Magellan and is bordered by grand mansions - the former homes of pioneers who settled here and earned fortunes in the wool and livestock industries.
Day 12Fly to Santiago
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport. Board your flight to Santiago.Hotel Plaza San Francisco - 1 Night (B)
Upon arrival, you will be met and taken to your hotel.
Day 13Depart Santiago
Morning at leisure or take an optional tour of Los Dominicos handicraft market.(B)
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport.
Generally, road travel in Latin America is reasonably good, however conditions vary greatly between the modern capital cities and the more remote areas. When traveling off the beaten track, roads are frequently narrow, bumpy, pot-holed and have stretches which are not paved, or which are under reconstruction. In Costa Rica, northern Chile and Bolivia particularly, conditions are very dusty and / or bumpy, and the road journeys tend to be quite strenuous. Road conditions change throughout the year and heavy rain and extreme weather patterns can affect journey times. Types of vehicles vary according to the country visited and the numbers on a tour: on escorted groups, transport will usually be in the form of a European-style coach or, for smaller groups, may be by mini-bus. On individual journeys, transport will generally be by sedan car. In destinations where conditions require it, off road driving will be in 4 x 4 vehicles.
Internal Flights / Delays / Insurance: Many countries within Latin America have their own air pass and, wherever possible, our tours will be constructed with the appropriate air pass, which will minimize the costs of the internal flight. Please note that the majority of air passes have restrictions; therefore if you require an itinerary with full flexibility, please contact your tour consultant who will advise the additional cost to provide you with a more flexible ticket. Please also note that in certain cases we may not be able to book internal flights under an airpass. In this event a supplement may be payable.
Because of increased air traffic, government restrictions and/or changing weather conditions, flight delays have become more commonplace. These delays can cause problems with your holiday arrangements, and additional costs may well be involved. This may be in the form of added accommodation costs, transfers and/or onward tickets. If this should occur, everything possible will be done to minimize the inconvenience. Cox & Kings will endeavor to ensure that arrangements go as smoothly as possible. As services are paid for in advance any services missed due to delays and/or schedule changes are non-refundable. Please also bear in mind that many international flight tickets are non-changeable and non-refundable. The insurance policy offered by Cox & Kings is designed to mitigate the costs and effects of such delays in certain circumstances and we strongly advise that you are insured against such eventualities.
Flight Amendments: Flights on these tours are in general quoted separately and use special airfare. These have certain conditions, which normally restrict changes of date, route and airline. Any such change made after a ticket has been issued will normally necessitate the purchase of a new ticket at the passenger’s expense.
Airport Departure Taxes: Most cities in Latin America levy a departure tax for passengers departing on international flights, which have to be paid in local currency or the equivalent in US dollars. Other cities within a country may also levy a small charge for departures on domestic flights. Occasionally, taxes may be included on your ticket and we will advise you accordingly. Since there is no standard charge between countries, and taxes are subject to change, it is not possible to list the taxes in this brochure. We will advise you of the current charge with your final documents, and our local agents will confirm the amount payable on arrival. Please ensure you keep enough local currency or US dollars to cover these taxes.
During some itineraries, it may be necessary to depart for excursions or transfers to the airport very early in the morning, sometimes before dawn. This is normally either due to the flight schedules within Latin America, or in order for us to maximize the opportunities for sightseeing during your tour. A number of flights to Latin America arrive / depart early in the morning and, while we will endeavor to schedule your tour with a flight which arrives / departs at a reasonable time, sometimes there is little or no alternative and early check-in / check-out times may be required.
Accommodation standards vary dramatically throughout Latin America. In the larger cities, the hotels we use are fully modernized and have excellent facilities, unless you choose to opt for the more colonial style property, where facilities may be limited. In some smaller cities and more remote areas, we try to offer the best hotels available. However, these may be quite simple - sometimes small colonial-style properties, in which rooms may vary in size - and often have relatively basic facilities. Please note, all rooms reserved on your tour are standard; however, if you wish to upgrade your room (e.g. to a lake or falls view, deluxe or suite etc.), please speak to your tour consultant, who will be able to advise you about the options and the applicable supplements.
Check-in & Check-out Times: For all group and individual tours, hotel check-in / out time is normally 3:00 pm, but this does vary between hotels.
Jungle Lodges & Remote Areas: Accommodation in some wildlife lodges in the Amazon rainforest, are not comparable to the better properties found in parts of Africa and Asia. Accommodation is often reached via narrow and unpaved roads, or by boat, and can be a long way from other civilization. Even when you travel off the beaten track with Cox & Kings, you can be sure that your accommodation is the best available; however sometimes the best hotel may be the only hotel, which may be very modest. In these cases, we feel that the inconvenience of such accommodation is outweighed by the experience of staying in these more remote areas.
Currency: Chilean Peso (CPL)
Official Language(s): Spanish
Visa or Fees: No Visa required. A $140 reciprocity fee is due upon arrival. This fee is paid once and is valid for the life of the passport.
Beginning in the north at the Peruvian border, Chile stretches most of the length of South America all the way to Tierra del Fuego in the south. From the lunar desert landscapes of Atacama to the wilderness of Patagonia, Chile is a country of incredible contrasts. At its widest point Chile is less than 350 km so almost everywhere you are, the majestic Andes, provide a spectacular backdrop.
What To See
The scenery and landscapes of Chile are all so varied that there are so many things to see. The Atacama Desert has some incredible sights: watching the flamingos at the salt flat as the sun sets behind the mountains and star-gazing in some of the world’s clearest skies.
Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, the far south of the country, is a walker’s and photographer’s natural paradise. It is a beautiful area of stunning mountains and crystal clear lakes. A five-hour drive from the nearest airport at Punta Arenas into Torres del Paine National Park, it is definitely remote.
Because of the length of the country, it is impossible to avoid taking domestic flights. This means it is inevitable that nights are needed in Santiago when flights don’t connect. For a capital city in South America, there isn’t a great deal to see or do, so excellent alternatives are the wine lands in the Casablanca Valley and the quirky port city of Valparaíso, both easily accessible from Santiago airport.
Easter Island, owned by Chile but lying almost half way across the Pacific Ocean and more Polynesian than Chilean, is another unique destination, shrouded in mystery and intrigue that few people ever experience. The history of the Moai is not known and no one really understands the origins of neither the stelae nor how they came to be on the islands.
When To Go
Traditionally Chile is considered best to visit from December to March, as this is the South American summer. However, the Atacama area can be visited all year round, as due to the high altitudes, days are warm and nights are always cold. Torres del Paine National Park is very busy from November to February as this is peak months for hikers. In the winter from June to August, there is often snow and the winds from Antarctica are much lower so although cold, it doesn’t feel as biting as perhaps during the other months. During these months, the park is much quieter but some areas are inaccessible due to snowfall. Easter Island can be visited all year but is quieter outside of the summer months.