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Patagonia & Atacama Desert

A concise visit to Chile’s most sought-after destinations: Santiago, Atacama & wild Patagonia.

Itinerary & Prices

8 Day / 7 Night - Patagonia & Atacama Desert
itinerary map

Arrival & City Tour San Cristobal

Upon arrival in Chile, you will be picked up at the airport and taken on today’s excursion, we explore the historical and modern sights of Santiago de Chile. We start our trip at the main avenue, the Alameda Bernardo O’Higgins, and head to La Moneda, the Government Palace, where we will learn about the historical and contemporary role it plays in Chilean life.

From there we take a walk through the pedestrian streets of Huérfanos and Ahumada, where the main commercial activity of the city is concentrated. Afterward, we visit the famous main square of the city, the Plaza de Armas, around which are several important historical buildings, including the Metropolitan Cathedral. From there we continue our trip on to Santa Lucia hill, the mount upon which the Spanish founded Santiago in 1541. It is alone steep rock, covered in vegetation and a great vantage point for viewing the city.

Moving on, we cross the Mapocho River to get to Bellavista, the cultural and artistic neighborhood of Santiago and home to many artists, actors, and young bohemian people. Bellavista lies at the foot of the San Cristóbal Hill, the highest in town, and is situates in the middle of the Metropolitan Park. We venture up the hill to explore the surrounding areas all the while enjoying beautiful panoramic views of the city. Finally, we visit Providencia with its top restaurants, elegant shops, and modern high-rise buildings. After this amazing tour, we will call it a day and return to the hotel.

Meals (x)

Statue in chile with flags beside
Location
Santiago
Day
1 / 8

South to Patagonia

Today, wake early for a transfer to the airport in Santiago, and a flight to Punta Arenas.

After arrival to Punta Arenas, we will be picked up and whisked away to explore the cultural and natural wonders of one of the most southerly cities on the continent. We learn about its history and follow the footprints of brave polar explorers who preceded us many years before, with these immigrants being an important part of the development of the area. The first European to visit the area where the city is located was Juan Ladrillero, a Spanish explorer who was looking for the Strait of Magellan’s western passage in 1557. A host of European settlers followed from countries such as Germany, Britain, Croatia, Greece, Italy, and of course Spain.

We will also visit a variety of monuments and points of interest including the main square, the navy and maritime museum, the famous Roca Street, the Nao Victoria Museum, the Patagonian Institute, and of course the city’s coastline. After our city tour,  we will then be transferred to Puerto Natales, a roughly 3-hour drive, where we will spend the night in warmth and comfort.

Meals (B)

 

Punta Arenas Coastline Marina
Location
Santiago to Punta Arenas
Day
2 / 8

Torrres Del Paine & Mylodon Cave

Today we will head to the Torres del Paine National Park- an official National Park of Chile. The area encompasses mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers in southern Chilean Patagonia. The Cordillera del Paine, a range of rugged mountain peaks that stretch out into the crisp cool air is the centerpiece of the park. It lies in a transition area between the Magellanic subpolar forests and the Patagonian Steppes and is located 112 km (70 mi) north of Puerto Natales.

Along the way, we will stop to visit the Mylodon Cave, a large, impressive cave system where well-preserved fossils of a giant ground sloth some 12,000 old were recovered. The cave system acted as home to the Mylodon up to approximately 5,000 years ago, and subsequently other animals, such as the “Dwarf Horse” Hippidion, the saber-toothed cat Smilodon, and the litoptern Macrauchenia. Human remains have also been found there confirming that early humans periodically used the cave for shelter. 

From here, depending on the path we take, we will pass the Amarga Lagoon or Toro Lake. As we make our way through the Pampa steppes we will have the opportunity to look for local wildlife of the region including rheas, guanacos, foxes, black-necked swans, condors, and eagles. We will also observe the beautiful views of the Paine Massif, Almirante Nieto, and Torres del Paine.  

Meals (B, L)

Mylodon Cave Patagonia Chile
Location
Torres Del Paine
Day
3 / 8

Natural Treasures of Torres Del Paine

Today we have a full day of excursions ahead of us, and after a hearty breakfast, we head back to the Torres del Paine National Park.

Today’s adventure is focusing on the natural beauty and geographical formations of the area, as well as the flora and fauna of the national park. Our first stop is Lake Pehoé, a beautiful turquoise lake set against the glacial mountains of the national park. The lake is fed mainly by the Paine River which passes first through the Nordenskjöld Lake, but it also counts upon the waters of the outlet of Skottsberg Lake as a tributary.

From there we visit the aforementioned Lake Nordenskjöld, named after the Swede Otto Nordenskiöld who discovered the lake at the beginning of the 20th century. The outfall of Nordenskjöld Lake consists of a waterfall known as Salto Grande. At this western end of the lake on the southern side is an abundance of wildlife including wild grazing guanaco.

Our last stop is at the Salto Grande waterfall, but first, we pay a visit to the one last lake and the third one in this impressive network, Lake Sarmiento. Lake Sarmiento is home to a rare phenomenon known as Thrombolites. These are fossilized bacteria, which group together to look like fossilized algae or volcanic pumice, and are one of the few things that are able to survive in the alkaline waters of Lake Sarmiento. We end with a walk to the Salto Grande waterfall and are rewarded with spectacular views of Paine Mountain and the Torres del Paine peaks. WE head back to Puerto Natales and the comfort of your hotel. 

Meals (B)

 

Torres Del Paine Mountains Chile
Location
Torres Del Paine to Puerto Natales
Day
4 / 8

From Glacial Lands to Driest Deserts

We will have breakfast at the hotel and then go to the Punta Arenas Airport to catch our departure flight to the far northern city of San Pedro de Atacama.

This colorful village is located 2,440 m / 8,000 ft above sea level in the middle of a green oasis and overlooks the Licancabur volcano and around the surrounding area, there are lots of native ruins which attract increasing numbers of visitors interested in learning about pre-Columbian cultures. We are taken to our hotel and shown to our rooms so we can leave our things and then pack a small bag for our afternoon excursion. 

We adventure out to the mystifying Death and Moon valleys, whose dramatic names may seem like overkill when you first hear them, but once you arrive it will become clear as to how they became so named. Both valleys boast incredible stone and sand formations, with an uncanny resemblance to the moon’s surface and also a vast dry landscape that one can imagine a weary traveler being trapped in some old movie! Luckily we have vehicles and an experienced local guide, so we run no such risk as we await sunset for the opportunity to view the beautiful fading light over these vast landscapes. We retire to our hotel and a welcome cocktail. 

Meals (B)

 

Republican Building beside a lake Chile
Location
Punta Arenas to Atacama
Day
5 / 8

Enigmatic Atacama

This tour will take us to the enigmatic archeological site known as Yerbas Buenas, located 68 km from San Pedro de Atacama. In this area, we have the chance to see an enormous variety of old petroglyphs carved in the rock. This unique art form created many centuries ago depicts everyday scenes of animals and hunting expeditions carried out by the locals. Due to the dry climate of the Atacama,  this ancient art has survived to this day for our wonderment. The variety of styles is impressive, and the detail exquisite, leading one to wonder deeply about these mysterious ancient inhabitants of one of the world’s driest environments. 

From there, we will continue to the fascinating Rainbow Valley, an area surrounded by beautiful hills and attractive multi-colored rock formations. We will have more than enough time to roam this incredible place and to take unbelievable pictures to remember this remarkable experience.

In the afternoon, we will visit the village of Toconao known for its historic white bell tower. Afterward, we will continue to the Atacama Salt Lake; an inland sea formed millions of years ago with the retreat of the ocean and the rise of the land and an impressive sight dominated by small rock formations and crystalized salt. 

Meals (B, L)

White Bell Tower Toconao
Location
Atacama
Day
6 / 8

Geysers and Ancient Trading Routes

Today we have an early start, but it is worth it, trust us!

We take an early breakfast and set off just before dawn. We leave San Pedro de Atacama and head north to the famous El Tatio Geysers; a geothermal field flanked by soaring peaks. El Tatio is situated at 4,300 m / 14,108 ft above sea level on the Altiplano. It is the highest geothermal field in the world and boasts spectacular scenery. We will need to make sure to bring warm clothes as temperatures at this altitude are considerably low this early in the morning, but don’t worry about the trip there, we have temperature-controlled, private transport. 

We arrive just before dawn and just in time to observe powerful spurts of steam that shoot out from various geyser blowholes and steaming ponds that are encrusted with brilliant salt crystals reflecting the metal-blue sky. After this visit to El Tatio, we embark on a short drive to the village of Machuca known as the ancient resting place for llama caravans that traveled the Inca Highway for hundreds of years, a sort of South American, silk-road rest-stop. Afterward, we will return to San Pedro de Atacama to enjoy the afternoon at leisure. 

Meals (B) 

 

Atacama landscape with lake
Location
Atacama
Day
7 / 8

Bid Farewell to Atacama

Today we will enjoy our last breakfast in San Pedro de Atacama before a short trip to the airport and our flight on to the next destination.

Meals (B)

 

Flamingoes in flight
Location
Return Home
Day
8 / 8
1 / 8

Accommodations

Hotel Options

Boutique

Casa Bueras

Santiago
Boutique

Noi Indigo

Puerto Natales
Boutique

Las Torres

Torres Del Paine
Boutique

Noi Casa Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama