This classic tour of Patagonia and the Atacama Desert in Chile incorporates the highlights of two cities: Santiago de Chile and Punta Arenas, after which you will fly all the way south to Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park for hiking, birdwatching and wildlife spotting. Then fly north to the Atacama Desert, an oasis in the driest part of the world, known for its geysers, moonscapes, and starry skies. All excursions and transfers on this tour are on a private basis with a private guide, and all activities and accommodations can be tailored in accordance with your personal wishes.
Santiago de Chile
Your adventure begins with a tour of the historical and modern sights of Santiago de Chile. Start at the main avenue, the Alameda Bernardo O’Higgins, and head to La Moneda, the Government Palace. Walk through the pedestrian streets of Huérfanos and Ahumada, and visit the famous main square of the city, the Plaza de Armas, and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
From there continue to Santa Lucia hill, which is a great vantage point for viewing the city. Stroll around Providencia with its top restaurants, elegant shops, and modern high-rise buildings. Finally, a highlight of any visit to Santiago is taking the aerial tramway to San Cristóbal Hill for its stunning views.
Fly south and explore the cultural and natural wonders of Punta Arenas, one of the most southerly cities on the continent. See 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.
Torres del Paine National Park
Your next destination is Torres del Paine National Park. Located right in the south of Patagonia near the town of Puerto Natales, it delivers stunning scenery of glaciers, lakes, mountains, and rivers. Along the way, stop at the Mylodon Cave, a large, impressive cave system where the well-preserved fossils of a giant, 12,000-year-old ground sloth were discovered.
The hiking trails in Torres del Paine are without a doubt the most famous in Patagonia. Cross rickety bridges over rushing rivers and trek past ancient forests and glaciers, jagged peaks, freezing glacial lakes, waterfalls and wild windswept scrublands. Keep your eyes peeled for Andean condors, eagles, rhea, foxes, black-necked swans, and wild grazing guanaco. Be awestruck by the beautiful views of the Paine Massif, Almirante Nieto, and Torres del Paine, as well as the Thrombolites fossilized bacteria in the alkaline waters of Lake Sarmiento.
Venture north to San Pedro de Atacama, a colorful village in the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world, surrounded by an incredible scenery of mountains, lakes, and rock formations. Visit the otherworldly Death and Moon valleys, and be amazed by the lunar-like depressions, and pink-striped mountains.
See the ancient petroglyphs at Rainbow Valley and the multicolored hills. Stop at the village of Toconao, with its historic white bell tower, and the Atacama Salt Lake − an inland sea formed millions of years ago and dominated by small rock structures and crystalized salt. Marvel at El Tatio Geysers, a mountain valley full of cauldrons of rising steam, which spurt high up into the air. Stop at Machuca, a small, humble village on the Altiplano, known as the ancient resting place for llama caravans that traveled the Inca Highway for hundreds of years.