26 September 2016
Chile is famous for its awe-inspiring landscapes, from the ruggedness of the Andes mountain range to the harshness of the Atacama Desert. This 10-day tour is an ideal way to get to know the country, starting out in the capital, Santiago, before exploring the country's nature reserves, national parks and World Heritage sites. Photographers and nature-lovers will be in their element here, as you take in day after day of unforgettable sights.
Your tour of Chile begins, as you're met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon, you'll explore Santiago's main attractions and learn more about how the city blends the legacy of the Mapuche, the indigenous people of the area, with its Spanish colonial past and modern international influences. Your first stop will be Santa Lucia Hill, where the city was founded in 1541, before continuing to the Plaza de Armas, where you'll see the Cathedral, Municipality, Post Office Building and National History Museum, then on to the Cerro San Cristobal, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Santiago. You'll then continue through the Providencia neighbourhood and, finally, along the Costanera Highway to the elegant Vitacura neighbourhood. You'll then return to your hotel for dinner.
This morning you'll transfer to the airport for your flight to Calama. On arrival, you'll drive into the Atacama Desert, to San Pedro de Atacama, where you'll have lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, you'll travel to Valle de la Luna ("Valley of the Moon"), famous for its natural mineral sculptures formed by wind erosion, including Las Tres Marías ("The Three Marys"). You'll enjoy the magical sunset at the Kari Viewpoint, one of the highest points of the Cordillera de la Sal ("Salt Mountain Range"), before returning to San Pedro de Atacama for dinner and overnight.
This morning you'll head to the Atacama Salt Flat, the largest in Chile and home to the Flamingos National Reserve, where you can see three species of native pink flamingos. You'll then continue further within the Altiplano, reaching 4,300m above sea level, to the Miñique and Miscanti lagoons, at the foothills of the Miñique and Miscanti volcanoes, where you'll stop to take in the spectacular scenery. Afterwards, you'll return to Socaire for a rustic lunch, before continuing to the village of Toconao, where you'll visit the main square, with an 18th-century bell tower built of cactus wood, mud and straw, and the church of San Lucas, both declared National Monuments. You'll then return to your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama for dinner and overnight.
An early start this morning, as you head out into the Andes and the Tatio Geysers, to watch the impressive sight of rising steam and volcanic magma, most spectacular at dawn. Afterwards, you'll enjoy a delicious breakfast and a dip in the natural hot pool, before continuing to the small village of Machuca, to learn more about local life and observe the flamingos, ducks and gulls in the nearby wetlands. You'll then return to San Pedro de Atacama for lunch at a local restaurant before transferring to the airport for your flight back to Santiago. On arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
You'll leave Santiago this morning and head towards the Pacific coast, crossing the Chilean Coastal Range and the Casablanca and Curacaví Valleys. Your first stop will be at Viña del Mar, known as the Garden City, and you will also stop to see the Quinta Vergara park, Palacio Carrasco, and an original Moai from Easter Island before continuing to the city's famous flower clock. Next, you'll proceed to the city of Valparaíso, a World Heritage Site where you can admire the multi-coloured houses, parks and historic monuments. You will have lunch at a local seafood restaurant and visit Plaza Sotomayor, the city's most important civic square, before taking a boat trip across the bay, to enjoy the best views of Valparaíso. Finally, you'll return to Santiago for dinner and overnight.
This morning you'll transfer to the airport for your flight to Punta Arenas. On arrival you'll drive to Muñoz Gamero Square, where you will visit the huge bronze statue of Hernando de Magallanes. Next, you'll climb De la Cruz Hill to enjoy the panoramic views of the city, Magellan's Strait and Tierra del Fuego. After lunch in a local restaurant, you'll make the three-hour drive to Puerto Natales, a small city in the heart of the Chilean Patagonia.
Today you'll visit the stunning Torres del Paine National Park, taking in some of its main attractions including Amarga Lagoon, overlooking the Horns of Paine, Salto Grande and Grey Lake. You'll stay overnight in the Serrano area.
This morning you'll continue exploring the stunning Torres del Paine National Park. In the afternoon you will return to Puerto Natales, where you'll enjoy dinner at your hotel.
This morning you'll make the three-hour drive to Punta Arenas, stopping en route for lunch in a local restaurant. You'll then fly to Santiago and transfer to your hotel, where you'll be at leisure until dinner.
On your final day you're at leisure in Santiago until it's time to transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
Superior fr £2096pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated