“Chile Is a fascinating country. Its sheer size runs like a long finger down the west coast of South America. The variety of environment from urban city-scapes to the coast to the Atacama Desert. No matter how many times I travel to Chile, I always find something new. On this journey you study the night skies of the desert, go whitewater rafting on a snow fed river, explore colorful Santiago, and discover Chiloe Island, known for distinctive folklore, mythology, cuisine and unique architecture.”
Price starts at $700 Land per person, per day, double occupancy.
Day 1: Santiago, Chile
Welcome to Chile! Once you have cleared customs and immigration, collect your bags and exit the hall. A Big Five Representative will be waiting to welcome you and transfer you to your hotel. Chile is a long, narrow strip of land down the west side of the country, some 4,270 km/2,653 mi long, making it both the longest and narrowest country in the world. It is a tri-continental country with territory in the Americas, Antarctica and Oceania. The Singular Hotel Santiago
Day 2: Santiago
This morning, your driver and guide picks you up at your hotel for a drive to La Vega Central, the main and largest food market in the city with its variety of Chile’s fruits, vegetables and grains. Take in the fish market, housed in an art nouveau building that dates to 1872. One of Chile’s national heritage sites, this fish market features an amazing variety of sea food; some of which can only be found in Chile. National Geographic magazine calls it one of the world’s top ten food markets. Near the market, you stroll to the main square, Plaza de Armas, and continue to the cathedral in the classical baroque-style cathedral, pass the presidential palace and the Ex Congress. The Singular Hotel Santiago (B)
Day 3: Santiago / La Serena / Elqui Valley
You are met by your driver for a private transfer to the airport to for your one-hour flight to La Serena. Upon arrival, you are met and transferred to your hotel in Elqui Valley. The region 400 km/250 mi north of Santiago sits at the southern end of the Atacama Desert in the Coquimbo region. It is known for its outdoor adventures. Your luxury hotel rests in the middle of the Elqui Valley, just 25 minutes from La Serena Airport. It encompasses a spa, sauna, an outdoor swimming pool and stoves where you can gather. It also includes a nine-hole golf court next to a private lagoon where you can kayak. The night skies are so clear that star gazing is possible. Casa Molle Villa & Golf (B,D)
Days 4/5: Elqui Valley
Enjoy all that Elqui Valley has to offer – sandboarding on the dunes or ziplining through lush forest canopies. Trekking routes in the Andes present hiking opportunities at more than 4,000 m/13, 123 ft. on the northern highlands, or tackle mountaineering trails of varying difficulty in the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park. For sport fishing, venture into the trout-filled Patagonian rivers and lakes where you enjoy some of the best fly fishing in the world. Here Chile’s most important valleys where the production of wines like the Syrah and Carmenere stands out. See Vicuña, birthplace of the poet and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Gabriela Mistral, and sample some of the region’s typical food in one of its sophisticated restaurants or quaint local eateries. The valley also offers horseback riding excursions, mountain bike paths and off-road 4×4 vehicle tours. This part of Chile is widely renowned as a place to relax and take advantage of healing practices including reiki, meditation and massages – are available. One of the valley’s most spectacular after-dark activities is star gazing. Elqui Valley is the world’s first International Dark Sky Sanctuary. Indeed, this is the place for the best views of eclipses, such as those expected in 2019. Casa Molle Villa & Golf (B,L,D)
Day 6: Elqui Valley / La Serena / Puerto Montt / Chaiten / Futaleufu
Today you are transferred to the airport in La Serena for your flight to Santiago. Upon arrival to Santiago, you connect with your flight to Puerto Montt, where you catch your final flight of the day to Chaiten. From here you take a half-hour boat ride to your hotel. Remote and stunningly scenic, Patagonia extends across part of both Chile and Argentina, and offers some of the most awe-inspiring hiking trails in the world. It is made up of distinct regions, each with its own unique beauty: southern Patagonia, with its icy landscapes and geometric granite peaks; central Patagonia, a wilderness of rainforests and coastal plains; and northern Patagonia, taking in the cobalt lakes and lush valleys of the Lakes District and Araucania. Hotel Raudal is located on the banks of the Futaleufu River, surrounded by forests, rivers, and lakes, in an ideal location for both rest and activity in the lush outdoors. Wooden cabins offer spectacular views over the river, air conditioning, a mini bar and a private terrace overlooking the Futaleufu River and the Andes as well as coffee makers and private bathroom. The hotel’s spa offers hot tubs and saunas. Hotel Raudal (B,D)
Days 7/9: Futaleufu
Futaleufu River is one of the premier whitewater rivers in the world. The river is fed by glacial snow melt in the Andean lakes region of Argentina and Chile. The river gorge drops as low as 1,700 m/5,600 ft, below the surrounding glaciated peaks. In the shallow and calm sections, you can enjoy world-class fly fishing. This pristine wilderness in a little explored corner of Chile also offers incomparable hikes in the forests and mountains, mountain biking and even stand up paddling. Hotel Raudal (B,L,D)
Day 10: Futaleufu / Chaiten / Puerto Montt / Chiloe Island
Today you join a regular transfer from the hotel to Chaiten airport to board your flight to Puerto Montt where you will be transferred about three hours by road to Chiloe to check in at your hotel. Chiloe Island is the main island in the archipelago of the same name in southern Chile. Home to pastoral landscapes, the island is known for its iconic wooden churches built by Jesuit missionaries in the 18th and 19th centuries, such as the Church of Chonchi. Chiloe is a great destination to learn about Chilean culture with its heritage churches and the artisan markets. Chiloe has been described as “a distinct enclave, linked more to the sea than the continent, a fragile society with a strong sense of solidarity and a deep territorial attachment.” The island’s history began with the arrival of its first human inhabitants more than 7,000 years ago. Spread along the island coast are several middens – ancient dumps for domestic waste, containing mollusc shells, stone tools and bonfire remains. All of these remains indicate the presence of nomadic groups dedicated to the collection of marine animals, hunting and fishing.
On the northwestern region of Chiloe Island is Chiloe National Park, which has a great diversity of marine fauna, including blue whale, sei whale, Chilean dolphins and Peale’s dolphins, sea lions, marine otters and Magellanic and Humboldt penguins. Nevertheless, this relatively undisturbed area faces different threats, like urban development, habitat degradation, land and marine pollution.
The Alfaguara project (blue whale project), conducted by the Cetacean Conservation Center, is based at Puñihuil on the northwest coast. The project combines long term research, educational and capacity building programs for marine conservation combined with the sustainable development of the local communities. The Islotes de Puñihuil Natural Monument is a group of three islets to the west and north of Puñihuil. The monument is the only known shared breeding site for Humboldt and Magellanic penguins. It is also a breeding area for other species, such as the red-legged cormorant and kelp gull. Ocio Territorial Hotel (B,L,D)
Days 11/12: Chiloe Island
Chiloe is derived from the Mapuche word chillwe, meaning “seagull place”. Chill or chülle refers to the brown-hooded gull, and the ‘-we’ suffix means ‘place’. Chiloe is widely known for its distinctive folklore, mythology, cuisine and unique architecture. The variety of potato, which is most widely grown throughout the world, is indigenous to the islands. Explore the island and its remarkable churches, which are a unique architectural phenomenon in the Americas, and one of the most prominent styles of Chilota architecture. Unlike classical Spanish colonial architecture, the churches are made entirely in native timber with extensive use of wood shingles. The churches were built to withstand the archipelago’s humid and rainy climate. Built in the 18th and 19th centuries when this area was still part of the Spanish possessions, the churches are a fusion of Spanish Jesuit culture and native population’s skill and traditions. The churches of Chiloe are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take in the artisan markets of the island. The native fauna includes many birds, some of which are endemic to the archipelago. Among land mammals, the largest are Darwin’s fox (named because Charles Darwin was the first to collect a specimen, on Isla San Pedro, Chiloe) and the pudu, a small deer. Marine mammals include Commerson’s dolphins and South American sea lions, which form colonies at rock outcrops close to the sea. Several species of whale have been sighted around the island, notably blue whales and critically endangered southern right whales. Ocio Territorial Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 13: Chiloe / Puerto Montt / Santiago / Depart
Transfer to the airport to board your flight back home. (B)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: Price starts from US$700 per person per day.