pageid: 18652

Visiting Torres del Paine with Children

The Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia is synonymous with adventure, hiking, and probably strong winds! It’s not known as a family destination but we think it has a lot to offer to visitors of all ages. Here at Ecochile, we can adapt every experience depending on your needs and your family’s preferences. Just speak to your travel expert and we’ll be happy to help.

The great thing about the park is that not all the group has to do the same activity. If one of your family members is desperate to climb the iconic Base of the Towers hike, which isn’t suitable for younger travelers, they can enjoy the amazing hike with other visitors of their hotel. The younger visitors, as long as they are accompanied by a responsible adult, can enjoy another activity.

Depending on the age of your children, you might alternatively opt to self-drive around the park! It’s absolutely doable and can offer more flexibility for very young visitors (and the parents!). 



There are a variety of accommodation options in and around Torres del Paine for your family to stay in. Note that some of the higher-end accommodation enforce age restrictions. For example, EcoCamp has a minimum age of 6 years old at the age of travel. Patagonia camp recommends children to be 10 years or older for the best experience. They offer a great family yurt (1 queen bed, two twin beds with option for one more) which is ideal for families with teens. Awasi and Tierra also require a minimum age of 10. Rio Serrano Hotel has no age limit and has a children’s game room on site to keep the little ones entertained when they’re not out exploring! Explora, Singular Patagonia, Kau Rio Serrano, Hotel Lago Grey, Estancia Cerro Guido and Hotel Las Torres also have no age restrictions. 

If you’re out on the W and O treks (see below), you also have the option to camp or stay in mountain hostels, known as refugios. Note that the hostels have limited food options, so it’s worth carrying extra snacks if you’ve got picky eaters.


A visit to Patagonia is not complete without an adventure into its great outdoors. There are no formal age restrictions on the most iconic hiking trails like the W or O routes. That said, there are two main precautions that families should take if they venture on the routes. The first is to check the weather conditions before starting out on the challenge. Strong winds with gusts over 100 km/h are very common in the summer months, which sweep sturdy adults off their feet! The second is that pumas are present on the routes and they could see small children as prey. If you decide to venture on the routes, do take extra care to be aware of your surroundings, carry any small children, and hopefully go with a guide. With that in mind, it can be a great challenge if you’re traveling with teens, as long as they’ve got some experience climbing mountains. 

If the W and O aren’t for your family, there are still a myriad of ways to explore these amazing landscapes. Head out to enjoy some of the shorter walks that last between 30 minutes and 3 hours but that offer some spectacular views. For example, you can walk from Hotel Lago Grey to the shores of the lake, from where you can see the epic Grey Glacier. The round trip lasts around an hour and a half and includes some ace picnic spots! 

If you’re up for walking slightly further, try the hike to the Salto Grande and Cuernos Lookouts. This is a mostly flat 2.5 hr there-and-back route. With views of rushing waterfalls, calafate berry bushes lining the path, and the impressive Cuernos (or ‘Horns’) de Paine at the end of the route, the whole family will be in awe of the colors, fauna and flora along the way. Depending on the weather, there could be some great puddles to splash in here, too!

Alternatively, discover the lakes and straits of the region.You can hop on a catamaran to sail on Lago Grey, getting up close to the epic Grey Glacier. For the adults, you may be offered a pisco sour or whisky served with glacial ice! If you’re feeling more active, you could get even closer to the water with a kayaking experience on Lake Eberhard, just outside the National Park. 



Who doesn’t love spotting an animal in its natural habitat? In Torres del Paine, wildlife is plentiful, from condors to guanacos to pumas to armadillos. There are a few options to see the wildlife in all its glory. 

One option for moderately active families is the fauna trail. Near Laguna Amarga, this straight route offers sightings of guanacos, condors and, if you’re lucky and extremely quiet, pumas. You can go as far as you want on this flat trail and turn back when you’re ready. At the lagoon, you’re likely to see some flamingos, perching in the water on one leg. 

Another option is to go on a wildlife safari! With a local expert who will know all the best spots and have the latest tip offs, head out in a 4×4 into the Patagonian wilderness. This is a great option if you’re a little tired and if you’re especially keen to see a puma! 


We often call Torres del Paine remote and celebrate (quite rightly) its awesome wilderness. But that does not mean it’s devoid of culture for your family to discover! 

A tour to a local estancia – a typical Patagonian ranch – is such a fun experience for kids and adults alike! Learn about the sheep rearing culture, explore the grounds on horseback, discover unique hiking routes, and make friends with the Patagonian sheepdogs. Some estancias also offer accommodation for a multi-day trip and some of the heartiest food in the area!

Alternatively, venture back in time as you head to the Milodon cave, close to the town of Puerto Natales. Wall paintings on the cave’s wall remain from the nomadic Kawesqar people who lived here 6000 years ago. It’s more famous as the location where remarkably well-preserved remains were found of the even older Mylodon, a giant ground sloth that used to roam these parts back in the ice age! An easy circular hike to three caves will reveal all the findings, and a fun lifesize replica of the Mylodon!


If you have any questions about visiting Torres del Paine with your family or you’re looking for a different family trip in Chile, get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to help!

The art of tattoos in Chile: from ancient spirits to souvenirs

Would you get a tattoo to remember a vacation? Here in Chile, the practice is becoming more and more common, but Chile’s tattoo culture has roots that lie much deeper. 

Indigenous cultures in many parts of the world have some kind of tattoo practice, and the indigenous peoples in Chile are no exception. Mommies from the north of Chile have been found to have tattoos, although simpler and more rare than in other ancient or traditional cultures.

But in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) society is where tattoos played a bigger role. They demonstrated an individual’s identity, as well as strength, wealth, and even connection with spiritual energies. The origins of tattoos on the island are debated, although the legend goes that two female spirits, completely covered in tattoos, had children with two men who lived in a cave on Motu Nui. Supposedly, the children traveled to the mainland of Rapa Nui to teach the residents the artform. 


In those days, experts asked for permission from the local chief and made the ink from the ‘ti’ plant and tools from bone. Unfortunately, the custom had almost disappeared by the early 1900s, due to slave raiding, colonial conversion practices, and cultural exchanges. As in many places, including mainland Chile, a prejudice developed around tattoos. A few decades ago, very few people would have been seen with one so openly. 

Tattoo with traditional Rapa Nui symbols – @atarangatattoo


These days, tattoos are much more common. On Rapa Nui, young artists, now practicing modern techniques, have revived the practice and designs. In mainland Chile, people from all walks of life, socio-economic classes, professions, and lifestyles wear tattoos without shame or hiding them. Some prejudice remains for sure – there was even debate during the most recent presidential elections about now-elected President Boric’s tattooed arm – many people you’ll come across in Chile will have a tattoo of some kind. It might be the smallest of designs hidden on an ankle or a whole sleeve for all the world to see. 

In fact, Chile has become renowned for its talented tattoo artists – and artist is certainly the active word! Requested around the world, many Chilean tattooists are invited to travel to Europe, North America, and further to share their talents. But for those who don’t make it for their fleeting visits, tourists increasingly flock to Chile to mark their skin, sometimes as a beautiful souvenir to remember their adventures. 

Torres del Paine tattoo – @inknecessary

Aluna Tattoo at Yaya Tatu studio, spoke to us about how Chile’s visitors, instead of carrying home a fridge magnet to remember their trip, they instead ink a landscape, a bird, a flower, or a word that marked their adventure. It’s a unique way to mark a moment – or perhaps the feeling of that moment – their whole life. 


Although many are travelers on long trips, sometimes through a few countries on the continent, some pass through on a short trip to the Atacama Desert or Patagonia. The practice certainly speaks to how special this part of the world is. The laid-back way of life, the spectacular landscapes, the beautiful wildlife, and the unforgettable memories mark travelers so much that they tint their skin to immortalize the experience. 


Main image: @atarangatattoo

Boutique Wineries in Chile

Andrew Hall, a two-time Ecochile traveler, describes himself as a ‘data guy’. You may be wondering then why we’ve spoken to him about boutique wineries in Chile and their wines.

Andrew loves traveling, primarily to learn, see, and importantly taste new things. Along the way, Chile became a passion of his. His first trip was on something of a whim. After visiting Machu Picchu, he made the most of being in South America and contacted Ecochile to arrange a trip to Santiago and the Atacama Desert. A few years (and a pandemic) later, he traveled again with us to venture along the Carretera Austral and to visit the Torres del Paine National Park on our Southern Chile Experience itinerary.


On each of these trips, he took time to rent a car and explore some of the more unusual vineyards that Chile has to offer. Through trips like these and practicing his curiosity for flavors, Andrew has grown from having an interest to become something of an ‘amateur expert’. And the reason we’re speaking to him about boutique wineries? Andrew combined his interest in wines with his computing skills working for the website, cellartracker.com – a cellar management tool and incredible online library of tasting notes and reviews.


What is special about Chilean wines? 

Chile’s landscape is key in understanding why the country’s wines stand out. The Andes mountains to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Atacama Desert to the north isolate the country from many things, including the dreaded phylloxera pest. In other parts of the world, winemakers protect themselves from the vine-killing insect by grafting the desired grape species onto the roots of a phylloxera-resistant variety. However, in Chile this isn’t necessary. 

Famously, this is the reason why the Carmenere is grown in Chile after many years of believing it was extinct. But besides carmeneres, one variety that stands out is País. Here you can find textures, beauties, and a richness to the wines that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. And the growers really are experts at it, cultivating it in vineyards that are hundreds of years old and passed down through generations. 

Why should you visit a boutique winery?

Although the big wineries offer a great and curated experience to any visitor – and for the most part offer very drinkable wines to the average drinker – they can lack that personal touch in the tours and a distinguishability in their wines. The large producers don’t spend much time or money on different grape varieties, instead opting for the best sellers.

On the other hand, a boutique, small-scale vineyard will offer you something unique, both in the distinct grape varieties and experience. For those who aren’t looking to drink a vast quantity of the wine, finding a curiosity in the flavors that speaks to the creators and lands that made it is much more interesting. 

Consider staying at a winery

For many, wines are one of life’s sweetest luxuries. Staying at a winery, then, is that experience multiplied. The hospitality provided at the vineyards is second to none. Besides the tours of the vines and cellars, you can enjoy the other on-site opportunities, varying from traditional barbeques, to hikes around the grounds and tranquil spa moments.

Some of the vineyards immerse you in an architectural and artistic phenomenon, like Viña VIK, where each room is decorated by a world-renowned artist. Others, like Bouchon, are more rustic and old-fashioned, but with just as much charm and flavor. At the smaller wineries like this one, you could even find yourself sharing a bottle with the owner until the early hours of the morning as Andrew did! 

Sustainability in winemaking 

One of the other benefits of boutique wineries is that they are very naturally organic. Their remoteness often means that the most damaging aspects of winemaking, like the use of pesticides and irrigation methods, aren’t necessary. At vineyards like Bouchon and Garage Wine Co, the vines are old enough to withstand the usual threats. Some also employ renewable energy practices, and many have close ties with the communities around them.

If you’re looking for a vacation through the picturesque vineyards of Chile, speak to an Ecochile travel specialist today!




Embracing the Art of Slow Travel: A Journey Through the Heartlands of Chile and Argentina

They say that time is the greatest luxury there is and we agree, especially when it comes to travel. Many of us are restricted by other obligations and pressures and don’t have the privilege of traveling for extended periods of time – as much as we may like to! Sometimes we have to make the most of the week or two that we have to explore a new country or region. But by taking a breath and a step back, we can get so much more out of our travels. 

Slow travel

Slow travel has become a buzzword in the sustainable travel space over recent years. It can be tempting when you go to a destination to try to see everything and pack in as much as possible. But this isn’t only worse for the environment (more local travel creates more emissions and changing of hotel increases water consumption), it can also be exhausting!

Slow travel offers an alternative. It isn’t just a pace, but a mindset too. Vacationing is as much about taking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life as it is about discovering new destinations. Slow travel suggests spending relaxed, quality time in your destinations to build a deeper connection, living like a local by visiting local restaurants and shops, and creating unforgettable memories that don’t seem like a fleeting moment in time. And the best thing is you practice it on short or long trips, depending on when you need to get home!

If you have the opportunity to spend just a few days in Torres del Paine or El Chalten, just taking some brief moments to breathe the clean air and take in the epic landscapes will be life-changing. Likewise, whether you visit the Atacama for three days or two weeks, taking a moment to be mindful and appreciate what’s around you rather than worrying about packing your bags for the next location will transform how you travel. 

In Chile and Argentina, the slow travel philosophy aligns seamlessly with the essence of the land and landscapes. There’s a saying in Patagonia that if you rush through you’re doing it wrong, but we believe that’s true wherever you are. Here, at the end of the world, time seems to stretch out in rhythm with the sprawling landscapes of the northern deserts, the rolling wine valleys, and the ancient forests of the lakes regions. 

Chile: A Tapestry of Contrasts

Begin your slow travel odyssey in Chile, a country that stretches from the arid Atacama Desert in the north to the glacial fjords of Patagonia in the south. Santiago, the vibrant capital, serves as a gateway to diverse landscapes and cultural experiences. Take your time exploring the city’s historic neighborhoods, savoring the flavors of local cuisine, and discovering the fusion of modernity and tradition. 

As you venture southward, the lush vineyards of the Central Valley beckons. Slow down to sip on Chilean wine, crafted with care and precision, and allow the serene lakes to cast their spell on you. In the lakes region, discover the myths of the Chiloé Archipelago, with its iconic wooden churches and picturesque fishing villages that invite visitors to step back in time and relish the simplicity of life. Over on the mainland, you can walk up the almost perfectly conical Osorno Volcano, or walk amongst the 3000-year old trees of the Alerce Andino National Park. 

Argentina: Tango, Gastronomy, and Endless Horizons

Crossing the border into Argentina, the spirit of slow travel continues to unfold. Buenos Aires, the birthplace of tango, is a city that thrives on passion and rhythm. Allow yourself to be swept away by the music and dance, meander through cobblestone streets, and indulge in the city’s renowned culinary scene. Argentina’s slow-cooked asados (barbecues) are a gastronomic journey in themselves, reflecting the country’s dedication to flavor and tradition.

From the vibrant city life, journey into the heart of the Andes. The northwest region of Argentina, with its colorful mountains and indigenous communities, invites travelers to savor the authenticity of local cultures. Cafayate, nestled in the Calchaquí Valleys, is a haven for wine enthusiasts, where vineyards dot the landscape, and each sip tells a story of the sun-drenched terroir.

Patagonia: Nature’s Symphony

No exploration of slow travel in Chile and Argentina is complete without a pilgrimage to Patagonia. This untamed wilderness, shared by both countries, is a haven for those seeking solitude and communion with nature. Take your time trekking through Torres del Paine National Park, where emerald lakes mirror granite spires, and the wind whispers tales of ancient glaciers.

In the southern reaches of Patagonia, the town of El Calafate beckons with the majesty of the Perito Moreno Glacier. Witness the slow dance of nature as icebergs calve into the turquoise waters, and feel the enormity of time etched into the glacial landscape.

We’ll be here when you’re ready

In the embrace of slow travel, Chile and Argentina reveal themselves as more than just destinations; they become immersive experiences that linger in the soul. As you traverse these lands at a leisurely pace, you’ll discover that the true beauty lies not just in the destinations, but in the journey itself—a journey that unfolds like a captivating novel, inviting you to savor each chapter and relish the intricate details that make these countries a canvas of memories.

Unusual places to visit in Santiago

Santiago, the capital city of Chile, bursts at the seams with its vibrancy, culture and diversity. There’s so much to see here that you could easily spend a week and still not see it all. 

The typical highlights of the city are its museums that delve into the history and art of Chile, the Santa Lucía hill that serves as an artistic green oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle, or iconic landmarks like the Moneda, Plaza de Armas and Mercado Central. But if you find yourselves in Santiago with a little more time after you’ve seen those, you might be looking to head a little more off the beaten path or to find the locals’ favorite locations to discover the ‘real’ Santiago!

Barrio Bellavista

Barrio Bellavista is one of the more bohemian neighborhoods of Santiago. Here you’ll find buildings painted with impressive murals that reflect Chile’s nature, people, and culture. You’ll also find some real hidden treasures to explore.

Teatro MoriNestled in this vibrant neighborhood, the Teatro Mori stands as a cultural gem in Santiago. An intimate theater, it’s a haven for art enthusiasts, offering a delightful blend of avant-garde performances and classic productions. With its eclectic lineup, ranging from thought-provoking plays to entertaining comedies, Teatro Mori promises an unforgettable night out and your gateway to the enchanting world of Chilean performing arts!

San Cristobal Hill – We can’t say that the hill is a hidden treasure – you can see the statue of Christ at its summit from most of central Santiago! But walking or cycling up this hill is certainly underrated. It takes 2-4 hours to walk up the hill. It’s a fairly easy route but you’ll be climbing uphill most of the time. At the top and various viewpoints along the way, you’ll be able to take in panoramic views of the sprawling city and its surrounding Andean mountains. If you’re not afraid of heights, hop on the cable car at the top to come back down! 

La Chascona – The former home of Pablo Neruda, one of Chile’s most iconic poets and politicians, was converted into a museum. Built in 1953, Neruda dedicated the house for his secret lover at the time, Matilde Urrutia, naming it after her wild chestnut hair. Although the house passed through turbulent times, including being vandalized and flooded, Urrutia dedicated the last years of her life to reviving and conserving the property. Today, it pays homage to the poet and the arts, featuring paintings by Chilean and foreign artists and conserving Neruda’s possessions. 

Where to eat:

Kross Bar – If you enjoy an artisanal beer, Kross Bar is a must. Offering a range of international award-winning ales, stouts, and even whisky, Kross is a great place to go to enjoy a refreshing beer, tasty finger food, and a lively and informal atmosphere. 

Tamango – Alternatively (or perhaps the next stop on a beer tour!), sample some of the 12 beers at Tamango brewery’s ‘House of Beer’. For the non-beer drinkers, their gin ‘Guayabera’ is definitely recommended too! 

Ciudad Vieja – If there’s one thing Chileans are good for, it’s a sandwich. Forget your boring sliced bread with butter, try one of these delicious and giant bread rolls, slathered with mayonnaise, homemade tomato sauce, fresh green avocado, slices of juicy tomato and an array of meats for a mouthwatering bite! 

Ootoya – In the true metropolis style of Santiago, venture out of the Americas and sample the delicious ramen and noodles of Ootoya. Don’t forget to try their sushi and gyoza dumplings too!

Sarita Colonia – This restaurant celebrates the best of Peruvian cuisine – inventive, creative, and most importantly, mouthwateringly flavorsome, try these dishes from the earth and sea, including ceviche, lomo saltado (stir-fried beef), and slow-cooked rib. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, be sure to try the classic Suspiro a la Limeña for dessert!

Peumayén – Taste the flavors of the whole of Chile at this one restaurant. Specializing in the traditional dishes of Chile’s indigenous peoples, Peumayén offers tasting menus that will take you through from the grains and corn of Chile’s northern Andes to the roasted meats and potatoes of the wild southern plains.

Barrio Lastarria

GAM Cultural Center – Situated in the heart of Santiago de Chile, the GAM Cultural Center is a vibrant tapestry of artistic expression and cultural dynamism. This hub of creativity, nestled within the bustling cityscape, offers a kaleidoscope of events and exhibitions, from cutting-edge contemporary art to traditional performances. Wander through its modern architecture, and you’ll find yourself immersed in a world where music, theater, and visual arts collide in perfect harmony. GAM stands as a testament to Santiago’s commitment to fostering a rich cultural landscape, inviting visitors to explore, engage, and be captivated by the diverse offerings within its walls.

Discover the streets of the area – Spend some time wandering along the streets of the neighborhood as you uncover the beautiful architecture, unofficial street markets, and restaurants and cafes of the area.

Climb Cerro Santa Lucía – The Santa Lucia Hill is a classic in Santiago. Visited by locals and tourists, this 70m-high mound is a remnant of a 15-million year old volcano! These days, it is adorned with beautiful facades, statues, gates, and fountains, and offers a great viewpoint looking over the center of Santiago!

Where to eat:

Boca Nariz – This is a wine-lovers favorite, and with good reason! Its name translates to ‘Mouth Nose’, honoring the senses that grant us the joy of food and wine. Their menus are carefully designed to pair the dishes with their exquisite wine offerings, delighting the senses and giving you a true taste of Chile. 

Liguria – Sample some of the traditional flavors of Chile in this typical restaurant. With walls decorated with pictures, paintings, and tableware reflecting Chile’s varied and complicated history, you’ll feel fully immersed in your destination as you try the stews, roasted meats, and fried fish. 

Barrio Italia 

Walk along Avenida Italia and Condell – Ponder through the cobblestone streets of this Santiago neighborhood that effortlessly marries vintage charm with contemporary flair. You’ll discover an array of boutiques, antique shops, and cozy cafes housed in beautifully restored mansions as you meander through this treasure trove for those seeking unique finds, from handmade crafts to retro furnishings. Take your time walking through these streets, where local artisans and designers showcase their talents in a thriving bohemian atmosphere.

Comedy – Put your Spanish to the test at one of Santiago’s most iconic comedy bars. Pick up a bite and a drink here too! 

Kadampa – Find your zen and learn about the meditation techniques and teachings of modern Kadampa buddhism. With meditation classes, lectures, and talks, this center offers a range of activities for meditations lovers and newbies alike. 

Where to eat:

True to its name, Barrio Italia is home to a some of the best pizzas and gelato you can find Santiago! 

Galpón Italia – This outdoor bar and restaurant has a distinctive dynamic foodtruck atmosphere. Their menu varies from burgers to salads and ceviches, but their grilled steaks and fish are certainly recommended! 

In Pasta – This restaurant rings the flavors of Italy to Barrio Italia, with a range of antipasti, salads, and of course pasta dishes. Be sure to finish your meal off with a sip of limoncello and a spoonful of creamy tiramisu! 

In Fiore – If you’re visiting Santiago in the summer heat, you’ll be grateful for a refreshing gelato from In Pasta’s cafe, In Fiore! You can pick up light bites, pastries and a delicious coffee here too. 

Da Noi – A humble but iconic Italian restaurant, enjoy a hearty plate of pasta and sauce or a baked dish on the streetside amongst typical red-and-white-check tablecloths. 

Alleria – Alleria’s wood-fired pizzas will hit that pizza craving. Their tantalizing combinations of dough, tomato sauce, and mozzarella accompanied by a range of meats and veggies. If that’s not for you, the risottos and pastas are sure to please too!

Siam Thai – If you want to step out of Italy for a brief moment, head to Thailand! Enjoy the fresh flavors of lime, coconut and chilli with one of Siam Thai’s curries, soups, salads, or Chef’s recommendations. 


Head out of Santiago for the day

Casablanca Valley – Nestled between the coastal mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Casablanca Valley unfolds as a picturesque wine lover’s paradise just a short drive from Santiago. Famous for its cool maritime climate, this valley has become a renowned wine region, particularly celebrated for its crisp white wines, notably Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The vineyards here, like Viña Casas del Bosque, Viña Matetic, and Bodegas Re, are not only a treat for the palate but also a feast for the eyes, offering stunning vistas of rolling hills and neatly lined grapevines against a backdrop of coastal mist. A day trip to Casablanca promises a delightful blend of wine-tasting, scenic beauty, and a peaceful escape from the bustling city.

Maipo Valley – Venture into the historic Maipo Valley, an enchanting wine region that traces the Maipo River as it winds through the Andean foothills. Renowned as one of Chile’s oldest and most traditional wine-producing areas, Maipo is celebrated for its robust red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyards here, like Viña Santa Rita, Viña Haras de Pirque, and Viña El Principal, are surrounded by a rich tapestry of landscapes, from lush greenery to the rugged mountains, providing a sensory journey that goes beyond the wine itself. A visit to Maipo Valley not only offers wine enthusiasts a chance to savor bold flavors but also an opportunity to soak in the region’s cultural heritage and breathtaking natural beauty.

Cajón del Maipo – For those craving an adventurous escape, Cajón del Maipo beckons just southeast of Santiago. This stunning canyon is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a playground of activities amidst awe-inspiring scenery. Follow the Maipo River as it carves its way through towering cliffs, leading to natural wonders like the Embalse El Yeso reservoir and the El Morado Natural Monument. Whether you’re into hiking, horseback riding, or simply relishing the tranquility of nature, Cajón del Maipo provides a refreshing retreat. After a day of exploration, unwind with the locals in the charming mountain villages, savoring traditional Chilean cuisine and connecting with the region’s warm hospitality.

Speak to your Ecochile representative for more tips or to book a tour or entrance tickets to any of the above. 

What happens if there’s an emergency in Chile?

When something happens – a natural disaster, political unrest, or disease outbreak – in a country you’re traveling to or in, it can be unnerving to say the least. It can leave you with a host of questions, like what will happen with your activities? Is it safe? Can you still travel? 

In Chile, the Government has the right to enforce several ‘States of Exception’, or ‘Estados de Excepción Constitucional’. In the past, these have been put in place for widespread protests and natural disasters like major earthquakes and forest fires. The four kinds of state of exception in Chile are: State of Assembly, State of Site, State of Emergency, and State of Catastrophe. Each of these states correspond to different circumstances and levels of risk. The president of Chile may declare multiple states of exception if deemed necessary for the crisis at hand. 

When you travel with Ecochile, we’ll be in contact to help you every step of the way to answer any questions or to modify your travel plans if necessary. But if you’re curious or looking for peace of mind, here we’ll explain what each one means and how it can affect visitors. 


Estado de Emergencia – State of Emergency 

The State of Emergency is probably the most common state of exception implemented in Chile. This can happen in cases of upheaval of public order or danger or threat to national security for internal or external origins. Only the President can declare a State of Emergency in a particular area, which has a maximum duration of 15 days. After those 15 days, it can be extended for the same period of time. Any further extensions require Congress approval. If the State of Emergency is implemented, it gives the government the right to restrict freedom of movement and assembly. 

This means, for example, if there are protests in Santiago, a State of Emergency may be declared there for a couple of weeks. However, you would still be free and able to enjoy your spectacular hikes in Torres del Paine

Nonetheless, if you do find yourself in a place where a curfew is put in place, this should be strictly adhered to. If you have a reason to go outside during this time, you should have a legitimate reason, like seeking urgent medical care. You would also be allowed to travel to the airport for a flight provided you can show the relevant documentation, like boarding passes and passports.


Estado de Catastrofe – State of Catastrophe

The State of Catastrophe sounds more dramatic than its reality, although this state of exception gives the government the most power outside of a state of war. Nonetheless, the measures are implemented with caution and great consideration. The President can enforce a State of Catastrophe, indicating the affected area, and indicating to Congress the adopted measures. Congress has the power to end the State of Catastrophe if it considers the risk to have diminished. 

A State of Catastrophe enforced only in extreme circumstances. For example, it was enforced in Chile during the Covid-19 pandemic for example, enabling the government to enforce a lockdown, enforce school closures, and close national borders amongst other preventative measures. It was also implemented more recently during the forest fires that affected the region of Valparaíso in February 2024, in order to enable adequate access for emergency services.

The following two states of exception are far less common.

Estado de Asamblea – State of Assembly 

The State of Assembly could be declared in the case of war outside of Chile. It would be announced by the President with agreement by the National Congress and will last as long as the war. The state could be implemented across the whole of Chile or only in certain areas.

If the State of Assembly is brought into force, it gives the Chilean Government the right to restrict personal freedom, the freedom to meet and the freedom to work. The government may also intercept, open or register any correspondence and infringe on a person’s right to property.

Estado de Sitio – State of Site

State of Site could be implemented in the case of an internal war or serious domestic unrest. Again, it would be declared by the President with agreement by the National Congress and could be implemented across the whole of Chile or only in certain areas. In comparison to the State of Assembly, the State of State can only be declared for 15 days at a time and the President can extend the State. 

This state grants the government the right to restrict freedom of movement and the freedom to meet, as well as the right to arrest people in their home or place of residence. 

But don’t let that put you off!

The above can be concerning, but it is certainly not intended to put you off! Latin America as a whole is a region of extremes, both in terms of its nature and politics. However, these are flashpoints and are far from the norm. Chile, as its neighbors, is a beautiful country with extremely friendly people that will give you an adventure of a lifetime. If you find yourself in any of these situations or you have particular worries, don’t hesitate to contact your Ecochile representative for clarification on how it will affect your journey. 

How to Prepare for Altitude

The Andean highlands are some of the most spectacular and unique landscapes you’ll find in the world. If you’re heading to San Pedro de Atacama, Uyuni, La Paz, or Salta, you will be blown away by the cultures and wildlife that thrive in these challenging conditions. From here, you can see mountains as high as Everest Base Camp. But in these fascinating towns and cities at 2500-3000m (8200-9800 ft) above sea level, you might also find yourself affected by the altitude. 

There are some tips and tricks you can do to minimize your chances of feeling ill at elevations like these and to ensure you have an amazing trip! 

What is altitude sickness? 

Altitude sickness is the body’s reaction to the lower levels of oxygen found at high altitudes. It doesn’t affect everyone, but it can affect anyone. Even if you’ve been to high altitudes before without a problem, you could still be affected the next time you go. It is often preventable and treatable, but if you’re affected, it can be uncomfortable causing headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breath. 

Preparation is key

Before you travel, you can buy over-the-counter medication if you wish to help with altitude and bring ibuprofen to help with any headaches. Of course, talk to your doctor about this or any other concerns before your trip. 

It is not recommended to go scuba diving the day before you climb to high elevations. If you want to scuba on Easter Island as part of our Easter Island to Atacama itinerary, we’ll schedule this a few days before you travel to Atacama. 

On the day you travel to altitude, ensure you are well rested and hydrated. It’s a good idea to eat easily digestible food (think fruits, veggies and grains, stay away from anything too fatty!). At these altitudes, you need more energy, too, so be sure you get plenty of carbs! It’s recommended to avoid alcohol and caffeine, too and to topping up on potassium to help keep dehydration at bay. You can find potassium in foods like bananas, avocados, spinach, yogurt, and kale.

If you want to take a hint from the locals, try some coca leaves! You can either go all in and chew the leaves or you can add them to hot water to make Andean coca tea. It tastes just like green tea and you can sweeten it to taste, but it really can make a big difference! Coca leaves are just as beneficial in preventing altitude sickness as they are in helping to relieve its symptoms. 

Another important tip is to take it easy for the first day or two, too. Just because you don’t feel it as soon as you arrive, you might not have avoided it completely! You may find yourself feeling queasy or lightheaded overnight or the next day. So make the most of your vacation and get plenty of rest, especially during the first couple of days. 

What to do if you get altitude sickness

Spot the signs early to avoid escalation – listen to your body and take it easy. With rest and plenty of hydration you should start to feel better soon. Most mild altitude symptoms go away within a day or two. 

It’s important to note, too, that if you feel really unwell or start showing signs of confusion, changes of color in the skin, clumsiness, or severe trouble breathing, seek urgent medical attention.

Crossing the Chile-Argentina Border

The Andes Mountains form a spectacular border between Chile and Argentina, stretching 5,308 km (3,298 mi). Crossing between the two countries will offer you some incredible views and the chance to experience two unique and dynamic South American countries. We’ll help you with the planning and logistics of hopping over the border, but if you’re keen to know more, keep reading for the requirements, what to expect, and the sights you’ll see on the way!

You can cross each of the points we name here in a vehicle, although there are smaller crossing points that may only permit foot and bicycle traffic. These minor crossings usually connect small towns and villages in the Andes region. Check maps, ask locals, or speak to your Ecochile contact to see if there are pedestrian or bike-friendly crossings on your route.



To cross the Chile-Argentina border, you’ll need a valid passport, a tourist card/visa if required (if going from Chile to Argentina, you need to show the PDI paper you received when you entered Chile), and the documents handed to you by the rental car company if applicable. Depending on your nationality, you may be able to cross with just your passport or you may need to obtain a tourist visa ahead of time. Check the requirements for entering Chile and Argentina before your trip. 

Officials on both sides of the border will stamp your passport and may ask you questions about the purpose and length of your visit. Make sure you have all your travel documents in hand and be cooperative with border personnel for the shortest processing time. Border wait times fluctuate based on season and traffic volume, so build extra time into your itinerary. Summer and major holidays tend to be the busiest crossing times.


Paso de Jama crossings – Northern Deserts

These border crossings lie between the fascinating desert town of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile and the alluring colonial city of Salta in Argentina and altitude wine region of Cafayate. In northern Argentina, the Salta province shares a long border with Chile. This crossing lies at high altitude which offers a unique landscape of desert mountains, salt flats, and salt lagoons to admire along the route. Be sure to fill up on gas, food, and cash before leaving as there are few services available along this route. Although open all year round, the crossing point may close in the winter due to weather conditions. 

There is also the option of crossing at Paso Sico, which lies slightly further south. 


Los Libertadores pass – Central Region

The most popular and heavily trafficked crossing is the Los Libertadores pass. The road, Route 60, goes from the Chilean city of Valparaiso, passing through Santiago and reaching the Argentine city of Mendoza. Keep an eye out for the highlights of the route: the 4 meter (10ft) tall Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue; passing the awe-inspiring Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas; and the brilliant ski center, Ski Portillo, one of the oldest and most important in the Southern Hemisphere. 

This mountain pass sits at an elevation of 3,200 m above sea level (10,500 ft). Although officially open all year round, at these lofty elevations, the weather conditions in the winter can mean closures for safety reasons. Our team will be in touch if this will affect you and provide you with an alternative.


Nahuel Huapi National Park, Bariloche

Cardenal Antonio Samoré Pass Lakes Region

The scenic lakes region of Argentina and Chile offers another popular border crossing option via the Cardenal Samore Pass. This crossing connects the famous Argentine tourist town of San Carlos de Bariloche with Puerto Varas in Chile’s Lake District. This picturesque route winds through the Andes along Lake Nahuel Huapi, passing cascading waterfalls and forests of native trees, chasing snow-capped volcanoes. With its ease of access via public transportation and gorgeous natural backdrop, the Bariloche to Puerto Varas trip makes for an excellent add-on for travelers looking to see more of Patagonia’s iconic mountain landscape and experience the best of both Argentina’s and Chile’s lake regions.

Alternatively you can cross further south at Paso Pérez Rosales as part of a beautiful route that mixes scenic drives and ferry rides over idyllic Patagonian lakes. This leisurely route travels between Puerto Varas and Bariloche and is a truly spectacular way to travel. Note that this route must be booked in advance with the tour operator.


Paso Roballos & Paso Jeinimeni – Southern Patagonia

At the southern end of the Andes in Patagonia, dirt roads criss-cross the border between Chile and Argentina. Some, like Paso Roballos or Paso Jeinimeni, require 4×4 vehicles or hiring local guides to traverse them. El Chaltén in Argentina provides access to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field via border crossings like Paso Vuriloche. Travel here is for the adventure-seeker looking to explore remote mountain landscapes, or to visit the incomparable Torres del Paine and incredible El Chalten in one epic trip! Note that this crossing is only open during the summer season.

When you travel with Ecochile, we’ll help you manage these crossings, ensure you have all the documents you need, make the appropriate arrangements with the rental car company and handle any hiccups that may happen. Speak to us today to start planning your trip to Chile and Argentina! 

Yerba Loca: Hiking in the outskirts of Santiago

Santiago is a sprawling, bustling city. It’s a truly vibrant metropolis that’s home to people of different cultures. Packed full of history and culture, it’s easy to spend a few days exploring the streets and museums of one of the biggest cities in South America. 

Outside of the hustle and bustle, lies some of the city’s hidden but magnificent charms. Santiago sits at the base of the Andes, which offer a beautifully contrasting backdrop to the city’s structures. The snow-capped peaks rise over the colonial-style square, the functional markets, and the hyper-modern glass high-rises. Once you’ve finished exploring the busy streets and green parks of the Chilean capital, head out to these mountains for a totally fresh perspective. 

To the northeast of the city lies Yerba Loca park. Like a branch stretching out of the hustle and bustle, the road to the park winds through the dry, cactus-lined valley. In the eves of summer, with a bright burning sun, the noise and drama of the capital became only sounds of chirping birds and the occasional cyclist. 

With the group, we arrived in the park, registered with the rangers and headed to the base of three possible treks. With well-kept facilities, including a visitor center and restrooms (and some curious but harmless bugs!), the anticipation and excitement to explore the route was bubbling. 

Our guides explained that we were going to head to the Refugio Alemán (German Shelter) – a moderately difficult route but one that offers spectacular views of the valley. After a briefing and introductions, we each collected our walking poles and packed lunch and headed on our way. 

Starting with a gradual incline and a lot of enthusiasm, after the first bend we could see our end goal – a stone shelter with a proud Chilean flag next to it. From the off, we were surrounded by nature and trying to name what we could identify. 

Our guides – geologists by training and outdoor fans – told us more about the different wildlife that we saw along the way, such as the American kestrel, Chilean mockingbird, and red-backed hawk. There was plenty of fauna along the route too, like the Junellia Spathulata plants that scented the path like jasmine. We passed by wild meadows, saw enormous standalone rocks, and climbed amongst the shrub as we worked our way to the shelter. 

As we stopped to rest and hydrate, the guides explained to us about the landscape around us.

Our first rest point was at the Mirador del Águila, the Eagle Viewpoint. We didn’t see any eagles from there, but the view of the Paloma Glacier in the distance was incredible! At the second, we learned about the formation of the Andes and the volcanoes and earthquakes that characterize Chile’s geography and even culture. 

The nearly three hours of walking flew by and soon enough, we had climbed to the top. What a view! Even with some smokey residue from some nearby forest fires the day before, the vista was breathtaking. This was far from the Santiago we were used to seeing and thoroughly rewarding.

After a delicious lunch and, of course, a photoshoot, we climbed back down to the starting point. We were greeted by a very welcome surprise picnic of nibbles, charcuterie, and some deliciously refreshing juice and pisco sours! 

We rested and refueled as the guides showed us some of the most beautiful and fascinating rock samples we’d ever seen. With the loupes provided, we looked at crystals, quartz, fossils, and smooth turquoise stones that looked more like something out of a painting, inspiring a renewed appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.

This hike was a wonderful discovery, as much in its views as its nature. To explore a small bit of the epic Andes that form such an important icon in Chile so close to the city is a magnificent opportunity recommended to any visitor. If you’re looking to see an alternative side to Santiago, or to find some off-beat hiking trails in Chile, be sure to put this one on your list. 

Talk to an Ecochile travel specialist today to include this hike in your itinerary. 

Visiting the Wildlife Haven of Iberá Park

Esteros del Iberá is one of Argentina’s best kept travel secrets. A wildlife reserve in the wetlands of northeast Argentina, this national park offers one of the most unique experiences you can have in a country known more for its rich malbecs, dramatic tango, and even more passionate football. Iberá lies far off the typical tourist path and it’s certainly not for everyone. Nonetheless, its spotlight on caring for the environment, protecting nature in all its forms, and the serenity and untouched feel of the place only adds to the charm of this conservation project that has opened its doors to tourists.

Part of the Tompkins Conservation rewilding projects across Argentina and Chile, Iberá Park spans over 700,000 hectares (1.7 million acres). Its marshlands and forests are home to an impressive range of over 4,000 species of wildlife – this is what makes this place incredible. You can even visit an island to spot the illusive jaguars that have been reintroduced to the region. 

If you’re looking for a safari that’s a little different, or you’ve already seen the African savannahs the forests of Costa Rica, or the snowy landscapes of Antarctica, this is the place for you. Open plains of luscious marshlands, uncharacteristic of Argentina, where crocodiles lurk in wait of their prey, where deer wade through the water, and where capybaras roam freely across the grasses, make the Iberá Park a must-visit for any wildlife lover or birdwatcher’s next vacation.

You can arrive at the park from Misiones airport, just an hour and a half flight from Buenos Aires. From there it’s a 5-hour off-road drive through the park to the accommodation but the time flies by. Gazing out the window, you’ll find yourself surrounded by tropical green trees and grassy plains occupied by ñandus and deer as some of the exquisite birdlife flies by overhead.

Despite the park’s remoteness, the accommodation options on offer here offer a touch of luxury typical of the Tompkins projects. With wooden beams and flowing curtains, the decor pays homage to the safari lodges of Africa with a local touch. 

On the banks of Laguna Iberá, Casa de Esteros has an elegant rusticity with spectacular views from its many terraces. From here, the nighttime safari will show you the secrets of nocturnal life: boars, foxes, vizcachas, and nocturnal birds all come out to play, carefully (and respectfully) located and spotted by the expert guide. 

The next day, you can visit a forest to see the curious howler monkeys and colorful birds that occupy the trees and canopy. For the more adventurous, head out to the lake on a kayak or camp under the stars in the village. 

Rincón del Socorro, in the southeast of the park, boasts a very well-deserved five-star rating and the finishing touches not only show the care of the staff and quality of service, but also the respect and admiration of the nature that surrounds the hotel. This truly is a bird watcher’s paradise. Ñandus, herons, and a host of woodpeckers and other birds with brightly colored heads surround the accommodation and are tastefully included in the artwork. 

It’s easy to lose track of time just sitting on the terrace watching the birds fly past, but the activities are what make this place unique. Explore the hotel’s surroundings on horseback or ebike, or take to the trails on two feet as you hike the exclusive trails. Stopping for lunch at picnic tables with white table cloths in the middle of the forest, you’ll sample the delicious produce of the hotel’s kitchen garden. In the evening, take in the slow, relaxed atmosphere with a bonfire or even a traditional Argentinian asado (barbeque) under the full moon. 

Puerto Valle is Iberá’s most impressive accommodation, as much for its decor, service, and amenities as for its sustainability record. As the only hotel in the province with Greener Hotels sustainability recognition, this former estancia minimizes its energy usage and maximizes its positive social and environmental impact by preserving local biodiversity and cultural heritage. The hotel’s exclusive activities include a magnificent boat trip or kayak expedition along the Paraná river, a magical horseback ride along the river’s banks, or an unforgettable safari in the national park where you can spot the reintroduced red macaw.

Ibera isn’t a place for moving quickly or for adrenaline-inducing activities. Its calmness and focus on nature makes it a great escape for those who enjoy slow travel, who are looking to relax and spend time admiring the intrinsic beauty of nature. It serves as a great complement to the buzz and popularity of the Iguazú Falls and a striking contrast to the pampas and wine valleys that typically characterize Argentina. 

If you want to know more about visiting Iberá, have a look at the itineraries below or contact us today with your questions! 

Why you should visit a Patagonian Estancia

Ian Maclean’s family arrived in Patagonia at the end of the 19th century and he and his brother have spent the best part of their lives on estancias. These days, the brothers have their own estancia, La Peninsula. La Peninsula’s main focus is rearing sheep, but in recent years they’ve opened their incredible home to the public. Dressed in typical gaucho clothing, Ian told us about life on these magnificent Patagonian ranches and why every visitor to Patagonia should visit one. 

Estancia culture

Estancia Peninsula was originally part of the Antonio Varas Peninsula in Tierra del Fuego at a time when the estancias could only be rented. In the 1980s, many were sold off to private owners shortly after their economic peak. 

Life here is about working the land. It’s not an easy task in such harsh and wild conditions. You do what you can with what the Earth allows to produce food and look after livestock. After the boom in the 1970s and the shift to private ownership, many unfortunately fell into disrepair or were left abandoned. 

In recent years with the growth of tourism in the area, there has been a joyful resurgence of estancias. It’s hard work as the guardians of these sparse, beautiful landscapes roam on horseback with their trusty barbucho magellanico (Magellanic bearded collie) as their loyal companions. But if you don’t mind the isolation, there’s nothing quite like living amongst some of the most impressive landscapes on the planet.

The way of life here is notably different. The shared community of the gauchos, the ranchers who look after the estancias, stretches across the border here at the bottom of the Andes. There is little difference between Chilean and Argentinian estancias; both live off maté (a typical tea) and asados (a traditional open barbeque). The families of the estancias all know each other and their shared traditions and practices unite them far more than with the rest of their respective countries. 

Visiting the estancia

The MacLeans have always worked in rearing sheep but around eight years ago they began to share their way of life with Patagonia’s visiting travelers. As Ian says, visiting an estancia is a must for anyone who visits this corner of the world – that and bringing full waterproofs! It offers a balance to the national parks showing the culture and lifestyle of these parts that the hiking routes and other activities don’t offer, as brilliant as they are. You can learn about the history of European immigration to these parts, the role of livestock in the local economy, and the people who have made their homes in Patagonia. 

Ian described the estancias as national parks on a much smaller scale (if you can consider 18,000 hectares as small!). He and his brother have worked to restore the estancia to the charm and beauty of its heyday as it deserves. When they bought the estancia, it had been abandoned for a long time. Similar to the rewildling of the national parks, over the past years, they’ve worked to restore the lands, to study the life that’s been there like the wild cows, learn about the ecosystem of the fjords, glaciers and channels, and to create paths in the landscapes for visitors. One day they hope of reintroducing the rare huemul deer to their lands. 

You can visit the estancia for a day to gain an insight into gaucho life, learning about the unique culture, how the Patagonian wool is produced, and the iconic Patagonian meat. But if you have the time to stay a little longer, a multi-day stay can take you along the exclusive trails of the ranch on horseback or on foot. You can see a totally unique side of Patagonia as you immerse yourself in the unparalleled and lesser-frequented landscapes. Live in the wilderness as you camp under the beautiful clear skies or stay cozy in one of the cabins. Either way, this will be an experience you will never forget. 

If you want to find out more about visiting a Patagonian estancia, talk to an Ecochile travel specialist today!

Where to go kayaking in Patagonia

If you’re a fan of kayaking, you’ll know that it’s such a special way to experience a new place. Sat on the water, feeling the gentle swell rock your small vessel, and marveling at your beautiful surroundings – what’s not to love? 

Patagonia is definitely up there as one of the best places to kayak in South America, if not the world. Alongside glaciers, between the mountains of a fjord, and at the base of some iconic mountains, kayaking in Patagonia is a unique way to experience the incredible beauty of Chile and Argentina.

Calafate, Argentina

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most impressive of its kinds. Unbelievably enormous and constantly waning, it’s a truly remarkable sight. Once you’ve seen it from a distance on the walkways that lead to it, experience the ‘King of the Glaciers’ from up close on a kayak to take in its wonder and see it in a way few others are lucky enough to. 

Bariloche, Argentina

Lake Machonico, between San Martin de los Andes and Bariloche, is a spectacular location for your kayaking adventure. Famous for its serene waters and that idyllic forested mountains that surround it, this lake is a great place for beginners and experienced kayakers alike to enjoy the landscapes of the Argentinian lakes. Cross the lake and paddle along a gentle river to find a smaller lake and the perfect lunch spot!

Aysén, Chile

Travelling along the Carretera Austral, stop off at Puerto Rio Tranquilo for a unique and unforgettable kayaking experience. On the edges of the emerald-blue General Carrera Lake, you can find the marble caves – a geological marvel that leaves experts flabbergasted. The beauty of these rock formations is something that has to be seen to be believed. While you can take a boat to the caves, reaching them on a kayak allows you to get closer and even paddle inside! 

Torres del Paine, Chile

The fjords and lakes of the Torres del Paine National Park offer amazing kayaking opportunities. Experience the Grey Lake and Grey Glacier from the intimacy of your kayak. Surrounded by the Paine Grande Hill and the Olguín Mountain Range, this excursion will leave you with treasured memories of Chilean Patagonia. 

The Ebenhard Fjord 

Appreciate the ruggedness of Patagonia from the unique perspective of Eberhard Fjord. Head from Puerto Prat to Puerto Consuelo. You’ll pass by Kruger Island, also known as the Island of the Dead as it was the first cemetery established in the area by explorers in the nineteenth century. The excursion includes a walk on the shore to enjoy the landscapes from some amazing viewpoints. 


An archipelago riddled with lakes, rivers and bays, Chiloe is perfect for kayaking! From the waters in and around the islands here, you can spot some of Chiloe’s most beautiful birds and the local otters known as chungungos! If you’re looking for something a little different, Chepu has to be your kayaking destination. Here, you can paddle amongst a sunken forest, caused by the land sinking in the 1960s earthquake. If you get here at sunrise, it’s the best time to see Chiloe’s wildlife and to enjoy the serenity of this majestic place. 

How to ask for your customized trip

At Ecochile, we absolutely love planning unique vacations for every individual and group that contacts us – in fact, we pride ourselves on our ability to tailor each itinerary to every traveler’s needs. But if you’ve never asked for a personalized itinerary before, maybe you’re used to planning your own vacations, here are a few tips to help ensure that we do the very best we can for you. 

More information means more personalization

If you only read one sentence of this blog, let it be this one: the more information you give us, the more we can do for you! No detail is too small or too big. If you’re traveling for a special occasion, have health-concern that could be relevant, or there’s a trip you’ve always been dreaming of, knowing these can help us shape your trip. 

Tell us where you want to go

Do you have a list of places you want to visit in South America? Let us know! This can be as specific or as general as you like. Maybe you’re dreaming of one specific small town in the Chilean Lake District, or maybe you just want to explore Argentina! The benefits of a bespoke vacation is that we will make a trip that works for you. If you have some destination ideas, include these in your form and make sure to say which are non-negotiable and which would be a bonus ‘if possible.’ 


If you’re totally unsure of destinations, giving us an idea of the kinds of landscapes and activities you want to explore will help us guide you to the perfect vacation. If you have a special interest, from bird-watching to cooking, from cycling to kayaking, wine tasting to photography, we want to hear it! South America is incredibly diverse and we can accommodate almost any activity if you name it!

Have a look at our Instagram & Facebook for more inspiration! 

Equally important is letting us know if there’s an activity that would be an absolute ‘no’ for you. Every traveler is different, and while some may dream of going horseback riding across the Patagonian landscape, that may sound like a nightmare to others. Equally, if you don’t drink alcohol, we wouldn’t want to suggest a trip around Mendoza’s vineyards… 

On that note, let us know if you want a fast-paced vacation to see and do as many things as possible in the time you have, or if you prefer to take it slow and soak up each destination. Of course, we can do somewhere in the middle too!


This is a big one! How fixed are your dates, budget, and destinations? 

Travel times, flight availability, and certain tour requirements (like cruising through Tierra del Fuego or traveling to Antarctica) may shape the rest of your itinerary. If you can be flexible with your dates, do let us know so we can plan the smoothest and most efficient itinerary possible. Equally, if your dates are fixed, we will work with providers to make everything work for you. 

Something to consider before you contact us is what is your priority for your South American adventure: sticking to a strict budget or having the most epic experience possible? If you fall into the first category, we’ll create an incredible vacation that will leave you with amazing memories and without worries about the cost or FOMO of the activities you didn’t do. If you fall in the latter, we’ll offer you some of the best experiences that you can find in Chile and Argentina. If you’re in the middle, willing to spend a little more for something truly special, we’d love to make sure you know all the options available. 

What happens next

Once you’ve sent your form, we’ll take a look, pull a few ideas together and get back to you with a potential itinerary. The more detail you can give us in the first step, the closer you will be to having a confirmed holiday. Be sure to leave a contact number so that we can call (this really speeds up the process for you!), as well as your preferred contact hours and time zone. If you prefer not to be contacted by phone, just leave a note of this and we’ll email the information across instead. 

If you have any questions about planning a trip to Chile, Argentina, or Antarctica, contact us today. Or let’s get started on planning your vacation of a lifetime!

A week on Easter Island

In August 2023, Claudia, one of Ecochile’s Travel Specialists, visited Easter Island to see how the island’s tourism has changed since the pandemic. One thing that was adamantly clear was that the magic and charm of Easter Island remains as fascinating and enticing as ever.

In this blog post, Claudia tells us about how she was enchanted on her week on the island the locals call Rapa Nui. 

Arriving on Easter Island

After an early start on a Saturday morning, we headed to Santiago’s airport. Travelling to Rapa Nui, otherwise known as Easter Island, means going through the special customs area of the domestic terminal for Easter Island and filling out the required entry form to protect the ecosystem and control the number of tourists. 

The flight is surprisingly long – 5 hours flying over nothing but the Pacific Ocean. Then, all of a sudden, the emerald-green island appears in the middle of the sapphire-blue sea. You can see the waves crash against the cliffs and the volcanoes and craters that dot the island. As you get closer though, tiny figures looking out to the coast appear – my first sighting of the moai statues that make Easter Island so famous.

Stepping out of the plane, I was welcomed immediately by the Easter Island breeze and a wall of greenery. The luscious green jungle veins where the tarmac ends and seemingly coming from it, the sound of Rapa Nui music. Local guides greeted me with a customary Rapa Nui flower necklace as we walked out. It couldn’t have been a better start to an incredible week on Easter Island.

Guides and caring for the island

These guides are a must on the island, not least because there are so many monuments that it is hard to tell what is a rock and what is a monument! The guides are a font of knowledge when it comes to all things Easter Island and, as well as showing you all the hidden spots on the island, without them, you can’t get into any of the parks or see the monuments up close.

All the archaeological sites are looked after like a giant museum over the whole island. Although there are a couple of decorative reconstructions, Sebastián was great in helping us identify which were real and telling us the story behind the replicas. I was definitely amazed at how well cared-for the artefacts are, and how much the locals respect the history and the island’s ecosystem completely. 

Seeing how locals care for their island was fascinating. They truly care for their land, practicing traditional land management including Manavai – a way of watering plants and gathering water. That is also why there are more limitations on what you can do, where you can go, and what you can touch (don’t touch the moai statues!). Far from seeming restrictive, these rules make you feel like you are part of the island’s story, helping to protect it for other generations.

Exploring the Island

We were incredibly lucky to be able to spend a whole week on Easter Island, which meant we were able to see almost everything. We visited so many of the moai statues (of course!), rode horses along the coast, swam in the sea, learned about the origins of Easter Island, and awed at its outstanding beauty.

But the highlight of the trip was definitely exploring the underground caves. There are caves are scattered around the island, and some are open to tourists. My partner was a little nervous as he was unsure of how safe they were and how much we would see, but the guide was very reassuring. We donned our helmets and, looking back, I couldn’t be more glad that we both made it.

The Caves

Walking into the caves was like walking into another world. Each was unique and holds a part of Easter Island’s history. Gods, demons, and animals are carved into the walls. These petroglyphs (stone drawings) are tiny artefacts which, along with tools and the design of the caves themselves, offer a glimpse of the islanders’ historic cultures and the beliefs that shaped the island. Although the caves would be fantastic at any time of year, we were lucky to visit during the off-season meaning that many of the caves were empty. 

Sebastian, our expert guide, told us the story of three different caves we visited adding another level of understanding and fascination. The first cave was a strategic lookout point for the islanders, two windows meant approaching boats and potential invaders could be spotted. Another, filled with the weight of its history, had once served as the island’s prison. And finally, the third cave was a kind of temple, adorned with petroglyphs of the island’s god, Make Make, to which women and their partners were sent for the caves fertility-boosting powers. 

The History

The island has been home to a lot of tribes over the years – despite only being a 1,000 years old. Each tribe has changed the island and we can see their legacy everywhere – in drawings, statues and caves – but very little is really known about them. A lot of theories exist though and this makes for great conversation with guides and fellow travellers over dinner.

These days the island is ruled by its weather. There is an almost constant wind, which can affect activities but it doesn’t really affect the temperature. We visited in the winter, so it stayed between 15-20C (60-70F) most days although the locals were wrapped up warm. Don’t be fooled by the cooler temperatures though – make sure you pack and apply sunscreen!

Our most memorable moment…

It is pretty much a fact that you’ll leave the island with more friends than you started with. The guides and those they show around often make real friendships, creating networks of Rapa Nui devotees across the world. 

When I think back to my time on the island my mind returns straight away to the sunrise in Tongariki. Watching the sun emerge from to the side of the statues (it emerges from behind in the summer) as lit up the sky in an array of pastels was unforgettable. It was also a brilliant way to say goodbye to the island and the memories we made there. 

Waking up to (arguably) the best view in Patagonia

Mallín Colorado is one of the most magnificent yet humble places you can find. Perched on a hillside overlooking the General Carrera Lake as it glimmers in the sunlight, this is a place where any traveler of the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) can not only find refuge, but also discover the wonders of the region of Aysén, Chile.

That’s just how it started. The Santiago-based Christensen family bought a field some 27 years ago to build a cabin for their summer vacations. In those days, the road was a dirt track and it was an 8-hour drive from Coyhaique to Puerto Río Tranquilo with no rest stops in between. When travelers saw the cabin of Mallín Colorado, they would stop and ask if there were any rooms available. Inspired to help these stranded travelers, the family soon began building more cabins for passersby.

These days, the journey from Coyhaique is closer to 4 hours and travelers tend to book their stay at the lodge in advance. But the friendly, welcoming charm of the residence has never changed. The family of seven siblings continue to manage the lodge, each having their own touch. One brother designed and made the marvelous lamps and lights, that bring the outdoors in by upcycling driftwood. A sister makes small traditional tapestries from sheep’s wool to decorate the cabin’s walls. This is a place that’s as full of character as it is quality, with arguably the best beds on the Carretera Austral!

The lodge lies between the towns of Puerto Rio Tranquilo and the Patagonia National Park making it a wonderful base to explore northern Patagonia. From here, you can head north to visit the beautiful marble caves that showcase nature’s perfect beauty or venture to the Exploradores Glacier to trek across ice that glows a spectacular shade of blue. Or you can go south to the powerful confluence of the rivers Baker and Chacabuco or visit the village of Puerto Bertrand for an adrenaline-packed white-water rafting experience.

But the charm of Mallín Colorado lies much closer to the cabins. Each is carefully designed to make the magnificent view of the General Carrera Lake its centerpiece. Whether you’re on the terrace, on the sofa, or waking up in your bed in the morning, you can admire in awe the landscape of blue waters, green hills, and the white caps of the mountains. Any guest here could stay in their room an entire day just to enjoy the view.

The view and being surrounded by beautiful nature, it’s no surprise then that Mallín prioritizes sustainable practices to protect their environment. From their organic kitchen garden – fertilized by their own compost – to their reforestation efforts and reduced laundry cycles, here you can contribute to the preservation of nature as much as you enjoy it.

You may be miles from any town, but there’s no need to get in a car to explore if you do want to get out. The name Mallín Colorado roughly translates to ‘red meadow’ – a homage to the beautiful nature that surrounds the lodge. Mallín Colorado offers three paths that start right on the doorstep of your cabin and that will offer you some of the most unique trails in Patagonia. You can choose to walk the short- to medium-length routes or join an outing on one of Mallín’s horses through the Patagonian landscapes.

Two routes head up the mountain. The longer of the two is a four-hour round trip that immerses you in the native forests of the region. You’ll emerge to take in a panoramic view of the Contreras mountains and then Lakes Bertrand and Plomo. The shorter mountain walk is just 30 minutes, making it pleasant for an easy afternoon stroll. It takes you through the forest above the cabins.

The final walk offers one of the best views of Patagonia from the shores of General Carrera Lake. Crossing the Carretera Austral and walking through a forest of immense coigue trees, you emerge on the western edge of the lake. From here, the route forks allowing you to walk parallel to the beach and admire the horizon, or to drop down to dip your toes in the cold waters of the second biggest lake in Latin America.

After a morning hike, you can return to the lodge’s cosy and welcoming ‘club house’ for a hearty meal. Enjoy a lunch that carefully fuses local flavors and ingredients with international favorites and that will warm your soul. Breakfast and dinner are just as delicious, including homemade bread and jams, mouthwatering dishes, and divine desserts. Those lucky enough to try a traditional ‘asado’ (barbeque) like a true Patagonian are in a real treat for the senses.

Photo by Frits Meyst / MeystPhoto.com

There are few places in the world like this – where you’re truly surrounded by silence, a peaceful solitude, and a true night sky. If you’re looking for a unique Patagonian adventure, to switch off, or to reconnect with nature, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Talk to an Ecochile travel specialist today to plan your trip to Aysén and Mallín Colorado.

Relax and unwind in Chile

There are a lot of reasons to travel: to discover new cultures, to meet amazing people, to see new things. One of the best reasons is to slow down from the rush and pressures of daily life. How to do this is personal to everyone. For some, it could be escaping to the mountain and breathing in the fresh air while looking over a magnificent valley. For others, it’s about taking it easy, slowing down, and even enjoying a few luxuries. If this is more your style, keep reading to see what Chile has in store for you. 


The Atacama Desert is full of wonders. Its remoteness brings a sense of peace and awe to any visitor. It also, perhaps surprisingly, is a hub for a taste of luxury. The Atacama is home to some beautiful hotels that honor the traditional style of the region. Relax by the pool of your hotel or enjoy the calm of the morning with a coffee outside your beautifully decorated hut. In the Atacama, you can taste some truly mouthwatering dishes in superb restaurants that celebrate local flavors.

Outside of your hotel, visit the Puritama hot springs, an oasis of warm pools in the middle of the desert. The pools have temperatures between 28°C and 31°C and offer a high concentration of minerals to revitalize your body as much as your mind. Surrounded by tall grasses and the sound of running water, this is the perfect place to slow down, reconnect, and feel like you’re in a little slice of heaven. 


Easter Island

Easter Island can only be described as magical. Its friendly people and beautfiul coastal landscapes make it a great place to visit to chill out, enjoy great food, and discover new things. 

For the ultimate luxury reset, lie by the stunning pool of your hotel surrounded by green palms and reap the benefits of the island’s volcanic rock at the spa. Alternatively, you can reconnect with nature by spending a day on the white sands of Anakena beach and its clear-blue waters or snorkel with the island’s sea life around the southern tip of the island. 

Of course, there’s plenty to do if you want to explore the island more! Take a relaxed tour to see the Moai statues that characaterize the island, enjoy a cooking class to learn traditional Rapa Nui methods, or head out on a boat ride around the island to feel the sea air on your face. Whatever your favorite way to relax may be, you can find it here on Easter Island. 


Wine Valleys

Chile is known for producing some of the world’s best and most popular wines. With that, comes some spectacular locations to retreat to in the country. One place that stands out is the award-winning VIK hotel. Nestled in the rolling hills of the Cachapoal Valley, to the south of Santiago, this is a wine lover’s paradise and an idyllic stay for couples. Enjoy its first-class spa facilities including baths in wine that balances fluid retention and stimulates lymphatic flow through the body, as well as massages, scrubs and wraps to make you feel like new. If you’re looking to reconnect with nature, take gentle walks around the hotel’s reserve, protected by the winery’s sustainable methods. If food is your healer, enjoy for a traditional barbeque amongst the vines or sample its superb restaurant to tantalize your tastebuds. 


Alternatively, visit the organic wineries of the Casablanca Valley, an hour west of Santiago. Discover the different techniques, histories, and flavors of the wines here. You can stay at a charming boutique hotel on the hills of Valparaíso and overlooking the magnificent bay. Be sure to include a leisurely guided walk around the city to sample some of the culture. 

Lake District

If you prefer greener, more luscious surroundings, the Lake District in the south of Chile may be the one for you. 

Hotel AWA in Puerto Varas overlooks the stunning Lake Llanquihue with views of the snow-capped Osorno Volcano in the distance. Decompress in the beautiful spa facilities, find your zen at an in-house yoga class, or visit the nearby Teatro del Lago for a classic music concert.

Of course, exploring the beautiful surroundings will help you find harmony and peace. Besides leisurely strolls around the lake, you can opt for a light trail through the Alerce Andino National Park to discover 3000-year old forests to truly immerse yourself in nature. If you’re feeling really adventurous, include a (short) hike to up the Osorno Volcano and a visit to the Petrohue falls too! 

Whatever your idea of a vacation, the Ecochile team is here to build your perfect itinerary. Hit the ‘Plan your trip‘ button above to get in touch with our travel specialists and we’ll start crafting your dream vacation.

Where to stay: A Guide to Lodges, Cabins, Hotels & Glamping in Chile & Argentina

On an Ecochile itinerary in Chile and Argentina, you can find a range of accommodation options that suit you. But the names of these hotels can be confusing! Some places call themselves a lodge but seem more like a boutique hotel, while a ‘hostal’ can raise alarm bells for travelers who are long past their backpacking days. Here we’ll explain what we mean about different accommodation styles at Ecochile. 

Stars in your eyes

The number of stars a hotel has is often seen as the best way to judge what your hotel will be like. Our unpopular opinion is that it’s not! That’s why when you book with us we will ask you what you expect from your accommodation, rather than only considering the number of stars it has. This is because the number of stars is based on the amenities a hotel has. A 4* hotel could be just as luxurious as a nearby 5* hotel, it just might not have a spa, for example. 

Viña VIK Wine Spa

When you’re planning your trip, you might be surprised at the differences in prices between accommodations that have the same ratings. Believe it or not, 5* hotel in Santiago can cost you the same as a 3* hotel in Torres del Paine! The remoteness of the national park increases costs here, so you get less for the same money. 

Your Ecochile travel specialist will help you find the right accommodation for you and your priorities. If for you, a spa and pool is non-negotiable, we’ll find a hotel that has those. Likewise, if you want to be in the center of town or have a great lake view, we’ll recommend you hotels that suit your preferences. But, if your budget is a priority, we will work with you to find the best accommodation for your buck! Have a look at the styles available below to help us make great recommendations to you.

Palafitos, Chiloé


A ‘lodge’ typically refers to a small hotel in a rural location. These are very cosy and reminiscent of traditional, rustic means of living. Built from the wood the surrounding landscapes provide, lodges are nestled into their surroundings and have an authentic homely feel often with spectacular views. You often won’t have the luxuries of modern life at this kind of accommodation. Wifi can be but a distant dream and you won’t be steaming in the spa at the end of the day. But they do offer a way to immerse yourself in nature, to slow down and switch off, and enjoy the pleasures of living simply for a few days.

Pikera Uri Lodge – Easter Island

An example could be the Estancia Cerro Guido in Patagonia, which celebrates the Estancia’s ranching culture and the beautiful landscapes that surround it. Hostería Pehoé, sitting on an island in the Pehoé lake and overlooking the Cuernos del Paine is another magnificent option of this humble but impressive style of accommodation. 


These are small hotels that are as independent in ownership as in style. They are sometimes renovated, like the charming Casa Higueras, Valparaíso, which perfectly blends the old and new. Or they could be purpose-built, modern, and quirky like Hotel Bidasoa in Santiago. Boutique hotels are more common in cities and large towns and are great options if you want to be at the center of things and offer a friendly but professional service. They often have superb restaurants on site, too, if you’re looking for a delicious meal without stepping too far out of your hotel. 

Eco Boutique Hotel Bidasoa


Ecovillages and glamping

At an ecovillage or glamping experience, you can enjoy your own hut, airstream, or villa. Follow the pathways to your exclusive residence These are a great way to connect with nature or the traditions of your destination and have some of the best environmental policies you can find. The most iconic, but certainly not the only one, of these is Ecocamp in Patagonia. Its round domes offer a way to feel like your sleeping in nature without fearing that your tent will blow away! They also offer a range of domes depending on your budget, varying from a basic dome with a shared bathroom to an almost luxurious superior suites (private bathroom included!).

Ecocamp dome – Torres del Paine


No, this doesn’t mean a youth hostel with 8 bunkbeds to a room and being woken up in the night by your strange bunkmate! A ‘hostal’ roughly translates to mean a modest hotel, similar to a B&B. They are normally small in size and independently run and include breakfast. These can be quirky, decorated in a way that honors the area and traditions of the community, and attended by a welcoming host. The Hostal El Puesto in Puerto Río Tranquilo offers this homely atmosphere with communal rest areas and cosy private rooms. 

Hostal El Puesto, Aysén


A ‘cabaña’ translates to cabin. These vary in style, with more rustic or chic options available depending on the hotel and location. The great thing about these is that travelers can enjoy their own space as a couple or as a family while having access to the hotel amenities. The cabins often include a kitchen or kitchenette and a living space, as well as bedrooms and bathrooms. Staying in a cabin doesn’t necessarily mean losing out on the luxury aspect. You can enjoy some marvellous views across lakes and mountains, or even ask one of the hotel’s chefs to cook you a private dinner in your cabin! 

Huilo Huilo Cabaña


Your guide to Easter Island 

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui by its indigenous name, is a bucket list destination and one of the places that you have to visit. You can feel its magic and mystique as you explore its luscious landscapes and cultural wonders. To say the island is remote is an understatement. Lying in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, some 2,200 miles (3,540 km) off the coast of Chile, you need to take a five hour flight to get here. But you’ll land in a subtropical paradise of green rolling hills, clear blue sea, and an island shrouded in history and culture to explore. 


Although you can get a taste of the island in just a couple of days, it’s worth spending a good amount of time here. In five or six days, you can see the island’s highlights, immerse yourself in its culture, and discover some of its more hidden spots. 

Moai Statues

The Moai statues are what Easter Island is famous for, and you can’t leave without admiring these impressive statues. Carved out of the island’s native stone and miraculously carried to their resting places, these are the guardians of the island. Each one is different and has its own shape and personality. There are over a thousand of them across Rapa Nui, and almost as many ways to see them! That said, there are some important places you need to see if you want to understand the phenomenon of the Moai. 

Rano Raraku ia one of the most popular sites on Easter Island, and rightfully so! The historical importance of this place is astounding. The volcanic stone from the quarry here made every Moai statue. 

Te Pito Kura is another important site you have to visit. It’s home to the tallest Moai on the island – its ears alone measure 2 meters! Although the statue fell almost 200 years ago, it remains in place and is an impressive sight to see. While you’re here, you can also visit the magnetic stone – a round stone which causes compasses to act strangely. The stone gives this part of the island its name, meaning ‘Centre of the World.’ According to legend, it was carried to the island by the first King and founder, Hotu Matu’a. 

If you’re looking for an iconic photo to take home with you, pay a visit to the Ahu Tangariki. This is the largest platform with some 15 statues. If you head here early in the morning to catch the sunrise, you’ll be in for a truly magical experience. 

Exploring the culture and history

Since it was discovered by Polynesian travelers sometime between 800-1200 AD, the island has developed a fascinating history and unique culture. Venture to the hotspots of Rano Kau and Orongo to see where the famous birdman competitions used to take place. Tahai, a restored ancestral village, overlooks the island and can show you how locals used to live.

The great thing about Easter Island is the opportunities it offers for intimate cultural immersions. Spending an afternoon with a local artist to learn about the tradition of body painting, including making your own paint and optionally having a go yourself, or visiting a farm run by a local traditional family, you can feel like you really have experienced the island. Rather than just pass through fleetingly, spend a morning learning how to fish the traditional way and cook your catch on a fire pit as locals have done for hundreds of years. It’s an incredibly unique and special experience that makes some great memories. 

The hidden corners

Okay, perhaps it’s not a hidden corner, but Anakena beach is definitely worth a visit. If you’re looking to chill out at the beach for a day, this is the only one on the island where you can swim. Relax on the white sands, dip your toes in the clear blue waters and try some beachside treats.

If you’re looking for a bit more adventure in the sea, book onto a scuba diving tour near Hanga Roa. Suitable for beginners to advanced divers, dip below the surface to discover colorful coral reefs, magnificent fish, and maybe even a sea turtle!

Easter Island may not be your first idea when you think of hiking in Chile, but it has some truly lovely routes to explore off the main tourist circuit. Try a spectacular hike along northern coast of the island or climb the island’s second-highest summit, Poike volcano. You’ll come across ancient villages, caves, carvings and moais that most travellers don’t see! 

Talk to an Ecochile Travel Specialist about what you’d like to see and do in Easter Island and we’ll create your perfect itinerary. 

10 Days in El Chalten

El Chaltén is a hiker’s paradise. In southern Argentinian Patagonia, this small town is nestled in the mountains of the Los Glaciares National Park. Above the roofs of the few buildings of the town, the peaks of Mount Fitz Roy and the granite monoliths of the Andes mountain range rise up, as if guarding the town.

This is a place of pure wilderness. Outside of the town, you’ll replace tarmac roads for blue lagoons, grey towering mountains, green rolling hills, and impressive glaciers. If you’re inclined to adventure and inspiring nature on your travels, this is the place for you.

Here is your guide to the ultimate 10-day stay for adventurers in this incredible wilderness. This is not for the faint of heart. But, for experienced hikers and wilderness enthusiasts, it doesn’t get much better.

Day 1 – Welcome to El Chalten

El Chalten is a small remote town in southern Patagonia. It lies a few hours’ drive from El Calafate, which is the nearest airport if you’re flying in from Buenos Aires. Alternatively, your transfer can take you directy from Torres del Paine in Chile if you’re on a full Patagonia tour!

Take the afternoon to settle into your hotel and explore the charming town. Be sure to try some of the restaurants, sample the local breweries, and rest up before the adventure ahead.

The Huemul Circuit

The Huemul Circuit, a loop starting and finishing in El Chalten, will take you well and truly off the beaten path through spectacular landscapes. You’ll walk alongside glaciers, ice float-filled lakes, magical forests and magnificent peaks. With no facilities on the route, this circuit is definitely one for experienced hikers and those who feel at home in the wilderness. But this raw nature of the circuit is sure to reward you with the astounding beauty of the world.

Day 2 – Laguna Toro

Your first day of the circuit will take you up to the Laguna Toro, but there is no easing into this hike! You’ll pass over the log bridges covering swampland and be immersed in a beautiful forest before emerging to find your first campsite. With a view over the Lago Viedma, enjoy your first night sleeping under the Patagonian stars.

Tunel Glacier and Toro Lagoon

Day 3 – Paso del Viento

Waking up to the spectacular Patagonian sunrise as the orange glow reflects on the mountains is an experience you will not forget. There is surely no better way to start the day!

You’ll start the day with a little extreme. You’ll come across a powerful river that you can only cross via zipline. With the help of your guide, you’ll fly over the water and feel the wind in your face! Continue the day walking uphill to the Paso del Viento – The Wind Pass – whose name is not a coincidence! At the highest point of the circuit, you can enjoy the magnificent view over the majestic Patagonian ice field, including the Viedma Glacier and Cerro Mariano Moreno. Make the final stretch to the idyllic lakeside Paso del Viento campsite.

Day 4 – Lake Viedma

On day four, you can marvel at mighty nature as you walk alongside the Viedma Glacier on a long downward stretch. You’ll be accompanied all the way by a beautiful panorama over the Lake Viedma and glacier until you reach Ice Float Bay. This is a place of breathtaking tranquility and outstanding beauty, where the ice floats gracefully sit in the water. Take in the view as you have dinner and set up your final camp for the night.

Viedma Glacier – El Chaltén

Day 5 – Onward home!

The final day of the circuit offers a flatter route for you to follow, until an ever-impressive view of Mount Fitz Roy emerges in the distance. You’ll finish the circuit with a final zipline over the River Tunel to the Tunel Bay, where your transport will be waiting for you to take you back to El Chalten.
Take the afternoon to rest and relish in the challenge you’ve just completed, as well as a hearty Patagonian meal!

Spending free time in El Chalten

El Chalten is famed for its hiking trails, but if you want to give yourself a rest, there is a plethora of other exciting activities to try. From fishing to horseback riding, cultural experiences to rock climbing and kayaking, put your feet up for the day and explore some of the other options this town has to offer.

Day 6 – Lago del Desierto kayak

Take a weight off your feet today (you deserve it!) and swap the mountains for the serenity of a lake. Head to the blue waters of Lago del Desierto. This astounding view is a true celebration of the colors of Patagonia: the grey the Andean peaks, the green native forests of lenga trees, the white of the hanging glaciers, and the blue of the lake. There are few better ways to enjoy these magnificent landscapes than from the gentle sway of a kayak. After paddling, stretch your legs with a self-guided amble along the shores of the lake or to the Huemul glacier to take some great shots!

Lago del Desierto – El Chaltén

Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre

The treks to Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre are the two classic routes from El Chalten. Their highlights are the iconic Mount Fitz Roy and Mount Torre peaks that dominate the landscape. The majority of visitors choose to do one trek per day, returning to the town for the night. For a more unique experience, join these two together to make a triangular route!

Map courtesy of El Chaltén Turismo

Day 7 – Laguna de los Tres

Head out from El Chalten in a transfer to the trailhead at Rio Eléctrico bridge. Immerse yourself in a bewitching forest as you slowly climb up towards the Piedras Blancas Glacier viewpoint to gaze in awe at the view of the hanging glacier. You’ll continue on to reach a steep incline but push through – at the top the Laguna de los Tres is waiting for you with its jawdropping views of the magnificent Mount Fitz Roy. In good weather, this makes a unique picnic spot for lunch before heading down part of the way and diverting to Poincenot. Your campsite for the night will be truly memorable as you sleep with a view of the incredible Fitz Roy massif.

Laguna de los Tres hike

Day 8 – Laguna Torre

It’s definitely worth getting up early this morning- the red hues of the sunrise reflecting on Fitz Roy is a view unlike any other. After breakfast, we’ll continue on the lesser trodden path past the Madre and Hija lagoons. Relish in the tranquility of this path that most visitors to El Chalten don’t see before rejoining the main route in Torre valley. At the end, you’ll see one of the most iconic sights of Argentinian Patagonia: the Laguna Torre, Cerro Torre, and their glacier. After lunch here, you’ll enjoy these final views of untouched nature as we follow the Fitz Roy river along the final side of the triangle to return to Chaltén.

Laguna Torre and Cerro Torre

Day 9 – Climbing and Ice Trek

The experience of standing on top of a glacier in one of the most remote places of the world is an incredible feeling. It’s physically demanding, yes, but definitely worth the effort!

After a short drive to Los Huemules reserve, you’ll spend a couple of hours treking through a charming Lenga forest. When you arrive at the Diablo Lake, you’re adventure really begins! Put on your safety equipment to climb, slide, and crawl your way to the Cagliero glacier. The blue glow of the ice and its marvellous forms really are something to behold! You’ll get to spend about an hour on the glacier to appreciate the moment as well as take some incredible photos and eat, before heading back the way you came to enjoy the vista and the great outdoors!

Laguna del Diablo – Los Huemules

Day 10 – La Leona Petrified Forest

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. After 9 days of adventure in the nature of El Chalten, you’ll already be planning your return! On your way out to the airport in El Calafate, make one final stop to wonder at the magic of Patagonia. Midway between the two towns, stop at the petrified forest of ‘La Leona’ to discover the land of the dinosaurs!

You’ll drive along the Lake Argentino to reach the historic Hotel La Leona, before heading on to a traditional estancia (Patagonian ranch). Walk around the paleontological site to discover the 70-million-year-old fossilized tree trunks. Keep your eyes peeled for dinosaur fossils too! From here, head on to El Calafate for an evening flight or for the next part of your trip!

La Leona Petrified Forest


El Chalten is, without a doubt, an incredible part of the world. There are endless options of activities to do here, and this is only an example. If this sounds like something you want to do or if you have any questions, send our team a message and we’ll be happy to help! We can handcraft your trip to El Chalten to make the trip of your dreams come true!

The Best Regions for Wine Tasting in Chile

Chile is famed across the world for its world-class wines and no visit to Chile is complete without visiting one of its vineyards! The majority of wineries lie in the central region of the country – in the outskirts of Santiago and towards the south. That means you can include a tour and tasting day trip from the capital

Maipo Valley

Just a few kilometers from Santiago, you can find the Maipo valley. As well as being home to a marvelous backdrop of mountains and hiking trails, this expansive valley hosts some of the most well-known Chilean vineyards. Specializing in reds, the area produces some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère grapes in the country.

Step off the beaten path to the small vineyard of Viña el Principal for a tour. Enjoy a tasting before a traditional asado (barbeque) with a stunning view overlooking the valley. Alternatively, head further out to the Pirque valley. Here, you can discover the passion project of a horseracing and wine aficionado at Haras de Pirque. You can spot the love for horses everywhere, from the horseshoe-shaped cellar to the racing memorabilia at the restaurant. Enjoy a tasting of their exclusive wines in a spectacular atrium here, or cycle the vines here for a peaceful afternoon.

Casablanca Valley

The Casablanca valley lies between Santiago and the coast. The difference in climate and terroir here favours white wines, like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. 

The wineries here also offer unique techniques. Head to Bodegas Re for a wonderful mix of innovative blends and ancient techniques, where the wattle and daub cellar walls and clay amphoras offer a unique experience and flavor. Or fancy yourself as an enologist for the day at the Emiliana vineyard. Specializing in organic wine production, enjoy the beautiful grounds with a picnic amongst the vines. You can even make your own blend to take home with you! 

Colchagua Valley

The Colchagua Valley produces some of the world’s most prestigious wines. A couple of hours’ drive south from Santiago, you’ll venture into the heartland of the Chilean countryside. 

You can find the luxurious vines of Lapostolle, Montes, and Clos de Apalta here. Head to the Viu Manent vineyard for a little romance as you take a ride on a horse-drawn carriage around the grounds followed by a sunset tour. If that’s not your thing, get active on an e-bike tour or enjoy a picnic amongst the vines. Be sure to make a stop at the award-winning restaurant for an exquisite lunch, too! 

Talk to us today about your ideal wine experiences in Chile so we can make them a reality.

Spotting Antarctica’s Big Five

Antarctica: a snowy wilderness and a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise. Experience the thrill of watching some of the world’s most extraordinary species in their natural environment as they enjoy the freedom and safety to roam amidst the icy surroundings. From a charming penguin waddling towards its nest to feed its adorable hatchlings, to a pod of orcas darting through the ocean in pursuit of their next meal, an Antarctic safari is an experience you will not forget. 



The landscape is considerably different from the African savannah or the Costa Rican jungle. Unlike an African safari, you won’t be traveling for hours down dirt roads. Instead, you’ll cruise comfortably on a top of the line ship with delicious food and warm drinks on hand.  Nonetheless, the amount of wildlife you can see as well as the action and pursuit for the perfect photograph is incredible all the same. 

There’s a whole array of wildlife you can spot in Antarctica. Although nothing can be guaranteed in nature, your captain and crew will listen out for wildlife sightings to maximize your chances. These are the local ‘big five’ to put on your ‘to see’ list! 

Humpback whales

Humpback whales are the most abundant baleen whales in the Antarctic Peninsula, but they are a sight to behold. Watch in awe as these marine giants breach the surface, showcasing their colossal bodies and gracefully diving back into the depths. Humpback whales are known for their hauntingly beautiful songs that resonate through the icy waters. Depending on the conditions, you might even be able to hear or feel it! 

Photo: Ashley Cooper


Leopard Seals

Leopard seals, named for their spotted coats, are sure to impress you. Measuring around three meters in length, these are ferocious and formidable hunters. If you are lucky enough to see one, watch how they use their powerful jaws and sharp teeth to feed on smaller seals, fish, and squid.

Photo: Ben Osborne

Adélie Penguins

You can spot an Adélie penguin by its distinctive features: the white rings that encircle their eyes. Watching these funny creatures is like being transported into a nature documentary. Living in their countless colonies, completely undisturbed in their natural habitat they continue their infinitely entertaining and lively behaviors beyond your wildest imagination. Watch as they gather pebbles to construct nests, steal from other penguins, and even get into scuffles!

Photo: Sandra Walser

Fin Whales

Fin whales are the second longest whale on the planet, reaching nearly 85 feet (26 metres). Unfortunately, overhunting in the 20th century greatly threatened their survival – their curious, friendly, and playful nature makes them easy targets. Although a ban on whaling led to their recovery, only a few hundred breeding pairs remain, making a sighting even more special.  

Photo: Dani Abras

Wandering Albatrosses

The wandering albatross, boasting a wingspan of nearly ten feet or three meters, is the largest seabird species. Some individuals can live over 60 years without ever setting foot on land during the first six years of their lives. If you get to see one soar effortlessly through the crisp Antarctic air, you’ll be awestruck.  A symbol of resilience and adaptability in one of the most inhospitable environments on Earth, this magnificent creature is a reminder of the incredible diversity and tenacity of life on our planet.

Photo: Jordi Plana


If you want to find out more what you can see in Antarctica or our Antarctica itineraries, speak to an Ecochile travel specialist today!

Why Chile will surprise you

Chile is full of surprises for its visitors. We often hear from our customers that they were surprised at the beauty of the country, as well as its diversity even how developed it is! If you’re thinking of planning a trip here but don’t know what to expect, keep reading to find out more. 

Chile is pretty developed! 

Officially speaking, Chile is a developing country. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that it is a land of unpaved roads and shantyhousing – far from it! You can find many modern comforts in Chile that will make you feel home away from home. 


Most importantly, Chile is one of the safest places in Latin America. In big cities, you need to take care as you would in many places – don’t leave your phone hanging out of your back pocket for example and be cautious if you head out to experience the night life. Nonetheless, if you head to the smaller towns in Atacama, the Lake District, and Patagonia, you can’t help but notice the calmness in the air where you can be much more relaxed.


You can also find very good internet signal in most places! In big cities, you can find 4G and 5G to send your family and friends photos from your trip or call home if you need to. Of course, signal is more limited in remote areas. Easter Island and in Patagonia phone reception is restricted. With the right SIM card you’ll have more coverage or you can find wifi in some hotels and refuges – just ask your travel specialist for more information. That said, we definitely recommend taking the opportunity to disconnect and enjoy the nature around you!


You don’t need to bring all of your spending money in cash. Using credit or debit cards in Chile is very common. Restaurants, cafés, and even many small artisan stalls will accept card payment. Note that some places don’t accept prepaid cards and be ready to say if your card is debit or credit when you come to pay!


A lot of people speak English! The local language here is Spanish with a very distinct accent and dialect. While most of our itineraries mean you will travel with a guide, if you venture out by yourself, most people you come across will speak at least some English especially in big cities or tourist locations.


Chile is a paradise for foodies! There are so many local delicacies to try and increasingly more options for restricted diets, especially vegetarians, vegans, and more. 

Talk to your travel specialist for restaurant recommendations that provide for your dietary needs. 

Long distances 

There’s more to see and do in Chile than you can imagine! From desert lagoons to temperate rainforest and snowcapped mountains to big beautiful lakes, it can be hard to choose where to go. Measuring some 2,672 miles (4,300 km), destinations are often very far apart. Make the most of your time here by visiting only one or two places to immerse yourself fully and relax in each place. If you want to explore more, you can always come back! 

If you want to explore as much of Patagonia as possible, be aware that you may need to take a flight to avoid a multi-day drive between locations. On the other hand, taking a roadtrip through Patagonia is an incredible experience. Just make sure you stop to enjoy the scenery on the way!

Similarly, if you want to visit Easter Island, it’s a five-hour flight from Santiago. But the magic of this island makes the extra journey more than worth your while! 


If you have any questions about Chile, speak to us today and we’ll be happy to help!

Stargazing in the Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert is full of wonders to explore. One of its highlights is without a doubt its night sky. The Atacama Desert is home to some of the world’s most important observatories since the absence of light pollution, flat landscape and global position give astronomists incredible views of outer space. While the observatories are closed to tourists, you can still enjoy the truly special experience of stargazing in the Atacama. 


ALMA Observatory

Jorge, from Atacama Desert Stargazing®, is an expert in all things astrology and a specialist of the Atacama sky. He grew up in a small village near San Pedro, listening to his grandmother talk with her friends in Quechua around a fire. Since he couldn’t understand them, he spent the time looking at the stars, which sparked a passion that would become his life’s work. We spoke to Jorge about what makes the Atacama so special and his best tips for visitors. 



What makes the Atacama so special?

There are other places in Chile, and of course the world, where you can get a great view of the stars. But they don’t compare to the Atacama desert. Due to its distance from cities and sources of light pollution, as well as the local climatic conditions, you can see some of the clearest night skies on the planet here. Unfortunately, this is has changed in recent years with the growth of the mining industry in the area and climate change. Nonetheless, the Atacama sky still offers its admirers a jaw-dropping view of the Milky Way. 


Jorge, Atacama Desert Stargazing®

Furthermore, the flat landscape means that you get an incredible 180-degree view of the sky, rather than it being blocked by hills. The shooting stars seem closer too and if you’re lucky enough to catch a meteor shower, you’ll feel like you’re watching the best fireworks display of your life. 


Who can go stargazing? 

In short, anyone aged 5 and up! Although there are complex topics in astronomy, your guide will explain them to you in simple terms. You’ll learn about the history of astronomy, the different types of celestial objects like stars,  planets, clusters, galaxies, and nebulae as you try to spot them through your telescope. Each tour is adapted to the interests of those taking part, too. From the celestial objects you learn about to the food provided, we personalize your tour to match your preferences.


What can you expect from a tour?

There are a variety of different tours to choose from depending on the traveler’s preferences. Talk to your Ecochile travel representative about the different options available and what each includes. For example, you can try some delicious home-cooked local flavors under the stars. If you want lots of photos of your family under the starry sky, there’s an option for that too! Why not camp out all night with top-class tents to keep you warm?  All the tours include a live astronomy lecture so you can leave as experts ready to tell all your friends about the different celestial objects!


When is the best time to go?

You can go stargazing nearly all year round! Nonetheless, you should plan your trip carefully if stargazing is a must for you. Unfortunately, there are no tours in February due to the weather conditions at that time of year. Also, make sure you avoid the days before and after a full moon since the excess light reduces the visibility of the stars. For the best view, though, visit in the winter (April to September), since the lower temperature reduces the humidity and leaves the sky crystal clear. 

What are your top tips for visitors? 

The most important tip is to book your stargazing tour on the first night of your stay in the Atacama. If, the tour has to be changed to another day due to climate conditions, you have the rest of the stay to rearrange! You definitely don’t want to miss this one!



Tip number two is to leave yourself enough time between your afternoon activity and the stargazing pick up. You’re on vacation after all so take time to rest and get ready for the experience! 

Wrap up warm! The Atacama desert is warm during the day, but at night you should be prepared for very cold temperatures! Bring a hat, gloves, and layers to stay warm and make the most of your experience. The local-style poncho lent to you will also help to keep you nice and toasty! 

Do I need to bring any equipment? 

Other than your warm clothing, no! High quality telescopes are provided so you can see the Milky Way and stars. If you choose the camping tour, all camping equipment including tents, sleeping bags etc. is provided for you. Keen photographers will also need to bring their appropriate camera equipment. A spare camera battery definitely does not go amiss here either! 


If you have any other questions, talk to an Ecochile travel specialist today!


The magic of the Torres del Paine National Park

Exploring the Torres del Paine national park is something every outdoor lover or adventurer must do in their lifetime. The park is mostly famous for its hikes and iconic monoliths but it’s the feeling of awe that this corner of the world imparts on its guests that is impossible to forget. 

We went at the end of April. Although we had been to the Torres del Paine before, it was always in summer. We had listened to recommendations to go in the fall with scepticism, thinking that the weather would be too harsh and that nothing would be open. But the truth is that going to Patagonia in April is magical. 


Arriving in Patagonia

We landed in Punta Arenas to be welcomed by our guide. On the five hour drive to Torres del Paine, we took in the beautiful Patagonian landscape that lay outside, eager to explore it for ourselves. Meanwhile, the guide explained everything we needed to know about the adventure ahead of us and gave us a taste of the abundance of knowledge he would share with us over the coming days. 

From the moment we arrived at our accommodation, we were immersed in our adventure. We met the rest of our group and received a briefing from our guide about the activities we would do while in the park. 

The weather did limit our options somewhat and climbing to the famous base of the Towers at this time of year is only for experienced hikers. But it gave us the opportunity to explore other parts of the park that are often missed. 


Condor and Cuernos viewpoints

We took a short hike to the Condor and Cuernos viewpoints. Along the way our guide told us about fungi, the plants, the animals and their behavior. The passion, the knowledge, and the genuine love that the guides here have for the where they live once again left us utterly staggered. When we arrived at our destination, it was nothing short of breathtaking – the view of the bright blue lake and the ‘cuernos’ peaks in the distance covered by the cloud. 

Photographer in Torres del Paine at Lago Pehoe

An abundance of wildlife

At this time of year, many hotels are closed, reducing the number of visitors and the wind was far less violent.  The added quietness of this time of year adds to its wilderness. All of this meant that our stay in Patagonia was like an accidental safari. There were guanacos everywhere. Some approached us, curious, while others galloped clumsily away. We saw an armadillo scuttle away to hide, condors glide through the air looking for prey, and even a black-chested buzzard-eagle. Our guide explained to us how he has been watching an eagle pair bring food to their nest that seemed like a large plant pot perching in the trees. 


But the best part of traveling at this time of year? The number of pumas that you can see roaming the magnificent landscape. Puma tracking hadn’t been part of our original itinerary, but we made the most of the weather to try our luck. Our guide lowered our expectations and we didn’t expect to see much. Once we were out exploring though, we managed to see 5 pumas (with a bit of help from fellow trackers!). 

It was an experience beyond words. We stood and watched them, amazed at seeing the royalty of Patagonia in their natural habitat. There was something special in just watching from a distance, not trying to follow the puma or even take the best photo.

If you’re looking for true wilderness on your next vacation, or to spot animals, or just to be in a place where there are no buildings as far as the eye can see, go to Patagonia in the winter and experience its magic. 

Speak to one of our travel specialists today to find out more. 

A journey along the Carretera Austral

Aysén, in northern Chilean Patagonia, is home to a splendor of nature. The area is part of the spectacular Route of Parks conservation project, and the epic Carretera Austral runs through a region of ancient glaciers, impressive waterfalls, turquoise lakes, and Patagonian steppe. It is one of Chile’s best kept secrets, as the lesser trodden and less well-known neighbour of the Torres del Paine. Lying off the beaten path, it offers a unique, authentic, and truly incredible experience for any visitor.

All of that I know now. But a month ago, I was unsure of Aysén. As a fan of warmer weather and knowing very little about the region other than its notoriety for unpredictable weather conditions and that the hyped Torres del Paine were a few hundred miles further south, it was far from my first choice of places to go. I could not have been more wrong. It is now one of my favourite places in Chile, if not the world. 

We traveled in late March, which they say is a great time to visit Patagonia. It had snowed the week before as an early blast of winter teased the region, leaving a white coating on the mountaintops while fiery shades of red and orange leaves cascaded down. It was a landscape that I had only seen in paintings as we traveled south along the Carretera Austral from Balmaceda. We were only just starting the trip when we spotted a rare huemul at the side of the road as if welcoming us to its home. 

Cerro Castillo hike

Zigzagging down the picturesque Cuesta del Diablo (Devil’s hill), we arrived at the quaint town of Villa Cerro Castillo for the night. The woodburning stove kept us warm as we admired the view of the jagged Cerro Castillo mountain and a rushing river from the comfort of the B&B before resting for tomorrow’s adventure. 

In the morning, we awoke early for breakfast, put on our layers of hiking clothes, and set off with our local guides to the base of Cerro Castillo. Once we had signed in with the park rangers, we started our incline. The hike was relentless – it is a constant incline, climbing 1000m over a 7km distance – but magical. We started by walking through a forest of native trees, crossed some log planks to a small field, and then started up a rocky path.

As we climbed higher and higher up the mountain, we learned about the fauna and flora, filled up our water bottles in the stream. At this point our guide said, ‘If you do Patagonia quickly, you’re doing it wrong.’ She was right. Turning around to see how far we had come, my jaw dropped at the view. A perfect rainbow straddled a valley of green fields, orange and red trees, and blue skies. This was it – this was the magic of Patagonia. 

After 5km of walking through the changing terrain of the mountain, we arrived at the lookout point. We were rewarded with a panorama over the Ibañez valley, looking over a horizon of fields, forests, mountains, and rivers. Unfortunately the snow from that point was too thick and we couldn’t continue to the lagoon – but no complaints from me. It was the most rewarding and beautiful hike of my life regardless. We headed back down beaming and excited for our next destination that we could see in the distance – General Carrera Lake.

Back in the town, we traveled further along the Carretera Austral, constantly fascinated by the views of the lakes and mountains surrounding us, and arriving at the small town of Puerto Rio Tranquilo on the shores of the second largest lake in South America. With the smell of woodfires in the air, we checked in to our delightfully cozy hotel.

Trekking Glacier Exploradores 

We headed out early on day two to the Exploradores Glacier, driving along a dirt road alongside more lakes and mountains and stopping only to wait for the cows to move out of the way. After about an hour, we arrived at the entrance to the park, put on our helmets and set off with our guides. A short ten-minute walk through dense forest brought us to our first lookout point. It was our first view of the glacier: an expanse of ice as far as you could see, wedged between two mountains.

We carried on along the route, and soon we were standing on the glacier. We kept walking until we reached the clean ice, attached our crampons, and ventured further onto the glacier. As we hiked, the thick, ancient ice glowed a striking shade of blue, accentuated by the day’s clouds. The small hollows in the ice allowed us to perch inside and appreciate the sheer immensity, the weight, the size, the coolness of the glacier. We ate lunch as we took in the silence of the glacier. Although physically demanding, it was a brilliant day, and we headed back to our transport and hotel with a newfound sense of wonder.

Kayaking the Marble Cathedral

Day three was another early start, which blessed us with a view of the fiery sunrise appearing over the mountains and the General Carrera Lake. We drove to the shore for the morning’s activity – kayaking to the iconic marble caves. Our guide gave us our equipment and a briefing, and we set sail. We started at a tranquil cove to get used to the kayak and practice our technique before turning the corner into the open lake. We paddled along the edge of the lake with wind and the spray of the water in our faces. The view of the gigantic lake was a sight to behold with mountains in the distance and even the goats perched on the edge of the cliff. Eventually, we arrived at the main spectacle – two monoliths of marble emerging from the water. 

It’s a strange sensation to be so fascinated by a rock sticking out of some water, but here we were, taken aback by the beauty and the uniqueness of what we were seeing. It was easy to understand why these formations had gained their ecclesiastical names. The turquoise blue of the water inside the caves reflected and danced off the walls as we paddled through the arched tunnels and the erosion of the rock had created mosaic of shapes, like we were exploring the tunnels of a stained-glass Mediterranean church. 

As we emerged from the caves, the bright blue water seemed to spread across the whole lake as the sun emerged from behind the clouds. We paddled back to our starting point taking in the magnificent view of the Patagonian hills, mountains, and lakes and relishing in the experience. But the magic did not end there. As if to greet us, an austral pygmy owl swooped into the small tree just a couple of meters away. We stood and watched mesmerized as it twisted its neck 180 degrees looking for food, every so often watching us or fidgeting its feathers. 

Road trip to Patagonia National Park

Our final activity was a road trip further along the Carretera Austral as sun lit up the fantastical colors of the landscape. We drove along the edge of the bluest lake I’ve ever seen as our driver told us about the scenery and stopped to witness the power of water at the confluence of the Baker and Neff rivers, where two differently coloured rivers met in a crashing of waves. With looming gray skies that couln’t dampen our spirits, we continued on our way to the Patagonia National Park where it seemed like guanacos were waiting for us at the entrance. We watched as they galloped along the Patagonian steppe, ears pricked, alert to any lurking pumas.

The landscape here was different: drier and barer than that of the past few days. It gave a sense of vastness and pure wilderness, which felt appropriate as we headed to the Explora Lodge and center of the Tompkins conservation project. We entered the guest center to learn more about the rewilding work in the region and left inspired with a destination for our next trip. With that, it was time to head back for our final evening in Aysén and return home. 


Before the trip, I didn’t have many expectations. I certainly did not expect such natural beauty, or to be so moved by the the trip. Yet afterwards, I often find myself reflecting about everything we saw, felt, experienced, and I know it certainly changed something for me. There, in this remote corner of the world, I found a love for nature – for Patagonia – and a profound gratitude for the beautiful world we live in.

If you’re looking for a new corner of Patagonia to explore, or are looking for an alternative to the Torres del Paine, Aysen is the place to go. The wilderness, the vastness, the colors, the wind in your face – it’s like a full body reset from our tech-obsessed, busy lives. It’s the place to test your boundaries, to try something new, to disconnect. I cannot recommend it enough. 

How difficult are the activities in my Chile itinerary?

When you’re traveling, especially outdoor and adventure vacations, It can be hard to know what to expect from your activities. What does ‘difficult’ mean when you’re hiking? How experienced or in shape do you need to be? Don’t worry! Here are the answers to your doubts! 

Easy activities

There are plenty of activities to choose from in Chile if you’re not the adventurous type or you want to take it easy for a few days. An ‘easy’ activity generally means 1-2 hours of walking with gentle or short inclines, or a similar level of intensity. If you can couple of miles and climb 3-4 flights of stairs, you should have no problem. There are normally stops on the way, such as to look at points of interests or sample food. Uncover the local gems of Santiago and Valparaíso on a walking city tour with a local guide as you discover the local culture, art, and foods, or spend time with an Easter Island local learning about their traditions and cultures.

Taking the easy alternative doesn’t mean that you will miss out on the sights. Many of the locations are accessible by transport, offering a great alternative for travelers with injuries or disabilities. Ask your sales representative if you can swap a kayaking around the Marble Cathedral or at the Perito Moreno glacier for a boat trip, or a change a hike in the Torres del Paine park for road trip. 

Moderate activities

On moderate activities, you’ll feel your heart rate increase a little and be much more immersed in nature. These activities often last around 3-4 hours and demand a certain level of fitness. For a moderate level hike, you should be able to walk at least 3 miles and climb 5-6 flights of stairs to make sure you can enjoy the activity safely. You can expect some incline on these treks.

Besides its famous Moai statues and the fascinating cultural activities on Easter Island, you can enjoy some spectacular hikes. Climb to the highest point on Easter Island, the Terevaka volcano, to take in a 360° view of the island that few get to experience or explore the south side of the Rano Kau volcano.

You may find short or flat hikes in the Atacama being labelled as moderate – no, it’s not a mistake! While outings to the Tatio Geysers or the lagoons may have more stops or seem gentler, remember that you are a few kilometres above sea level! Any physical activity at this height may tire you out more than normal here. If you want to do anything strenuous, ensure you are well acclimatized to the altitude. 

Other moderate activities include city bike tours, for which you need a similar level of fitness and be reasonably confident on a bicycle. Alternatively, give your legs a break on a moderate kayaking experience to the Marble Cathedral or along the Grey glacier, or enjoy the crystal clear waters around Easter Island as you try scuba diving amongst the corals and turtles.


Difficult activities

For the adventurous and more experienced, feel the adrenaline rush of some of the most sought-after hikes and routes in the world. These are full-day activities that require considerable fitness – you should be able to walk 8 miles and climb upto 10 flights of stairs without serious problems. If you’re up for the challenge though, the rewards are certainly worth it! 

One of the most iconic treks of Patagonia stands out in this category. The Base of the Torres del Paine trek is not for the faint-hearted. Besides the length of the route (22km/13.6mi) and the climb, hikers often face strong winds and unpredictable weather testing not only your physical capacity but also your mental stamina. However the sense of achievement and the astounding views at the top keep this as one of the most popular treks in Chile. 

Although Easter Island is typically viewed as a subtropical paradise and a place to relax, you can enjoy a challenging hike here too. Trek a full day along the north coast of the island, starting at Roiho, passing by Hanga Oteo, before finishing at the idyllic Anakena beach. Along the way you can enjoy some incredible architecture and spectacular views. 

If you have any questions about the difficulty level of any activity included in your itinerary, our sales team will be happy to help you! We try and test every activity we offer so we can give you first-hand guidance. 

The best places to go kayaking in Chile and beyond!

Kayaking is one of our favourite ways to explore Chile and beyond. You can get up close to impressive glaciers, discover hidden treasures like sunken forests and marble cathedrals, and feel the rush of sea kayaking amongst icebergs. You’ll also get amazing opportunities to see local wildlife from a totally different perspective. Here are our kayking recommendations for Chile, Argentina, and Antarctica!


Lake District 

As its name suggests, the Chilean Lake District has an abundance of wide blue lakes and beautiful flowing rivers making it a great location for water activities. For the more experienced kayakers, you can venture down the fast flowing rivers. For beginners or those wanting a more leisurely time, head out onto the slow streams or lakes, which are great for spotting wildlife and the region’s birdlife. Some popular kayaking spots are Pumalin Park, Llanquihue Lake, the Petrohue River, and the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve.


For a more unique experience, one of our favourite places for kayaking is Chepu, a river on the main island of Chiloé. About an hour and half from the island’s capital of Castro, here you can kayak down the river to discover the eerie sunken forest. Formed by the largest earthquake recorded in 1960, trees emerge out of the water. The best time to go is early in the morning to catch the sunrise and to spot the animals enjoying the tranquility of the dawn, like the southern river otter, or huillín to locals, that can only be found in southern Chile and Argentina.


Northern Patagonia 

One of the most iconic sites for kayaking in Chile is definitely at the ‘Catedral de Marmol’. These incredible rock formations, located in General Carrera Lake in the Aysen region, look like enchanted caves as the turquoise water reflects off the smooth marbled stone above. You can kayak through the tunnels and around the monoliths in the lake for some amazing pictures or to take in the wonders of nature. 


Southern Patagonia 

The best thing about exploring Southern Patagonia in a kayak is that you can get much closer to the glaciers than you can from viewpoints. Head to the Balmaceda or Serrano glaciers in the Bernardo O’Higgins national park, near Puerto Natales, to see some awe-inspiring views from the water below, or venture out to the Grey Glacier in the Torres del Paine national park for a truly jaw-dropping experience. Alternatively, you can head over the border to Argentina to catch a close-up of the famous Perito Moreno Glacier from your kayak and feel the sway from the glacier’s famous calvings. 


Alternatively, explore the Patagonia fjords like Fjord Eberhard to take in the wild landscapes and nature of the environment around you. If you go in the summer, you can also see flamingoes here! 



Kayaking in Antarctica is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Get up close to the impressive Antarctic icebergs as you paddle around the coast of the white continent to enjoy the landscapes and nature from the unique perspective of the water. If you’re lucky, you could see penguins, birdlife, and even a whale in the water with you! Make sure you book this in advance to secure your place. 

Our favorite Chile itineraries for families

Chile is a great destination for family holidays. Not only is it one of the safest countries in South America, but it’s also packed full of new experiences for all the family. From opportunities to learn about different cultures to action-packed activities and wildlife spotting, there’s something here for everyone. 

Easter Island

One of our favorite family destinations in Chile is Easter Island. Immerse your family in the unique culture of the world’s most remote inhabited island as you explore its natural beauty and captivating myths and legends. Discover the crystal clear waters as you take a snorkeling tour in the shallows – with a little luck you could even spot a sea turtle! Head above the surface and take a boat ride around the island or take part in a body paint class on the shore to learn more about the practice from a local artist. Chill out together at the end of the day on the beach or at the hotel’s pool, or explore some of the island’s delicious food at a local restaurant! 


Patagonia is synonymous with adventure and it can be great for children. While we wouldn’t recommend some of the more difficult hikes for younger children, there is a lot more to Patagonia than the Torres del Paine circuits. Why not enjoy a wildlife safari to spot some guanacos, pumas, and birds of prey or take a tour to the coast to see the penguins? Alternatively, you could try out life on a Patagonian ranch for a day, learning about its history, how to shear a sheep, and enjoying the landscape on horseback to experience the true Patagonian lifestyle.

Lake District

Chile’s Lake District is another amazing place for families to visit. It’s great for outdoor adventures for the family. Although it’s a little tamer than its southern neighbor, exploring its beautiful national parks, glistening lakes, and spectacular volcanoes is equally as astounding. Take a nature walk through the ancient forests and see if you can spot some of the fascinating wildlife – keep an eye out for the beautiful Magellanic woodpecker’s bright red head! If you want to see more animals, head to the penguin reserve at Chiloé or to the fjords to see if you can spot some dolphins! Learn more about the local cultures here too by spending time with a local indigenous community to learn about their ancient practices and share some traditional food or head to one of the breweries established by German immigrants. 


Whether you’re a family of skiers or the young ones are just starting out, where better to go out than the Andes? Try the slopes of one of the best ski resorts in Latin America and learn all the skills with some ski and snowboard lessons at a top-rated ski school. Finish the day with apres activities including indoor sports, kids theater, swimming, and a pisco sour for the adults!

When and where to see Chile’s wildlife

Chile is home to an abundance of wildlife and a lot of travelers visit this corner of the world to spend some time trying to catch a glimpse of the whales, dolphins, penguins, birds and land animals that live here. If you’re thinking of joining them, make sure you know when and where to see them! And for your best chance of spotting something, be sure to go with a guide to make the most of their expert knowledge and to ensure the best respect and protection for the animals and local environment.


Due to Chile’s unique geography and long coastline, it’s a great place to go whale watching! Blue, gray, and humpback whales migrate along the Chilean coast to the warmer waters near the equator during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter to have their babies. But as they return south for the summer, they are commonly spotted even from the shoreline between December and March. There are often sightings of whales in Chile in the areas of La Serena, Chiloé, and Tierra del Fuego, but we think the fjords near Punta Arenas is the place to go to see these sea giants!

Whales aren’t the only magnificent creature you can find in the Chilean coastal waters. Keep an eye out for the Chilean dolphin too! They are often found closer to the land in the magnificent fjords, bays, and estuaries of the coast, but our favourite way to see them is by taking a boat trip on the Strait of Magellan and the channels of Tierra del Fuego.

Not many people know this, but you can actually see sea turtles on Easter Island! They have played an important role in local Rapa Nui culture and are frequently represented in their art, mythology, symbolism, popular traditions, and rituals. So if you’re taking a dip in the sea, don’t be surprised if you see a turtle sharing the beach with you!


One of the easiest birds to find in Chile is the penguin as it’s home to Humboldt, Magellanic, King and Gentoo penguins!

No matter when you come, King Penguins stay in Tierra del Fuego all year round. The Magdalena penguins, on the other hand, migrate seasonally. Male Magdalena penguins arrive in Magallanes in late September to early October to build nests, and the females come around a month or two later to lay their eggs. You can see them in their colonies until around March when they leave for the winter.

Humboldt penguins live along the Chilean coast and up to Peru. These penguins don’t fully migrate – some stay at the breeding colonies all year – but their numbers definitely reduce in the winter as they travel in search of food. The good news is that you can take a day trip to visit those breeding areas at the National Humboldt Reserve off the coast of La Serena, or find them in Chiloé or near Valparaíso where you can be sure to catch a sight!

If you’re very lucky, you may be able to see rockhopper or macaroni penguins too, especially in Chile’s southern archipelago. However, their breeding sites are much more difficult to reach. You can cruise out to the Falkland and South Georgia islands to improve your chances!

Beside penguins, there are a lot more birds to see in Chile! Some birds live here all year round and you can find them throughout the country including many birds of prey like the Chilean eagle (also known as the black-chested buzzard-eagle), the chimango caracara, and the American kestrel to name a few. For the keenest birdwatchers with the torrent duck on their list, you’ll need to head to the Andes mountains anywhere from the north of Chile to Tierra del Fuego, where you can watch these striking birds live amongst the fast-flowing rivers year-round. You can also find more colourful birds including ten species of hummingbirds found in various parts of Chile, various species of ibis, and the stunning red headed Magallanic woodpecker in the south.

Also in the south of Chile, keep your eyes peeled for some incredible seabirds, including the Southern Giant Petrel in Tierra del Fuego or head on a cruise to South Georgia to see albatrosses, including the gray-headed and endangered black-browed albatross. These beautiful sea birds nest between late October and early May, which is when you’ll have the best chance to see them.

Land animals

Land mammals in Chile generally don’t hibernate, so you can find them all year round. That said, some like the puma, are more easily found in the wilderness of Patagonia in the winter as they avoid the summer sun and winds. Keep an eye out in Patagonia for guanacos, the Patagonian mara, the South Andean deer, South American gray fox, viscacha, and even a big hairy armadillo!

You may see a kodkod too in Patagonia, too. Known as a guiña to the locals, a kodkod is the smallest wild cat in the Americas found almost exclusively in southern Chile’s dense scrub habitats like the Torres del Paine national park as well as its luscious, dense native forests, where you can find the smallest deer on Earth, the pudu.

5 destinations for a romantic getaway in Chile

If you’re planning a romantic holiday with your significant other, consider Chile as your destination! From picture-perfect sunsets and glittering night skies to secluded beaches and luxury hotels, this really is the perfect place for couples to celebrate a honeymoon, an anniversary, or just being together. And it was voted South America’s most romantic destination in 2022 by the World Travel Awards! Whatever your idea of romance is, there is something in Chile for you and your half an orange, as Chileans say.

Sunrise on Easter Island

Easter Island has a certain magic about it that you have to experience to understand. With white beaches, crystal-blue sea and palm trees, it’s a Pacific island tropical paradise. But its history, culture, slow pace of life, and the romance that lingers in the fresh sea air make it a popular destination for couples. Besides delicious food and beautiful hotels, you can have a truly unforgettable trip here.

What do we recommend? Watching the magical sunrise over the 15 giant Moai statues in Tongariki is unmissable for any couple visiting the island. Don’t miss out on visiting the Ana Kakenga cave too. It’s rumoured to be the last hiding place of a young couple who fled punishment for their forbidden love. 

Stargazing in Atacama

Experiencing the wonders of the Atacama desert is a favorite amongst our travelers and we think it’s a top destination for couples too. Here, you can watch the sunset over the breathtaking Moon Valley or have breakfast as the sunrises over the Tatio geysers. But our favourite activity for couples here is stargazing. Does it get more romantic than watching the glittering stars in one of the clearest skies in the world? Be sure to stay at one of the local boutique hotels to enjoy a more exclusive feel. 

Boutique hotels and wines in Valparaíso

Wander through the charming city of Valparaíso and pass through its lively and famously colorful streets. You can dive into the culture as you sample its cafes and restaurants, take a walk through its galleries, or step into the past on a trolley bus to enjoy this UNESCO World Heritage site. Step up the romance by visiting the nearby vineyards to sample world-famous wines. Stay at one of the area’s luxury boutique hotels for intimate evenings overlooking the sea. Make sure to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy the mix of enchanting beaches and intriguing pine forests too – the perfect getaway location!

Magdalena Island

Visiting a penguin colony may not be the obvious choice for a romantic getaway, but trust us on this one! Watching these penguins is sure to warm your heart. When you visit the colony, you can see the penguin couples work together as they bring food and care for their eggs and chicks. It’s even cuter when you know that penguin couples stay together for life? 

Luxurious Santiago

For a luxurious romantic retreat, staying at Las Majadas hotel on the outskirts of Santiago is a must. Tucked away in the Andes and dating back to the sixteenth century, this is a real romantic treat. Here, you and your significant other can at relax the on-site spa. Alternatively, you could sample the produce of the surrounding vineyards, enjoy the best local food, or take a stroll through the gardens. Why not escape to the nearby mountains for a beautiful backdrop to your special vacation? 

Did you know you can skip the Drake Passage?

The Drake Passage at the southern tip of South America is one of the most tumultuous seas in the world. Between Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands, it is the meeting point of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern Oceans. Here, waves are 2-3 meters high on a calm day and up to 13 meters on a not-unusual choppy day.

Some travelers choose to sail across the Drake by ship as a challenge or a rite of passage. For some itineraries, like those from Ushuaia or that include the South Georgia Islands, the Drake Passage is unavoidable. But for those with less sturdy sea legs (and stomachs!) heading directly to Antarctica, an air-cruise is definitely the better option! 

Flying over the Drake Passage

Choosing an air-cruise means you will take a short and smooth 2-hour flight from Punta Arenas in southern Chile to and/or from King George Island in the South Shetland Islands, skipping the turbulent Drake Passage waters. You can view the beautiful Chilean archipelago from the sky and land in Antarctica in just two hours before taking a short walk to your expedition vessel in the much calmer Antarctic sea. 

More time in Antarctica!

Not only is this a much more pleasant option, but it also means you can really maximize your time in Antarctica! Crossing the Drake Passage by ship takes at least two days and, besides the wonders of the open sea, there isn’t much to see during the journey. You may enjoy some great food, take the time to relax and join the optional lectures if you can. But wouldn’t you rather spend those two days kayaking alongside icebergs or whale spotting off the coast of Antarctica instead of gripping the ship’s railings?

Plus, taking off and landing in Punta Arenas means you’re already in Patagonia. Make the most of it and experience life on a Patagonian ranch. Or you can head to Puerto Natales to explore the magnificent Torres del Paine National Park.

Smaller is better

As well as saving your stomach and enjoying a calmer and quicker crossing, an air-cruise will allow you to sail around Antarctica on a smaller ship. This means that when the crew hear that there is a whale sighting nearby, all the passengers can hop on a Zodiac to see the whales for themselves.

International regulations limit the number of people allowed on shore at the same time to 100, meaning that passengers on larger ships built for the Drake Passage must wait their turn to disembark. But on an air-cruise, with a maximum of 71 guests, everyone can explore beautiful Antarctica! 

Your trip is still carbon neutral

Unless crossing the Drake Passage is a non-negotiable for the tour you choose (or even for you!), air-cruises are a great option. And you don’t need to worry about the carbon emissions of flying as the provider is a certified CarbonNeutral® company that supports Antarctica-based science projects to protect the environment, including providing green hydrogen for the bases on the continent and collecting scientific data during the expeditions.


(Note that flights returning from Antarctica may be cancelled due to weather conditions. This is a rare occurrence and will only happen if there is no improvement in the weather within two days of the scheduled return date, in which case the ship will sail to your destination.)

Where to go: Northern or Southern Patagonia?

So you want to go to Patagonia, but don’t know where exactly? We don’t blame you! The area called Patagonia is an enormous 400,000 square miles spanning across two countries. It’s one of the most beautiful, wild, and fascinating parts of the world. It’s also incredibly diverse. Once you know what kind of activities you want to do, or what kind of environment you want to be in, it’s much easier to decide if Northern or Southern Patagonia is for you!

Northern Patagonia

If you want to explore luscious forests, see snow-capped volcanic peaks, and swim in wide blue lakes, Northern Patagonia is the one for you. It includes highlights like the Chiloé archipelago, San Rafael National Park, and the towns of Pucón and Puerto Varas. Although less known than the skyscraping monoliths of Southern Patagonia, the Lake District and Aysen are full of adventure to enjoy! Try kayaking in the marble cathedrals of Puerto Rio Tranquilo. If you’re feeling braver, try your hand at white-water rafting in the Trancura River!

Northern Patagonia is great for walkers, too! Make sure you include the Cerro Castillo in your itinerary or walk amongst ancient forests in the Lahuen Ñadi Natural Reserve if you want to explore the region on two feet. With its abundant forests, this area is fantastic for wildlife spotting. From the colourful birds of Chiloé, to the sealions of Metalqui island, or the Puñihuil Humboldt and Magellanic penguin colony there’s so much to see.

If you prefer cultural escapes, this area of Patagonia is packed full for you to discover. Spend a day learning about the culture of Huiliche indigenous people with a local family and discovering their traditions. Or taste the European influence in the region with a stein at the Chilean-Belgain Dolbek brewery in Coyhaique!

Southern Patagonia

Southern Patagonia is much wilder than its northern counterpart in every sense. Green forests are swapped for rocky mountains and lakes for glaciers. Here you can find a whole array of wildlife that will make you feel more connected to nature than ever. Keep an eye out for pumas, guanacos, and condors roaming free in this dramatic landscape.

Of course, you cannot talk about Southern Patagonia without mentioning the world-famous Torres del Paine. The W-trek features on many hikers’ bucket lists, but it’s not the only path to explore here. Alternatively, you could take the southernmost trek in the world on Navarino Island and climb the sharp teeth-like peaks at the end of the world. Or head off the beaten track behind the Torres and discover the Silent Valley. 

Southern Patagonia isn’t limited to hiking lovers. If a 4-5 day trek seems daunting to you, you don’t need to miss out on the highlights of the Torres del Paine park! Take a tour to visit the highlights and enjoy a more leisurely stoll alongside the astonishing Grey Glacier. Alternately, take a catamaran across the turquoise Lago Pehoé or discover the fjords by boat. For quieter days, explore the towns of Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. Of course, you could also try to spot some wildlife and head to Magdalena Island to meet the penguins that live there or go dolphin watching on the Magellanes strait.

Everything you need to know about puma tracking

Seeing a puma is a life-changing moment; it alters something inside of you. That’s what the puma-tracking guide, Victor, explained when Ecochile spoke to him about all things puma and what you can expect from a puma-tracking experience in Patagonia. With 18 years of experience as a mountain, ski and tour guide, and brimming with passion when he talks about seeing Patagonia’s wildlife, here are Victor’s top tips!

1. Go with a guide

Patagonia’s pumas are wild animals that roam free across their territories. Like any wildlife experience, you need a healthy dose of luck to spot a puma and it’s never guaranteed. However, if you go with a puma tracking guide, you’re going with a specialist who has spent years studying pumas and Patagonia’s other wild residents to understand their behaviours. A specialist guide knows where a puma may normally pass at a certain time of day, or anticipate where one could be based on the behaviour of other animals nearby. The guides are also focused on ensuring the sustainability and safety as much for the tourist as for the nature in the area. 

2. You’ll see a lot more of Patagonian wildlife than just pumas 

Even specialist guides are not magicians and they cannot guarantee that you will see a puma or, as Victor describes them, the king of Patagonia. But in this unusual case, the experience is more than worthwhile. You will gain a deep understanding of this incredible landscape thanks to your guide and you won’t be short of wildlife to see! On a puma tracking tour, you may also see owls, armadillos, guanacos, gray and red foxes, hares, condors, eagles, hawks, rheas, and even skunks! Keep your eyes peeled and your binoculars and cameras ready to take in this spectacular wildlife!

3. There is no typical tour

A puma tracking tour lasts a minimum of three days to maximise your chances of seeing one of these magical creatures and to let you gain a deep understanding of the environment that you will be immersed in. But no matter how long you stay, no day will be the same! Each tracking session starts from scratch – what you see in the morning could be totally different to your afternoon outing, or you may have seen a puma catch its prey one day and see a mother search for its cubs the next. But this is all part of the joy and the experience of witnessing nature at its very best.

4. Think like a puma

You can go puma tracking all year round but you’ll have better chances of seeing the Patagonian big cat in all its glory in the winter. If you’re set on seeing a puma, the best time to go is between May and October. In the summer, these cats sleep in the middle of the day to avoid the heat and wind so your tour will be split into two daily outings: one in the early morning and one in the evening. In the winter, with less light and lower temperatures, you can go out in one full-day session – just wrap up warm!

5. Anyone can go puma tracking!

Puma tracking isn’t limited to a certain kind of person. You don’t need to be particularly fit, or an experienced hiker, or have prior knowledge of pumas. The only requirements are to be over 18 and very patient! Each tour is adapted to the traveller’s needs. If you’re active and up for a hike, you’ll be able to see the wildlife from a closer distance or from better perspectives. But if that’s not possible for you, you can do the tour without leaving the vehicle! 

6. Have realistic expectations

A successful puma tracking tour is not about taking that award-winning photo, and definitely not about being within metres of a puma, although both of these can happen. To make the most of this experience, the best advice is to take each day as it comes! Enjoy the adventure and let your senses take you through the very best of Patagonian wilderness. You’ll learn so much about this incredible corner of the world with a specialist guide.

7. Safety is a priority

Puma tracking is safe, provided you follow the safety protocols and listen to your guide – remember, they are the experts! You’ll be sent a safety guide after booking your trip so be sure to read it carefully to have the best experience.

If you’re interested in puma tracking, contact us today!

Off-the-beaten-path treks in Chile

We may be biased, but we think Chile is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Exploring it on foot is an experience that is difficult to describe. While the classic treks around Patagonia take our breath away every time, there’s so much more to explore off the beaten path. Include the trails of Chile’s hidden treasures in your itinerary to make your trip unique. You’ll be sure to take home incredible memories of the views and sounds of undisturbed nature.

Navarino Island

Explore the wild landscape of Navarino Island, in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago and take the southernmost trek in the world. At the end of the world, you’ll climb and trek the sharp peaks that look like an apex predator’s teeth. The island’s extreme location means that few tourists visit this place. However, if you’re a trekking enthusiast, you need to add this to your list. Far from the public (and phone signal), here is the perfect place to reconnect with nature and your senses. This one is certainly for experienced hikers but the extra effort is paid for with the magnificent views. 

Image courtesy of Richards Zamorano Ormeño

Silence Valley, Torres del Paine 

The Torres del Paine treks are some of the most popular in Chile, and it’s true that if you visit in summer you will be sure to encounter groups of other tourists. If the Torres are on your list but you want to venture away from the crowds, then explore the lesser-tread paths. After visiting the Torres, you’ll continue your adventure behind the monoliths to Silence Valley. Over the next few days, you’ll cross glaciers, walk through native forests, and kayak across lakes. Explore the hidden gems of the Torres del Paine National Park with uninterrupted views. This is an adventure that will stir your soul and leave you with great memories (and photos!).

Northern Patagonia

This is an adventure through the luscious foothills of Patagonia. Explore forest and steppe, snowy peaks and white-water rivers. Here you can hike surrounded by the beautiful forests, breathtaking volcanoes, and spectacular fjords of South America’s best-kept secret. Explore the myths of Chiloé, the wildlife of the Lake District, and the waterfalls and rivers of Chile’s hidden gem far away from the traditional tourist attractions. These trails vary in difficulty, but no matter which one you choose, the reward will be incredible.

Poike Volcano, Easter Island

Easter Island is full of treasures to discover. However, if you want to see something that most travellers don’t, consider a hike around the little-traversed northern coast of this magical island. Alternatively, climb the island’s second-highest summit and oldest volcano, Poike volcano, to see Rapa Nui in all its glory. Along the way, you can discover ancient villages, caves, carvings and moais that most travellers don’t experience and get to know a different side of the island on foot. 

Guatin Ravine, Atacama

After the lagoons and the geysers, escape the crowds of San Pedro and explore the Atacama wilderness. Take a short trek through a towering cactus forest in the driest desert on Earth. Follow the river to the most miraculous viewpoint looking over this incredible landscape with the Salar de Atacama in the distance. Away from the Atacama’s usual highlights, you will see a whole different side of this enchanting desert. 

Imagen cortesía de Richards Zamorano Ormeño

Talk to us today to plan your next adventure away from the crowds!

10 Restaurant Recommendations in Santiago

Whether you’re a foodie or not, the food you eat on vacation can become some of your favourite memories. It’s a way of experiencing different cultures, relaxing at the end of the day, and finding new flavours. In the Chilean capital, you can find some of the best restaurant in the country, region, and even the world. From experimental to traditional cuisine, from indigenous flavours to fusions, there’s so much for your tastebuds to discover. During your stay in Santiago, you’ll be overwhelmed with choice, but here are our top ten restaurant recommendations for places to eat.


1. Boragó Restaurant 

Boragó has twice been included in the world’s top 50 restaurants in recent years and in 2018 the restaurant won the Sustainable Restaurant award. Its chef and owner, Rodolfo Guzman, is at the vanguard of the molecular endemic cuisine in Chile. The food menu varies as much as the wine; everything served in this restaurant is delicately chosen to match the season and the finest produce Chile has to offer. Booking is required and there is often a waiting list, so book well in advance if this restaurant is on your list!

Address: Av. San José María Escrivá de Balaguer 5970, Vitacura, Santiago

Opening hours

Monday to Saturday from 6:30 p.m. (last reservation at 10:30 p.m)

Reservations (required): https://borago.cl/en/reservations/

2. Ambrosia Restaurant

Regularly on the list of Latin America’s 50 best restaurants, Ambrosia offers a homely atmosphere with Chilean cuisine and international flair. Its food is creative, original, and a treat for the senses. 

Address: Pamplona 78, Vitacura, Santiago

Opening hours

Monday to Saturday: 12:30 pm to 4 pm & 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm

Sunday & Holidays: Closed

Reservations: https://ambrosia.meitre.com/


3. Peumayen Restaurant

Peumayen is a celebration of the cuisines of Chile’s indigenous communities. From the Aymaras in the northern desert, to the Mapuches in the southern forests, to Rapa Nui in a Pacific island paradise, this food is as diverse as Chile. You can order a-la-cartè or you can also try a tasting menu called “Orígenes” with four different menus that contain nibbles inspired by the different cultures of the country, accompanied by a variety of wines, pisco or creative cocktails. Alternatively, you can sample a second six-course tasting menu with wine pairings from the spectacular Clos des Fous vineyard.

Address: Constitución 136, Barrio Bellavista, Santiago

Opening hours

Monday to Saturday: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm & 7:00 pm to 10:45 pm

Sunday: 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Reservations: https://www.peumayenchile.cl/reservations


4. Bocanariz

A journey to the senses, this wine bar & restaurant offers pairing with all their meals giving its name, “Mouth-nose”. The menu is designed as a map of flavors with each dish perfectly created to bring out the best of its wine pairing. The magazine Wine Spectator has nominated Bocanariz’s wine menu as one of the best in the world for six years running. If you’re a wine lover, this one is a must.

Address: José Victorino Lastarria 276, Barrio Lastarria, Santiago

Opening hours:

Monday to Wednesday: 12:30 pm to 12:00 am

Thursday to Saturday: 12:30 pm to 12:30 am

Sunday: 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm

Reservations: http://bocanariz.cl/index.php/reserva/ or contacto@bocanariz.cl


5. Salvador Cocina y Cafe 

Located in downtown Santiago, this small restaurant offers a menu based on cuisine from the countryside of Chile at moderate prices. The cuisine specializes in celebrating cuts of meat that usually go to waste and offers ‘menu del día’ (set lunch menu) and lighter options too. This is one of the more humble options on our list, but the same care and attention are paid to the dishes served. If you find yourself in the Lastarria district, visit Salvador’s sister branch, La Salvación. 

Address: Bombero Ossa 1059, Santiago Centro, Santiago

Opening hours

Monday, Wednesday & Thursday: 8:00 am to 7:00 pm

Tuesday & Friday: 8:00 am to 8:30 pm

Saturday & Sunday: Closed

Reservations: Not necessary

6. Liguria Restaurant & Bar

This is the most typical restaurant on our list, offering typical Chilean food like ‘plateada’ (boneless short rib), ‘mechada’ (brisket), ‘pescado frito’ (fried fish), and traditional accompaniments. Wherever you are in Santiago, you won’t be far from Liguria with four restaurants in the most iconic neighborhoods of Santiago. 

Address Lastarria: Merced 298, Lastarria Neighborhood, Santiago

Address Manuel Montt: Av. Providencia 1353, Providencia, Santiago

Address Luis Thayer Ojeda: Av. Luis Thayer Ojeda 019, Providencia, Santiago

Address Pedro de Valdivia: Av. Pedro de Valdivia 047, Providencia, Santiago

Opening Hours

Monday to Saturday: 12:00 pm to 1:00 am

Reservations: http://www.liguria.cl/

7. Bidasoa Restaurante

The Bidasoa Hotel hosts an excellent restaurant with a great variety of inspired and creative plates. This restaurant is our favourite for vegans and vegetarians with an entirely separate menu offering plant-based dishes. For those who can’t resist seafood or meat, enjoy the Chilean-European fusion menu, including ceviche, paella, and steaks. 

Address: Av. Vitacura, 4873, Vitacura, Santiago

Opening Hours

Breakfast: Monday to Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. (Sunday until 11:00 a.m.)

Lunch & Dinner: Monday to Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.


8. Silvestre Bistro

Don’t let Silvestre’s humble entrance deceive you. This bistro is full of colourful, fresh dishes with a menu that changes daily to use only the freshest produce. From grilled octopus to hummus and veggies to the Chilean classic, cazuela, this is a must-visit if you find yourself in Barrio Italia.

Address: Tegualda 1509, Ñuñoa, Región Metropolitana, Chile

Opening Hours

Tuesday to Saturday: 12:30-23:00

Sunday: 12:30-16:00

Reservations: silvestrereservas@gmail.com


9. Lorenza Bistró

This lively bar offers a variety of dishes based on contemporary cuisine and cocktails that look like works of art. We recommend the cocktail called “Merecido Descanso” – you will be surprised!

Address: Alonso de Córdova 3854, Vitacura, Santiago

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday: 6:30 p.m. to 2:45 a.m.

Saturday: 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 a.m.

Sunday: 1:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Reservations (recommended): https://lorenzabistro.cl/book/

10. Lolita Jones

Founded by jazz musicians who fell in love with the restaurant industry in New York, Lolita Jones is a multicultural hub. It offers Mexican street food with original touches and a drink menu that ranges from eccentric liquors to signature creations. Fun, fashionable, and delicious, add this one to your list for something different. 

Address: Alonso de Córdova 4355, Vitacura, Región Metropolitana

Opening hours:

Monday to Saturday: 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Sunday: 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Reservations (recommended): https://lolitajones.cl/#reservar


10 things I wish I knew before visiting Antarctica

“My pictures cannot capture the absolute beauty of the surroundings, the grandeur, and vastness of the landscape, the variation of wildlife, nor the size of the ice shelves we saw. I was in awe and still am.” 


Visiting Antarctica doesn’t happen every day. Very few people are lucky enough to visit this breathtakingly beautiful wilderness. You’ll see the world like never before and return with stories to share and memories to treasure forever. Yet because so few visit this southern continent and know its extremes, it can be hard to know what to expect. Here are our top tips for anyone thinking of visiting Antarctica.

1. Visit in the summer! 

It goes without saying that Antarctica is not a warm place – it contains 90% of the earth’s ice. However, in the summer, you’ll catch much milder weather, with temperatures around 0oC (32oF), although it may feel colder with wind chill. Visiting in the summer also means sunnier and longers days so you can make the most of your excursions or take some great photos! 

2. Fly over the Drake Passage 

The stretch of sea between South America and the Antarctcan continent is known as Drake Passage – and also as one of the most treacherous seas on the planet. As the meeting point of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, these waves a big even for the strongest sea legs. Flying over the Drake Passage will not only save you days of travelling time, but it will also be a LOT more comfortable. After all, no-one wants to start their vacation with seasickness!

3. Every expedition is different

No two Antarctic expeditions are the same. Factors like the weather may determine what you can do, while a sighting of whales nearby may mean you head out on a Zodiac that day to see them! You cannot know where you will visit or what you will see in Antarctica – you only know that no matter what, it will be incredible! Stay flexible and be open to different things to have the best time. 

4. Your flights may change

Although visiting Antarctica in the summer brings far milder weather than the rest of the year, you obey mother nature at this end of the world. In cases of extreme weather flights are occasionally changed. But don’t fret. The Antarctica crew will make sure you’re well looked after and entertained without you lifting a finger. You won’t be sitting around in airports if you’re flight is delayed. Instead, you could have a bonus expedition in Punta Arenas or an extra night in the hotel! Any changes to the itinerary due to weather will be at no additional cost to you and all accommodation and food are included.*

5. Pack layers

While outside is pretty chilly, the temperature inside the ship and aircraft will be much more comfortable. This and the 20kg weight limit make layers a great option. Skiing clothes are ideal if you have them but a water- and windproof jacket and trousers will do the trick. There’s no need for formal dress on the ship so keep it comfortable and casual (expedition-style). You will be given special thermal, rubber boots for getting on and off the vessel. These are great for going out onto the outdoor deck too! 

(Additional baggage is not available due to the weight conditions of the aircraft. Any additional baggage may be left in Punta Arenas at no extra charge.)

6. UV rays are strong! 

Although it’s cold, UV protection is essential! Make sure you have good quality UV filtering sunglasses such as glacier glasses (these have leather flaps at the sides to stop the light from passing through). Due to the high reflectance of UV radiation, you will also need good sunblock lotion for your face (protection factor 30 and above) and lip balm.

7. Bring extra memory cards and chargers for cameras

Taking a bad photo in Antarctica is almost impossible and your photos will be unique souvenirs that will last you a lifetime. However, colder temperatures can mean camera batteries don’t last as long as they normally do, so don’t forget your charger! Make sure that you take a good supply of memory cards too. 

If you’re a keen photographer with all the high-tech equipment, remember to bring a good zoom lens and UV filters to capture Antarctica’s residents in their natural habitat without disrupting them. If you’re lucky, they may approach you though! 

That said, remember to put down your camera occasionally and take in the view through your own eyes! 

8. There’s no internet signal 

There is no wifi or phone signal on board the expedition ships. This makes a trip to Antarctica the perfect chance to disconnect from the world totally. If that’s not a possibility for you, internet services and satellite phones are available at an additional cost.

9. Bring extra medication 

Bring any personal medication you require for your trip as well as some additional doses in case there is any delay with flights.

Most trips to Antarctica fly over the Drake Passage to avoid its stormy seas, and the Antarctic waters are generally calm. However, if you are prone to seasickness, it may be a good idea to bring over-the-counter remedies from your home country to ensure you can enjoy your trip! The ship’s doctor is available for advice but always check with your personal doctor before departure about taking medication.

10. Get travel insurance

Travel and medical insurance are a must-have for just-in-case scenarios. For any trip to Antarctica, a travel insurance policy that covers aero-medical evacuation, including emergencies related to pre-existing health conditions, is essential. A travel insurance policy that includes trip interruption and cancellation coverage is best for additional peace of mind. 

Why autumn is one of the best seasons to visit Patagonia

Patagonia features high on many people’s bucket lists – and with good reason. Its breathtaking views and unique wildlife are something else but the exhilarating rush of climbing its peaks is life-changing. While most travellers visit this region in the summer, here’s why autumn (March-May) is the best season to visit this incredible part of the world. 


Patagonia is jaw-droppingly beautiful all year round. Its rocky snow-capped mountain peaks shape the skyline; freshwater streams and rivers trickle and roar down the mountainside; wild forests fill northern Patagonia while glaciers dominate the south. Yet those fiery autumnal colours on the trees take the views to another level. The bright oranges, reds and yellows contrast the grey rock of the Patagonia peaks and (metaphorically speaking) set this uninterrupted landscape ablaze in the autumn. The scattering of green that remains and the blues of the sky and lakes – this is the kind of natural beauty that stirs your soul. 

Photo: @braybraywoowoo

If that’s not enough, catching the sun rising over Patagonia is the perfect way to wake up to the most beautiful part of the world. But we know you’re on holiday and don’t want to wake up unreasonably early. Another perk of travelling in the autumn is that the sun rises later! 

You can catch it between 7am at the beginning of March and 8:30am by the end of April. Best of all? You’ll have plenty of time (and energy) to hike afterwards.

Authentic wilderness

Besides the views, if you want to experience the true Patagonia wilderness with uninterrupted views of the scenery and sounds of nature, autumn is when you should visit. Patagonia’s remoteness means that it is never overly crowded, but groups can gather at the most popular sights. But if you’re wanting to escape from the busy modern world or get the perfect photo, we recommend visiting in autumn. There are far fewer people on the trails or at hotspots like the Torres del Paine, meaning that you can take in the full view only with those you want to share it with.

The reduced crowds also mean that you’ll have more chance of spotting the wildlife. While pumas and other wild animals hide from the many trekkers in the summer months, they come out in autumn when there are fewer people around, so keep your cameras ready!

Finally – and this one is important – you will also find more choice and availability of accommodation. Places to stay (hotels, hostels, and refuges) fill up quickly in the summer season. By coming in autumn, you don’t need to compromise on style or budget. Instead, you can find the perfect place for you to rest.


Patagonia is an extreme part of the world with unpredictable weather all year round. However, autumn (and spring) offer moderate conditions for visitors. Yes, temperatures are definitely colder outside of the main season (average lows of 37-42oF / 3-6oC and average highs of 51-58oF/11-14oC) but with a couple of extra layers of clothing, you won’t regret it. Without the notorious summer winds, activities like trekking and kayaking are more possible and easier and even more enjoyable. To top it off, the reduced wind lets the mountains be reflected in the lakes for those picture-perfect landscapes. 

So, will we see you in the autumn? Talk to one of our advisers today to book your Patagonian trip of a lifetime!