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SOUTHERN CHILE EXPERIENCE: PUERTO VARAS & TORRES DEL PAINE

USD 2,675 / 8 days

Highlights

Perched on the tip of the South American continent, Patagonia is a vast, rugged region of wind-swept plains, dramatic mountains, glaciers, battered coastline, and diverse wildlife; a remote final frontier for nature and adventure lovers. Here, at the bottom of the world, you’ll encounter a wholly unique way of life with its own cast of storybook characters that have endured throughout history: cowboys that ride the open ranges, indigenous spirits of the land and water, and inspiring explorers. Home to Torres del Paine National Park, this timeless place must be visited at least once in a lifetime. But what many people don’t know is that Patagonia’s borders actually stretch further north, to a part of Chile called the Lakes District. Known as the Gateway to Patagonia, the Lakes District is an idyllic place of lush forests dotted with pristine lakes and simmering volcanoes, where you can do everything from hiking through ancient landscapes or kayaking wild rivers to trying Germanic foods and craft beer that are a staple of the area. From her northern forests to her southern mountains, Patagonia is truly a wonder to behold and discover.

Overview

Over the course of eight thrilling and awe-inspiring days, you’ll be immersed in the best that Patagonia has to offer, from pristine wilderness to cultural institutions. Starting in the Lakes District, you’ll be introduced to the area’s German-influenced architecture, cuisine, and traditions, as well as some of its eponymous lakes, lofty volcanoes, and verdant forests. You’ll then move to Punta Arenas, the capital of Chile’s Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica region and the jumping-off point to exploring Patagonia, where you can learn more about the nautical and explorer history of this part of the country, as well as visit native wildlife like penguins and sea lions. Then you’ll travel to Torres del Paine, the eighth wonder of the world, full of spectacular mountains, turquoise lakes, and wildlife, which you’ll discover and fall in love with with the aid of experienced guides.

DAY PLACE HIGHLIGHTS HOTEL OPTIONS

Itinerary Details

Day 1
Starting from Puerto Montt - Puerto Varas

In the morning, you’ll fly into Puerto Montt, a historic port city overlooked by the dramatic Andean cordillera and nearby volcanoes. After arriving and meeting up with your EcoChile Travel guide, you’ll be transferred approximately twenty minutes to the town of Puerto Varas, a quaint town of German-esque buildings on the shores of Lake Llanquihue; on the far side of the lake, you can see the snow-capped Osorno Volcano.

After dropping off your luggage at the Hotel Cumbres, perched on a hill beside the lake with lovely views, you’ll have a free day to rest or explore the town. Walk around the historic district to view the many original German buildings, marvel at the stately Church of the Sacred Heart, stroll along the scenic lakefront, or try traditional Germanic foods and local craft brews at the town’s many fine eateries and breweries.

Day 2
Osorno Volcano & Petrohue Falls

After a hearty breakfast, prepare for a full day of outdoor adventure and marveling at the natural wonders of the Lakes District. You’ll be picked up at the hotel and driven roughly an hour to the far side of Lake Llanquihue to Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. Inside the park, you’ll spend the day visiting the park’s best sights, including the spectacular Petrohue waterfalls, the Osorno Volcano, and Todos Los Santos (All Saints) Lake. After a long day exploring the park, you’ll return to Puerto Varas for a restful evening and delicious dinner.

Day 3
Chiloé Island: Ancud, Castro & Dalcahue

Today you’ll visit one of the most enchanting places in the whole of Chile: Chiloé. This archipelago — which is only accessible by boat — is located off the coast near Puerto Montt and is home to temperate rainforests, rolling paddocks, charming architecture like palafito houses (waterside stilt houses) and a culture that developed separately from the mainland. After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll be driven roughly an hour to the ferry crossing to the main island, which takes half an hour; sometimes during the crossing, you can see marine life like dolphins or even whales.

For the rest of the day, you’ll be driven around the island to visit its top attractions in towns like Ancud, Castro (the capital), and Dalcahue. Along the way, you can appreciate the tranquil island scenery, and your guide will educate you on the island’s history and culture, such as its special mythology (the archipelago is supposedly home to magical creatures like warlocks, trolls, mermaids, and a ghost ship). In Castro and Dalcahue, you’ll get to stop and visit traditional examples of Chilote architecture, like the palafito houses and Chiloé’s famous churches, which are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. At the end of the day, we’ll return to Puerto Varas.

Day 4
Puerto Octay & Frutillar - Punta Arenas

After breakfast, you’ll be transferred along Lake Llanquihue to visit nearby towns like Frutillar and Puerto Octay, where you can appreciate lovely vistas of the lake and Osorno Volcano, as well as beautiful German architecture. In Frutillar, you will also visit the famous dock and see the Teatro del Lago Theater, a magnificent theater that hosts a famous music festival. You’ll then be transferred back to Puerto Montt where you’ll board your flight to Punta Arenas, the southernmost town on the South American continent.

After arriving, you’ll be taken to the Yegua Loca Hotel, and will have the remainder of the day to explore the town, which is full of historic buildings and remnants of early Patagonian exploration history, and spend a relaxing evening enjoying a delicious meal and resting up for another big day tomorrow.

*Please note that the excursions described for Day 3 and 4 are only recommendations and alternate excursions can be arranged by the Hotel Cumbres, which provides different activities depending on your interests, weather, timing, etc. Details of each activity will be given to you upon your arrival.

Day 5
Punta Arenas - Torres del Paine

After breakfast, you’ll be taken to the Punta Arenas jetty, where you’ll board a boat for your main activity of the day: sailing to nearby Magdalena Island to visit the colony of Magellanic penguins that live there! Part of the Los Pingüinos Natural Monument, Magdalena Island is home to approximately 120,000 Magellanic penguins and is considered one of the largest and most important penguin colonies in Chile.

After visiting the nesting sites (where you can walk around on marked paths that allow you to observe the penguins up close), you’ll take the boat back to the mainland and then be transferred to Torres del Paine National Park, the crown jewel of Chile’s national park system. The ride takes roughly four hours and along the way, you’ll pass through Patagonian pampas (steppe grasslands) where, if you’re lucky, you can see native wildlife like guanacos, Darwin’s Rhea, flamingos, condors, and more. Upon arriving, you’ll be taken to the Rio Serrano Hotel, where you’ll be spending the night. From the hotel, you have a lovely view of the mountains of Torres del Paine, which you can enjoy during dinner.

Day 6
Torres del Paine: Trekking to Base Torres

Today you’ll be doing the most popular hike in Torres del Paine: hiking to the base of the three granite Torres (towers) for which the park is named. You’ll be transferred from the hotel to the trailhead in the center of the park near the Las Torres Hotel. You’ll start the hike, which climbs up the outside of the Paine Massif into the Ascencio Valley and then winds along the valley floor through forests to the base of a glacial moraine rockslide. Climbing to the top, you’ll be treated to arguably the best view in the whole park: the three Torres rising majestically over a turquoise-blue glacial lagoon.

Here, you can rest, admire the view, and eat lunch before the group starts hiking back the way you came. The whole hike takes roughly eight hours from start to finish and is moderate-to-difficult. After arriving back at the trailhead, you’ll return to the Rio Serrano Hotel for a hearty, well-deserved dinner and good night’s sleep.

*Please note that the Rio Serrano Hotel offers an all-inclusive stay, so you have the option for alternate excursions, which you will learn more about at the hotel; excursions are also subject to changes depending on weather, season, etc.

Day 7
Full Day Torres del Paine

After breakfast at the Rio Serrano Hotel, you’ll be treated to a full day exploring the wonders of Torres del Paine. A transfer van will drive you into the park to popular viewpoints, like the Salto Grande waterfall and the beaches of Grey Lake, where you can see icebergs that have detached from the Grey Glacier at the far end of the lake; from certain viewpoints, you can even see the glacier itself, which forms part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the world’s second-largest extrapolar ice field. Driving around, keep your eyes peeled: there’s a good chance you’ll catch glimpses of wildlife like herds of guanacos and even pumas. At the end of a long day surrounded by Patagonia’s natural majesty, you’ll head back to Rio Serrano Hotel for the night.

*Please note that the Rio Serrano Hotel offers an all-inclusive stay, so you have the option for alternate excursions, which you will learn more about at the hotel; excursions are also subject to changes depending on weather, season, etc.

Day 8
Last day in Patagonia!

After breakfast, you’ll check out of your stay at Rio Serrano and then leave on a shared transfer back to Punta Arenas for your departure flight (roughly a four-hour drive). Along the way, you can sit back and watch the beautiful Patagonian scenery go by and may be lucky enough to see more local wildlife. After arriving at the airport, it’s goodbye to Patagonia (for now!).

  • Price are based with a minimum of two people.

Price Includes

  • Accommodation
  • All activities as listed
  • All airport and hotel transfers
  • All activities specified in the itinerary, including transportation, entrance fees, accompanied by our tour guide
  • Your Trip Coordinator: a 24/7 point of contact, supporting you during your trip

Meals

  • Day 1: None
  • Day 2: Breakfast – Lunch
  • Day 3: Breakfast – Lunch
  • Day 4: Breakfast
  • Day 5: Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner
  • Day 6: Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner
  • Day 7: Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner
  • Day 8: Breakfast

Not Included

  • Flights

SOUTHERN CHILE EXPERIENCE: PUERTO VARAS & TORRES DEL PAINE

Duration: 8 days

Price: USD 2,675 / person

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