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SOUTHERN CHILE EXPERIENCE: LAKE DISTRICT & PATAGONIA

USD$ 5,580 / 16 days

Summary

Day 1: Santiago de Chile – Leisure Day.
Day 2: Santiago to Cerro Castillo – Carretera Austral and Puerto Ibañez.
Day 3: Cerro Castillo to Puerto Rio Tranquilo – Cerro Castillo Hike.
Day 4: Puerto Rio Tranquilo – Marble Caves Navigation and Scenic Drive.
Day 5: Puerto Rio Tranquilo – Ice Hike on the Exploradores Glacier.
Day 6: Puerto Rio Tranquilo to Puerto Varas – Leisure Day.
Day 7: Puerto Varas – Osorno Volcano and “El Solitario” Hike.
Day 8: Puerto Varas – Alerce Andino National Park Hike.
Day 9: Puerto Varas to Punta Arenas – Local Community Experience.
Day 10: Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales – Magdalena Penguin Island.
Day 11: Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine – Towers Base Hike.
Day 12: Torres del Paine – Los Cuernos Hike.
Day 13: Torres del Paine – French Valley Hike.
Day 14: Torres del Paine – Grey Glacier Hike (Optional Ice Hike or Kayak).
Day 15: Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales – Navigation Grey Lake (Optional Ice Hike or Kayak).
Day 16: Puerto Natales to Santiago de Chile – Leisure Day.

 

Overview

Experience the Chilean South thoroughly by visiting the highlights of the Lake District and Patagonia, mixed with some hidden spots of the wild vastness on this 16-day trip. The journey will start in the cosmopolitan capital city of Santiago, where you will be able to explore the historic sights on your own, stroll around food markets and artsy neighborhoods, as well as climb on one of the many hills to enjoy a different view of the city. 

Move then from the hectic city life to one of the most remote corners of Patagonia – the Carretera Austral (or Southern Highway). Just driving along this scenic route is an adventure by itself as you pass by imposing mountains with incredible rock formations, deep blue waters of rivers and lakes and as it feels, almost untouched nature. Discover this wide range of diverse landscapes and navigate on the second largest South American lake with crystal clear water, hike on a glacier of the Northern Ice Field and walk through native forest to get rewarded with panoramic views. 

Your next stop will be the lakes and volcano region around the picturesque Puerto Varas town, which has been strongly influenced by its German settlers. Be astonished by the impressive snow-capped volcanoes, marvel at waterfalls formed by their lava and explore the huge biodiversity of the temperate rain forest conserving the ancient larch trees. Get immersed in indigenous culture, their history and traditions up close at a local community. 

An unforgettable hiking adventure through breathtaking landscapes awaits you in Southern Patagonia. Navigate on the historic Magellan strait and observe incredible wildlife on the islands. Discover the majestic Torres del Paine National Park and be amazed by its exceptional immensity and wilderness while you hike along the famous W Trek. 


Itinerary Details

DAY 1
SANTIAGO DE CHILE

Welcome to Chile! A representative from our company will meet you at the Santiago International Airport to welcome you upon arrival. During the drive to your hotel, our representative will tell you more about your upcoming itinerary, as well as answer any questions you may have. 

During the afternoon, you’ll have free time to explore the city, relax, have dinner and then return to your hotel.

Meals:  None.

Overnight:  Hotel Bidasoa or similar.

DAY 2
SANTIAGO DE CHILE – BALMACEDA – CERRO CASTILLO

At a pre-arranged time, we’ll pick you up from your hotel in Santiago to take you to the airport for your flight to Balmaceda. Once you arrive, you will be able to pick up your rental car for the next few days and drive you to your hotel in Villa Cerro Castillo.

Depending on the arrival time of your flight you can visit the town of Puerto Ibañez and the Northern part of General Carrera Lake in the afternoon.

Meals: Breakfast.

Overnight:  Refugio Cerro Castillo or similar.

DAY 3
CERRO CASTILLO – PUERTO RIO TRANQUILO

In the morning we will get picked up by our guide at the hotel in Villa Cerro Castillo to drive to Cerro Castillo National Park, located a couple of kilometers away. Once there, the 9 km hike to the iconic Laguna Verde begins.

The trail starts in a native Lenga and Ñire forests and continues then on a moraine until reaching Laguna Verde, which offers unique views over the General Carrera Lake and the Ibáñez River Valley. It is approximately 3.30 hours of hiking on a medium difficulty trail with several climbs up to the lagoon. Once at the top, you will take a well-deserved 45-minute break to enjoy a replenishing box lunch and fully appreciate the Green Lagoon, which is formed by the waters of the imposing glaciers of Cerro Castillo mountain.

Then we will say goodbye to this natural wonder and walk back approximately 2 hours, along the same path, to the starting point.

From there we will be able to drive in your rental car to the next destination – Puerto Rio Tranquilo.

Meals:  Breakfast, Box Lunch.

Overnight:  Hotel El Puesto or similar.

DAY 4
PUERTO RIO TRANQUILO

We begin the trip from Puerto Tranquilo, located on an arm of General Carrera Lake where the boat navigation will take place, towards the Marble Nature Sanctuary. This is a place of unique scenic beauty, where the swell of the lake has eroded and polished the Limestone, forming caves of great attraction. The blue light of the lake’s water never disappoints, but it’s at its best inside the marble caves, which have been sculpted by the waves for millennia at the base of large cliffs and rocks on the west coast of the lake. The rocks here are real marble. Local people call the most prominent of these unlikely rock formations Marble Cathedral and Marble Chapel.

After that, you can enjoy a scenic drive in your rental car along the Southern part of the Carretera Austral. Drive along the deep blue General Carrera Lake and enjoy its views with snow-capped mountains in the backdrop. Appreciate the Bertrand Lake and the small Negro Lake on your right-hand side while you continue driving South. Visit the small town of Puerto Bertrand where the Baker River begins. Continue then to the Confluence of the Baker and Neff Rivers, a natural wonder where you can observe how the color of the water changes when the two rivers meet.

Meals:  Breakfast.

Overnight:  Hotel El Puesto or similar.

DAY 5
PUERTO RIO TRANQUILO

This walk on ice takes about 6 to 6,30 hours, over the Exploradores Glacier which lies 52 km west of Puerto Rio Tranquilo and the General Carrera Lake. First we drive through the beautiful Exploradores Valley with abundant vegetation until we reach the refuge.

This is where the technical equipment is prepared and specialist guides will give you an introduction talk. The hike must be done accompanied by a guide due to the type of terrain and equipment used. The trail begins through an evergreen forest on an interpretive track where you can identify various native species and observe different birds. Little by little the path ascends the frontal moraine of the glacier to reach a viewpoint from which you get a panoramic view looking down on the glacier, Saint Valentine’s Mount (the highest mountain of Patagonia) and Bayo Lake.

From there you go down the moraine and begin to walk on ice covered with stones and sand, to reach clean ice in 1,5 – 2 hours. Once there, you have a refreshment break and put on the ice equipment to start walking safely on the white ice where you can see, feel and hear the ice, look into ice caves, enjoy and marvel at the deep blue color of its pure water and learn about how the glacier descends from the ice field and turns into a river to reach the sea.

Drive the same way back to your hotel in Puerto Rio Tranquilo.

Type: Private Tour.

Meals:  Breakfast, Box Lunch.

Overnight:  Hotel El Puesto or similar.

DAY 6
PUERTO RIO TRANQUILO – BALMACEDA – PUERTO MONTT – PUERTO VARAS

Drive from your hotel in Puerto Rio Tranquilo for approximately three and a half hours to the Airport of Balmaceda, where you can drop off your rental car and board your flight to Puerto Montt. After arriving in Puerto Montt and getting a transfer to your hotel in Puerto Varas, you’ll have the chance to explore this town on your own and get dinner.

Meals:  Breakfast.

Overnight:  Mero Gaucho Boutique Hotel or similar.

DAY 7
PUERTO VARAS

The classic circuit but with our distinctive touch of natural history and intimate experience. We will leave early in the morning to avoid crowds and drive up to the Osorno Volcano to appreciate the area from 1.240 meters high. Once there we can also do a 1 hour hike to the red crater of the volcano. After that we will visit the section of the Petrohué Rapids and have a short interpretative walk through the temperate rainforest. After time for pictures enjoying the impressive view of the falls and the perfect conic shape of the Osorno volcano, we will drive back to reach the entrance of the Solitario trail. The hike is very diverse, crossing different ecotones and geological formation, from the forest of the first part to the volcanic landscape of the second part, crossed by washouts that connect the river Petrohué to the volcano glacier. 

Type: Private Tour.

Activities:

  • Visit to the Petrohué rapids, walking through the forest.
  • Visit to Osorno Volcano.
  • Photo opportunity.
  • Hike.
  • Flora, fauna and geological observation.

Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch.

Overnight:  Mero Gaucho Boutique Hotel or similar.

DAY 8
PUERTO VARAS

The National Park Alerce Andino is located between mountains, volcanoes and the Pacific Ocean. This full day excursion will take us along the coast through the beginning of the Carretera Austral. We will hike for approximately 5 hours inside the park, surrounded by the exuberant temperate rainforest, including the old Alerce trees (Fitzroya cupressoides). The transformation during millions of years of these mountains created a landscape full of rivers, waterfalls and lagoons. During the drive to the park we will make stops at local villages along the road and to admire the ocean view of the first fjord of Patagonia. With a little luck we may be able to spot some Chilean and Austral Dolphins and some birds that inhabit the intertidal and the wetlands near the coast. 

Type: Private Tour.

Activities:

  • Hike.
  • Photo opportunity.
  • Flora, fauna and geological observation.

Meals:  Breakfast, Box Lunch.

Overnight:  Mero Gaucho Boutique Hotel or similar.

DAY 9
PUERTO VARAS – PUERTO MONTT – PUNTA ARENAS

We finish our Lake District adventure by visiting a local indigenous community.

This unique adventure will take you to one of the most unknown corners of the Lake District to enjoy an unforgettable day. The first activity will be a soft hike of 1,5 hours through the temperate rainforest looking for the native flora and birds of this environment. After that, you will be driven to the area of Pargua, where you will have a comprehensive experience with the local culture: sharing with a Huilliche community, learning about their history, music, medicine and cuisine. 

After that, you’ll be picked up for a drive to the Airport of Puerto Montt. After arriving in Punta Arenas and getting settled at the hotel, you’ll have the chance to get dinner.

Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch.

Overnight:  Yegua Loca Boutique Hotel or similar.

 

DAY 10
PUNTA ARENAS - PUERTO NATALES

Morning tour by boat from Punta Arenas. After cruising across the Strait of Magellan, land on this protected nature reserve and marvel at the thousands of Magellanic penguins milling about on the pebbly terrain that serves as their breeding grounds. Follow your guide along a cordoned-off path leading up to a lighthouse, where you’ll learn about the island’s eco- system and enjoy this wonder of nature.

Then you’ll get back to your hotel and have time for lunch in town, before you’ll be picked up for a drive to your hotel in Puerto Natales. After arriving there and getting settled at the hotel, you’ll have the chance to explore the town on your own and get dinner.

Meals:  Breakfast.

Overnight:  Hotel Vendaval.

DAY 11
PUERTO NATALES – TORRES DEL PAINE

With an early start and after a hearty breakfast, we will head to the iconic hike of Torres del Paine that requires good physical condition, but it’s worth doing! 

The trail will take us towards the Ascencio valley on a continuous ascent until having an incredible panoramic view of the lakes to the south, the valley itself and magnificent geology of the hills around the valley.

From there the trail will descend to the El Chileno camp, and we’ll enter into an ancient forest of Lenga trees. We will continue ascending until reaching the end of the forest, here the most difficult portion of the trails begins, a 45 min steep ascent in a glacial moraine. This trail will take us to the famous “Base de Las Torres” with a stunning view of the granite giants mountains standing right in front of you, a great reward to our effort!

After this challenging hike, you will have time to rest, enjoy the view and sample a delicious box lunch. At an upon agreed time, we’ll start descending on the same route and return to our hotel.

Type: Private Tour.

Difficulty: High.
Distance: 18 kms round trip.
Duration: 8 hrs.
Initial Altitude: 120 msnm.
Maximum Altitude: 870 msnm.

 

Meals:  Breakfast, Box Lunch.

Overnight:  Refugio Torre Central.

 

DAY 12
TORRES DEL PAINE

If the weather allows, our morning will be lit by the rich oranges and pinks of a Patagonian dawn. Today we´ll hike to Los Cuernos lookout, where monumental horn-shaped black twin granite peaks shoot skyward. We’ll make our way via Inge Lagoon and may see condors and other birds of prey circling the skies while we trek below. The well-marked trail ascends 200m from the base of Almirante Nieto Mountain (2750m) and crosses the Bader River to Refugio Los Cuernos or Domos Frances, today’s destination.

Type: Private Tour.

Difficulty: Low.
Distance: 13 kms one way.
Duration: 4-5 hrs.

 

Meals: Breakfast, Box Lunch.

Overnight:  Refugio Los Cuernos.

DAY 13
TORRES DEL PAINE

The French Valley is one of the three principal attractions of the “W” circuit and it is one of the most striking trails in the National Park. It is not to be missed for those who enjoy hiking.

The experience begins at the Pudeto Dock where we will take the catamaran that crosses the icy cold turquoise waters of Lake Pehoe to the slopes of Cerro Paine Grande. Here we will start a marvellous hike full of scenic contrasts on our way to the Italian Camp; from here we continue on upwards over an ancient glacial moraine and going through a wooded valley to reach the French Lookout. Open your senses and discover the sensation of being in this amazing amphitheatre in Torres del Paine surrounded by glaciers and impressive walls of granite.

Type: Private Tour.

Difficulty: Medium High.
Distance: 18 kms round trip.
Duration: 8-9 hrs.
Initial Altitude: 60 masl.
Maximum Altitude: 420 masl.

 

Meals:  Breakfast, Box Lunch.

Overnight:  Refugio Paine Grande.

DAY 14
TORRES DEL PAINE

The trail to the Grey Lookout is on the western side of the “W” circuit and it follows the slopes of Mount Paine Grande after we have crossed Lake Pehoe from the Pudeto Sector on a boat trip of around 30 minutes. We will walk through a basin of sedimentary rock along a relatively flat trail until we reach the western slope of Paine Grande.

The path crosses gently undulating ravines which will put the adventurer to the test physically until we reach the Grey Glacier Lookout which gives an incredible panoramic view of Lake Grey and its imposing glacier which can be seen in the distance.

The lookout gives us a taste of how wild and prevailing are the forces of nature in Southern Patagonia. From here it is possible to see the icebergs floating on the lake and to feel the characteristic Patagonian winds.

Type: Private Tour.

Duration: 4 hrs one way.
Distance: 11 km.
Maximum height: 260 msnm.

* OPTIONAL – Ice Hike on the Grey Glacier OR Kayak Experience on the Grey Lake

Description: Ice Hike

To start the excursion, the guides will have an introductory chat, and explain the route, the time the tour will take and also test the equipment, and adjust it correctly for each passenger. Then, we navigate in a zodiac boat for 15 minutes until we reach the west side of the Grey Glacier. On arrival, we will disembark on the island at the glacier (nunatak) and we will walk on it for about an hour until we reach the ice. Before walking onto the glacier, the guide will talk to us about the safety aspects, and will explain the techniques of displacement on the ice and the correct use of the equipment. Once the safety briefing is done we will begin our exploration of the Grey Glacier which will last approximately 3 hours. During this time we will be able to observe cracks, rivers, lagoons and tunnels with their different tones of blue. After 3 hours on the glacier, we return to the zodiac boat and ride back to the base camp.

Meals:  Breakfast, Box Lunch.

Overnight:  Refugio Grey.

 

DAY 15
TORRES DEL PAINE – PUERTO NATALES

Navigate on the Grey III catamaran. Two hours of navigation in this magic lake surrounded by ice bergs where the boat does a circuit right up to the front of the glacier whilst you stand on deck sipping your pisco sour served with glacial ice!

Upon arrival walk along the Grey beach for about 20 minutes and enjoy the last views of the Torres del Paine National Park before you board the transfer back to Puerto Natales. 

After arriving there and getting settled at the hotel, you can have dinner in town.

Meals:  Breakfast, Box Lunch.

Overnight:  Hotel Vendaval.

DAY 16
PUERTO NATALES – PUNTA ARENAS – SANTIAGO DE CHILE

It’s time to say goodbye to Patagonia!

At a pre-arranged time, you’ll be picked up from your hotel in Puerto Natales for a three-hour drive to the Airport of Punta Arenas, from where you will take your flight to Santiago.

Meals:  Breakfast.

End of EcoChile Services.


2020 – 2021  SEASON RATES

Land Portion Pricing: Group of 2 People 

Price per person
>> USD 5,670 (High Season)
>> USD 5.580 (Shoulder Season)

* Please note that international and domestic flights are not included in this price.


Why is this trip sustainable?
  • The food provided is locally prepared with regional products. 
  • You will travel plastic-free throughout your trip! We use reusable or glass bottles, as well as recyclable containers.
  • Our top recommended hotels include sustainability policies as part of their mission and operations.
  • We work in collaboration with local suppliers and communities in each location.
  • We keep our tour groups small, both to improve the experience for you and to reduce the impact on the places we visit.
  • We respect and value the lifestyles, beliefs, and traditions of the local communities we visit.

Our Health and Safety Promise

As the world continues to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that travelers, while eager to once again get out and explore the world, also want to be careful and only travel where and when it’s safe to do so. Just as you take your health and safety seriously, as well as the health and safety of the destinations and communities we visit, so do we. That’s why, in compliance with national and international health and safety regulations and recommendations, we’ve optimized our operations and tour itineraries to provide you with the safest itinerary possible.

This tour was specifically designed with social distancing in mind, avoiding overly crowded places without sacrificing the experience of discovering the destination. We only partner with hotels and tour operators that are similarly committed to putting their clients’ health first, frequently using cleaning and sanitizing services, and only offering tours and excursions when it’s fully safe to do so. All this and more are just some of the ways we’re innovating travel itineraries for a healthier, safer future. 

If you have any questions, concerns, or requests regarding the health and safety procedures of this and other EcoChile tours, please let us know so we can answer your question or accommodate your request. Your safety is our top priority.

SOUTHERN CHILE EXPERIENCE: LAKE DISTRICT & PATAGONIA

Duration: 16 days

Price: USD$ 5,580 / person

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