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'Atacama, Patagonia, Easter Island and the Uyuni salt flats'

What makes this trip special?

City life beside the Andes

City life beside the Andes

Santiago

Set against the backdrop of a long line of Andean peaks, Santiago is a colonial city, turned republican capital, turned modern metropolis. There's a lot to do, with good art galleries, unmissable museums, lovely parks, and a great range of shops, restaurants and hotels. Step outside the city and you are in some of Chile's most notable wine valleys.

Chile's southernmost city

Chile's southernmost city

Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas is a colourful relaxed town full of curiosities and tales to tell. Drive north to see Torres del Paine, board a cruise south into the fjords and channels that lead to Cape Horn, or take the ferry across the Strait of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego. There are good wildlife opportunities nearby, including the only King Penguin colony in South America.

Granite towers of Patagonia

Granite towers of Patagonia

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine is one of South America's most dramatic national parks. Its focus is a colossal massif thrown up from deep in the earth beside the Andes and the Southern Ice Field. The tall towers of Las Torres are set in a complex of other dramatic peaks and glaciers, ringed by lakes, low hills and steppe. It is a great destination for dramatic scenery, stunning walks, and Patagonian wildlife.

Rapa Nui culture

Rapa Nui culture

Easter Island

Remote and mysterious, Easter Island remains one of the most isolated islands in the world. Best known for its imposing Moai statues, other highlights include the vast Rano Kau volcanic crater and the ceremonial Orongo village. As well as the incredible visitor sites, the island also has some of Chile's clearest waters for diving, whilst you can now also see the ancient sculptures from the water for an alternative viewpoint.

Adobe in the Desert

Adobe in the Desert

San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama is the main base for all your activities in the Atacama region. A few years ago the little town was just a few adobe houses, but it now bustles with visitors heading into the desert.

Salt Flats and Lagoons

Salt Flats and Lagoons

Salar de Atacama and Altiplanic Lagoons

10km south of San Pedro de Atacama lies this 3000 km2 area of salt pans. The plains are formed by streams from the high Andes that are unable to escape and evaporate leaving just these mineral deposits. On the Salar you will find lagoons that are home to dozens of flamingos that are attracted to the colourful waters.

High desert

High desert

Siloli Desert

Road trip through high deserts. Coloured lagoons…

Silent witnesses of Bolivia's mining heyday

Silent witnesses of Bolivia's mining heyday

Uyuni's train graveyard

Uyuni was founded as a railway junction to facilitate the mining trade links between Argentina and Chile. It was a symbol of cutting-edge progress at the end of the 19th Centuary but this progress was unsustained and trains now lay decaying outside the town of Uyuni.

The largest salt lake in the world

The largest salt lake in the world

The Uyuni Salt Flats

Traverse the stark white expanse of the vast Uyuni Salt Flats, with relief from the glare provided by a stop on a cactus-filled island.

Poetic port-town

Poetic port-town

Valparaiso

Chile's unique second city of Valparaiso is now an UNESCO world heritage site made famous by its colourful hilltop neighbourhoods and rickety funicular railway elevators still in active use. The town's most famous resident and Nobel literature prize winner Pablo Neruda, was hugely influenced by the town. His former home 'La Sebastiana' has been preserved much as it was: a worthy pilgrimage for those new to his poetry and those who have made it part of their lives.

Itinerary map for Chile 'Atacama, Patagonia, Easter Island and the Uyuni salt flats' holiday

Itinerary

  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Santiago
  • 2 Santiago
  • 3 Puerto Natales
  • 4 Puerto Natales
  • 5 Puerto Natales
  • 6 Santiago
  • 7 Easter Island
  • 8 Easter Island
  • 9 Easter Island
  • 10 Easter Island
  • 11 Santiago
  • 12 San Pedro de Atacama
  • 13 San Pedro de Atacama
  • 14 Siloli Desert
  • 15 Uyuni
  • 16 Uyuni
  • 17 San Pedro de Atacama
  • 18 Valparaíso
  • 19 Valparaíso
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Atacama, Patagonia, Easter Island and the Uyuni salt flats'

DAY 1

Santiago and Central Valley

You are met on arrival at Santiago and transferred to your hotel where you stay for two nights.

DAY 2
B

A morning tour with a local guide to introduce you to Santiago and its main sights. In the early afternoon you head into the Central Valley to one of Chile’s notable wineries. You visit its vineyards and cellars, view the vinification process, and conclude with an elegant tasting session. You return to your Santiago hotel.

DAY 3
B

The Far South and Torres del Paine

To the airport for your flight to Punta Arenas on the Strait of Magellan in the far south. You are met and driven to Puerto Natales, your base for the next 3 nights. On your 3 hour journey across the steppe keep an eye open for ñandu (greater rhea), caracara, guanacos, foxes and armadillos. Arriving by the shore of Last Hope Sound the rest of your day is free to explore.

DAY 4
BL

A local guide meets you at your hotel and brings you to the pier in nearby Puerto Bories for a cruise through Last Hope Sound to glaciers that descend from the Southern Ice Field to feed its northern extreme. This is a very scenic journey through Patagonian landscapes, which, if the Patagonian weather is being kind, gives long views of mountain sierras, waterfalls, and forests that give way to sheep farming estancias. Along the shore you should see black-necked swans and colonies of cormorants. You reach a point below Balmaceda Glacier, which descends from the Southern Ice Field and calves small icebergs in startling blues into the Sound. At little Puerto Toro you disembark for a walk of about an hour through native coigue woods to reach a stunning viewpoint near the snout of Serrano Glacier, creaking and cracking in the remote silence. Your boat continues to a small estancia where you stop for a traditional asado al palo, or ‘lamb on the cross’ roasted by an open fire, with an opportunity to experience life on a sheep farm, walk out amongst nature in spectacular scenery, or ride horses onto the lakeside steppe. You sail back to Puerto Natales and are transferred back to your hotel by the late afternoon.

DAY 5
BL

Leaving Puerto Natales early, you travel by road into the spectacular Torres del Paine NP, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and impressive reserves in the world with its distinctive granite peaks, lakes and glaciers. During the day you tour the main sites of the park, from the Cerro Castillo entry to the exit near the Milodon Cave, including many of the iconic views of the Paine massif, such as Lago Sarmiento and the Amarga Lagoon where on a sunny day the granite towers are mirrored in the clear water. You visit the Salto Grande waterfall, you stop at Lago Nordenskjöld for views over the lake of the Cuernos del Paine, the dramatic ‘Horns of Paine’ peaks, and at Lago Grey where you cross a hanging bridge over the Rio Pingo and walk along the lake’s shingle shore to an island forest of lenga trees with distant views of the floating Grey Glacier. Leaving the park you stop to walk inside the Milodón Cave beside a replica of the mylodon, a giant sloth from the Pleistocene era whose remains were found here. You should reach your hotel in the early evening after a very full day.

DAY 6
B

Return to Punta Arenas to catch your flight back to Santiago, where you are met and taken to an airport hotel ready for your early flight to Easter Island next morning.

DAY 7
B

Easter Island

Flying out into the Pacific, you touch down at the speck of land that is Rapa Nui, or Easter Island. You are met, escorted to your hotel in or near Hanga Roa with the rest of the day free to explore. You might visit the museum and the moai statues nearby.

DAY 8
B

You are collected from your hotel for a tour of some of the island’s most emblematic sites. See p26 for their details. You visit Ana Kai Tangata cave with drawings of stylised birds related to the Birdman contest, and Vinapu with stonework that matches Incan walls in Peru, with a view of Rano Kau volcano. Reaching the crater rim, with views across its lagoons and out to the ocean, you visit the ceremonial site of Orongo, also related to the Birdman contest. In the afternoon you continue to Ahu Akivi, with 7 stone moais facing the sea, which may represent the 7 explorers sent by King Hotu Matu’a before he arrived to colonise the island. At the Puna Pau quarry you see where the statues’ red pukao hats were made, then arrive at Ahu Huri a Urenga, whose single moai stands alone to mark the winter solstice.

DAY 9
B

Your second day of touring the island’s key sites. You visit the platforms and fallen moai at Ahu Vaihu and Ahu Akahanga on the south coast then the quarry at Rano Raraku volcano where most moai were sculpted. You reach Ahu Tongariki, a ceremonial platform with 15 moai, and Te Pito Kura which has the largest statue erected on an ahu platform, the Moai Paro: 10 metres high and weighing 85 tonnes. Nearby you find the stone sphere that represents the navel of the world. End the day at Anakena beach whose beautiful setting is made unique by the row of moai, backs turned to the sea, at Ahu Nau Nau. Return to your hotel.

DAY 10
B

A free day on Rapa Nui. We can arrange an extra walking tour or boat trip if you wish.

DAY 11
B

Fly back to Santiago for one night.

DAY 12
B

Atacama

Early morning flight to the Atacama Desert, landing at Calama where you are met and driven to your lodge in San Pedro de Atacama for 2 nights. In the mid/late afternoon you are taken to visit the Moon Valley, an intricate lunar landscape of rocky outcrops, ridges and screes, fragmented with clefts and canyons. You continue to Death Valley with its impressive salt formations, then to Kari viewpoint, one of the highest points of the Salt Mountain Range, in time to watch the sunset. Return to your lodge.

DAY 13
B

This morning you travel into the Cordillera Domeyko, the western range of the Andes above the Atacama Desert, for breathtaking views of volcanoes, mountains, desert and salt flats. You pause to see the ‘Yerbas Buenas’ rock carvings and paintings made by the ancient Atacameño people, pass the shepherd village of Matancilla, and reach the Rainbow Valley with hillsides in bands of reds, greens, blues, and purples. You visit the little settlement of Rio Grande with its adobe houses before returning to San Pedro. Leaving your lodge in the mid-afternoon you visit the village of Toconao, with a craft market and little plaza in front of the Church of San Lucas, which has a separate bell tower, built in 1750 of cactus wood and adobe. You continue down to the Atacama Salt Flat, one of the world’s largest, where you should see flocks of flamingos at the Chaxa Lagoon. There is time for you to enjoy the sunset while their friends elegantly flap by before you return to your lodge.

DAY 14
BLD

Bolivian deserts and Uyuni salt flats

This morning you are picked up from your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama and driven to the Bolivian border at Hito Cajón far below the towering Volcano Licancabur (5916m). After border formalities you enter the other-worldliness of the Bolivian deserts: dramatically changing landscapes of puna desert, wind-eroded rock formations, salt lakes, coloured lagoons and hot springs. You journey to the Green Lagoon, the ‘Dali’ desert, the Sol de Mañana geysers, and the eye-popping Laguna Colorada lake where Andean, Chilean, and the much rarer James flamingo are seen. There is a classic photo stop at the Arbol de Piedra or ‘tree of rock’. You overnight at a hotel on the edge of the Siloli Desert.

DAY 15
BL

Today you tour across the Siloli Desert, beside more dramatic highland lagoons and close to Ollague Volcano, stopping for views and curiosities. Along the way you pass by tiny hamlets where the locals keep flocks of llamas and alpacas. You should see foxes, viscachas and vicuñas too. Arriving close to Uyuni you visit the train graveyard–witnesses to Bolivia’s mining heyday. 100 years later you can walk beside and, with care, even board historic engines and carriages preserved in the dry desert air. You stay one night, either in the town of Uyuni or upgrade to a ‘salt hotel’ built with blocks of salt on the edge of the salt flats.

DAY 16
BLD

The Uyuni Salt Flat is the largest on the planet, a wide world of glittering white out to the horizon. With driver and guide you stop briefly at the little settlement of Colchani where locals offer salt bagged for the table or carved into blocks for building. Then you drive off onto the salt flats themselves. For most of the year you can drive across them to small islands where you scramble among giant cacti for amazing views. A picnic lunch is usually served in the middle of the salt flats. When the salt flats are flooded (which can happen in January and February and a few weeks either side), you stay to the edge but with potentially even better views with the sky mirrored in the glistening surface, then visit the train graveyard on this day instead. Coming off the salar you continue via San Cristobal with the oldest church of the Bolivian highlands, the Katar lagoon and the ‘city of rocks’ to your hotel at Villa Mar.

DAY 17
B

Today you complete a circle of the Bolivian deserts, through the Quetena bofedales wetlands and high altitude lagoons, across the salt plains of Chalviri, back to the Green Lagoon and the border into Chile. Stay tonight in San Pedro de Atacama.

DAY 18
B

Valparaiso

Fly from Calama to Santiago where you are met and driven to Valparaíso on the Pacific coast for 2 nights.

DAY 19
B

A local guide comes to your hotel to take you on a morning’s tour to introduce you to Valparaíso. Your afternoon is free for you to relax or explore the city yourself. A taxi to Pablo Neruda’s ‘La Sebastiana’ would be one possible choice.

DAY 20
B

At leisure in Valparaíso until you are collected for your flight onwards or back to the UK from Santiago airport on the road into the capital.

Guide prices for 'Atacama, Patagonia, Easter Island and the Uyuni salt flats'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Mid range hotels 2 people sharing £5,735
Mid/upper range hotels 2 people sharing £6,245
Upper range hotels staying in Torres del Paine National Park 2 people sharing £6,935
Top range hotel (where possible) staying in Torres del Paine 2 people sharing £9,450
Prices are per person and include:
  • all travel in Chile
  • all accommodation
  • all meals as indicated (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally
  • airport and departure taxes

Customer reviews for 'Atacama, Patagonia, Easter Island and the Uyuni salt flats'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average

Seasonal information for 'Atacama, Patagonia, Easter Island and the Uyuni salt flats'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
2 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
6 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
7 Easter Island 26°C rainfall 87mm
8 Easter Island 26°C rainfall 87mm
9 Easter Island 26°C rainfall 87mm
10 Easter Island 26°C rainfall 87mm
11 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
12 San Pedro de Atacama 24°C rainfall 22mm
13 San Pedro de Atacama 24°C rainfall 22mm
15 Uyuni 21°C rainfall 47mm
16 Uyuni 21°C rainfall 47mm
17 San Pedro de Atacama 24°C rainfall 22mm
18 Valparaíso 23°C rainfall 3mm
19 Valparaíso 23°C rainfall 3mm

Typical weather for January

rainchart

Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Atacama, Patagonia, Easter Island and the Uyuni salt flats'

Days 1 - 2

NovaPark

Santiago

Attractively priced, no frills, Novapark Hotel is a functional modern hotel located in downtown Santiago near Santa Lucia hill and Santa Lucia metro station.  All of the 156 standard rooms (twin or double) are have air conditioning and heating, wifi, a hair dryer, safe and TV. There is a cafeteria, restaurant and bar.

NovaPark
Hotel Exterior
Days 3 - 5

Weskar Patagonian Lodge

Puerto Natales

This rustic lodge has been desgined in keeping with it's surroundings. The exterior is all constructed with lenga wood panels whilst inside it has a rustic Patagonian feel. There is a living room with fireplace as well as a reading room and bar all with wifi. The rooms have either a Fjord or interior view, and have private bathrooms, heating and safety deposit boxes.

Weskar Patagonian Lodge
Weskar patagonia lodge
Day 6

Holiday Inn Aeropuerto

Santiago Airport

The Holiday Inn hotel is conveniently located right outside the arrivals terminal at Santiago airport. There is a restaurant and bar on site and Wi-Fi throughout the hotel making this a good base for a night before catching early flights or arriving late in the day. Rooms are available overnight or just for day use should you wish to spend time here rather than in the termainl building.

Holiday Inn Aeropuerto
Exterior
Days 7 - 10

O'Tai

Easter Island

Hotel O'Tai is a good value option 5 minutes walk from downtown Hanga Roa. There are 42 rooms across the hotel, a restaurant and bar as well as a swimming pool. There is Wi-Fi available at the hotel, but this is at extra cost payable locally.

O'Tai
Hotel Exterior
Day 11

Holiday Inn Aeropuerto

Santiago Airport

The Holiday Inn hotel is conveniently located right outside the arrivals terminal at Santiago airport. There is a restaurant and bar on site and Wi-Fi throughout the hotel making this a good base for a night before catching early flights or arriving late in the day. Rooms are available overnight or just for day use should you wish to spend time here rather than in the termainl building.

Holiday Inn Aeropuerto
Exterior
Day 14

Tayka del Desierto

Siloli Desert

The accommodation is basic but comfortable, and located right in the Siloli desert. From the hotel restaurant, guests can enjoy a wonderful view of the majestic desert. The hotel runs on solar energy and has a heating system based on circulating hot water. All rooms have private bathrooms with hot water.

Tayka del Desierto
Dining area
Day 15

Jardines de Uyuni

Uyuni town
rating

Average rating 4.5 (2 ratings)

Jardines de Uyuni is an attractive small hotel, well located close to the centre of Uyuni town. Staff create a friendly atmosphere and the 25 rooms are very well kept, all with electric or central heating and hot water. There is Wi-Fi in the communal areas, whilst there is also a small swimming pool and spa area, along with a restaurant and bar.  

Jardines de Uyuni
Matrimonial room
Days 12 - 13

Kimal

San Pedro de Atacama

A small hotel in a contemporary adobe style with lots of character close to the centre of the bustling village of San Pedro de Atacama. Part of the site is an intricate labyrinth of rooms while across the lane there is more space and a pleasant garden area. Rooms are all en-suite with heating, minibar and wifi. There is a restaurant and bar and a small pool, and a rather nice small spa with hydromassage.

Kimal
Days 18 - 19

Fauna

Cerro Alegre

Hotel Fauna is perched on the edge of the western section of Cerro Alegre served by the Reina Victoria funicular and only 5 minutes away from the city centre. The hotel is decorated in a quirky, funky style in keeping with the street art and bohemian feel to Valparaíso. The hotel has impressive views over town, Valparaíso’s iconic hills and the bay. All rooms are nice and well equipped but the views in the Superior and Suite room categories make them worth the upgrade. The best views are from the top floor restaurant, bar and terrace.

 

Fauna
Superior Room