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'North to South'

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.

Exploring the Atacama

Exploring the Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama

From the village of San Pedro you venture into the desert landscapes of the Atacama or up into lofty Andean sierras that rise above it. There is a lot to explore. You walk with local guides in desert canyons, stop beside flamingo lagoons on vast salt flats, visit mountain villages as you travel to high lakes below volcanos, or tour the stars in the world's clearest night skies. There's more - much more.

Sculptures of the desert

Sculptures of the desert

Los Monjes de la Pacana

In a wide shallow valley in the altiplano above San Pedro the wind has eroded rocks into dramatic tall standing shapes - the 'monks' of La Pacana. Beyond lies the Salar de Aguas Calientes - wide salt lakes where flamingos feed.

Geyser field in the Andes

Geyser field in the Andes

El Tatio

El Tatio is the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere, the third largest in the world, and has 8% of all the geysers on earth. Statistics aside, it's a remarkable sight - best very early in the morning when the air is cold and the clouds of vapour and jets of steam are at their most dramatic in the chilly mountain air of the high Andes.

Volcanoes and lakes

Volcanoes and lakes

Puerto Varas & the Chilean Lake District

Puerto Varas is a small town on the shores of Lake Llanquihue with stunning views across the lake to the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. It is a good base for exploring the southern part of the Lake District, touring around the lakes or sailing across them, active hiking, biking, kayaking and rafting, walking and birding in ancient forests, or just relaxing in wonderful scenery.

By Boat to Balmaceda Glacier

By Boat to Balmaceda Glacier

LAST HOPE SOUND

Cruise along Last Hope Sound through Patagonian landscapes to glaciers that descend from the great Southern Ice Field: Balmaceda and Serrano.

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.

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.

Itinerary map for Chile 'North to South' holiday

Itinerary

  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Santiago
  • 2 Santiago
  • 3 San Pedro de Atacama
  • 4 San Pedro de Atacama
  • 5 San Pedro de Atacama
  • 6 San Pedro de Atacama
  • 7 Puerto Varas
  • 8 Puerto Varas
  • 9 Puerto Natales
  • 10 Puerto Natales
  • 11 Torres del Paine
  • 12 Santiago
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Designer's notes

A stunning trip that includes many of Chile's most sensational highlights, carefully tailored for great value and to make the best use of local flight connections.

If you have more time you could easily extend this trip, perhaps to visit Easter Island, or to spend a few days among the vineyards of the Central Valley.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'North to South'

DAY 1

Santiago

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

DAY 2
B

This morning you are collected from your hotel for a tour of Chile’s capital. With your guide you stroll to Santa Lucia Hill, where Pedro de Valdivia founded the city in 1541. You visit the main Plaza de Armas with City Hall, National Museum, Central Post Office and Cathedral and other notable buildings nearby.

DAY 3
B

Atacama

This morning you are transferred to Santiago airport for your flight north to Calama. You are met on arrival at the airport and taken to San Pedro de Atacama where you stay for the next 3 nights to explore this spectacular area.

DAY 4
B

You begin to explore Atacama with a visit to the stone fortress of Pukará de Quitor–one of the most important archaeological sites of the area. You continue to Tulor, one of Atacama’s first settlements. In the afternoon you head to the village of Toconao which looks out across the wide salt flats. Toconao’s Church of San Lucas has a distinctive bell tower, built in 1750 from cactus wood and adobe. A small handicraft market is popular for alpaca wool and crafts. Descending to the Atacama Salt Flat, you cross to Chaxa Lagoon where flamingos quietly feed as you enjoy the sunset.

DAY 5
B

Today you travel high into the Andes reaching 4800m, the height of Mt Blanc–there are good alternatives at lower altitudes, close to the mighty Licancabur Volcano (5916m) and the border with Argentina. You journey through a puna landscape of lagoons and meadows, and pastures where llamas have grazed for centuries, to the weirdly eroded Los Monjes de la Pacana, where wind and frost have sculpted standing rocks into the shape of monks–monjes in Spanish. The monks guard the Salar de Aguas Calientes. Look for flamingos, vicuñas, rheas, ibis and other wildlife of the altiplano here. You return to San Pedro in time for lunch. In the latter part of the afternoon you leave your hotel again for the lunar setting of the Moon Valley–one of the Atacama’s most iconic sites. You look across Death Valley with its impressive salt formations before enjoying the sunset at Kari viewpoint.

DAY 6
B

A pre-dawn start for the drive to the Tatio Geysers (4320m) among the world’s largest and most impressive geothermal fields, puffing and steaming in the early morning chill. As you return you stop by the wetlands of Putana and at little Pueblo Machuca before arriving back in San Pedro. You are transferred to Calama airport for your flight back to Santiago for one night.

DAY 7
B

Chilean Lake District

Today you fly from Santiago to Puerto Montt in the Chilean Lake District. You are met on arrival and taken for a tour of the city: the main Plaza de Armas with its unusual wooden cathedral built from native larch, Melipulli Hill for views down to the port and fishing boats in the Tenglo channel, and Angelmo Market where the day’s catch is laid out for sale and Chilean specialities such as curanto and paila marina are on the menu in nearby restaurants. It is a short drive north to Puerto Varas on the shore of Lake Llanquihue opposite snow-capped Osorno Volcano and the peaks of Calbuco Volcano and Mt Tronador. The town’s Germanic architecture reflects its founders’ origins, and you visit the hillside church with your guide who gives you an introductory tour around the town where you stay for the next 2 nights.

DAY 8
BL

Start today’s touring with a short visit to the beautiful Petrohué Falls that cascade down volcanic rock, before boarding a boat across the beautiful Lake Todos los Santos to Peulla, a remote village in stunning countryside for lunch. The snow-capped Osorno and Tronador volcanoes are ahead of you as you sail back across the lake, on a service that forms part of the fabulous ‘lake crossing’ route through the Andes to Argentina. From the landing you return by road to Puerto Varas.

DAY 9
B

The Far South

You are driven to Puerto Montt to fly south to Punta Arenas where you are met and taken to Puerto Natales, your base for the next 3 nights. During the 3 hour drive across the grasslands of the Patagonian steppe keep an eye open for grazing guanacos and ñandu or rheas. There is some free time for you to explore Puerto Natales for yourself and line up a restaurant for dinner.

DAY 10
BL

Today you are collected from your hotel and taken to the pier at nearby Puerto Bories for a cruise along Last Hope Sound. 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. ou 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, and walk out or ride horses onto the lakeside steppe if you wish. You sail back to Puerto Natales and are transferred back to your hotel by the late afternoon.

DAY 11
BL

Torres del Paine

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 Nordenskjöld Lake for views of the cuernos, or horns, and at Lago Grey where you can walk across a hanging bridge over the Rio Pingo and along the lake’s shingle shore to an island forest of lenga trees and views of the floating Grey Glacier. Leaving the park you stop to walk inside the Milodón’s 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 12
B

Santiago

Saying goodbye to the south you travel back to Punta Arenas to fly back to Santiago in central Chile for a final night.

DAY 13
B

A free morning to explore Santiago some more before you are collected and driven to the airport in time for your overnight flight back to the UK. If you have more time, you could easily extend this trip, perhaps to visit Easter Island, or to spend a few days among the vineyards of the Central Valley and in Valparaíso.

Guide prices for 'North to South'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Mid-range hotels, mostly shared tours 2 people sharing £2,950
Upper-range hotels, mostly shared tours 2 people sharing £3,475
Top-range hotels, mostly private services 2 people sharing £6,495
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
  • airport and departure taxes

Customer reviews for 'North to South'

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 'North to South'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
2 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
3 San Pedro de Atacama 24°C rainfall 22mm
4 San Pedro de Atacama 24°C rainfall 22mm
5 San Pedro de Atacama 24°C rainfall 22mm
6 San Pedro de Atacama 24°C rainfall 22mm
7 Puerto Varas 20°C rainfall 76mm
8 Puerto Varas 20°C rainfall 76mm
11 Torres del Paine 10°C rainfall 117mm
12 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm

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 'North to South'

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

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
Day 6

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 7 - 8

Casa Kalfu

Puerto Varas

Casa Kalfu (‘kalfu’ means ‘blue’ in the Mapudungun language of the Mapuche), is a characterful hotel in Puerto Varas. The hotel has 19 comfortable rooms, 6 with views of Lake Llanquihue and the Osorno Volcano. All are nicely decorated with local handicrafts and wooden furniture made with reused timber from native trees. The friendly hotel is run by English-speaking owners who are knowledgeable about the local area. There is a small lounge and bar area.

Casa Kalfu
Hotel exterior
Days 9 - 11

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 12

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