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'On the Road in the Lake District and Patagonia's Far 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.

Patagonian forest

Patagonian forest

Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve

Huilo Huilo Reserve is a private project setup with the aim of preserving the regions native forest and wildlife. There is over 600km2 of land within the park, and with rivers, trees and mountains at your disposal this is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts.

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.

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.

Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego

The Land of Fire

Across the water from Punta Arenas lies Patagonia’s final twist: the ‘Land of Fire’–a romantic name some attribute to a Spanish king who thought ‘Land of Smoke’ seemed dull, and others say was inspired by the sight of fires aboard native canoes. Bahia Inutil is home to a colony of King Penguin, one of most accessible places in the world to see these spectacular creatures.

Itinerary map for Chile 'On the Road in the Lake District and Patagonia's Far South' holiday

Itinerary

  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Santiago
  • 2 Santiago
  • 3 Pucón
  • 4 Pucón
  • 5 Huilo Huilo
  • 6 Huilo Huilo
  • 7 Puerto Varas
  • 8 Puerto Varas
  • 9 Puerto Natales
  • 10 Puerto Natales
  • 11 Puerto Natales
  • 12 Punta Arenas
  • 13 Porvenir
  • 14 Punta Arenas
  • 15 Santiago
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'On the Road in the Lake District and Patagonia's Far South'

DAY 1

Santiago

You are met off your flight and taken to your hotel in Santiago. Your English-speaking guide gives you a brief introduction to the area by your hotel, restaurants and things to see. You have the rest of the day free to explore or relax.

DAY 2
BL

Poetry and wine

A lovely introduction to Chile before you get behind the wheel: a full day shared tour travelling out from the capital to the Pacific coast to visit the poet Pablo Neruda’s ‘Isla Negra’ beach house in a landscape of eucalyptus and pine reminiscent of the south of France. The tour continues to a winery in the Casablanca Valley for lunch and a guided visit to hear about the process of wine making from growing to harvesting, vinification and tasting. Chile has a strict zero alcohol rule for drivers, so this may be your only opportunity for wine at lunch. Return to Santiago.

DAY 3
B

Pucón

You are collected from your hotel for your flight to the town of Temuco in the northern Lake District where you pick up your hire car for the 2hr drive to Pucón on the shores of Lake Villarrica–a major centre for adventure activities such as whitewater rafting or hiking the Villarrica volcano.

DAY 4
B

Having a car gives you plenty of options around Pucón. Huerquehue NP is a beautiful protected area of forests and lakes with walking trails in gorgeous surroundings, and views to Villarrica volcano. In town you can arrange rafting or kayaking on the river Pucón, mountain biking and horse riding.

DAY 5
B

Huilo Huilo

Drive 3h south through Villarrica NP (where you might break your journey at hot springs) to Huilo Huilo, an award-winning private reserve combining conservation, research and ecotourism in Valdivian rainforest straight out of The Hobbit. A collection of fantastical buildings reflects the setting: the Magic Mountain, the cantilevered Nothofagus Hotel, Mushroom Kingdom Lodge, forest cabins and tree houses. Conservation projects include the huemul, or southern Andean deer, Darwin’s frog, and the tiny Colocolo opossum. This region is notable for its strong heritage of Mapuche and Pehuenche communities.

DAY 6
B

There are self-guided walks within the reserve or the lodge can arrange guided biking or rafting, an exhilarating network of canopy zip lines, visits to Huilo Huilo falls, and more.

DAY 7
B

Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas, where you stay 2 nights, is around 300km direct on Ruta 5, but you should turn off to drive a little further via Frutillar, a civilised lakeside town with German heritage opposite snow-capped Osorno volcano. The town hosts an international music festival in late January and early February.

DAY 8
B

Free day. You might head east beside Lake Llanquihue towards Osorno, and visit the beautiful Petrohué Falls. The road continues to Lago Todos Santos and a volcanic beach with views across the lake to the mountain village of Peulla.

DAY 9
B

Southern Patagonia - Puerto Natales

In the morning drive to nearby Puerto Montt airport (21km), drop off your car and fly to Punta Arenas in the far south. Collect your second hire car of the trip for the 250km (3h) drive across the dry grassland of the Patagonian steppe (look for rheas and guanacos) on your way to Puerto Natales on Last Hope Sound.

DAY 10
B

Torres del Paine

Two full days to explore the spectacular scenery in and around Torres del Paine from Puerto Natales. Fill the tank and buy a picnic lunch and snacks before you set off into the park by car. You could tour by road, perhaps including a boat ride past icebergs to Glacier Grey, or go walking or riding. Walks in the park vary from strenuous full day treks that need an early start from Puerto Natales, to easy circular walks of an hour or two. A fee is payable at the park entrance. Other options include the boat trip from Puerto Natales to Balmaceda glacier, best pre-booked so let us know in good time to do this. You might visit The Singular at nearby Puerto Borries for dinner one evening.

DAY 11
B

perhaps make a return visit to Torres del Paine

Today is a second full day based in Puerto Natales with your hire car at your disposal. Perhaps a return to focus on a different section of the Torres del Paine national park. Optional alternatives available locally (subject to availability) include a boat trip from Puerto Natales on Last Hope Sound to Balmaceda glacier. We can pre-book this for you in advance if you know you will definitely want to do this. We suggest you visit The Singular Hotel at nearby Puerto Borries for a meal one evening - this is a fascinating place set in an old meat packing factory.

DAY 12
B

Either spend the morning in the same area or drive straight to Punta Arenas–well worth a few hours’ sightseeing.

DAY 13
B

Tierra del Fuego

An early start to make sure you are at the terminal for the morning car ferry from Punta Arenas across the Strait of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego. You arrive at a landing stage close to the quirky town of Porvenir. There should be time for lunch in town before driving to the shores of Useless Bay to a colony of King Penguin, one of most accessible places in the world to see these spectacular creatures. The reserve is closed on Mondays. Return to Porvenir for the night.

DAY 14
B

Most of the morning in Porvenir–you could visit its small ethnographic museum–before you must be back at the landing stage for the ferry back to Punta Arenas. Afternoon free.

DAY 15
B

Santiago

Drop your hire car at the airport and fly back to Santiago, where you are met and transferred into the city for one night.

DAY 16
B

Morning free to see the city before you are collected back at your hotel in time for your international flight home.

Guide prices for 'On the Road in the Lake District and Patagonia's Far South'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Mid-range accommodation 2 people sharing £2,735
Upper range accommodation 2 people sharing £3,555
Prices are per person and include:
  • all transport within Chile
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
  • rental car with unlimited mileage and insurance
  • ferry tickets
  • shared excursion on day 2
  • entrance to King Penguin Park on Tierra del Fuego.
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • car-hire: additional driver insurance
  • national park entrance fees
  • car-hire: petrol

Customer reviews for 'On the Road in the Lake District and Patagonia's Far 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 'On the Road in the Lake District and Patagonia's Far 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 Pucón 24°C rainfall 67mm
4 Pucón 24°C rainfall 67mm
5 Huilo Huilo 21°C rainfall 50mm
6 Huilo Huilo 21°C rainfall 50mm
7 Puerto Varas 20°C rainfall 76mm
8 Puerto Varas 20°C rainfall 76mm
12 Punta Arenas 15°C rainfall 36mm
14 Punta Arenas 15°C rainfall 36mm
15 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 'On the Road in the Lake District and Patagonia's Far South'

Days 1 - 2

Hotel Neruda Express

Santiago

Hotel Neruda Express offers guests a comfortable stay in Santiago. Rooms are clean and simply decorated and well equipped with air conditioning, central heating, cable TV and wifi.

The hotel is located in El Golf, the modern, business neighbourhood of Santiago, within walking distance of plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. The hotel has a communal dining room where buffet breakfast is served.

 

Hotel Neruda Express
Standard Room
Days 3 - 4

Malalhue

Pucón

Hotel Malalhue is a mountain style hotel with 24 guestrooms. All have private bathrooms and WIFI whilst there is a bar and restaurant open all year round. The hotel is around 800m from the centre of town so ideal for those with a car. Guests also have use of the outdoor heated swimming pool.

Malalhue
hotel exterior
Days 5 - 6

Montaña Mágica Lodge

Huilo-Huilo Reseve

This quirky volcano shaped lodge located in the Huilo Huilo reserve is 5km from the Huilo Huilo falls. The lodge is ideal for people self-driving due to its remote location, and nearby are a variety of outdoor activities. Rooms do not have televisions, but there is wifi, private bathrooms and a café on site.

Montaña Mágica Lodge
Lodge 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

Isla Rey Jorge

Punta Arenas

Located near the main square, this colonial building features 22 rooms (including one junior suite) with amenities such as cable TV, telephone, hair-dryer and safety box. The hotel also has a bar which serves food, a games room and internet access.

Isla Rey Jorge
Front of the hotel
Day 13

Yendegaia House, Porvenir

Porvenir

Yendegaia House, Porvenir
Day 14

Isla Rey Jorge

Punta Arenas

Located near the main square, this colonial building features 22 rooms (including one junior suite) with amenities such as cable TV, telephone, hair-dryer and safety box. The hotel also has a bar which serves food, a games room and internet access.

Isla Rey Jorge
Front of the hotel
Day 15

Hotel Neruda Express

Santiago

Hotel Neruda Express offers guests a comfortable stay in Santiago. Rooms are clean and simply decorated and well equipped with air conditioning, central heating, cable TV and wifi.

The hotel is located in El Golf, the modern, business neighbourhood of Santiago, within walking distance of plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. The hotel has a communal dining room where buffet breakfast is served.

 

Hotel Neruda Express
Standard Room