The Atacama Desert, Chiloé Island, and Patagonia

Overview

From the stunning Atacama, the driest desert in the world, to mystical Chiloé Island and the soaring granite towers of Paine National Park, our north-to-south journey brings you to the most fascinating landscapes, habitats, and cultures in Chile. We’ll hike the high desert landscapes of the Atacama, with its hot springs, sparkling salt flats, and turquoise lagoons, discover the deep temperate rainforests and wild Pacific beaches of the Chiloé archipelago, and in Patagonia, we explore famed Paine National Park for breathtaking hikes in a granite and glacier wonderland. Along the way, we’ll taste the cuisines and wines of each region, meet artisans, share a meal with a local family, and discover the cultural heart of Chile.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Atacama Desert / San Pedro de Atacama

Our hikes in the spellbinding moonscapes of the Atacama Desert bring us through the Valle de la Luna, with an unforgettable sunset in this realm of strange rock formations and pink-streaked mountains. We head up to the Puritama mineral spring, with time for a soak, and across the vast Salar de Atacama, where crystalline blue lagoons attract three different species of flamingos. One evening, we enjoy dinner hosted by an Atacama family.

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Days 4-7
Puerto Varas / Volcán Osorno / Chiloé Island

Chile’s Lake District is renowned for its lush farmlands, lakes, and snow-capped volcanoes. We hike to a magnificent lookout point on snow-capped Volcán Osorno (8,701'), with its perfect symmetrical cone. Heading to Chiloé Island, we discover a culture with myths and legends rooted in the traditions of the native Mapuche people. Here we enjoy great birding (including two species of penguins), hike on golden beaches and in rainforests, learn about the blend of indigenous and European culture, and savor a curanto, Chile’s traditional feast slow-roasted in an earthen pit.

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Days 8-12
Patagonia / Paine National Park

The striking granite towers of the Paine Massif are the icon of Paine National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of dazzling peaks, glaciers, rivers, and lakes. Our hiking adventures bring us to miradors for amazing views of the fabled cuernos, and through the native forests of the Ascencio Valley right to the foot of these near-vertical monoliths. Depart on Day 12 via Punta Arenas.

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Highlights

Highlights

Explore the wild landscapes of the Atacama Desert
Enjoy fascinating Chiloé Island, with its lush rainforests and ancient culture—voted Best Place to Visit by Travel + Leisure
Experience the best trails in Paine National Park, with hikes to the foot of Paine Grande and to the base of the famed Torres del Paine
Discover Chilean culture, enjoy dinner with a local family, savor Chilean feasts including a traditional Patagonia asado

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $6995  
Arrive: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Depart: Punta Arenas, Chile
Lodging: 11 nights hotels and lodges
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Wildlife & Natural History, Hiking / Trekking, Culinary
Trip Level:

10 hiking days on moderate to steep trails, 2-7 hours a day, altitudes in the Atacama between 8,000-13,100 feet

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