The Atacama Desert, Chiloé Island, and Patagonia

Please note this itinerary reflects our Fall 2018/Spring 2019 season, which has completed. We are finalizing the details of our Fall 2019/Spring 2020 season, please call for details.


Exploring from the Atacama Desert to mystical Chiloé Island and the soaring granite towers of Torres del Paine National Park, we make a north-to-south arc through a fascinating array of Chilean landscapes and cultures. We’ll hike the high Atacama amid sparkling salt flats, cardon cactus, and flamingo-thronged lakes, and in Chiloé, follow wild coastal trails to a penguin colony, through temperate forests, and to remote fishing villages. In Patagonia, we’ve chosen the best hikes among the famed “towers” of Paine National Park. Along the way, we taste the cuisines and wines of each region, meet artisans, and discover the 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 bring us through the Valle de la Luna, with an unforgettable sunset in this realm of bizarre rock formations and pink-streaked mountains. We head up to the Puritama Hot Springs, with time for a soak, and across the vast Salar de Atacama, where crystal-blue lagoons attract three different species of flamingo. The stargazing here is extraordinary! One evening, we enjoy dinner hosted by a local Atacama family.

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

Snow-capped Volcan Osorno (8,701'), with its symmetrical cone, rises like an apparition from turquoise Lake Llanquihue. We hike to a magnificent lookout on this peak, then head to Chiloé Island to discover myths and legends rooted in the traditions of Chile’s native Mapuche people. Here we enjoy great birding (including two species of penguin), hike on golden beaches and in ancient rainforests, see the island’s World Heritage wooden churches, and savor a traditional curanto feast slow-roasted in an earthen pit.

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Days 8-12
Patagonia / Torres del Paine National Park

The striking granite towers of the Paine Massif are the icon of Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of stone carved by ice—a true wonderland of eye-popping scenery. We’ve selected the “best of the best” hikes here, including an exhilarating ramble up the Valle Ascencio to the ethereal green lake that lies right at the base of Paine’s sheer towers. Depart on Day 12 via Punta Arenas.

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Explore the wild landscapes of the Atacama Desert
Discover fascinating Chiloé Island, with its lush rainforests and ancient Mapuche culture
Experience the best trails in Torres del Paine National Park, including a hike to the base of the famed granite towers
Enjoy dinner with a local family, savor Chilean feasts including a traditional Patagonian asado


Length: 12 days
Cost From: $7295  
Arrive: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Depart: Punta Arenas, Chile
Lodging: 11 nights hotels and lodges
Meals: All meals included except 2 dinners (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Wildlife & Natural History, Hiking / Trekking
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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