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Across Patagonia: Chile's Lakes, Mountains & Wildlife - 2020

Puerto Montt • Puerto Varas • Chiloé Island • Puerto Natales & Torres del Paine • Chilean Fjords • Santiago
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Chile’s southern frontier is as historic as it is wild. On his legendary Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin was beguiled by the glaciers, fjords, and wildlife of Patagonia, where he first encountered indigenous people and began developing his theories that would later be affirmed on a visit to the Galapagos archipelago. But even earlier, explorers Ferdinand Magellan and Sir Francis Drake cruised the tempestuous waters off South America, lending their names to some of this region’s most famous channels. Now, you can add your own name to this illustrious lineage of explorers on Across Patagonia: Chile’s Lakes, Mountains & Wildlife — now enhanced for 2020 with better pacing and additional features!

Exploring two of Chile’s most prominent national parks — Torres del Paine and Vicente Péres Rosales — you’ll experience a range of Patagonian landscapes and wildlife, from glaciers to steppe, guanacos to rheas. We’ve also added a full-day expedition cruise through Última Esperanza Sound to view unforgettable glaciers and fjords, with a traditional BBQ lunch to fuel the adventure. What’s more, you’ll spend three nights in Chile’s Lakes District, greet penguins on Chiloé Island, and revel in a four-night stay at the award-winning, all-inclusive Remota: Patagonia Lodge in Puerto Natales.

Your adventure concludes in Santiago, where we've added an extra day and where you’ll enjoy a new full-day excursion to UNESCO-listed Valparaíso and the resort town of Viña Del Mar. Along the way, you’ll discover regional cuisine and fascinating history, embark on 7 nature and wildlife expeditions, and glimpse a world away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life. Solo travelers will enjoy free Single Supplements on every departure, and you can maximize your discoveries with a post-trip extension to enigmatic Easter Island for the ultimate Chilean experience.

Click here to get a glimpse of the wildlife you may encounter on this adventure — plus, tips on how to capture the perfect photo for a lifetime of memories.

Puerto Varas to Santiago de Chile

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DAY 1:

Fly overnight to Chile

Begin your Patagonian adventure with an overnight flight to Puerto Montt, the gateway city to Chile’s Lakes District.

DAY 2:

Puerto Varas walking tour, Welcome Dinner

After touching down in Puerto Montt, you’ll transfer to Puerto Varas and check into your hotel. A short walking tour will get you acquainted with this adventurous outpost and its neighboring Osorno Volcano, as well as lovely Lake Llanquihue. You’ll enjoy easy access to shops and restaurants, thanks to your hotel’s strategic location right in town (with lake-view rooms, too!). Spend some time exploring on your own before returning to the hotel for tonight’s Welcome Dinner.

Included Feature:

  • Puerto Varas walking tour

Active Feature:
  • Ask your Adventure Leader about hiking and fly-fishing opportunities in town!

Included Meals:


DAY 3:

Rapids, rainforests, and volcanoes: Inside Chile’s oldest national park

On a morning visit to the Antonio Felmer Museum, delve into the history of German immigration in Chile. Working farm implements, antique furniture, housewares, textiles, and more, will shed light on the lives of these hardy 19th-century settlers.

Then, a scenic drive past dairy farms punctuating Lake Llanquihue’s southern shores brings us to Vicente Péres Rosales, where we’ll spend the day. Chile’s oldest national park is home to Valdivian temperate rainforests and three volcanoes, but first we’ll beeline for Petrohué Rapids, where we’ll enjoy a nature walk in this Chilean Lakes District hallmark. In these dense woodlands filled with orange myrtle, Chilean firebush, and hazel, we’ll keep an eye peeled for hummingbirds and other wildlife before lunch at a scenic fishing lodge.

Enjoy the rest of your day at leisure, with dinner on your own.

Included Feature:

  • Petrohué Rapids nature walk

Cultural Discovery:
  • Guided visit to the Antonio Felmer Museum

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 4:

The penguins of Chiloé Island, with a home-hosted curanto lunch

A full-day nature excursion brings us to Puñihuil Cove on Chiloé Island, the only known shared breeding site for both Humboldt and Magellanic penguins. But there are 156 other avian species to delight us here on what the native Mapuche dubbed the “Island of the Gulls.”

Setting off on fiberglass boats, we’ll cruise three small islets in search of steamer ducks, red-legged cormorants, kelp gull, and other birds. Back on land, we’ll pass farmlands before exploring the historic wooden churches at Caulin and Chacao. More than natural beauty, Chiloé is home to dozens of 17th- and 18th-century wooden churches and a unique Chilota culture that blends Mestizo traditions with religious practices introduced by Jesuit missionaries. For lunch, look forward to a traditional, home-hosted curanto — a shellfish, sausage, and vegetable medley baked underground in a stone-lined pit. We’ll spend the evening back in Puerto Varas.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day Chiloé Island excursion

Cultural Discovery:
  • Home-hosted lunch featuring curanto

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 5:

Shop for handicrafts during a market visit with traditional seafood lunch, then fly to Punta Arenas

Enjoy a leisurely morning in Puerto Varas before transferring to Puerto Montt. Here, we’ll visit the Angelmó fish and handicraft market and savor a traditional paila marina seafood stew lunch before flying to Punta Arenas, Chile, near the southern tip of South America. Founded as a penal colony, Punta Arenas later became a way station for ships prior to the completion of the Panama Canal. Settle into your centrally located hotel, which overlooks the Strait of Magellan and sits in walking distance to a park and local markets.

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Visit the Angelmó fish and handicraft market and savor a traditional paila marina seafood stew

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 6:

Punta Arenas walking tour, Museo Regional visit, and an optional tour into Patagonian heritage

A morning walking tour acquaints you with the rugged history of Punta Arenas, once the regular haunt of sailors, sealers, and Antarctic explorers. We’ll admire some 19th-century mansions built by wool barons and Gold Rush profiteers during a walking tour of this charming town and learn how its location earned its status as “the center of the world.”  This afternoon, visit the Museo Regional de Magallanes, an old house from the early 1900s that showcases original furniture and depicts the golden era of Punta Arenas before the Panama Canal was open. Alternately, you may embark on an optional tour exploring Patagonian heritage, including a visit to the Punta Arenas Cemetery, a cypress-lined park steeped in history and interesting architecture. Enjoy dinner at the hotel this evening.

Included Feature:

  • Punta Arenas walking tour

Cultural Discovery:
  • Visit the Museo Regional de Magallanes

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner
Optional Tour: Patagonia Heritage and the Early Explorers

Patagonia Heritage and the Early Explorers

  • Approximate Cost: $55 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3 hours
  • Location: Punta Arenas
  • When: Half-day tour
Get a fascinating look at the past and present of Patagonia on this explorative tour. Our first stop is the interactive Nao Victoria Museum for an intriguing firsthand look at Magellan’s legacy. Let the exact replica of Magellan’s ship, the Nao Victoria, take you back in time to when he set sail with dreams of conquering the world. We head next to the Punta Arenas cemetery, inaugurated in 1894. Stroll among the immaculate trees and grand mausoleums; this cemetery is home to many pioneers, immigrants, and other diverse families that left their mark in the colonization of this isolated part of the world. Our final stop on the tour is Cerro de la Cruz, where we’ll be rewarded with incredible aerial view of the city below.

DAY 7:

Patagonian ranch visit, adventure in Puerto Natales, gourmet Chilean wine-pairing dinner

After breakfast this morning, we’ll visit a historic Patagonian sheep ranch to learn about the rugged agrarian lifestyle in this slice of Chile. Lunch here will be a local specialty: cordero a la parilla (grilled lamb).

Then it’s on to Puerto Natales, a colorful fishing port and the portal to adventure mecca Torres del Paine National Park. Our spectacular all-inclusive hotel here is set on Última Esperanza Sound ("Last Hope Sound") and is known for its award-winning sustainability model. Spend the rest of the day exploring the grounds, enjoying the spa facilities, touring Puerto Natales, or biking among the scenic trails. Enjoy complimentary drinks in the lounge, and this evening’s gourmet dinner with Chilean wine. The Remota’s cuisine features fresh and creative fare, much of it grown right on the premises.

Included Feature:

  • Visit a historic Patagonian sheep ranch with a grilled lamb lunch

Cultural Discovery:
  • Learn about Chile’s rugged agrarian lifestyle

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 8:

Exploring landscapes and wildlife inside Torres del Paine National Park

Today we explore one of the hemisphere’s most spectacular sites, Torres del Paine National Park, where the plains and lakes of the Patagonian steppe meet the soaring rock crags of the Andes. Alongside its scenery and wildlife, the park is also home to three sky-high rock formations known as torres (towers). We’ll spend the day on the park’s west side, and explore Salto Grande, an emerald-green waterfall that spills into the Paine River. Enjoy an easy hike here, admiring long views of the jagged Cuernos del Paine. Afterwards, we’ll take a nature walk along Lake Grey, a glacial wonderland on the Southern Patagonia Icefield. Keep alert and have your camera ready for the birds and wildlife that inhabit this unique ecosystem, including flamingos, condors, ostrich-like ñandues, pygmy owls, and southern parakeets. Blue icebergs, snow-white peaks, and red and yellow wildflowers will make for a wonderfully Technicolor day. Back at the hotel, we regroup over cocktails and dinner.

Included Features:

  • Full-day Torres Del Paine exploration
  • Evening Lake Grey nature walk

Cultural Discovery:
  • Learn about Chile’s rugged agrarian lifestyle

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 9:

Trekking Torres del Paine’s east side — with Guanaco Valley, waterfalls, and more

Today we return to Torres del Paine, this time focusing on the east side where we enjoy a photo safari in search of the llama-like guanaco, rheas, and condors. We’ll spend the morning enjoying a nature walk in the Guanaco Valley before proceeding to the Cascades del Paine, a beautiful waterfall set in a wide valley. Here at the mirador, we’ll find the best views of the park’s famous towers. We’ll regroup back at the hotel for cocktails and dinner this evening.

Included Features:

  • Full-day Torres Del Paine wildlife safari
  • Guanaco Valley nature walk

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 10:

Expedition cruise through Patagonian glaciers and fjords, including Balmaceda Mountain and glacier

Today we’ll spend a full-day cruising Patagonia’s spectacular glaciers and fjords! As we make our way through Última Esperanza Sound, you’ll witness soaring clifftops, snowy mountainsides, and other dramatic vistas, including Balmaceda Mountain and its eponymous glacier. Don’t forget your camera to capture these awesome panoramas, as well as any bird or wildlife we may see!

Included Feature:

  • Full-day Patagonia glacier cruise with Última Esperanza Sound

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 11:

Say adios to Patagonia with a flight to Santiago

Our adventure changes course today as we leave Patagonia and the Remota behind and board a flight to Chile’s capital, Santiago. Our afternoon arrival will give us plenty of time to orient ourselves with Santiago, as we’ll spend the rest of the day at leisure. Dinner is on your own tonight. Your Adventure Leader can offer you restaurant recommendations and regional specialties to try, including empanadas and ceviche!

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 12:

Santiago panoramic tour, pre-Columbian relics, Mercado Central lunch

A bus tour of Santiago puts the city in perspective today. The capital of Chile since colonial times, Santiago today is a vibrant metropolis boasting a world-class culinary scene, excellent museums, and enough charm to convince nearly 40% of the country to call this city home. During the tour, you’ll enjoy a visit to the acclaimed Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. Beautifully displayed in the former Royal Customs House, its collections date back some 15,000 years. Afterward, we’ll head to the city’s bustling Mercado Central for lunch. It’s here that Santiago residents come to buy fresh produce and seafood, and you’ll get an inside look at regional foods, while eating them too!

The afternoon is free for you to further explore Santiago; dinner is on your own tonight.

Included Feature:

  • Panoramic Santiago tour

Cultural Discoveries:
  • Visit the acclaimed Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art
  • Mercado Central visit with lunch

Active Feature:
  • Ask your Adventure Leader about renting a bicycle to explore Santiago in your free time!

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 13:

A day in Valparaíso and Viña Del Mar

Set off today on a full-day tour of Valparaíso, Chile’s second-largest city and a romantic, freewheeling seaport once home to Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. A UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its historic quarter and seductive 19th-century architecture, Valparaíso is also a natural amphitheater, with rows of rainbow-hued residences staggering into the hills. A walking tour will reveal the city’s highlights — and its many hills. To make it easier for residents to move around the city, Valparaíso is home to a number of funiculars, though many are defunct. Lucky for us, though, we’ll take one of the working funiculars for a ride for a totally new vantage point of the city!

The afternoon gives us time for lunch on our own, then we’ll depart for the coastal resort city of Viña Del Mar, which means “Vineyard of the Sea.” The city is a popular weekend and summer retreat renowned for its modern buildings and white sand beaches, which you’ll see on a panoramic drive, including time for a photo stop as we head back toward Santiago. Tonight, join a Farewell Dinner at the hotel.

Included Features:

  • Full-day Valparaíso tour
  • Excursion to Viña Del Mar

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 14:

Soak in Santiago — and wine — before flying home

Spend your final day in Chile as you wish, either on your own in Santiago or on an optional tour to a renowned Chilean winery. Later this evening, transfer to the airport for your overnight flight to the United States. If you’ve elected to take the post-trip extension, you’ll depart for your flight to Easter Island after breakfast.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Half-day winery visit

Included Meals:

Optional Tour: Winery Tour

Winery Tour

  • Approximate Cost: $99 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3 hours
  • Location: Santiago de Chile
  • When: Half-day tour
Visit one of Chile’s largest producers of wine today, considered among the best varietals from this award-winning region. Founded in 1883, Chile has put its own stamp on the grape varieties imported from Bordeaux here. Several varietals are grown in Chile, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carménères. You’ll taste a variety of them and learn about the production process — which also includes a tasty empanada snack at lunchtime!

DAY 15:

Return home

Connect in your U.S. gateway city for your return flight home.

Post-Trip Extension

Easter Island

FROM: $2399 PER PERSON | 5 DAYS | $480 PER DAY

Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.

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