Chile, Latin America

Into the Chilean wilds: an adventure through Patagonia, Santiago and the Atacama Desert

When

Nov - March

Price

From $12,505pp excl. flights
(based on 2 ppl sharing)

How long

9 nights ideal length

Of the landscapes that mark his homeland, Pablo Neruda wrote that “he who does not know the Chilean forests, does not know the planet”. It’s an astute observation, we think – but it’s only after spending time in the rugged wilds of Chile that it rings quite so true. That’s where this trip comes in. Inspired by an incredible research trip our Travel Experts undertook, we’ve curated this exhilarating journey, on which you’ll forge a deep connection with your natural surroundings. By 4×4, by foot, by bike, by kayak. We’ll take you to and through the heart of Chilean Patagonia and the vast expanse of the Atacama Desert – with a quick stop in Santiago in between (partly for some city chic, mostly for wine tasting). One for thrill-seekers and intrepid explorers, this is a trip that’ll leave you lingering. Someplace between the city and the sky.

THE UNTAMED WILDERNESS OF PATAGONIA

Style in a remote corner of the world always goes down well with us. And arriving at Explora Patagonia National Park, that’s exactly what you’ll find. Hidden in the Chacabuco Valley, the lodge is the epitome of secluded luxury. But it’s the 600,000-acres of picturesque landscapes beyond its walls that make this place even more special. Snow-capped mountains, clay-red peaks and glossy teal lakes – all protected by the newly founded National Park’s vital eco-restoration and rewilding projects.

During your three full days here, you can choose from an extensive program of experiences. Your own private adventure – curated as it unfolds – is in your hands. Each evening by the fire, plan what you’d like to do the next day with your expert guide, who you’ll get to know throughout your stay. Many of them are so passionate that they spend their days off in the wilderness, testing new explorations – so you’ll be in the best, most knowledgeable company.

On your first morning, fuel up at breakfast if you’ve opted for a hike. Our favorite? The Lagunas Altas full-day trek. Leaving the lodge on foot, the upward walk is well worth it to view the valley from an incredible perspective. The elevation reveals mountains and plateaus dotted with bright blue lagoons and interspersed with forests. For keen birdwatchers, condors and black-chested buzzard eagles can be spotted along the route. And if you’re lucky, you might catch sight of the ultra-rare Andean deer. Even a stalking puma.

ALONG THE COCHRANE RIVER

Another day, a new adventure. We’d recommend kayaking along the Cochrane River and lake basin, reaching the Correntadas sector. The word ‘crystalline’ to describe waters so rarely actually applies. But it does here, where they’re considered among the clearest and most pristine in the world. You might not be able to resist jumping in. From there, hike along the southern slopes of the park with your guide, through dense forests brimming with wildlife.

We can’t predict the future, but we’ll take a guess. That on your final morning in Patagonia National Park, you’ll want to witness its undisputed beauty one more time. A bike ride would be our choice (we like Los Ríos). Beginning in a sector of crop-coated fields, pedal along the edge of the Cochrane River. Passing through rolling hills that offer magnificent views, your ride will end at the bridge over the El Salto River, whose waters run from the ice of the Calluqueo glacier.

WINE AND DINE IN SANTIAGO

While Chile is best known for the irresistible pull of its landscapes, its cities can’t be overlooked. And we wouldn’t – couldn’t – let our travelers miss out on vibrant Santiago. So, on your fifth day, you’ll fly there. Check in for two nights at Hotel Magnolia in the city’s trendy El Centro district. Impeccably stylish rooms and a rooftop terrace. Elegant art deco touches, elevated with a modern twist. Don’t mind if you do.

On your afternoon to spend in Santiago, meander through the lanes and into local shops with a private guide, and visit Mercado Central to watch the locals haggle with grocers for the freshest Chilean ingredients. In the evening, jump behind the bar for a cocktail making class with an expert bartender – shaking up your own signature drink to enjoy alongside traditional tapas dishes.

The next afternoon, you’ll head just outside the city to Viña El Principal – a small family-owned winery in the Maipo Valley. Sitting at the foot of the Andes Mountains, the perfect combination of climate, soil and altitude gives their wine a distinct (and delicious) character. Uncover the secrets behindChile’s famous wine production whilst tasting their finest reds, before lunch in the sunshine, overlooking sprawling vineyards. Probably accompanied by another glass. Cheers to that.

TO THE DRIEST PLACE ON EARTH

Waving goodbye to Santiago, you’ll fly to the arid Atacama Desert. It’s like landing on the surface of another planet. Where jagged peaks give way to deep valleys, and the air is crisp and fresh. Your base is Tierra Atacama, set within diverse desert landscapes, neatly framed by the Andean Mountains. There’s nowhere like it. Inside? It’s boutique, it’s thoughtful simplicity. Outside? Your own desert backyard, where serious adventure awaits. Again, you’re at liberty to consult and choose your experiences throughout your three-night stay here. Just see how you feel. And go from there.

After some time to unwind upon arrival – and perhaps a dip in the Uma Spa pool, which overlooks Licancabur Volcano – it’s time for sunset drinks. The perfect way to soak up your new surroundings before dinner.

The next morning, we’d suggest a drive to the Piedras Rojas: a vast, otherworldly place. Reaching over 4,200 meters above sea level to admire it, you’ll notice the deep red color of the rocky landscape, contrasted against the turquoise-tinted surface of the Aguas Calientes salt flat. As far as electrifying views go, this is right up there. Returning in the mid-afternoon, a relaxing drink beside the warmth of the hotel’s fire pit never goes amiss.

BENEATH SUBLIME, ETHEREAL SKIES

After a morning spent at leisure, we’d recommend heading out with your guide for an invigorating trek along the Vilama River. Descend the Guatín canyon through deep ravines and undulating hills, surrounded by flora – where enormous hundred-year-old cardones (a cactus species) extend from the earth, many reaching over five meters in height.

Come night-time, we’ll arrange for an astronomer to join you for an evening of stargazing from a nearby observatory. The absence of moisture in the atmosphere means the Atacama’s skies are some of the clearest in the world. Whether through the lens of a telescope or from simply gazing upward – there’s no better place on Earth to witness the Milky Way.

You can, of course, spend your final morning at your own pace. But one of our favorite ways to bid farewell to Chile is to saddle up, and head out on horseback. Riding at a gentle pace through the different ‘ayllus’ (native towns) of San Pedro de Atacama, watch the rusty brown hues of the desertscape blur into deep oranges and vibrant reds. As breathtaking as when you first laid eyes on it. But you’ll be back, no doubt, before too long. We always are. Time and time again.

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