Discover Chile

13 days
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6,075 CAD
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Traveller ratings
4.6 / 5 from 31 reviews >
Trip code: 
AAE
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

The best of Chile: Atacama Desert, Lake District and Patagonia

Chile’s narrow coastal strip stretches for 4300km and is dominated by the towering peaks of the Andes. Covering over half the length of South America, Chile has an unparalleled range of environments; from the world’s driest desert, the hostile Atacama, with its geysers and salt flats, to the fertile valleys and vineyards of central Chile. To the south lies the Lake District with dramatic, snow-capped volcanoes, deep blue lakes and gushing waterfalls. Further still, we reach Patagonia, a land of ice fields, mountains, glaciers and immense solitude; the 'uttermost part of the earth'.

Highlights

  • Visit the unique and colourful Pacific Coast city of Valparaiso
  • Excursions to Atacama salt flats, altiplano lagoons, El Tatio geysers
  • Sunset over the Valley of the Moon in the Atacama Desert
  • City tours in cosmopolitan Santiago, German influenced Puerto Varas, and the fish market of Puerto Montt
  • See the Petrohue Falls, enjoy a boat cruise on Lago Lago Todos los Santos, and walk at Osorno Volcano
  • Patagonia and the famous granite towers of Torres del Paine National Park
  • Internal flights included, reducing driving distances so that we can visit four distinct regions of Chile

Key information

  • 12 nights hotels, all en suite.
  • Travel by internal flights, bus/minibus and boat
  • Some long distances covered
  • Easter Island extension available

What's included

  • All breakfasts
  • Internal flights
  • All accommodation
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
1 800 267 3347
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Santiago; city tour.

    Clients on the group flight will usually arrive in the morning. A walking tour of the city tour is organised today (approx. 4 hours), visiting the squares and streets of the colonial centre and the Presidential Palace. We also visit San Cristobal Hill, on which a statue of the Virgin Mary stands. The summit of Cerro San Cristobal offers a birds-eye view of Santiago, the Andean Mountains and the Maipo-Valley. Without a doubt the best viewpoint in the city! If there is time we will also see the wealthy suburbs of the ‘Barrio Alto’, an area of elegant shops and first class restaurants. Please note that due to the arrival times of the group flights, the city tour will usually start around 2pm or 2:30pm.  Land Only clients wishing to join the city tour would be advised to be at the hotel around 2pm in order to be collected.
    Hotel Providencia or similar

  • Day 2

    Full Day excursion to the enigmatic port city of Valparaiso.

    The historic World Heritage city of Valparaíso, or Valpo for short, is Chile’s oldest port and home to the country’s National Congress since democracy was re-established in 1989. The Pacific coast is just a short 1.5 hour drive from Santiago and today’s excursion will give us an interesting insight into Chilean culture.

    The city’s many hills are covered in a glorious sprawl of multi-coloured houses covering every nook and cranny, creating a spectacular panorama which can be enjoyed from a number of vantage points. Strolling through the streets of Valparaíso is a fascinating experience which enables us to soak up the quirky and bohemian atmosphere, something different to anywhere else in Chile. We’ll visit the UNESCO recognised historic city centre, in addition to the parliamentary building, and the War of the Pacific memorial.

    Due to the steep terrain in some parts of the city, it is home to numerous funicular lifts which transport residents straight up and down the hillsides rather than them having to zigzag through the maze of buildings. Many of these lifts have fallen into disrepair and sit suspended in time and hidden amid the labyrinth. However, there is a drive to restore as many as possible and we’ll be able to use one of the most iconic functioning lifts on our way to a viewpoint. In the afternoon we will return to our hotel in Santiago.
    Hotel Providencia or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Fly to Calama; to San Pedro de Atacama.

    In the morning we fly to Calama near the Atacama Desert where we transfer to our hotel in the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Once we have checked in. the leader will offer a short orientation tour of the town for anyone who wants to join. At dusk we set out to the Valley of the Moon. This bizarre lunar landscape is set ablaze with colour at sunset, the strange rock formations framed by the Lincancabur Volcano. We'll stay until the sun goes down to enjoy the array of colours before returning to San Pedro.
    Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Visit Salar de Atacama & Altiplano lagoons.

    Departing our hotel in San Pedro, we will set off towards the Altiplano Lagoons (Lagunas Altiplanicas) and stop en route at the village of Socaire, set at 3218m/10,558ft. The village is noteworthy for its peculiar architecture using rough stonework and the inhabitants here still live by the age-old methods of planting terraced fields with corn, wheat and potatoes.

    Afterwards, we continue for about another 30km/19miles, climbing an additional 1000m/3,281ft in altitude to reach the highland lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques. The two volcanoes of the same name are visible in the background (almost 6000m/19,686ft high). The twin lagoons are a deep blue, each framed by a white salt crust, which creates a memorable contrast to the yellow highland grass all around. It is completely silent here. Even the duck species that breed here, the foxes, and the grazing vicuñas (a type of camelid), respect the majestic silence.

    Continue to visit the Salar de Atacama. A salt lake of huge proportions (3000 sq km/1,158 sq miles), its surface is covered by a thick layer of snow-white salt crystals as far as the eye can see, caused by the evaporation of the lake’s water. The world’s largest lithium deposits are found here, but the salt pan is also home to several flamingo species, including the Andean, Chilean and James flamingo, who feed on the micro-organisms found in the saline lagoons. These beautiful birds and other species can be observed in their natural habitat at the Salar de Atacama’s Chaxa Lagoon, which is part of the Reserva Nacional de los Flamencos. After the excursion we will return to San Pedro.
    Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Excursion to El Tatio geysers; optional night-time astronomy tour.

    To experience the El Tatio Geysers we’ll have to get up very early in order to arrive at the geyser field (located over 4300m/14,108ft above sea level) in time for sunrise! The fountains that shoot up to 10m/33ft high occur when the morning sun melts the nightly ice caps that form over the hot springs. The sun’s first rays reflect an array of colours as they mix with boiling jets coming from the geysers to create strong contrasts of steam and light.

    At around midday we’ll head back to San Pedro for some free time. There is an optional astronomy tour tonight that can be paid for locally but should be booked in advance of departure as availability is limited (Please note that this tour doesn't operate on full moon days and is not recommended 3 days before or after the full moon).
    Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Fly to Puerto Montt; to Puerto Varas on the shore of Lago Llanquihue.

    Today we transfer to Calama airport and fly to Santiago and then Puerto Montt, the capital of the Lake District. This is a long travelling day that will likely require an early start depending on the flight schedules. On arrival in the Lake District region we drive for 30 minutes to Puerto Varas on the shores of Lago Llanquihue. Depending on flight arrival time, we can enjoy a brief tour of the 'City of the Roses' as it has come to be called because of the tremendous variety of roses all over town. If we arrive on a later flight unfortunately this will not be possible.  If scheduled to arrive on a later flight, we also recommend buying some food at the airport as you may not have any options on arrival at your hotel. 
    Hotel Park Inn by Radisson or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Lago Todos Los Santos boat trip; walk near Osorno Volcano.

    We set out this morning for a full day inside the Lake District. We drive along the shore of Lago Llanquihue and enjoy breathtaking views of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. Our first real stop will be at the Saltos de Petrohue where cooling lava from the Osorno Volcano formed a series of rapids and waterfalls. Together they form an impressive sculpture of extruded volcanic rock shaped by thousands of years of river flow. At Petrohue we board a boat for a short cruise of Lago Todos los Santos (All Saints Lake). The lake is surrounded by high mountains and the lower slopes are thickly forested. As we pull away from the landing and the source of the river Petrohue the view is quickly stolen away by the tremendous size and proximity of snow-capped Osorno Volcano behind us. After our boat tour, we return to Petrohue and take a hike in the lower lava fields of the volcano. We also visit the Green Lagoon (Laguna Verde) before we return towards Puerto Varas in the afternoon. Please note that the order of the itinerary today may change depending on the weather conditions.
    Hotel Park Inn by Radisson or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Fly to Punta Arenas; transfer to Puerto Natales.

    After breakfast we transfer to the capital of the Lake District, Puerto Montt, and take a sightseeing tour of the city. Puerto Montt was founded in 1853 by German colonists on the site of an indigenous Mapuche community. Downtown we take time to walk about the main squares and historical monuments. Afterwards we visit the port, where there is a large handicraft market full of artisan goods. Please note that depending on the flight times, this tour might be moved to the previous day instead. We then transfer to the airport to board a flight to Punta Arenas, Patagonia - the southernmost city in Chile. From here we transfer to Puerto Natales where we spend the night.
    Hostal Francis Drake or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Full day excursion to see some of the highlights of Torres del Paine N.P.

    This morning we drive into Torres del Paine National Park for a day of excursions within a spectacular environment. This is a busy day of travelling and walking including unforgettable views of the Towers and the Torres Massif from the 'Cuernos' viewpoint and 'Salto Grande' waterfall. In addition to being introduced to the flora and fauna of the region, today we will also visit 'Laguna Azul' for more breath-taking views.
    Hotel del Paine or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Walking at Lago Grey; free time in Torres del Paine N.P.

    Another day in Torres del Paine National Park, this time to explore the Western highlights including Lake Grey. This deep lake, fed by the glacier of the same name, is filled with icebergs which have splashed down from the massive ice flow. From the hotel, we'll drive to a spot to the south of the lake, then start a short hike by crossing a suspension bridge over the Pingo River. From here the path leads through a Legna forest typical to the area, and continues onward to the tip of the narrow peninsula at the lake’s southern end. This viewpoint offers a spectacular view of the lake with its icebergs, the tongue of Grey Glacier at the far northern end, and the snow-covered mountain peaks soaring above. On the way back a stop is made at the Park Visitors Centre to see an exposition of the origin and history of the park. This afternoon is free to relax at the hotel or enjoy some optional excursions in the area.
    Hotel del Paine or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Optional zodiac excursion to Balmaceda Glacier; to Puerto Natales.

    For those that would like to, there is the possibility (optional) of returning to Puerto Natales by zodiac. This excursion involves boarding zodiacs to travel down Rio Serrano. The river ends at the Fjord Ultima Esperanza where we must change to a boat to approach the spectacular Balmaceda Glacier flowing out from the eastern side of Bernardo O'Higgins National Park. For anyone not wanting to take the optional river route, the leader will accompany you on visits to other areas of Torres del Paine including a visit to Milodon Cave (entrance fee not included and payee locally approx. US$ 8 per person). Everyone will meet up in the evening at the end of the tour in Puerto Natales and transfer together to the hotel, arriving around 5.30pm.
    Hostal Francis Drake or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    To Punta Arenas; fly to Santiago.

    Transfer through the barren Pampa of Patagonia, an impressive road trip as we journey to Punta Arenas airport. We fly back to Santiago (flight times can vary) and enjoy our final evening in Chile.
    Hotel Providencia or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    End Santiago.

    There is a transfer back to the airport for those on group flights. Those on land only arrangements will leave us in Santiago this morning.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Post-trip Extensions

Easter Island (5 days / 4 nights)

Code: XAE

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 4,000km from the coast of Chile, is an island that still holds a very special magic and mystery. The Europeans discovered 'Rapa Nui', as the locals call it, on Easter Sunday and to this day it is simply referred to as Easter Island. But this island holds an intrigue far greater than one might imagine. So far from everything and everyone, isolated by the largest ocean in the world, it demonstrates a rich history, art, language and interestingly once even suffered a civil war ‐ all upon an island not 25 km across.

This 5 day extension will enable you to explore this triangular shaped island, with extinct volcanic cones in each of its three corners. Amidst an atmosphere of friendly Polynesian hospitality, the entire island is today an open‐air museum with approximately 900 Moai (statues), the tallest of which is 21m high. There is also the Orongo Village and many traditional cave dwellings open to view.

Please call for details (flight prices will be quoted separately to the price of the extension). Click here for the full webpage and access to the trip notes for this extension.

Essential Info

Visas

Chile

British, most European and most other nationalities, including Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders, do not require visas. All other nationalities should contact the nearest Chilean Embassy if in doubt. Citizens of Australia pay a fee on first entry into Chile by air (cash US Dollars only, no credit cards or cheques) $95 - valid for only 90 days). There is no fee for other nationalities at the time of writing. The one-time charge is valid for the life of your passport so keep the stub stapled in.

Vaccinations

Chile

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts are included.

All areas offer good quality local and international meals. Beef is very popular in Chile, especially steak, and the majority of dishes tend to be quite meaty. In Patagonia, lamb takes over as the most popular meat. There is also delicious, freshly-caught fish and seafood in the areas closer to the coast. Service can be slow in restaurants so do not expect European standards.

Vegetarian food is available in many of the restaurants but options may be limited, especially in Patagonia. Please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests.  

Weather

Since Chile is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are the reverse of those in Europe; trips are therefore organized between October and March, to take advantage of the longer, warmer days in the rather brief summer period. During these months the summer temperatures in Santiago reach a maximum of 35degC, while in Puerto Montt they are more likely to be around 20degC. Although this is the dry period of the year, rain cannot be ruled out.

Punta Arenas

Is this trip for you?

This is a busy itinerary that visits the main highlights of Chile. We travel by private minibus and take five internal flights to allow you to experience as much as possible of this beautiful and diverse county in a short space of time. You should be aware that there are some long travelling days on this trip.

Call for general departures:
1 800 267 3347
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and B&Bs

You will spend 12 nights in hotels or locally owned B&B’s. All rooms are en suite and average a 3 star rating. Please note that due to the limited amount of accommodation within Torres del Paine National Park, it may be necessary to sleep outside the park on some or all of the nights that we are there.

Single accommodation (available on request).

Call for general departures:
1 800 267 3347
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
1 800 267 3347
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Embracing a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge, but if you’re going to keep it up there’s got to be more to it than

  • Reviewed December 2018
    Pauline Davies

    Amazing!

    I overused the word amazing on this trip which far exceeded my expectations because of the spectacular nature of the country. It really is an excellent way to see so many totally different parts of the country in a short space of time. The variation in climate from the Atacama Desert down through the Lake District and to Patagonia was huge and, hence, the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Go for it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So hard to pick but I think it has to be Patagonia. I highly recommend exiting via the optional zodiac trip! In reality, the inspiration to visit Chile on this trip comes from the diversity that you experience. I have a myriad of colourful images and experiences in my head that will last with me for a very long time.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ignacio was friendly with everyone and imparted a wealth of knowledge about his beloved Chile. He knew people all around the country which helped and he helped individuals in the group with any issues such as money, health, eating etc.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack with layers. You need sun protection everywhere....I used long sleeved shirts and light trousers, sunhat and trainers in the desert. But, also, it was minus 10 at the start of the geyser day so you start with fleece hat, warm jacket, etc. Patagonia was actually warmer than I expected and you don't need full on English winter walking gear but still go with the layers. I managed it all in about 16kg but it's worth planning what you take. Waterproof trousers add an extra layer of warmth and wind proofing but can be removed later in the day. We took anti mossie spray but didn't need it much...so, have some but it's not a great problem at this time of year. Take paracetamol.....helps to ward off altitude sickness in the desert....but, mainly, follow the advice of the guide to breathe deeply and go slow! Only 1 of our party was affected and it didn't last long.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    GO! If in doubt....and you are looking for a trip that shows you Chile in a short space of time, this is the one! Also, I was so pleased with the variety and numbers of local wildlife and flora that we saw which I hadn't picked up from the trip notes. Brilliant!
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Ryan Clark

    Indescribable!

    I say indescribable because I struggle to find words to capture just how amazing and stunning Chile is. The beauty of this trip is that you are given the opportunity to visit a diversity of landscapes, flora and fauna. The range of climate between regions varies spectacularly from being hot in the north to wrapping up in the south. I can't recommend this trip highly enough.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to pick just one, so from each region I would pick Valparaiso, to the geysers in the Atcama Desert, the waterfalls of Lake District, the 'towers' and seeing icebergs in Torres del Paine to visiting the statues on Easter Island.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ignacio (nacho) was a very good tour leader. Always thinking of the group's best interests and how to get the best out of each day by adapting the itinerary to the weather conditions etc. He was very engaging, witty and definitely felt like he was part of our group. It was interesting to hear his stories from personal experience of living and working in Chile.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    For this trip, pack for all seasons and all weather. I didn't need to pack all the footwear I did as I mainly wore my walking shoes and occasionally on Easter island my sliders. For those that suffer from altitude sickness, be prepared when visiting Atacama Dessert and Osorne Volcano. I personally didn't suffer but a fellow traveller did and was quite poorly.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would recommend adding the Easter Island extension. Whilst it's relatively expensive, it's well worth it and rounds the holiday off nicely.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Gareth Grimshaw

    Excellent trip!

    Chile is such a beautiful country. It has a very varied landscape from deserts to lakes to glaciers.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved the flamingo lakes. I felt I was on another planet and could have stayed there all day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jaime Maynard was superb. I think everyone loved him. He was knowledgable, friendly, laid back and had a great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely pack for all weathers. We experienced temperatures from near freezing right up to 30 degrees.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Take your binoculars. I forgot and regretted it.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Susie Marchant

    Not Relaxing but Packs a Lot in!

    A very busy schedule which can leave you exhausted at times but is essential due to the length and geographical constraints of this stunningly beautiful and varied country. The Atacama was amazing with its unspoiled panoramas of deep blue lagoons set against snow-capped volcanos with vicunas grazing undisturbed, and the elegant movements of the flamingos as they seem to do a dance as they fish at the Chaxa lagoons, unperturbed by onlookers. There is so much wildlife to observe and nowhere ever seems crowded. The varieties of tree species and fauna are fascinating too The National Parks are really well maintained and unspoilt. The weather in Patagonia can be quite wet and windy so be prepared but when the clouds part to reveal the granite towers of Torres de Paine it will take your breath away

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me the Atacama had so many aspects to it - from the full moon rising at sunset next to the snowy peak of the Lincancabur volcano set ablaze with colours of the setting sun, to the extraordinary sight of the steamy Tatio geysers in the freezing cold of sunrise, followed by a dip in the thermal springs to complete the experience The silent beauty of the salt lagoons - stunning!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gaynor was outstanding - really organised but very calm. Her knowledge and passion for her country seemed limitless so I think we all came away with a greater appreciation of life in Chile. Gaynor was warm and compassionate, always with a smile - and had a laugh I shall never forget! Her timing was good so we managed to fit in a couple of extra walks. She really enhanced the enjoyment of the trip and was always willing to answer our many questions. A lovely person.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Would recommend taking a direct flight to Santiago Buy Pesos for your trip in the UK - don't bother with USD they are a nuisance to change and the rate is not good. Zodiac trip can be paid in local currency or on credit card Take waterproof walking shoes and poles if you like them for inclines like the Osorno Volcano walk. trainers are not adequate. Patagonia can be very wet and slippery under foot I took a travel kettle as I like to make hot drinks in the room - no hotel offers kettle in room.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do go to Chile - it is not over run by tourists. Even the busy attractions were sparsely attended It is so beautiful Try and speak a little Spanish The food was a little disappointing - I did get bored of having to make a cheese sandwich at breakfast to take for lunch on the road. Maybe I didn't experience the best restaurants but food was a bit overcooked and dry and lacking flavour, for my taste. Some lovely soups though
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Linda Parkin

    An amazing trip

    A lovely trip which includes a very varied itinerary. You get to see different areas of Chile, from the desert , city life, lakes and mountains all with amazing scenery. Seeing the sun rise through the steaming geysers in the Atacama desert and the frozen glaciers in Patagonia were my highlights. There is a lot of travelling with internal flights but how else would you get to see all the different areas. Gaynor our guide was excellent, well organised, calm and caring , every day was a new adventure and she was always happy and smiling. A really lovely trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the sun rise through the steaming geysers in the Atacama Desert and the frozen glaciers in Patagonia

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gaynor our guide was excellent, well organised, calm and caring, she was always happy and smiling
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Colin Owen

    Magnificent landscapes

    Chile is a country of the natural landscape. So it isn't a particularly cultural experience as, for instance, is Peru. On Discover Chile we went in only one house (Pablo Neruda's in Valparaiso), no museums and there's no Spanish colonial architecture to speak of. But the landscapes are wonderful and sometimes unique. The world's driest desert at one end and icebergs at the other. The internal flights are necessary to see this hugely long country; they felt appropriate and acceptable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Day 5 - the stop at Reserva Nacional de los Flamencos then the steady and compelling bus climb to altitude culminating in the magnificent and majestic Miscanto and Minoques volcanoes with their respective lakes. The guide gave us 30 minutes at the Reserva, nowhere near enough. We told him we wanted more and stayed 1 to 1.5 hours which is about right. The Atacama is much more interesting than you might imagine. Don't think of it a just a desert - it's deservedly a major attraction in Chile with lots of interest and even topped Torres del Paine for me.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A charming man but one who seemed to struggle initially with the size of this group (16) and, in trying to please, was at times indecisive and lacked direction. After several days there were definite rumblings of discontent within the group. He assimilated this and became better so that by the end of the trip he was as he should have been at the beginning. His knowledge of Patagonia was good but less so of the other regions and this is definitely an area which could have been improved. A good solution, which would have enriched the tour, would have been to use a different local guide in the each of the regions leaving the group leader freer to manage, rather than guide, the tour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I agree with the comments of Peter Rooke, reviewing a different Discover Chile group from mine, on clothing and food. I would, though, advocate lightish walking boots, say three season UK or at least approach shoes. If you choose conventional shoes instead make sure they are stout, as my mother would have said, up to rain, sand, dust and sometimes rocky uneven ground. I found no need of insect repellant at all and nor, so far as I am aware, did any my group. For the colder elements you will need a shell jacket so you can layer up and down underneath with a fleece and maybe a base layer under your shirt. Take gloves and a warm hat. Wind/waterprrof overtrousers are a good addition. You do not need full-on UK winter kit for a February trip; even pre-dawn at altitude it isn't that cold. Don't be concerned about the amount of trekking; it's high quality but pretty minimal and there isn't a great deal of climbing. If trekking is what you like, this trip will disappoint from that point of view and you would do well to reconsider. Chile is not a cheap country; think European out of pocket expenses. Budget up to £50 per couple per day and take a bit extra for contingencies. (Hotel del Paine $10 for a bottle of local beer; in the same hotel a fixed price buffet dinner, no other option, at $38pp; Santiago and San pedro pizza for two, one glass of admittedly gorgeous house wine and a Sprite or Cola £40; two airport small vending machine capuccinos £6). Everywhere takes plastic but it's useful to have some dollars cash. As regards pesos I changed $100 at the outset, paid for meals etc with a cash card, and that pocket cash lasted the two of us pretty well the whole trip. Think carefully about your packing on the internal flights and take whatever you most hold dear into the cabin. If you're travelling as a couple, switch clothing between your two cases. My group did five internal flights on LATAM. The entire group's bags, every checked case, went missing on one flight and three of those bags (mine included) didn't turn up till 24 hours later. On the next flight four of us lost bags again, myself included, for 24 hours.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I have separately suggested to Exodus that it considers adding in a wine tour - 1.5 to 2hrs - into the Valparaiso day. You drive right through the heartland of Chile's renowned wine-producing area and this could easily have been fitted into an otherwise pretty low-key day.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Peter Rooke

    A great introduction to Chile

    A great way to experience four completely different parts of Chile. There's lots of travelling on this trip but at a reasonable pace. All our flights went like clockwork; no hitches or delays. Most of the hotels used have changed for the 2018 season and we had no complaints – all were fine. One of the reasons we chose this Exodus trip is because many of the excursions and activities included in this trip are charged as extras by other travel companies. It's worth shopping around and comparing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Tough question - among many great moments some that stand out are our first sight of the Andes as we flew into Santiago; the salt lakes of the Atacama; the Osorno volcano and the Lake District; Patagonia - the whole of Patagonia - particularly the Torres del Paine National Park. We did the Easter Island extension and that was amazing too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Robert was friendly and efficient - making sure transport arrangements worked smoothly. He had a fund of information and stories about Chile which helped pass the time on some of the longer drives.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The optional Zodiac boat trip is worthwhile, you see a glacier close up and it's an enjoyable day. We were a little apprehensive beforehand but they provide long, warm waterproof jackets. We needed them primarily as a windproof layer as we didn't get wet at all. Also, you're only on small boats for a fairly short time before transferring to a larger boat. It felt safe and well organised. Take a sunhat and plenty of sunscreen. It's easy to underestimate the high UV factor in Patagonia due to the cool breeze. Pack/wear layers: it's cold at the El Tatio geysers before sunrise but then gets hot quickly. When packing think of it as the equivalent of travelling from the Sahara to summer in northern Norway. Take a water/wind proof jacket, fleece, gloves, warm hat and a sunhat. In Patagonia we went from wearing a woolly hat to a sunhat in a couple of hours. Heavy walking boots would be overkill for this trip. Good walking shoes are fine; there isn't a lot of walking and it's on good paths. Carry insect repellent with you: most of Chile was fine, although we encountered some mosquitoes in Patagonia (on the Zodiac trip), and there can be horse flies at Petrohue Lake (the name means place of the flies). Easter Island has mosquitoes too. Be aware of the altitude in the Atacama. San Pedro is fine, but both the Miscanti and Miniques lakes and the El Tatio geysers are higher (although you're only there for a fairly short time). We were a little disappointed with Chilean food; they're rather fond of cheese and ham. It's worth hunting out places to eat. Estaka in San Pedro was pricey but good (go through to the quieter area at the back); there's a decent pizzeria near the hotel in Santiago and the Liguria restaurant in the next street is good too. There's a good pizzeria on the square in Puerto Natales. Do the Easter Island extension! It's well worth it. You can get an Easter Island stamp in your passport if you ask at the post office in Hanga Roa. Our room at the O'Tai hotel was basic (with A/C), the hotel has lovely gardens and a pool, a very tranquil place and very, very well located (very helpful staff too.). If you're visiting Easter Island look out for James Grant-Peterkin's book, 'A Companion to Easter Island' it's very informative and portable.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip spends a short time in Santiago, consider going out a day or two before the trip stars to explore the city and see more of it. Similarly, the Easter Island extension is short, we wished we'd added another day or two to our Easter Island trip just to have more time to relax and enjoy it.
  • Reviewed January 2018
    Roger Loveys

    Does what it says in the notes

    A trip full of variety which moves at a good pace. Definitely feel we know more about Chile on return.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Each section of the trip provided its own highlight. The dramatic scenery, flora and fauna of Patagonia left a lasting impression.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Robert was an excellent leader being both exceptionally knowledgeable and enthusiastic about Chile. He was full of anecdotes which kept the group amused during the longer bus journeys.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Money changing available during the introductory walk around Santiago - better rates than at the Airport. As Chile is 'the longest country' in the world there is inevitably a lot of travelling.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Debbie Henderson

    Fabulous Country!

    I booked this trip a year ago and had high expectations. I was not disappointed! Fabulous country with very distinctive regions. Seeing the Atacama was top of my list and remains my favourite. The Torres del Paine comes in second and we did get good weather there.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Amphitheater, Valle de la Luna, San Pedro de Atacama. I had a picture of this as my pc wallpaper - I knew it was in Chile, but not exactly where. When it came into view I was totally speechless. It was an amazing moment!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Ignacio was a great people person, someone who loves his country and wants people to see the best. He was full of information and also amusing stories about life in Chile. Unflustered and calm. Great guy to have in charge.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do be aware there are long travelling days and the internal flight schedules can be erratic. But don't let it put you off! Food is reasonably expensive though the meals are usually big. 10% is added to bills in restaurants. Try the traditional Pisco Sour drink. If not on the group flight be aware of unauthorised taxi drivers at Santiago Airport. It should cost no more than 20000 - 25000 Chilean pesos for a one way transfer. It helps to know some Spanish but people are generally friendly and helpful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The memories will live on of this beautiful country. Not cheap but if it is on your bucket list GO...it is well worth it!
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Paul Devall

    Discover Chile

    Excellent place to visit

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Torres Del Paine national park. We were fortunate enough to arrive with good weather and could see the range in all its glory. Easter Island whilst expensive is worth the trip, the island is beautiful and the Moais amazing. In all honesty the places visited as a whole were fantastic.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alex was great, he was always there when we or any of the group needed him. In every place we visited he smoothed the way and ensured we all enjoyed it.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As other travellers have noted there are some long days. I am sure some of this could be changed with different flying times etc. but you do lose a lot of time on buses and in airports. Be prepared for some stunning scenery and don't get caught out with the different climates at each area that is visited.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Chile is a great place, the people are friendly and in some respects its like stepping back in time. Be aware that dollars are the currency of choice in the Rio Serrano Hotel (or credit card). We never had any problems changing money except in Easter Island. If you decide to do the extension be aware that there are ATM's but no money changing facilities and that some of the restaurants are shut on a Sunday.

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