Your journey at a glance
Your adventure kicks off in the Atacama Desert, in the north of Chile, the driest, most desolate and arid in the world. The Andean Altiplano will surprise you with its dramatic and exotic beauty. San Pedro de Atacama, a small town surrounded by impressive natural scenery, was the cradle of ancestral cultures. Considered today to be the archaeological capital of Chile, San Pedro continues to be a silent witness of the passage of time. The geological transformations of the desert give birth to ranges, volcanoes, salt flats and lagoons, bodies of water that emerge in the middle of the desert, thermal pools, geysers and marshes. A varied array of flora and fauna has managed to adapt to the extreme conditions of the desert such as llamas, guanacos, vicuñas, foxes, viscachas, rheas and lizards. The next leg of your adventure will take you to spellbinding Santiago. The Chilean capital is today a modern, sprawling and vibrant metropolis that is flanked on one side by the Andes mountain range, and the Coastal range on the other.
It is here that you can enjoy a series of tours that range from historical and cultural explorations to specific excursions centred on food, architecture and art. After exploring the vibrancy of Santiago, you will head to the awe-inspiring beauty of Patagonia. Over 500 years after the arrival of the first European seafarers in Patagonia, the words to describe it are the same: exotic, faraway, vast, infinitely beautiful, wild, and indomitable. Situated in the heart of the National Park, the Torres del Paine Mountains are one of the main attractions of that region and an icon of Chilean Patagonia. The immensity of the ice floes, the majesty of the mountains and the expanse of the lakes are a constant source of wonderment. The Torres del Paine National Park’s habitat blends together a wide array of ecosystems, making it a treasure for Chilean wildlife.
What to expect …
Flight to Calama Day 1
On arrival at Santiago’s International Airport you will be warmly welcomed by a member of the &Beyond team, who will assist you through passport control and baggage claim and assist with your connecting flight to Calama.
Transfer to Atacama Desert Day 1
A representative from &Beyond who will drive you to the fabulous Awasi Atacama Lodge, located approximately 90 minutes away.
Overnight in the Atacama Desert Day 1 - 5
Spend four night at Awasi Atacama Lodge.
Awasi is situated inside an ancient site surrounded by a historic wall, which for years housed shepherds and herders. Its privileged location just a stone’s throw from the center of town makes it possible to enjoy “town life”, visiting the church, the museum, the markets, the picturesque local stores, and also get to know the people. The hotel has only eight rooms built of stone, adobe and wood, with thatched roofs. Their ample spaces of more than 60 m² (646 sq ft), with comfortable lounge chairs, large bathrooms opening out onto private open-air patios with solarium and showers are really unique, designed for relaxation, privacy and a well-deserved rest. During the day the thatched roofs let warm sunlight filter through. The pool with comfortable deck chairs invites you to enjoy the Atacama sun and a relaxing space.
In the evening, the fire is lit and a bar under the stars celebrates your stay with exquisite delicacies that go down well after a day full of nature. At night, the dim lights allow you to marvel at the superb skies of Atacama. All this together with diligent service that seeks to let you enjoy the essence of each moment. All meals are included at the lodge. The team of dedicated professionals, together with chef Juan Pablo Mardones, have designed a sophisticated menu: a fusion of Altiplano and international food, giving you a taste of new flavors and aromas using typical ingredients of the area which are part of the staples used by the native people: purple potatoes, patasca (a stew made with tripe, veal, potatoes, stewed corn and peppers), quinoa, or chañar (a meaty, sweet fruit from the Chilean chañar or palo verde tree). Wake up every morning to homemade delights and be charmed during the day and night with a menu customized to your personal taste and needs.
Trek across the desert in search of contrasting scenery and harmonious structures Day 2
Ideally located in the north of Chile, the Atacama is the driest, most desolate and arid desert in the world. The Andean Altiplano will surprise you with its dramatic and exotic beauty. Experience the desert on various open 4×4 excursions and explore the drastic geological transformations within the desert. The Atacama Desert boasts an incredible landscape of ragged, rock-strewn mountains and deep ravines interlaced by a striking white salt pan, surrounded by towering volcanoes. A varied array of flora and fauna managed to adapt to these extreme conditions, such as graceful llamas, camelid guanacos and vicuñas, lush fur foxes, rigid-eared viscachas, emu-like rheas, and rough lizards.
Embark on a three hour history tour that passes through the Quitor Pukara, an Atacama fortress dating back to 1,000 AD. After ascending the ruins, marvel at the privileged view of the Andes Mountains and surrounds. The drive continues to the town of Tulor, one of the primary settlements in the Atacama Desert, where travellers will visit the ruins’ excavation site and the reconstruction of its original homes. The tour ends with an optional visit to an archaeological museum.
The half day outing to Toconao and Atacama Salt Flats begins with a sojourn at the town of Toconao, renowned for its structures fashioned out of volcanic stone. Visit the town’s church and craft market in the main square, before heading to the nearby Jere creek. Afterwards, visit Chaxa Pond, which is a National Reserve in the Atacama Salt Flat, where you can observe flamingos and other native bird species while enjoying views of the surrounding mountain range. Gaze at the elegant frame of the flamingo wading through shallow waters with an ever changing pastel-hued sky in the backdrop. After photographing the blush and titian horizon, toast the disappearing sun with a private sundowner at the edge of the salt flats.
The full day adventure heads towards Bolivia and Argentina, where you will discover two impressive volcanoes; the Licancabur Volcano and Juriques Volcano. Continuing on, you will drive through the altiplano where you will have the opportunity to view vicuñas and flamingos before reaching the extraordinary rock formations of Pakana Monk. Following a trail, off the paved road, you will arrive at enormous rock cliffs that surround the Tara Salt Flat, where you will have lunch while enjoying a striking view of Lake Tara and its surroundings.
The last full day expedition travels to the Tatio Geyser. Departing at dawn, travellers will arrive at the Geothermic Camp of Tatio. Here, underground springs spray out steam and hot water in intermittent spurts. Tuck into a mouth-watering breakfast while watching the sun rise, observing the landscape and its fumaroles, awash with arctic blue and chiffon lined skies. Afterwards, visit the town of Machuca or stop at the Puritama hot springs for a relaxing dip in naturally heated volcanic pools.
Soar over the valley of the Atacama Desert Day 3
Your first morning will begin early with a transfer to a select spot where you will enjoy a hot air balloon flight of the valley of the Atacama Desert.
Return to your hotel for breakfast and enjoy the myriad excursions available at Awasi over the next three days, all tailor-made. Excursions are private, exclusive, and are programmed according to your preferences and pace. Your private guide will help you to plan your trips and will accompany you during your stay. You can choose full- or half-day trips. The property offers everything from easy strolls to intense treks for the more adventurous, horse-back riding, bicycle rides, visits to archaeological sites, and visits to the salt flats, Altiplano lagoons or villages hidden among the deep valleys. You can get up at dawn to go and see the geysers and relax in the thermal pools, enjoy bird-watching or an evening astronomic tour.
Explore the Atacama Desert aboard a steady bike or a sure steed Day 4
Explore the arid desert on horseback or cycle along dedicated paths and routes that allow travellers to fully appreciate the vast openness and isolation of the Atacama Desert. Awaken with the rising sun and marvel at the beautiful scenery on a half day, four to six hour bike trek to Cejar, with some of the areas forming part of Los Flamencos National Reserve. The mostly flat, dirt road route begins at the acclaimed Salt Flats and concludes at the briny Laguna Cejar, a sink hole lake in the Salar de Atacama. These saline water plains comprise of three deep turquoise coloured lakes, gruffly caked with thick salt crusts around distinct watering holes. Only one of the turquoise lakes can be used for swimming and languid bathing, due to high salt concentrations that allow you to float along the surface, incapable of sinking or drowning. Along the way, you will be treated to unexampled views of three surrounding mountain ranges; the mighty, snow-capped Andes that dominate the continent, the ruddy, mineral infused Domeyko, and the massive, stressed Salt Range.
Half day horseback rides to Death Valley lasts approximately three hours, starting towards the Quitor Oasis on narrow dirt roads and continuing on to Death Valley, sporting huge sand hills with narrow sand edges. Huge clay formations, large dunes and the Salt Range will serve as the backdrop for this excursion. In the evenings, fires are lit and impromptu bars are set up under the open sky to celebrate your stay in the Atacama Desert. Savour exquisite delicacies that are eagerly accepted after a day full of adventure in the sun. At night, the dim surrounding lights act as a guide, allowing you to unwind under the superb velvet sky of the Atacama Desert, awash with glimmering stars, shadows in the distance, and absolute, glorified silence.
Flight to Santiago Day 5
After a scrumptious breakfast, you will be driven to Calama Airport for a flight to Santiago.
Overnight in Santiago Day 5 - 7
Upon arrival in Santiago you will be met by a representative from &Beyond who will drive you to The Singular Santiago, where you will spend two nights on a bed and breakfast basis.
The Singular Santiago is a five-star luxury hotel located in the Lastarria neighbourhood, in the heart of downtown Santiago. The hotel was designed specifically to fit seamlessly into this iconic neighbourhood, which epitomises the pride and creativity of the people of Santiago. The history and heritage of Chile are important to the owners of this property; they are descended from the pioneers who travelled to Patagonia to start a new life. One of the reasons they created The Singular Patagonia was to help capture the spirit of their homeland. This is therefore the ideal stepping stone prior to the Patagonia leg of your journey.
Enjoy an evening at your leisure, allowing you to explore the barrio (neighbourhood).
Off the beaten track expeditions in-and-around Santiago Day 6
&Beyond’s Chile Land Rover Experience is a selection of smaller expeditions, in and-around Santiago, which are exclusive, privately tour-guided activities. Discover hidden gems and immerse yourself in authentic cultural interactions. Travel in sublime comfort in a Land Rover Freelander 2 and Range Rover Evoque vehicle. A percentage of the profits from our full-day programmes are donated to local causes.
This is a full-day journey through the pristine Cajón del Maipo , a beautiful river valley carved out of the Andes by the River Maipo, just 25km south-east of Santiago. The area is a haven for photographic and outdoor enthusiasts; with hiking, rafting, and mountain biking just some of the activities available.
Flight to Punta Arenas Day 7
This morning your guide will meet you at the hotel, where you will be driven to the Santiago Airport for your flight to Punta Arenas, the gateway to Chilean Patagonia.
Upon arrival to Punta Arenas a representative from Awasi Patagonia Lodge will collect you for your fascinating 4-hour journey to the lodge.
Overnight in Patagonia Day 7 - 10
Awasi Patagonia is situated inside a private reserve neighbouring the Torres del Paine National Park, from where you can enjoy imposing views of the Torres del Paine peaks and Lake Sarmiento. The chosen location is protected from the strong Patagonian winds by a luxuriant native forest of local species of beeches called lengas and ñirres. The indigenous fauna remains intact in these forests and plains, where there are sightings of guanacos, ñandús (rheas), foxes, condors and, occasionally, pumas. Inspired by old Patagonian shelters and ranching outposts, Awasi Patagonia has built only twelve villas (one of them with two suites) in their private reserve.
All meals are included at Awasi Patagonia. The restaurant, for the exclusive use of Awasi guests, invites you to experience the delights of the menu designed by Chef Federico Ziegler, featuring Patagonian gastronomy with the culinary excellence that distinguishes the property.
This evening, you will be able to enjoy the spectacular guest areas and facilities of the lodge at your leisure.
Trek to the base of the magical Torres Day 8
Recognised for its monumental mountains, bright blue icebergs and golden grasslands, the Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile’s Patagonia region, is home to three iconic granite towers, from which the park takes its name.
Adventure, hiking and nature enthusiasts will be left spellbound by the sheer beauty of the region. This one day trek offers the opportunity to hike through 18km (11miles) of pristine surrounds to the base of the phenomenal Torres del Paine. The reward is the spectacular sighting of the Three Towers.
This challenging trek is the most sought after in the Torres del Paine National Park. To reach this gem, you will have to negotiate several obstacles: climb up 800m of irregular terrain, endure changing weather, and negotiate the region’s spectacular array of landscapes.
The park is an adventure paradise. In addition to its famed hikes, you can also embark on mountain biking and horse riding excursions.
Tackle enchanting trails to the Valle del Francés Day 9
Valle del Francés or French Valley, is what many people consider the best section of Chile’s Patagonia “W” circuit. The “W” circuit references the formation of the letter “W” when you join the trails that access three iconic stops: the Base of the Towers, the French Valley, and the Grey Glaciers.
Hiking enthusiasts will revel in this 5-day trek, which explores most of the Torres del Paine National Park, including the Valle del Francés, situated in a natural amphitheatre.
You will climb steep moraines and may witness ice breaking off the Francés Glacier. A little further up, imposing peaks and immense granite rock faces come into view, while providing a 360-degree view of the heart of the Paine massif.
This is a lengthy adventure, and requires that you to take a catamaran ride across Lake Pehoé. Rumbling in the distance is the sound of small avalanches and ice calving from the glaciers. Your sojourn to the valley to reach the hanging Francés Glacier is enchanting.
It is important to note that the weather plays a big role while trekking the Valle del Frances, as mist can make it difficult to see the glacier and may hide the Cerro Paine Grande, making a hike further into the Valley to Campamento Britanico uneventful.
The beauty of the area is ever-present along this hike and you will be able stop off at the Salto Grande Waterfall. The fairy-tale setting of the waterfall is spell-binding as the water drops 50 feet through a narrow chute from the blue waters of Lake Nordenskjöld into what eventually turns into Lago Pehoé.
Be swept away by the sight of majestic icebergs Day 10
Prepare to be captivated as you enjoy a half-day excursion to the Grey Peninsula, in a 4×4 Jeep. Be enchanted as local birds serenade you as you stroll through a magical forest of lenga trees, down to the Grey Beach. As you approach, stand in awe of the majestic icebergs that have floated down from the nearby Grey Glacier. Swept along by the strong winds that are characteristic of the area, you can walk until you’re facing the peninsula and appreciate the magnificent view.
Part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, Grey Glacier is the world’s second largest contiguous ice field outside of the poles. You can hike the edge of the lake for stunning views of it and the many icebergs that had been calved from it or you can experience an unforgettable boat journey across Grey Lake. Sailing next to the glittering wall of ice is beyond spectacular and from this exclusive vantage point you will be able to fully appreciate the puzzle of turquoise, blue, white and crystal clear ice that forms this awe-inspiring glacier and free floating icebergs that pass by.
What is extraordinary is the brilliant blue hue that radiates from within the glacier. Watch the stunning sight of these geometric floating gems changing colour as the shadows and light shift. Be absorbed by the sheer beauty of this stunning sight.
Ice hike over Grey Glacier – the ice hike takes approximately 5 hours, incl. rubber boat transfer, walking onto the Nunatak Island to access the ice the safest way, in groups from 3 to 12 people.
Walk to Lake Grey Peninsula – easy half-day walk to through a lush forest of beech, followed by the Lake Grey beach and peninsula. View of the Grey Glacier and icebergs along the shore.
Overnight in Patagonia Day 11
Today, after a wholesome breakfast you will embark on a drive to Puerto Natales for your last day in Patagonia. You will spend the night at the magnificent hotel, The Singular Patagonia. Restored and resurrected by fourth generation family members, of the original pioneers who settled in the area and built the sheep farming industry more than 100 years ago, The Singular Patagonia pays homage to the building’s and founders’ rich historical importance in the development of the local culture, economy and heritage. Witness century-old machinery imported from England at the turn of the 20th Century; the hotel’s restored wood dock hovering over the Fjord of Last Hope leading out to the Pacific from which ships took wool to markets all over the world; and the local customs and traditions embraced by memorabilia throughout the property.
This afternoon you will have the chance to explore caverns where the prehistoric milodon once lived or feel the wind on your face as you travel along the banks of Laguna Sofia on horseback or mountain bike. Alternatively, for an even more exhilarating challenge, kayak through the Last Hope Sound. Whatever your choice is, it will be the perfect ending to this marvellous experience in Patagonia.
Flight to Santiago Day 12
After a leisurely breakfast, you will be transferred to Punta Arenas for the flight to Santiago. Upon arrival you will be greeted by your &Beyond representative who will assist with your connection for your outbound flight home.