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Across Patagonia: Chile's Lakes, Mountains & Wildlife - 2017

Santiago • Puerto Varas • Chiloé Island • Puerto Natales & Torres del Paine • Chilean Fjords


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Across Patagonia unveils Chile’s cultural and natural diversity, on an epic stage whose beauty will astound you. Come journey from Chile’s glittering capital, Santiago, along the Patagonian coast to the very ends of the earth at Punta Arenas, the hemisphere’s southernmost city. Along the way you’ll spend two full days at Torres del Paine National Park, with its abundant wildlife and skyscraping spires. Cruise to the teeming penguin rookeries of Chiloe Island. Explore the Lakes District town of Puerto Varas, where Chile’s German, Amerindian, and Latin cultures find quirky expression. And take a full-day fjords cruise along Última Esperanza Sound to the Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers. You’ll see puffing white volcanoes and electric blue icebergs. Fluffy guanaco and sleek sea lions. Orchids and ladyslippers no bigger than your thumbnail, Andean peaks that are larger than life. Then toast the adventure with ice carved from a glacier, and savor the memories forever.
Itinerary at a Glance
  • DAYS 1-2:

    Depart home / Overnight flight / Arrive Santiago, Chile

    Get acquainted with the Chilean capital during this morning’s walking tour, which centers around the main Plaza de Armas. Here you’ll find historic buildings such as the Metropolitan Cathedral and La Moneda Palace, the presidential seat that once functioned as a colonial mint. Cultural Discovery: During your walking 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. Cultural Discovery: After lunch on your own we’ll check into our hotel, then head outside the city to the famous Concha y Toro winery for a guided tour and tasting. Tonight’s Welcome Dinner takes place at a countryside restaurant in the valley of Pirque. Enjoy the regional specialties along with striking Andean views

  • DAY 3:

    Santiago / Puerto Montt / Puerto Varas

    A short flight brings us to Puerto Montt, the capital of the Chilean Lakes district. Cultural Discovery: We’ll stop to explore the Angelmo fish market and savor a fresh seafood lunch at one of the cocinerias. Continue to our hotel in Puerto Varas by motorcoach, arriving mid-afternoon. The snowy peaks of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes form a stunning backdrop to the southern shore of Lake Llanquihue — all visible from your hotel room. After settling in we’ll get acclimated during an easy walking tour, which reveals the town’s distinctive German heritage. Puerto Varas was settled by German colonists in 1853, and its half-timbered houses would be right at home in the fairytale Black Forest region. The rest of the day is at leisure. Perhaps on your own you’ll stroll to hilltop Phillipi Park, or look into some local fly fishing.

  • DAY 4:

    Puerto Varas

    Today’s full-day adventure begins with a scenic ride past dairy farms scrolling out from the southern shore of Lake Llanquihue. Our destination is Vicente Peres Rosales, Chile’s oldest national park and the home to the Valdivian temperate rainforest and three volcanoes. Here, we visit Petrohue Rapids, one of the most famous landmarks of the Chilean Lakes District, and enjoy a nature walk through woodlands dense with bright orange myrtle, Chilean firebush, and hazel. Hummingbirds proliferate here. Keep your eyes open for the variety of other birds and wildlife that inhabit the area. We enjoy a tasty lunch at a scenic fishing lodge before heading back to the hotel for an evening at leisure. Or, for the more adventurous traveler, get even closer to nature as you join an exciting optional kayak tour. Cultural Discovery: We’ll stop at the Antonio Felmer Museum, which chronicles the history of German immigration in Chile. Working farm implements, antique furniture, housewares, textiles, and more shed light on the lives of these hardy 19th-century settlers. 

  • DAY 5:

    Puerto Varas (Chiloé Island)

    Our full-day nature excursion brings us to Puñihuil Cove on Chiloe Island, the only known shared breeding site for both Humboldt and Magellanic penguins. But there are other 156 avian species to delight us here on what the native Mapuche called the "Island of the Gulls." We travel among three small islets aboard fiberglass boats in search of steamer ducks, red-legged cormorants, kelp gull, and others. On land we pass farmlands and stop to explore the historic wooden churches at Caulin and Chachao. In addition to its natural endowments, Chiloe boasts a unique Chilota culture that blends mestizo traditions with religious practices instituted by Jesuit missionaries. Cultural Discovery: For lunch, look forward to a traditional, home-hosted Chilota curanto, a delicious seafood, dumpling, and vegetable medley that is baked underground in a stone-lined pit. Return to Puerto Varas for the evening.

  • DAY 6:

    Puerto Varas / Puerto Montt / Punta Arenas

    Enjoy a leisurely morning in Puerto Varas before we transfer back to Puerto Montt, and fly to Punta Arenas near the southern tip of South America. Punta Arenas was founded as penal colony; later, it was a way station for ships rounding South America before the completion of the Panama Canal. Settle into your centrally located hotel, which boasts fine views of the Straits of Magellan and faces a park and local markets. Dinner is included at your hotel.

  • DAY 7:

    Punta Arenas / Puerto Natales

    A morning walking tour acquaints you with the rugged history of Punta Arenas, once the haunt of sailors, sealers, and Antarctic explorers. We’ll admire some 19th-century mansions built by wool barons and gold rush profiteers before transferring this afternoon to the adventure outpost of Puerto Natales. 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 here on the premises.

  • DAY 8:

    Puerto Natales (Torres del Paine)

    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. We’ll spend the day on the park’s west side, and explore Salto Grande, an emerald-green waterfall that tumbles down the Paine River. Enjoy an easy hike here, admiring long views of the jagged Cuernos del Paine.  Afterwards we 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.

  • DAY 9:

    Puerto Natales (Torres del Paine)

    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, or perhaps a wild rhea or soaring condor. We’ll then proceed 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 famous “towers” of the Paine Massif. Back at the hotel you’ll enjoy some time to relax before we meet over dinner.

  • DAY 10:

    Chilean Fjords Cruise (Bernardo O’Higgins National Park)

    Today we enjoy a cruise along the stunning Última Esperanza Sound into the Rio Serrano and Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. It will be a stunning journey, passing towering waterfalls … colonies of cormorants and basking sea lions … flocks of skuas … and majestic condors. As we approach the Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers, look for falling sheets of ice and luminous icebergs. We’ll disembark and hike along a woodland path for more views of the Andes and the Serrano Glacier. Lunch will be at a local estancia where we feast on barbecued Chilean lamb. The balance of the afternoon is free until we meet for dinner tonight at the hotel.

  • DAY 11:

    Puerto Natales / Punta Arenas

    This morning is yours to spend as you please, perhaps sleeping in, or joining a hike to Condor Hill, or doing some horseback riding. After lunch at the hotel we transfer overland back to Punta Arenas, and enjoy the evening at leisure.

  • DAY 12:

    Punta Arenas / Santiago

    Today we depart Punta Arenas and fly to Santiago. The afternoon is free for you to explore or relax before this evening’s Farewell Dinner at our boutique hotel. Afterwards, you may wish to sample the cafes and the bohemian scene in the surrounding Lastarria neighborhood.

  • DAY 13:

    Santiago / Overnight Flight to U.S. Gateway OR Post Extension

    Spend your final day in Chile as you wish, either on your own in Santiago or on an optional tour to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Valparaiso with lunch included. Later this evening, transfer to the airport for your overnight flight to the United States.

    • Included Meals:

  • DAY 14:

    U.S. Gateway City / Return Home

    Connect in your U.S. Gateway City for your return flight home.

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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