This 16-day outdoor adventure will take you far off the tourist trail in Chilean Patagonia, one of the world's last great frontiers. Blaze a trail south from the snowcapped volcanoes and shimmering lakes of the Lake District as you kayak around marble caves and hike through native forests. Then, enjoy a few days of mountain trekking, condor watching, and glacier visits in Torres del Paine National Park before exploring the mystical island of Chiloé.


  • Kayak on the surface of glassy lakes and explore marble caves
  • Explore the wilds of Chile's famous parks, from Alerce Andino to Torres del Paine
  • Spot condors soaring over the Andes and see the massive ice walls of Grey Glacier
  • Uncover the myths, fables, and Indigenous lore of beautiful Isla Chiloé

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Puerto Varas, Day Trip to Osorno Volcano Puerto Varas
Day 2 Day Trip to Lake Towns: Frutillar & Puerto Octay Puerto Varas
Day 3 Trekking in Alerce Andino National Park Puerto Varas
Day 4 Kayaking on Lago Llanquihue Puerto Varas
Day 5 Transfer to Puerto Río Tranquilo, Marble Caves Kayak Tour Puerto Río Tranquilo
Day 6 Day Trip to Cerro Castillo National Park, Transfer to Coyhaique Coyhaique
Day 7 Day Trip to Queulat National Park Coyhaique
Day 8 Fly to Punta Arenas, Guided Tour Punta Arenas
Day 9 Visit Magdalena Penguin Colony, Transfer to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 10 Day Trip to Torres del Paine Puerto Natales
Day 11 Patagonia Nature Hike & Condor Spotting Puerto Natales
Day 12 Torres del Paine Hike to Amarga Lagoon Puerto Natales
Day 13 Boat Trip to Grey Glacier Puerto Natales
Day 14 Fly to Puerto Montt, Transfer to Isla Chiloé, Castro Food Tour Isla Chiloé
Day 15 Day Tour of Chonchi & Chiloé National Park Isla Chiloé
Day 16 Fly to Santiago, Depart   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Puerto Varas, Day Trip to Osorno Volcano

Your introduction to Patagonia begins in the Lake District at the Petrohué Falls

Welcome to Chile! Filled with natural wonders from top to bottom, this grand adventure focuses on the country's south. It's home to a region that needs no introduction: Patagonia. The Chilean side of Patagonia is less well known than its neighboring counterpart in Argentina, and many of its natural wonders remain far off the tourist trail, even today. 

You'll arrive in the capital of Santiago and board a connecting flight two hours south to Puerto Montt. This port city is located in the Los Lagos (Lake District) region, at the doorstep of northern Patagonia. Upon arrival, a driver will take you 30 minutes north to Puerto Varas, on the vast shores of Lago Llanquihue. Known as "the City of Roses," Puerto Varas is home to elegant plazas full of these namesake flowers, as well as streets lined with alpine-style architecture. From its streets you can look out across the lake to the snowcapped cones of nearby Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes.

Speaking of which, after settling into your hotel, you'll head right back out on a trip to nearby Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park and Osorno. Once at the base of the volcano, hop on a ski lift and ascend 4,068 (1,240 m) to a lookout point. Take an hour to soak in the views out over the lake to the Calbuco volcano and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Afterward, leave the volcano and set off on a hike through evergreen forests to the RÍo Petrohué. This part of the river is famous for its electric blue waters and cascading falls that have carved a network of chutes into the surrounding basaltic lava rock.

Day 2: Day Trip to Lake Towns: Frutillar & Puerto Octay

Like many towns in the Lake District, Frutillar has a distinct German heritage

Rise and shine! Your driver/guide will pick you up this morning for a ride up the western shore of Llanquihue to Frutillar. This region has a long history of German colonialism, which is particularly apparent in this lakeside village. The streets, biergärten, and Germanic architecture here conjure images of old Bavaria, and even the cuisine hails from that region (Frutillar is famous for its sausages).

You'll spend half a day enjoying Frutillar's sights and taking in the culture. German settlers founded the town in 1856, and you can learn more about this colonial history on a visit to the Museo de la Colonización Alemana (German Colonial Museum). There's also a handicraft market here that is well worth browsing.

After lunch in town, you'll return to Puerto Varas, stopping at Puerto Octay, another waterfront town with a history of German colonization. After strolling the streets and its main square, you'll return to Puerto Varas.

Day 3: Trekking in Alerce Andino National Park

Explore some of Patagonia's most ancient forests on a day hike

Time to lace up those boots for your maiden hike in Patagonia. After breakfast, transfer to the coastal town of Lenca, the gateway to Alerce Andino National Park. Home to lush Valdivian rainforest, the park spans 970,000 acres (40,000 ha) of valleys, turquoise lagoons, and alerce forests. Alerces are the largest and oldest trees in South America, which can grow 200 feet (60 m) and live as long as 2,500 years.

Upon arrival, you'll set off on a 2.5-mile (4 km) trail to Salto del Río Chaica (Chaica River Waterfall). The path is mostly flat and winds along the river through one of the world's oldest rainforests, which is home to exotic birds such as woodpeckers and hummingbirds.

Eventually, you'll reach the Salto del Río Chaica, where you can take a break and snap photos of the thundering falls crashing onto the rocks below. A little farther up the trail are the famous Alerce trees, located in a forest that abounds with exotic flora and fauna. After a while, you'll return to the trailhead and transfer back to Puerto Varas.

Day 4: Kayaking on Lago Llanquihue

Spend a day breezing along the glassy waters of Lago Llanquihue
Today, take a guided kayak tour to see Lago Llanquihue and the surrounding countryside from a different vantage point. You'll meet your guide in town and drive to the lakeshore, where, after a safety and equipment briefing, you'll head out for a leisurely half-day paddle. Enjoy a peaceful cruise along the glassy waters, taking in the scenery and abundance of birds (herons and egrets are common) as you snap perfectly Instagrammable pics.

Day 5: Transfer to Puerto Río Tranquilo, Marble Caves Kayak Tour

The Capillas de Mármol are one of the world's great natural wonders

Venture farther south today as you return to the airport in Puerto Montt for the one-hour flight to Balmaceda, a tiny town in Chile's gorgeous Aysén region. Blessed with a mix of ruggedly beautiful wilderness landscapes—as well as glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, and rivers—Aysén is one of the last truly unspoiled frontiers left in the world.

Upon arrival, a driver will take you on a four-hour scenic transfer south to Puerto Río Tranquilo. This remote town is located on the north shore of Lago General Carrera. Chile's largest lake straddles the border with Argentina and is renowned for its vivid turquoise waters, picturesque surroundings, and the otherworldly marble caves along its shoreline. Once in town, you'll check into your hotel.

Shortly afterward, you'll head to the lakeshore and hop in a kayak for a ride to the famous marble caves known as Capillas de Mármol. During the three-hour trip, you'll paddle up to many of these remarkable geological formations, which are the result of thousands of years of erosion. You'll get so close that you'll clearly see the deep white crevices at the base of these giant marble pillars as they shine iridescent in the reflection of the water. Be sure to take plenty of photos!

Day 6: Day Trip to Cerro Castillo National Park, Transfer to Coyhaique

Hike along the slopes of Cerro Castillo mountain, the park's namesake

It's an early start today as you hop in the car for the 3-4-hour transfer north to Cerro Castillo National Park. Covering 276 square miles (716 sq km) of pristine Aysén wilderness, the park was named after the imposing peak of Cerro Castillo, which dominates the skyline. Needless to say, this is a trekker's paradise, and you'll take full advantage of it on a guided day hike.

Unlike more famous national parks in Patagonia, there are no crowds here, which means you can explore Cerro Castillo's verdant forests, crystalline lakes, and rushing rivers in peace and solitude. Afterward, you'll transfer about 1.5 hours to the small mountain city of Coyhaique and your hotel.

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Day 7: Day Trip to Queulat National Park

See the most awe-inspiring fjords and waterfalls in Aysén on a trip to Quelat National Park

Meet your guide in the morning and transfer north from Coyhaique to Queulat National Park. This pristine natural gem covers 1,541 square miles (3,989 sq km) in Chile's Aysén region and boasts much cultural significance. It's the ancestral home of the Chono, a now-extinct people who, for thousands of years, navigated the waterways and channels of this region in canoes, hunting and fishing. The name "Queulat" is actually a Chono word meaning "sound of waterfalls."

You'll discover the park's many highlights on a full-day tour. Led by your guide, you'll hike along park trails through native lenga forests, passing alongside fjords and rivers and scrambling over rocks on your way up to gorgeous waterfalls. Along the way, you'll spot exotic wildlife denizens of the forest, like black woodpeckers, Andean armadillos, and huemuls (Andean deer). At the end of the day, you'll return to your hotel in Coyhaique.

Day 8: Fly to Punta Arenas, Guided Tour

Visit the best viewpoints in Punta Arenas on a walking tour

Transfer to the airport this morning for the one-hour flight back to Puerto Montt, then catch a connecting flight two hours south to Punta Arenas. This major transport hub is located in one of the most beautiful regions of Chile. Founded in 1848 on the shores of the Brunswick Peninsula, on the Strait of Magellan, in its heyday, Punta Arenas was home to the crème de la crème of Patagonian society.

Witness this history firsthand when, after checking into your hotel, you'll meet a local guide for a two-hour walking tour. Start at the picturesque Plaza Muñoz Gamero, admiring its French street lamps, Magellan statue, and surrounding neoclassical mansions. Then, visit the 19th-century Palacio Sara Braun—a throwback to the time of wealthy sheep-ranching families—and continue to the revitalized waterfront area for a seaside walk. Lastly, venture to Mirador Cerro de la Cruz to enjoy perfect sunset views over the Strait of Magellan before indulging in a delicious seafood dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 9: Visit Magdalena Penguin Colony, Transfer to Puerto Natales

Walk alongside Magellanic penguins at Isla Magdalena

This half-day tour begins bright and early. You'll transfer from downtown Punta Arenas by vehicle to a pier on the Strait of Magellan, then board a boat that will take you 18 miles (30 km) northeast to Isla Magdalena. On this island is Los Pingüinos Natural Monument, a protected area home to Chile's largest colony of Magellanic penguins (over 100,000 of them). 

First, though, you'll travel to Isla Marta. Located in the middle of the strait, it's home to a large colony of Patagonian sea lions whose numbers top a thousand. These aren't the only residents on this rocky outpost—you'll also find several seabirds, which include cormorants, skuas, arctic pigeons, and more.

Later, you'll arrive at Isla Magdalena, where you'll disembark and spend one hour onshore. During this time, you'll walk alongside the island's penguin residents on a trail leading to an old lighthouse. Afterward, you'll return to Punta Arenas and board a bus for the three-hour ride north to Puerto Natales. This small port city is the base for excursions into Torres del Paine National Park, a famous protected area that covers 700 square miles (1,810 sq km) and is renowned for its circuit treks. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel.

Day 10: Day Trip to Torres del Paine

Travel to glacial lakes backed by the iconic Paine Massif

Meet your driver after breakfast for the two-hour drive into Torres del Paine. Today marks the first of a few trips you'll take to this almost legendary protected area. This private full-day excursion is something of an introduction to the national park, as you'll visit a few of its famous glacial lakes, valleys, and waterfalls surrounded by towering granite peaks.

Start at Lago Grey, where you can walk to the scenic viewpoint. In this area, you can admire views of the Paine Massif, an iconic formation in the Andes. After a picnic lunch, head to the park's Salto Grande sector, where the beautiful Lago Nordenskjöld and thundering Paine Waterfall await. On the way back to Puerto Natales, stop at the Lago Sarmiento viewpoint to grab some epic photos with a backdrop of snowcapped mountains.

Day 11: Patagonia Nature Hike & Condor Spotting

Trekking and Condor Watching
Andean condors are one of the largest flying birds in the world

Leave this morning on a 30-minute transfer out of Puerto Natales to Laguna Sofia. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by the sight of pristine shores, wide-open spaces, and the sounds of birds flying above. Once here, hit the trail on a half-day guided hike in almost near solitude, apart from the bustle of Torres del Paine. As you go, you'll pass through ancient forests, admire the mountain views, and spot endemic wildlife, like the magnificent Andean condor, whose wings can reach 10.8 feet (3.3 m) in length. At the end of the trail, you'll transfer back to your hotel in Puerto Natales.

Day 12: Torres del Paine Hike to Amarga Lagoon

Explore more of Torres del Paine's wonders on a day hike

After an early breakfast, you'll return to Torres del Paine on a full-day hike around the park's eastern side. First, you'll arrive at a viewpoint looking out over Lago Sarmiento, the second-largest lake in Torres del Paine. It's the perfect spot to snap epic photos of the mountain landscapes—plus, you'll spot the area's resident guanacos.

From here, begin the 4-mile (6 km) hike, which will take you to Laguna Amarga, notable for the alkaline waters that result in its glassy surface. While here, you can also admire prime views of the Paine Massif. Continue on to nearby Laguna Blanquillos, another lake, this one a habitat for endemic birds like ducks, black-necked swans, and geese.

Later, you'll arrive at a rocky outcropping where you can see 20 cave paintings dating back about 6,000 years. Follow the path up to the Sarmiento Lake gatehouse, where you'll enjoy a box lunch and a peaceful respite from the day's exertions. Afterward, begin the hike back to the starting point, where a car awaits to take you back to Puerto Natales.

Day 13: Boat Trip to Grey Glacier

Glacier Grey and Lake Grey
Pass ice burgs on your way up to the massive walls of Grey Glacier

Take to the water this morning on a memorable boat tour. This time, you'll board the Grey III catamaran and begin a journey toward Grey Glacier, a massive ice floe in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field that feeds Lago Grey. Cruise across the lake until you get right next to the glacier, at which point you'll have fantastic views of Grey's massive ice walls, which tower as high as 98 feet (30 m) in places.

Following the boat tour, you'll take a short guided hike along a windswept beach and through the forest. Before transferring back to Puerto Natales, there's the option to go on another hike in the area, perhaps to nearby Mirador Ferrier, which offers jaw-dropping views of the park's many colored lakes.

Day 14: Fly to Puerto Montt, Transfer to Isla Chiloé, Castro Food Tour

Traditional palafitos (stilt houses) on the island of Chiloé

Leave the far south of Patagonia this morning as you board a two-hour flight back to Puerto Montt. A driver will pick you up for the ride south to the port town of Pargua, where you'll board a ferry for the 30-minute ride to the northern tip of Chiloé. This island archipelago is one of the most distinctive areas of the country, abounding with myths and legends. Supposedly, the island is inhabited by witches who fly from the caves after dark and can be seen as lights zipping across the night sky.

Chiloé is also deservedly famous for its cuisine. Experience the deep flavors when you arrive in the colorful port city of Castro, famous for its old churches and waterfront stilt houses (known locally as the palafitos). This foodie experience begins at the famous local market, where you can browse fresh produce.

Then visit the kitchen at the home of a local family who will teach you how to prepare curanto. This rich seafood stew, which originated with the Indigenous populations, is prepared by burying shellfish, meat, and potatoes in the ground and cooking it over hot rocks. After enjoying the meal, you'll transfer to the hotel in Castro where you'll overnight. 

Day 15: Day Tour of Chonchi & Chiloé National Park

Chiloe's pristine coast is one of the stars of Chile's Lake District

Discover the landscape that captivated famed naturalist Charles Darwin on this day tour of Huillinco, Cucao, and the Pacific Ocean. The trip begins in the coastal town of Chonchi, known as the "city of three floors," as it sprawls over three natural terraces. Town highlights include its 19th-century Church of Chonchi (one of dozens of UNESCO-listed churches on the island), the Museum of Traditions, and a vibrant waterfront and crafts market.

Move on to the town of Huillinco, where you'll find a typical Chiloé cemetery filled with tiny houses that serve as tombs. Next, travel to Chiloé National Park, where you’ll stop at the Visitor Center and walk along the path of El Tepual, which leads you through biodiverse rainforests. The day ends at the Pacific Ocean with a walk along the beach before returning to Castro.

Day 16: Fly to Santiago, Depart 

Sun setting over Chiloé
You've reached the bittersweet part of the journey when it's time to say goodbye. After breakfast at the hotel, leave Chiloé on a drive back to Puerto Montt and board a plane to Santiago, where your connecting flight home awaits. Until next time!

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Map of Active Lake District & Full Chilean Patagonia - 16 Days
Map of Active Lake District & Full Chilean Patagonia - 16 Days