Experience the natural highlights of Chile's Lake District and Chilean Patagonia on this exciting nine-day journey. Begin with sightseeing in the capital of Santiago, then travel south to Puerto Varas to see pristine lakes, waterfalls, volcanoes, and more. Visit the mythical island of Chilóe and walk through a penguin colony before venturing into Torres del Paine National Park for hiking, ice trekking, and horseback riding.


  • Visit the lakes and waterfalls of Chile's Lake District
  • Explore the unique island of Chiloé
  • Go on two penguin-watching excursions 
  • Enjoy two days exploring Torres del Paine National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santiago, Explore Santiago
Day 2 Fly to Puerto Montt, Transfer to Puerto Varas Puerto Varas
Day 3 Tour Osorno Volcano, Petrohué Falls & Lago Todos los Santos  Puerto Varas
Day 4 Explore Isla Chiloé & Puñihuil Penguins National Reserve Puerto Varas
Day 5 Fly to Punta Arenas Punta Arenas
Day 6 Isla Magdalena Penguin Colony & Transfer to Torres del Paine Torres del Paine
Days 7 Explore Torres del Paine National Park Torres del Paine
Day 8 Hike to Salto Grande Waterfall Torres del Paine
Day 9 Depart Patagonia  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, Explore

A view of Santiago framed by the Andes

Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to explore the city. Snap photos in front of the Palacio de la Moneda, Chile's opulent presidential palace, a short stroll from the Plaza de Armas. Ride a cable car to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal for sweeping views over the city and the mountains. Stroll the cobblestone streets of Barrio Bellavista to see colorful houses, vibrant street art, and an eclectic array of eateries and bars that are great for people-watching.

For dinner, choose from a range of excellent restaurants. In recent years, Santiago has emerged as a global foodie destination as Chilean chefs reinvent traditional dishes, like empanadas and cazuelas (stews), with ingredients sourced from the Atacama Desert and the southern Patagonian region. You'll find great restaurants and wine bars in the Bellavista neighborhood and the revitalized historic districts of Yungay and Italia. Later on, head back to your hotel to get some rest.

Day 2: Fly to Puerto Montt, Transfer to Puerto Varas

The village of Puerto Varas
The village of Puerto Varas

After breakfast at your hotel in Santiago, you'll depart on a short flight to Puerto Montt, a port city in southern Chile that serves as a gateway to the Andes mountains and Patagonian fjords. When you arrive, you'll meet your English-speaking guide, who will transport you in a private vehicle to Puerto Varas. Drop your luggage at the hotel, have lunch, and then join your guide once more for a tour of the village located on the shore of Lago Llanquihue. You'll observe a mix of German architecture and Mapuche cultural influences. You'll have a free evening to relax before tomorrow's tour around the region.

Day 3: Tour Osorno Volcano, Petrohué Falls & Lago Todos los Santos 

Petrohué Falls with Osorno in the background
Petrohué Falls and the snow-capped Osorno volcano

After breakfast in Puerto Varas, a driver will pick you up for a full-day scenic tour of the area, including famous sites such as the Osorno volcano, the Petrohué Waterfalls, and Lago Todos los Santos. The first part of the journey takes you along the shores of Lago Llanquihue and past the mouth of the Río Pescado (Fish River). You'll also pass through the villages of La Poza and Los Riscos before reaching Ensenada, a small town at the foot of the Osorno volcano. You'll begin a hike up to Osorno, stopping at different vantage points for photo opportunities until reaching an impressive lookout at a height of 4,068 feet (1,240 m) above sea level.

Hike back down and take a break for lunch. Then you'll continue toward the waterfalls of the Río Petrohué. Fed by the nearby Lago Todos Los Santos, the Petrohué is famous for its electric blue waters and cascading waterfalls. A network of pathways offers various vantage points where you can observe the thundering falls in all their glory. The tour finishes with a visit to the turquoise waters of the lake before returning to Puerto Varas in time to enjoy dinner in town.

Day 4: Explore Isla Chiloé & Puñihuil Penguins National Reserve

A local vegetable market in Ancud
A local vegetable market in Ancud

This morning, you'll transfer from Puerto Varas to Puerto Montt and continue up the Panamericana 5 highway to the port of Pargua. Once you reach the ferry terminal, you'll embark on a 30-minute boat ride across the Chacao Channel to Isla Chiloé. Your first destination here is the town of Ancud on the northern end of Chiloé. The town features a viewpoint atop Huaihuen Hill, where you'll have stunning views of Ancud's many landmarks, including the Fuerte San Antonio, an early 19th-century Spanish-colonial fort that played a significant role in the wars for independence.

You'll also visit the regional museum, the municipal market, and the Caulín Bird Sanctuary, a shelter for migratory birds like black-necked swans, flamingoes, and herons. The day trip continues with a visit to a penguin colony in nearby Puñihuil, home to both Magellanic and Humboldt penguins. Indeed, this is the only place in the world where the two species coexist. In the late afternoon, you'll return to Puerto Varas and enjoy a relaxing evening in town. 

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Day 5: Fly to Punta Arenas

The colorful city of Punta Arenas
The colorful city of Punta Arenas

It's time to go deeper into Chilean Patagonia! The journey starts in the morning with a private transfer to the airport at Puerto Montt, where you'll catch a flight to Punta Arenas, a city located near the tip of Chile's southernmost Patagonia region. Due to its location on the Strait of Magellan, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Punta Arenas is often used as a base for excursions to the surrounding wilderness and Antarctica.

After getting settled at your hotel, stroll around town to see the sights. Plaza Muñoz Guerrero is a leafy central plaza lined with French street lamps and surrounded by impressive architecture. Many of these grand neoclassical mansions were once owned by wealthy sheep-ranching families. Tour the Palacio Sara Braun to see just how much wealth the sheep trade generated in the 19th century. Explore the waterfront and watch the sun go down at Mirador Cerro de la Cruz. This viewpoint overlooks the city all the way out to the Strait of Magellan. Sample fresh seafood specialties like chupe de centolla (soufflé of king crab), oysters, scallops, and shellfish for dinner.

Day 6: Isla Magdalena Penguin Colony & Transfer to Torres del Paine National Park

Enjoy the views from the lighthouse
Enjoy the views from the lighthouse

This half-day tour begins bright and early. You'll transfer from downtown Punta Arenas to a pier on the Strait of Magellan, where you'll board a boat at sail to Isla Marta. It's home to a large colony of Patagonian sea lions as well as cormorants, skuas, arctic pigeons, and more. Continue to Isla Magdalena, where you'll disembark and spend one hour onshore. With your guide, follow a 2,624-foot (800 m) path to an old lighthouse that offers sweeping views of the Strait of Magellan.

This island is home to Los Pingüinos Natural Monument, a protected area home to Chile's largest colony of penguins. There's no experience like hiking alongside penguins near Patagonian waters, first mapped by Magellan and made famous by Charles Darwin. Afterward, you'll transfer to Torres del Paine National Park. On the way, you'll certainly spot some of the local fauna, including many species of birds and the guanaco, a wild camelid related to the llama. You'll check into your hotel and have the rest of the day to relax before touring the park tomorrow. 

Day 7: Explore Torres del Paine National Park

A guanaco considers Torres del Paine
A guanaco in Torres del Paine

One of South America's most impressive national parks, Torres del Paine, is named after the soaring granite pillars that rise over 6,562 feet (2,000 m) above the Patagonian steppe. This pristine wilderness is home to turquoise lakes, gushing rivers, glaciers, dramatic peaks, and dense forests and extends across roughly 700 square miles (1,813 sq km). Most people come here to hike, though it's also a great destination to relax and reconnect with nature while staying in a mountain-style lodge. 

During your two days in the national park, you'll be able to choose from a variety of excursions. See part of the famed "W" Trek, or walk along one of the park's shorter trails, visiting lakes, waterfalls, and rock formations. Wildlife watching is another highly recommended activity: guanaco and pumas are among 26 mammalian species that inhabit the region. 

Day 8: Hike to Salto Grande Waterfall

Taking a break on the hiking trail in Torres del Paine

On your second day in Torres del Paine, choose from a few activity options. Go on a guided hike to learn about the park's flora, fauna, geology, and human history. An experienced guide will take you to impressive natural wonders, including the Salto Grande waterfall and Laguna Azul. Throughout the journey, you'll pass through exotic lenga forests abounding with wildlife. 

Alternatively, take a self-guided walk to the Salto Grande waterfall and Mirador Nordenskjöld, where you'll take in a spectacular view of the lake and mountains. You could also go horseback riding, mountain biking, ice hiking, or kayaking. 

Day 9: Depart Patagonia

Goodbye, Torres del Paine
A morning view in Torres del Paine
The adventure has come to an end. After breakfast, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport to catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Discover Chile's Lake District & Chilean Patagonia - 9 Days
Map of Discover Chile's Lake District & Chilean Patagonia - 9 Days