This in-depth itinerary allows you to go deeper into Torres del Paine National Park than most have an opportunity to. Over six days you'll get an up-close view of the local wildlife on guided tours, visit a working Patagonian estancia (ranch), and even explore the Strait of Magellan on a hair-raising zodiac excursion. It's a naturalist's dream and an adventure you won't soon forget.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a private wildlife tour of Torres del Paine
  • Visit Estancia La Peninsula, a working Patagonian ranch
  • Hop in a zodiac and race up the Strait of Magellan

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Santiago de Chile Santiago
Day 2 Fly from Santiago to Puerto Arenas &Transfer to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 3 Torres del Paine Private Wildlife Tour Puerto Natales
Day 4 Visit a Patagonian Estancia Punta Arenas
Day 5 Zodiac Tour of the Strait of Magellan Punta Arenas
Day 6 Punta Arenas to Santiago & Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Santiago de Chile

Hike or take a gondola up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal
Hike or take a gondola up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal

Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. You'll have the rest of the day to explore the city at your leisure. 

Suggested activities include:

  • Hike to the top of Cerro San Cristobal, where you can get your bearings by surveying the area from a high vantage point. Pathways lead 2,788 feet (850 m) up this central hill to a series of lookouts that offer wraparound views of Santiago. If you aren't the hiking type, not to worry: catch a scenic gondola instead.

  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of Barrio Bellavista. On the north side of Santiago, you'll find this trendy enclave, at once fashionable and bohemian. Stroll past colorful houses adorned with graffiti art and choose between an eclectic array of eateries and bars—great for people watching. 

  • Visit the Plaza de Armas, a stone plaza located in Santiago's historic center dating to 1541. There's also the impressive Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church dating to 1748 whose towering twin bell towers dominate the north side of the plaza.

  • Snap pics in front of the Palacio de la Moneda. Chile's opulent Presidential Palace (known simply as "La Moneda") is a short stroll from the Plaza de Armas. It was here in 1973 that Chile's armed forces, backed by the U.S. government, overthrew President Salvador Allende, kicking off a brutal right-wing military dictatorship that would last for 17 years. Visitors are welcome.

For dinner be sure to get out of the hotel and enjoy a culinary adventure in the city. In recent years Santiago has emerged as a global foodie destination. Chilean chefs are reinventing traditional dishes like empanadas, cazuelas (stews), and seafood with ingredients harvested all the way from the northern deserts and southern Patagonian regions. You can find great restaurants and wine bars not only in the Bellavista neighborhood but also in the revitalized historic barrios of Yungay and Italia.

Day 2: Fly from Santiago to Puerto Arenas &Transfer to Puerto Natales

Aerial view of Punta Arenas
Aerial view of Punta Arenas

After breakfast, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport, at which time you'll catch a flight to the city of Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia. Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, you'll hop a bus for a three-hour trip north to Puerto Natales. When you arrive, you'll transfer to your hotel and have the rest of the evening to relax and explore the town. 

This small port city is the main base for excursions into Torres del Paine National Park. It's far less touristic than many other Patagonian hubs and thus retains its air of small-town tranquility. Puerto Natales offers simple pleasures like strolling its waterfront promenade, which sits on the Ultima Esperanza Sound. Facing north from here, you'll see the peaks of Cerro Benitez and Cerro Toro, and the view at sunset is phenomenal.

Day 3: Torres del Paine Private Wildlife Tour

Your guaranteed to see guanacos in the park
Your guaranteed to see guanacos in the park

After breakfast, a guide will pick you up and transfer you into Torres del Paine National Park. This is your opportunity to embark on a private wildlife tour and enjoy the various flora and fauna that call this bit of Patagonian paradise home. After completing the registration process at the entrance you'll begin the two-hour excursion. 

In that two hours you'll be able to explore the Patagonian landscapes will your guide points out the various species of animals and plants. In fact, throughout the course of the tour, you'll be transported to different areas of the park in order to view Patagonia's diverse wildlife from the best vantage points.  Common animals here are guanacos (a type of llama), flamingos, rabbits, rheas (a type of ostrich), condors, foxes, and owls among many others. After the tour, you'll return to Puerto Natales to spend the evening as you please.

Day 4: Visit a Patagonian Estancia

A day on the estancia
A day on the estancia

This morning you will board a vessel on the Ultima Esperanza Sound bound for the beautiful Estancia La Peninsula, a working Patagonian sheep ranch. This full-day tour is the perfect opportunity to experience a way of life that is little changed since the first immigrants settled this region around the turn of the 20th century.

The day begins with a 30-minute boat trip through the fjords before arriving at the ranch. Once here, you'll be welcomed with a hot cup of coffee and a breakfast pastry. You can then choose between a variety of activities to fill the day, such as horseback riding, hiking, or embarking on a land tour in a 4x4. Around lunchtime, you'll enjoy one of the best traditional lamb barbecues in the area followed by a demonstration of sheep shearing and wool classification. You'll also meet some other friendly employees of the estancia in the form of sheepdogs.

At the end of the day, you'll return by boat to Puerto Natales and then transfer to Punta Arenas.

Day 5: Zodiac Tour of the Strait of Magellan

A zodiac ride on the Magellan Strait
A zodiac ride on the Magellan Strait

You're in store for a full-day Patagonian adventure in the form of a zodiac ride down the Strait of Magellan. At 7 am you'll transfer one hour from Punta Arenas to the launch site, at which point breakfast will be served. After that, you'll throw on a semi-dry suit, hope in the boat, and begin the aquatic adventure. 

The first destination is the San Isidro area of the strait, which is home to beautiful black-and-white austral dolphins, sometimes known as the Peale's dolphin. It's common to find them here in pods of 12, and to see them swim alongside the boat or perform acrobatic jumps out of the water is truly a sight to savor. It's also possible to spot sea lion colonies and a variety of seabirds such as albatrosses, petrels, and if luck should have it, even some penguins.

Be aware that as the boat makes its way down the straight, it's not uncommon to experience choppy waters. So be sure to hold tight to the side of the boat and your professional guide will be there every step of the way to make sure nothing goes wrong. confront rough seas and may have to hold tight to the side of the boat. Your guide will be involved every step of the way to ensure your safety. Just remember that all this hair-raising excitement is part of the fun.

At the end of the 10-hour excursion, you'll transfer back to Punta Arenas.

Day 6: Punta Arenas to Santiago & Departure

Say goodbye to Patagonia!
Say goodbye to Patagonia!

It's your last day in Chile! Today a driver will meet you at the hotel and transfer you to the airport in Punta Arenas. Upon arrival, you will hope a plane to Santiago where you will meet your connecting flight home. ¡Buen viaje!