- Hike Cerro San Cristóbal for full panoramas of Santiago
- Visit the neighboring towns of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso
- Explore the stunning peaks and lagoons of Torres del Paine National Park
- View Glacier Grey up close on a boat tour through Patagonia
|Day 1||Arrival in Santiago and City Tour||Santiago|
|Day 2||Daily Trip to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar||Santiago|
|Day 3||Travel to Torres del Paine National Park||Torres del Paine|
|Day 4||Lake Pehoé and Grey Lake Tours||Torres del Paine|
|Day 5||Hike to the Base of Paine Massif||Torres del Paine|
|Day 6||Departure From Santiago|
Day 1: Arrival in Santiago and city tour
Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. Once settled, get out and experience the pulse of this Latin American metropolis on a guided, half-day tour. Like any great city, that pulse is found in its people, marketplaces, and cuisine.
Highlights of the tour include:
- Wandering the aisles of Santiago's labyrinthine Mercado Central and Mercado La Vega. These markets are the beating heart of the city, overflowing with vendors and local residents eager to get their hands on the day's fresh produce. With the assistance of an English-speaking guide, engage with these vendors and shoppers, learning about their daily routines, while getting the inside track on the most delicious ingredients to try.
- A visit to the Plaza de Armas, located in Santiago's historic center. There's a lot of history within the four corners of this expansive stone plaza, as it was founded all the way back in 1541. Nearby sits the impressive Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church circa 1748, with towering twin bell towers dominating the north side of the plaza.
- Ascending Cerro San Cristóbal. Hop on a cable car to the top of this hill that sits 984 feet above the city. Enjoy the 360° panoramas and take plenty of photos, as these are the most incredible views in Santiago.
- Enjoy dinner in the fashionably bohemian enclave of Barrio Bellavista. This is the trendiest neighborhood in the city. Find a diverse array of funky cafés, international eateries, and high-end restaurants.
Day 2: Daily trip to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar
After a refreshing breakfast at the hotel, head off to the nearby Pacific Coast to discover the cities of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso. Along the way, you'll pass by the scenic Casablanca Valley. When you get to Viña del Mar, named the “Garden City,” learn about the city's landmarks, such as the Quinta Vergara Amphitheater, the San Martin and Peru Avenues on the costanera and the beautiful flower clock.
The next stop is Valparaíso, famous for its colorful houses and street art, as well as the narrow streets going up and down around the hilly landscape. Some highlights of this historic port city are definitely the Victory Square, Sotomayor Square, and the Yugoslav and Atkinson promenades. At the end of the tour, return to Santiago to spend the night.
Day 3: Travel to Torres del Paine National Park
Today is mostly a travel day, and you have a few transfers before arriving at the ultimate destination: Torres del Paine National Park. This is one of the most iconic and beautiful protected areas in Patagonia.
In the morning, a driver will pick you up for the transfer to Santiago's airport to catch a flight to Punta Arenas, a city located deep in Chilean Patagonia on the shores of the Strait of Magellan. Transfer from the airport in Punta Arenas for the 3-hour drive to Torres del Paine, stopping en route in Puerto Natales, an attractive city situated on the Esperanza Sound. Here, enjoy a hearty local lunch—complete with views across the water to the snowy peak of Mt. Balmaceda.
Then, continue on to Torres del Paine. On the remainder of the drive, spot some of Patagonia's famed wildlife, including guanacos (a type of camelid similar to a llama) and rheas. Then, enter the park and transfer to your hotel.
Know that sunset usually occurs around 11 pm in the Patagonian summer months. For later arrivals, there is still ample time to admire the surrounding mountain scenery. You certainly won't miss the iconic triple peaks of the Paine Massif, part of the Cordillera del Paine. They rise sharply into the sky like jagged horns, hence their nickname, the Cuernos del Paine (Horns of Paine).
Day 4: Lake Pehoé and Grey Lake tours
After breakfast in your hotel, meet your guide and transfer by car to the western lakes of Torres del Paine. On the way, enjoy amazing views of the surrounding mountains and Cuernos del Paine. Stop off at viewpoints along the way to relish the scenery and take plenty of pictures. Be sure to keep an eye out for the local wildlife, like guanacos, condors, and foxes.
Continue south toward the edge of Lake Pehoé, which affords sweeping views further south to Lake Toro. Then, head a short distance east to Lake Grey. Once there, enjoy a delicious picnic lunch on the shore and rest up before embarking on an optional boat tour of Grey Glacier. On this trip, you will get close-up views of the 98-foot walls of this impressive ice mass in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. If you get lucky and keep an eye on the surrounding southern beech forests, you may even spot some endangered Andean deer.
After the boat trip, return to your hotel, and enjoy the evening at your leisure.
Day 5: Hike to the Base of Paine Massif
After breakfast, head up to the base of the Torres del Paine towers on one of the most popular hiking routes in the park. Although it can be completed in less than a day, this hike is strenuous and requires a good level of physical fitness. However, the stunning views at the base of the Paine massif make it well worth the effort.
The trekking route covers 11 miles and lasts about 9 hours. Every step of the way, enjoy views of beautiful scenery comprised of rivers, native forests, mountain peaks, and narrow valleys. Keep a close watch for local bird species, like condors and black eagles.
Your route begins at the Las Torres Hostel and will take you over the Ascencio River, at which point it is time to ascend about 1.5 miles to a lookout featuring panoramic views of the valley below and the surrounding mountains. Then, continue through sections of lenga forest until the remaining 45-minute stretch, which is a steep ascent that involves a hard scramble over a moraine to the final path leading up to the viewpoint.
This is the hardest portion of the hike. However, once you arrive at the lagoon at the base of the Paine Massif and stare up at the nearby Cuernos del Paine jutting into the sky, any exhaustion will likely dissipate. Upon arrival, rest by the lagoon and take in the amazing rock formations as you enjoy a delicious picnic lunch.
Afterward, begin the return trip back down the trail. The descent takes approximately 4 hours before reaching the hotel.
Day 6: Departure from Santiago
Today, take a private transfer from Torres del Paine National Park to the Punta Arenas airport. Then, board a domestic flight to Santiago. From there, hop on your connecting flight home. Safe Travels!