- Check out local markets and trendy eateries in Chile's capital
- Join one of the best lamb barbecues in the Patagonia region
- Boat to an ice hike adventure where you'll walk on the Grey Glacier
- Accomplish two iconic hikes within Torres del Paine National Park
- Spend your last day kayaking amongst exotic Chilean birds
|Day 1||Arrival in Santiago de Chile||Santiago|
|Day 2||Santiago City Tour||Santiago|
|Day 3||Flight to Puerto Arenas - Transfer to Puerto Natales||Puerto Natales|
|Day 4||Day-Trip to a Patagonian Ranch||Puerto Natales|
|Day 5||Boating Adventure: Ultima Esperanza Fjord & Rio Serrano||Torres del Paine|
|Day 6||Boat Trip to Glacier Grey||Torres del Paine|
|Day 7||Hike to Las Torres Lookout||Torres del Paine|
|Day 8||Hiking in the French Valley||Torres del Paine|
|Day 9||Day-Trip to Salto Grande||Torres del Paine|
|Day 10||Hike the Milodon Cave - Transfer to Puerto Natales||Puerto Natales|
|Day 11||Kayak the Eberhard Fjord||Puerto Natales|
|Day 12||Departing Puerto Natales|
Day 1: Arrival in Santiago de Chile
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: Santiago City Tour
Like any great city, Santiago's cultural pulse is found in its people, marketplaces, and cuisine. To that end, today you'll head out on a guided city tour. Depending on your preference, this will either be a full-day or half-day tour with an English-speaking guide. Regardless of which one you choose, you'll become an honorary Santiaguino!
- Wander 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, you'll engage with these vendors and shoppers, learning about their daily routine while getting the inside track on the most delicious tidbits to try.
- Visit the Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church dating to 1748 and whose towering twin bell towers dominate the north side of the plaza.
- Head to the glittering Costanera Center, an epic skyscraper encased in glass! For one of the best and certainly highest views in Latin America, go to the Sky viewpoint. At nearly 1,000 feet (304 m) high, the top offers 360-degree views of the city below, as well as the surrounding Andes.
- Take a stroll through Cerro Santa Lucia, a small, manicured park in the center of Santiago. As you walk up the hill, make sure to stop and see Fuente Neptuno and Castillo Hidalgo, two impressive structures located within the grounds.
- If you haven't done it yet, ascend to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal via hike or cable car. Enjoy the 360° panoramas and take plenty of photos, as these are the most incredible views in Santiago.
Day 3: Flight to Puerto Arenas - Transfer to Puerto Natales
After breakfast, it's time to depart Santiago! 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 4: Day-Trip to a Patagonian Ranch
After breakfast at your hotel in Puerto Natales, you will visit the beautiful Estancia La Peninsula. This full-day tour is the perfect way to learn about daily life at a working Patagonian ranch.
The adventure starts with a 30-minute boat ride through the fjords arriving at the ranch for a welcome pastry and cup of coffee. From here, you will have the chance to choose between a variety of activities such as horseback riding, hiking, or taking a land tour in a 4x4 vehicle. You'll then take part in one of the best Patagonian lamb barbecues in the area, followed by a demonstration of sheep shearing and wool classification. You will also have the chance to meet the estancia's intelligent sheepdogs!
At the end of the tour, return by boat to Puerto Natales where you will have the rest of the evening to enjoy at leisure.
Day 5: Boating Adventure: Ultima Esperanza Fjord & Rio Serrano
After breakfast in Puerto Natales, you will embark on an amazing boat adventure through the Ultima Esperanza Fjord. During the voyage, there will be opportunities to stop at many viewpoints for a chance to see glaciers, waterfalls, cliffs, and condors. Eventually, you will arrive in Bernardo O'Higgins National Park where you can disembark for a short walk through the native forest of Coigues, Ñirres, and Ciruelillos until reaching the impressive Serrano Glacier wall.
Once you spend some time in the national park, continue the journey by boat up the Rio Serrano. Here you will have the opportunity to experience the remote and natural beauty of the region with few tourists to contend with—in other words, this is a true one-on-one experience with nature. After finishing a peaceful ride up the river, arrive in Pueblo Serrano where a delicious meal will be waiting for you.
Day 6: Boat Trip to Glacier Grey
After breakfast at your hotel, get ready for another fun boat excursion. This time, though, you'll board the Grey III and begin a route to admire the Grey Glacier. The boat will bring you very close to the glacier for photos before it continues to the other side of the lake. This is where you can disembark and make your way to the Bigfoot Basecamp to begin an epic ice hike excursion.
This portion of the trip starts at Islatak Island where you will begin a hike up the glacial moraine. After an hour of this, you will reach the ice, gear up, and learn about the basics of ice hiking from a pro. Equipped with an ice ax, crampons, helmet, and harness, you will then start your unforgettable ice hike adventure walking onto the Grey Glacier, where you will have the opportunity to observe cracks, rivers, lagoons, and tunnels.
Following your ice hike excursion, take the Grey III back to your hotel for a free evening to spend as you please.
Day 7: Hike to Las Torres Lookout
After an energizing breakfast, you will transfer to Hotel Las Torres at the other end of the park. This is where you will stay for the next three nights.
Once you've settled into the hotel, embark on one of the most famous trails in the park that leads to Las Torres Lookout (about 8 hours roundtrip). At the trailhead, start your walk up Almirante Nieto, a mountain with incredible views of Lake Nordenskjold and the Asencio Valley. After two hours of steady climbing, you will arrive at Refugio Chileno, a good opportunity to take a break and enjoy lunch with your fellow hikers.
From here, continue hiking for about an hour through a dense Lenga forest. Once you leave the forest you will approach a moraine and climb up to see amazing granite peaks known as the Torres. Admire the views and then return to the hotel for a relaxing evening while keeping an eye out for shooting stars.
Day 8: Hiking in the French Valley
This morning, get ready for another hike—this time to the heart of the park where you'll visit an iconic trail in the French Valley.
Your guided trip starts with a transfer to Pudeto Ranger Station. From here, you will take a half-hour cruise across Lake Pehoe on the Hielo Patagonicos catamaran. Upon reaching the other side you will see the trailhead and begin your trek. The first part of the trail is relatively flat, leading along the north side of Lago Skottsberg to the bottom of French Valley and Italiano Campsite where we break for water and snacks.
You will then have the option to turn back or continue upwards, deeper into the French Valley along a steep trail through a lenga forest followed by a rocky moonscape above the treeline. Roughly 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from Italiano, you'll reach a viewpoint on the foot of the “Horns” (Los Cuernos), that affords awesome views of the French Glacier coming down from Mount Paine Grande, the Cuernos del Paine peaks rising behind you, and the valley ahead.
Once you've taken enough photographs, make our way back to the hotel for some relaxation after a full day of hiking.
Day 9: Day-Trip to Salto Grande
This morning, you will pay a visit to the park's most spectacular waterfall, which boasts an astonishing viewpoint. In fact, today's excursion will be relatively easy compared to the previous days' hikes so enjoy a relaxing breakfast before you head off.
The adventure starts with a 45-minute drive to Pudeto in the heart of the park's lake district. From there, it’s a short walk to Salto Grande, a raging aquamarine cascade that channels water between lakes Nordenskjöld and Pehoé. The trail continues from the waterfall and leads through a portion of the park impacted by the great forest fire of 2011. Between the remains of the fire-ravaged trees, new life is already sprouting from the rich Patagonian soul.
The path then continues to Sendero Mirador Cuernos, possibly the park’s most spectacular viewpoint. The panorama features the “Horns” (Los Cuernos), Mount Paine Grande, the French Valley, and the French Glacier rising straight up from the north shore of Lago Nordenskjöld, a breathtaking spectacle of rock and water. The roundtrip hike takes about two hours. Given the open terrain, high winds are possible so bring a windproof jacket.
In the late afternoon, return to your hotel to enjoy your last evening in the park's remote wilderness.
Day 10: Hike the Milodon Cave - Transfer to Puerto Natales
After breakfast at your hotel, you'll depart Torres del Paine National park and make a trip to the Milodon Cave National Monument, located 15.5 miles (25 km) northwest of Puerto Natales.
This is one of the oldest and most important archeological and paleontological sites in Southern Patagonia. Evidence of human presence dating back to 11,000 years B.C. has been found in these caves, consisting of extinct fauna such as the Mylodon.
The hiking portion of the trip begins at the Small Cave, from where you will forge inward in this important archeological finding. You will then move on to the Middle Cave and finish at the Large Cave, which is 656 feet (200 m) deep, 262 feet (80 m) wide, and 98 feet (30 m) high. The excursion will last a total of four hours.
Once complete, you will transfer to Puerto Natales and have the rest of the day to spend as you please.
Day 11: Kayak the Eberhard Fjord
This morning, you'll be picked up for a private half-hour transfer from your hotel in Puerto Natales to Estancia Puerto Consuelo, where the Last Hope Province colonization began in 1893. This will be your base camp for the day's outdoor adventure.
Along with a professional guide, you will kayak in calm waters to a number of historic locations along Eberhard Fjord such as Puerto Prat, founded in 1899, and Krugger Island, known as the “Island of the Dead” that was used as a cemetery to bury the first settlers. Keep your camera close as it is possible to see a variety of exotic birds such as Andean condors, Chilean flamingos and black-necked swans.
In the afternoon, return to Puerto Natales and celebrate, as this is your last evening of the trip!
Day 12: Departing Puerto Natales
Today, you’ll take a private transfer from Puerto Natales to the Punta Arenas airport. Hop on a domestic flight from Punta Arenas to Santiago. Upon arrival in Santiago, transfer to the international terminal for your flight back home. ¡Buen viaje!