- Take an immersive city tour of Santiago de Chile
- Stroll the colorful streets of Valparaíso
- Explore the upscale coastal resort of Viña del Mar
- Challenge yourself on the "W" circuit trek in Torres del Paine National Park
|Day 1||Arrive in Santiago de Chile||Santiago|
|Day 2||Santiago City Tour||Santiago|
|Day 3||Day Trip to Viña del Mar & Valparaíso||Santiago|
|Day 4||Fly to Puerto Arenas & Transfer to Puerto Natales||Puerto Natales|
|Day 5||Transfer to Torres del Paine National Park, "W" Trek (Day 1)||Torres del Paine|
|Day 6||"W" Trek (Day 2)||Torres del Paine|
|Day 7||"W" Trek (Day 3)||Torres del Paine|
|Day 8||"W" Trek (Day 4)||Torres del Paine|
|Day 9||"W" Trek (Day 5)||Torres del Paine|
|Day 10||Transfer to Punta Arenas, Depart|
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 1: Arrive in Santiago de Chile
Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at the international airport in Santiago, 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. Try some activities, such as hiking to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal, where you can get your bearings by surveying the area from a high vantage point. Or stroll the cobblestone streets of Barrio Bellavista. You could also visit the Plaza de Armas, a stone plaza located in Santiago's historic center dating to 1541, or snap some pictures in front of the Palacio de la Moneda, Chile's opulent Presidential Palace.
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. Wander the aisles of Santiago's labyrinthine Mercado Central and Mercado La Vega, visit the Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church dating to 1748, and then head to the glittering Costanera Center, an epic skyscraper encased in glass. For one of the best and 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.
Later, visit Cerro Santa Lucia, a small, manicured park in the center of Santiago. As you stroll up the hill, make sure to stop and see Fuente Neptuno and Castillo Hidalgo, two impressive structures located within the grounds.
Day 3: Day Trip to Viña del Mar & Valparaíso
Leave the capital on a day trip to central Chile's Pacific Coast. First, you'll arrive in Viña del Mar, an upscale coastal resort city teeming with shopping complexes, commercial high-rises, boutiques, and well-manicured gardens. The city's modern image is the result of many buildings being rebuilt after the numerous earthquakes that have hit the Chilean coast over the years. That said, you can still find some early 20th-century landmarks, like the Germanic Wulff Castle and the Venetian-Gothic Vergara Palace, the former home of the founder of Viña del Mar.
Your next visit is to the port city of Valparaíso, located adjacent to Viña del Mar. Start by visiting the old plazas of Sotomayor and Aníbal Pinto. Then hop in the Reina Victoria funicular and ascend to the top. From here, you can wander the hilly neighborhoods of Cerro Alegre, Cerro Concepción, and Cerro Florida. It's on this last hill where you'll find La Sebastiana, a museum that was once the home of the famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. No matter where you go here, you can always find sweeping views looking out over the colorful houses to the Pacific coast and the blanket of blue water running out to the horizon.
Day 4: Fly to Puerto Arenas & Transfer to Puerto Natales
After breakfast, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport, at which time you'll catch a 3.5-hour flight to the city of Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia. Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, hop on 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 Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound). Facing north from here, you'll see the peaks of Cerro Benitez and Cerro Toro, and the view at sunset is phenomenal.
Day 5: Transfer to Torres del Paine National Park, "W" Trek (Day 1)
Early this morning, depart your hotel in Puerto Natales for Torres del Paine National Park, a one-hour drive. Upon arrival in the park, begin your trekking experience. The trekking circuit begins with a pleasant walk on the Cuernos Trail, which runs alongside the bright turquoise waters of Lago Nordenskjöld. This section is more of a warm-up hike, and its easy pace allows you to admire Patagonia's remarkable flora and fauna while being surrounded by the park's central lakes and the peaks of the Paine massif. The hike ends at Refugio Los Cuernos, a cozy mountain refuge located on the shore of Lago Nordenskjöld.
Alternatively, depending on the schedule, the trek could end at Domo el Francés, a campground featuring three dome bungalows located between Cuernos and Refugio Italiano, which affords an amazing view of Lago Nordenskjöld. Regardless of where you overnight, you'll have the evening free to relax and enjoy dinner.
Day 6: "W" Trek (Day 2)
After breakfast, transfer to the dock at Pudeto, where you'll board a catamaran and take a 30-minute ride across Lago Pehoé. From here, you'll begin the challenging trek to the French Valley on a steep trail leading near the Paine massif. How far you go depends on the overall speed of your particular group. If you make good time, you'll reach a hanging bridge over the Río Francés, located at the foot of the southeast face of the massif. Here you'll be treated to stunning valley views.
You'll then hike to the upper section of the valley, where you can marvel at the geological formations and glaciers. After this portion of the trek, pause for a picnic and relax. Your group will then descend through grassland and forest until you reach Refugio Paine Grande, located on the shores of Lago Pehoé, where you'll overnight.
Day 7: "W" Trek (Day 3)
Today's route takes you from Refugio Paine Grande along Lago Pehoé to the northern side of Lago Grey, which is fed by the glacier of the same name. Here, you'll enjoy a picnic lunch before boarding a vessel that sails right up to the massive and jagged ice wall of Grey Glacier. From the boat, you'll likely witness great chunks of ice breaking off the wall and crashing into the water below. This is a process called "calving," which is the result of the glacier slowly encroaching ever farther into the water.
If the boat trip is canceled due to weather conditions, your group will instead trek up to a viewing point where you can marvel at the panoramic vistas of the glacier. You'll also have the chance to take a kayak excursion on the lake and maneuver around the small icebergs. After, you'll return on foot to Refugio Paine Grande and take a catamaran to the dock at Pudeto, where a vehicle will meet you and transfer you to the next base camp.
Day 8: "W" Trek (Day 4)
Trek up to the base of the famous Paine massif today. In the morning, hike to the Hotel Las Torres, at which point you'll gradually ascend through the Ascencio Valley, located on the massif's eastern face. Along the way, you'll pass below jagged mountain ridges, through beech forests, and over small rivers. Just before the base of the massif lies the greatest obstacle of the trek: a steep moraine that requires deftly maneuvering around masses of boulders.
At this point, you'll look up, and the site of three gigantic granite monoliths, the result of millennia of glacial ice erosion, will tell you that you've arrived at the base of the Paine massif. After the tough uphill climb, you've earned a break. So now you'll kick back on the shore of the turquoise lagoon at the foot of the massif and enjoy a picnic lunch. Savor the memory and take plenty of photos because there aren't views quite like this anywhere in the world. After eating, backtrack along the same trail through the Ascencio Valley and return to camp for a hearty dinner.
Day 9: "W" Trek (Day 5)
In contrast with yesterday's ascent to the Paine massif, the fifth day of the "W" circuit involves a much less arduous hike. After breakfast, transfer by vehicle to Laguna Azul, which is notable for the views of the Paine massif looming over it. En route, you'll pass by Cañadón Macho, an area of golden hills home to wild guanacos and ñandús (a type of rhea bird).
At Laguna Azul, you'll hike to a lookout point where you'll be treated to a gorgeous view of both the lagoon and the granite towers of the massif. After lunch, drive to the northern shore of Lago Sarmiento, where the Fauna Trail begins. As you hike northbound, you'll see an impressive range of Patagonian fauna on the vast plains. After approximately 3 miles (five km) of relaxed walking, you'll reach the Laguna Amarga ranger station. A driver will meet you here and transfer your group back to camp, where you'll enjoy a celebratory dinner.
Day 10: Transfer to Punta Arenas, Depart
It's time to say goodbye to Torres del Paine and Chile. In the morning, you'll take a private transfer from Puerto Natales to the Punta Arenas airport. There, you'll catch a domestic flight to Santiago and transfer to the international terminal for your flight back home. ¡Buen viaje!