Feed your adventurous soul with this 15-day tour of Chile. Begin in Santiago with bike tours of the city and visits to Chile's wine country for tastings of its best varietals. Then, it's off to the Andes Mountains and the Atacama Desert, where you'll travel through the mystical Moon Valley and swim in saltwater lagoons. Fly south to Patagonia to see the penguins of Magdalena Island in Puntas Arenas, then close the trip by hiking the mountains and glaciers of Torres del Paine National Park.

Highlights

  • Take a bike tour through Santiago's colorful Barrio Bellavista neighborhood 
  • Sip the finest wines at Concha y Toro and Santa Rita wineries
  • Explore the otherworldly wonders of San Pedro de Atacama's Moon Valley
  • Hike the immense glaciers of Torres del Paine National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santiago Santiago
Day 2 Santiago Bike Tour, Vinolia Wine Tasting Santiago
Day 3 Day Trip to Valparaiso & Viña del Mar Santiago
Day 4 Maipo Valley Day Trip: Concha y Toro & Santa Rita Wineries Santiago
Day 5 Fly to San Pedro de Atacama San Pedro de Atacama
Day 6 Moon Valley, Rainbow Valley & Petroglyphs of Yerbas Buenas San Pedro de Atacama
Day 7 Day Trip to Cejar & Tebinquiche Lagoons San Pedro de Atacama
Day 8 Tatio Geysers, Evening Astronomy Tour San Pedro de Atacama
Day 9 Fly to Punta Arenas Punta Arenas
Day 10 Ferry the Strait of Magdalena & Meet the Penguins of Magdalena Island Punta Arenas
Day 11 Transfer to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 12 Discover Torres del Paine National Park Puerto Natales
Day 13 Cruise to Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers Puerto Natales
Day 14 Hike in Torres del Paine National Park Puerto Natales
Day 15 Depart Puerto Natales  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago

Chile's capital of Santiago

Welcome to Santiago! Your driver will meet you in the arrivals hall and take you to your hotel, after which the rest of your day is free. You can spend the afternoon relaxing after your flight or step out and start exploring the city. You'll find plenty to do in Chile's capital city, from visiting some of Santiago's most historic sites, shopping for souvenirs, or simply enjoying the views of the surrounding snow-capped Andes Mountains.

For an immediate immersion into Santiago's history, head to Plaza de Armas, the city's main square and home to two of its most prominent landmarks: the Palacio de la Real Audiencia (Palace of the Royal Court), which dates back to 1808 and houses the National History Museum of Chile, and the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, where you can see the ornate frescos and columns that decorate the church.

If you want to get out and stretch your legs, visit Cerro Santa Lucia (Santa Lucia Hill), a park that sits atop a 226-foot (69-m) hill in the middle of the city. This remnant from a 15 million-year-old volcano was once the favored lookout spot for conquistadores during their conquer of Chile. It was turned into a park in the late 1800s and now consists of multiple staircases that wind around and to the top, with breathtaking city and mountain views. Later, you can grab dinner at one of Santiago's many restaurants before heading back to your hotel to rest up for tomorrow's adventures! 

Day 2: Santiago Bike Tour, Vinolia Wine Tasting

Venture into the foodie heaven of Mercado Central

Your first full day in Santiago starts with a bike tour through the city's colorful, bohemian Bellavista neighborhood, where you'll weave along cobbled streets and colorful murals. The next stop is La Chascona, the house of the famous Nobel-prize-winning Chilean poet and cultural icon, Pablo Neruda. A highlight of the tour is a visit to La Vega Central, Santiago's largest fruit, vegetable, and everything in-between market, where you'll find an abundance of fruits, vegetables, native seafood, and local character.

Cross the Mapocho River to the Mercado Central seafood market, a necessary stop when in a country with over 3,728 miles (6,000 km) of coastline. On the way back to your drop-off point, you'll bike through the picturesque Parque Forestal, which is part of the nearly 9-mile (14-km) park that runs through the city. By the end of this morning's excursion, you'll have a brand new understanding of Chilean culture and history in the capital city—and know a great place to find your next meal!

If you're ready to dive right into your wine-tasting adventures, spend the afternoon at Vinolia Wine Bar, located in the Vitacura district. Your driver will pick you up from your hotel, and upon arrival at the wine bar, you'll experience a virtual wine tour in their cinema room. Fly over vineyards and fields, exploring the vineyards of the Casablanca and Colchagua valleys. Enjoy a tasting of five superior category wines guided on-screen by each winery's expert. Before you return to your hotel, you'll have time to purchase your favorite wines or shop for specialized books and Chilean crafts. 

Day 3: Day Trip to Valparaiso & Viña del Mar

Full Day - Valparaiso & Viña del Mar
Sunset over the city of Valparaiso 

This morning, you'll be picked up from your hotel and tour the fertile valleys of Curacaví and Casablanca, heading toward the Pacific coast and the port city of Valparaíso. The area surrounding the nearby bay is steep, with colorful cliffside homes and an amazing network of cable cars or funiculars. The city center of Valparaíso was declared a World Heritage Site, and the surrounding architecture only adds to the charm and personality of this vibrant region. 

Your travels continue to the neighboring sea town of Viña del Mar, known for its gardens and working flower clock, which was created in celebration of the 1962 World Cup. You'll see the amazing architecture of the residential sectors of Casino de Juegos, Av. Perú and Av. San Martín, before stopping at Reñaca Beach, a popular destination for both tourists and locals. Here, you'll have a chance to visit one of the nearby restaurants for lunch before returning to Santiago in the afternoon. 

Day 4: Maipo Valley Day Trip: Concha y Toro & Santa Rita Wineries

Tour the wineries of the Maipo Valley

Today you'll take a trip to the Maipo Valley, touring two of Chile's most traditional and renowned wineries as you stroll through vineyards and cellars, learn about the winemaking processes, and sample some of their creations. Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to Cajón del Maipo, a rural area with beautiful scenery, snow-capped mountains, and multiple vineyards. You'll arrive first at Concha y Toro Winery, where you'll tour their private park and wine cellars and enjoy tastings of their top varietals. 

Then, it's off to Chile's very popular Santa Rita Winery. Here, you'll take a journey through history and viticulture, starting with a guided tour of their strain garden and continuing to their vineyards and cellars where the product is made, stored, and bottled. You'll visit the historic Cellar One and its Cal y Canto wine and the famous 120 Patriots Cellar, a Chilean National Monument. The day closes with a tasting of their reserve wines and a stop at their museum and gift shop before returning to Santiago. 

Day 5: Fly to San Pedro de Atacama

The volcanos of San Pedro
The volcanos of San Pedro

It's time to head to your next Chilean destination! Your driver will take you from your hotel to the airport, where you'll catch your flight to the city of Calama. From there, you'll be transported to your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama. Your afternoon is free to relax at the hotel or start exploring the city. 

Located in the northeastern region of the Andes, San Pedro de Atacama is known for its dramatic landscapes, combining stretches of desert with volcanoes, salt flats, and hot springs. The town itself retains its old-world charm, with dirt-paved streets and adobe houses. Visit San Pedro de Atacama Church, a historic building built in the mid-1700s and the largest in the Atacama Desert, or head over to the Pueblo de Artesanos (Artisan Village) where you'll find local crafts and artwork. Enjoy dinner at one of San Pedro's authentic restaurants before returning to your hotel for the evening.

Day 6: Moon Valley, Rainbow Valley & Petroglyphs of Yerbas Buenas

San Pedro de Atacama: Moon Valley
Explore the otherworldly Moon Valley

For a deeper dive into the Atacama Desert, start today with a visit to Yerbas Buenas, home to one of the region's most important sets of petroglyphs. From there, you'll go through the small hamlet of Mantancilla and into the Rainbow Valley, where you'll see a riot of earthy colors created by the region's natural minerals. Then, it's on to Río Grande Village, a rural community characterized by its Indigenous culture and history. Tour this quiet town, and learn about Chile's pre-Hispanic history.

In the afternoon, you'll embark on an otherworldly experience as you travel through the wonders of San Pedro's Moon Valley. Along the way, you'll see panoramic views of the Andes, the Great Atacama Salt Flats, San Pedro Oasis, and the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountains). The dunes will make you feel like you've been transported to another planet, and you'll be awed by the towering Licancabur stratovolcano in the background. 

Trek through caverns at the Salt Caves, then continue into the valley with a stop at the Amphitheater, a natural formation that sits at more than 8,000 feet (2,500 m) above sea level. After a visit to Las Tres Marías, a natural rock formation of three thin peaks that have been carved by the winds and salt of the desert, your tour wraps with a visit to the Piedra del Coyote, where you'll catch breathtaking sunset views along the Andes. After sunset,  you'll return to your hotel, where you can rest up for tomorrow or enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 7: Day Trip to Cejar & Tebinquiche Lagoons

The azure waters of Cejar Lagoon

Break out your swimming gear today for a visit to Cejar Lagoon, a saltwater lagoon in the middle of the Atacama Desert. Your guide will pick you up and drive you into the desert and to the lagoon, where you'll enjoy an effortless float in the salt-rich waters, all while taking in the views of blue waters, majestic volcanoes, and the endless stretch of the salt flats.

The next stop is Ojos del Salar (Eyes of the Salt Flat), two freshwater lagoons that offer visitors a chance to swim and rinse off the salt accumulated at Cejar. These two round lakes get their name due to resembling a pair of eyes looking out from the desert floor. Your final destination for today is Tebenquiche Lagoon, where you'll find stunning photo ops of the Andes Mountains reflecting on the waters, and you might even see a few flamingoes stroll by! If you're touring later in the day, this is also a very popular place to see the amazing desert sunsets of the region.

Day 8: Day Trip to Tatio Geysers & Evening Astronomy Tour

Tatio Geyser in Atacama
Tatio Geyser in Atacama

It's an early start today, with your driver picking you up from your hotel at approximately 4:00 am. You'll travel toward the High Andean Plains, a two-hour drive that takes you to the Tatio Geysers. Sitting at 14,173 feet (4,320 m) above sea level, these are the world's highest geysers. Learn about the elements of this geothermal field, all while being surrounded by water and vapor. The geysers are most active in the early morning hours, so your crack-of-dawn start will pay off when you see the shooting water columns of more than 32 feet (10 m). 

After the geysers, its time for a leisurely drive back to San Pedro de Atacama, where you'll see native plants such as Andean feather grass, the local shrublands (tolares), and herds of vicuñas, the wild South American camelids that roam the area. The rest of your afternoon is free to relax or explore on your own.

This evening, discover your place in the cosmos with a 90-minute tour of San Pedro's night sky. Your driver will transport you into the desert, where you'll meet up with an experienced astronomer and learn about the universe, the cosmic process, and the probable future of civilization. The discussion will touch on fascinating theoretical topics such as time travel and parallel universes and whether or not we are alone in the universe. View the stars through a high-powered telescope, and enjoy a hot drink and photos before returning to your hotel for the evening. 

Day 9: Fly to Punta Arenas

Puntas Arenas
The colorful houses of Puntas Arenas

Today you'll leave the desert behind as you transfer to the airport and catch your flight to the Patagonian city of  Puntas Arenas. Upon arrival, you'll be met at the airport and transported to your hotel. Your first day here is free to explore as you wish or have some downtime at the hotel.

The city of Puntas Arenas is located on the Strait of Magellan and is sometimes referred to as the "Gateway to Antarctica" due to its popularity as a base camp for Antarctic excursions. Despite its use as a transitional stop between wilderness adventures, the city itself has plenty to offer, boasting a rich history that dates back to the 1800s. Originally built as a fort to defend the territory and its settlers, modern Puntas Arenas has a population of nearly 125,000 and all the amenities of a larger city.

For a quick immersion into local history, take a drive to Parque del Estrecho de Magallanes, or Magellan Strait Park, a more than 600-acre (250 ha) conservation area with walking trails down to the strait, a museum, and Fuerte Bulnes (Fort Bulnes), a reconstruction of the first Chilean settlement in the region. Or, stay within the city limits and stroll through Plaza Muñoz Gamero, Puntas Arenas' central plaza, where you'll find gift shops, restaurants, and parks. 

Day 10: Ferry the Strait of Magdalena & Meet the Penguins of Magdalena Island

A penguin on Magdalena Island

Today's tour involves what are some of the world's favorite feathered friends—more than 60,000 to be exact. Your day begins with a two-hour ferry ride through the waters of the Strait of Magellan, landing you on Isla Magdalena (Magdalena Island), home to one of the largest penguin colonies in Chile! 

This protected sanctuary boasts not only thousands of Humboldt penguins but also sea lions and various other seabirds. These tuxedo-clad little creatures are also quite used to human visitors, so you'll be able to wander among them fairly freely. After an hour or so of penguin observation, it's back to the ferry for your return to port. Spend the evening walking the streets of the city, and maybe stop in at an authentic Chilean restaurant or bar. 

Day 11: Transfer to Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales
The waterfront at Puerto Natales

Your driver will pick you up from your hotel this morning and take you to the bus station, where you'll catch a one-way bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales. A driver will await you in Puerto Natales and will transport you to your hotel.

The city of Puerto Natales sits on the Señoret Channel of southern Patagonia and is a popular stopover for those heading into Torres del Paine National Park or the Patagonian fjords. On your first day here, you can visit the city center's Historical Museum, where you'll find information and artifacts from Chile's first settlers. The city also offers free walking tours, which can be a great way to see some of its landmarks and local hot spots. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before heading back to your hotel for the evening. 

Day 12: Discover Torres del Paine National Park

Mountain views in Torres del Paine National Park

Explore the wonders of Torres del Paine National Park today! Your driver will pick you up in the morning and head for the park, stopping en route at Milodon Cave. Located approximately 15 miles (24 km) north of Puerto Natales, this natural monument is composed of three caverns and a rocky conglomerate called "Silla del Diablo." You'll have a chance to see the caverns and take some photos, then continue to Torres del Paine National Park. The park encompasses more than 700 square miles (1,814 sq km) with glaciers, rivers, and soaring mountains. Cross the Serrano Bridge to Grey Lake, and take a stroll along its shores.

After stopping for a quick lunch, head to the park's Salto Grande sector, driving to the Nordenskjold Lake viewpoint and taking in the spectacular views of the Amarga Lagoon area. You'll also visit Paine Waterfall, which showcases the turquoise waters that come from the nearby Paine River. On the way back to your hotel, the tour makes a stop at Sarmiento Lake viewpoint for you to snap a few more spectacular photos of the park's natural wonders.

Day 13: Cruise to Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers

Take a boat ride to see the Serrano Glacier up close

Today's boat tour starts at the pier in Puerto Natales, taking you through the Señoret Channel and toward Guanaco Island. Keep your eyes peeled for Magellanic dolphins (toninas) along the way. You'll sail toward Estancia La Península, where you'll find a population of aquatic seabirds known as cormorants. The trip continues to Punta de Lobos and to a nearby waterfall and cliffs, where giant condors can be seen soaring overhead.

You'll then travel to Mount Balmaceda, which towers above at nearly 7,000 feet (2,000 m) and see the glacier of the same name. Disembark at Puerto Toro and walk the shores of Tempanos Lagoon, hiking through the native forests toward Serrano Glacier. Before returning, the tour stops at a local ranch where you'll enjoy a typical Chilean lunch, then you'll be dropped back at the pier in Puerto Natales. 

Day 14: Hike in Torres del Paine National Park

Hiking in Torres del Paine National Park
Hiking in Torres del Paine National Park

Your penultimate day in Chile starts with an early-morning drive to Paine Hill Farm, where your adventurous hiking excursion begins. After receiving information and safety instructions from your guide, you'll head out, crossing an old suspension bridge that takes you over the Ascencio River. From there, you'll continue to the Las Torres base and then to a Chileno camping site located on the shores of the river.

You'll have a chance to rest before the trek continues east for about an hour, where you'll see nearby lakes and a great view of the park's three granite towers, from which it takes its name. Break for lunch, then travel back along the same route to return to your drop-off point. Your driver will then transport you back to Puerto Natales and your hotel. 

Day 15: Depart Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales
Evening light over Puerto Natales

Sadly, it's time to say goodbye to Chile. Your driver will transfer you from your hotel in Puerto Natales to the airport, where you'll catch a flight back to Santiago and then home. Safe travels! 

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Map of Ultimate Chile Adventure: Cities, Wine Country, Deserts & Mountains - 15 Days
Map of Ultimate Chile Adventure: Cities, Wine Country, Deserts & Mountains - 15 Days