Explore some of South America's most astonishing landscapes on this 11-day nature tour of Chile. First, head north to Atacama to ride e-bikes and buggies through the desert, watch the sunrise over steaming geysers, and gaze at stars through powerful telescopes. Then, go south to the glacial terrain of Patagonia to spend several days climbing and hiking through lakes, forests, and peaks in Torres del Paine National Park.

Highlights

  • Go on a stargazing tour in the Atacama Desert
  • Watch the sunrise over the active Tatio Geysers
  • Do the popular Base Torres hike in Torres del Paine National Park
  • Spend a day rock climbing in Patagonia

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santiago & Free Afternoon Santiago
Day 2 Fly to San Pedro de Atacama & Stargazing in the Desert San Pedro de Atacama
Day 3 E-Bike through the Salt Mountain Range & Buggy Safari San Pedro de Atacama
Day 4 Sunrise at Tatio Geysers & Valley of the Moon Tour San Pedro de Atacama
Day 5 Hike the Summit of Toco Mount San Pedro de Atacama
Day 6 Fly to Puerto Natales via Santiago Puerto Natales
Day 7 Hike in Torres del Paine National Park Puerto Natales
Day 8 Rock Climbing in Patagonia Puerto Natales
Day 9 Cross Torres del Paine from End to End Puerto Natales
Day 10 Trek to the Peak of Mount Ferrier Puerto Natales
Day 11 Fly Back to Santiago & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago & Free Afternoon

Santiago de Chile skyline
Santiago de Chile skyline
Welcome to Chile's vibrant capital, Santiago. A driver will transfer you to the hotel, where you can settle in before heading out to explore. Wander the historic squares and streets, perhaps stopping to visit the National History Museum at the Palacio de la Real Audiencia or La Chascona, the former home of the internationally-acclaimed poet Pablo Neruda. If you're a history buff, head to the stirring Museum of Memory and Human Rights to learn about life under Pinochet's dictatorship.
 
Later on, ride the cable car to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal for spectacular sunset views, or head to the bohemian Bellavista neighborhood to take your pick of the city's best restaurants, cafés, and wine bars.

Day 2: Fly to San Pedro de Atacama & Stargazing in the Desert

Small shops in San Pedro de Atacama
Small shops in San Pedro de Atacama
This morning, take a flight to the city of Calama in the far north of the country. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you for the 1.5-hour drive to the remote outpost of San Pedro de Atacama. During the journey, witness some of the world's most evocative and ancient landscapes, passing through salt flats, Andean peaks, and volcanic mountains.

At night, head out to the altiplano, a plateau ideal for stargazing. Learn how to identify constellations with the help of your guide. Even with the naked eye, the stars here are incredibly vivid. Gaze through high-powered telescopes and binoculars to spot an array of celestial objects, including planets, binary stars, and spherical clusters—all with a glass of Chilean wine in your hand. 

Day 3: E-Bike Through the Salt Mountain Range & Buggy Safari

E-bike tour of the Salt Mountain Range in Atacama
E-bike tour of the Salt Mountain Range in the Atacama Desert
Start the morning strong with an 18.6-mile (30 km) e-bike ride. A guide will pick you up and take you to get your gear before setting off. Cycle through the desert to the Salt Mountain Range Reserve, where you'll get front-row seats of colorful mineral-rich peaks, whose white streaks make it look like they've had salt shaken over them.

Then, embark on an exciting buggy ride through the various terrains of the Atacama Desert. Buggies are the perfect vehicles for traversing steep mountains, riverbed crossings, and hulking dunes. An expert local guide will drive you up thrilling trails, entertaining you with facts about the area's history and ecology. There'll be plenty of spectacular photo opportunities along the way.
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Day 4: Sunrise at Tatio Geysers & Valley of the Moon Tour

Tatio Geysers at sunrise
Tatio Geysers at sunrise
Wake before first light for a 1.5-hour trip to the famed Tatio Geysers, watching the sun rise over the Atacama Desert on the way. Set at an altitude of 14,173 feet (4,320 m), the Tatio Geysers are some of the highest in the world and spurt pillars of steam high up into the air. Let your worries melt as you soak in a geothermal pool. On the way back, look out for llamas and flamingos.

In the afternoon, continue discovering the geological wonders of the Atacama Desert. You'll visit the Cordillera del Sal's unique salt caves and stone formations like the Three Marias, which have been carved by salt and wind over millions of years. Catch the sunset over the desert as it paints the mountains in shades of red, with the mighty Licancabur Volcano looming overhead.

Day 5: Hike the Summit of Toco Mount

People climbing Mount Toco
Climbing to the top of Mount Toco
Today, hike to one of the best panoramic views of San Pedro de Atacama. Toco Mount is a relatively easy ascent with a truly impressive outlook onto the Atacama salt flat, the Licancabur volcano, and the altiplano. Though the way isn't strenuous, the entire excursion takes around nine hours, including transfers to the base of the hill. 

Since you leave very early in the morning, you'll be back at your hotel in the afternoon. Rest and recover before heading out to town. There isn't very much to do in this remote village, but take this as an opportunity to go to local eateries, buy souvenirs, and make some friends. At night, don't forget to look up, enjoying the region's spectacularly dark skies.

Day 6: Fly to Puerto Natales via Santiago

Church in San Pedro de Atacama
Small church in San Pedro de Atacama
It's time to say goodbye to this wondrous desert. Transfer from San Pedro de Atacama to the Calama airport, where you'll board a flight back to Santiago. From there, take a connecting flight to Puerto Natales in Chilean Patagonia. Once you arrive, a local driver will bring you to the hotel. If there are no direct flights, fly to Punta Arenas farther south in Patagonia, then take a bus to Puerto Natales.
 
This evening, rest and leisurely explore the town, which looks as if it were imported from Europe. Walk around the town center, enjoy local food, and breathe in the region's impossibly fresh air.

Day 7: Hike in Torres del Paine National Park

Las Torres in Torres del Paine National Park
Las Torres in Torres del Paine National Park
Get ready for an early morning out to one of the most stunning places in Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. After breakfast, head up to the base of the Torres del Paine massif, known as Base Torres. One of the most popular hiking routes in the park, it can be done in less than a day but requires a good level of physical fitness. You'll cover 11 miles (17.7 km) in about nine hours. 

Enjoy views of beautiful scenery every step of the way, comprised of rivers, native forests, mountain peaks, and narrow valleys. Keep a close watch for local bird species, like condors and black eagles. The route is strenuous, but once you're staring up at the nearby Cuernos del Paine formation jutting into the sky, it'll all be worth it.

Day 8: Rock Climbing in Patagonia

Rock Climbing in Patagonia
Rock Climbing is a popular activity in Patagonia
This morning, experience an exciting outdoor adventure in an absolutely breathtaking setting. Head to Benito Hill and take on its walls of conglomerate rock. Climbers of all levels can enjoy various paths available, with Lake Sofia in the background.

As a warm-up, start with the easier routes. If you feel confident in your skills, you are welcome to move on to paths with increasing difficulty levels. Once you're back in Puerto Natales, walk around the pretty town, taking in the views of snow-capped mountains from its port.

Day 9: Cross Torres del Paine from End to End

Views of Sarmiento Lake
Views of Sarmiento Lake in Torres del Paine National Park

Join an excursion through lesser-known parts of Torres del Paine National Park. Enter through Sarmiento Lake, hiking for an hour to see a series of 6,000-year-old cave paintings made by the first settlers of Patagonia. Continue toward Blanquillos Lagoon, a nesting and feeding place for different species of endemic birds such as caiquenes and black-necked swans. 

Walk for another two hours to reach Amarga Lagoon gate, the main access to the park. Rest up before driving to an off-beat sector known as the Paine Waterfall for a tranquil lunch with full views of the granite towers. The day continues to Cañadón Macho, where it's possible to see guanacos, gray foxes, condors, Mora eagles, and other species. As the sun starts to come down, head back to Puerto Natales.

Day 10: Trek to the Peak of Mount Ferrier

Grey Glacier in Torres del Paine
Grey Glacier in Torres del Paine
Get excited to see a great part of the western side of Torres del Paine National Park. During this trek, you will ascend the challenging path that leads to the peak of Mount Ferrier. The hike is very steep and gains altitude quickly. You'll be 2,297 feet (700 m) above sea level.

You'll go through a powerful river and into a beautiful forest of lenga trees. Here, you can enjoy a spectacular panorama of Grey Glacier and the icebergs floating on Grey LakeToro Lake, Pingo Glacier, and other wonders of nature will also be on full display. After taking it all in, descend and ride back to Puerto Natales to enjoy your last night in town.

Day 11: Fly Back to Santiago & Depart

The town of Puerto Natales in Patagonia
The town of Puerto Natales in Patagonia
Look back on all of the memories made on your Patagonian adventure before heading back to the capital. Depending on flight schedules, you may fly directly to Santiago, or take a bus to Punta Arenas and board your flight from there. Once back in Santiago, connect to your onward flight home. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Wonders of Chilean Nature: Santiago, Atacama Desert  & Patagonia - 11 Days
Map of Wonders of Chilean Nature: Santiago, Atacama Desert & Patagonia - 11 Days