Day 1: Hotel Plaza San Francisco, Santiago. Arrival into Santiago’s international airport where you will have a transfer of approximately 30 minutes to your hotel for the night. After lunch you will have a city tour of Santiago before returning to the hotel for the evening.
Day 2: Hotel Qantati, Putre.
Morning transfer back to the airport for your flight up to Africa, where we will be waiting for you to begin our adventure. First we will head east through the Lluta River Valley where we will see numerous geoglyphs, petroglyphs and the unusual Candelabro Cactus. Then we will stop at the eco-village of Ecotruly, where we will take a tour and have a vegetarian lunch. As we continue our ascent we will make a stop to drink some coca tea to help our bodies become accustomed to the altitude. Then we will visit the Aymara farming village of Socoroma before making our way into Putre where we will have time to take it easy and acclimate ourselves to the high altitude (3.530 meters or 10.760 feet). Tonight we will have a welcome dinner.
Day 3: Arica Hotel and Resort, Arica.
Today we will continue driving east until we reach the Lauca National Park in the Altiplano, (a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve) where we will see llamas, alpacas, vicunas and guanacos, as well as lesser rheas, flamencos and hopefully some condors as well. We will make a stop in the town of Parinacota before reaching the emerald green Lake Chungara, one of the world’s highest lakes at 4,500 meters (13,700 feet) above sea level, with the view of numerous snow-capped peaks, including volcanoes above 6,000 meters, such as the perfect cone-shaped Parinacota, and it’s brother Pomerape. We will return to Arica in the afternoon in time to visit the archeological museum in the Azapa valley, then ascend the Morro in Arica for a great view at sunset.
Day 4: Hotel Terrado Suites, Iquique.
This morning we start down the Pan American Highway and stop to see some desert sculptures. Then we continue through the Pampa and stop for a box lunch at the Tiviliche Hacienda and then visit the British Cemetery. Then we make our way into the Tamarugal Pampa, taking a detour east and passing through numerous old nitrate mining towns such as Humberstone, which will give us a glimpse into the past when this area was thriving from the nitrate boom. We end the day at the city of Iquique, known as the city of eternal Spring.
Day 5: Hotel Terrado Suites, Iquique.
Today we will take a break from traveling and you will have a choice of two optional activities: (1) Let’s go and fly off the hill with a half-day Paragliding adventure, or (2) Take a full-day tour to the Pampa de Tamarugal National Reserve, including La Tirana, Matilla and Pica, where you can soak in the hot springs of Cocha de Resbaladero. On the return you will visit the Painted Geoglyphs, where you can witness 66 panels of around 400 figures of men, birds, animals and abstract drawings.
Day 6: Hotel Altiplanico, San Pedro de Atacama. This morning we continue South along the coastal road, hugging the Pacific for nearly 250 kilometers before stopping for lunch. Then we head east through the mining town of Calama and deeper into the desert. We will visit the Valley of the Moon for a wonderful sunset experience, then make our way into our day’s destination of San Pedro de Atacama.
Day 7: Hotel Altiplanico, San Pedro de Atacama. This morning we will take an archeological tour of a fort dating back to the 12th century, Pukara de Quitor, built on a strategic location over a river. In the afternoon we will go to the village of Toconao to visit the local handcraft market, then visit the Flamenco Reserve on the Atacama Salt Flats. On the return to San Pedro we will visit the town of Tulor.
Day 8: Hotel Altiplanico, San Pedro de Atacama.
This morning we will leave very early (around 4:30 am) for a full day trip approximately 100 kilometers from San Pedro to visit the Geisers del Tatio. The trip there will be all in the dark, arriving before sunrise. We will have breakfast, then walk out to the Geothermic Field, where the view of the vapor columns and hundreds of boiling pools of water with the backdrop of high mountain peaks is truly amazing. You can take a thermal bath before heading back to San Pedro in the early afternoon, passing by the Tocorpuri and Sairecabur Volcanoes on the way. Remainder of the afternoon free in San Pedro de Atacama.
Day 9: Hotel Radisson, Antofagasta. Today we will leave San Pedro and make a stop for an early lunch and then visit the world’s largest copper mine of Chuquicamata. Then we drive to the port city of Antofagasta where we will check into our hotel. Before dinner we will drive outside of town to see the unique rock formation called “La Portada” at sunset.
Day 10: Hotel Rocas de Bahia, Bahia Inglesa.
This morning we will need to leave early, being the longest drive on the trip. We will enter the Pan de Azucar National Park, an area with a microclimate supporting varied flora and fauna, including many species of cacti, as well as sea lions, pelicans and guanacos. We might even be able to hire a local fisherman to take us around the Pan de Azucar Island to see the nesting site of around 2,000 Humboldt penguins. Then we continue along the coast to reach our destination for the next two nights of Bahia Inglesa, or English Bay, where we can take a dip in the Caribbean blue waters (though not quite as warm!).
Day 11: Hotel Rocas de Bahia, Bahia Inglesa. Today you can relax in the beautiful surroundings, with numerous activities available, including 4X4 excursions, bike riding, sea kayaking, or simply hanging out on the beaches.
Day 12: Hotel Costa Real, La Serena. This morning we continue south, making a stop in the town of Copiapo, then having our lunch in Vallenar. Then we will enter the region of Coquimbo and drive into the beach resort town of La Serena, Chile’s second oldest city. Tonight we will take an astrological tour to the Mamalluca Observatory for some stargazing, then return to La Serena for the night.
Day 13: Apart Hotel, Las Tacas. This morning we will spend in La Serena, visiting its archeological museum and having lunch in the handcraft market of La Recova. Then we will take the short drive along the coast to the upscale beach resort of Las Tacas, where we can enjoy the white sands beach for the rest of the afternoon.
Day 14: Hotel Sheraton Miramar, Vina del Mar.
Can you imagine coming across a lush cloud forest with similar trees and vegetation to that found more than 1,200 kilometers south, seemingly in the middle of the desert? Today we will see just that as we visit the Fray Jorge National Park. Then we will take another detour off the main road to witness one of the few places where we can see both petroglyphs and pictographs in the Valle del Encanto. Then we drive down to the second most populated section of the country and enter Viña del Mar, where we will check into our ocean-front hotel for the night.
Day 15: Hotel Plaza San Francisco, Santiago. Today we will take a walking tour in Vina del Mar and then in the legislative capitol of the country, the hillside port city of Valparaiso before driving to Santiago.
Day 16: Home. Breakfast, then transfer to the airport for your flight back home or to continue your vacation.
Extensions available. Ask for details.
Also see tour packages in:
South America Chile Nature & Wildlife National Parks Multi-activity