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Walking in Chile: Lake District (self drive) + Patagonia


CCW12S
12 NIGHTS
FROM £2,497
Per person sharing
International flights + car hire quoted separately
Explore beautiful Chile, including Puerto Varas in the scenic Lake District, set on Lake Llanquihue. Two snow-capped volcanoes - Osorno and Calbuco - are clearly visible from the lakefront. Visit Puerto Montt & the fishing village of Angelmó. Then fly to Patagonia to walk in Torres del Paine National Park & view the Grey Glaciers. End your holiday relaxing in historic Valparaiso. Car hire or transfers options available.
Chile Walking Holidays Lake District Torres Del Paine Patagonia Photo Valparaiso
• 
Santiago
• 
Lake District & Puerto Varas
• 
Lake Llanquihue
• 
Osorno Volcano
• 
Puerto Montt
• 
Torres del Paine
• 
Lake Pehoe
• 
Grey Glacier
• 
Walking & Hiking
• 
Valparaiso
• 
Santiago
• 
Lake District & Puerto Varas
• 
Lake Llanquihue
• 
Osorno Volcano
• 
Puerto Montt
• 
Torres del Paine
• 
Lake Pehoe
• 
Grey Glacier
• 
Walking & Hiking
• 
Valparaiso
Day 1
You will be met at Santiago Airport and transferred into the capital of Santiago de Chile.
 
Check into your hotel in this sophisticated and cosmopolitan city, situated in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped Andes Mountains and the beautiful Chilean Coastal Range.
Day 2
This morning enjoy a half day private tour of the modern city of Santiago.
 
We start in the downtown area of this relatively compact city, where modern buildings have transformed the landscape, and visit Santa Lucia Hill where the city of Santiago was founded in 1541.
 
We continue to the Plaza de Armas in the heart of the old colonial city and bustling Ahumada Boulevard with its many shops, street performers and vendors. Here you will be able to see some beautiful neo-classical buildings – including the 18th century Cathedral of Santiago and the early 19th century Royal Court Palace, which now houses the National History Museum. Also enjoy outside views of the Municipal Offices, the Post Office and the current Presidential Palace, La Moneda. You will have the opportunity to taste a ‘Pisco Sour’, see local handcrafts and walk through some of the more traditional streets of the city, before being dropped off at your hotel.
 
Your afternoon is at leisure to explore more of this lively city independently.
 
Note: Most museums are closed on Mondays.
Day 3
Transfer to Santiago Airport for your onward flight.

Arrive at Puerto Montt Airport, collect your hire car and drive 30-minutes to Puerto Varas - the "City of Roses", surrounded by the mountains of the enchanting Lake District.
 
Check into your hotel and relax in this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Days 4 To 6
At leisure to explore Puerto Varas, known for its strong German community and traditions and the surrounding lakes and mountains of the Lake District.
 
Situated on beautiful Lago Llanquihue, two snow-capped volcanoes - Osorno and Calbuco - are clearly visible from the lakefront. With its streets and avenues adorned with rose bushes, you can drive up Philippi Hill for wonderful views of the lake, which is the second largest lake in Chile. You can drive to nearby Puerto Montt and the fishing village of Angelmó, with its fascinating selection of arts and crafts.
 
You can also visit Vicente Perez Rosalis National Park for closer views of the imposing Osomo Volcano. Here you can walk through a forest of coigues and other native trees, stopping at 1,000 m to view the La Burbuja Crater, before continuing to the ski centre where there is the option of taking a ski lift for panoramic views of the landscape.
 
Upper and Lower Frutillar and its church offer another opportunity to admire Llanquihue Lake and the Osorno Volcano, while the fast flowing turquoise waters of the Petrohue River are known for adrenalin-filled white water rafting and fly fishing. You can also visit Alerce Andino National Park, with its beautiful rainforests and giant larch trees.
 
A day excursion to fascinating Chiloe Island, with its iconic wooden churches, is also highly recommended. Take the 40-minute ferry (which departs every 20-minutes) to Chacao; view the old wooden bridge and cemetery at Quemchi and the 16th century church at Colo. The island capital of Castro has a craft market and blue whales gather off the northwest coast, where three islets are breeding grounds for Magellanic and Humboldt penguins.
Day 7
Drive 30-minutes to Puerto Montt Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Punta Arenas Airport and transferred 4-hours across the dry scrubland of the Magellanic Steppe to Torres del Paine National Park - a 242,000 hectare UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its soaring mountains, electric-blue lakes and many glaciers.
 
We drive past several large cattle estancias, which are home to the Chilean 'baqueanos' (also called 'huasos' or cowboys), who drink a distinctive caffeine-rich herbal tea known as 'mate', served in a round cup, and love to compete in local rodeos.
 
After a short stop in Puerto Natales, a former fishing town situated on the Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope) Sound, we continue across the Patagonian Steppe. A variety of rare wildlife can be seen in these pampas (lowlands) including the elegant guanaco, a type of humpless camel related to the llama and the lesser rhea, which is related to the ostrich and emu. You may see giant condors soaring in the thermals, as well as eagles. Grey and red fox also live here, but are rarely seen.
 
After seeing your first postcard views of the Paine Massif, we enter Torres del Paine National Park. Here the landscape changes dramatically to spectacular glacier lakes frequented by marine birds, lofty waterfalls and magnificent granite mountain peaks covered by ice. The enormous Campo de Hielo Sur icecap gives the park four main glaciers - Grey, Dickson, Zapata and Tyndall. Two other glaciers descend from the west side of the central massif. Check into your lodge in these spectacular surroundings.
 
Note: Your airport driver will only speak Spanish.
Days 8 To 10
At leisure to relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery of Torres Del Paine National Park.
 
Activities vary by lodge, but most offer daily excursions to view the chain of beautiful glacier lakes that flow into Lake Pehoé. These include:
 
Lake Amarga ('Bitter Lake') which has one of the best views of the three granite Torres Del Paine ('Towers of Blue') from which the park takes its name. Flamingos can sometimes be seen here.
Lake Azul with its azure blue waters and wonderful views.
Lake Nordenskjold lookout, with its view over the different peaks of the Paine Massif, including the famous 'horns' (Cuernos del Paine) and Paine Grande, the highest mountain at over 10,000 ft (3,050 m).
Salto Grande Waterfall where you can walk 15-minutes to get really close to this powder blue cascade.
Lake Grey where you can walk across a hanging bridge over the Pingo River to the shores of the lake. From here walk 30-minutes each way to get up close to the spectacular blue icebergs that fall from the Grey Glacier, which can be seen in the distance.
 
The Lake Grey Glacier boat ride is also not to be missed. This navigation will take you right up to the face of this mighty glacier..
.
Walkers and hikers will also be spoilt for choice, with options ranging from easy to extremely tough:
The Fauna Trail in the eastern section of the park is an easy 1.5-hour walk (3-hours if done both ways) to a cave with some old paintings. Guanaco are plentiful on these open plains and this is therefore the habitat of their main predator - the elusive puma (also called mountain lion, or cougar) - but as they are nocturnal and have excellent camouflage they are rarely seen.
The Condor Lookout (2-hours) is a steeper but still relatively easy hike up to the nesting grounds of these huge vultures.
The Base of the Towers is an iconic hike to the base of the Torres Del Paine, but it is an extremely tough (and steep) all day hike that takes 8 to 9 hours.
The W Trek is a 4-day hike that combines the Base of the Towers with a W-shaped route around the front of the Paine Massif and into two valleys, but the first part of it can be done as a day hike. The hike is long, but not difficult.
Ice Hike on Grey Glacier (6-hours) is a challenging but thrilling hike on ice, using crampons that are provided.
 
If you would like to horse ride through this spectacular scenery, be sure to request an estancia (ranch) situated near the entrance to the park.
 
Note: Lodge charges vary depending upon the programme you have booked (see lodge notes). If you have booked on an all-inclusive basis most of these activities are usually included, but supplements may be payable for the Grey Glacier navigation and the Ice Hike.
Day 11
Today transfer 4-hours to Punta Arenas Airport for your onward flight.
 
Note: Your airport driver will only speak Spanish.

You will be met at Santiago Airport and transferred 1.5-hours to the historic seaport of Valparaiso.
 
Check into your hotel in Valparaiso, the second largest city in the country and home to the Chilean Parliament (the Congress of Chile). Prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, this cosmopolitan city was the most important Pacific seaport on the crucial trade route that linked the American west coast with Europe, via the Strait of Magellan.
Day 12
This morning enjoy a 3-hour private Walking Tour of the lively and chaotic city of Valparaiso, with its quirky and eclectic architecture, many parks, historic monuments, bars and restaurants.
 
The homes around this natural harbour were built over 42 steep hills, two of which - Alegre ('Happy') and Concepcion - are now UNESCO World Heritage sites Their many stairways, colourful houses, old funicular elevators and trolleybuses are a real feature - as is the amazing graffiti you will find everywhere. The most important square is Plaza Sotomayor, which is situated on the sea shore.
 
Your afternoon is free to explore more of Valparaiso independently.
Day 13
Transfer 1.5-hours to Santiago Airport for your flight home.
 
Note: Your airport driver will only speak Spanish.

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