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Santiago + Patagonia + Valparaiso (self drive)


CCC12S
12 NIGHTS
FROM £2,195
Per person sharing
International flights + car hire quoted separately
If you would like to self-drive in Chile, this holiday is for you. Starting from the capital of Santiago, head to the Chilean winelands to taste some of their famous wines. Then fly to Torres del Paine to explore spectacular Patagonia & view the Grey Glacier. Complete your holiday relaxing in the historic port city of Valparaiso on the Pacific Coast - a World Heritage Site.
Self Drive Chile Winelands Photo Valparaiso Patagonia Santiago
• 
Santiago City Tour
• 
Chilean Winelands
• 
Colchagua Valley
• 
Santa Cruz
• 
Torres del Paine
• 
Walking & Hiking
• 
Lake Pehoe
• 
Grey Glacier
• 
Patagonia Icefields
• 
Valparaiso
• 
Santiago City Tour
• 
Chilean Winelands
• 
Colchagua Valley
• 
Santa Cruz
• 
Torres del Paine
• 
Walking & Hiking
• 
Lake Pehoe
• 
Grey Glacier
• 
Patagonia Icefields
• 
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
This morning collect your hire car and drive 2.5-hours to the sleepy town of Santa Cruz in the Colchagua Valley.
 
Check into your hotel in the beautiful Chilean Winelands and relax among the vineyards of this famous wine-producing region, situated between the snow-capped Andes and the coast.
Days 4 To 5
At leisure to explore Santa Cruz with its lovely colonial architecture and the lush Colchagua Valley, famous for its red wines - especially Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Syrah.
 
In Santa Cruz you should visit the Plaza de Armas, the pretty main square with its shops, restaurants and casino. The 19th-century church, which was damaged in the 2010 earthquake but has now been restored, faces this square, which hosts an annual 'Fiesta de la Vendimia' to celebrate the grape harvest. Also be sure to visit the Colchagua Museum, which has interesting displays of pre-Columbian art, archaeological items and Andean textiles.
 
You can also visit some of the surrounding wineries.
Day 6
Drive 2.5-hours to Santiago Airport for your onward flight.

Arrive at Punta Arenas Airport, collect your hire car and drive 2.5-hour to Puerto Natales - the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park.
 
Check into your hotel in this former fishing town situated on the Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope) Sound.
Day 7
Today we recommend self-driving 2-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 (pay entrance fee locally - or take an optional full day tour).
 
Drive past Figueroa Lake and 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. Along the way stop at the village of Cerro Castillo where you can see the Monument of the Horse sculpture, enjoy a coffee and buy typical handcrafts from the region. 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 across the waters of Lake Sarmiento, 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.
 
Weather permitting, from the viewpoint at Lake Amarga ('Bitter Lake') you will have one of the best views of the three granite Torres Del Paine ('Towers of Blue') from which the park takes its name. Guanaco are plentiful on the open plains of the eastern sector of the park, as are their main predator - the puma (also called mountain lion, or cougar), but as they are nocturnal and have excellent camouflage they are rarely seen. Your next stop is at the 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 in the park at over 10,000 ft (3,050 m). You can then take a 15-minute walk to the powder blue Salto Grande Waterfall that flows into Lake Pehoé.
 
In the afternoon continue driving along this beautiful chain of glacial lakes to Grey Lake, 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 spectacular blue icebergs that have fallen from the Grey Glacier, which can be seen in the distance.
 
Then leave Torres del Paine, stopping on the return journey at the Milodón Cave on Benitez Hill. The remains of several extinct animals have been found here - including the sabre toothed tiger, the American horse and a gigantic herbiverous mammal known as the Milodon. The main cave is 200 meters deep, 80 meters wide and 30 meters high and has a life-size replica of the Milodon. Return to Puerto Natales in the late afternoon.
Day 8
This morning we suggest an optional full day excursion by boat from nearby Puerto Bories to the spectacular Serrano Glacier.
 
We navigate through the beautiful Ultima Esperanza Fjord, passing remote cattle and sheep estancias (ranches) until we enter Bernardo O´Higgins National Park. At certain times of the year you may see sea lions taking refuge in the cliffs and Andean condors (the largest vulture) soaring high above the cliffs. You will also see comorants and other sea birds.
 
The first glacier we see is the icy blue Balmaceda Glacier that is over 1,000 years old, but is now receding due to global warming. At the end of the fjord we disembark at Puerto Toro and walk 30-minutes each way through a tranquil indigenous forest to the foot of the astonishing Serrano Glacier, a fantastic natural wonder that is part of the Southern Patagonia Icefields. If you are fortunate you may see a large chunk of ice detaching and crashing into the waters below, a process known as "calving". If you have mobility issues and do not wish to walk to the glacier, there is a lookout point close to the jetty.
 
Afterwards we return to the boat, stopping on the way back at a traditional estancia to enjoy an included 'asado al palo' (typical Magellanan barbeque). We continue sailing back to Puerto Bories, arriving in the late afternoon.
 
Note: Wear good walking shoes and dress warmly for this excursion with a fleece, waterproof jacket, gloves, beanie and scarf as Patagonia often has four seasons in one day.  From May to September this excursion is only available on a Sunday.
Day 9
At leisure to explore more of the stunning scenery around Puerto Natales independently.
Day 10
Drive 2.5-hours to Punta Arenas Airport for your onward flight.

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 11
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 12
At leisure to explore the vibrant city of Valparaiso and its two famous hills, Alegre and Concepcion, using the old funiculars and trolleybuses. Walk along the promenades and climb the many staircases, viewing the amazing and colourful graffiti art that can be found on almost every street
 
Also be sure to take in the views from the 21 May Lookout, reached by funicular. You can also take a taxi to La Sebastiana Museum, the hilltop house of Nobel prize winning poet Pablo Neruda, which features many of his personal effects and has stunning views over the city. Visit the Naval Museum, take a boat ride on the bay, or a day tour to the winelands of the Casablanca Valley.
 
After a day of taking in the street life, you will be spoilt for choice as you relax in one of the city's numerous restaurants and bars.
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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