Chile & Bolivia

Discover some of the most dramatic and largely untouched landscapes in Latin America, including Patagonia, Atacama Desert and the Bolivian Antiplano.

Country Information

Chile

Chile & Bolivia New Reality

(Countries Visited)

Chile


(Interest Type(s))

Sustainable Travel

,

Adventure Travel


(Tour Length)

16 Days


Tour Highlights

Starting at: $11,300
  • New copyExplore Chile’s remarkable Torres Del Paine National Park
  • Choose from a wide range of activities to discover Patagonia – on foot, horseback, by van or boat
  • Travel the great Atacama Desert, and immense region of cordilleras, volcanoes, salt flats and hot springs, where pre-Columbian Andean cultures live on today in small villages and towns
  • In Bolivia, set out on a five day exploration by van and on foot of the Bolivian Antiplano, including the massive Salar de Uyuni, the largest and highest salt pan on earth
  • Experience authentic encounters in these environments with stays in explora lodges and camp sites

Day 1: Santiago, Chile
Welcome to Chile! After you exit the airport, your Big Five representative will be waiting to welcome you and privately transferred to your hotel.  Hotel Lastarria – Double Room

Day 2: Santiago / Torres Del Paine National Park, Patagonia
This morning, fly to Punta Arenas.  Upon arrival, explora staff greets you and transfers you with other guests in a comfortable van to Hotel Salto Chico. The trip takes approximately five hours (2.5 hours from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales on a 249-kilometer/155-mile paved road and 2.5 hours from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park along a 149-kilometer/93-mile dirt road).  The trip includes a snack break. Patagonia is a vast region in the southernmost tip of South America. Indigenous civilizations, sailors and pioneers have contributed to the region’s fame. In the heart of Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park encompasses 242,002 hectares/598,000 acres.  At 51º07’ south latitude and 73º10’ west longitude, the park is surrounded by the impressive Paine Mountain Range (Cordillera del Paine). With unusually shaped granite peaks, glaciers, lakes and waterfalls, plus unique flora and fauna, Torres del Paine Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site, is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet.  At your lodge, explora Patagonia, the architectural design creates an aura of simplicity while showcasing the unfathomable beauty of the natural environment. Strategically set on the shore of Lake Pehoé, the hotel was conceived as an exploration base. It features refined comfort for total relaxation and provides the best gear ideally suited for exploring Patagonia. The nearby Casa de Baños del Ona features an indoor heated pool, exercise machines, sauna, massage room and open-air Jacuzzis.  The interior utilizes traditional lenga and cypress woods, handcrafted slate and copper plus furniture made by local artisans. The guides are fluent in English. Explorations require the use of a parka and/or water-repellent windbreaker, wide pants (longjohns or thermal underwear may be advisable at times), good hiking boots with rubber soles (leather or waterproof fabric), or trekking shoes for easier walks, gloves, caps, sunglasses or ski goggles, lip protector and sun block. The hotel’s interior has a pleasant temperature ideal for light and informal clothing. explora Patagonia – Cordillera Paine Room (B,L,D)

Days 3/5: Torres Del Paine National Park
Each day, choose from five different adventures out of a total of more than 40 explorations on foot, horseback, van or boat; half-day or full day. Adventures for each day are selected according to the weather, guests' desires, the duration and difficulties. Excursions into this magnificent landscape are led by expert bilingual guides with a maximum of ten people per guide and all the necessary equipment.  At explora, rain, wind, a sudden snowstorm, or bright sunshine are simply part of the experience. You will be well prepared to enjoy the adventure in every climate condition. explora Patagonia – Cordillera Paine Room (B,L,D)

Day 6: Torres Del Paine National Park / Punta Arenas / Santiago
You are transferred back to Punta Arenas today for your flight to Santiago. Upon your arrival, you are transferred to your hotel. Lastarria Hotel – Double Room (B)

Day 7: Santiago / Atacama Desert
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Calama and the gateway to the Atacama Desert. Upon arrival, you are met by the staff of explora and transferred to your hotel. Between the Pacific Ocean and the Cordillera de los Andes, Atacama is an immense desert with cordilleras, volcanoes, salt flats and hot springs. It has felt the footsteps of pre-Columbian Andean cultures that live on today in the area’s small villages. The Atacama culture made important agricultural developments as well as producing particularly beautiful textiles and metallurgy. Their lands were the commercial crossroads for the peoples of Bolivia, Argentina and the Pacific coast. In Atacama, it is possible to appreciate this history as found in the archeological monuments, cemeteries, churches and villages. The traditions still live in religious festivities, in its crafts and in the local folklore. The Atacama oasis, in the middle of the driest desert in the world, is situated at 2,500 meters/8,200 feet above sea level, making the Atacama not only the driest, but also the highest desert on earth. For this reason, the year-round climate is pleasant and the transparency of the light is unique. The outlandish geography of volcanoes, salt flats and high altitude wetlands, has an unparalleled appeal. The oasis of San Pedro is the only place in this area where human life is possible. Once you leave San Pedro and travel towards the altiplanos and volcanoes, you begin to understand the idea of remoteness.  You experience an entirely different world, an untamed place far from civilization. The program at explora en Atacama, based at Hotel de Larache in the oasis of San Pedro, puts visitors in the middle of a fantasy where exploration, the leaving and returning, acquires a shape of its own. You hotel features 52 luxury rooms; each with Jacuzzi and a comfortable sitting area. All drinks, including alcohol and a selection of wines are included as is the use of the four connected outdoor pools and saunas; access to sala de exploradores (explorers’ room) equipped with maps and books to better understand the region; use of explora’s horses during excursions (gaiters and helmets provided); and use of mountain bikes (helmets provided). Enjoy daily explorations through Atacama's natural environment, and the sites of pre-Columbian, colonial and contemporary cultures, offered according to program, with bilingual guides. explora En Atacama (B,L,D)

Days 8/9: Atacama Desert
Each day, join a variety of explorations; walking, horseback riding or biking. Explorations in Atacama will give you a glimpse into the geography, history, fauna, geological features, volcanoes and ancient villages. Choose from a menu of eight to ten different options specifically selected for each day, according to the weather, guests' desires, the duration and its difficulties. Programs have been designed to allow for gradual acclimatization to the altitude. Some excursions take place in the vicinity of San Pedro, between 2,500 and 3,000 meters/8,200 and 9,850 feet above sea level; while others are at intermediate levels between 3,000 and 4,500 meters/9,840 and 13,120 feet; and the most demanding reach heights of up to 6,000 meters/19,680 feet. Conquer high altitude peaks or simply go for a walk, ride a horse or relax at the hotel – your choice. The weather in the Atacama is pleasant throughout the year.  Activities are adapted to all ages and levels of abilities to insure everyone gets to know the nature or the history of Atacama. explora En Atacama (B,L,D)

Day 10: Atacama Desert / Tambo Canapa, Bolivia
Early this morning, set out in your van on a journey through the Licancabur Volcano mountains and cross into Bolivia to begin your discovery of one of the most pristine and awe-inspiring places on earth – the Bolivian Altiplano. Along the way, you will stay in remote explora camps for a genuine experience of this wild place. Visit Sol de Mañana, a geothermal field at 4,700 meters/15,420 feet. Explore a series of salt pans, wetlands and lagoons, one of which is the Colorada Lagoon, a perfect place to watch flamingos. After lunch, travel to Cañapa, and your first camp shelter - Tambo Cañapa Camp, at 4,300 meters/14,107 feet.  It encompasses five containers that have been redesigned with basic but comfortable facilities.  During this journey you stay in two types of shelters: isolated containers that have been redesigned, and old shepherd cabins that have been restored. Each shelter includes a sleeping area, a bathroom with cold and hot water and a living area with a kitchen. Each room includes four small beds and sleeping-bags adapted to the local weather conditions, and private bathroom. In these surroundings you begin to understand the immense and solitary nature of the Bolivian Altiplano. Tambo Canapa Camp Site (B,L,D) 

Day 11: Cañapa / Chituca
This morning, you have the opportunity to investigate the unique geography, flora and fauna found here. At this high altitude, between 4,300 meters/14,107 feet and 3,600 meters/11,811 feet, you walk through former mines, dramatic valleys and boundless plains until you reach the Turquiri Lagoon with its diversity of high plains birds. After lunch, set out towards your second camp site at Chituca, 3,750 meters/12,303 feet.  Chituca is a former shepherd settlement of small stone cabins. The setting is simple and enchanting. After a good dinner, relax by the fire and take in the silence of the Altiplano.  Salar de Uyuni.  Chituca Camp Site (B,L,D)

Day 12: Chituca / Tagua / Salar de Uyuni
After breakfast, enjoy activities such as a visit to the cactus forest and the old terrace farms; or visit the village of San Pedro de Quemes, a former Spanish settlement with panoramic views of the plateau and the Salar.  Travel on to Las Dos Estrellas, also called the cave of the galaxies, filled with surprising geological formations. Learn about the mythology and hear stories about the cultures of the region.  You will come to a massive plain of salt – Salar de Uyuni. At an elevation of 3,665 meters/12,024 feet, it is the largest and highest salt pan on earth. You encounter a tiny fraction of this landscape as you walk the endless white flats and some of its islands. After lunch, travel on to Tagua, a small village on the edge of the Salar, near the Tunupa Volcano.  Tunupa Camp Site (B,L,D)

Day 13: Tunupa Volcano
The Tunupa Volcano is clothed in shades of red, orange and yellow from volcanic minerals in the soil. At 5,432 meters/17,821 feet, it is not easy to hike up this mountain. You must be in good physical condition to attempt this hike.  That said, for mountain climbers, this experience is worth it.  An easier hike walks around the volcano flanks. As you travel through small villages, wetlands and archeological sites, the Salar will always be present, changing colors throughout the day. Tunupa Camp Site (B,L,D)

Day 14: Tunupa Volcano / Aravilla
Leave early this morning for the Chilean border, walking through the village of Llica, where you stop briefly to sample their famous salteñas, typical Bolivian empanadas. Later, you come to another large pan, the Salar de Coipasa at 3,600 meters/11,811 feet before heading to Cochane at the border with Chile. Crossing usually takes time as the administrative procedure is quite long.  In the evening, you reach Aravilla, a small village on the Chilean side of the border that was abandoned a few decades ago and where your last shelter is. Depending on your arrival time, you may investigate the wetland next to the shelter, which many believe is the most beautiful of the Altiplano. Aravilla Camp Site (B,L,D)

Day 15: Aravilla/ Iquique
In the morning, walk to the small village of Mauque. There, enjoy a light lunch before descending to Iquique. This amazing route will take you through mountain chains of complex color ranges. At the end of the route, you come across Humberstone, a giant, old saltpeter works from the 1920s. You can hear the wind brush through the old buildings. You reach Iquique in the late afternoon, ready to enjoy a farewell dinner.  Hotel Iquique (B,L,D)

Day 16: Iquique / Santiago / Depart
Today, you are transferred to the airport to catch your departing flight. If you have a later flight, can take some time to look around the city or enjoy its beaches before boarding your flight to Santiago and home. (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancy:  October 1 - November 30, 2014 from $11,300.

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