President’s Pick: Chile’s Patagonia & Mapuche Culture

“Everywhere I look when I see itineraries for Chile, I keep seeing the same four or five locations over and over. For quite some time, I felt that something more existed, an experience or interaction that not only showed me something new about Chile, it also met a personal requirement of mine regarding sustainability. Enter the Mapuche communities, one of the oldest indigenous cultures in a country. There is tremendous history in Chile dating back to the Incas and beyond that reaches beyond Chile’s tourist locations that everyone already visits. I am delighted to be able to take our guests off the track to see the real Chile.”

Country Information

Chile & Bolivia


President's Pick: Chile's Patagonia & Mapuche Culture President’s Picks

(Countries Visited)

Chile & Bolivia



(Interest Type(s))

Romantic Getaways


Sustainable Travel

(Tour Length)

11 Days

Tour Highlights

Starting at: $6,600
  • Discover the epicenter of the arts scene in cosmopolitan Santiago through some of the finest visual and performance arts Chile has to offerPP FINAL web sm
  • Enjoy a three-night cruise aboard the M/V Via Australis to discover one of the remotest corners of planet Earth, including the Strait of Magellan and the southern extreme of Patagonia
  • Anchor off Magdalena Island, halfway between Tierra del Fuego and the Chilean mainland, to see the immense colony of Magellanic penguins that now inhabit the island
  • Enjoy the magical world of Huilo Huilo set in the Patagonian Forest, and choose from some 40 activities such as trekking, horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking, sailing and fishing
  • In Pucón, explore the traditional Mapuche community’s way of living, visit a family in a typical Mapuche dwelling and learn about their skills at metal work, especially silver jewelry, wood carvings and the ancient tradition of weaving textiles and carpets

Day 1: Santiago, Chile
You welcome to Chile! Upon arrival after you have cleared customs and immigration, collect your bags and exit the airport. A Big Five Representative will be waiting to greet you and privately transfer you to the hotel. Built to blend seamlessly into the neighborhood of Lastarria, The Singular Santiago combines the style of early 20th century buildings with neoclassical French architectural influences. The result is a striking new addition to the Santiago cityscape. The hotel’s design embraces the artistic heritage of the neighborhood, while adding a cutting-edge modernity. It is an innovative homage to the city’s history and culture. The interior of the hotel recalls the palaces of past centuries and sets the tone for the entire environment. Each doorway is a portal not just into another room, but to another place, a singular setting with an ambiance all its own. The hotel spa is endlessly indulgent. The Singular rooftop bar on the elevated terrace treats you to a spectacular views as does the rooftop swimming pool.

The neighborhood is the epicenter of the arts scene here in Santiago. Walk just a few minutes, and you can discover some of the finest visual and performance art Chile has to offer at the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Visual Arts, the Gabriela Mistral Center and more. This afternoon, enjoy a half day city tour of "Classic Santiago". The tour will reveal a sophisticated city of color and contrast. Take in the classic city landmarks - the old district with its provincial atmosphere; the sophisticated, European-style modern districts of Vitacura, Las Condes and Providencia; the elegant Spanish colonial churches and gardens. Stroll through La Moneda Presidential Palace, a stately building representing the official seat of the Chilean government. Built in 1784 by Joaquin Toescai, it was originally the National Mint, hence its name: Coin Palace. Visit Club Hipico Racecourse, opened in 1870. The building was constructed by the architect Josue Smith and is based on the design of the French racecourse Long Champs. Its parks and gardens are in French baroque style and are incorporated into the building by means of a terrace and staircase. Enjoy a short walk and savor the panoramic views from the crest of San Cristobal Hill. At its summit, a 36m/20ft high white statue of the Virgin Mary dominates the horizon. Experience the Mercado Central (Central Market). This architecturally inspiring wrought-iron structure was shipped out piece by piece from England in the 19th century and is always bustling with a lively seafood market and dining options. THE SINGULAR SANTIAGO HOTEL

Day 2: Santiago / Punta Arenas
This morning you are transferred to the airport to board your flight to Punta Arenas. When you arrive, you are transferred for check in at the Australis travel center in time to board your cruise ship. Board the M/V Via Australis late this afternoon. After a welcoming cocktail reception hosted by the captain and his crew, the ship departs for one of the remotest corners of planet Earth. During the night, you cross the Strait of Magellan and enter the labyrinth of channels that define the southern extreme of Patagonia. The twinkling lights of Punta Arenas gradually fade into the distance as the ship enters the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. ABOARD VIA AUSTRALIS CRUISE (B,L,D)

Day 3: Brookes Glacier - Ainsworth Bay
At dawn, you sail to Brookes Fjord, an area that is a natural amphitheater shaped by glaciers in constant movement. Take will take a short walk towards one of the glaciers, enjoying the breathtaking surroundings and the view of the Darwin Mountain Range. Later, you will navigate through Almirantazgo Sound, arriving at Ainsworth Bay within Alberto De Agostini National Park. It’s the perfect spot to see the Marinelli Glacier descending from Darwin Mountain Range in the distance. You see evidence that shows how the land returns to life after a glacial retreat. You will also take a walk to a beaver dam in the stunning sub-polar Magellan Forest. Whether on the beach or the island, there’s a good chance of sighting Southern elephant seals, but the colony does move unpredictably so we can’t promise. ABOARD VIA AUSTRALIS CRUISE (B,L,D)

Day 4: Almirantazgo Bay - Parry Glacier
Early in the morning, you reach Almirantazgo Bay. Walk north from the mouth of a river and enter the sub- Antarctic forest before finally reaching a glacial waterfall. On our way back, you pass several beaver dams. Finally, you board Zodiac boats in order to observe elephant seals, cormorants and other birds as you boat back to the ship. This afternoon, you navigate Parry Fjord, where it’s possible to appreciate take in glaciers that come down to the sea from the upper ice fields. Onboard Zodiac boats, you motor to the far end of the fjord to see another natural amphitheater of glaciers, and if you are lucky some leopard seals. ABOARD VIA AUSTRALIS CRUISE (B,L,D)

Day 5: Magdalena Island / Punta Arenas / Valdivia / Huilo Huilo
After an overnight cruise across Admiralty Sound into the Strait of Magellan, you anchor off Magdalena Island, which lies about halfway between Tierra del Fuego and the Chilean mainland. Crowned by adistinctive lighthouse, the island used to be an essential source of supplies for navigators and explorers and is inhabited by an immense colony of Magellanic penguins. At the break of dawn, weather permitting, go ashore for a hike along a path that leads through thousands of penguins to a small museum inside the vintage 1902 lighthouse. Many other bird species are also found on the island. In September and April, when the penguins dwell elsewhere, this excursion is replaced by a ride aboard Zodiacs to Marta Island to observe South American sea lions. After a short sail south along the strait, disembarkation at Punta Arenas is scheduled for around 11:30 AM. *Camera extension poles are prohibited on Magdalena Island.

NOTE: All of the excursions described can normally be carried out. Transportes Marítimos Terra Australis S.A., Transportes Marítimos Via Australis S.A., and Transportes Marítimos Geo Australis S.A reserve the right to reschedule, shorten, or alter all or part of the itineraries and/or excursions without prior notice, in order to safeguard the wellbeing and safety of passengers, preserve the environment, or in the event of any extraordinary circumstances, acts of God or force majeure. For the same reasons, the hours of departure or arrival of the vessels are subject to change. There is no guarantee of wildlife sighting because the precise location of these animals often changes and cannot be confirmed.

After you disembark, you will be transferred to the airport to board your flight to Valdivia airport. Your lodge in the Patagonian Forest nestles on the north side of the river Puerto Fuy. It is near the "Salto de la Leona" waterfall. Enjoy the magical world of Huilo Huilo. Your lodge has spacious rooms featuring a warm decor with noble materials, and are all equipped with a private bathroom with free toiletries, seating area and minibar. All rooms also have a private bathtub on their own terrace facing the River Fuy. NAYOU LPI LODGE (B,D)

Days 6/7: Huilo Huilo
Over the next two days, you select from a wide range of activities, and more than 40 different excursions. You choose your level of activity, including: trekking, horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking, sailing, fishing and more. This area is also known for its living heritage as seen in a collection of indigenous groups that are known overall as the Mapuche. The collective term refers to a wide-ranging ethnicity of groups who share a common social, religious and economic structure, as well as a common linguistic heritage as Mapudungun speakers. Because they are spread out and separated into family clans, the Mapuche were able to resist the Spanish invaders for 300 years, and were never successfully conquered. The Mapuche community today is working to maintain a proud heritage through a number of initiatives, including workshops that benefit local students such as art, painting, dance, wood carving, music, and baking and chocolate-making. You interact with members of this community and learn about their rich traditions, customs and mythology. NAYOU LPI LODGE (B,L,D)

Day 8: Huilo Huilo / Pucón
Today, you travel to Pucón next to a lake and volcano. It offers a variety of sports and adventure activities. Pucón has a small Mapuche Museum and many places where you can still explore the traditional Mapuche way of living, eating and socializing. This ancient civilization has survived a difficult history, continually facing opposition, but they have remained free and independent. They are well known for their beautiful metal work, especially silver jewelry such as head dresses and necklaces as well as unique wooden carvings. They also have an ancient tradition of weaving textiles and carpets.

Your hotel is set in a beautiful spot along the shores of the Liucura River in a native park. The hotel is both a hacienda and a hotel. The hacienda operates a farm and has as its principal aim to provide fresh, healthy and delicious food to guests and to provide an interesting insight into the operations of a modern farm and cheese dairy. The hotel has been designed to offer spacious, luxurious, cozy and comfortable suites. Take in the mystic ambiance of these ancient Mapuche territories. The guides are passionate about their work and about sharing their knowledge and experience. You meet around the cozy fireplace or at the fruit bar with the excursion manager to arrange your next day’s activities or excursions. HACIENDA HOTEL VIRA VIRA – Double Room (B,L,D)

Days 9/10: Pucón
During your time here, you can explore the stunning waterfalls with views across Lake Villarica. At Quelhue, see a typical Mapuche dwelling and learn about the traditional customs in local communities. Adventures include exploring some of the many untouched natural parks by horse, climbing with our experienced guide on top of the volcano, river rafting or kayaking on the Trancura River. You can also see the workings of the farm, how they make cheese, try your hand at creating art, or even practice yoga with one of the hacienda’s owners. In the winter, you ski on the volcano, go snowboarding, snowshoeing, or venture out on a winter horseback ride. Be as active or as relaxed as you choose. One night, you experience Mapuche night with traditional Mapuche food and drink and a Lonko, a Mapuche Tribal Chief, who will tell you stories about his village and his ancestors. There will also be the chance for you to learn about Mapuche cooking and to prepare your own dishes, if you like. HACIENDA HOTEL VIRA VIRA (B,L,D)

Day 11: Pucón / Depart
Transfer to Temuco airport for your flight to Santiago to connect with your flight home. (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancy: Price starts from US$600 per person per day.

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