Pablo Neruda had a special affection for Chile as a country “invented by a poet” (he was referring to Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga, author of the epic La Araucana). But long before the 16th-century nobleman-poet arrived, nature itself had engaged in some inspired poetic license in creating this elegantly thin, magnificently varied land.
On this top-to-bottom journey, you first explore Santiago and travel through the beautiful Casablanca wine valley (with tastings en route) to Chile’s cultural capital, Valparaiso. Next, fly north to the Atacama Desert, the world’s driest place (parts of it have gone centuries with no measurable rainfall) and home to spectacular, otherworldly geology. You’ll hike, climb, perhaps even bike and horseback ride through the high tableland with sprawling salt flats and 20,000-foot volcanoes. After visiting geysers and Aymara villages, you fly south to Chile’s poetic masterpiece, Torres del Paine, for a couple days of sensational hiking. Impossibly blue glacial lakes, dramatic granite pillars, and gnarled Magellanic trees greet you on your rambles from one breathtaking vista to another. Fully invigorated and inspired, you depart for home via Santiago.
If you’re intrigued by moai statues, note that we have a handy extension to Easter Island.
Itinerary at a Glance
- Day 1: arrive Santiago, city tour
- Day 2: Valparaíso
- Day 3: fly from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama
- Days 4 & 5: Atacama Desert
- Day 6: return to Santiago
- Day 7: fly to Punta Arenas
- Days 8 & 9: explore Torres del Paine
- Day 10: fly to Santiago, overnight
- Day 11: depart Santiago.
Optional Easter Island Extension:
- Day 12: fly to Easter Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest “open air museum”
- Days 13 & 14: explore the island, its trails, stonework, archaeological sites, beaches, pools and craters
- Day 15: fly to Santiago to connect with international flight.