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Excursion to Valparaiso
The historic World Heritage city of Valparaíso, or Valpo for short, is Chile’s oldest port and home to the country’s National Congress since democracy was re-established in 1989. The city’s many hills are covered in a glorious sprawl of multi-coloured houses covering every nook and cranny, creating a spectacular panorama which can be enjoyed from a number of vantage points.
Stroll through the streets and soak up the quirky and bohemian atmosphere, different to anywhere else in Chile. We’ll visit the UNESCO recognised historic city centre, in addition to the parliamentary building, and the War of the Pacific memorial. Due to the steep terrain in some parts of the city, it is home to numerous funicular lifts that transport residents straight up and down the hillsides. Many of these lifts have fallen into disrepair, but we’ll be able to use one of the most iconic functioning lifts on our way to a viewpoint.
Calama - San Pedro de Atacama
In the morning, fly to Calama near the Atacama Desert where you'll transfer to your hotel in the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Once you've checked in the tour leader will offer a short orientation tour of the town for anyone who wants to join. At dusk you'll set out to the Valley of the Moon. This bizarre lunar landscape is set ablaze with colour at sunset, the strange rock formations framed by the Lincancabur Volcano. Stay until the sun goes down to enjoy the array of colours before returning to San Pedro.
Visit Salar de Atacama
Departing San Pedro, set off towards the Altiplano Lagoons (Lagunas Altiplanicas) and stop en route at Socaire, noteworthy for its peculiar architecture using rough stonework. The inhabitants still live by the age-old methods of planting terraced fields with corn, wheat and potatoes.
Continue for about another 30km/19miles, climbing an additional 1000m/3,281ft in altitude to reach the highland lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques. The two volcanoes of the same name are visible in the background (almost 6000m/19,686ft high). The twin lagoons are a deep blue, each framed by a white salt crust, which creates a memorable contrast to the yellow highland grass all around. Even the duck species that breed here, the foxes, and the grazing vicuñas, respect the majestic silence here. Continue on to visit the Salar de Atacama, a salt lake of huge proportions (3000 sq km/1,158 sq miles), which is home to several flamingo species.
El Tatio geysers
Transfer to Calama airport and fly to Santiago and then Puerto Montt, the capital of the Lake District. This is a long travelling day, that will likely require an early start depending on the flight schedules. On arrival in the Lake District region, you'll travel for 30 minutes to Puerto Varas on the shores of Lago Llanquihue. Once here, enjoy a brief tour of the 'City of the Roses' as it has come to be called because of the tremendous variety of roses all over town. Afterwards, transfer to your hotel where you can relax for the evening.
Puerto Montt - Puerto Varas
Transfer to Calama airport and fly to Santiago and then Puerto Montt, the capital of the Lake District. This is a long travelling day, that will likely require an early start depending on the flight schedules. On arrival in the Lake District region we drive for 30 minutes to Puerto Varas on the shores of Lago Llanquihue. Once here we shall enjoy a brief tour of the 'City of the Roses' as it has come to be called because of the tremendous variety of roses all over town. Afterwards, we transfer to our hotel where we can relax for the evening.
Lago Todos Los Santos - Osorno Volcano
Today, set out for a full day inthe Lake District. Drive along the shore of Lago Llanquihue and enjoy breathtaking views of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. Your first real stop will be at the Saltos de Petrohue where cooling lava from the Osorno Volcano formed a series of rapids and waterfalls. Together they form an impressive sculpture of extruded volcanic rock shaped by thousands of years of river flow.
Upon arriving at the landing at Petrohue, you'll board a small typical wooden boat for a short cruise of Lago Todos los Santos (All Saints Lake). The lake is surrounded by high mountains and the lower slopes are thickly forested. As you pull away from the landing and the source of the river Petrohue, the view is quickly stolen away by the tremendous size and proximity of snow-capped Osorno Volcano behind. Return to Petrohue and take an easy hike in the lower lava fields of the volcano. You'll also visit the Green Lagoon (Laguna Verde).
After breakfast, transfer to the capital of the Lake District, Puerto Montt, and take a sightseeing tour of the city. Puerto Montt was founded in 1853 by German colonists on the site of an indigenous Mapuche community. Downtown, take time to walk about the main squares and historical monuments. Afterwards, visit the port, where there is a large handicraft market full of artisan goods. You'll then transfer to the airport to board a flight to Punta Arenas, Patagonia - the southernmost city in Chile.
Magdalena Island penguin colony - Puerto Natales
This morning is free for an optional excursion by boat to Magdalena Island, home to over 150,000 penguins and one of the most spectacular wildlife reserves in Chile. Please note that this excursion is weather dependant. For those who do not wish to join the excursion, the group leader will conduct a walking tour of Ounta Arenas (entrance fees to museum $5 and cemetary $4 not included). In the afternoon, you'll drive north through the vast patagonian 'Pampa' to Puerto Natales with terrific views en route of the Straits of Magellan and across the chilly Antarctic waters to Tierra del Fuego.
Torres del Paine National Park
Start early this morning for a full day of sightseeing inside the Torres del Paine National Park. This is a busy day of travelling and walking including unforgettable views of the Towers and the Torres Massif, Lago Grey and Grey Glacier as well as the tremendous wildlife found in this region. You'll take some short hikes to reach the most beautiful points of view within the National Park.
Balmaceda Glacier - Puerto Natales
Today, enjoy another day of sightseeing and short walks in Torres del Paine before heading back to the lodge in Puerto Natales. For those that would like to, there is the possibility (optional) of returning by zodiac. This excursion involves boarding zodiacs to sail through Rio Serrano.
The river ends at the Fjord Ultima Esperanza where you'll change to a boat to approach the spectacular Balmaceda Glacier flowing out from the eastern side of Bernardo O'Higgins National Park.
Punta Arenas - Santiago
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