Wayfairer Travel Guide: Chile
From Atacama’s ethereal deserts to Patagonia’s snowy peaks, discover what makes Chile so unusual wit....Read More
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A two-week tour of Chile’s remote Patagonian corners, from Balmaceda in the Andes mountains, to Torres del Paine in the deep south.
Chile is packed with iconic wonders, with fascinated crowds flocking to see the stunning landscapes from the north to the south. However, the massive size of the country means there are plenty of untamed corners to explore. This 12-day tour takes you on a path less travelled to some of the most pristine landscapes in the world.
You’ll begin in Santiago, staying at a former 1920s mansion with views of Santa Lucia hill, before moving on to Lo Abarca, a beautiful wine region located just outside the famed Casablanca Valley.
Next, you’ll travel to the depths of Chile’s wilderness in the spectacular Aysén Region, staying at Loberias del Sur Hotel in Puerto Chacabuco, a sparsely populated area of southern Chile that’s brimming with pristine fjords, glaciers, mountains and national parks.
Sail the Laguna San Rafael National Park, marvelling at the dazzling San Valentin glacier and Monte San Valentin, the highest mountain in Chilean Patagonia, then visit the enchanting Marble Chapels of General Carrera Lake.
Continue further south to Puerto Natales, where you’ll visit La Estancia La Península, an incredibly beautiful ranch that’s only accessible by boat. You’ll also tour Torres del Paine National Park, and while you’ll see all the iconic sights, you’ll also have the opportunity to trek to the quieter gems of the park.
Throughout this 12-day itinerary, you’ll often find yourself in luxurious, tranquil retreats and spellbinding locations with few others around. After discovering Chile’s far-flung nooks and crannies, you’ll leave with some wonderfully unique experiences you’ll treasure forever.
You’ll be met on arrival at Santiago International Airport by a Wayfairer representative, and escorted to your private vehicle. Your driver will take you through the heart of the city to Hotel Magnolia, your accommodation for the night.
Hotel Magnolia is a former 1929 mansion, that has been lovingly restored and is now a heritage conservation building. Set in Santiago’s historic downtown, at the foot of the Cerro Santa Lucia hilltop park, Hotel Magnolia offers a fusion of history and luxury, with elegant rooms and a gourmet restaurant.
This afternoon, head to the hotel’s rooftop terrace, where you can enjoy superb cuisine, signature cocktails and Chilean wines, with a view of Santa Lucia hill.
After a buffet breakfast, you’ll be met at your hotel by your private English-speaking guide, for your adventure to the Casablanca Valley. Casablanca is one of the most important wine regions in in the country and produces premium white Chilean wines, thanks to the sheltered valley environment and the cool sea breeze that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean.
Along the way to the valley, you’ll visit Viña Loma Larga and Viña Casa Marin, two spectacular vineyards located around the Lo Abarca area. Led by a specialist guide, you’ll learn about the wine cellars, vineyard operations, and the qualities of different fine wines. The tours includes wine tastings and an entertaining Creole cooking class, where you’ll whip up traditional Creole cuisine, paired with local wines.
After the visit, your guide will transfer you to Villa Miramar at Casa Marin Vineyard, accommodation for the night. Villa Miramar is located in the Lo Abarca area, just outside Casablanca and a 15-minute drive away from Cartagena beach. The lodge offers cosy bungalows, set in the middle of a vineyard, with gorgeous views of the rolling green hills. The Casa Marin winery is located just a 20-minute walk away, so you can continue your tour of excellent food and wine in the evening.
After breakfast, you’ll be met by your private driver for the one hour drive to Santiago airport, where you’ll board your domestic flight to Balmaceda. On arrival at Balmaceda airport, you’ll be transferred to Loberias del Sur Hotel, your accommodation for the next two nights.
The drive takes around two hours, leading you to Puerto Chacabuco, set in the depths of the magnificent Aysén Region. This remote and sparsely populated area of southern Chile is marked with dazzling glaciers, fjords, mountain ranges and protected national parks.
On arrival at Loberias del Sur Hotel, you’ll be welcomed into your warm room, furnished with native wood, with views of the surrounding mountains. Your stay at Loberias includes sauna and gym access, excursions and meals, and tonight you’ll enjoy a meal at Chucao Restaurant. The buffet offers a wide variety of meats and seafood, accompanied by a great selection of Chilean wines.
After breakfast, you’ll venture out on your full day excursion to the Laguna San Rafael National Park. This natural wonder of the world encompasses the Northern Patagonian Ice Field and is renowned for its breathtaking nature.
You’ll set sail on a catamaran from Puerto Chacabuco, navigating the channels of Chilean Patagonia as you cruise past dense native forests, emerald islands, and towering fjords giving way to the icy sea. As you sail past floating icebergs, you’ll arrive at San Valentín glacier, a glittering frozen spectacle, spanning 20 kilometres in length.
Sitting at the foot of the Monte san Valentín, the highest mountain Chilean Patagonia, this luminescent blue glacier is simply awe-inspiring. In such a remote wilderness, there are few tourists around, and you’ll marvel at the tranquility and untamed beauty of the region.
You’ll enjoy the experience in comfort on the modern catamaran, fitted with premium safety equipment and onboard service including an open bar on your return journey to Loberias del Sur Hotel. This evening, you’ll again enjoy a delicious dinner at the restaurant, and you may also like to head to Bar Glaciar, to enjoy a traditional pisco sour with the best view of the mountains.
After breakfast, you’ll check out of Loberias del Sur Hotel. Tonight, you’ll be staying at the hotel’s partner lodge in Puerto Bertrand or Puerto Guadal, and you’ll visit some of the region’s top attractions along the way.
First, you’ll stop at the Escuela Museum (School Museum) of Cerro Castillo. Built in 1955 by the town inhabitants, it has since been declared a National Monument and refurbished to include a research centre to study the surrounding archaeological sites. There's also a visitor’s centre where you’ll find art and cultural exhibitions showcasing the region’s photography, painting, sculptures, books and crafts.
From here, you can visit Paredón de las Manos (Wall of the Hands), another national monument and one of the most renowned archaeological sites in the Aysén Region. You’ll find ancient paintings of red handprints across the rocky wall, dating back ten thousand years.
Next, you’ll head to General Carrera Lake, an astonishingly beautiful lake that spreads across Chile and Argentina. Here, you’ll see the famous Marble Chapels, set on the picturesque shores of the lake. These mystical sculptures are mineral formations made of calcium carbonate. They’ve eroded over millions of years, leaving extraordinary formations marked by a blue and grey marble pattern, and you can navigate through the islets to explore the caves.
After your lake visit, you’ll continue to the lodge in Puerto Bertrand or Puerto Guadal, where you’ll enjoy a hearty dinner before relaxing for the evening.
After breakfast, you’ll check out of the lodge and transfer to the Balmaceda airport for your domestic flight to Punta Arenas. On arrival at the airport, you’ll be met by your private driver and transferred to Puerto Natales, a port city in Chile’s southern Patagonia and a gateway to Torres del Paine National Park.
Gaze out at the beautiful Patagonian landscape on the three hour drive to Weskar Patagonian Lodge, your accommodation for the next two nights.
Weskar Patagonian Lodge is a private retreat perched by the sea, with stunning views of the fjord and Andes mountains. You’ll be surrounded by wilderness, yet you can reach the Puerto Natales city centre via a 1,200 metre walking trail along the waterfront, where you can spot swans and wild ducks.
This afternoon, settle into your cosy rooms, built with native Lenga wood and decorated with photographs of the area and handmade wool looms, spun by the family’s grandmother.
Fuel up at the buffet breakfast before meeting your guide for your full day tour of La Estancia La Península, one of the most beautiful ranches in Patagonia. It is only accessible by boat, and you’ll relish the tranquility of a remote area that sees few tourists.
You’ll set sail at 9am from Puerto Natales, cruising to the Antonio Varas peninsula where the estancia (farm) is located. On arrival, you’ll be warmed up with tea, coffee, toast and jam, then you’ll get to choose one of three outdoor adventures, with each activity running for two hours.
The horseback riding option takes you through the pampas and Lenga forest to the coast, where you’ll stop at the viewpoint overlooking the incredible Balmaceda glacier. On the return journey, you’ll enjoy bird watching along the coastline.
Those who choose the 4x4 off-roading adventure will head to the peaks of Cerro Ballena (Whale Hill), crossing a native ñirre forest where you can spot a variety of birds and rabbits. At the summit, you’ll marvel at the panoramic view of the fjords and mountain ranges, and you can also find fossils among the rocky outcrops.
If you prefer a guided birdwatching tour, you’ll set out through the farmland and forests, keeping your eyes peeled for a myriad of bird species. Your guide will point out unique species and talk about the wildlife, plants and historical significance of the region.
After your excursion, you’ll return to the estancia for a traditional lunch of Patagonian barbecued lamb with an open bar and dessert (a vegetarian option can also be arranged). After lunch, you’ll learn about life on a Patagonian ranch and their vision for sustainable farming. Watch a sheepdog herding demonstration, then head to the sheds to learn how to shear a sheep. You’ll return to Puerto Natales at 4pm, with the rest of the evening free to relax and unwind.
Today you’ll set foot on the Torres del Paine National Park, the jewel of Chilean Patagonia. After meeting your English-speaking guide at the hotel, you’ll cross the vast pampas (farmlands) of the Magallanes region, passing the Last Hope Fjord, before arriving at the town of Cerro Castillo.
You’ll have time to enjoy a coffee and browse the handicraft markets, before heading to the Lake Sarmiento Lookout to see the iconic Paine Massif. Renowned for its distinctive horn-shaped peaks reaching up to 2,600 metres, the Paine Massif is impressive from any angle. On a clear day, head to Laguna Amarga, to see a magical reflection of the granite horns in the water.
Next, you’ll continue through the Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and one of the most spectacular corners of the planet. As you arrive at the Nordenskjold Lake Viewpoint, you’ll have a stunning view of the Cordillera Paine, including the famous Cuernos del Paine and Paine Grande, the highest mountain in the park, towering to 3,050 metres.
Continue to the Paine River and make a short hike to see the dazzling Salto Grande, before stopping for lunch in the park. After lunch, you’ll visit the Grey Lake, walk across the hanging bridge over the Pingo River and pass through the Lenga forest, arriving at a beach. From here, you can see the glittering floes of the Grey Glacier, a colossal frozen mass standing over 30 metres high and six kilometres wide.
On your return through the park, you’ll visit the Milodón Cave Natural Monument, home to the remains of a giant herbivorous mammal that became extinct after the Pleistocene period. The main cave is 200 metres deep, 80 metres wide and 30 metres high, and you can walk through it to see an exact replica of this extinct giant, known as El Milodón.
After an incredible day of exploring one of the world’s greatest wonders, you’ll be transferred to Hotel Lago Grey, your accommodation in Torres del Paine for the night.
Today is yours to spend at your leisure. Hotel Lago Gray is the perfect base to continue your explorations of the Torres del Paine National Park, and you’ll be surrounded by the pristine lakes, native forests, snow-capped mountains and glittering glaciers of Chilean Patagonia.
The hotel can organise fantastic guided trekking (ranging from easygoing to challenging hikes) to some of the best spots in the national park, including Base Towers, Pingo Waterfall, Pingo River, Frances Valley, Ferrier Viewpoint, Condor Viewpoint and Los Cuernos Viewpoint.
You may prefer to relax in your luxurious hotel, with awe-inspiring views of the Paine Massif, the Grey Lake and the Grey Glacier. Unwind at the restaurant or bar, surrounded by Patagonian beauty. You can enjoy a delicious meal featuring local produce, craft beers, Chilean wines or a traditional drink such as pisco sour, prepared with thousand-year-old ice from the Grey Glacier.
Enjoy a buffet breakfast before meeting your driver to be transferred to the airport for your domestic flight to Santiago. On arrival at the airport, you’ll be met by your private driver and transferred to Hotel Magnolia, where you’ll spend your last two nights.
This afternoon, you may like to relax on the hotel’s rooftop terrace, stroll around downtown Santiago, or climb the staircase of Cerro Santa Lucia where you’ll find a beautiful park, ancient forts, grand monuments and a stunning view over the city.
Today is yours to spend at your leisure. We recommend exploring the Italian quarter, brimming with gorgeous cafes and antique stores, or strolling the street art of La Pincoya. You’ll find famous artworks from the Brigada Ramona Parra (BRP), a group of young Chilean muralists and communists founded in 1968, who used their art to call for radical social change.
For more art, we recommend visiting the Sculpture Park by the Mapocho River, where you’ll find art installations by Chilean artists, then head to the Santiago Metropolitan Park, where you can relax in a peaceful Japanese garden or follow a trail to the top of San Cristóbal Hill. At the peak, you’ll find the Virgin Mary statue towering over the city, and it’s a beautiful spot to look out over the city and reflect on your incredible Chilean adventure.
Enjoy a final breakfast, before meeting your private driver at your hotel and transferring to Santiago International Airport for your return flight home.
After two extraordinary weeks spent exploring the country’s remote wonders and untamed wilderness, you’ll have seen a side to Chile that few experience. We’re sure you’ll be leaving with a trove of special memories and stories to share, but if you’re craving more off the beaten track adventure, we recommend hopping over to Argentina.
From there, you can continue your exploration of Patagonia, or head to the end of the world in Ushuaia where you can board a cruise ship for Antarctica, the most remote wilderness on the planet.