Connect with Chile’s wild beauty and warm culture on a nine-night adventure through this South American jewel! Take in cosmopolitan Santiago’s modern and colonial architecture and see palaces, museums and more. In the enchanting Lake District, savor the tranquil vistas, visit picturesque Chiloé Island and travel by boat to observe a penguin colony. You’ll also watch cowboys show off their rodeo skills at a ranch and enjoy an authentic asado, or barbecue, featuring folk music and dancing! Head further south into Patagonia, where you’ll visit the historic port city of Punta Arenas on the Strait of Magellan. Cruise through a fjord to view the impressive Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers and be awed by the breathtaking mountain scenery of the acclaimed Torres del Paine National Park. Gain insights from expert guides and lecturers and relax each evening in first-class accommodations. This active, small-group program includes three flights within Chile and a generous meal plan with wine at dinner.
Arrive at Santiago’s International Airport, where an AHI Travel representative will be waiting to take you to the Hotel Cumbres Lastarria. Once you’re settled, get familiar with the neighborhood on a walk with your Travel Director. Then set the stage for your travels by delving into Chile’s history, from indigenous groups and Spanish rule to independence and democracy. At tonight’s Welcome Reception and Dinner, meet and get acquainted with your fellow travelers.
This morning, tour a poignant museum which sheds light on human rights violations in Chile’s turbulent past. Then see Santiago’s colonial and contemporary architecture. Admire the Palacio de la Moneda, Plaza de Armas and other landmarks before visiting the colorful Bellavista barrio. After an afternoon on your own, gather for a talk about current issues affecting everyday Chileans.
Santiago | Puerto Montt | Puerto Varas
Journey south today to the enchanting Lake District! Fly to Puerto Montt, and after you arrive, make your way to a small fishing village to enjoy an authentic curanto lunch. In this traditional method, a hole is lined with red-hot stones, then seafood, meat and vegetables are placed inside and covered with nalca leaves to cook. After lunch, travel to Puerto Varas. Your hotel sits on the shore of beautiful Lake Llanquihue with snowcapped volcanos in the distance.
Ferry across the Chacao Channel to this picturesque island on the archipelago of Chiloé that boasts lush countryside and sweeping coastlines. After a stop in quaint Chacao, watch Humboldt and Magellanic penguins and other wildlife from a boat that takes you close to their natural habitats. It’s one of the few places in the world where you can witness both species of penguins nesting side-by-side. In Ancud, learn about the island’s unique, wooden 17th-century churches.
Today, visit a ranch where Chilean cowboys, or huasos, will demonstrate their rodeo skills. Enjoy grilled dishes at an asado, a barbecue, then celebrate with folk music and a spirited cueca, the national dance. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy at leisure. Stroll along the lakeshore and admire Puerto Varas’ charming architecture influenced by 19th-century German and Austrian settlers. Tonight, trace the intriguing history of the immense Patagonia region during a presentation.
Puerto Montt | Punta Arenas | Puerto Natales
This morning, fly from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas. See the highlights of this historic port city on the Strait of Magellan between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Before the Panama Canal opened in 1914, Punta Arenas prospered as a coal refueling station for steamships. Today, it’s a launching point for international scientific expeditions to the Antarctic peninsula. After lunch on your own, continue to Puerto Natales and the Hotel Costaustralis along the waterfront.
Take in vistas of emerald hillsides, rugged mountains and waterfalls as you cruise on the Ultima Esperanza Fjord to view the impressive hanging glacier, Balmaceda. Then trek into the unspoiled beauty of Bernardo O’Higgins National Park to see the spiky Serrano glacier nestled above a peaceful lake where tiny icebergs float. After lunch at a Patagonian ranch, cruise back to Puerto Natales.
Torres del Paine National Park
Welcome to the astonishing, pristine landscapes of this world-famous park, framed by the snow-covered Cuernos del Paine mountain range. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, it’s also rich with wildlife, including guanacos, Andean deer, condors and pumas. At the Salto Grande waterfall, hear the thunderous crash as water cascades from Lake Nordenskjöld into Lake Pehoé. Along the way, enter a huge cave where the prehistoric remains of a Milodon, a giant ground sloth, were discovered in 1895.
Puerto Natales | Punta Arenas | Santiago
After breakfast, depart for the Punta Arenas airport and fly to Santiago. Check in to the Hotel Cumbres Lastarria. Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers at a restaurant for a Farewell Dinner in honor of your memorable Chilean adventure.
During free time today, make your own plans in Santiago or join the Elective Activity. This optional tour takes you to oceanside Viña del Mar, a favorite vacation getaway of Chileans known for its broad beaches, and hilly Valparaíso, where you’ll see the UNESCO World Heritage historic quarter, brightly painted houses, quaint funiculars and vivid street art. Later, bid farewell to your fellow travelers and depart for Santiago’s airport for your flights home.
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