Chilean Wonders ~ Lake District & Patagonia

Chilean Wonders ~ Lake District & Patagonia

Your next adventure begins in beguiling Chile, where each region of this slender country reveals fascinating contrasts. Relish the lively ambience and tantalizing cuisine of sophisticated Santiago. In the breathtaking Lake District, delight in watching penguins off Chiloé Island, cruise on stunning Lake Todos los Santos and savor a traditional Chilean barbecue. Further south, take in the jaw-dropping grandeur of Torres del Paine National Park, one of the world’s greatest national parks, and Patagonia’s fabled glaciers!

Trip Itinerary:

January 22 Depart gateway city

January 23 Santiago, Chile

Arrive at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.

Upon arrival, transfer to the Hotel Cumbres Lastarria. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

Welcome to Santiago’s cultural center! This inviting, artsy section of the city is anchored by renowned institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts overlooking leafy Parque Forestal and the GAM, a performing arts center named for Chile’s Nobel laureate poet Gabriele Mistral. Join your Travel Director this afternoon for a short walk that will familiarize you with the area around your hotel.

Enrichment: Chilean History. Dive into the timeline of the country’s development, from its indigenous groups and the conquest by Spain to the struggle for freedom and the modern era.

Get better acquainted with your fellow travelers during tonight’s Welcome Reception and Dinner in the hotel.

January 24 Santiago

Santiago. Explore this stimulating city noted for its eye-catching blend of colonial and modern architecture. At the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, grasp the human cost of the nation’s turbulent past through poignant exhibits that chronicle the human rights violations of Chile’s military dictatorship from 1973–1990. Afterward, on a scenic tour, admire the presidential seat, the neoclassical Palacio de la Moneda. Built in 1805, it was the infamous site of the 1973 coup d’etat against President Salvador Allende by Augusto Pinochet’s military forces. Pass by the palm-lined Plaza de Armas, a central hub since 1541, ringed by the Central Post Office, the National History Museum and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Linger for awhile in hip Bellavista, buzzing with cafés, art galleries and restaurants. Pablo Neruda, the celebrated Nobel laureate poet, once resided in this bohemian barrio, or neighborhood.

Free Time: Set off to explore more this afternoon. Later tonight, when you dine on your own, check out classic local dishes such as empanadas, tasty pastries filled with meat, cheese or seafood; and pastel de choclo, a satisfying corn pudding flavored with meat and onions. And pair your food with some of the country’s most popular drinks, including the pisco sour cocktail of grape brandy, lemon juice, sugar and egg white; and the refreshing Borgoña, chilled red wine with chopped strawberries.

Enrichment: Contemporary Chile. Examine the economic and political issues that dominate national conversation.

January 25 Santiago | Puerto Montt | Puerto Varas

After breakfast, depart for Santiago’s airport and fly to Puerto Montt. 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, continue to Puerto Varas, and check in to the Enjoy Puerto Varas Hotel overlooking the shores of Lake Llanquihue in southern Chile’s enchanting Lake District.

This evening, join your fellow travelers for a delicious dinner in the hotel.

January 26 Chiloé Island

Chiloé Island. Ferry across the Chacao Channel to this picturesque island on the archipelago of Chiloé that boasts lush countryside and sweeping coastlines. Stop in Chacao to stroll through its quaint town square and see its local church. Next, observe 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. Enjoy lunch after the cruise. In Ancud, visit the Museo de Las Iglesias de Chiloe to learn how the island’s unique wooden churches, built by Spanish Jesuit missionaries in the 17th century, were constructed with native materials.

January 27 Petrohué River Falls | Puerto Varas

Petrohué River Falls. The Lake District’s breathtaking scenery is the star attraction today within Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, Chile’s oldest park. Admire the rushing, turquoise waters of the Petrohué River Falls and then navigate by boat through stunning Lake Todos los Santos with the majestic, snowcapped Osorno, Puntiagudo and Tronador volcanoes in the distance. Savor a wonderful Patagonian barbecue later at a restaurant in nearby Ensenada Village.

Free Time: The rest of your afternoon in Puerto Varas is at leisure. Take a stroll along the lakeshore and check out the town’s charming architecture influenced by 19th-century settlers from Germany and Austria.

Enrichment: The History of the Patagonia. Trace the intriguing history of this immense, wild region in the southernmost part of South America, which is shared by Chile and Argentina.

January 28 Puerto Montt | Punta Arenas | Puerto Natales

After breakfast, depart for the airport in Puerto Montt and fly to Punta Arenas.

Punta Arenas. Take a panoramic tour 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 and as the center of the Chilean wool industry. See the highlights, including mansions built by wool barons in its heyday, and enjoy lunch on your own afterward.

Rejoin the group and continue to Puerto Natales. Check in to the Hotel Costaustralis along the waterfront. After getting settled, try regional specialties during dinner at a local restaurant.

January 29 Puerto Natales

Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers. Take in vistas of emerald hillsides, rugged mountains and tall waterfalls as you cruise on the Ultima Esperanza Fjord to view the impressive hanging glacier, Balmaceda. Then, on an invigorating walk, follow your guide 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. Chat about what you’ve seen in the park over a hearty lunch at a nearby Patagonian ranch, and then cruise back to Puerto Natales.

January 30 Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine National Park. Spectacular, wild scenery awaits you on a scenic drive in this acclaimed 935-square-mile national park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Its astonishing landscape encompasses turquoise lakes, glaciers, rolling valleys, snowcapped summits and sculptural icebergs. Its crowning jewels are the Cuernos del Paine (pronounced pine-ay) mountains and the craggy trio of steel-gray granite peaks, the Torres del Paine, or Towers of Paine, that jut up into the clouds. An abundance of wildlife adds to the park’s allure. Approximately 25 species of mammals live within the park, including the tawny guanaco, a close relative of the llama; gray and red foxes; the endangered Patagonian huemul deer; and the puma, the largest and most elusive. Andean condors swirl in the skies above, and flightless, ostrich-like birds called Lesser Rheas sprint across the grasslands propelled by their large wings. At the Salto Grande waterfall, hear the thunderous crash as water cascades from Lake Nordenskjöld into Lake Pehoé. From this vantage point, soak up the magnificent landscape at different angles. Along the way, enter a huge cave where the prehistoric remains of a Milodon, a giant ground sloth, were discovered in 1895. Take a break for a relaxing lunch on your route.

January 31 Puerto Natales | Punta Arenas | Santiago

After breakfast, depart for the airport in Punta Arenas. Fly to Santiago and check in to the Hotel Cumbres Lastarria.

Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers at a restaurant in the area for a Farewell Dinner in honor of your memorable Chilean adventure!

February 1 Santiago | Depart for gateway city

Elective Activity: Viña del Mar and Valparaíso. Travel to pretty Viña del Mar, a favorite vacation getaway of Chileans, known for its broad beaches and manicured gardens. Then, relish the quirky charms of oceanside Valparaíso, a UNESCO World Heritage site, founded in the 16th century. See the historic Victoria and Sotomayor squares and delight in its cerros, or hills, packed with a jumble of colorful houses, snaking pathways, quaint funiculars and vivid, bold street art. Ride up Cerro Bellavista with free time for lunch and exploring. Available at an additional cost.

AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Santiago’s International Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details. Depending upon flight schedules, some travelers may arrive home today.

February 2 In Transit

Arrive home in your gateway city.


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