4 internal flights (2-4hrs); 4 road journeys (longest 4 hrs)
We've selected an imaginative variety of accommodation for this holiday. You'll stay at a stylish hotel with good facilities in Santiago's buzzing Lastarria district, an adobe-brick desert lodge in San Pedro de Atacama, a first class property perched above Lago Llanquihue in Puerto Varas and a comfortable yurt in the Patagonian wilderness. Each property captures the flavour of your surroundings perfectly. Whatever their style – contemporary, classic or lodge - they have well-equipped rooms, with private bathrooms and heating.
Breakfast daily, lunch days 3,6,9; dinner day 9; full board days 10,11.
We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.
• Atacama Desert: Tocanao and Atacama salt flats.
• Atacama Desert: Tatio geysers.
• Lake district Volcán Osorno and Petrohue Falls..
•Torres del Paine: Guided excursions from Hotel Torres.
Summary of nights
13 days, 12 nights: Santiago 1, San Pedro de Atacama 3, Puerto Varas 3; Punta Arenas 1; Torres del Paine 3; Santiago 1.
Included in the journey price
• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.
Not included in the journey price
• International flights to Latin America
• Meals other than specified.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket.
• Optional excursions.
• Tips and gratuities.
The unit of currency in Chile is the peso.
It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50 per person per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.
How to take it
Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.
We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.
Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.
Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.
Travel insurance is essential.
Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance
If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.
This is a fully comprehensive holiday with travel or excursions on most days but none are especially arduous. There are some early mornings. You will be staying at an altitude of over 2,400m and visiting locations over 4,000m above sea level (Tatio Geysers). Local guides can advise you about precautions against any ill effects generated by the thin air at altitude; most people only feel a little breathless. (See "Altitude" paragraph below).
This holiday is suitable for all able-bodied, reasonably fit visitors. In other cases, e.g. if you have a disability or other special requirements, please call us.
In the Santiago area expect a Mediterranean type climate. In February temperatures range between 28°C and 35°C and there’s a good deal of sunshine.
The Atacama Desert is hot (18-30°C) though temperatures fall substantially at night when it is clear and mornings are chilly. In Jan-Mar the region can be susceptible to heavy rains coming from the Bolivian Andes.
In the lake district, it can be hot (late 20s°C) during the southern summer but not unpleasantly so, and there is little rain.
The weather in southern Patagonia is notoriously unpredictable throughout the year. In the ‘season’, from October to March, there may be everything from a blizzard to a heat wave. Strong winds and rain are possible at any time and it can get extremely cold.
Your stay in San Pedro de Atacama in the Andes is at high altitude (2,407m). A small minority of visitors may suffer temporarily from altitude sickness. Symptoms vary; most common are mild headaches, slight nausea and breathlessness. If you don’t recover in a day or two speak to our representatives; in very rare instances it is necessary to descend to lower altitudes. Most people are unaffected and if you drink plenty of water and allow your body to acclimatise (don’t exert yourself or drink alcohol) in the first couple of days after arrival, you will minimise your chances of suffering any symptoms. Tatio geysers, at 4,320m, are at the highest location you will visit on this holiday.
Please refer to our Briefing Dossier for further information.
Clothing and special equipment
For day-to-day wear you should go prepared to encounter all seasons. Both warm clothing and a sun hat are essential, and a light fleece jacket and a Gore-Tex (or similar) outer shell makes a good combination. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well. If you plan to eat in smart restaurants in Santiago or Valparaiso, although clothing is not formal (no need for jacket and tie), something quite smart would be appropriate. Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring umbrella, insect repellent, sun block and sun glasses. You might take swimwear for a dip in the hot springs.
Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America.
Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements.
You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health
APIS and ESTA - important flight information:
ESTA - If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online
This costs $14 per person. This must be applied for by you personally.
Passports must also be digital; e-passports with an embedded chip. Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.
APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.