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The Leader in Small Groups on the Road Less Traveled
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2018 Chile: From the Atacama Desert to the Patagonian Fjords

Chile: Santiago, San Pedro de Atacama, Punta Arenas, Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Fjords

80% Traveler Excellence Rating Read reviews

15 Days from only $6495 including international airfare

Activity Level:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Strenuous

Courtesy Tucker English
Carretera Austral, Patagonia, Chile

Fly high above Patagonia's Carretera Austral and get a bird's eye view of the majestic natural landscape.

Courtesy of Daniel Katanella
Valparaiso Ando

Uncover the many faces of Valparaiso—Chile's forgotten port city

Courtesy of Ivan Arias Rivera
Santiago Center

Soar high above Santiago to get a bird's eye view of this South American city.

Courtesy of Rodrigo Sapag
Atacama, San Pedro & The Valley Moon

Get lost in the vast and diverse landscapes of San Pedro de Atacama

Courtesy of Lyra Films
Patagonia Espiritu Salvaje

Allow the cadence of Patagonia's wildlife and natural landscape to captivate your sense of adventure.

including international airfare
14 DAYS FROM $5395 Small Ship Adventure Only
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Find the Adventure That’s Right for You

Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.

Activity Level 1:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 2:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 3:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

Itinerary Overview

For such a long and thin country, Chile is robust in natural beauty. Encounter a land of extremes as we journey from the driest desert on Earth to the glacial wonderland of the Chilean Fjords. Along the way, we’ll roam surreal, Daliesque stretches of the sunbaked Atacama and sip fine wines in Santiago, Chile’s lively capital. Nature puts on a show in Patagonia, and we’ll drink it in as we hike the wilds of Torres del Paine and spend three nights cruising remote glacier channels. Discover the colorful culture and unspoiled expanses of Chile—where an adrenaline rush awaits you at every turn.  

Make It Your Adventure

Personalize your trip to meet your individual needs, from preferred flights and air routing, to “breaking away” to spend more time in a destination.

  • Did you know that you have control over the way you want to fly with us? O.A.T’s team of Adventure Specialists makes every effort to provide you with non-stop flights and acceptable connection times to and from your destination. You also have several other ways you can personalize your air itinerary, which include:

    • Choose your departure city and airline: We list the most popular gateway cities on our website, but not all of them. If you don’t see yours listed, or there’s one that better suits your needs, let us know. You can also tell us if you have an airline preference and we will try to accommodation your request.
    • Depart from one city and return from another: Just because your flight leaves from one city doesn’t mean you have to return there. Maybe you flew out of Boston and wish to visit friends in Los Angeles after your trip is over. Tell us where you want to go and we’ll do our best to get you there.
    • Upgrade your seat: We’ll gladly arrange a flight upgrade to business or premium economy class if it’s available. 
    • Fly the way you want to: When you fly economy class, we’ll do our best to see that you get your choice of seating preference or even add a special meal request if you have dietary restrictions or needs.
  • You can extend your time abroad and "break away" anywhere you'd like to do more exploring on your own. Stay for a day, a week, or even a month in a favorite locale. Or consider arriving a few days early in Santiago for a fresh start or spending more time there at the end of our adventure. You can also stay overnight in a connecting city before or after your adventure to break up a lengthy flight. Our Adventure Specialists can provide you with information on the accommodations we will use at the beginning of your trip so that you can make your own arrangements. That way, you'll know that you will be exactly where you need to be to meet your group.

  • Many of our travelers choose to take another trip directly after their first one ends. Think about it: If you’re already overseas, why not see more of the region and avoid the expense and length of another international flight? Many of our travelers have taken two or three consecutive trips before returning home. One of the most common adventures combined with Chile: From the Atacama Desert to the Patagonian Fjords is Southern Peru & Bolivia: Inca Landscapes & Lake Titicaca. And now you’ll save an additional $250-$350 per person when you reserve two trips right after one another.

  • Many O.A.T. travelers simply don’t want their trips to end. With an array of pre- and post-trip extensions to choose from, you have the chance to experience more of the places you’ve traveled so far to see, including Santiago & Easter Island, Chile and Buenos Aires & Iguassu Falls. Plus, you lower your average per-day costs because you’re taking advantage of your already included international airfare.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 5 nights from only $2595

    In the midst of the majestic Andes Mountains, discover Santiago, Chile, a city as vibrant and historic as it is elegant. Then venture more than 2,000 miles west to find Easter Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most isolated—and intriguing—places on Earth.

    View Extension Itinerary
Santiago Chilean Fjords Expand All
  • Depart the U.S. on your overnight flight to Santiago, Chile.

  • Welcome to Santiago! An O.A.T. representative will greet you at the airport and escort you to our hotel, where you’ll meet your Trip Leader and fellow travelers for a Welcome Briefing.

    We toast the beginning of our Chilean journey today during a visit to Paseo del Vino, a charming boutique winery whose owner established it on a single acre of grapes, as a passion project. He makes just 3,000 bottles a year (both red and white) and loves introducing visitors to Chilean wine culture. We’ll learn about winemaking and taste some of his vintages, followed by a Welcome Dinner of local cuisine.

  • This morning we gather for a walk around Chile’s cosmopolitan capital. Against a stunning backdrop of Andean peaks, Santiago has witnessed a remarkable history, from settlement by conquistadors in 1541 to the Marxist, military, and democratic governments of the 20th century. We’ll explore the city’s hub, La Moneda Palace, the seat of Chile’s government, as well as the cemetery. 

    Lunch is included at a local restaurant. The remainder of the afternoon is yours to discover more of Santiago at your leisure.

  • This morning, we fly to Calama and transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, an oasis town in Chile’s Norte Grande region—home to the driest desert on Earth. Upon our arrival in San Pedro, we'll check into our hotel. Later this afternoon, we'll take an orientation walk around the city.

    Dinner this evening is at a local restaurant.

  • Today, we take a walking tour of San Pedro. The compact, terra cotta-hued village serves as a base for northern Chile’s nearby wonders, but our destination is archaeological site, Pukara de Quitor, where we'll begin to learn about local Chilean history and culture.

    We’ll stop for lunch at a family-owned restaurant. Later, we’ll depart for the Salar de Atacama salt flats, stopping at Toconao. Toconao is a small village known for its 18th-century bell tower, built from volcanic rock mined from a nearby quarry. Our next stop is Laguna Chaxa, a flamingo breeding site in Salar de Atacama, Chile’s largest salt flat. We’ll have the chance to seek out native wildlife, such as the five flamingo species that inhabit this lake—a bizarre sight in the midst of a desert.

    Back in San Pedro, dinner will be on your own.

  • Enjoy a day at leisure. Or, rise early for an optional excursion to El Tatio, a bubbling geyser field enclosed by snowcapped volcanoes.

    We’ll have an included lunch at a local restaurant and then head out this afternoon to explore the Valley of the Moon, a lunar setting of rock formations, caves, and gorges carved by eons of wind and floods. (Scientists chose this region to test drive a prototype Mars rover in 2013.) We’ll wander its rocky terrain and enjoy an evening toast as the valley below glows pink and gold in the setting sun.

    Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • This morning, we'll depart for the airport for our flight from Calama to Santiago, stopping first at Rainbow Valley. Much like San Pedro and its surroundings, the Rainbow Valley is an otherworldly landscape of layered rock formations sculpted by centuries of wind. But its colors—a kaleidoscopic palette of vibrant reds, purples, and yellows formed by mineral deposits—set it apart. From here, we’ll discover the ancient petroglyphs in the nearby mountains and boulders.

    Arriving early in the evening, we’ll check into our hotel in Santiago. Dinner is on your own.

  • Today we fly to Punta Arenas, an active port overlooking the Strait of Magellan. Punta Arenas rose to prominence in the late 19th century because of its sheep and wool industry and the discovery of gold nearby.

    After checking into our hotel this afternoon, we’ll visit the Nao Victoria Museum to see a replica of one of Ferdinand Magellan’s ships, complete with original furniture and hardware. From here, we’ll continue on a walking tour of Punta Arenas’ main square, ending with dinner at a local restaurant.

  • Today we enjoy a window into Patagonian ranch life when we visit a working estancia. The area’s sweeping grasslands are ideal for sheep farming, which has been one of the primary economic engines here since the end of the 19th century. At the estancia, we’ll enjoy a lunch of Patagonian lamb—the iconic dish that the President of Chile served to President Obama in his first visit to the nation.

    We travel overland to Torres del Paine, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site and one of the most remote and beautiful places in the world. During our two nights here, we’ll hike winding trails over rippling currents; witness the ostrich-like rhea (known locally as ñandú), fox, and other wildlife; and take in the stunning scenery of purple mountains and mirror-smooth lakes.

  • Sprawling 935 square miles, Torres del Paine spans grasslands, beech forests, and glaciers that have carved out fjords and valleys. We’ll explore these unique landscapes in a trio of hikes over the course of two days. (Our routes may vary depending on seasonal conditions.)

    Today, we may trek along the shores of Lago Grey, where gigantic blue icebergs rest against sandy beaches. Glacier Grey stretches into the distance through the towering peaks of the surrounding mountains.

    We’ll stop for a boxed lunch at a scenic viewpoint, then hike to Salto Grande, a rushing waterfall set between Lago Nordenskjold and Lago Pehoe. Here, we may spot some of the indigenous wildlife that feed on the verdant foliage along the riverbank.

    We return to our hotel for dinner tonight.

  • This morning, we'll explore Torres del Paine in a final hike, keeping our eyes peeled for fauna such as guanacos (related to the llama and the camel) and condors winging overhead.

    After lunch at a local restaurant, we drive to Puerto Natales to board the MV Skorpios III, our home for the next three nights as we cruise the Chilean fjords. This family-owned vessel is uniquely designed with a reinforced hull for navigating ice and a small size for threading through the narrow fjords and bays.

    We depart Puerto Natales and sail through the Kirke Narrows toward Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, home to the furthest flows of the massive Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Our ship is the only one that sails this particular route. As we follow the path of Darwin and FitzRoy, we’ll be able to witness the ever-shifting palette of light and shadow on the mountains, sea, and ice without distraction.

    Dinner will be onboard tonight. The Chilean owners of the Skorpios III ensure that everything about our shipboard experience, from wine and food to friendly staff, reflect their culture. During our cruise, all meals are included while we're onboard ship.

  • Every slip of land we’ve traveled in Chile was once covered by the Patagonian Ice Sheet, which stretched all the way to the Andes. The remaining Southern Patagonian Ice Field still sprawls nearly 5,000 square miles. Expedition teams have only crossed the full length of the ice field once, and many parts remain still unvisited. Most of what is known to explorers is accessible only by boat or helicopter.

    Today we have the privilege of exploring three smaller fjords, each with its own character. First, we’ll disembark on a nearby beach for a walk across sand and rocks to get a better look at Amalia glacier.

    We cruise onward towards the El Brujo glacier—so vividly blue it seems almost lit from within. Weather permitting, we’ll go ashore for panoramic views. Finally, we navigate Calvo Fjord, a glacier-filled alley of bobbing ice. We’ll board an icebreaker boat, the Capitán Constantino, to sail through the choppy ice and get closer.

  • Today we discover the Las Montañas Fjord, which threads between the Cordillera Sarmiento and the Cordillera Riesco mountain ranges. Cordillera Sarmiento includes The White Lady, a 7,000-foot peak, while the Cordillera Riesco is best known for Grupo la Paz, a cluster of jagged rock towers.

    We cruise by Zodiac through the bay of the Alsina glacier. Then we visit Bernal Glacier, where our Zodiac boats drop us off for a walk through a small rain forest to a glacial lagoon, and then onward to the front of the glacier itself, which we can touch.

    Continuing on past Herman and Zamudio glaciers, we’ll arrive at Angostura White Glacier. Here, we embark exploration craft and keep our eyes peeled for the diverse wildlife that populate these waters: Peale's dolphins, seals, upland geese, petrels, cormorants, and albatrosses.

    This evening, we enjoy a special farewell party and Captain’s Dinner onboard.

  • We disembark this morning and drive to Punta Arenas, arriving in time for lunch on your own.

    This afternoon, we fly to Santiago and settle into our hotel. We'll enjoy dinner tonight at a local restaurant in Santiago.

    • Meals included:

    Today we set out on a full-day tour of Valparaiso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Chile’s largest seaport.

    “Pancho,” as locals call the city, is a chaotic maze of narrow alleys, steep staircases, and colorful funiculars that ramble up 17 surrounding cerros (hills). We’ll ride one of these ascensores to catch a spectacular view.

    Once a booming port, Valparaiso’s economy was hit hard by the opening of the Panama Canal in the 20th century. But today, the city has bounced back as the nation’s cultural capital. Gritty yet romantic, Pancho has long been a haven for artists and writers. We’ll see its unusual charms at play as we wander past old mansions and modern street art. And to really catch the rhythm of life in Valparaiso, we’ll enjoy lunch with a local family in their home.

    This afternoon, we depart for the airport for our return flights home, or to begin our post-trip extension to Buenos Aires & Iguassu Falls.

    Buenos Aires & Iguassu Falls

    4 nights from only $1495

    It’s easy to add thundering Iguassu Falls—twice as wide as Niagara Falls—to your explorations of South America’s natural wonders. On this extension, we’ll visit the Argentinean and Brazilian sides of this array of 275 separate cascades. We’ll also spend a day discovering Buenos Aires.


    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on Chile: From the Atacama Desert to the Patagonian Fjords

Read Travel Planning Guide

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