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Awash with phenomenal landscapes, Chile stands every bit as tall as its photogenic neighbours Peru, Argentina and Bolivia. Set off from the cobbled streets of Santiago and venture up into the Andes and the Acatama Desert and spend a few days checking out hot springs, lagoons, hiking trails, geological oddities and high-altitude geyser fields. Hop over to the Casablanca Valley for a winery tour and explore what must be one of the most romantic (and good-looking) towns in South America - Valparaiso, before returning to the capital. Let Chile enchant and delight on an eight-day highlights adventure.
Day 1: Santiago
Welcome to Santiago, Chile. Your adventure begins with a short meeting at 2 pm, followed by an orientation walk around the city. The orientation walk will take 1-2 hours and you’ll see some main sights like La Moneda, Plaza de Armas and Mercado Central. For those unable to attend at this time, there will be another more comprehensive welcome meeting at 6 pm with the entire group. After your important meeting, why not get acquainted with your fellow travellers and get yourself some dinner – your group leader will know of some great places to go.
Day 2: San Pedro de Atacama
This morning, join your group on an included flight to Calama and once arrived, travel by private vehicle to San Pedro (approximately 1.5 hours). When you get to San Pedro, your group leader will orientate you to the town on a short walk. In the afternoon, head out on an included excursion to the Moon Valley in the renowned Atacama Desert with a local guide. Located around 10 km away from San Pedro de Atacama, it has been declared a natural sanctuary as part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve within the Salt Mountain range. On this tour, you’ll get to see the myriad colours and rocky formations which create a geological spectacle quite similar to the moon’s surface. Visit the Tres Marias statues the salt cave and go up to the Gran Duna (Great Dune) where you'll get to admire a beautiful panorama as the sun sets and the sky deepens in colour.
Day 3: San Pedro de Atacama
Today is as clear as the blue Chilean skies in the Atacama Desert. You’ve got the day to choose one of many optional activities on offer. Get your hiking shoes on and choose one of the local trails to embark on with a local leader. Otherwise, book yourself in on a day trip to the stunning Atacama salt flats (Salar de Atacama), or Chile’s Rainbow Valley (Valle del Arcoiris), both offer striking views of natural landscapes rarely seen on earth. The best thing is, today is all yours to choose your own adventure.
Day 4: San Pedro de Atacama
This morning begins nice and early at around 4.30 am. Head out on an included excursion to the El Tatio geyser (located 4300 metres above sea level) in the Atacama Desert with an English speaking local guide. This is highest-elevation geyser fields in the world. Watch in awe as more than 100 geysers pulsate around you, shooting streams of water and gas into the air. The El Tatio Geyser Field stands just over 4267 metres (14,000 feet) above sea level in the Andes Mountains of northern Chile and getting here is half the fun. Travel up winding mountain roads surrounded by the snow-covered peaks of both active and dormant volcanoes. Magma trapped beneath the surface of the earth heats the water underground, resulting in an explosive release of pressure. Run-off from the geysers drains away into emerald-green geothermal ponds, while small streams trickle down towards lower altitudes. As you walk through the fields, steam rising all around you, keep an eye out for the geyser field's fascinating local wildlife, which shows that nature's beauty can thrive even in harsh conditions. This activity will finish around lunchtime and the remainder of the day is free. There are plenty of optional activities available including a visit to the hot springs or to one of the lagunas. Speak to your group leader for their recommendations and other options.
Day 5: Santiago / Valparaiso
This morning, head west towards the coast. Arrive in the colourful city of Valparaiso, notable for its brightly hued houses spread across a series of hills overlooking the ocean. As a creative hub, the city has no shortage of options for a drink, so perhaps find yourself a place to sip a traditional Pisco Sour alongside locals for the evening.
Day 6: Valparaiso
Embark on a leader-led walking tour of Valparaiso. It's a colourful and chaotically laid out town that's full of surprises, and much romanticised by poets such as Pablo Neruda. Your tour includes visits to Plaza Anibal Pinto, Paseo Gervasoni, Reloj Turri, Paseo Yugoslavo and Calle Serrano, with many more boulevards and areas of interest. Later on, the walk takes in the Lukas Museum, which houses the collection of works by the cartoonist and illustrator Renzo Pecchenino (Lukas). Continue to Muelle Prat (Prat Dock) – an ideal spot to watch sailors arrive in their lanchas (small ships) and to soak up the general buzz and bustle of harbourside life.
Day 7: Santiago
En route back to Santiago, stop for a wine tasting in the Casablanca Valley, located about 45 minutes outside of Santiago. Sitting on a coastal plain between the capital and Valparaiso, the valley is Chile’s fastest growing wine region, with its rich soil and perfect climate making it a wine lover’s paradise. This visit (approximately one hour) is focused more on the sustainability and organic goals of the vineyard and the characters of biodiversity rather than tasting wine. Nice to know however that this area is known for crisp Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, but also for stunning reds like Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah.
Day 8: Santiago
With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave at any time after breakfast. This doesn’t mean that your adventure has to come to an end! If you would like to spend more time in Santiago, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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