Santiago, Valparaiso and the Chilean Lake District
Chile's Lake District has scenery to rival anywhere in the world. This 13-day luxury holiday combines the region with the central cities of Santiago and Valparaiso for a seductive blend of snow-capped volcanoes, glacial lakes and bustling cities.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Tour the colourful barrios of Valparaiso
- Hike along scenic lake shores with a backdrop of snow-capped volcanoes in the Chilean Lake District
- Take the opportunity to ride, kayak and fish in some of the prettiest natural landscapes in the country
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When To Travel
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Day 1: To Chile
South America awaits as you board your overnight flight from London this evening, bound for the Chilean capital Santiago. It's a 14-hour flight, so sit back and relax as you travel over the Atlantic and the Andes.
Day 2: Arrival in Santiago
Your flight will land in Santiago early this morning. In the arrivals hall you'll be met by your driver for the transfer to your elegant hotel in the heart of the city, convenient both for the historic old town and the modern high rises and malls of Santiago's most affluent neighbourhoods.
The bohemian Bellavista district is right on your doorstep, with plenty of pavement cafes and restaurants to provide refreshment. Check in, unpack and head out for a stroll in the city, armed with our detailed destination Dossier.
Day 3: City Tour of Santiago
Santiago is a delightful city with a dramatic mountain backdrop and an abundance of parks and fountains. This morning you'll begin at the historic centre where you'll visit the Plaza de Armas, home of the city's cathedral and La Moneda, a sprawling whitewashed palace that now houses the presidential offices.
Next, you'll pay a visit to the wrought iron Mercado Central, the best place in town to buy and eat fish. Caldillo de congrio, a hearty fish stew, was poet Pablo Neruda's favourite dish there, as you'll learn when you visit his home later in the day. After a stroll through Santiago's fanciest barrios (neighbourhoods), head up Cerro Cristobal on the funicular for a bird's eye view of where you've been.
Day 4: Valparaiso
'Valpo', as the locals know it, is many a visitor's favourite city in Chile and you'll soon see why on this day trip. Travel through wine country to reach the colourful city famed for its ascensores or elevators which link the lower and upper parts of town.
Your knowledgeable guide will provide the context as you visit the barrios of Cerro Concepcion and Cerro Alegre, two of the city's hilliest districts. Following a delicious lunch (and a rest for your no doubt aching legs!) you will then visit Pablo Neruda's Valparaiso pad. On moving from Santiago in the 1950s, he requested that it have 'neighbours, hopefully invisible' and be 'original, but not uncomfortable'. See for yourselves if he got his wish. There'll be time to explore the quaint and colourful heart of Valparaiso before setting off back to Santiago.
Day 5: The Lake District
This morning head back to the airport for your domestic flight to Puerto Montt, a couple of hours south of the capital. On arrival, you'll be met and transferred to your hotel on the lake shore.
In this idyllic setting you'll have an afternoon scenic drive and guided walk to the Saltos de Petrohue, a picturesque waterfall in the middle of Vicente Perez Rosales National Park.
Day 6: On the Shores of Llanquihue
This morning, you will pull on your hiking boots to walk some of the prettiest trails in central Chile. Setting off from Petrohue you will hug the southern shore of Lake Llanquihue, Chile's second largest lake, as you hike to La Picada at the base of Osorno Volcano.
You'll make a gradual ascent up the lower slopes for about three hours, all the while soaking up incredible panoramic views of Lake Todos los Santos, the snow-capped Andes and cone-shaped volcanoes. Returning downhill will be slightly quicker - gravity helps, naturally - and you'll arrive back at the hotel in plenty of time for a well-earned dinner.
Day 7: Heading North Part Uno
This morning, one of our team on the ground will meet you at your hotel for the hour-and-half drive north to your next hotel, on the south shore of Lake Puyehue, in the Los Lagos region of northern Patagonia.
Once you have dropped your bags in your room and settled in, we recommend making full use of the outdoor hot tubs and watching the afternoon go by across the lake - with a glass or two of finest Chilean wine, of course.
Day 8: The Great Outdoors
Today you can take your pick from the outdoorsy activities on offer at your hotel. Snap the diverse and interesting landscapes in the company of a guide to take home the ultimate photographic souvenir of your stay, and really up your Instagram game.
Kayak or trek to hidden corners of this pretty region, take a waterway tour to seek out trout and salmon, donning waders to try your hand at fly fishing in the river (on a catch and release basis). During the winter months, Antillanca Ski Centre is just 20 miles away from the resort, at the foot of Casa Blanca volcano. Whichever you choose, return to the hotel in the evening for a splendid dinner.
Day 9: Heading North Part Dos
After a late breakfast this morning you will be met by one of our team for the four-hour private transfer to your next, wonderfully indulgent, hacienda, near to the attractive town of Pucon. It's a long drive, but you will have a picnic lunch to enjoy in the back of the car, and your driver knows all the best spots to stop for a photo or two.
When you arrive, you will have the rest of this afternoon to relax into your new surroundings, which draw on Chile's German heritage so be sure to enjoy an apple strudel and a hot chocolate, before a sumptuous dinner inspired by traditional Mapuche recipes which showcase fresh local produce.
Day 10: Saddle Up
As appealing as it is to relax in your hotel's gardens, today you will join a team of huasos (Chilean cowboys) for a day spent in the saddle - no previous horse-based experience necessary.
From a ranch at the base of the Cordilleras mountain range you will learn the basics - or trickier bits - of Chilean cowboy skills before heading out into the Lake District National Park (the one in Chile, rather than Wordsworth's favourite haunt) to explore the mountains and valleys on horseback. This evening, we recommend soaking aching muscles away in your hotel's spa before a few sundowners on the terrace.
Day 11: Discover More of the Lake District’s Charm
After breakfast today, you will take to the water for a white-water rafting experience on the Trancura River. Your guide will tailor your ride to your skill level and experience, but of course even beginners are likely to get a soaking, so make sure you leave a spare change of clothes in the car for your private transfer back to your hotel.
This afternoon is all about sailing, kayaking and leisurely boat rides on Lake Villarica. Those who fancy something totally different can team up with the Birding Club of Pucon for an ornithology tour. There is an abundance of birdlife in the local area, including the distinctive carpenter bird, so make sure you pop a long lens on your camera to record any sightings.
Day 12: International Flight
This morning you'll be privately transferred to Temuco Airport in plenty of time to catch your flight north to Santiago. From there you'll take a direct overnight flight back to the UK, which takes just over 14 hours.
Day 13: International Flight
Your flight will land back in the UK in the early afternoon.
Ollie is our expert for this itinerary and, as a seasoned traveller, has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.