Research Report: Ollie’s Trip to Chile and Bolivia

Research Report: Ollie’s Trip to Chile and Bolivia

On a research trip to Chile and Bolivia, our Americas specialist Ollie visited some of the countries’ most sought-after spots. From the dramatic salt plains of southwest Bolivia to crowd-free corners of Chile, Ollie arrived home more in love with the countries than ever before. Read on to discover what made his trip special, along with top tips for your next South American adventure.


  1. Where did you visit?
  2. What did you get up to?
  3. What made your trip special?
  4. Did you learn about any hidden gems?
  5. What's your favourite thing you ate?
  6. What new things did you learn?
  7. What's something you'd never done before?
  8. What's one thing that can't be missed?
  9. Did anything surprise you about the destination?
  10. What's a top tip you'd give to clients?


Where did you visit?

I visited Chile and Bolivia over 16 nights (plus two nights in the air) and went to hot spots like the Atacama Desert in Chile, and Salar de Uyuni (salt flats) in Bolivia. I also had a very swift 12 hours in Lima, Peru’s capital.


What did you get up to?

I took part in so many unforgettable activities. I went on a self-drive down a section of the Carretera Austral, also known as Chile’s Southern Highway, which spans an impressive 770 miles. I also hiked and biked around Chile’s Atacama Desert and Patagonia National Park, before more taking on more outdoor adventures in southwest Bolivia.

Carretera Austral


What made your trip special?

Getting to visit remote places with expert guides. Their insight was invaluable, and the remote corners of Chile and Bolivia really thrive without the crowds. It was also really special getting to experience the freedom of the open road while driving down Carretera Austral, one of the continent’s most beautiful drives; it was also unlike anything I’ve ever done. Coming face-to-face with a puma outside my hotel room in Chilean Patagonia was also something that doesn’t happen every day!


Did you learn about any hidden gems?

The whole of southern Chile’s Aysen region was a hidden gem for me. It’s filled with incredible natural beauty and has few crowds, giving you the very rare feeling of being away from mainstream tourism.


What’s your favourite thing you ate?

During my quick 12 hours in Lima, I tried Nikkei cuisine – a combination of Peruvian and Japanese flavours – and it ended up being my favourite! Aside from that, I had some succulent stake and grilled veg on a parrilla (Chilean grill) in Patagonia National Park that I can’t stop thinking about.


What new things did you learn?

That it’s possible for nature to regenerate even in the most unlikely of areas, such as those ravaged by over-farming. This was a huge part of the experience at Explora Patagonia National Park, which is home to Rewilding Chile, an organisation dedicated to restoring Chile’s ecosystems. I also learnt that it’s possible to have four seasons, not just in a day, but all at once in Patagonia. On one occasion, there were blue skies and sunshine above, but the wind was blowing snow off a nearby mountain, creating a unique situation of walking through a snowy rainbow.


What was something you’d never done before?

I tried out some local dancing in Bolivia. It’s a cheerful, colourful experience, but I was absolutely awful! Safe to say, I'll be leaving it to the locals next time.


What’s one thing that can’t be missed?

Southwest Bolivia, especially the salt flats of Uyuni. It’s the world’s biggest salt flats and at times the surface is covered in a layer of crystal-clear water, transforming the landscape into a natural mirror which is truly jaw dropping. There’s nowhere else quite like it in the world.

Salt flats of Uyuni


Did anything surprise you about the destination?

Yes – how Bolivia is still very much the same as it was when I backpacked there 18 years ago.


What’s a top tip you’d give to clients?

Make sure you acclimatise properly when visiting high-altitude destinations. By adding in an extra day, you’ll ensure you can really enjoy the beauty of Chile and Bolivia’s high-altitude areas.


Header Image by Alix Pardo