Self-Drive Adventures in Chile

Chile – Self-Drive itineraries

 

Magic of Chile (on wheels)

This whirlwind itinerary is a very succinct introduction to some of Chile’s most beautiful regions. Getting a glimpse of the Atacama desert, the Lake District, as well as southern Patagonia, really makes for a journey of contrasts that will be unforgettable. Each region has its own magic as if a world unto itself. No doubt, on this trip Chile will cast its enchanting spell on you…

Self-Drive: Altiplano

The arid highlands of Chile are almost otherworldly in their stark, barren, yet colorful beauty. Snowcapped volcanoes tower majestically over a forbidding emptiness. A sense of timelessness sets in. And yet, there is something fascinating about such a place and the people who have lived there, managing to survive on the merest resources. This journey will take you from the Altiplano in the very north of Chile to the port town of Iquique and on to San Pedro de Atacama, which has become quite a hub for those seeking a special kind of experience in this mysterious and enigmatic place.

Self-Drive: Atacama

This short adventure in the northern highlands of Chile gives you just a taste of this enigmatic landscape. The itinerary uses San Pedro de Atacama, which has the best tourist facilities in the region, as a base. Having your own vehicle gives you flexibility and freedom to roam and explore this magnificent region.  This itinerary is flexible and can be adapted or extended according to your wishes. Please inquire.

Northern Shores and Parks

This itinerary sets out to explore a little bit beyond the Atacama hub around San Pedro. Discover some of the beautiful and amazingly diverse National Parks of the region, both inland, and along the coast. Despite the seemingly desolate landscape, there is a lot to discover.

El Norte Chico

Venture into a rarely visited region, north of Santiago, the so-called El Norte Chico, the little north. This semi-arid region of fertile river valleys and craggy hills has a Wild West kind of feel. It is home of the Pico Sour, Chile’s national drink, as the grapes used for this beverage are grown here, in the Elqui Valley. But most famously, this region is known to star-gazers, who come here to gaze at the crystal clear sky that appears as though you could just hop onto the Milky Way to walk among the stars…

Between the Mountains and the Sea

This short self-drive itinerary explores one of the most famous wine regions near Santiago, the Colchagua Valley, combined with a short trip to the coastal resort town of Pichilemu, known for its water sports activities.

Wine Valleys between the Pacific and the Andes

This short itinerary explores some aspects of ‘the good life’ to be had around Santiago. Start with a visit to Colchagua Valley, one of the most famous wine-growing valleys around Santiago where you can visit wineries and taste some of the excelled wines produced in the region. From here, visit Valparaiso, the colorful historic port town, rumored to be one of the hot spots for avant-garde Chilean cuisine and the arts. Finally, round off your trip with a stay at the Jahuel Hot Springs Hotel, where you can relax in style and be pampered, before returning to Santiago.

Chilean Lake District

This short itinerary explores some of the most beautiful parks and regions of the Chilean Lake District. Pucon is the ‘outdoor’ hub of the region with lots of activities to offer, from hiking to horseback riding to hot springs and more. A real gem of this region, close to the Argentinean border is the private nature reserve of Huilo Huilo, which not only has fabulous natural attractions (like year-round snow-capped peaks and waterfalls), but also so truly stunning architecture. From there the route takes you south to Chile’s oldest National Park, a tranquil spot on the shores of Lago Todos los Santos.

Hidden Treasures of the Chilean Lake District

This is a great itinerary for nature lovers. The Lake District is an amazing assembly of natural features, perfect, cone-shaped volcanoes, crystal clear turquoise lakes, hot springs, monkey puzzle tree forests and weird and wonderful plant species reclaiming areas that were once swamped with lava flows. This itinerary allows you to explore several exceptionally beautiful National Parks and Nature Reserves in this stunningly beautiful region. If 8 days hardly seem enough, you are right. But the good thing is, you can extend your stay and add extra days if you wish.

Lake District – Chile & Argentina

A week-long itinerary of amazing contrasts as you explore the incredible differences on both sides of the Andes. This trip is for nature lovers and provides plenty of opportunities to discover some of the amazing National Parks in both the Chilean and the Argentinean Lake District.

Chiloe Extension

A brief excursion to the mythical island of Chiloe, Chile’s second largest island after Tierra del Fuego. This island is steeped in myths and legends. It’s little wooden churches have been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Northern Carretera Austral

This short itinerary visits some of the most beautiful parts of northern Patagonia on a point-to-point drive, from Puerto Montt to Balmaceda. Along the way are many National Parks, including Chile’s first, Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, Hornopiren, Pumalin, and Queuelat, with its stunning hanging glacier. The saturated green of the temperate rainforest that hugs the coastal mountains and fjords has a truly magical quality.

Southern Carretera Austral

This 6-day trip takes you to the rarely visited parts of the Carretera Austral, to Caleta Tortel, a town that is built on boardwalks – no cars allowed! The rest of the time is spent around the wonderful huge Lago General Carrera amidst awesome mountain scenery. Perfect for nature lovers!

This trip can be extended by combining it with the Villa O’Higgins & Chacabuco Valley trip, for an even more fabulous adventure.

Villa O’Higgins & Chacabuco Valley

Villa O’Higgins still has the feel of a pioneer outpost town, situated as it is, in a remote part of Patagonia and a great place to hit the trails. However, save some energy for Chacabuco Valley, a vast expanse in a transient zone between dry Patagonian pampa and the mountains. There are plans to turn this area into a National Park as it is an important area for biodiversity, thanks to its varied habitats. This itinerary is intended as an add-on to the Southern Carretera Austral Self-Drive trip, for those who want a longer and more immersive experience.

Quintessential Carretera Austral

This short itinerary visits some of the most beautiful parts of northern Patagonia on a point-to-point drive, from Puerto Montt to Balmaceda. Along the way are many National Parks, including Chile’s first, Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, Hornopiren, Pumalin, and Queuelat, with its stunning hanging glacier. The saturated green of the temperate rainforest that hugs the coastal mountains and fjords has a truly magical quality.

This itinerary can easily be combined with the Southern Carretera Austral itinerary, or one of the Lake District itineraries.

Grand Patagonia

Even 19 days are barely enough for this epic journey through Patagonia, from Puerto Montt, all the way down to Torres del Paine. It is an amazing journey through the ever-changing landscape as the fjords and temperate rainforests of the north give way to the pampas of the Argentinean side of Patagonia, to the glaciers and jugged mountain ranges of the deep south. The good thing is, you can extend this journey and add some extra days, perhaps to explore Tierra del Fuego, or just to experience the magic of Patagonia at a more leisurely tempo. There is so much to discover!

Chilean Patagonia

This ‘whirlwind’-itinerary is a very short introduction to one of the world’s best National Parks, and favorite hiking destination. Torres del Paine National Park is situated at the very tip of mainland Chile, bordering onto the southern ice-field. Its wilderness still maintains a wild, untamed beauty and its mountain massif is iconic. With your own wheels, you are free to explore the parks most scenic spots at your leisure, take strolls or longer hikes or enjoy a boat ride on Lago Grey to admire Grey Glacier close up.

Perito Moreno Extension (Los Glaciares NP, Arg.)

This short itinerary can be added on to the Chilean Patagonia itinerary to combine a fantastic Patagonian experience on both sides of the border. First, visit the awe-inspiring Torres del Paine National Park, then drive across the border and through the Argentinean pampa to El Calafate for a short visit of to the Los Glaciares National Park and its highlight, Perito Moreno Glacier.