Self-Drive: Magic of Chile on Wheels 12d

Itinerary

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…

Day 1
SANTIAGO

Upon your arrival in Santiago, a driver will be waiting to escort you (private service) to your hotel where you will receive your welcome package. In the afternoon you will have the opportunity to get to know the highlights of this important capital during a city tour. Overnight in Santiago.

Day 2

SANTIAGO – CALAMA – SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA (101 KM / 63 MI) + MOON VALLEY

After breakfast, a private transfer will take you to the airport in Santiago for your connecting flight to Calama. Pick up your rental vehicle at the airport or at the car rental office in Calama. From there your adventurous journey starts as you head to San Pedro de Atacama; once the center of a pre-historic culture. Impressive rock fortresses on steep mountains encircle the green valley, making it truly a unique and stunning site to visit. Taking full advantage of being in San Pedro, a visit to the famous Moon Valley is a must, featuring various stone and sand formations which have been carved by wind and water. Its impressive range of colors and textures somewhat resemble the surface of the moon. Overnight in San Pedro de Atacama. (B)

Day 3

SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA AND SURROUNDINGS

You will have the entire day at leisure to explore your surroundings and the town of San Pedro. You may also want to take a brief drive to visit the 3,000-year-old pre-Columbian village of Tulor. The archaeological remains that can be viewed there constitute the oldest evidence of a human settlement in the valley. After your visit, you can then continue to the Pukara de Quitor a fortress, which has seen many battles. In the afternoon visit Toconao: a village where white volcanic stone sculptures are made by locals. Also, a must-see is the Atacama Salt Flat; an inland sea formed millions of year ago and an impressive sight dominated by rock formations and crystallized salt. Overnight in San Pedro de Atacama. (B)

Day 4

ALTIPLANO LAGOONS / EL TATIO GEYSERS

Today, tour the twin blue-black lagoons, Meñiques and Miscanti that are surrounded by an edge of white salt and imposing volcanoes. Located in the highlands at an altitude of 4,200 m.a.s.l they offer spectacular views and impressive contrasts. In addition, they are home to a variety of wildlife including the elegant vicuñas and a large number of birds. Another option for the day (it is highly recommended to do this with a guided tour) is a visit to El Tatio Geysers. There, situated at 4,300 m.a.s.l you will be able to observe powerful spurts of steam that shoot out from various geyser blowholes and steaming ponds. This is the highest geothermal field in the world with spectacular scenery. Overnight in San Pedro de Atacama. (B)

Day 5

CALAMA – PUERTO MONTT – PUERTO VARAS (20 KM / 12 MI)

Today you will leave behind the vast desert landscapes and immerse yourself in the evergreen forests of the Lake District. Return your vehicle at the car rental office at Calama airport and then catch your flight to Puerto Montt. Upon arrival pick up your automobile at the airport and commence your scenic 30-minute drive to Puerto Varas. Also known as the City of Roses, this town is located on the shores of Lake Llanquihue, Chile’s second largest lake, with the volcanoes Osorno and Calbuco reflected in the crystal clear water. Overnight in Puerto Varas. (B)

Day 6

PUERTO VARAS AND SURROUNDINGS

Take the day to explore Puerto Varas or sightsee one of the nearby national parks Alerce Andino and/or Vicente Pérez Rosales, both offer interesting hiking trails. Another great option is to take a drive around the Llanquihue Lake to the charming villages of Frutillar and Puerto Octay. You may also choose from a wide variety of activities, including crossing the Todos Los Santos Lake to Peulla or visiting the waterfalls of the Petrohué River. Overnight in Puerto Varas. (B)

Day 7

PUERTO VARAS – CHILOÉ ISLAND – PUERTO VARAS (434 KM / 270 MI)

Depart for Pargua and cross the Chacao Channel by ferry to reach the Island of Chiloé. You can visit the town of Ancud famous for its museum, the San Antonio Fortress and the local market featuring a wide range of seafood and handmade crafts. Afterward, we recommend continuing your trip to the penguin islands (only from November to March) to see the only nesting grounds in the world where Humboldt and Magellan breed side by side. You may also want to visit one of the 16 UNESCO World Heritage churches on Chiloé or drive through the countryside to the capital of Castro. In this town you will be able to see the emblematic “palafito” stilt homes and the San Francisco wood church, also a world heritage site. Overnight in Puerto Varas. (B)

Day 8
PUERTO MONTT – PUNTA ARENAS – PUERTO NATALES (249 KM / 155 MI)

In the morning drop off your rental car at the Puerto Montt Airport and then board your flight to Punta Arenas. Pick up your car at the airport or downtown car rental office in Punta Arenas. This city is the largest and most important town of Chilean Patagonia. It is located on the western side of the Strait of Magellan and its inhabitants come from a mix of cultural backgrounds including English sheep ranchers and Portuguese sailors. Here we recommend you to stroll along the shore and the famous Roca Street before moving on to your destination of the day. Overnight in Puerto Natales. (B)

Day 9
PUERTO NATALES– TORRES DEL PAINE (60 KM / 37 MI)

Explore one of the most remarkable national parks of the world: Torres del Paine, with its unique wildlife and dramatic scenery comprising mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers. Its main attraction is the dramatic Los Torres peaks of the Cerro Paine mountain range. They reach 3,050 meters above sea level and are joined by the Cuernos del Paine, making for a dramatic and breathtaking scenery. Additionally, there are several hiking trails available varying in length and difficulty. Overnight in Torres del Paine National Park. (B)

Day 10
TORRES DEL PAINE – PUNTA ARENAS (305 KM / 190 MI)

In the morning enjoy the peace and quiet of this privileged location or try a captivating excursion such as the navigation to Grey Glacier. On the way back to the city of Punta Arenas, make sure to visit the Mylodon Cave where archaeologists found the 12,000-year-old remnants of a giant sloth. Overnight in Punta Arenas. (B)

Day 11
PUNTA ARENAS – SANTIAGO

After dropping off your car in Punta Arenas proceed with your flight to Santiago. This metropolis shows great contrasts between modern skyscrapers and old adobe buildings dating back from the early 18th century; the perfect backdrop for your final night in Chile. Overnight in Santiago. (B)

Day 12
SANTIAGO

Having resumed your extensive journeys private transportation will take you to the international airport for your departure flight. (B)

Rates in 2019/2020

valid Oct 1, 2019 – April 30, 2020

not available between May and October

Self-drive itineraries are highly flexible and can be adjusted to your preferences. The rates below are sample rates for this itinerary with the specific car types and hotels mentioned in the table. However, Hotels are subject to availability as well as your choice. The final rate of this itinerary will reflect the specific options you have chosen in the course of developing your itinerary.

Rates are per person, based on double occupancy. For single or triple rates, different hotels or extra nights, please inquire.

Edit
Car type Standard Superior
Mitta cat G $1985 $2388
Mitta car J $1950 $2342
This itinerary starts in Santiago, the capital of Chile, which is well served with flights arriving from all over the world.
  • 11 nights including breakfast
  • In Santiago: private transfers without a guide (first transfers IN and City Tour with English speaking guide)
  • 10 days car rental including unlimited free mileage, local tax (IVA), and CDW coverage with a deductible (for details see rental contract)
  • Roadmap and descriptions.

Chile car rental companies charge an additional airport service fee when the vehicle will be picked up from the airport. This service charge is not included in the published rates. This extra fee has to be paid upon returning the car.

The internal flights within Chile are also not included in the rate.

*We strongly recommend that you join a guided tour to visit the El Tatio Geysers on day 4, or follow one of the several tour vehicles to get to the geysers due to the darkness and the very complicated road conditions.

Weather

Chile is known as the long, thin country. From the northern border to Peru to Tierra del Fuego in the south, it extends over 4300km. Correspondingly, its weather conditions are as varied as can be, with a dry climate in the north, making for warm or even hot daytime temperatures, but which drop down to between 8 – 0°C at night. to the temperate but humid climate of the Lake District, to the unpredictable but often crazy weather of southern Patagonia, all one can really say is – be prepared for all kinds of weather, you’ll probably encounter it on this trip!

Car types

Mitta

cat G – Toyota RAV4 or similar

cat J – Mitsubishi L200 4×2 Katana or similar

Please note that car rental companies only reserve a specific category of cars, not a specific type of car within that category.

Please mention at the time of booking if you need a vehicle with automatic transmission.

Rental cars do not come with a GPS system by default. They can be added on at an additional cost, but the cover is not complete in remote areas.

Driving License

Foreign nationals must have an international driver’s license in order to be able to drive in Chile.

Standard

Hotel Orly (Queen Room)

Hotel Orly is a small and cozy French-style hotel nestled in the Providencia neighborhood, just a short distance of wonderful shopping centers and restaurants. This hotel features 28 comfortable rooms equipped with a safe deposit box, free internet access and since the hotel is committed to the environment, they also count on double paned windows and LED lighting. Besides rooms, this hotel also boasts 12 apartments situated only a few meters away from the main building; these are the perfect option for those looking for a little more privacy. The hotel also offers a restaurant, a gift shop and a small area where herbs are grown for guests to enjoy an infused tea while relaxing in the heart of Santiago.

Casa Don Tomas (Standard Room)

Hotel Casa de Don Tomás is a beautiful oasis nestled in the middle of the San Pedro de Atacama desert. It features 41 spacious rooms, all of them with private bathroom, telephone, safe deposit box, and heating. Amongst its facilities, there is also an outdoor swimming pool, a coffee shop and a snack bar. All these along with the comfort and the relaxing ambiance it offers will surely guarantee a magical stay in northern Chile.

Casa Kalfu (Standard Room)

This wonderful building is situated in Puerto Varas, only a few meters away from the Llanquihue Lake and the city center. Casa Kalfu is a small and cozy accommodation offering 14 individually designed rooms. Each room is equipped with TV, a private bathroom, and regionally inspired decorations. In addition, the hotel includes services such as private parking and an extensive breakfast buffet including local pastries. This is the perfect place to enjoy the Chilean Lake District and its surrounding.

IF Patagonia (Standard Room)

This minimalistic designed hotel, which uses solar energy, is located in the city center of Puerto Natales. A warm and relaxed atmosphere invites travelers to stay in one of the 15 modern styled rooms. Each features a private bathroom, heating, Wi-Fi and is decorated with local artisanal elements. The hotel’s restaurant Santolla serves fresh Patagonian seafood and lamb. In addition, the property features a sauna, a wooden outdoor Jacuzzi and magnificent views of the surrounding landscape.

Hotel del Paine (Standard Room)

Hotel del Paine is located on the banks of the Serrano River, next to the Torres del Paine National Park in southern Patagonia. After an exciting day full of adventure, guests can enjoy the evening at the restaurant known for its local cuisine and high-quality Chilean wines. The accommodation offers 44 rustic rooms with breathtaking views of the landscape. In addition, the hotel offers free Wi-Fi, parking, hot tub, laundry service and a shop with handcrafted goods by regional artisans. This is the perfect spot to relax after exploring the park’s biodiversity rich in flora and fauna.

Lacolet (Standard Room)

The lovely hotel Lacolet is nestled in the heart of Punta Arenas, near the panoramic lookout point Cerro La Cruz and located only a few minutes away from the main square. The historic building was established in 1934 as a former bourgeois city villa, which has been completely remodeled. Today it boasts 8 cozy and tastefully furnished rooms with private bathrooms, all equipped with cable TV, safe deposit box and Wi-Fi. Furthermore, the hotel offers a beautiful garden, dining room and reading room for all its guests. With its rich cultural heritage, the hotel Lacolet is an excellent choice for travelers who want to experience the classic and historic sites of Punta Arenas.

Superior

Hotel Torremayor Lyon (Superior Room)

This four-star contemporary style Hotel Torremayor Lyon is located in one of the best neighborhoods of Santiago, close to the Los Leones subway station, commercial centers, and interesting sights such as the San Cristóbal Hill. The hotel features 80 fully equipped rooms with air conditioning, safe deposit box and Wi-Fi, all of them decorated in a warm manner. It also features (among others) a restaurant, bar and a swimming pool.

Altiplanico San Pedro (Superior Room)

The Hotel Altiplánico San Pedro de Atacama is situated outside of San Pedro, at 10 minutes walking distance from the city center. It is an exceptional and impressive accommodation built completely out of adobe which gives the hotel a special local identity. It features 29 rooms, all of them with a unique design aiming to emphasize the highland roots and boast a terrace showcasing the Andes. From the inner garden, you can enjoy a great view of the snow-capped surrounding volcanoes. In this magnificent hotel, you can also find a swimming pool, a bar-restaurant, internet access,  private parking, and laundry service. It is definitely the perfect place for some peace and quiet.

Puelche (Executive Room)

Hotel Puelche welcomes guests with a warm and relaxing atmosphere. It is located a short distance from Llanquihue Lake and near the city center of Puerto Varas, next to various shops, restaurants, and bars. It boasts 21 fully equipped rooms that feature a variety of wood elements. Amenities include Wi-Fi, TV and a minibar. Other facilities include a sauna, Jacuzzi, restaurant and common areas with a fireplace.

Costaustralis (Standard City Room)

The Costaustralis is located in the middle of Puerto Natales, right next to the bay. The hotel is known for its grandiose style and panoramic views of the Patagonian Andes. The accommodation features 110 comfortable rooms with all the necessary amenities for a comfortable stay. Common areas include a fireplace, reading area, restaurant, bar, and lounge.

Pampa Lodge (Standard Room)

Pampa Lodge Patagonia, which used to be a restaurant until 2014, is located only a few kilometers away from the Torres Del Paine National Park, in the area of the Serrano River. The accommodation features 10 modern styled rooms featuring a private bathroom, central heating and amazing views of the surrounding Patagonian Mountains and the Paine Massif. Quincho Restaurant & BBQ serves typical barbecued lamb as well as fish, seafood and vegetarian dishes. Other facilities include a big lounge area with wood burning stove, bar, and private parking.
Cabo de Hornos (Standard Room)

Cabo de Hornos is located in the center of Punta Arenas, next to the Plaza Muñoz Gamero. The accommodation features 110 modern rooms including free Wi-Fi, TV, a private bathroom and laundry service. From each room, passengers have an amazing view of the Strait of Magellan or the historical town of Punta Arenas. In addition, guests can enjoy exquisite cuisine at the gourmet restaurant and end the day with a premium Chilean wine in front of the fireplace. The combination of the hotel’s central location in town and the closeness to nature will make the traveler’s stay unforgettable.