Chile Wine Tour
Chile’s Santiago vineyards are blessed with a diverse range of climates suited to quality wine production. It’s cool maritime to sub-continental climate, has seen its growth for several generations and its wines are now world famous. Like most vineyards, Santiago vineyards are beautifully located – with large swaths of green vines framed by snowcapped cordillera and bright blue skies. Most of these offer tours and tastings, making it a fine day for visiting guests.
Viña Concha y Toro, founded in 1883, was the first-ever winery to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. It is now the largest wine producer in Latin America. Viña Cousiño Macul, Chile’s oldest winery, that dates back to 1550, makes a nice trip from central Santiago. Viña Undurraga with a large modern winery, encourages visitors to learn about the wine-making process. Santiago wineries are best seen when they are green between October and February, and harvest between March and May.
TRAVEL UNTAMED ON THIS 11-DAY CHILE WINE TOUR…
And, experience Atacama Desert’s dry volcanic landscape.
Villarrica Atacama Experience
Santiago, Villarrica, Atacama
(11 Days – Travel Any Day)
Day 01 – Arrive
Santiago, Chile Meet and greet on arrival in Santiago and transfer to your hotel for check-in. Rest of the day at leisure.
Afternoon tour (Optional)
If you have time then take an afternoon tour to visit the neoclassical La Moneda Palace, home of Chilean presidents until 1958 and today the seat of the government. Though you may see the best art wandering the cobbled streets of Santiago's older barrios, there's no shortage of ultra-modern cultural centres including the Pre-Columbian Art Museum and Museo National de Bellas Artes.
Towering over the Chilean capital, is Cerro San Cristobal, Santiago’s iconic park. This hill-hugging park is a recreational oasis with public pools, botanical gardens, and breathtaking views of both the city and the Andean peaks – smog permitting. Santiguans come here to jog, bike, and hike. Tourists come to ride the rickety funicular up to the hilltop Virgin Mary statue and sip on mote con huesillo while taking in the panorama.
The historic heart of Santiago, Plaza de Armas continues to pulse with excitement. For better or worse, it has all the makings of a tourist trap – cheap local food, semi-authentic art stands, a soap box atmosphere, and all the excitement needed to make a pickpocket's job easy. Plaza de Armas is certainly a must see, but one needn't linger too long.
Overnight – Plaza El Bosque Park & Suites.
Day 02 – Vineyards Toiur
Santiago Take a full day tour to vineyards in the south of Santiago. The visit begins in the Plaza Don Melchor square where you will be welcomed by your expert, bilingual guide, who will lead you to a balcony for a spectacular panoramic view of the Pirque vineyard. Continuing to Vina Santa Rita to enjoy a traditional lunch at restaurant Dona Paula.
Santa Rita is one of the main winery in the Maipo Valley, located in the town of Alto Jahuel, at the Andes foothills. The semi-arid Mediterranean climate, cold wind with moderate rains with warm and dry summers, has given this area recognition as being one of the best grape growing areas in the world, especially for Cabernet Sauvignon.
Overnight – Plaza El Bosque Park & Suites (B, L)
Day 03 – Culture Tour
Villarrica Morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Temuco. Arrive Temuco and transfer to Villarrica. Included in the transfer to Villarrica will be a visit to the Hueche Ruka Community, giving you a fascinating insight into the traditions of the Mapuche peoples of Chile’s South. There will be a demonstration of the community’s principal artistic and creative activities, its gastronomy and handicrafts. Continue to Villarrica, some 60-minutes drive southeast of Temuco, in the shadow of the beautiful Villarrica Volcano on the eastern side of Lake Villarrica. Overnight – Villarrica Park Lake Hotel (B)
Day 04 – Pucon & Surrounds
Villarrica Morning visit to Pucon and surroundings, including the Volcanic caves of the Villarrica Volcano. Snow-covered Villarrica, one of Chile's most active volcanoes, rises above the lake and town of the same name. It has erupted basaltic lava and is one of the few permanently active volcanoes in the world, with frequent strombolian activity and sometimes a small lava lake present in its summit crater.
Overnight – Villarrica Park Lake Hotel (B)
Day 05 – Hike & Beach Forest
Villarrica Full day visit to Huerquehue National Park. The park offers a wide variety of hikes that traverse dense beech forests containing native vegetation such as coihues, lingues, and araucarias. Hike along paths in Huerquehue National Park which lead to pleasant waterfalls and gurgling brooks or to splendid vistas of the Andes and Volcano Villarrica.
Overnight – Villarrica Park Lake Hotel (B, L)
Day 06 – Thermal Springs
Villarrica Today you will have a day to relax at the Huife Thermal Springs. This is the most modern and complete thermal centre in the area. It has three big pools, one with water reaching 40 degrees Celsius, another at 38 degrees Celsius and the final one much cooler.
Climbing Villarrica Volcano (Optional)
For an active alternative, you could choose to climb the 2,840-metre high volcano whose is not technically difficult, but it does demand good physical conditions. A 6.30am start is required in order to reach the base camp where you will be kitted out with boots and other equipment. The sight of the crater is overwhelming. It has a diameter of 200 square metres and deep within it you can see red lava bubbling and a sulphurous smoke climbing towards you. The views from the top are sensational. The climb is roughly 4 hours long, and the descent 2-3 hours.
Overnight – Villarrica Park Lake Hotel (B,L)
Day 07 – Transfer
Atacama Desert Transfer to the airport in Temuco to board your return flight to Santiago. Upon arrival you will be met and assisted to your connecting flight to Calama. Calama is your gateway to the geological and archaeological wonders of the central desert. Upon arrival in this oasis town, you will be welcomed by the hotel or lodge personnel and transferred overland to the Desert Lodge, in the heart of the Atacama Desert. Prior to dinner this evening, the guides will describe the excursion options available over the next three days.
Overnight – Explora Atacama or Awasi (B, D)
Day 08 to 10 – Desert Adventure
Atacama Desert Three full days of adventure in the desert lie ahead. Don't let the word "desert" fool you though. This is not your typical inhospitable desert - quite the contrary. This desert maintains temperatures generally in the 70's and 80's and in the evenings, a jacket will be welcome, as temperatures drop as much as 30 or 40 degrees.
There is much to see and do here. There are many activities available, something for all tastes, interests, ages and levels of fitness. Hiking the Moon Valley opens the eyes to so many unique terrestrial formations. Salar de Atacama (the salt flats) has the most unusual, thick textured granular covering of salt. Los Flamencos National Reserve offers incredible views of three species of flamingos, and beautiful sunsets over the lake. The Cejar Lagoon has such a high concentration of salt that it allows you to float like in the Dead Sea. And there are active volcanoes and geysers that erupt steam high into the air.
Overnight – Explora Atacama or Awasi (B, L, D)
Day 11 – Depart
Santiago Transfer to Calama airport for your flight to Santiago. Upon arrival to Santiago airport, you will be met and assisted with your international connecting flight. (B)
Make this your holiday
Getting There There are currently no direct flights from major UK airports. Most flights are via Europe, Latin America or US; LAN, Iberia, British Airways and Air France are all options. It’s worth paying attention to the routes used by the different airlines; even the shortest and most convenient ones via Madrid or Buenos Aires entail a total travelling time of over 16 hours. Flying via the US is longer still (though sometimes cheaper).
When to go This best (and most expensive) time to visit Patagonia is between Nov to Feb. March is the period for grape harvest and wine festivals and April is fall. Between September and November is possibly the best time to visit Santiago, the temperatures are pleasant and good value for money. Jun to Aug is winter and the best time to visit ski resorts. Between mid-December to end February and two-middle weeks of July is holiday time for Brazilians and Argentines.