Trip Type : Group Tour
Travelstride climate
This trip visits a destination that is significantly affected by climate change
Atacama Desert Glacier National Park Chile: From the Atacama Desert to the Patagonian Fjords Trip
Patagonia Punta Arenas Chile: From the Atacama Desert to the Patagonian Fjords Trip
Chile: From the Atacama Desert to the Patagonian Fjords tour

Chile: From the Atacama Desert to the Patagonian Fjords

Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Comfort (4*)
15 days
From: $ 5,295 $ 353 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • Visit the chaotic maze of narrow alleys, steep staircases, and colorful funiculars that ramble up 17 surrounding cerros (hills).
  • See its unusual charms at play as we wander past old mansions and modern street art
  • Discover the ancient petroglyphs in the nearby mountains and boulders.
  • Visit the Nao Victoria Museum to see a replica of one of Ferdinand Magellan’s ships
  • Enjoy a window into Patagonian ranch life when we visit a working estancia.
  • Hike to Salto Grande, a rushing waterfall set between Lago Nordenskjold and Lago Pehoe
  • Discover the Las Montañas Fjord
  • Visit Bernal Glacier

Short Description

This memorable Chilean adventure features San Pedro de Atacama, a desert oasis at the center of some of Chile’s most magnificent natural beauty, a three-night cruise along the fjords that border the Southern Ice Field of Chilean Patagonia, and much more.

Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Trip Type Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Comfort (4*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions All internal ground transport
Start City N/A
End City N/A

Itinerary

DAY 1
Depart U.S.
Depart the U.S. on your overnight flight to Santiago, Chile.

DAY 2
Arrive Santiago, Chile • Walking tour
Meals included: D Accommodations: Hotel Cumbres Lastarria or similar

Welcome to Santiago! An OAT representative will greet you at the airport and escort you to our hotel, where you’ll meet your Trip Leader and fellow travelers.

Enjoy a few hours to settle in before we gather again for an orientation walk around Chile’s cosmopolitan capital. Against a stunning backdrop of Andean peaks, Santiago has witnessed a remarkable history, from settlement by conquistadors in 1541 to the Marxist, military, and democratic governments of the 20th century. We’ll explore the city’s hub, Plaza de Armas, as well as La Moneda Palace, the seat of Chile’s government.

Tonight, we’ll see a slice of local life when we take the subway to the Mercado Central, Santiago’s bustling seafood market. We’ll enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a restaurant in the market.

DAY 3
Explore Valparaiso • Home-Hosted Lunch
Meals included: B L Accommodations: Hotel Cumbres Lastarria or similar

Today we set out on a full-day tour of Valparaiso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Chile’s largest seaport.

“Pancho,” as locals call the city, is a chaotic maze of narrow alleys, steep staircases, and colorful funiculars that ramble up 17 surrounding cerros (hills). We’ll ride one of these ascensores to catch a spectacular view.

Once a booming port, Valparaiso’s economy was hit hard by the opening of the Panama Canal in the 20th century. But today, the city has bounced back as the nation’s cultural capital. Gritty yet romantic, Pancho has long been a haven for artists and writers. We’ll see its unusual charms at play as we wander past old mansions and modern street art. And to really catch the rhythm of life in Valparaiso, we’ll enjoy lunch with a local family in their home.

Back in Santiago, dinner is on your own.

DAY 4
Fly to Calama • Rainbow Valley • Overland to San Pedro
Meals included: B D Accommodations: Hotel Cumbres San Pedro de Atacama or similar

This morning, we fly to Calama and transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, an oasis town in Chile’s Norte Grande region—home to the driest desert on Earth. En route to our hotel, we spend the afternoon exploring the Rainbow Valley.

Much like San Pedro and its surroundings, the Rainbow Valley is an otherworldly landscape of layered rock formations sculpted by centuries of wind. But its colors—a kaleidoscopic palette of vibrant reds, purples, and yellows formed by mineral deposits—set it apart. From here, we’ll discover the ancient petroglyphs in the nearby mountains and boulders.

After dinner at a local family-owned restaurant, we’ll check into our hotel in San Pedro.

DAY 5
San Pedro • Visit Toconao • Sunset at Laguna Chaxa
Meals included: B L Accommodations: Hotel Cumbres San Pedro de Atacama or similar

Today, we take a walking tour of San Pedro. The compact, terra cotta-hued village serves as a base for northern Chile’s nearby wonders, but our destination is the Museo Gustave Le Paige. Because it receives virtually no rainfall, the Atacama is an archaeological gold mine. The museum houses thousands of well-preserved artifacts dating back to pre-Inca cultures—including shamanic devices for ingesting hallucinogenic plants.

We’ll break for lunch and a few hours of free time. Later, we’ll depart for Toconao, a small village known for its 18th-century bell tower, built from volcanic rock mined from a nearby quarry.

Our next stop is Laguna Chaxa, a flamingo breeding site in Salar de Atacama, Chile’s largest salt flat. We’ll have the chance to seek out native wildlife, such as the five flamingo species that inhabit this lake—a bizarre sight in the midst of a desert. The scene becomes even more surreal at sunset, with a horizon of pink-streaked skies and pastel mountains.

Back in San Pedro, dinner will be on your own.

DAY 6
Optional Tatio Geysers tour • Valley of the Moon OPTIONAL TOUR
Meals included: B D Accommodations: Hotel Cumbres San Pedro de Atacama or similar

Enjoy free time today with lunch on your own. Or, rise early for an optional excursion to El Tatio, a bubbling geyser field enclosed by snowcapped volcanoes.

We’ll regroup this afternoon to explore the Valley of the Moon, a lunar setting of rock formations, caves, and gorges carved by eons of wind and floods. (Scientists chose this region to test drive a prototype Mars rover in 2013.) We’ll wander its rocky terrain and enjoy an evening toast as the valley below glows pink and gold in the setting sun.

Dinner will follow at a local restaurant.

DAY 7
Fly to Santiago
Meals included: B D Accommodations: Hotel Cumbres Lastarria or similar

This morning, you’re free to make your own discoveries in San Pedro before we transfer to the airport in Calama for our flight to Santiago. Arriving early in the evening, we’ll check into our hotel and meet for dinner at a local restaurant.

DAY 8
Fly to Punta Arenas • Walking tour
Meals included: B D Accommodations: Jose Nogueira Hotel or similar

Today we fly to Punta Arenas, an active port overlooking the Strait of Magellan. Punta Arenas rose to prominence in the late 19th century because of its sheep and wool industry and the discovery of gold nearby.

After checking into our hotel this afternoon, we’ll visit the Nao Victoria Museum to see a replica of one of Ferdinand Magellan’s ships, complete with original furniture and hardware. From here, we’ll continue on a walking tour of Punta Arenas’ main square, ending with dinner at a local restaurant.

DAY 9
Punta Arenas • Ranch visit • Travel to Torres del Paine
Meals included: B L D Accommodations: Hotel Lago Grey or similar

Today we enjoy a window into Patagonian ranch life when we visit a working estancia. The area’s sweeping grasslands are ideal for sheep farming, which has been one of the primary economic engines here since the end of the 19th century. At the estancia, we’ll enjoy a lunch of Patagonian lamb—the iconic dish that the President of Chile served to President Obama in his first visit to the nation.

We travel overland to Torres del Paine, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site and one of the most remote and beautiful places in the world. During our two nights here, we’ll hike winding trails over rippling currents; witness the ostrich-like rhea (known locally as ñandú), fox, and other wildlife; and take in the stunning scenery of purple mountains and mirror-smooth lakes.

DAY 10
Explore Torres del Paine
Meals included: B L D Accommodations: Hotel Lago Grey or similar

Sprawling 935 square miles, Torres del Paine spans grasslands, beech forests, and glaciers that have carved out fjords and valleys. We’ll explore these unique landscapes in a trio of hikes over the course of two days. (Our routes may vary depending on seasonal conditions.)

Today, we may trek along the shores of Lago Grey, where gigantic blue icebergs rest against sandy beaches. Glacier Grey stretches into the distance through the towering peaks of the surrounding mountains.

We’ll stop for a boxed lunch at a scenic viewpoint, then hike to Salto Grande, a rushing waterfall set between Lago Nordenskjold and Lago Pehoe. Here, we may spot some of the indigenous wildlife that feed on the verdant foliage along the riverbank.

We return to our hotel for dinner tonight.

DAY 11
Torres del Paine • Puerto Natales • Embark cruise
Meals included: B L D Accommodations: MS Skorpios III or similar

This morning, we'll explore Torres del Paine in a final hike, keeping our eyes peeled for fauna such as guanacos (related to the llama and the camel) and condors winging overhead.

After a boxed lunch, we drive to Puerto Natales to board the MS Skorpios III, our home for the next three nights as we cruise the Chilean fjords. This family-owned vessel is uniquely designed with a reinforced hull for navigating ice and a small size for threading through the narrow fjords and bays.

We depart Puerto Natales and sail through the Kirke Narrows toward Bernado O’Higgins National Park, home to the furthest flows of the massive Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Our ship is the only one that sails this particular route. As we follow the path of Darwin and FitzRoy, we’ll be able to witness the ever-shifting palette of light and shadow on the mountains, sea, and ice without distraction.

Dinner will be onboard tonight. The Chilean owners of the Skorpios III ensure that everything about our shipboard experience, from wine and food to friendly staff, reflect their culture. During our cruise, all meals are included while we're onboard ship.

DAY 12
Cruise glaciers
Meals included: B L D Accommodations: MS Skorpios III or similar

Every slip of land we’ve traveled in Chile was once covered by the Patagonian Ice Sheet, which stretched all the way to the Andes. The remaining Southern Patagonian Ice Field still sprawls nearly 5,000 square miles. Expedition teams have only crossed the full length of the ice field once, and many parts remain still unvisited. Most of what is known to explorers is accessible only by boat or helicopter.

Today we have the privilege of exploring three smaller fjords feeding the Peel Fjord, each with its own character. Amalia Glacier is wide and low, and you can see the rivers feeding into it. We’ll disembark on a nearby beach for a walk through the vegetation to get a better look at the glacier.

We cruise onward into the Asia Fjord, home of the El Brujo glacier—so vividly blue it seems almost lit from within. Weather permitting, we’ll go ashore for panoramic views. Finally, we navigate Calvo Fjord, a glacier-filled alley of bobbing ice. We’ll board an icebreaker boat, the Capitán Constantino, to sail through the choppy ice and get closer.

DAY 13
Explore Las Montañas Fjord
Meals included: B L D Accommodations: MS Skorpios III or similar

Today we discover the Las Montañas Fjord, which threads between the Cordillera Sarmiento and the Cordillera Riesco mountain ranges. Cordillera Sarmiento includes The White Lady, a 7,000-foot peak, while the Cordillera Riesco is best known for Grupo la Paz, a cluster of jagged rock towers.

We cruise by Zodiac through the bay of the Alsina glacier. Then we visit Bernal Glacier, where our Zodiac boats drop us off for a walk through a small rain forest to a glacial lagoon, and then onward to the front of the glacier itself, which we can touch.

Continuing on past Herman and Zamudio glaciers, we’ll arrive at Angostura White Glacier. Here, we embark exploration craft and keep our eyes peeled for the diverse wildlife that populate these waters: Peale's dolphins, seals, upland geese, petrels, cormorants, and albatrosses.

This evening, we enjoy a special farewell party and Captain’s Dinner onboard.

DAY 14
Disembark cruise • Punta Arenas • Fly to Santiago
Meals included: B Accommodations: Hotel Cumbres Lastarria

We disembark this morning and drive to Punta Arenas, arriving in time for lunch on your own.

This afternoon, we fly to Santiago and settle into our hotel.

Your Trip Leader will have plenty of ideas for dinner on your own. You might seek out Chile’s famed seafood or restaurants serving traditional dishes like pastel de choclo (corn pie) and plateada (pot roast). Or, try one of the restaurants on Isadora Goyenechea, an area popular with local diners and visitors alike.

DAY 15
Winery visit • Return to U.S. or begin post-trip extension
Meals included: B L

We toast our journey today during a visit to Paseo del Vino, a charming boutique winery whose owner established it on a single acre of grapes, as a passion project. He makes just 3,000 bottles a year (both red and white) and loves introducing visitors to Chilean wine culture. We’ll learn about winemaking and taste some of his vintages, followed by a Farewell Lunch of local cuisine.

This afternoon, we depart for the airport for our return flights home, or to begin our post-trip extension to Buenos Aires & Iguassu Falls.

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 5,295
Price Per Day: $ 353 per day
Checking price

467 Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T. Tours) Travel Reviews & Ratings

99%
4.9 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 441
Great 13
Average 8
Disappointing 0
Terrible 5
Value
4.9
Guide
4.9
Activities
4.9
Lodging
4.9
Transportation
4.9
Meals
4.9

Chile: From the Atacama Desert to the Patagonian Fjords

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Company Reviews

My favorite OAT adventure

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I went to this adventure with my sister-in-law and we had the absolute best time! Our guide were all amazing and our trip leader Martin was exceptional! My sister-i-law had a fall the day we were to meet our group and Martin helped us navigate the urgent care, got her stitched up and stayed by our side until she was tucked into our room. What a waRead more about review stating My favorite OAT adventurey to meet your trip leader but also we knew we were set up with a caring and kind man from the start! This was a truly unique adventure with large cities and also the most serene scenery on earth!
I write this in the mist of the recent pandemic and hope that as soon as this all settles down we can take another trip with OAT. It will be hard to match this trip but we will try!
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We visited Panama on this trip with OAT

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
We visited Panama on this trip with OAT including walking through El Chorrillo neighborhood and listening to the stories of the survivors of the US invasion. We would recommend the movie "The Panama Deception," a documentary of the US invasion. It tells a different story that the US government and media reported at the time. Certainly more informaRead more about review stating Additional movie recommendation for Panama visitorstive that "The Tinker of Panama."
You can find the movie online at https://www.c-span.org/video/?467566-1/the-panama-deception
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India was on my bucket list.

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
India was on my bucket list. I have travelled with OAT many times and knew if any company could show it to me properly it was them. The trip surpassed any expectation I could have imagined. We stayed in palaces and drove by shanty towns. India is so full of contrasts, all kinds of contrasts. Riots of scents, color, sounds, come at you all at once.Read more about review stating 2018 Heart of India The best food you will ever have, cheap custom made silk clothing, and monuments that float at sunrise. All this and more is waiting for you. DO NOT miss this trip, it will change how you see yourself, others and humanity.
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This trip has been one of the best with OAT so far

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
This trip has been one of the best with OAT so far. The sightseeing, food, and most of the accommodations were very good. Our tour guide, Anuja Skaria, was absolutely outstanding. She went out of her way to take u to many places not included in the itinerary. She was most attentive to detail.
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Interesting travel

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip led by a fantastic leader - Pum from Thailand. He was an excellent mentor for all of the local guides and allowed them to lead in their respective countries and stepped in only if something was not right.
I have several suggestions for those who might be taking this tour. The very best place to shop is the night Read more about review stating Interesting travelmarket in Luang Prabang. That is also the city that we enjoyed the most. We could have even stayed there another day. There were excellent restaurants there - an Italian one and a French one to name a few and the small hotel was delightful.
The Angkor Paradise Hotel in Phnom Penh had the best massages that we had anywhere. They offered a Swedish Massage for 1 hour and we should have had the 90 minute one as the time went so fast. That also was a lovely hotel.
In Vietnam, when you have the Mekong Delta discovery, try to have your trip leader give you time to shop at the place where you get on the boat and also return to that same place. We were able to have 15 minutes to shop there, which was not enough. Much nicer things can be found here than in the large market in Saigon. It is the only place where I was able to buy the embroidered T shirts than are so plentiful in North Vietnam, but found nowhere else in the South. You might have to ask to see them. I had purchased some of them 17 years ago in Hanoi and they are so good that after being washed multiple times, they look as good as new. The coconut
candy factory also has some good bargains.
Although we had previously toured 2 of these countries with OAT, this was a very good overall tour of the 4 countries.
Our return trip through was canceled because the Hong Kong airport was closed due to Covid. OAT allowed us to stay an extra day in Saigon and found us another way home. They went way above what we expected in helping us, keeping us informed, and paying for our extra day at the excellent Orchids Hotel in Saigon. This is why we continue to travel with OAT.
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Safari Serengeti:Tanzania Lodge & Tented Safari

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I am sure I completed a survey and gave this trip, particularly our Trip Leader Samson Mweta, highest marks.

Details

Ship Name

MS Skorpios III

Ship Description

The 230-foot MS Skorpios III is a 90-passenger expedition ship uniquely designed for cruising the ice-encrusted waters of the Chilean Fjords. Onboard, our group can relax in two bar lounges and enjoy the views from the panoramic dining room. We’ll enjoy regional cuisine and wines, plus complimentary drinks. Each cabin features twin beds, private bath, safe, and TV.

Flight & Transport Inclusions

All internal ground transport

Group Size

Standard Group - 25 + people

Trip ID#:

oveadvtrachiatadespatfjo

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