Explore the highlights of Chile with an additional cruise of the spectacular Patagonian fjords. From Santiago fly north to experience the otherworldly Atacama, the driest desert on earth. Then head south to the Lakes District, a landscape of glacial lakes and mountains. From here head even further south into Patagonia itself where you can spend several days hiking, biking and enjoying the remote beauty. Finally board a small-ship cruise to sail around the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego to legendary Cape Horn.

Key information

Destinations Destinations Patagonia, Chile
Atacama Desert, The Lakes District, Torres del Paine National Park, Santiago, Cape Horn
Activity Activity Cruise & Sailing, Nature & Wildlife, Culture
Physical Level Physical Level Easy
Season Season January - December

Suggested itinerary

Get to know Chile’s lively capital city

Get to know Chile’s lively capital city

Day 1–2 in Santiago

Surrounded by hills, energetic Santiago is the beating heart of Chile and home to 40% of its people. The best way to explore Santiago is simply by strolling around its unique neighbourhoods, starting with the museum, malls and architecture of the Centro.

Don't miss

Climb San Cristobal Hill in Santiago

Climb San Cristobal Hill in Santiago

Take the cable car or walk up to San Cristobal Hill for a stunning panorama of the city. It’s a great way to see the city before going on to explore its vibrant street art, galleries, beautiful parks and colonial architecture up close, perhaps via a bike tour. Look out for Plaza de Armas and La Moneda Presidential Palace.

Explore Atacama’s otherworldly landscapes

Explore Atacama’s otherworldly landscapes

Day 3–5 in Atacama Desert

Covering over 1,000km of land from the Pacific coast to the Bolivian border, the Atacama desert is home to a range of otherworldly landscapes which leave even the most world-weary travellers breathless — though the high altitude could also be to blame for that. The region is a photographer’s dream, with seemingly endless salt flats giving way to volcanos, active geysers and vibrant turquoise lagoons filled with flamingos. Don’t miss a sunset (or sunrise) in the appropriately named Valle de la Luna, which is only 11 miles from the small town of San Pedro de Atacama.

Don't miss

Hop on a tour to Bolivia’s famed salt flats

Hop on a tour to Bolivia’s famed salt flats

From San Pedro de Atacama jump on a 3-4 day tour to neighbouring Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni. Make sure to choose your tour wisely and grab a handful of coca leaves to chew on (said to help counteract altitude sickness) — most tours will include a visit to the ethereal Salvador Dalí Desert which is more than 4,500 metres above sea level.

Marvel at snowcapped volcanoes in the Lakes District

Marvel at snowcapped volcanoes in the Lakes District

Day 6–8 in The Lakes District

Known for its conical volcanoes and its shimmering lakes, this region of central Chile and Argentina offers accessible and easy-going hiking with spectacular views, quiet villages and a laid back pace of life. The region was the former home to the Mapuche people, who managed to fight off both the Incas and Spanish colonialists for 350 years before finally falling to the Chilean Army in the 1880s. Over the following century, Swiss, Austrian and German settlers transformed the area, influencing the architecture and cuisine of towns like Argentina’s Bariloche and Chile’s Puerto Varas, where tourists can visit quaint Swiss-style chocolate shops before enjoying a day of hiking or kayaking on a nearby lake.

Hike “the W” in Torres del Paine

Hike “the W” in Torres del Paine

Day 9–12 in Torres del Paine National Park

Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park is renowned for its trekking and hiking, with excellent infrastructure for day hikes and multi-day treks. While the popular W and Circuit treks steal all the glory, other lesser-trafficked routes are available. Take a hike to one of the many viewing points from which you can get a panoramic view of the towering granite peaks and local wildlife — including guanacos, rheas and Andean condors.

Don't miss

Birdwatching in Patagonia

Birdwatching in Patagonia

What Patagonia lacks in megafauna it more than makes up for in rare bird life. There are Magellanic penguins on the Valdes Peninsula, Andean Condors soaring above Torres del Paine, flamingos in Tierra del Fuego, and much more everywhere else. Bring your binoculars!

Sail past Cape Horn

Sail past Cape Horn

Day 13 in Cape Horn

The rocky headland of Hornos Island, where the wild oceans of the Pacific and Atlantic meet, lies the fabled Cape Horn. A popular sight for Antarctic tour ships, the discovery of Cape Horn in the 1600’s was of huge significance for trade, though it is still recognised as one of the most hazardous sailing routes In the world.

Don't miss

Cruise Cape Horn fjords

Cruise Cape Horn fjords

Forget everything you think you know about cruises; the voyages between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas are genuine expeditions that get you up close to the dramatic fjords, glaciers and wildlife of Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn.

Other itineraries you might like

Why Horizon Guides?

Impartial guidebooks

Impartial guidebooks

Our travel guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for impartial travel advice.

Expert itineraries

Expert itineraries

Suggested itineraries and routes to help you scratch beneath the surface, avoid the tourist traps, and plan an authentic, responsible and enjoyable journey.

Specialist advice

Specialist advice

Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the world’s best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book.

Loading...