PO - Atacama Desert & Santiago - Stargazing, Salt Flats, Flamingos & Hot Springs [Pioneer Exclusive] - Awesome Experiences

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PO - Atacama Desert & Santiago - Stargazing, Salt Flats, Flamingos & Hot Springs [Pioneer Exclusive]Chile

From £0 per person for 6 nights (based on 2 adults sharing)*
Journey Chile’s remote landscapes to the other-worldly Atacama. Visit vibrant Santiago, vineyards and coastal cities, before venturing into the world's driest non-polar desert.

Perfect for:

Must-do Outdoor Experiences Pioneers ClubExtraordinary & Secret Places
Summary

Chile

The plateau of the Atacama desert is like nowhere else on earth – movie directors use its empty red landscapes as a stand-in for Mars. An adventure here feels like stepping into another world – where geysers soar from the scorched earth and snow tops distant volcanoes. This specially designed experience combines visits to the desert landscape of the Atacama and the vibrant city of Santiago, with exploration of the contrasting coastal cities and vineyards of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso. 

AWESOME ELEMENTS INCLUDED IN THE TOUR PRICE:

  • Enjoy a half-day wine tour and taste award-winning vintages at the stunning Santa Rita Winery 
  • Immerse yourself in Ricardo Claro’s huge personal pre-Columbian art collection
  • View a spectacular sunset overlooking the Valley of the Moon with a cocktail in hand
  • Lunch in a tiny mining village with incredible views over the salt flat, whilst learning from the locals about ancient traditions 
  • Watch the dramatic geysers explode at dawn whilst being served breakfast at El Tatio
  • Relax and refresh with a soak in the warm natural pools of Puritama Hot Springs, 3475m above sea level

Atacama Summary

Starting in Santiago, you’ll begin your slow adjustment to altitude by exploring the city with your private guide (and there’s also the option to see the city’s twinkling sprawl at sunset, from South America’s tallest skyscraper, Sky Costanera). Then it’s time to head to the seaside, to the pretty resort city of Viña del Mar and the romantic port of Valparaíso, with its rainbow-hued streets. You can’t come to Chile without tasting some of its fantastic wines, so you’ll spend half a day sampling some of the delightful Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons at the renowned Santa Rita winery.

The rest of your experience is for exploring the incredible landscapes of the Atacama. You’ll view the dramatic sand formations of the Valley of the Moon whilst sipping on a cocktail, as the dusky sky turns orange and then purple. The Atacama is so much more than its unbelievable landscape: it’s a place to ponder life’s mysteries under a sky busy with shooting stars and bright planets. We’ve included time in a tiny mining settlement and lunch in a local house, as well as the option of an evening under the stars with an incredibly knowledgeable local guide, who’ll tell you about the Big Bang, life and the universe as you search out planets and keep warm with a traditional Chilean hot chocolate.


Please click the Full Itinerary tab for the full daily itinerary, details of what's included and information about children and solo travellers.


Seeking different dates? Take a look at our Non-Pioneer Atacama Desert & Santiago experience here.


BOOK ONLINE below now, or CALL 0208 432 0885 9am - 5pm Mon - Fri for assistance with booking

Please use your unique Pioneers Club code (sent by email) at checkout to get your 20% discount.

Please have your passport and Debit/Credit card to hand. International flights are not included.


GETTING THERE

Typical return Economy flights from London cost around £900 per person and take approximately 16 hours outbound, 22 hours inbound depending on exact flight configurations and layover times. Please check the current prices and availability using the ‘Search for Flights’ link below and ensure that your flight arrival and departure times and dates align with the start and end dates and airport locations shown on the Experience itinerary. Please do not book flights until your Experience booking is confirmed.

For this particular experience, we have found that the best option is to book a multi-stop flight from London - Santiago - Calama - London.

Experience start point: Santiago (SCL). Arrive by 12pm on first day of tour.

End point: Calama (CJC).

Search for flights to Santiago

Map
Full Itinerary

See below for your hotel options

You will get a choice of hotel options for the duration of your experience:

Classic ★★★

Classic hotels provide mid-range accommodation (minimum three-star rated), with comfortable rooms and private facilities. We’ve selected these hotels based on positive client feedback.

Premium ★★★★

Premium hotels are typically upper mid range (usually four star), with more amenities than our classic choices. They all have comfortable rooms with private facilities and have received good client feedback.

Deluxe ★★★★★

Deluxe hotels are luxury hotels with excellent facilities and service, usually categorised as 4.5 or 5 star. Clients rate them extremely highly.

When booking an experience, please remember that the hotel category you select is for the whole tour. The table below displays the hotels listed for each category. Please note that the actual hotel selection will be driven by availability at time of booking.


Click on the accommodation names to find out more from the hotel websites:

Classic:

Premium:

Deluxe:

Hotel Novapark Hotel Plaza San Francisco Hotel The Singular Lastarria Hotel
La Casa de Don Tomás Terrantai Lodge Andino Cumbres San Pedro de Atacama Hotel
Diego de Almagro San Pedro de Atacama Hotel

Itinerary

Day One

Discover Santiago

Arrive at Santiago airport for a private transfer to your hotel (30 minutes). Then get acquainted with Chile’s complex capital with your private guide. Start on San Cristobal Hill, for knock-out views over the city from 800m up, before moving into its heart at the grand, colonial Plaza de Armas. From there, take in the cobbled streets and crumbling mansions of the old, colonial barrios before exploring Santiago’s modern eastern suburbs. The rest of the day is yours to settle in. Be sure to leave some time for once - a traditional Chilean evening snack.

Overnight in Santiago

Meals included: None

San Cristobal


Day Two

Lush Country and Coastal Cities

Discover two not-to-be-missed coastal cities, on a drive from Santiago. Your private adventure takes you by car through the lush Curacaví and Casablanca Valleys, filled with vineyards, fruit plantations and forest reserves, towards lively Valparaíso. In this UNESCO World Heritage city, rainbow-hued homes climb the cliffs. The best way to explore is by foot, passing bright murals and funiculars that slope up steep alleys, as well as landmarks including grand Plaza Sotomayor and the busy, buzzy dockside of Prat Muelle.

Next, it’s time for contrasting Viña del Mar (‘Vineyard by the Sea’), a neatly-landscaped resort city that’s popular with Chileans and packed with pristine parks. You’ll visit some of these, as well as the skyscraper-topped seaside boulevard of Avenida del Peru, home to Chile’s oldest hotel, the del Mar. Then it’s time to return to Santiago for the night.

Overnight in Santiago

Meals included: Breakfast

Valparaiso


Day Three

Fine Vines

You’ll be picked up from your hotel to make the 45-minute drive Alto Jahuel, a sleepy village in the Andean foothills that’s home to the acclaimed Santa Rita winery. In a beautiful setting of perfectly-kept gardens surrounded by sloping hills, this winery was founded in 1880 and produces award-winning Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons. You’ll spend half a day in its refined surroundings, learning about the wine-making process and tasting a selection of its wines. There’s also the chance to see a huge private collection of pre-Colombian art, collected by the businessman Ricardo Claro over 40 years, and housed in a slick, modern building in the midst of the vines. After your return to Santiago, the rest of the day is yours to explore at leisure – or take advantage of an optional excursion to Sky Costanera, the tallest skyscraper in South America (please see the Extras tab). This 300m mirrored towerblock has incredible views across Santiago and the soaring Andes mountains beyond the city. After a private transfer from your hotel, you’ll make the two-minute elevator ride straight to its vast viewing atrium. The 360-degree vistas are especially impressive at night, when Santiago’s lights make vast scribbles across the city. 

Overnight in Santiago

Meals included: Breakfast

Santiago Tower


Day Four

Salt Flat and Sunsets

After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to Santiago airport, ready for your onward flight to Calama. From there, you’ll transfer to the dusty desert town of San Pedro de Atacama, 2,407m above sea level and gateway to the incredible, arid landscapes of the Atacama plateau. In the afternoon, you’ll embark on a trip to the Cordillera de Sal, a vast mountain range dusted in white salt crystals. See the sweeping dunes of Death Valley before watching an unforgettable sunset among the sculptural sand formations of the Valley of the Moon, with a cocktail in hand.

Valley of the Moon

During your time in the Atacama, there’s the chance to book an optional two-hour ‘Big Bang’ experience on any night, beginning at 9pm under an unpolluted sky lit up with stars (please see the Extras tab). The region is renowned as one of the best places in the world to stargaze and, over the course of two hours, you’ll learn more about the night sky from an incredibly knowledgeable guide who’ll help you spot stars with your naked eye and by telescope, as well as tell you more about the Big Bang, life and the universe. You’ll keep warm with a typically Chilean poncho and mug of hot chocolate, and you’ll finish your evening with a photo taken with the star-studded sky as a backdrop. Transfers to and from the hotel are provided.

Stargazing Chile 

Overnight in San Pedro

Meals included: Breakfast


Day Five

Adventure through Atacama

Spend the day exploring the lunar-like mountains and plains of the region. Your first stop is the Gran Salar de Atacama, the largest salt flat in Chile, where flamingos perch in plate-glass lagoons. You’ll break for lunch in Socaire, a tiny mining village with incredible views of the salt flat. Over a meal in a local house, you’ll learn about the ancient traditions of the villagers, who still revere Pachamama, the Inca ‘Mother Earth’ goddess. Then it’s on to the serene Altiplanic lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques, 4,000m above sea level and backed by green and purple mountains. At this height, you feel close to the mountains and volcanoes that inspired ancient legends. After your tour, you will transferred back to your hotel for the night.

Overnight in San Pedro

Meals included: Breakfast; lunch

Salar de Atacama


Day Six

Hot Springs and Geysers

It’s an early start, as you make your way to the vast geyser field of El Tatio, 4,320m above sea level. Here, fumaroles soar up to 50m from huge craters, backed by unique fauna and mesmerising mountain scenery. The geysers are at their most dramatic in the early morning, when you’ll also see some of the region’s captivating wildlife – llama-like vicunas, ñandues (which resemble ostriches), and cute viscacha rodents. You’ll savour a breakfast made and served at the geysers, then journey onwards to the Puritama Hot Springs, eight staggered natural pools packed with minerals, 3,475m above sea level. Navigate between them on wooden walkways through a rambling, rocky landscape: the water is a comforting 25-35 degrees. After your soak, you’ll be transferred back to your hotel for the night.

Overnight in San Pedro

Meals included: Breakfast

El Tatio


Day Seven

Home Time

After breakfast, make the journey from San Pedro to Calama airport, ready for your return flight (not included).

Meals included: Breakfast


Overall meals included: 6 Breakfasts; 1 lunch

What's included:

  • Private English-speaking guides unless stated otherwise
  • Private transfers and internal flights, unless stated otherwise
  • Meals as listed
  • Mandatory taxes and service fees
  • Entrance tickets and permits unless stated otherwise
  • Watch the sunset in the Valley of the Moon with a cocktail
  • Hot springs relaxation

What's not included:

  • International flights to/from the start/end point of our experiences
  • Optional extras listed
  • Tips for guides, drivers, hotel and restaurant staff
  • Any visa, customs, airport taxes or similar charges before or after the tour
  • We cannot guarantee the included hotel breakfast for early departures
  • Drinks during meals unless stated otherwise
  • Personal expenses, such as laundry

What to pack: hiking boots; sun cream; swimsuit; warm layers


For Home Office travel advice to this country, read more here

If you intend to travel solo, please click here

Note: This trip explores Santiago and the Atacama Desert. If you’d like your trip to also include Patagonia, please see our Head to Toe Chile extended itinerary


BOOK ONLINE below now, or CALL 0208 432 0885 9am - 5pm Mon - Fri for assistance with booking

Please use your unique Pioneers Club code (sent by email) at checkout to get your 20% discount.

Please have your passport and Debit/Credit card to hand. International flights are not included and we strongly recommend checking flight availability and pricing from your local airport before starting the booking process, but please don't actually book flights until you receive our booking confirmation email.

Experience start point: Santiago (SCL). Arrive by 12pm on first day of tour.

End point: Calama (CJC).

Search for flights to Santiago

Extras

Awesome Experience bonuses

Many of our experiences have optional features available at an added cost. Please see below for available extras for this experience. Please continue to checkout to select any optional extras and to see pricing information.

Optional Extras

To customise your experience, you can select any of theses extras at an additional cost during the basket stage.

Big Bang Experience

The region is renowned as one of the best places in the world to stargaze and, over the course of two hours, you’ll learn more about the night sky from an incredibly knowledgeable guide who’ll help you spot stars with your naked eye and by telescope, as well as tell you more about the Big Bang, life and the universe.

Sky Costanera

Visit the tallest skyscraper in South America for incredible views across Santiago and the soaring Andes mountains beyond the city. The 360-degree vistas are especially impressive at night, when Santiago’s lights make vast scribbles across the city.

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