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Extreme Chile Nature’s Immersion
13 Days

During this 13 day Extreme Chile Nature’s Immersion we explore the country’s premier nature highlights.

 
About

Chile is a paradise for travelers looking for unparalleled outdoor experiences balanced with culture, fine wine and cuisine. This program is also ideal for artists and photographers. Sophisticated city life is contrasted by majestic wilderness and cultural icons of the Atacama Desert, Patagonia and Torres del Paine, Easter Island and Chiloe. Its abundance of geographical wonders - snow caped volcanoes, the world's highest geysers and driest coastal desert, fantastic fiords, glacier fields and canyons - make Chile a perfect adventure, photography and/or family destination with opportunities for kayaking and hiking along the way.

During this 13 day Extreme Chile Nature’s Immersion we explore the country's premier nature highlights. From the world's driest desert to the volcanic peaks, the Lake District and the wild Patagonian prairieland. We also have a chance to visit some of the premier vineyards the country has to offer.

Highlights: 

  • Introduction to Santiago
  • Premium Chilean Wineries
  • Atacama Desert
  • Hike Alerce Andino NP
  • Superb nature walks
  • EcoCamp Patagonia
  • Torres del Paine NP
  • Unique Fauna & Flora
  • Sailing Grey Glacier

No fixed departure dates. You choose when you want to go. There can be just two of you or a group of friend. You can also plan it as a family vacation. Private guide and services throughout the program. We are flexible and able to make adjustments to the program in order for us to meet all your needs and expectations.


 
Day 1

Arrival in Santiago de Chile
After landing at Santiago airport and clearing customs, you will be met by a Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC (MVE) representative and driven to your hotel in a private hotel transfer. You will have time to relax after checking into your cozy hotel before being picked up for a City Walking Tour.

The tour begins with us driving downtown to famous landmarks including the central fish market and ‘Plaza de Armas’, Santiago’s main square and kilometer zero (the point from which all distances in the country are measured). We visit the ‘Alameda’, the main street of the city centre, via busy pedestrian walkway ‘Paseo Ahumada’, famous for its crowds, shops, and diversity of people.  After visiting Chile's presidential palace ‘La Moneda’, a symbol of Chile’s political past and its famously turbulent history, we climb Cerro Santa Lucía, where Pedro Valdivia founded Santiago in 1541. Our tour finishes by visiting the bohemian Lastarria neighborhood, lined with cafés, restaurants, small theaters, bookstores and boutique shops. Free time for lunch and dinner. Overnight in Santiago.

No meals included


 
Day 2

Premier Wines of Chile
Our exclusive tour begins with a visit to Perez Cruz, a boutique winery located on the estate grounds of the Perez Cruz family in the Maipo Alto valley. The vineyard is surrounded by beautiful scenery, which complements the modern, elegant architecture of the manor.

After sampling the finest wines of the Maipo Alto valley at Perez Cruz we continue to the legendary Concha and Toro winery in Pirque. An interesting tour awaits us, covering the company history while walking through the extensive vineyard grounds. We visit the famous wine cellar, home to many legends, and then enjoy a special tasting session of four varieties of the vineyard's prestigious, internationally-acclaimed Marques de Casa Concha wine. The wine is accompanied by a selection of cheeses, nuts, dry fruits and freshly baked breads.

After the tasting we enjoy a delicious lunch in one of Pirque’s local restaurants, Tesoros de Chile. A beautiful restaurant housed in a heritage-rich Chilean casona from the nineteenth century, Tesoros de Chile was originally the house in which the estate of Pirque was administered. The house is decorated with elements of Chile's most important cultures and is home to a delicious tasting menu with recipes from different regions of the country, offering an entertaining and authentic journey throughout Chile and its different cultures.

The tour then continues with a visit to the Aquitania Winery*, created in 1984 by two Bordeaux residents looking for high-quality Chilean land to plant a vineyard. Here we’re taken on a tour of the vineyard and told of its successful history. After visiting the wine cellar, we enjoy an exquisite tasting of their different wines before being driven back to our hotel in Santiago.

* Aquitania Winery is closed on Saturdays and Sundays. If you book the tour on one of these days, the mornings second wine tour and lunch will be at the prestigious Santa Rita winery and the p.m. wine tour at Concha y Toro winery.


 
Day 3

San Pedro de Atacama – Valley of the Moon
Breakfast at the hotel. This morning you'll check out of the hotel and be driven to the airport in a private transfer. After a short scenic flight you'll arrive in Calama. You will meet a Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC (MVE) representative and be driven to San Pedro de Atacama, located in the middle of the desert and check into your hotel. We receive a briefing over lunch about the upcoming days. In the afternoon we do our first hike in the vast, amazing Valle de la Luna. We walk over sand dunes until we reach the viewpoint from where we will witness one of the world's most beautiful sunsets, intensified by the warm colors throughout the Valley. Then we come back to town to the exclusive boutique hotel where we will be staying for the duration of our exploration of the Atacama desert.


 
Day 4

Ancient Culture & Laguna Cejas
Today we're going to cover the last 8,000 years of history! We start by visiting the nearby Quitor Fortress. The remains of this ancient stronghold overlook the valleys first cultivated by the indigenous Atacameño people in the 12th century, then the Incas and finally the Spanish in the 16th century. We then drive to the ancient Tulor village, a sacred place whose peculiar rounded constructions remain a mystery today. After speculating about the origin and decay of these mysterious structures, we round up the morning at the Archaeological Museum of San Pedro, home to an important anthropological collection of Atacama culture.

After a tasty lunch we continue our day by driving across the immense, sparkling white Atacama Salt Flat. We reach the curious Laguna Cejas, which has so much salt that a person can float with no effort. We bathe here and enjoy the breathtaking landscape surrounding us. We then continue to the Ojos del Salar lagoon and visit Laguna Tebinquiche. Once back in town, we will be taken out for a delicious dinner. Overnight in San Pedro de Atacama


 
Day 5

Tatio Geysers
The very early wake-up call from the hotel will be well worth it when we arrive at the amazing Geysers of Tatio and see them in action. From almost 900 meters below the earth, boiling steam bursts up to 40 meters over the surface of the earth. A scrumptious breakfast will be served upon arrival before we walk through the geothermal fields with the geysers erupting nearby. As we drive back, there is a magnificent view of the Tocopurri and Sairecabur volcanoes.

We arrive back in town in time to have lunch. The afternoon will be free to rest after the early start, high altitude and low temperature we faced in the morning. In the evening we visit the handicraft market and enjoy a tasty dinner. Overnight in San Pedro de Atacama.


 
Day 6

Toconao, Miscanti & Miñiques Lagoons
After breakfast we start our adventure by driving to Toconao, a beautiful Andean village. Toconao's lands are an oasis in the desert and are apt for growing fruits and vegetables nourished by water coming in through small channels. We visit its main streets and San Lucas church. We then continue to Quebrada de Jerez, a large canyon channeling the waters entering Toconao.

The next stop will be Laguna Chaxa, a lagoon in the middle of the Atacama Salt Flat, home to beautiful Chilean and Andean flamingoes. We continue driving towards Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoons - undisputed highlights of the region - full of turquoise water that contrasts with the autumnal colors of the Altiplano lands. A truly astonishing landscape. Back in San Pedro we have a farewell dinner and toast the wonderful sights we have seen. Overnight in San Pedro de Atacama.


 
Day 7

San Pedro de Atacama – Puerto Varas and the Lake District
Today we're travelling from one extreme to another as we head from the dusty Atacama Desert to Chile's luscious Lake District, lined with vast lakes and active volcanoes. After checking out from the hotel you'll be driven to Calama airport and board a flight to Puerto Montt, connecting in Santiago. Upon arrival in Puerto Montt you'll be driven to nearby Puerto Varas, a beautiful town with a marked German architectural style located on the shore of Lake Llanquihue, where you'll check into your welcoming hotel. Time to relax and explore on your own. Overnight in Puerto Varas.


 
Day 8

Alerce Andino National Park
Today we visit a National Park named after the millenary Alerce tree, native to the region and undoubtedly one of the most interesting species of tree in Chile. In this park some of the Alerce trees are more than 3,000 years old! We drive down Los Colonos route heading to the city of Puerto Montt, passing by the small town of Alerce, and then we meet the Carretera Austral. This famous road, carved through Northern Patagonia, is lined with abundant fauna, flora and the beautiful lowlands of the Andean Cordillera. Along the road there are also small farming villages with a marked European look.

We arrive at the 39,255-hectare park and start a beautiful hike on the different trails going through the Park. If we are lucky we see some of the interesting fauna that lives in the park including the Chilean deer (huemul), puma, pudú (the smallest deer in the world), condor, black carpenter bird and many other birds. We stop for lunch in one of the picnic facilities then continue hiking among the ancient trees, looking out over the lake. We return to Puerto Varas and go for dinner and enjoy a chilled pisco sour, a reward for all our walking effort! Overnight in Puerto Varas.


 
Day 9

Puerto Varas – Punta Arenas – Torres del Paine
Today you check out of your hotel and are driven to the airport to board a flight to Punta Arenas. Upon arrival meet a Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC representative. You start your drive from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine National Park.

En route we make a couple of stops - First in Puerto Natales, a small, lively town on the shores of Seno de Ultima Esperanza, where we enjoy a hearty local lunch, and your second stop is at Cueva de Milodon, a massive prehistoric cave where the remains of a giant ground sloth were discovered in the 1890’s. The whole journey is very scenic, with plenty of wild birds and wonderful landscapes to be seen. The day ends with our arrival and overnight stay at EcoCamp Patagonia, nestled in the heart of the park with a view of the Torres. During summer the sun sets around 11pm, so upon arrival there's plenty of light to admire the Patagonian steppe with its guanacos and snow-peaked mountain horizon.


 
Day 10

Patagonia’s Torres del Paine / Two Options

Easy Option: Western Lakes & Grey Glacier
We drive across the Park, admiring the view of Paine Grande and its snowy peaks, and Los Cuernos with its black, granite horn-like spires. Walking along the shores of the stunning Lake Pehoe, we see the furious Salto Grande waterfalls where the water from Lake Nordenskjold cascades down into Pehoe. The walk continues over the gentle Nordenskjold trail until we reach its spectacular lookout point. Later, back at Lake Pehoe, we are driven south to a beach along the shores of glacial Lake Grey. Here we enjoy a tasty box lunch by the lake before embarking on a boat ride across the icy waters to the towering blue walls of Glacier Grey. After this incredible sight of the glacier up close, we drive back to EcoCamp.

*During Shoulder Season (October and April) the boat trip on Glacier Grey may be cancelled as the boat requires a minimum of 10 passengers to sail. If this is the case we will plan an alternative excursion in the Park.

Active Option: Western Lakes and Pingo Trail
We drive across the Park, admiring the view of Paine Grande and its snowy peaks, and Los Cuernos with its black granite horn-like spires. Walking along the shores of the stunning Lake Pehoe, we see the furious Salto Grande waterfalls where the water from Lake Nordenskjold cascades down into Pehoe. The walk continues over the gentle Nordenskjold trail until we reach its spectacular lookout point.

Later, back at Lake Pehoe, we are driven south to a beach along the shores of glacial Lake

Grey where we walk to reach the start of the beautiful Pingo Trail taking us through a fairytale Magellan forest full of local fauna and flora. As we walk, huge rock formations in nearby hills and the strong Patagonian wind give us a good idea of just how wild Patagonia is! We reach a small sightseeing point with splendid views of the Massif’s west face, and then walk back to Grey Beach to meet our fellow travelers coming back from the boat ride. Together, we all head to Ecocamp to enjoy dinner and relaxation time.

Overnight EcoCamp Patagonia Suite Dome, Torres del Paine National Park.


 
Day 11

Patagonia’s Torres del Paine / Two Options

Easy Option: Laguna Azul and Fauna Trail
We start the day driving to Laguna Azul, on the north-eastern side of the Park, stopping at various points en route to admire the local flora and fauna and the mighty Paine Waterfall. Once at Laguna Azul we hike to a sightseeing point with a panoramic view of both the lagoon and granite towers. We then drive down to the shores of Sarmiento lake, home to many limestone formations and herds of guanacos, and walk northwards along the Fauna Trail past the small Goic lagoon and various types of fauna. After around 5km we reach the Laguna Amarga ranger station from where we are driven back to EcoCamp to relax and enjoy the evening meal.

Active Option: Trek Towers Base
We walk from Ecocamp towards Hostería Las Torres and join the uphill path to Ascencio Valley on the Tower's eastern face. Dry mountain spots, beech forests and small rivers line the scenic walk towards the valley. Our big challenge comes as we climb the steep moraine, a mass of boulders leading us towards one of the world's most famous views overlooking the Towers. The famous Torres del Paine (2,900 m/ 9,400 ft) consist of three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. After an uphill slog, the Towers eventually come into full view, rising majestically before us, with the glacial lake visible below. Is there any better place in the world to have lunch? After feasting on the view and our picnic, we backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley and return to EcoCamp.

Overnight EcoCamp Patagonia Standard Dome, Torres del Paine National Park.


 
Day 12

Return to Santiago
We board an early morning vehicle, sit back, relax, and enjoy a scenic ride back to Punta Arenas on time to catch the evening flight to Santiago. Once in Santiago we are driven back to our lovely hotel by private transfer and get some well-deserved sleep. Overnight in Santiago.


 
Day 13

Santiago de Chile – USA
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and are driven to the airport by private transfer, where we board our flight home. End of services.


 
Basics

Pricing upon request
No fixed departure dates. You choose when you want to go. There can be just two of you or a group of friend. You can also plan it as a family vacation. Private guide and services throughout the program. We are flexible and able to make adjustments to the program in order for us to meet all your needs and expectations.


 
Moderate

Journey requires moderate walking.


 
Chile and Argentina Notes

Preparing Physically for the Trip
During your program to Chile and if combined with Argentina you will mainly participate in what we would consider Easy to Active Excursion so here are some guidelines to prepare for your journey.

You should start your training several months before departure, then slowly build up to a more strenuous level. Stop the strenuous activities if you feel dizzy, faint, have difficulty breathing, or experience any other significant medical discomfort.

Before you depart for an extended vacation, you should consult your physician. Make the doctor’s appointment no less then 8 week before departure. You will need some prescriptions, inoculations and perhaps some special advice that relates to your own physical condition.

If you have any special conditions or allergy that might require attention overseas, have your physician write a letter describing the nature of the condition and the treatment. Carry the letter with you. You should be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip.

Important: Be sure to bring enough of the prescription medication that you are currently taking. When you pack, make certain that you have ALL your medication in your carry-on luggage. NEVER pack any of your medications in your checked luggage.

Medical Matters
Chile and Argentina are among the safest countries in South America for maintaining personal well being. The tap water in most cities is chlorinated and well regulated. However, we do recommend that you use bottled water if you have any sensitivity to changes in water and food environments.

In general, the standard of hygiene is high and well controlled by the proper authorities. The countries are fortunate to produce an abundance of fresh meats, fruit and vegetables as well as have some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. Chile and Argentina requires no special shots. Please be aware that hospital facilities for serious medical problems may at times be a long way away, that a doctor may not always be available, and that evacuation can be prolonged, difficult, and expensive.

Remember that Mondo Verde Expeditions is not a medical authority and that we can only give you general information, which may not be accurate by the time you travel. You should consult with your physician. Other good Web sites for travel preparation information are www.tripprep.com and www.medicineplanet.com

Immunization
We highly recommend to be up to date with your Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccination.

 

Staying Healthy
While in the program with us, we use the best facilities available and where the staff is trained to maintain the highest standards of hygiene

At hotels and on your own: Although the tap water at the hotels is generally drinkable, you can buy bottled water at the local stores.

Personal Medical Kit
We highly recommend that you bring a basic first aid kit for emergencies. Please discuss this matter with your physician, as well as medications you should bring with you, such as antibiotics, pain killers, allergy medicine (epi-pens for allergic reactions to bee stings), etc.

Altitude
Altitude should not be an issue when traveling to the regions of Patagonia, the Lake Region or the Chilean capital of Santiago. The city is located at 1,706 ft. above sea level. You will encounter much higher altitudes if you travel to the Atacama Desert. Here you will reach altitudes above 13,000 feet. If going at altitudes of 4,000 feet above sea level presents a problem for travelers we highly recommend you consult your doctor before departing on your trip. We encouraged our clients to limit exertion for the first few days and maintain themselves adequately hydrated. Individuals with coronary or other health problems should consult their physician before deciding to travel to high altitude locations. Ask your doctor about high altitude medicine.

High Altitude Medication
If you have issues with altitude or suffer from high blood pressure, ask your doctor about the use of high altitude medicine. Diamox is the most popular and tested drug for altitude sickness prevention and treatment. Increases the amount of bicarbonate excreted in the urine, making the blood more acidic. Acidifying the blood drives the ventilation, which is the cornerstone of acclimatization.

For more information on medical considerations please contact the:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

http://www.cdc.gov/travel/tropsam.htm

It is vital that persons with medical problems or special diet requirements make them known to us well before departure so that land operators are properly informed.

Passport Information
You will need a valid U.S. passport to enter Chile and Argentina. If you have a valid passport, make sure that it will remain valid for at least six months after the date of your return from Lima to USA.

If you have changed your name, be sure that is reflected on your passport. You must always use the name as it appears on your passport for all applications, visas and identification.

If you have a passport that has expired, or one that will not remain valid for at least six months after the date of your return, you will need to renew it. That requires two passport photos, your latest passport and payment for the renewal fee.

Photo Copies of Important Documents
It is a good idea to bring with you four photocopies of your passport and two copies of your airline tickets and a copy of your credit card information. Having copies is useful in case of documents are misplaced or stolen.

Visas
No visa is necessary when you travel to Chile, only a valid passport. When entering Chile, at customs, you'll need to fill out a Tourist Card that allows visitors to stay for up to 90 days and will allow multiple entries. You'll need to show this Tourist Card to Customs when leaving the country as well, so be sure you don't lose it. For more information on other type of Visa, go to the Chilean CONSULAR SECTION for more information.

Entry Fee for Chile
There is a reciprocity fee of US$160 dollars to be paid in cash (U.S. dollars) or credit card. The one-time charge is good for the life of your passport. Go to the Chilean CONSULAR SECTION for more information.

Entry Fee for Argentina
Nationals of the USA, Canada, do not need visas to visit Argentina. However, as of 20 December 2009, US citizens flying into Ezeiza International Airport must pay an entry fee of $US 131.00. This fee is valid for ten years and allows for multiple visits to the country. For more details, see the US Embassy website or Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travelers' forum.

In theory, upon arrival all non-visa visitors must obtain a free tourist card, good for 90 days and renewable for 90 more. In practice, immigration officials issue these only at major border crossings, such as airports and on the ferries and hydrofoils between Buenos Aires and Uruguay. Although you should not toss your card away, losing it is no major catastrophe. At most exit points, immigration officials will provide immediate replacement for free.

International & Domestic Flights
Mondo Verde Expeditions is not able to book any international flight reservations during your program in Chile or Argentina. Mondo Verde Expeditions will purchase your domestic flights inside Chile upon request.

Airport Taxes

International Flights: For flights leaving Chile, there is an airport tax of USD$18. Airport taxes cost are subject to change without previous notification.

National Flights: On domestic flights airport tax is usually included in the airline ticket.

Flight Cancellation
If for any reason any of your flights is cancelled because of bad weather or mechanical problems, the guest loses the first day service at any of their destinations without refund and activity if applies planed for that day. The guest is also responsible for the costs of the additional expensed caused by any delay.

Time
Chilean standard time corresponds to the time zone UTC-04:00 (Universal Time Coordinate, formerly Greenwich Mean Time). The daylight savings time (DST) stays one hour ahead (UTC-03:00) between the second Saturday of October (changes at 12 PM) and the second Saturday of March. During the summer (October to March) Chile is 2 hours ahead of the US Eastern Time (New York, Miami, Washington DC), and during standard time Chile has the same time as US Eastern DST.  Argentina’s Standard Time Zone is GMT/UTC – 03:00 hour. Daylight Saving Time: DST not applied.

Electricity
Electricity in Chile & Argentina is 220 volts 50 cycle. If you have American electrical equipment you want to use (battery chargers, razor, and hair dryer) be sure your equipment can be switched to 220 volts or take along a transformer. Many electrical appliances, including battery chargers, now available in the U.S. operate on dual voltage – 110/220, but check to be sure. In this case you will not need a transformer, but you will need an adapter plug. In Chile the plugs (left) and sockets look like this: You can buy adapter plugs in a travel store or at Radio Shack.


 
Reading List

http://www.longitudebooks.com/find/d/24865/r/3A/mcms.html


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