Chile Holidays - holidays to Chile - Atacama Desert

Highlights of Chile, Argentina & Uruguay


CRK12S
12 NIGHTS
FROM £1,895
International flights quoted separately
This holiday combines 3 countries - Chile, Argentina & Uruguay. Explore Santiago & its winelands, then experience the Atacama with its amazing desert landscapes, geysers, salt flats and clear night skies. Fly to exciting Buenos Aires to enjoy its gaucho and tango culture, then take the ferry to Montevideo in Uruguay to complete your holiday relaxing on its wonderful beaches. All transfers included.
Photo Atacama Santiago Montevideo Uruguay Buenos Aires
• 
Santiago
• 
Chilean Winelands
• 
Atacama Desert
• 
Salt Flats
• 
El Tatio Geysers
• 
Buenos Aires
• 
Tango Show
• 
Gaucho Ranch
• 
Uruguay
• 
Montevideo Beaches
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Santiago
• 
Chilean Winelands
• 
Atacama Desert
• 
Salt Flats
• 
El Tatio Geysers
• 
Buenos Aires
• 
Tango Show
• 
Gaucho Ranch
• 
Uruguay
• 
Montevideo Beaches
Day 1
You will be met at Santiago Airport and transferred into the capital of Santiago de Chile.
 
Check into your hotel in this sophisticated and cosmopolitan city, situated in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped Andes Mountains and the beautiful Chilean Coastal Range.
Day 2
This morning we recommend an optional tour of the modern city of Santiago.
 
We start with a short walking tour of this relatively compact city, including the Plaza de Armas in the heart of the old colonial city and bustling Ahumada Boulevard with its many shops, street performers and vendors. Here you will be able to see two beautiful neo-classical buildings - the 18th century Metropolitan Cathedral and the early 19th century Royal Court Palace, which now houses the National History Museum. Also enjoy outside views of the current Presidential Palace, La Moneda.
 
Continue by vehicle along the main avenues of old Santiago and across the bohemian neighborhood of Bellavista to San Cristobal Hill, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city and Andes Mountains. Drive through the chic neighborhoods, shopping and financial centers of modern Santiago, before returning to your hotel. Afternoon is at leisure to explore more of this lively city independently.
 
Note: Most museums are closed on Mondays.
Day 3
Today we recommend an optional full day tour into the beautiful Chilean Winelands.
 
Discover some of Chile's famous 'New World' wines and learn more about their production, as you visit at least two wine estates, including a cellar tour and wine tasting.
Day 4
Transfer to Santiago Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Calama Airport and transferred 1.5-hours through the Domekyo and Salt Mountains to San Pedro in the vast Atacama Desert.
 
Extending for over 600 miles (1,000 km), this enormous plateau of salt lakes, sand, larva and stony terrain is situated between two high mountain ranges - the Andes to the east and the Chilean Coastal Range to the west. As a result, the Atacama receives virtually no rain whatsoever - making it the driest and oldest desert in the world, with landscapes that will take your breath away.
 
After checking into your hotel, enjoy a late afternoon visit to the dramatic terrains of Death Valley and Moon Valley, where you can enjoy the spectacular sunset.
Day 5
Today enjoy a full day tour to the crystalline Atacama Salt Flats, the largest in Chile and one of the largest in the world. The lake under these salt flats has one of the largest lithium reserves in the world, with small lagoons having formed where holes have broken through the crusted salt.
 
A highlight is our visit to Chaxa Lagoon in Los Flamencos National Reserve, with its vast flocks of flamingos. You will see 3 different species - Chilean, Andean & James’s - as well as other birds such as the puna plover and red-gartered coot that nest and feed on these mineral-rich waters. Most activity occurs around sunrise, with a pinkish hue rising over the horizon with the sun. As the air warms up, this dissipates and huge flocks of these birds take flight over the lake.
 
We then travel further into the Altiplano to view the amazingly blue lagoons of Meñique and Miscanti located at 14,850 ft (4,500 m) above sea level and surrounded by impressive volcanoes, formed when the Andes Mountains rose from the sea. Afterwards we return to the small village of Socaire for an included lunch at a rustic traditional restaurant.
 
In the afternoon we visit the picturesque village of Toconao, with its classical Atacamenian bell tower, before returning to San Pedro.
Day 6
Depart early this morning (04.00) with packed breakfast for a shared excursion to the El Tatio Geysers, the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere and the third largest in the world. Geysers here can reach up to 50m.
 
Arrive at sunrise when each geyser is surrounded by a column of steam that condenses in the cold air (these steam plumes disappear as the air warms up) and enjoy a guided walk around the geothermal fields. You can also bathe in the hot geyser water in a small pool.
 
Enjoy spectacular views of the Torcopuri y Sairecabur Volcanoes as you return to San Pedro. Here you can visit the local market, with balance of afternoon at leisure.
Day 7
Transfer 1.5-hours to Calama Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Buenos Aires Airport and transferred to your hotel in this exciting city, situated on the estuary of the Río de la Plata (or "River of Silver").
 
Check in and relax in this capital of Argentina, known for its wonderful architecture, tango dancing and rich culture, including the highest concentration of theaters in the world.
Day 8
This morning we suggest an optional half day tour of Buenos Aires, a cosmopolitan city influenced by the many immigrants who helped form it and offering beautiful architecture, history and culture.
 
Our tour starts at the Plaza de Mayo, the historical, political and cultural centre of the city. Here you can see the Pink House (Presidential Palace), the Pyramid de Mayo and Metropolitan Cathedral. We continue down Avenida de Mayo, with its wide avenues and spacious green areas, past the Obelisk to the neighborhood of San Telmo, one of the oldest in the city with cobbled streets and colonial houses. Every Sunday an antiques fair takes place here around the Plaza Dorrego. The vibrant area is the centre for most of the tango parlors, restaurants and bars of the city.
 
Going further south, we visit the Italian port neighborhood of La Boca, with its colourful houses in Caminito Street and many “cantinas” (small restaurants). Also the trendy modern neighborhood of Puerto Madero, where the old piers have been converted into upmarket offices, apartments and restaurants with views of the Rio de la Plata. We visit the residential neighborhood of Palermo with its elegant mansions surrounded by spacious parks, before arrivinge in glamorous Recoleta, where there is the option to visit the famous cemetery where Eva Peron is buried, with its rich architecture (pay locally). Next to the cemetery is the church of Our Lady of Pilar, the Recolete Cultural Centre (originally a convent) and the Palais de Glace exhibition centre.
 
In the evening we suggest an optional Tango Show, including the opportunity to participate in a short Tango lesson. Born in the brothels of the city amongst a racial mix of Gauchos, Italian, Spanish and African immigrants, this dance and its music originated as a combination of Cuban and Spanish rhythms, with some polka and African beat. Enjoy the show and included dinner, including mouth-watering Argentinian beef and Malbec wine.
Day 9
This morning we suggest an optional full day excursion to Santa Susana Ranch to admire the skills of the Argentinian Gauchos (cowboys) who live in these fertile pampas grasslands about 2-hours from the city.
 
With a distinctive culture that combines their European and Native American heritages, Gauchos play an important role in regional cultural tradition - including folk songs, dancing and equestrian shows of traditional gaucho skills, such as ring races, cuadreras (horse races) and entrevero de tropillas (horse games).
 
Named in honour of the wife of the original owner, this 1,200 hectare ranch focuses mainly on agriculture, with some cattle raising and horse breeding. On arrival you will be offered delicious empanadas (traditional meat pies) and Argentian wine. You will also have the opportunity of riding a horse carriage, or enjoying a walk on horseback, before tucking into a traditional asado (barbeque). This will be followed by a tango demonstration, folk dancing and an exhibition of Gaucho horsemanship, with roping and ring races.
 
Note: the ranch is closed on Mondays.
Day 10
Transfer to Buenos Aires harbour to take the ferry across the Rio de la Plata to Montevideo in Uruguay (approximately 3-hours).
 
You will be met on arrival in Montevideo and transferred to your hotel. Check in and relax in this vibrant and culturally rich capital city, situated on Montevideo Bay and home to nearly half of Uruguay's population.
Days 11 To 12
At leisure to explore Montevideo and its scenic waterfront, or relax on its glorious beaches.
 
At the heart of the city is the Plaza Independencia, which separates the city's downtown ('Centro') from the Old Town ('Ciudad Vieja') with its fascinating art deco buildings, colonial homes, towering Palacio Salvo and neo-classical Solís Theatre. The arts, music and theater are alive here – from elegant older theaters and cozy tango bars to modern beachfront discos.
 
Across the harbor, the fortress of Cerro de Montevideo offers outstanding views over the city. There are also many wonderful beach suburbs, from exclusive Carrasco to modern Punta Carretas and Pocitos.
Day 13
Transfer to Montevideo Airport for your flight home.

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