Atacama to Patagonia: Chile’s Natural World

14 Oct – 3 Nov 2018

  • Region:
    • Chile
  • Status: open
  • Code: 21847
Overview

“This elongated country is like an island, separated on the north from the rest of the continent by the Atacama Desert – the driest in the world… To the east rises the cordillera of the Andes, a formidable mass of rock and eternal snows, and to the west the abrupt coastline of the Pacific Ocean. Below, to the south, lie the solitudes of Antarctica. This nation of dramatic topography and diverse climates, studded with capricious obstacles and shaken by the sighs of hundreds of volcanoes, a geological miracle between the heights of the cordillera and the depths of the sea, is unified top to tail by the obstinate sense of nationhood of its inhabitants”. Chilean author, Isabel Allende

Tour Highlights

  • Join John Patrick, horticulturalist, garden designer and presenter on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia, and Dr Rudolf Thomam, a natural scientist, to explore Chile’s unique flora and fauna.
  • Visit public gardens and enjoy privileged access to private gardens that both reflect Chile’s lively contemporary garden culture.
  • Visit the eccentric houses of Chile’s greatest poet, the colourful Pablo Neruda, and hear marvellous stories which inspired Isabel Allende.
  • Explore the rainbow-hued UNESCO World Heritage Listed coastal town of Valparaíso.
  • Visit Santiago’s great Museum of Pre-Columbian Art to explore the rich cultural history of Central and South America, and the Padre LePaige Archaeological Museum with its superb collection from the ancient cultures of the Atacama region.
  • Discover the fascinating geology of the Atacama Desert – a high-altitude 1,200km expanse of dunes, plains, high peaks, and active volcanoes – with visits to Moon Valley in the Salt Mountain Range, the ancient village of Tocanao, Atacama Salt Flat and the famous flamingos of Chaxa Lagoon.
  • Enjoy the awesome natural beauty of Chile’s southern Lake District, visiting the magnificent Parque Nacional Volcán Villarrica which features a glorious mix of lakes and three volcanoes.
  • Take a swim in the Termas Geométricas, a Japanese-inspired labyrinth of hot springs hidden in the lush Chilean forest.
  • Learn about the Mapuche community at Curarrehue’s ‘Aldea Intercultural Trawupeyüm’ – enjoy their culture of music, dance, and colourful costumes.
  • Cruise Lago Todos Los Santos to view three stunning but totally different volcanoes – Orsorno, Puntiagudo and Tronador.
  • Spend 2 days in the Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia – a wilderness of scrubland, ridges, rivers, lakes and lagoons and the eponymous torres (towers) of the Paine Massif; a highlight is our excursion to see the icebergs on Lago Grey.
  • Visit vibrant artists’ markets, and sample distinctive cuisine and enjoy the fine wines for which Chile is famed.

21-day tour of Chile

Overnight Santiago (4 nights) • Zapallar (2 nights) • Viña del Mar (2 nights) • San Pedro de Atacama (2 nights) • Santiago (1 night) • Pucón (2 nights) • Puerto Varas (3 nights) • Torres del Paine National Park (3 nights) • Santiago (1 night)

Optional Extension

Please contact ASA if you are interested in joining the optional post-tour extension to Easter Island.

Overview

Join John Patrick, former presenter for ABC’s Gardening Australia and Dr Rudolf Thomann, a Chilean natural scientist, as they explore the diverse topography, ecology, fauna and flora and human culture of this extraordinary country: the rock formations and prehistoric villages of the Atacama; its sublime Andean mountain scenery; the fertile centre with its sophisticated cities, Santiago, Valparaiso and Valdivia; the dramatic coastline and awe-inspiring southern mountain landscapes of Patagonia. We observe Chile’s remarkable, diverse flora that has been celebrated in 400 years of manicured landscapes laid out by gardeners from Chile, Spain, Germany, England and France. In addition to privileged access to private gardens that reflect Chile’s lively contemporary garden culture, we visit the eccentric houses of Chile’s greatest poet, the colourful Pablo Neruda, hear of marvellous stories which inspired Isabel Allende, and visit fine museums displaying magnificent pre-Columbian art, historic villages, old Spanish fortresses and vibrant artisan markets. Like Charles Darwin, we shall explore great forests and experience Chile’s unique flora and fauna within dramatic coastal and mountain settings. We shall meet the Mapuche, the indigenous people, and enjoy their music, dance, costumes and culture. As we journey through this enchanting country we sample distinctive cuisine and enjoy the fine wines for which Chile is famed.

Itinerary

The following itinerary includes a number of private gardens which we plan to visit. These require special permission and may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight schedules, variable weather conditions and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches & evening meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.

Santiago - 4 nights

Day 1: Sunday 14 October, Arrive Santiago
  • Arrival transfer for participants arriving on the ‘ASA designated’ flight
  • Short Orientation Walk & Light 2-course dinner

Participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated flight’ are scheduled to arrive into Santiago in the late afternoon. After clearing customs we transfer by private coach to our the Hotel Cumbres Lastarria, located in the Barrio Lastarria. Following check-in and time to freshen up after the long journey, there will be a short orientation walk in the hotel’s historic precinct followed by a light evening meal. (Overnight Santiago) D

Day 2: Monday 15 October, Santiago
  • Morning private garden visits (to be confirmed)
  • Mercado Central de Santiago
  • Walking tour of historic Santiago incl. Plaza de Armas, Parque Forestal & Cerro Santa Lucía
  • Welcome dinner at a local restaurant

We spend the morning visiting some private gardens selected by our local Chilean expert. These visits will be by special invitation and will introduce you to some of the very latest the country has to offer in garden design that exploit Chile’s unique climate, landscapes and flora.

We return by coach to the city where we tour the Mercado Central and have time at leisure for lunch. Santiago’s fish market is housed in a 19th-century building featuring a beautiful cast-iron roof. Amongst its many stalls are numerous small restaurants serving a variety of fresh Chilean seafood dishes.

After lunch we embark on a walking tour of the city. We begin at the centre of Santiago’s social life, the Plaza de Armas, which is surrounded by heritage buildings, including the Metropolitan Cathedral, the old post office, and the National Historical Museum. We continue past the Palacio de Bellas Artes to the Parque Forestal by the Mapocho River where we encounter buildings dating from 1520 to the present day. The park was founded as the setting for the Fine Arts Museum. It was designed by George Dubois in a picturesque, naturalistic (English) style with plants imported from Europe and Argentina. Its romantic lake has disappeared but its magnificent six rows of Platanus X hispanica (London Plane) frame views to nearby Cerro San Cristóbel.

We continue to Santa Lucía Hill, so-named because Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia took this strategic hill from its native defenders on the well-known female saint’s day. Between 1872 and 1874, it was transformed into a public promenade. In 1936, the German landscape designer Oscar Prager completed a project for the southern slope that descends to the Almeda, Santiago’s main avenue. The gardens, with their ramps and stairs, provide a valuable civic amenity.

We return to our hotel to rest and freshen up before heading to a local restaurant for our welcome dinner. (Overnight Santiago) BD

Day 3: Tuesday 16 October, Santiago
  • Morning private garden visits (to be confirmed)
  • Cable Car to Cerro San Cristóbal
  • Pablo Neruda’s House: ‘Casa Museo La Chascona’

This morning we continue our exploration of Santiago’s private gardens and then, after lunch at a local restaurant, we drive to Cerro San Cristóbal, the second highest hill of the city (850m). A ride on the cable car affords magnificent broad panoramas of the city.

Next, we visit ‘La Chascona’, the Santiago home of Chile’s most famous poet, the Nobel Laureate, Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). His house is a triumph of artistic flourishes and includes a very broad, eccentric collection, including works of maritime art. It is located in the historic Bellavista district – home to an important arts community. (Overnight Santiago) BL

Day 4: Wednesday 17 October, Santiago
  • Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino
  • Barrio Lastarria neighbourhood
  • Jardín Botánico Chagual
  • Parque Bicentenario

This morning we visit the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art), founded by the Chilean architect and antiquities collector Sergio Larraín García-Moreno. The museum displays García-Moreno’s magnificent private collection from the major pre-Columbian Central American, Intermediate / Isthmo-Colombian (Panama etc.), Caribbean, Amazonian and the Andean cultures acquired over the course of nearly 50 years. Housed in the Palacio de la Real Aduana (1805-1807), the museum underwent extensive renovations and reopened in 2014. The collection, which ranges over 10,000 years, includes exhibits of art, sculpture, pottery, textiles and jewellery. Highlights include pieces from the Inca and Aztec empires, and the 7000-year-old Chinchorro mummies discovered in 1983.

We then transfer to the vibrant Barrio Lastarria, a lovely historic neighbourhood in the city centre, known for its bohemian flavour and diverse cultural activity such as festivals and live performances; it has many theatres, museums, restaurants and bars. The precinct developed around the Church of the True Cross soon after Pedro de Valdivia’s Conquest of Chile. Old houses, recently restored, occupy its winding streets and the Plaza Mulato Gil de Castro.

Following a light lunch, we visit the Chagual Botanical Garden, located in the Parque Metropolitano near the Cerro San Cristóbal. It occupies 84 acres and is still in the early stages of planning and development. The aim is to recreate central Chile’s unique ecosystems featuring special collections of endangered, medicinal and other significant plants such as those with special botanical or economic value. Of particular interest, it will feature plants native to Chile’s ‘Mediterranean’ climatic zone like those of SE and SW Australia, California and the South African Cape. The Melbourne Botanic Gardens and Kings Park, Perth, have been assisting with advice on this project. The flora of Chile is diverse and spectacular and these gardens are named after the eye-catching chagual (puya chilensis) which is indigenous to the region.

We end the day with a visit to the Parque Bicentenario, a communal city garden with interesting landscape design by Teodoro Fernández L. Architects. The park is located next to ‘Sanhattan’, the popular ironic sobriquet given to Santiago’s ‘high-end’ financial district. Spread over 30 hectares along the eastern bank of the Mapocho River, it includes over 4,000 trees of which more than 1,300 are native species. (Overnight Santiago) BL

Zapallar - 2 nights

Day 5: Thursday 18 October, Santiago – Parque Nacional La Campana – Zapallar
  • Parque Nacional La Campana
  • Time at leisure in Zapallar

This morning we depart Santiago and drive to the Chilean coast. On the way we visit Parque Nacional La Campana which occupies the highest part of Chile’s coastal mountain range (cordillera). Charles Darwin climbed Cerro La Campana (1,800m) in 1845. The park, which features rugged coastal scenery, features the finest remaining stands of Chilean palm (Jubaea chilensis). The palms occur here among typical matorral vegetation, with soap-bark tree (Quillaja saponaria), Lithraea causticaAdesmia arborea, and others. These palms, which grow to a height of 25 metres, first flower at the age of 60, and can live for 1000 years. The genus was named after Juba II, a Berber king and botanist. The common name refers to the past use of the sap from the trunk of this palm to produce a fermented beverage. The sap is also boiled down into a syrup and sold locally as miel de palma. Although described somewhat disdainfully by Charles Darwin as a ‘very ugly tree’, many consider the Chilean wine palm J. chilensis to be one of the most impressive palms in the world.

After a picnic lunch we continue on to Zapallar where there will be time at leisure to explore the town before we enjoy a group dinner at a waterfront restaurant. Zapallar is a quaint, elegant seaside resort built along steep hills on a protected horseshoe bay between rugged, steep cliffs and rocky precipices. It offers majestic views and has many historic mansions that now sit side-by-side with contemporary homes. A Mediterranean micro-climate allows the cultivation of the many attractive gardens that have always adorned the town. (Overnight Zapallar) BLD

Day 6: Friday 19 October, Zapallar – Los Vilos – Zapallar
  • Morning private garden visit (to be confirmed)
  • Reserva Ecologica El Puquén, Los Molles

Following a visit to a private garden (arrangements to be confirmed), we explore the dramatic coastal El Puquén Ecological Reserve, with rugged cliffs, unusual geological formations including a volcanic cave, ancient middens, fossil zones and an interesting endemic flora (lúcumo and wild papayo). The park is home to interesting fauna, including chilla foxes (South American grey foxes), quiques (a yellow-grey animal with back spots, similar to a skunk), eagles, harmless snakes and the cururo – a species of small endemic rodent that lives underground. (Overnight Zapallar) BLD

Viña del Mar - 2 nights

Day 7: Saturday 20 October, Zapallar – Papudo – Quillota – Viña del Mar
  • Private garden visits (arrangements to be confirmed)

This morning we plan to visit private gardens in the area outside of Zapallar. In the afternoon we continue our journey to the resort beach town of Viña del Mar, known popularly as ‘The Garden City’. (Overnight Viña del Mar) BL

Day 8: Sunday 21 October, Viña del Mar – Valparaíso – Viña del Mar
  • Funicular ‘El Peral’ ride to Conception Hill, Valaparaíso
  • Cerro Alegre and merchant houses, Valaparaíso
  • House museum of poet Pablo Neruda, ‘La Sebastiana’, Valaparaíso
  • National Botanical Garden (‘Saltpeter Park’), Viña del Mar (to be confirmed)

Our first visit this morning is to colonial Valparaíso, one of Chile’s most captivating cities, noted for its colourful history as a major port and its rich artistic, literary and political traditions. It is also physically very colourful, with extraordinary brightly painted houses crammed up against each other along the city’s steep slopes. The city’s fascinating blend of past and present has caused it to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It looks out across a wide bay with the upper parts of the town reached by stairs, narrow streets and funicular railways.

We ride the funicular ‘El Peral’ up Conception Hill which commands excellent views to the port. We then visit the port itself and the city centre and stroll through some of the avenues leading to the scenic point, Cerro Alegre. The dwellings here were once owned by foreign merchants who began building around 1840.

After time at leisure for lunch we continue to another former home of the poet Pablo Neruda, ‘La Sebastiana’. It is shaped like the hull of a ship and its contents reflect Neruda’s love of the sea. From the poet’s desk there is a spectacular view of the Pacific; he is thought to have written many poems about the natural world seated here.

We next drive to the garden originally known as ‘Saltpeter Park’ at Viña del Mar. This oasis, covering an area of 395 hectares with more than 3,000 species of flora, was originally commissioned by nitrate baron Pascual Baburizza, and was created by the French landscape gardener George Dubois. The park was donated to the Nitrate and Iodine Company so as to assure its survival. In 1951 this corporation donated the park to the Chilean State; its name was changed to ‘National Botanical Garden’. It serves both an educational and scientific purpose, and is an excellent place to go walking, thanks to its stony paths, ponds and woodlands. Highlights of the garden include one of the few documented collections of the extinct Toromiro of Easter Island (Sophora Toromiro), a collection of plants from the Juan Fernandez archipelago, a Cactarium with 60 Chilean species, and collections of Chilean Myrtaceae, ‘bosque valdiviano‘ (Valdivian forest) plants, medicinal plants and fuchsias. (Overnight Viña del Mar) B

San Pedro de Atacama - 2 nights

Day 9: Monday 22 October, Viña del Mar – Santiago – Calama – San Pedro de Atacama
  • Morning flight from Santiago to Calama
  • Parque para la Preservación de la Memoria Histórica de Calama
  • Valle de la Luna & Cordillera de la Sal, Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos

This morning we drive back to Santiago and board a flight to Calama, which marks the northern end of the Atacama Desert. From here we drive 103km southeast to San Pedro de Atacama which will be our base from which to explore the desert. En route we pass the memorial dedicated to victims of human rights violations. Students, communists, socialists, union members, indigenous people—ideological threats to Augusto Pinochet’s vision of fascism and free market economics, were arrested, murdered and thrown into mass graves throughout the country. The murdered of Chile were buried in the Atacama Desert, for example, during what was known as the Caravan of Death of 1973. The Pinochet regime’s depredations inspired  Sting’s famous protest song They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo: 1987), referring to mourning Chilean women (arpilleristas) who dance the  Cueca, Chile’s national dance, carrying photographs of their disappeared loved ones https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4K_q3XNHkY&list=RDT4K_q3XNHkY.

In the afternoon we drive to the Valle de la Luna (‘Moon Valley’). Its extraordinary landscape of strange rock formations is part of the protected nature sanctuary, Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos, in the Salt Mountain Range. The valley forms a depression surrounded by jagged spines of salt-encrusted hills, with an immense sand dune running between two ridges, resulting in unbelievable moon-like scenery. We also view the canyon and small dunes of the Cordillera de la Sal (‘Salt Mountain Range’). (Overnight San Pedro de Atacama) BD

Day 10: Tuesday 23 October, San Pedro de Atacama
  • Agro-ecological tour of Toconao village
  • Quebrada de Jeréz
  • Salara de Atacama & Flamingos of Laguna Chaxa, Los Flamencos National Reserve

We begin today with an agro-ecological tour of Toconao village, located between the Andes Mountain Range and the Atacama Salt Lake. The horizon here is dominated by very high volcanoes. This little colonial village dates back 12,000 years; there is evidence of 10,000-year-old human presence in the area, making it an area of great historical and archaeological significance. It features picturesque stone houses made from local liparita stone (pumice) extracted from the local quarry, and the old church of San Lucas with its distinctive 18th-century bell tower. The sweet waters of this small oasis support a variety of fruit trees such as Easter pears, plums, quinces and grapes, as well as a wide range of vegetables. The town also features small handicraft workshops whose products include woven products made from alpaca wool. From Toconao we travel to the Jerez Canyon through which runs the Toconao River.

After lunch at a local restaurant we visit the Atacama Salt Flat; at 3,000 sq km, this is one of the world’s largest salt flats. It is also home to the famous flamingos of Chaxa Lagoon, part of the Soncor, a section of the Salar de Atacama in the Los Flamencos National Reserve. In this high, desert landscape, framed by mountains of nearly 6,000 metres, the Soncor provides a breeding ground for a wide variety of species including Chilean and Andean flamingos that use it as an important nesting site, the Andean avocet, the yellow-billed teal, the crested duck, the puna plover and Baird’s sandpiper. Various plant species grow around the edges of the lagoon, such as Distichlis spicataEphedra and cachiyuyo (a species of the genus Atriplex), among others. We will observe flamingos in the lagoon in which they feed and breed. (Overnight San Pedro de Atacama) BL

Santiago - 1 night

Day 11: Wednesday 24 October, San Pedro de Atacama – Calama – Santiago
  • Church of San Pedro
  • Padre LePaige Archaeological Museum
  • Afternoon flight from Calama to Santiago

We spend the morning visiting San Pedro de Atacama, a small isolated oasis town of modest pisé dwellings. The Atacamaño (or Kunza) culture flourished here. The earliest site dates from 9,600 BC, when cave-dwelling hunters arrived from the altiplano. There’s evidence of camelid domestication about 4,800 years ago; the San Pedro culture formed 3,000 years ago, succeeded by the more sophisticated Classic Atacameño culture 2,000 years ago. This reached its peak in the 12th century and ended with the arrival of the Incas around 1450. It was a vital resting place on the northern trade routes through the desert.

San Pedro has a beautiful small white 18th-century colonial church with a picturesque bell tower. The church is surprisingly long, with rustic vaulting of cactus wood slats and algarrobo beams bound with leather. Inside, naïve statues of saints clothed in fine satins stand on the reredos.

To the northeast of the plaza lies the modern Padre LePaige Archaeological Museum that holds superb exhibits from the Inca and other periods in the region’s pre-Columbian history. Father Gustave LePaige (1903-80) was a Belgian Jesuit priest who came to Chile in 1952. He was based in San Pedro from 1955 until his death, dedicating himself to building this archaeological collection; we shall enjoy a commentary on these exhibits by a local archaeologist. The Atacaman Desert is so arid that most artefacts are notably well-preserved. Highlights include the treasury of beaten gold bands dating from 500-900AD, red and black ceramics of the Classic Atacameño culture, Inca ceramics with images of the sun, textiles and various mummies.

In the late morning we return to Calama for an early light lunch before taking our flight to Santiago. We will stay at an airport hotel so as to be in situ for our flight tomorrow morning. (Overnight Santiago Airport) BL

Pucón - 2 nights

Day 12: Thursday 25 October, Santiago – Temuco – Curarrehue – Pucón
  • Morning flight from Santiago to Temuco
  • Mapuche community & Aldea Intercultural Trawupeyüm, Curarrehue
  • Private gardens of Hotel Antumalal

This morning we fly south to Temuco, the capital of the Araucanía Region, in Chile’s very beautiful Lakes District.

On arrival we drive to the Mapuche community in the town of Cuerarrehue that is surrounded by high, sharp peaks. The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina, including parts of Patagonia. Mapuche is a collective term describing a wide-ranging ethnicity composed of various groups who shared a common social, religious and economic structure, and a common linguistic heritage as Mapudungun speakers. Today this group makes up over 80% of the indigenous peoples in Chile; their culture is documented as early as 600 BC.

We shall visit the museum and cultural centre, ‘Aldea Intercultural Trawupeyüm’, which presents Mapuche culture and that of the community of Curarrehue. The museum is housed in a modern interpretation of a mountain ruka, a traditional circular Mapuche dwelling oriented to the east. It includes displays of handicrafts, Mapuche cooking and a program of experimental music.

While in Curarrehue we also enjoy a traditional lunch, which usually includes famous sopaipillas (fried pastry) served with special homemade pebre (a sauce of onion, tomato, garlic and herbs).

After lunch we continue to Pucón where we visit the private gardens of Hotel Antumalal. Designed by the Chilean architect Jorge Elton in the 40s, and influenced by the Bauhaus style, it is considered one of the most famous hotels of the Lakes District. It hosted Queen Elizabeth on her tour of Chile in 1968. The gardens, spread over 5 hectares, offer panoramic views of Lake Villarrica and include five waterfalls with natural volcanic rock pools, a vegetable garden and an array of native vegetation.

In the early evening we arrive in at the Villaricca Park Lake Hotel where we shall be based for two nights. (Overnight Pucón) BLD

Day 13: Friday 26 October, Pucón
  • Parque Nacional Conguillío & Volcán Llaima
  • Time at leisure
Day 13: Friday 26 October, Pucón
  • Parque Nacional Volcán Villarrica
  • Termas Geométricas: time to relax and enjoy a swim in the thermal pools

We spend the day visiting the magnificent Parque Nacional Villarrica, witnessing the stunning natural beauty of Chile’s southern Lake District. The park, which features a glorious mix of lakes and three volcanoes (Villarrica, Quetrupillánd and Lanín), includes a number of very good walking trails, which lead through the forest, meandering past alpine lakes and deep canyons. The park is also home to the rare Araucaria araucana (monkey puzzle tree), a protected species, of which specimens may live for over 1000 years and takes five centuries just to reach maturity. We shall visit the south side of the Villarrica volcano which features a dense forest of these trees.

We end the day with a visit to the Termas Geométricas, a Japanese-inspired labyrinth of hot springs hidden in the lush Chilean forest. Suspended over a flowing stream, a maze of red planks winding through the forest, lead to the various pools. There are 17 pools in total, each  fed directly from a natural hot spring via wooden pipes. Next to each pool is a small hut/changing room made of the same redwood as the paths. Each hut has grass planted on the roof, giving the whole facility a timeless feel, almost as if they are some extension of the natural backdrop. The complex rests at the bottom of a canyon, and mists rise from the warm waters in a nearly constant fog. Between the Japanese-styled architecture and the Chilean nature, few places in the world can claim quite such a perfect harmony of nature and design. There will be ample time to relax and enjoy a swim in the thermal pools. (Overnight Pucón) BL

Puerto Varas - 3 nights

Day 14: Saturday 27 October, Pucon – Valdivia – Puerto Varas
  • Valdivia city tour
  • Callle-Calle River Cruise: Wetlands of the Carlos Andwandter Nature Sanctuary, San Sebastián de la Cruz Fort/Isla Mancera

Today we visit one of Chile’s most beautiful historic cities, Valdivia, founded by the Spanish conquistador Don Pedro de Valdivia (1497 – 1553) in 1522. This southern city was of great strategic significance to the Spanish Empire. Its proximity to the Strait of Magellan made it a mandatory shelter on the route to meet the Peruvian Vice-royalty. It was also rich in gold and timber and located on the largest navigable river network in the country. The Calle-Calle, Cau Cau, Cruces and Valdivia Rivers which run through this river port invest it with particular charm.

We shall tour the city, visiting the river market and the Torreón del Canelo, a watchtower used by the Spanish as protectionagainst the Mapuches and pirates. It was built in the 17th century and restored by Ambrosio O´Higgins in the 18th century. Many of Valdivia’s houses are in German styles, built by migrants. We shall see San Francisco Church, the Cathedral and the Plaza de la República, with a giant arbour under which citizens enjoy the shade.

We also visit Teja Island where we see the Universidad Austral de Chile campus and Valdivia’s Botanical Gardens that display a rich variety of native and exotic species, including panaceas, cedars, ‘mediterráneos’, coihues, cypresses, laurel, tree ferns, poplars, acacias and plants from the Magellan and Valdivian forests. We continue to the traditional Kunstmann Brewery where we can taste the most diverse kinds of famous Valdivian hand-brewed beers.

We shall then embark on a cruise along the Calle-Calle River where we will encounter sea lions and view a number of Spanish Forts; Niebla, Fuerte Corral, and Fuerte Mancera. We shall journey through the wetlands of Carlos Andwandter Nature Sanctuary. This area was declared a Nature Sanctuary in 1981, and in the same year it was included in the ‘Convention on Wetlands of International Importance’. It was formed by an earthquake which submerged the area in 1960; agricultural land subsided to a depth of 1 to 2 metres. Subsequently it was colonized by vegetation, which made a home for aquatic fauna, especially birds. There are at present 119 species living in the wetland and adjoining areas. Amongst others there are black-necked swans, coots, coscoroba swans, marsh crows, coypu and river otters.

We shall also view the San Sebastián de la Cruz Fort/Isla Mancera, one of the seventeen Spanish fortresses built in the area from the 17th century, as well as the San Pedro de Alcántara Fort and the Corral Fort. Lunch will be served on board.

Mid-afternoon we continue our drive to Puerto Varas where we shall be based for three nights. Our hotel is within walking distance of the beach and offers panoramic views of Llanquihue Lake and the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. (Overnight Puerto Varas) BLD

Day 15: Sunday 28 October, Puerto Varas – Frutillar – Puerto Varas
  • German Colonial Museum, Frutillar
  • Edmundo Winckler Forest Reserve, Frutillar
  • Amphitheatre, Frutillar
  • Time at leisure

Today we drive south to the lakeside resort of Frutillar, located on Llanquihue Lake near the Osorno Volcano. This was Chile’s first German migrant town. Frutillar is famous for its music festival ‘Las Semanas Musicales de Frutillar’ that came into being in 1968. A particular characteristic of Frutillar is its houses German-style houses. There are beautiful gardens in the town. We shall visit the German Colonial Museum and the amphitheatre where the famous music festival is held. We also make a special visit to the forest reserve which Edmundo Winckler bequeathed the state in 1956. This reserve contains over 60 species of trees as well as many different types of shrubs and flowers including some really beautiful hydrangeas.

We shall return to the hotel by mid-afternoon to enjoy some time at leisure. (Overnight Puerto Varas) B

Day 16: Monday 29 October, Puerto Varas – Peulla (island on Todos los Santos Lake) – Puerto Varas
  • Petrohué Falls, Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park
  • Catamaran Cruise from Petrohué to Peulla on Lago Todos Los Santos
  • La Villa Ecológica de Peulla

Today we visit the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park which not only contains the loveliest of Chile’s lakes, but also three stunning but totally different volcanoes – Osorno, Puntiagudo and Tronador. With up to 4 metres of annual precipitation, the park is covered with dense evergreen forrest, notably coihue. Lago Todos Los Santos is surrounded with olivine, coihue and other trees.

We depart early in the morning by bus from Puerto Varas to Petrohué, enjoying views of the Osorno Volcano that dominates the region. On arrival we make a brief visit to the Petrohué Falls, which flow down volcanic rock chutes etched by lava. From Petrohué we board a catamaran for a 2-hour cruise across the green waters of Lago Todos Los Santos to the ecological town of Peulla. If visibility allows, we shall see the snow-capped Osorno Volcano, the Puntiaguado hill and the Tronador (extinct volcano) from our boat.

On arrival at Peulla we visit the Ecological Villa which is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and lunch at the Peulla Hotel. In the mid-afternoon we return to Puerto Varas. (Overnight Puerto Varas) BL

Torres del Paine - 3 nights

Day 17: Tuesday 30 October, Puerto Varas – Puerto Montt – Punta Areanas – Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine
  • Flight from Puerto Montt to Punta Areanas
  • Museo Nao Viktoria

Today we drive to Puerto Montt to take our flight south to Punta Arenas located in the heart of Chilean Patagonia. From here we drive north to the vast Torres del Paine National Park.

En route we visit the Museo Nao Viktoria which contains replicas of the ships that contributed to the discovery and colonization of the area or have a special and historic heritage significance for the Magallanes Region of Chile. The replicas were built using traditional shipbuilding techniques. A highlight of the collection is the full-size replicas of historic ships which include the Nao Victoria, James Caird, Schooner Ancud and HMS Beagle.  HMS Beagle, a British Navy brig-sloop, was converted into an exploration vessel. The most famous of her three voyages was the second (1831 – 1836) under the command of Captain Robert FitzRoy (1805 – 1865). On board was the young Charles Darwin.  (Overnight Torres del Paine National Park) BLD

Day 18: Wednesday 31 October, Torres del Paine National Park
  • Walk along Grey beach with views of the iceberg
  • Boat Excursion across Lago Grey to the Grey Glacier

Torres del Paine National Park (Parque Nacional Torres del Paine) encompasses the great Cordillera del Paine, glaciers, lakes and rivers. The park, which lies in a transition zone between the Magellanic subpolar forests and the Patagonian Steppes, is located 112km north of Puerto Natales and 312km north of Punta Arenas. Paine means ‘blue’ in the native Tehuelche (Aonikenk) language and is pronounced PIE-na. Out of the grasslands of the Patagonian Steppe, with its herds of grazing guanacos (which are akin to llamas), soar the distinctive torres (towers) – three grey granite peaks of the Paine mountain range or Paine Massif which form part of the tapering spine of the Andes. They rise up to 2,800m above sea level, and are joined by the Cuernos del Paine. The Park’s well-known lakes include Grey, Pehoé, Nordenskiöld, and Sarmiento. Its glaciers, including Grey, Pingo and Tyndall, belong to the Southern Patagonia Ice Field.

The focus of today is a visit to the Grey Glacier, one of Torres del Paine’s most spectacular glaciers, and Lago Grey that it fills, one of its most beautiful lakes. On the approach to Lago Grey we cross a rickety bridge over a fast-flowing stream, then journey through dense forest. We then emerge from the trees onto what looks like a shingle beach overlooking the lake itself. Lago Grey is bordered by a moraine, the result of debris deposited by the glacier, and an iceberg graveyard. If the weather is fine, we shall take a 3-hour boat trip out on the lake. As we travel across the water, Glacier Grey comes into view in the distance. A wide, bluish wall sandwiched between bare rock plateaux, its façade is a mass of jagged, eroding ice. (Overnight Torres del Paine National Park) BLD

Day 19: Thursday 1 November, Torres del Paine National Park
  • Optional Trekking to Base Torre

Today you have the option of taking all or part of a trek through the Torres del Paine National Park. The first section consists of 2 hours of moderate climbing to the ‘refugio el chileno’ (coffee shop & toilets), then one more hour’s easy walk along the Ascencio River, and finally one more hour climbing on a very steep slope to the ‘base torres’ lookout. If you wish to do some of the trek but don’t want the steep climb, you may wait at the ‘refugio el chileno’ until the others return from the lookout. There will be guides all along the way to assist you. If you decide to remain at the hotel, there are optional activities including short excursions, horse riding, etc. in its surroundings. (Overnight Torres del Paine National Park) BLD

Santiago - 2 nights

Day 20: Friday 2 November, Torres del Paine National Park – Punta Arenas – Santiago
  • Manantiales Estancia
  • ‘Asado patagonico’, Patagonian Lamb BBQ
  • Afternoon flight from Punta Arenas to Santiago

Today we drive back to Punta Arenas. En route we visit a traditional Patagonian estancia (ranch) where the owner will explain the traditions of Patagonian sheep farming and horse breeding. We also enjoy a traditional Patagonian lamb asado (barbecue) before taking an afternoon flight back to Santiago. (Overnight Santiago) BL

Day 21: Saturday 3 November, Santiago – Evening departure
  • Viña Santa Rita: picnic lunch & wine-tasting
  • Afternoon at leisure
  • Farewell dinner at a local restaurant

This morning we drive to the Viña Santa Rita, one of Chile’s premier wine estates, located in the verdant valleys of the Maipo wine-making region. We will walk through the vineyards and wine cellars and learn about the processes of traditional Chilean wine production. The winery, covering more than 3,000 hectares, also features the historic ‘Bodega 1′ and  ‘Bodega de los 120 patriotas’ which is considered a national treasure. Whilst enjoying the glorious view of the sculpted gardens we will taste some of the vineyard’s wines which include merlot, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and cabernet franc.

Following an afternoon at leisure (a late check-out has been arranged), we shall have a light farewell dinner at a local restaurant before transferring to the airport to take our evening flight home to Australia. BLD

** Please contact ASA if you are interested in taking the optional extension to Easter Island**

Accommodation

21-day Flora & Fauna Tour of Chile

All hotels are rated 3, 4 or 5-star locally and are comfortable and conveniently situated. All rooms have en suite bathroom. Several hotels have swimming pools. Double/twin rooms for single occupancy may be requested – and are subject to availability and payment of the Double (as Single) Supplement. Further information on hotels will be provided in the ‘Tour Hotel List’ given to tour members prior to their departure.

  • Santiago (4 nights): 4-star Hotel Cumbres Lastarria – a charming boutique hotel located in the Barrio Lastarria, a historical & cultural neighbourhood of central Santiago. The hotel is within easy walking distance of restaurants, bars, museums and theatres. www.cumbreslastarria.com
  • Zapallar (2 nights): 3.5-star Isla Seca Gran Hotel Zapallar – a boutique hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean, 2kms from the beach. www.hotelislaseca.cl
  • Viña del Mar (2 nights): 5-star Sheraton Miramar Hotel – overlooking Valparaiso Bay, the hotel offers rooms with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. www.starwoodhotels.com
  • San Pedro de Atacama (2 nights): 4-star Hotel & Spa Cumbres San Pedro – located 2kms from the Atacama Desert, the hotel offers rooms with balconies which overlook the Atacama Desert and Licancabur volcano. www.cumbressanpedro.com
  • Santiago (1 night): 4-star Hotel Cumbres Lastarria  a charming boutique hotel located in the Barrio Lastarria, a historical & cultural neighbourhood of central Santiago. The hotel is within easy walking distance of restaurants, bars, museums and theatres. www.cumbreslastarria.com
  • Pucón (2 nights): 5-star Villaricca Park Lake Hotel – located 12km from Pucón on the shores of Lake Villarrica. www.hotelvillarricaparklake.com
  • Puerto Varas (3 nights): 5-star Cumbres Puerto Varas Hotel – within walking distance of the beach, offering panoramic views of Puerto Varas’ Llanquihue Lake and the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. www.cumbrespuertovaras.com
  • Torres del Paine National Park (3 nights): 4-star Hosteria Las Torres – a rustic lodge with a superb setting in the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful places on earth. www.lastorres.com
  • Santiago (1 night): 4-star Hotel Cumbres Lastarria – a charming boutique hotel located in the Barrio Lastarria, a historical & cultural neighbourhood of central Santiago. The hotel is within easy walking distance of restaurants, bars, museums and theatres. www.cumbreslastarria.com

Note: hotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

Double (as Single) Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

How to book

Make a Reservation

ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION FORM

Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $500.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Double (as Single) Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour, except in Rome, where a Single Superior room (with French bed) will be provided. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Gallery Tour Map
Physical Endurance & Practical Information
Physical Rating

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 21-day tour of Chile involves:

  • Most days involve moderate walking and standing during site visits; walking tours may include steep slopes, flights of stairs, cobbled streets and uneven ground during garden visits.
  • A few days involve extensive walking when visiting national parks; their is also an optional trek to Base Torre in the Torres del Paine National Park.
  • Moderate travel by air-conditioned coach, 5 internal flights and 3 boat excursions.
  • 3- to 5-star hotels with eight hotel changes.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $TBA Land Content Only – Early-Bird Special: Book before 30 September 2017

AUD $TBA Land Content Only

AUD $TBA Double (as Single) Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 3-, 4- and 5-star hotels
  • Breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals indicated in the tour itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=dinner
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Latam Airlines Airpass: Santiago-Calama (Day 9), Calama-Santiago (Day 11), Santiago-Temuco (Day 12), Puerto Montt-Punta Areanas (Day 17), Punta Areanas-Santiago (Day 20)
  • Boat excursions on Lago Todos Los Santos (Day 16), Lago Grey (Day 18) and Calle-Calle River Cruise (Day 14)
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Tour notes
  • Entrance fees
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals.
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Santiago, Santiago-Australia
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Terms & Conditions
Deposits

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to canel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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