Atacama to Patagonia: Chile’s Natural World 2022

Status: open

9 Oct – 30 Oct 2022


Atacama to Patagonia: Chile’s Natural World 2022
Tour Highlights

“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

  • Join Stephen Ryan, horticulturalist and author to explore Chile’s unique flora and fauna. Stephen will be assisted by Craig Lidgerwood.
  • 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’s 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Visit vibrant artists’ markets, and sample distinctive cuisine and enjoy the fine wines for which Chile is famed.

22-day Flora & Fauna Tour of Chile

Overnight Santiago (3 nights) • San Pedro de Atacama (2 nights) • Santiago Airport (1 night) • Torres del Paine National Park (3 nights) • Punta Arenas (1 night) • Valdivia (2 nights) • Pucón (2 nights) • Santa Cruz  (2 nights) • Viña del Mar (2 nights) • Santiago (3 nights)


Join horticulturalist, author and broadcaster Stephen Ryan as he explores 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 house 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. As we journey through this enchanting country we sample distinctive cuisine and enjoy the fine wines for which Chile is famed.



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 & dinners indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.

Santiago - 3 nights

Day 1: Sunday 9 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 10 October, Santiago
  • Walking tour of historic Santiago incl. Plaza de Armas and Cathedral
  • Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino
  • Mercado Central de Santiago
  • Afternoon coach tour of Santiago’s diverse neighbourhoods
  • Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant

This morning 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 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 7,000-year-old Chinchorro mummies discovered in 1983.

We then 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.

In the afternoon we travel by coach to explore some of the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, such as 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.

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 11 October, Santiago
  • Pablo Neruda’s House: ‘Casa Museo La Chascona’
  • Jardín Botánico Chagual
  • Private Garden Visit – To be confirmed

This morning 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.

Following time at leisure for 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 southeastern and southwestern 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 a private gardens selected by our local Chilean expert. This visit will be by special invitation and will introduce you to some of the innovative aspects of garden design that exploit Chile’s unique climate, landscapes and flora. (Overnight Santiago) B

San Pedro de Atacama - 2 nights

Day 4: Wednesday 12 October, Santiago – Calama – San Pedro de Atacama
  • Early 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

Early this morning we transfer to Santiago airport and board a flight to Calama, which marks the northern end of the Atacama Desert. From here we drive 103 kilometres 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.

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.

In the late 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’). We return to the hotel for a late dinner. (Overnight San Pedro de Atacama) BD

Day 5: Thursday 13 October, San Pedro de Atacama
  • Toconao village
  • Salara de Atacama & Flamingos of Laguna Chaxa, Los Flamencos National Reserve
  • Afternoon archaeological tour: Tulor & Quitor villages

We begin today with a visit to 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.

We then 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.

After lunch at a local restaurant we visit two important archaeological sites to learn about the origin of the Licanantai (or Atacamaño) culture. First we visit the Pucara de Quitor, a pre-Hispanic fortress that played an important role in the 1540 Battle of Quitor between the Spanish and the indigenous population. Nearby Tulor was a village complex that once spread out over a vast area. Today only a small part of the village can be visited; the rest lies buried under the Atacama sands. (Overnight San Pedro de Atacama) BL

Santiago Airport - 1 night

Day 6: Friday 14 October, San Pedro de Atacama – Calama – Santiago Airport
  • Walking tour of San Pedro de Atacama
  • Afternoon flight from Calama to Santiago

We spend the morning visiting San Pedro de Atacama on a walking tour. The civic centre is made up of a town square, church and town hall. 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.

After an early lunch, we return to Calama to take our flight to Santiago. We will stay at the Holiday Inn at the airport, conveniently located for our flight tomorrow morning. (Overnight Santiago Airport) BL

Torres Del Paine - 3 nights

Day 7: Saturday 15 October, Santiago Airport – Punta Arenas – Torres del Paine National Park
  • Flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas
  • Drive to the Torres del Paine National Park.

This morning we take the 4 hour flight to Punta Arenas in Patagonia, and then drive to our hotel within the Torres del Paine National Park (approximately 336km). We will arrive in the evening and enjoy dinner at the hotel. (Overnight Torres del Paine National Park) BLD

Day 8: Sunday 16 October, Torres del Paine National Park
  • Excursion to the National Park’s Waterfalls and Lookout points

Torres del Paine National Park (Parque Nacional Torres del Paine) encompasses the great Cordillera del Paine, glaciers, lakes and rivers. The park lies in a transition zone between the Magellanic sub-polar deciduous forests and the Patagonian Steppes. 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.

Our visit to the National Park will include a visit to Cascada Paine where we may encounter the Torrent duck, the Cañadón Macho where herds of guanacos graze on the abundant grass, and Laguna Azul, named for the purity of its waters that perfectly reflect the blue sky. We will take a short 15 minute walk to see the Salto Grande waterfall, and also walk along the shore of Grey Lake where we will see vast blue icebergs set against the backdrop of Grey Glacier. Today’s lunch will be a picnic. (Overnight Torres del Paine National Park) BLD

Day 9: Monday 17 October, Torres del Paine National Park
  • Walk along Grey beach with views of the iceberg
  • Boat Excursion across Lago Grey to the Grey Glacier (subject to weather conditions)

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.  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. Today’s lunch will be a picnic. (Overnight Torres del Paine National Park) BLD

Punta Arenas - 1 night

Day 10: Tuesday 18 October, Torres del Paine National Park – Punta Arenas
  • Morning drive to Punta Arenas
  • Maggiorino Borgatello Museum
  • Nao Victoria Museum
  • Short tour of Punta Arenas
  • Dinner at a local restaurant

Today we embark on the long drive to Punta Arenas to the south, refreshing ourselves with a box lunch en-route. On arrival in Punta Arenas we will first visit the Maggiorino Borgatello Museum that houses a collection of ethnic aboriginal artefacts. We also visit the fascinating Nao Victoria Museum which contains replicas of the ships that contributed to the discovery and colonisation of the area or have special and historic significance for the Magallanes Region of Chile. The replicas were built using traditional shipbuilding techniques. Highlights of their collection are the full-size replicas of the historic ships which include the Nao Victoria, James Caird, Schooner Ancud and the 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, with the young Charles Darwin on board.

We then take a short coach tour of Punta Arenas’ landmarks, including the main square and the statue of Fernando de Magellanes. We conclude our day with a visit to the Cerro de la Cruz, a lookout point boasting panoramic views of the city, the Strait of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego Island. Dinner will be at a local restaurant. (Overnight Punta Arenas) BLD

Valdivia - 2 nights

Day 11: Wednesday 19 October, Punta Arenas – Punta Montt – Frutillar – Valdivia
  • Morning flight Punta Arenas – Punta Montt
  • Afternoon tour of Frutillar, including the German Colonial Museum and the Teatro del Lago

This morning we take a flight north to Punta Montt and then drive directly to the lovely lakeside resort town of Frutillar, located on Llanquihue Lake near the Osorno Volcano.

This was Chile’s first German migrant town and 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 (Teatro del Lago) where the famous music festival is held.

In the mid-afternoon we drive to Valdivia where we shall be based for 2 nights. (Overnight Valdivia) B

Day 12: Thursday 20 October, Valdivia
  • Valdivia city tour, including River Market, Plaza de la República and Botanic Garden.
  • Calle-Calle River Cruise

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 viceroyalty. 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 protection against 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 shall then embark on a catamaran cruise along the Calle-Calle River. The river system is rich in native aquatic plants and bird-life, with 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 have a picnic lunch on board the boat. (Overnight Valdivia) BL

Pucón - 2 nights

Day 13: Friday 21 October, Valdivia – Panguipulli – Pucón
  • Private garden in Panguipulli – To be confirmed
  • Private gardens of Hotel Antumalal

This morning we drive to Pucón on the shore of Lake Villaricca. En route we visit the little town of Panguipulli where we will visit a local private garden by one of Chile’s leading garden designers.

On arrival in Pucon 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. (Overnight Pucón) BL

Day 14: Saturday 22 October, Pucón – Parque Nacional Volcan Villaricca – Pucón
  • Parque Nacional Volcán Villarrica
  • Termas Geométricas: time to relax and enjoy a swim in the thermal pools

Today we explore the Parque Nacional Villarrica where we shall witness 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 1,000 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 time to relax and enjoy a swim in the thermal pools. Remember to bring your swim-suit! (Overnight Pucón) BL

Santa Cruz - 2 nights

Day 15: Sunday 23 October, Pucón – Temuco – Santiago – Santa Cruz
  • Morning flight to Santiago
  • Santa Rita Winery Garden Visit and Lunch

We depart the hotel early this morning an drive to the town of Temuco 79km away to catch our morning flight to Santiago. On arrival we board our coach and drive to the lovely Viña Santa Rita, one of Chile’s premier wine estates, located in the verdant valleys of the Maipo wine-making region. After lunch in the restaurant, we will walk through the glorious view of the sculpted gardens, 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 are considered a national treasure. Of course, we will also have the chance to taste some of the vineyard’s wines, which include merlot, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and cabernet franc! (Overnight Santa Cruz) BL

Day 16: Monday 24 October, Santa Cruz – Colchagua Valley – Santa Cruz
  • Colchagua Valley
  • Colchagua Museum, Santa Cruz

This morning we take a tour of the beautiful Colchagua Valley, a region well-known for its excellent grape-growing soil, on a route that takes us through scenic villages, vineyards and orchards. We will visit Montes and Viu Manent, two of Chile’s finest wineries that reflect the combination of innovation and tradition for which Chilean wines are becoming known.

This afternoon we visit one of Chile’s largest private museums – the Colchagu Museum in Santa Cruz. It contains a huge collection of interesting geological specimens, Pre-Columbian ceramics and metal work, Conquistador armour and colonial artefacts, and a very large folk collection. This establishment, which even has a section devoted to early steam machinery, is one of the best laid out and most comprehensive museums in Chile. (Overnight Santa Cruz) BL

Viña del Mar - 2 nights

Day 17: Tuesday 25 October, Santa Cruz – Casablanca Valley – Viña del Mar
  • Private garden in Melipilla – To be Confirmed
  • Scenic drive through the Casablanca Valley

Today we depart Santa Cruz and drive to Melipilla where we plan to visit a private garden designed by a leading Chilean designer. After lunch at a local restaurant we shall continue on to Viña del Mar, a lovely seaside resort town on the Pacific coast. Our drive will take us through the verdant Casabalnca Valley, fames for its rich production of Chilean wine. (Overnight Viña del Mar) BL

Day 18: Wednesday 26 October, Viña del Mar – Valparaíso – Viña del Mar
  • Funicular ‘El Peral’ ride to Conception Hill, Valparaíso
  • Cerro Alegre and merchant houses, Valparaíso
  • National Botanical Garden (‘Saltpeter Park’), Viña del Mar

This morning we take a tour of 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. If time permits we will also visit 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 view of the Pacific; he is thought to have written many poems about the natural world seated here.

After time at leisure for lunch we 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

Santiago - 3 nights

Day 19: Thursday 27 October, Viña del Mar – Panquehue – Santiago
  • Viña Errazurit garden by Juan Grimm
  • San Esteban winery visit and lunch
  • Private garden in Aconcagua Valley – to be confirmed

Nestled between the coast and the Santiago metropolitan area is the Aconcagua Valley. As we make our way along the valley we will visit the Viña Errazurit, a winery founded in 1870 by Don Maximiano Errázurid. It is now one of Chile’s most successful award winning wineries. Here we will visit the garden designed by Juan Grimm – the ‘grand master’ of Chilean garden design. We continue to San Esteban winery where we enjoy lunch and a wine-tasting with views over the valley and mountain range. Of particular interest is the archaeological site that lies within the property, where we see a petroglyph rock carving that date that may be up to 1000 years old. Before we return to Santiago, we will also visit one of the smaller private gardens in the Aconcagua Valley. (Overnight Santiago) BL

Day 20: Friday 28 October, Santiago
  • Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
  • Cousiño Palace Garden
  • Parque Quinta Normal

This morning we take a guided tour of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. This museum is a repository for more than 3000 pieces of art, particularly Chilean and broader South American painting and sculpture dating from the colonial period onwards.

This afternoon we will visit the Cousiño Palace, a grand mansion built in the 19th century by the wealthy Cousiño-Goyenechea family who had amassed a fortune from coal and silver mining. Now owned by the state, the palace still retains a garden with features typical of the era – glasshouses with exotic plants from around the world.

Before returning to the hotel we will visit one of the city’s beautiful historic gardens, the Parque Quinta Normal. Great greenhouses reminiscent of London’s Kew gardens provide a backdrop for water features, pathways and a lake. Founded in 1841 as a place to cultivate imported plants, today the park provides a green oasis to the city’s residents. (Overnight Santiago) B

Day 21: Saturday 29 October, Santiago
  • Morning program – to be confirmed
  • Afternoon at leisure
  • Farewell Dinner at a Local Restaurant

The program for the morning is to be confirmed.

The afternoon is at leisure to further enjoy the sights and sounds of Santiago. This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight Santiago) BD

Day 22: Sunday 30 October, Depart Santiago
  • Departure transfer for travellers taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight

Our program finishes in Santiago. Participants travelling on the ‘designated flight’ will be transferred to the airport to take our flight home to Australia. B



All hotels are rated 3-, 4- or 5-star locally and are comfortable and conveniently situated. All rooms have en suite bathroom. Further information on hotels will be provided in the ‘Tour Hotel List’ given to tour members prior to their departure.

  • Santiago (3 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
  • San Pedro de Atacama (2 nights): 4-star Cumbres San Pedro de Atacama – 4-star hotel located a short distance from the historic town with architecture influenced by that of the indigenous people of the Atacama. www.cumbressanpedro.com
  • Santiago (1 night): 4-star Holiday Inn Santiago Airport conveniently located comfortable hotel at Santiago International Airport. www.ihg.com
  • Torres del Paine National Park (3 nights): 3-star Lago Grey Hotel – a modern 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. The hotel enjoys panoramic views over Lake Grey to the snow-capped mountains beyond.www.lagogrey.com
  • Punta Arenas (1 night): 4-star Cabo de Hornos Hotel – a modern comfortable hotel in the heart of this historic Patagonia town. www.hotelcabodehornos.com
  • Valdivia (2 nights): 5-star Dreams Pedro de Valdivia – a modern luxury hotel on the banks of the Calle River. www.mundodreams.com/valdivia
  • Pucón (2 nights): 5-star Hotel Casa Solaria – a new, boutique hotel located in the town of Pucón within easy walking distance to local restaurants. www.casasolaria.cl
  • Santa Cruz (2 nights): 5-star Santa Cruz Plaza Hotel – a beautiful historic boutique hotel in the town centre. www.hotelsantacruzplaza.cl
  • Viña del Mar (2 nights): 4-star Atton San Martin Hotel – new hotel overlooking Valparaíso Bay, the hotel offers rooms with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. www.atton.com/en/hoteles/atton-san-martin
  • Santiago (3 night): 4-star Hotel Cumbres Lastarria – as above.

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

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a single occupancy room 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

How to Book

Making a Tentative Reservation before the tour price has been published


Some ASA tours fill almost immediately. Don’t miss out! You can register your ‘Intention to Travel’ by completing this application and returning this to ASA with a AUD $100.00 per person deposit. Once the tour price has been published, the itinerary and ASA Reservation Application Form will be sent to you. From the time you receive the itinerary you will have two weeks to either:

  • Send us a completed ASA Reservation Application Form together with an additional deposit of AUD $400.00 per person. On receipt of this Reservation Application and deposit, ASA will process your booking and if approved, send you a tour confirmation. At this time your deposit of AUD $500.00 is subject to the tour’s Booking Conditions.


  • CANCEL your Intention to Travel in writing. ASA will refund your AUD $100.00 per person deposit, less a $33.00 service fee (including GST).

Participation Criteria

To participate in an ASA tour, you must be reasonably fit, in good health and able to participate in all activities without assistance from Tour Leaders or other tour members. If you require assistance, a fit and able travel companion must undertake to accompany and assist you with all tasks for the duration of the whole tour. ASA’s ability to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your specific needs, your health and safety and the health and safety of other tour members, is of paramount importance to us. For this reason the ASA Reservation Application includes a Medical Information section. As a general guideline, you must be able to accomplish each of these activities without assistance or support:-

  • walk and stand unassisted for at least 2-3 hours a day in hot, humid conditions
  • walk confidently on and over uneven surfaces
  • climb at least 3 flights of stairs
  • embark and disembark from ferries, buses and trains
  • walk up and down steep slopes
  • walk at a steady pace and no less than 1km every 15-20 minutes
  • organise, manage and carry your own luggage
  • follow and remember tour instructions
  • meet punctually at designated times and places
  • administer your own medication
Practical Information

Practical Information

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 22-day Flora & Fauna 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, including some rugged terrain in the Torres del Paine National Park.
  • Moderate travel by air-conditioned coach, 5 internal flights and 2 boat excursions. Domestic flights in Chile experience regular schedule changes and delays.
  • 3- to 5-star hotels with nine 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.

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

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $TBA Early-Bird Special: Book before 30 Sep 2021

AUD $TBA Land Content Only

AUD $TBA Single Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares 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 dinners indicated in the tour itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=dinner. Please note that a number of lunches will be picnic lunches.
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach.
  • Boat excursions on Lago Grey (Day 9) and Calle-Calle River Cruise (Day 12)
  • 5 internal flights: Santiago-Calama (Day 4); Calama-Santiago (Day 6); Santiago-Punta Arenas (Day 7); Punta Arenas-Puerto Montt (Day 11); Temuco-Santiago (Day 15).
  • 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.
  • 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
Tour Map

Tour Map

Terms & Conditions

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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