Encircled by snow-capped Andean peaks, the city of Santiago enjoys a particularly spectacular setting. This morning join a scheduled city tour taking in the Metropolitan Cathedral, the La Moneda Presidential Palace and the Plaza de Armas where artists randomly appear to make theatrical performances. Jump on the metro for a short ride to the magnificent Santa Lucia park and its unique castle. Continue to the Lastarria neighbourhood to marvel at the neoclassical architecture and make the most of the many restaurants, coffee shops and green parks.
In the afternoon head 35 minutes out of town to the Cousiño Macul Vineyard on a scheduled tour. Producing high quality wines in exclusive amounts, this vineyard is an excellent introduction to the wine production process and how technology is used alongside artisan traditions.
Overnight: Santiago | Breakfast
Santiago – Santa Cruz. After breakfast collect your rental car and drive to Santa Cruz in the Colchagua Valley. Known as the Valle de Colchagua in Spanish, the valley sits in the centre of one of Chile’s finest wine-making districts and is home to many of the country’s world-class wines. Spend the next two days independently touring the wineries in the valley, sampling as much wine as you can handle. It’s also worth checking out the Museo de Colchagua, boasting a well-designed and diverse collection of exhibits housed in a grand colonial hacienda.
Overnight: Santa Cruz | Breakfast x 2
Santa Cruz – Chillán. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in your hotel before following Route 5 to the lively city of Chillán. Upon arrival and hotel check in why not spend the remainder of your day exploring the vast handicrafts market of Feria de Chillán? Filling the Plaza de la Merced and offering everything from fresh produce to knitwear and leather goods, this daily market is a souvenir hunter’s paradise. Wandering around the city will also reveal a fascinating collection of Mexican murals.
Overnight: Chillan | Breakfast
Chillán – Pucón. Stretching from Temuco in the north and Puerto Montt in the south, Chile’s Lake District is spattered with dozens of crystal clear lakes, snow-capped mountains and dense forest. After a morning’s drive you reach Pucón, your base for the next three nights and the ideal place from which to explore the region’s natural gems. The outdoor activities on offer here are staggering – raft the Río Trancura rapids, hike in the secluded wooded corners of Parque Nacional Huerquehue, fish in the pristine rivers or rest your bones in the local thermal spas.
No trip to the region would be complete without visiting Parque Nacional Villarrica and its centrepiece, the smouldering Volcán Villarrica. Lined by lush forest and sharply ascending into a black waste of lava, the volcano is a dominating sight and it’s possible to hike to the gaseous crater with a local tour guide. The national park is also home to two other volcanoes, spectacular waterfalls and remote hiking trails.
Overnight: Pucon | Breakfast x 3
Pucón – Huilo Huilo Reserve. A short drive this morning brings you to the gorgeous Huilo Huilo Reserve. Nestled in 100,000 hectares of lush, native forest, the private reserve supports a diverse range of ecosystems rich in endemic species. In the distance the unspoiled white tip of Volcán Choshuenco looms large. Spend the next two days partaking in the many activities offered by your rainforest lodge. Trek along scenic walking trails, explore the reserve on horseback, take a jeep expedition to one of the beautiful lagoons, walk the rainforest canopy, mountain-bike, kayak, try your hand at fly fishing or simply relax in one of the natural thermal baths.
Overnight: Huilo Huilo | Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 2
Huilo Huilo Reserve – Puerto Varas. Departing your rainforest lodge this morning drive further south to the elegant little town of Puerto Varas. Serving as an introduction to Patagonia, Puerto Varas has a wealth of tourist facilities and with wide streets, green parks and stunning views of the Osorno and Calbuco, it’s the ideal spot to base yourself. Food in this region is excellent so make sure you finish your day with a hearty meal at a restaurant in town.
Overnight: Puerto Varas | Breakfast
With Puerto Varas as your base, spend the next two days independently exploring the surrounding area. Surrounded by gently rolling pastures with the perfectly symmetrical Volcán Osorno as its backdrop, Lake Llanquihue could easily swallow a day of your holiday. Visit the little villages that dot the pastures looking for stalls selling German pastries and smoked trout or head to the black-sand beaches of Frutillar Bajo, a popular holiday resort with several traditional wooden structures. You could also venture further afield to the Saltos de Petrohué, a series of steaming rapids created by a hard layer of lava eroded into small channels that connect with the stunning Lago Todos los Santos.
Overnight: | Breakfast x 2
Today marks the end of your Chilean adventure. After breakfast and hotel check out, drive to airport in Puerto Montt to return your hire car and connect with your onward departure flight.