10 days in Chile - suggestions?

Old Oct 6th, 2013, 09:17 PM
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10 days in Chile - suggestions?

Working on an itinerary for about a 10 day trip at the end of December and early January with my wife and 3 teen age daughters, who are all good and experienced travelers. My wife especially wants to see penguins and glaciers and the kids have never been to a part of the world that looks like southern Chile, so they'll be up for that, too. From reading, it seems that interesting places would be Santiago, Valparaiso, possibly Puerto Montt and Chiloe and definitely Punto Arenas, Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine. Any suggestions for lodging would be great, as well as suggestions for things to do in Torres del Paine (tours/groups, best hikes, etc.) and any miscellaneous essentials for the latter, including car rental. We are prepared to travel around, but want to make sure our stops are effective as opposed to spending too much time traveling from point to point and trying to do too much. As for lodging, we'd be fine with something nice (decent, not cheap or high end) and safe. Thanks in advance!
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Old Oct 7th, 2013, 06:01 AM
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Travelling in South America is somewhat different from other places you may be used to. There are no low cost flights in Chile and the closer you get to a date the higher the cost of the flight. So booking early is the best way to get the best price.

There is a variety of lodging in the Torres del Paine national park and it ranges from places which cost hundreds of dollars a night to a bunk bed in a shared dorm or camping. There isn't much middle ground. But all of it gets booked months in advance, except for the camping, as the total number of beds is limited.

Because of all this, I think you need a local travel agent to book it for you. I am not suggesting a tour, which you don't really need, but just someone to sort possible flights and lodging. It is better to deal with a local company rather than one based abroad as they would have to go through a local company anyway. What you basically need is a couple of nights in Santiago so you can visit Valparaíso from there, a flight to Puerto Montt, a flight from there to Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales, car rental and lodging. Normally this would be easy enough to book on your own, but given the nearness of the dates you want, I would go with an agent.
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Old Oct 7th, 2013, 05:23 PM
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We have a similar itinerary - can you suggest any good local agents?
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Old Oct 8th, 2013, 05:19 AM
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If you are primarily interested in southern Chile, I would combine it with southern Argentina and skip Santiago and Valparaiso altogether. I found the scenery in SA much more interesting than the cities. I had no trouble booking independently, but I didn't travel in the height of high season. Click on my name for my TR including Chile.
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Old Oct 8th, 2013, 08:21 AM
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I am local, so don't use an agent for booking, except an occasional international flight. I have always done that through a small agency called Viajes Forum. Perhaps you could use the search box and see if there are past recommendations.
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Old Oct 9th, 2013, 09:14 AM
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I would recommend using a US Based Tour Operator that has reliable contacts in Chile. They can get the same prices. Within Chile there is a 90% chance you will fly Lan Airlines. Very nice, great service. I too would recommend staying a minimal amount of time in SCL and heading south to The Lake District (Puerto Montt / Puerto Varas / Chiloe) and then going further to Punta Arenas and the park. Like others have said, it is high season during your travel dates so you need to get on it as soon as possible. You might have to use whatever properties are available. I would recommend 3-4 days in The Lake Region and 4-5 days in Southern Patagonia.
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Old Oct 12th, 2013, 04:28 PM
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I'd second bsteele09 - the Lake Region is great, good hiking and a real contrast to Southern Patagonia.
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Old Oct 13th, 2013, 04:03 PM
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Thank you all very much for some insightful, interesting and valuable suggestions!
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Old Oct 25th, 2013, 12:56 AM
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If you arrive to see Pinguins in south ptagonia I thik that you can avoid Chiloe.
As indicated above, 4-5 days in Patagonia and 4-5 days in Lake district is a good option.
I don't think you can add Santiago/Valparaiso as you have to do teh transferts...
In Lake District, Puerto Monnt is not so nice , but the small old harbour, Angelmo worth the detour(nice local shops, nice restaurants).
Puerto varas is much nicer-2/3 nights there to explore some parks and a night or 2 in Petrohue is a nice schedule.There are some hikes in those parks, and also the Osorno volcano.
Chiloe need to drive at least 1day and a half and we didn't find really the feeling in there...
For South patagonia, we'll be there next february and so I cannot give you real advice.
We'll be 2 night in Alto Planico and 3 in Lago Grey to explore and hike.
I've written a trip report on this forum on our 2013 sejour : Santiago/Valparaiso/Lake district and easter island but in 2 weeks...
Chiloe has been the only dispppointment but it's only our feeling..We never had impression to be in phase with ourselves as too often written on this island...
Erik
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