2-weeks trip to Chile, itinerary review

Feb 27th, 2015, 05:21 AM
  #1  
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2-weeks trip to Chile, itinerary review

We (2 adults) are planning a 2-weeks trip to Chile next Feb, 2016 (first half of the month). We loved Argentina, and this would be the first trip to Chile. Here is what I’m thinking, let me know if it’s doable, if we are allocating the time right, etc. Nothing is booked yet, and any suggestions are appreciated.

Day 1 – land in Santiago, then fly later in the day to Punta Arenas. Long 2 days of flying, but we’d rather do it this way than stop 1 night in Santiago
Day 2,3,4 – Explore Torres del Paine. We’ll probably stay at one of the all-inclusive hotels in the park, and do some of their excursions
Day 5 – Flight to Calama
Day 6,7 – Atacama Desert. Again, staying at one of the all-inclusive hotels in the area, and do some of their excursions
Day 8 – Flight to Temuco
Day 9, 10 – stay in Villarica area, rent a car, explore the area
Day 11 – Drive to Puerto Varas
Day 12,13 – Explore Puerto Varas area
Day 14 – Drop off car, fly to Santiago
Day 15 – Fly back home

We prefer nature to cities, and we like easy hikes, scenery, photography, new experiences. Anything in the general vicinity of the areas we are considering that is a “must-see”?
xyz99 is offline  
Feb 27th, 2015, 08:25 AM
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Day 1 – land in Santiago, then fly later in the day to Punta Arenas. Long 2 days of flying, but we’d rather do it this way than stop 1 night in Santiago

Leave ample time to do this connection. I would leave 3 hours as an absolute minimum.
It is 5 hours drive from Punta Arenas to an entrance to the park. Then add on any time inside the park getting to the hotel.

Day 2,3,4 – Explore Torres del Paine. We’ll probably stay at one of the all-inclusive hotels in the park, and do some of their excursions

The all-inclusives are a very good option if you can afford them. Some have sister hotels in San Pedro de Atacama and you might be able to get a better price using them.

Day 5 – Flight to Calama

Again, a 5 hour drive from the entrance to the park (add on any time taken between hotel and entrance) to Punta Arenas. The hotel may have fixed schedules for transport to PA, so check.

Day 6,7 – Atacama Desert. Again, staying at one of the all-inclusive hotels in the area, and do some of their excursions

There is often a 3 day minimum stay and I think you need the three days anyway.

Day 8 – Flight to Temuco

An hour and a half by transfer from San Pedro to Calama airport.
You want to rent the car in Temuco and not in Villarica, which is very small. If you need an automatic, not common in Chile, you need to book well in advance.

Day 9, 10 – stay in Villarica area, rent a car, explore the area
Day 11 – Drive to Puerto Varas

About a 6 hour drive.

Day 12,13 – Explore Puerto Varas area
Day 14 – Drop off car, fly to Santiago

One way drop off charges can be very high in Chile. Make sure you have a clear estimate of the rental + drop off fee.

Day 15 – Fly back home
Huentetu is offline  
Feb 27th, 2015, 09:30 AM
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This gives me a lot to think of - I did not realize that the transfer from P.Arenas to the hotels in the park is about 5-6 hours. This changes everything, and the schedule needs to be adjusted somehow.

We'll probably have a similar problem in Atacama (yes, I looked at Tierra hotels, where we could get a discount if using them in both locations. They are expensive...this was another unexpected thing.

If we really do this, and spend the $$$ for the 2 hotels in Patagonia + Atacama, the 1-way fee will probably not scare us so much...we'll see, this is still in the "project" state.

At this point, I don't think we can do all this in 2 weeks...
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Feb 27th, 2015, 09:45 AM
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Another question: since the transfers take much longer than what I anticipated, we need to adjust the above itinerary for it. This means we'll need to allow much more time to get from A to B, so we will not have 5 full days for the Lakes district.

We might have 3...and if so, if we need to pick between the Villarica/Pucon area and the P.Montt area, which one do you recommend?
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Feb 27th, 2015, 12:43 PM
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You would choose between the Pucon/Villarica area and Puerto Varas, 20 mins from Puerto Montt, and a lot more attractive location. What Pucon has going for it are the hot springs, from the rustic to the snazzy. But Puerto Varas has a lot to offer too, just a bit further. February is the busiest month for summer holidays here and you would need to look at where you would stay in either so you can book what you want in plenty of time.

I think the Hotel Las Torres is a bit cheaper and has all inclusive or not. Otherwise it is refugios, which are mountain lodges with shared accommodation, or a hotel in the Rio Serrano area just outside the park. You really need a car if you stay there. Play around with your itinerary a bit and see if you need to drop a destination. You have time to make your choices and book whatever you want.
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Mar 3rd, 2015, 01:51 PM
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Pucon has just been taken off the table. The beautiful volcano standing by the town has erupted in disastrous fashion. 4,000 occupants of the Pucon area have been evacuated, Pix on the news are amazing and sad. I always recommend the unique Antumalal Hotel in Pucon, oe of my favorites...I'm afraid the hotel may very well be under ash.
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Mar 3rd, 2015, 03:19 PM
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Thanks, tower. We're keeping an eye on the Villarrica eruption news, but it seems it calmed down for now. Antumalal looks great, I see why it's a favorite...
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Mar 4th, 2015, 03:03 PM
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Let me just inject a bit of local take on the volcano. The authorities have placed a 10 km cordon around the volcano and the only people evacuated live within that area. They are small farmers for the most part. Pucon itself lies outside the cordon. No one was evacuated from Pucon.

Before the eruption (just one) many tourists had left as the summer holidays were over. Others left when the yellow alert was posted. During the eruption (3 am) roads in and out of Pucon were closed for safety reasons and people gathered at one of the two safe spots in town. By dawn it was over. The roads first opened for those wishing to leave Pucon toward Freire or Argentina. Later in the day the roads opened in both directions.

At the moment the volcano is quiet. It is the most active volcano in Chile, so it erupts every so often. The experts seem to think that is all there will be but the authorities have left the red alert in place within the 10 km cordon and orange outside it in places like Pucon.

It is worth keeping an eye on the situation, preferably from a forum where locals post or a local news source. Some of the international reporting has been very poor. There was virtually no ash. Ash usually travels toward Argentina anyway because of the prevailing winds, but there was no large fall of ash. Two rivers silted but did not block.

That is the situation as of now. I would not take Pucon off the table if you are interested in the area. Villarica is also a possibility, in the green zone and close to Pucon, if you are concerned or need to change plans.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 09:24 AM
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Huentetu, thanks a lot for the info. Our trip is next year, and unless something major happens between now and then, Pucon (or Villarica) will be one of our stops.

Glad to hear there was virtually no ash - I love the cone covered by snow look, hope to see it next year.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 05:45 PM
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The volcano has a year to replace its snow then! It is all black now as the snow melted with the lava. But the cordon is now only a 5 km area around the base. So far so good!
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