Joel – The Best of Chile with Atacama, Patagonia & Chiloé Island

Chile is a fascinating and picturesque country, stretching 4,290km from Peru to Patagonia.  Highlights of my trip include the extraordinary Atacama Desert, the Lakes District and the glaciers and national parks of Patagonia. My itinerary was designed by South America Tourism Office, and their planning was excellent. I visited many of the fully inclusive luxury lodges that offer guests the best of all worlds; delicious local food and wine, boutique lodges, set in some incredible landscapes, with private guides.  The overall experience was tailored to make it the trip of a lifetime.

Reviewed by Joel Webb

~Getting There~

I flew with Lan Chile, and the customer service was excellent on the Long Haul flight from Auckland to Santiago.  Seating was of a good standard for Economy, and I had great leg room on the exit row and bulk head. Awesome movie selection and the food of a high standard for airline food.

Santiago Airport was a great learning curve! I recommend allowing at least 2 and a half hours for connections from International to Domestic terminal. Signage to Domestic Terminal is tricky so here is a trip when going through the airport:

  • Once you clear customs you will turn left and walk along untill you enter the arrivals hall
  • Turn Right and walk through glass doors
  • Then turn left and enter elevator and head up to level 3
  • Arrive at the Domestic Departure hall

~  Atacama ~

I flew from Santiago to Calama Airport and then had a 2 hour drive through the Atacama Desert.  My long travel day was a distant memory when I reached the most breath taking resort I have been to. Tierra Atacama Hotel and Spa is a boutique hotel on the edge of San Pedro de Atacama. There are  32 rooms of which  2 rooms are set up for a family (or more than 2 guests)

Tierra Atacama Room & Views

The Rooms are awash with nude and cocoa tones, with large canopy beds facing the mountain range which allows the most beautiful view to start and end the day. The sleek, ensuite bathrooms have cool slate floors and frosted glass with both inside and outside showers. With a luxurious spa service and a swimming pool with a view to die for…. just relaxing alone here would have satisfied most.

Tierra Atacama Pool & Excursions

Once unpacked I was met by the Excursion Director who planned my daily program so I could make the most of my time in one of Earth’s most beautiful locations. I loved Atacama, and it had so many varied excursions. From Salt Flats, Moon Valley by car or bike, Puritama Hot Springs or El Tatio Geyers and many other walking and riding excursions to meet everyone’s level of fitness.

Excursions from Tierra Atacama

I would suggest a stay anywhere from 4-7 days at Atacama. With the Resort sitting at 2400M above sea level it is important to visit towards the end of your holiday in Chile.  Most of the excursions are 3000M and above sea level and is best to work up to the higher levels so you don’t get altitude sickness.

I Loved this Resort and area! Program Included:

  • Transfers
  • Full board: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, open bar
  • 2 daily half-day guided excursions OR full-day excursion daily
  • Use of pools, sauna & Jacuzzi

~  Chiloé Island ~

It is important to note, allow and be prepared for extra time on travelling days as the distances are great between destinations.  After flights, car, and ferry….I arrived at Tierra Chiloé which is nestled in the magical landscape of the Chiloé archipelago. The resort has only 12 rooms all with a sea view.

Fire Pit lounge & Room at Tierra Chiloe

Superior rooms are made from Chiloé Island wood and give s warm inviting feel. The rooms have large comfortable beds that face wide windows with views of the inland Pacific Ocean. Enjoy a deep soak bathtubs at the end of the day, which I could even fit in and I’m 6″3! I had 2 baths in 3 nights…it was awesome.  I also loved the unique touches that come with a boutique hotel such as hand-knitted slippers which you can take home with you.

Excursions from Tierra Chiloe

There is a lovely living room, hotel Spa, Steam room and Dry Sauna. But I really enjoyed the fireplace outside where guests can sit and talk over a drink at the end of the day.

With excursions such as Dolphin Watching and Island visiting, visiting Castro town, Market shopping and hiking through the Chiloé National Park; make visiting Chiloé definitely worthwhile. The highlight for me was visiting a local house for lunch, as I enjoyed chatting with them and gaining an insight into their everyday life.

Having lunch with a local family was a highlight

Program Included:

  • Transfers
  • American breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Open Bar including mineral water, soft drink, juices, house wine and liquors.
  • Two half-day excursions or one full-day excursions daily in small groups with other guests
  • Use of Sauna & Jacuzzi

~ Patagonia ~

We flew into Punta Arenas and then had a 4 hour scenic drive to the resort. And it sure was worth the drive as when you arrive at Tierra Patagonia and then walk down the corridor…..there is the WOW factor!  You look through huge glass windows out to the Torres del Paine Peaks and Lake.

Room & Hot tub with a view!

The Resort has 40 rooms which all view the Torres Del Paine and Lake, and I started my day sitting in my room with a coffee in hand watching the sun beam across the mountains. The Superior Rooms feature large beds and incredible views. Deep-soak bathtubs again which I used each night (don’t usually fit in baths so it’s quite a novelty for me!)

Again like Atacama and Chiloé once I unpacked I met the Excursion Director who planned my daily program to make the most of the time in this incredible part of Chile. Each day the drive is 60 – 90 minutes from the hotel to the National Park for trekking and Excursions.

Excursions from Tierra Patagonia

Excursions include trekking through the National Park to waterfalls, Twin Peaks, Blue Lagoon and Glaciers followed by Bike riding.  There are either half day or full day tours and just to finish the experience you can ride a horse through the fields or streams. Incredible.

I loved Patagonia the change between here and Atacama is so diverse.

Program Included:

  • Transfers
  • American breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Open Bar including mineral water, soft drink, juices, house wine and liquors.
  • Two half-day excursions or one full-day excursions daily in small groups with other guests
  • Use of Swimming Pool, Sauna & Jacuzzi

~ Santiago ~

Arriving back into Santiago, I stayed at Cumbres Lastarria which is located in a modern lively area of Santiago. It is a nice 4 star resort with excellent service and provided live entertainment on a Thursday to Sunday night. If you love to people watch than this hotel is for you, as sitting at the bar around 8pm the street comes to life with locals.

I loved my 12 days in Chile,  and saw some of the most beautiful sites in the world.

Joels Tips

  1. Don’t rush, allow plenty of time to experience each destination
  2. Plan your stay in Atacama towards the end of your trip
  3. Use a travel agent as the itinerary can be complex, but becomes seamless with an experience of our wholesalers like South America Tourism Office
  4. A stay at one of the ‘Tierra’ Hotels is a must, as the views are incredible

About Joel

I’ve been in travel for over 13 years, and I have travelled to many diverse destinations. From family trips to Bali and Thailand, to camping in South Africa, to staying in 6 star resorts in Dubai and Oman. I have toured across Europe, stayed at B&Bs throughout the UK, cruised up to Alaska and down through the Caribbean. I have seen the West Coast of Canada and America by Train, Car and plane and much of Asia.

To find out more about South America, contact joel@destinationhq.com.au