Private Journeys

Active Chile: Andean Skiing and Atacama Desert Adventures

12 days from £5,811pp

Chile

Portillo Ski Resort

Essentials

Transport

2 internal flights of 2 hours; 4 road journeys of between 1 and 2½ hours.

Accommodation

Comfortable hotels of a mid range to upper mid range standard in Santiago and Portillo. First class lodge in San Pedro de Atacama.

Meals

Full board (9 nights) is included in Portillo and at Tierra Atacama (from dinner on day of arrival to breakfast on day of departure). Breakfast (2 nights) is included in Santiago. Drinks are included at Tierra Atacama.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Summary Of Nights

12 days, 11 nights. Santiago (1 night), Portillo ski resort (4 nights), San Pedro de Atacama (5 nights), Santiago (1 night).

This holiday operates every Friday between 2nd July and 3rd September

Currency

The unit of currency in Chile is the Chilean peso.

Daily Spend

A guideline budget of around £20 per person per day should cover the cost of meals and drinks not included in the holiday itinerary.

How To Take It

In Chile, we recommend paying for your extras at hotels (including hotel restaurant bills) with US$ cash or by credit card. Such transactions are usually exempt of IVA (sales tax).

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Recommended Tipping

Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 – 12% in restaurants.

Insurance

Travel insurance, including for winter sports, is essential. Chile’s authorities currently require visitors to have travel insurance with coverage for all expenses associated with Covid-19.

Journey Latin America’s recommended insurance company is Campbell Irvine, and their medical and repatriation cover is handled by International Medical Assistance.

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport Taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket, and prepaid on regional flights in Chile.

Journey Grade

Generally this holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit visitors, including families. If you have a disability or special requirements, please call us.

You will be staying at an altitude of over 2,800m in Portillo and 2,400m in Atacama. In Atacama, it is common to visit locations over 4,000m above sea level (eg Tatio Geysers). Local guides can advise you about precautions against any ill effects generated by the thin air at altitude; most people only feel a little breathless. (See “Altitude” paragraph below).

Climate

This holiday can operate between July and September, which is winter in Chile. It’s often sunny and you can expect daytime highs of around 14-16c in Santiago, falling to just above freezing at night.

San Pedro de Atacama enjoys mild and sunny days with temperatures of up to 21c, with very cold desert nights (often below zero). Snow can affect some of San Pedro’s higher-level attractions in winter.

Portillo has an average annual snowfall of around 7 metres. It is important to note that temperatures and snow seasons in the Andes are very variable and this has been the case especially in the last few years. The resort uses both real and artificial snow depending on conditions. The season begins in late June and lasts through September. July and August are the main winter months in Chile.

Clothing And Special Equipment

You can rent skis and snowboards, boots and poles at Portillo. We recommend organising this in advance.

If you intend to bring your own ski equipment please let us so we can make any necessary arrangements for transporting or safe keeping them once in Chile.

For San Pedro de Atacama, be sure to pack walking shoes with good support, as terrain can be unstable and rocky.
Protection against the sun is essential throughout.

Vaccination

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Country info

When's the best time to visit Chile?

Thanks to its size and shape, Chile is a year-round destination. The southern hemisphere summer is the reverse of our own, with Dec-Feb being high summer in Patagonia. Spring (Oct-Nov) and Autumn (Mar-Apr) can still be very pleasant and are quieter. While summers in the lake district are generally warm and sunny, as a rule the further south in Patagonia you go the more unpredictable the weather. Santiago and Valparaiso have a Mediterranean-type climate, with very warm summers and cool winters (ski season is Jul-Aug). San Pedro de Atacama enjoys sunshine and warm temperatures year-round, influenced by altitude and the high Andes, with cool nights Jul-Sep and a chance of heavy rains in Jan-Mar. Easter Island has pleasant temperatures all year, warmest Oct-Mar, cooler Jun-Sep.

For more detailed information visit our When To Go section.

What's the official language of Chile?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Chile?

Chilean Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs in larger towns and cities using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. There are also many banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash; rates for euros and sterling are harder to find and frequently poor. Non-resident foreign guests at hotels in Chile do not normally pay the 19% VAT on most extras (such as food and drink consumed on the premises) if the bill is settled in US$ (cash or credit card) upon checking out.

What's the time difference between Chile and UK?

GMT -4 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, from Sep/Oct to early Mar.

What countries combine well with Chile?

Bolivia, accessing the south of country from San Pedro de Atacama, travelling via salt lakes of the Salar de Uyuni; Argentina, crossing the Andes over one of several scenic passes: from the Atacama Desert in the north to Salta, from Santiago to Mendoza, via the lakes crossing from Puerto Varas to Bariloche in the lake district and from Torres del Paine to El Calafate in Patagonia.

What are the festivals, cultural and sport events in Chile?

Tapati festival, Easter Island: normally during the first 2 weeks of February with traditional music, dance and sports.

New Year’s Eve, Valparaiso: impressive firework displays.

What do I need to know about altitude in Chile?

Whilst a typical holiday in Patagonia presents no challenges with altitude, parts of northern Chile (Lauca National Park and parts of the Atacama Desert) offer a spectacular introduction to the high Andes, with several attractions at over 3,000m. Travel to high altitude can cause mountain sickness and even if you feel fighting fit it’s important to take things easy and stay hydrated (drink plenty of water, avoiding alcohol and caffeine) as you get used to the thin, dry air. You may initially notice a headache, dizziness or breathlessness and this usually improves with acclimatisation. If you are pregnant or taking the contraceptive pill, have a medical condition such as heart or lung condition, anaemia, asthma, high blood pressure you should seek the advice of your GP before booking.  We also recommend you check your travel insurance covers travel to high altitude.  If you’re taking the family, remember small children may be less capable of communicating altitude-related symptoms effectively: keep an eye on them too. Rest assured we will plan your itinerary carefully, taking into account any time spent at altitude. If you have any questions or concerns about altitude please speak to your travel expert.

Further advice on travel to altitude is available on  www.travelhealthpro.org.uk.

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office base
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Skiing at Portillo
  • Excursions and activities at Tierra Atacama

What's not included in the price

  • Rental of ski equipment
  • Skiing tuition (if needed)
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals and drinks other than specified
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions* Where a local company organises an optional excursion it does so as a principal and not as an agent of Journey Latin America.
  • NB Occasionally local governments may impose additional levies to taxes already paid on tickets, if this should happen, the payment is made locally.

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office base
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Skiing at Portillo
  • Excursions and activities at Tierra Atacama

What's not included in the price

  • Rental of ski equipment
  • Skiing tuition (if needed)
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals and drinks other than specified
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions* Where a local company organises an optional excursion it does so as a principal and not as an agent of Journey Latin America.
  • NB Occasionally local governments may impose additional levies to taxes already paid on tickets, if this should happen, the payment is made locally.

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

View Extraordinary Inspiration

Real Latin America Experts

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Consultant

    It’s hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Consultant

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made team.

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

Meet the team