On this tour, you’ll be accompanied from start to finish by one of our exceptional Journey Latin America tour leaders. From the moment you land in Latin America until the day the tour ends they will deal with all the practicalities, expertly adapting to the circumstances and individual needs of the group. Rather than different guides in different cities, your leader will get to know the group and keep you informed and entertained as you go.
4 flights (longest 4 hours), 4 land journeys (longest 6 hours).
On this tour we use mid-range, upper mid-range and first class hotels.
Examples of hotels include:
• Santiago: Cumbres Lastarria
• San Pedro de Atacama: Cumbres San Pedro
• Puerto Varas: Cabañas del Lago
• Torres del Paine: Hotel Las Torres (For 2020 departures we will stay at the Hotel Rio Serrano where we will have access to the fully inclusive program)
• Punta Arenas: Rey don Felipe
On very rare occasions these hotels can change, however please speak to one of our consultants who can provide full details for each departure if you have any doubts. Address and contact details will be sent out with your final documents.
Breakfast daily, lunch day 4.
• Santiago: walking tour
• San Pedro de Atacama: Moon Valley and Atacama salt flats
• Lake district: Petrohue Falls and boat trip on Lago Todos Los Santos
• Torres del Paine: Glacier Grey boat trip
• Torres del Paine: stops at view points within the park
Summary of nights
14 days, 13 nights: Santiago 2; San Pedro 3; Puerto Varas 3; Torres del Paine 3; Punta Arenas 1; Santiago 1.
Included in the journey price
• Services of Journey Latin America tour leader
• All land and domestic air transport
• Accommodation as specified
• Meals as specified
• Excursions as specified
Not included in the journey price
• Tips and insurance
• Meals other than specified
• Optional excursions
There are optional excursions available throughout this holiday bookable locally through your tour leader once you are in Latin America. Not all excursions available will suit everybody, whilst others only operate within certain seasons, with minimum numbers or may not be included due to time constraints. A budget of around $300 USD should cover participation the following options, but prices can fluctuate depending on the size of the party and so cannot be provided accurately until travel commences. The list below is only a guideline, so please enquire with your tour leader for any further areas of interest:
• Santiago: day trip to the Pacific port of Valparaiso; stop at a vineyard
• San Pedro de Atacama: El Tatio geysers
• San Pedro de Atacama: star gazing
• Puerto Varas: excursion to the island of Chiloe
• Torres del Paine: optional hikes
There is no extra cost for single travellers who are willing to share a room. You will be accommodated with another same-sex member of the group who is also travelling solo. For single travellers who wish to have their own room there are a limited number of single rooms available, which carry a surcharge.
The unit of currency in Chile is the peso chileno.
A budget of between $40 and $50 USD per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday price, drinks and the odd souvenir.
How to take it
Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so a debit or credit card with a PIN 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 you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. These bills should be in good condition as soiled or torn bills may be refused. Travellers’ cheques are increasingly less favoured by visitors who find them difficult to exchange as well as offering a poor rate of exchange. If you do decide to carry some with you they should be US dollar cheques only (American Express are by far the most accepted brand).
Tips are normally welcomed and expected. Local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $3 USD (or local equivalent) per person per day for each of guides and drivers, depending on the size of the group.
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.
If you would like to show your appreciation to your Journey Latin America tour leader, who you may feel has exceeded your expectations, a discretionary gratuity would be gratefully received. As a guideline we recommend an amount of between $4 and $6 USD per person, per day. You are obviously free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality.
Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance
Departure tax is normally included in the price of the ticket.
In the Torres del Paine optional hikes vary in length (4-10 hrs) and difficulty (some are easy and flat, others steeper and more challenging). All walks are linear and along good paths, so you can follow them as far as you feel comfortable. Your tour leader can advise about which of the trails would be most suited to you. Throughout the Journey, there is time to relax and explore on your own if you wish.
You'll need to be prepared for some very early mornings and dramatic changes in temperature and high altitude is also a factor when in the Atacama desert. Please see section on altitude for further details below.
In Santiago October and November and March and April see temperatures of 15-25°C and a good deal of sunshine. January and February are hot, around 30°C. The Atacama desert is warm and sunny all year round during the day time but temperatures drop dramatically at night. In Jan-Mar the region can be susceptible to heavy rains coming from the Bolivian Andes.
In the south of Chile the weather is notoriously unpredictable throughout the year. In Torres del Paine during the southern hemisphere summer (October to March) be prepared for everything from a blizzard to a heat wave. Strong winds and rain are possible at any time and it can get extremely cold when the wind blows off the ice cap. On the other hand, hot days are not unknown in summer.
Some of the excursions in the Atacama Desert are at high altitude, although you spend the night in San Pedro de Atacama which is at a comfortable 2,440m. Symptoms of altitude sickness vary; most common are mild headaches, slight nausea and breathlessness. Most people are unaffected and if you drink plenty of water and allow your body to acclimatise (don't exert yourself or drink alcohol) in the first couple of days after arrival, you will minimise your chances of suffering any symptoms. Please refer to out Briefing Dossier for further information.
Clothing and special equipment
A daypack is essential for carrying rainwear or a spare jumper, snacks or books. Those who feel the cold should take thermal underwear. Be prepared for the cold during nights in Atacama (particularly if you choose to take the excursion to El Tatio Geysers, where temperatures are below freezing). Southern Chile can also be very cold so be sure to pack enough warm clothing. Good waterproof walking boots/shoes as well as a water and windproof jacket are essential and waterproof trousers are also recommended. The sun can be very strong so take a hat with a visor, sunglasses, sunblock and a swimming suit. Some walkers find hiking poles helpful for the Torres del Paine excursions, and binoculars are useful for bird and wildlife spotting.
Reduce plastic waste
Journey Latin America has partnered with Water-To-Go to offer JLA Group Tour passengers the opportunity to purchase 75cl filtered water bottles for a 50% discount. The bottle can be refilled at any water outlet and has a filter that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing the water to be safe to drink. Please call your contact at JLA to add it your booking and it will be delivered to your address. More information about this initiative can be found on our website here
Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.
You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.
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. Clients with a different nationality should enquire or check with the Chilean Consulate. Even where visas are not required, there may be a reciprocity fee to pay (e.g. USA and Canada).
APIS and ESTA - important flight information:
ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.
This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.
APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.