Chile. South America’s Spine.
Discover the many faces of Chile—from its Andean peaks to its lively cities and vast Patagonian wonderland. First, the capital, Santiago. Then gorgeous Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, and Calama. Get in touch with Chile’s natural glory at San Pedro de Atacama and finally, at Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park.
Enjoy several days of uncommon exploration. A journey to Chile is not easily forgotten.
This is a 15-day sample itinerary. Remember that R. Crusoe can create a Chile journey of any length to meet your exact specifications.
Day 1: United States
• Overnight flight to Chile.
Overnight in flight
Day 2-3: Santiago, Chile
• Arrive Santiago.
• Panoramic city tour including Club Hipico, Church of San Francisco, National Library, Cerro Santa Lucia, Plaza de Armas, Metropolitan Cathedral, Correo Central, Mercado Central, San Cristobal Hill.
• Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos.
• Option to visit museums in the city or spend time with a local historian.
• Historic vineyard tour and wine-tasting.
Overnights in Santiago
Day 4: Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, Santiago
• Day-trip to Viña del Mar.
• Town tour including Sausalito Park, Naval Academy, Caleta El Membrillo, Victoria Square and El Almendral quarter.
• Continue to Valparaíso, city tour including the port, Gran Bretaña Avenue, Caleta El Membrillo, Victoria Square, Congress buildings, El Almendral Quarter.
• Drive back to Santiago.
Overnight in Santiago
Day 5-7: Calama, San Pedro de Atacama
• Fly to Calama, drive to San Pedro de Atacama.
• Desert and villages on bicycle, horseback, or foot.
Overnights in San Pedro de Atacama
Day 8: Calama
• Drive to Calama.
Overnight in Calama
Day 9: Santiago, Puerto Bories
• Fly to Puerto Bories.
• Afternoon at leisure.
Overnight in Puerto Bories
Day 10-13: Torres del Paine National Park
• Drive to Torres del Paine National Park.
• Wide range of options to explore Patagonia on guided tours: hike, walk, horseback ride, learn about local geology and geography, wildlife viewing.
Overnights in Patagonia
Day 14: Punta Arenas, Santiago
• Drive to Punta Arenas, fly to Santiago.
• Day at leisure.
Overnight in Santiago
Day 15: Santiago; United States
• Fly home.
Per person sharing room from $8,980 for this 15-day sample itinerary
Internal air per person (estimate) $680
For more information, to book, or to speak to an R. Crusoe & Son tour specialist, please call us at 800-585-8555.
Pre-Tour & Post-Tour Options
Chile has so much to offer visitors. If you have a bit more time, consider the following options to enhance your journey in this fascinating country.
El Calafate Extension.
For more of Chile, consider a visit to El Calafate, a city in Patagonia that serves as a gateway to Los Glaciares National Park and its Perito Moreno Glacier. Consider a short cruise in and around the southern tip of South America, including Punta Arenas, Tierra del Fuego, and Cape Horn.
Another possibility? From Chile, head east to neighboring Argentina. Leave it to R. Crusoe to introduce you to lively (and oh-so-European) Buenos Aires. The Mendoza wine country. Thundering Iguazú Falls (275 roaring cataracts and infinite rainbows), which straddles the border between Argentina and Brazil. Bariloche and the rest of Argentina’s gorgeous Lake District. Along the way, stay at exceptional hotels and resorts, get familiar with the tango, and trace South America’s Continental roots.
Easter Island, Chile, Extension.
Here's an additional idea: From mainland Chile, head to mysterious Easter Island on a pre- or post-tour extension. Home base is another Explora Lodge, this one facing the Pacific Ocean. Spend two days on the island as you wish. Hike or bike to archaeological sites with spectacular views. Explore old volcanic craters, and follow cliffside paths used for generations by the locals. Examine ancient—and unexplained—moai statues, behemoths that gaze out over the ocean. No one has yet figured out the purpose or meaning of these ancient relics.
Machu Picchu, Peru, Extension.
Another idea to flesh out your South American foray? Head to Peru, home of the Inca culture. Machu Picchu is a wonder, of course, but we also love Cusco, an ancient city high in the Andes. And the Sacred Valley is full of surprises. Don’t miss any of it.
Speak to an R. Crusoe travel specialist for more information about these pre-tour and post-tour options.
Remember that R. Crusoe & Son can create a pre-tour or post-tour extension of any length to meet your exact specifications.
Man About Chile: Pedro de Valdivia.
Pedro de Valdivia was already in Peru, by the side of the infamous conquistador Francisco Pizarro, when he left to explore what we now know as Chile. Born to a poor family in Extremadura, Spain, around 1500, young Pedro joined the Spanish army of King Charles I until he left the motherland for South America in 1535. For a year, he bid his time in Venezuela, then headed for Peru to assist the three Pizarro brothers in their conquest. For his trouble, he was given a silver mine, and forever after he was a wealthy man.
Feeling antsy, Valdivia asked Francisco Pizarro, by then the governor of Peru, for permission to take the territory south of Peru. He got permission, but only as the lieutenant governor, not the position he coveted. He went nevertheless.
The expedition was fraught with problems from the beginning. Valdivia had to finance the expedition himself. He found there was shortage of soldiers and adventurers interested in conquering what they believed were extremely poor lands. Furthermore, while he was preparing the expedition, Pedro Sancho de Hoz arrived from Spain with a royal grant for the same territory. Governor Pizarro advised the two to join their interests, and in December 1539, they formed a partnership.
The small expedition finally left Cusco in January 1540 with seeds for planting, herds of swine and brood mares, a thousand native Peruvians, and a few Spaniards, including one woman, Inés de Suárez, Valdivia’s mistress. En route, more Spaniards joined the expedition, attracted by Valdivia's fame as a brilliant leader.
Along the way, de Hoz tried to murder Valdivia but failed. He was pardoned, but from then on had to accept subordinate status.
After a five-month march, and suffering great privations, the party arrived in the Copiapo Valley, where Valdivia officially took possession of the land in the name of the Spanish king. In December 1540, 11 months after they left Cusco, Valdivia reached the Mapocho River Valley, where he established the capital of the territory.
The valley’s soil was fertile, and there was abundant fresh water. Two high hills provided excellent defense. On 12 February 1541, Valdivia officially founded the city of Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura (named after St. James and Valdivia’s home of Extremadura, Spain).
Soon after his arrival, Valdivia tried to convince the many native inhabitants of his good intentions, sending out delegations bearing gifts. While his gestures were initially well received, relations eventually fell apart, and the Spaniards resorted to forced labor from the natives.
On learning of Francisco Pizarro's murder in 1541, Valdivia appointed himself governor of Chile and removed the territory from Peruvian control. Secure now in his own domain, he pushed exploration southward, dividing the land among his ablest followers and parceling out the Indians to encomiendas, settlements run by Spaniards responsible for Christianizing the natives.
The Indians continued to resist the Spaniards, but Valdivia pushed on. He defeated them at Cachapoal, but while he was away from Santiago in 1541, natives led by Michimalonco attacked the city. Who led the defense? None other than Valdivia’s mistress, Inés de Suárez. Eventually, the Spaniards were able to push back. Valdivia and his troops made it back just in time to save the capital.
In September 1543 new arms and equipment arrived from Peru , and Valdivia began rebuilding Santiago. He also sent a number of expeditions to populate northern and southern coast of Chile. Three years later, Valdivia himself set out with 60 horsemen plus native guides and porters. He got to the Bío-Bío River, where he planned to establish another town, but Mapuche warriors attacked his party. Realizing that it was impossible to proceed, Valdivia returned to Santiago.
In 1553, whie exploring in the south, Valdivia was ambushed and captured by Araucanian natives. Details of his gory death are found in accounts written by the conquistador’s contemporaries. Each differs in the details, but all are bloody and violent in the extreme. However Valdivia died, it was not peacefully. The site of his death is close to the modern city of Valdivia, named in his honor.
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