The Chilean Andes & Chiloe Island Tour
Experience the magic of southern Chile as you travel through its charming towns, stunning Andean landscapes and breathtaking Lake District scenery. Your adventure starts in the inspiring Mapuche community of Quinquen, where you will discover beautiful mountain trails and learn about the important conservation and social development work of this indigenous community. The second half of your travels will be spent discovering the unique culture and fabulous natural beauty of Chiloé Island, just a short distance from the Chilean mainland. Throughout your journey, you will enjoy the fabulous hospitality of your local hosts and gain an insight into daily life in these stunning parts of southern Chile.
- Experience the warmth of the indigenous community of Quinquen during a homestay in the village.
- Hike stunning Andean trails with breathtaking panoramic views of lakes, forests and mountains and learn all about the community’s inspiring struggle to save the Monkey Puzzle tree.
- Enjoy the spectacular backdrop to the lakeside town of Puerto Varas, with a snow-capped Osorno Volcano usually visible in the distance.
- Get to know the unique culture of Chiloé, visiting historic villages and sharing meals with the locals.
- Visit the colourful island town of Castro with its brightly-painted stilt houses at the water’s edge.
- Enjoy delicious seafood and vegetables dishes, all coming from a long tradition of sustainable fishing and organic farming.
- Explore Chiloé’s National Park and discover its fascinating wildlife and outstanding natural beauty.
This is a private tour and you will be accompanied by an English-speaking local guide throughout. The price displayed is per person based on two people sharing. All tours can be tailor-made to suit your interests and requirements.
This tour is perfect for travellers who enjoy hiking through stunning landscapes and sitting down to share delicious meals with local hosts. On your journey south from Temuco to Chiloé Island, you’ll encounter breathtaking views, incredible wildlife and learn about the rich cultural heritage of people you meet along the way.
Upon arrival in Temuco, you’ll head for the Mapuche-Pehuenche community of Quinquen (approx. 2 hours), where your local hosts will receive with the warmth of their hearts and fire places. Whilst in the community, you’ll explore the stunning surroundings during several hikes in the thousand-year-old forest and learn the history of the community who fought hard for the conservation of this forest and for their right to live there.
You’ll then head south to the island of Chiloé, with stop-over in the beautiful town of Puerto Varas, to marvel at the impressive views of Llanquihue Lake and Osorno Volcano. Once in Chiloé, you’ll discover the magic of this mysterious archipelago. You’ll explore local markets teaming with life and colour, marvel at the island’s many impressive churches and share stories and meals with the people who call these islands home.
Day 1: Temuco to Quinquen (-/L/D)
The adventure starts in Temuco, where you can arrive from Santiago by plane (1h20m duration) or taking a 10-hour comfortable overnight bus. Our local guide, who will be with you throughout your journey, will pick you up at the airport or bus station. From there you’ll take a gravel road up into the mountains and to the community of Quinquen. Upon arrival, you’ll meet your local hosts for the next three nights and enjoy a delicious lunch. In the afternoon, you’ll set off on your first hike in the community and be dazzled by the fantastic views over the valley and surrounding mountains. That evening you’ll share dinner with your hosts before settling down for a well-deserved rest.
Day 2: Up into the Andes mountains (B/L/D)
After a breakfast with local ingredients, don your walking boots for a full-day hike up to the top of Lifkan Mountain. The incredible views of the surroundings are only matched by the inspiring story of the protection of the Araucaria tree, also known as Monkey Puzzle tree. Around 30 years ago, members of the community risked their lives to stop loggers from destroying this special habitat, and the trees they view as sacred. The leaders of the struggle happily share their stories and experiences so that the tale lives on and others can learn from it. Our exploration of this ancient forest takes us to over 2000 metres above sea level, where we’ll stop for a picnic lunch and enjoy the stunning views. Once back down in the valley, we can either go to the river for a refreshing swim or relax sharing some mates (traditional infusion) as the sun goes down. To wrap up a wonderful day, you’ll head back to your homestay to enjoy a delicious dinner with your hosts.
Day 3: The Quinquen community: a shelter for the soul (B/L/D)
The name “Quinquen” comes from the Mapuche word “Kmkañhue”, which means “shelter”. This is a fitting name given that this community is a shelter for both people and nature. Today you will hike deep into the forests, learning about the relationship of the Pewenche people with their mother: Nature. You’ll start by hiking along the beautiful Kelu Trufken trail, to discover its endemic flora and fauna and to enjoy stunning panoramic views over the Andes. Your guide will be able to explain how the Mapuche consider themselves guests in the forest and pay respect to their hosts – the animals, plants and spirits – with whom they form a common family. Once back down in the valley, you’ll be able to enjoy a special lunch centred on the “piñon”. The “piñon” is the nutritious seed of the Monkey Puzzle tree, a staple food local people have depended on for millennia. In the afternoon, you’ll be able to witness first-hand the devastating impact humans can have on nature, but also learn about the efforts of the local community to restore the forest. In the evening, you’ll head back to your homestay to enjoy your last dinner with your host family.
Day 4: The Lake District: Quinquen to Puerto Varas (B/L/-)
After breakfast, we’ll transfer to Temuco where we’ll take a comfortable bus towards Puerto Varas and enjoy a packed-lunch en route. The views of forests and volcanoes will accompany us on the way to Puerto Varas, a wonderfully located town at the south end of the Llanquihue Lake. Benefitting from amazing views towards the lake and the Osorno Volcano, this little village has managed to maintain its charm despite significant growth in the past decades. Upon arrival, you’ll check-in to your accommodation for the next two nights and have plenty of time for a gentle stroll around town or a few locally brewed beers with Osorno Volcano as the backdrop.
Day 5: Bird watching in the south of the world (B/L/-)
The abundance of water in many forms in the area has created a wonderful ecosystem for birds to thrive. Almost a hundred species have made the surroundings of Llanquihue Lake their home and today we’ll head off on a bird-watching excursion to find out why. Taking in rivers and national parks, we’ll hike through the stunning countryside to observe the local species and learn more about the fantastic bird world. After a full day enjoying nature, we’ll head back to Puerto Varas for a well-deserved rest.
Day 6: Puerto Varas to Chiloé (B/L/D)
After an early breakfast, we’ll transfer to the city of Puerto Montt, before taking a bus towards Castro, the capital of the Chiloé Island. Upon arrival, we will be met by a local guide, who will take us to a local market for lunch. After lunch, we hop on a local bus to the coastal village of Tenaún, on the inner Chiloé Sea. Located in a beautiful bay, this little village is brimming with magic and charm. After meeting your local hosts for the next four nights, you’ll have time for a gentle stroll around the coastal hills to fully appreciate your magical surroundings. That evening, you’ll enjoy dinner back at your homestay and experience the warm welcome of your Chilote hosts.
Day 7: Into the Pacific Ocean (B/L/D)
Today we’ll set sail for Mechuque Island and hopefully enjoy a journey accompanied by pods of dolphins. Upon arrival on the island, we’ll meander through the village and check out the views from the lookout. Lunch will be traditional ‘Curanto’ in a local restaurant - freshly prepared seafood cooked on hot stones accompanied by Chilean wine (vegetarian option available). After lunch, we’ll continue to explore the village and its beaches before heading back to our homestay.
Day 8: Discovering Chiloé National Park(B/L/D)
After breakfast, we will drive south to spend a day exploring Chiloé National Park and learning about its innumerable plant and bird species. That afternoon, we’ll also stop off at the ‘spring of souls’, an enchanted place where souls are said to commence their journey into the unknown. As the sun sets, we will return to our base in Tenaún where we will enjoy a warm homemade soup.
Day 9: Churches of Chiloé (B/L/-)
Today we’ll discover the amazing churches of San Antonio de Colo, which have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll then head over to Aucar Island where you’ll be able to choose between several options - hiking in natural reserves or taking part in farming or handicraft activities. The afternoon is yours to enjoy the village or visit Castro, the island’s main town.
Day 10: Farewell to the magical Chiloé Island (B/-/-)
After breakfast, we will say farewell to our hosts and this mythical island. You’ll be transferred to Castro airport for your flight back to Santiago, or to the bus station for a comfortable 18-hour bus journey. End of tour.
- Trip duration: 10 days
- Countries visited: Chile
- Level of difficulty: Low
- Accommodation: 3 nights in a homestay in Quinquen, 2 nights in a well located hotel in Puerto Varas, 4 nights in a homestay in Chiloe Island
- Transport: Bus, private car
- Meals included: 9 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 6 dinners
- Additional information:
You will be greeted at the airport or coach station on arrival by a local guide who will take you to your hotel and will be able to answer any questions, make any additional arrangements and generally ensure everything goes smoothly.
No minimum number of passengers required and you will not be travelling with a group of people you do not know. Prices quoted are per person and based on at least 2 people travelling. You should expect a cheaper price for bigger groups.
Your passport is required at time of booking. For information on visa requirements, immunisations and health formalities please visit the FCO Travel Advice Website (UK citizens) or the US Travel Advice Website (direct links for Chile).
Information on money changing in each destination, as well as what it is customary to tip for various services, will be provided.
This tour of Chile, like most of our adventures through Latin America, has a low level of physical difficulty and participants can choose to do as much or as little as they like. If you have any concerns or require special arrangements please call or email us to discuss.
What to bring: Travel insurance, passport, binoculars, alarm clock, walking shoes, water bottle, daypack, sun protection, insect repellent, sun glasses and hat, swimwear, flip-flops, torch with extra batteries, wind and waterproof jacket, warm clothes to layer, warm socks, fleece, hat, gloves, scarf.
- Best time to travel: September to April
- Extra budget recommended: Around £200 / $250 pp to cover meals and all other expenses not included in the itinerary.
- What is included: Welcome reception at the airport. Transfers (some may be shared). Overland transport. Accommodation. Entrance fees to sites of interest, museums and national parks mentioned in the itinerary. Guided activities and excursions with English speaking guides (some private, some as part of a small group). Meals as stated in the itinerary (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner). Contributions to the social and environmental projects visited.
- What is not included: Flights from your country of origin. Travel insurance. Alcoholic drinks. Additional meals or snacks. Travel within and around each town. Visa fees (if any). Tips. Souvenirs.
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