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A rare opportunity to experience a total solar eclipse in the heart of Chile's beautiful Lake District. This self-drive trip for four takes you from the clear blue lakes and fjords of the southern sector, to the snow-capped volcanoes and forests further north, ending with time in the lovely winelands of Chile's Central Valley.
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Land in Santiago and take a guided tour as you explore the heart of the city in the company of your private guide. If it’s clear, and you’re looking to stretch your legs, head up Cerro San Cristobal near your hotel for lovely views over the city and surrounding mountains. Because your hotel is so well located, you will start and end your visit on foot.
Fly to Puerto Montt, gateway to Chile's Lakes District. This is the northern edge of Patagonia, a region which is dominated by snow capped volcanoes and beautiful turquoise lakes. On arrival collect your 4x4 and meet your guide, who leads you just up the road to the small reserve of Lahuen Nadi, home to one of the few surviving patches of alerce forest in the area. Later head out on a walking tour of Puerto Varas' pretty streets and historic houses Stay in a very comfortable hotel looking out over the waters a little way out from the town.
Today is yours to explore some of the lovely walks in the area, full of forests and lakeside trails. The Vicente Rosales Park offers a wonderful combination of open landscapes, sometimes woods, but almost always with views of Lago Todos los Santos on one side, the snow capped cone of Osorno Volcano on the other and the peak of Puntiagudo ahead of you.
Back in town, there are plenty of boutiques and eateries if you fancied a more relaxed day. For a spot of culture, there are lakeside chapels to explore, the region's German heritage, and just along the lake shore you find Frutillar, which is something of a hotbed for music and dance in this part of the world. On the lake you have kayaking and boat trips, and not far from town there is a great horse riding outfit if you'd like some time in the saddle.
Today you drive north, to travel into the heart of the Conguillío National Park to stay in the shadow of Llaima Volcano. It's around 5 hours' drive today, so you might like to set off promptly and make a day of it with some stops along the way, including the Valdivian rainforests of Huilo Huilo and the adventure sports mecca of Pucón. Your home base for the next four nights is the collection of rustic cabins close to the foot of the Llaima Volcano. Here you will join other Pura guests on either self-drive or escorted group trips.
Begin to explore the national park today, heading out in small groups to be as active as you like, with hiking, biking and kayaking among the available activities. For anyone less inclined towards activities, there will also be the chance to enjoy vehicle-based excursions to make the most of the scenery, as well as bird watching.
Another day to explore the park as actively as you choose, or take a more restful day before the main event of the eclipse tomorrow. If you had a big day hiking yesterday, you might like to spend some time on the water today, paddling on either the Conguillío or Quililo lakes with your guide, or go in search of birds such as the Magellanic Woodpecker or the endemic Slender-billed Parakeet.
Today is the main event, with the total eclipse of the sun due to pass over the skies in the mid-afternoon. For those keen to hike, we plan a 3-hour ascent to the mirador of the Sierra Nevada, timed to get us there an hour before the eclipse commences. There will also be more gentle hikes on offer, and we will have some expert insight into the science behind the marvel for everyone to make the most of this special occasion.
Continue north today, leaving the Lake District for the drier climes of the Araucania Province and heading up into the winelands of Colchagua. For lunch you might stop off in Los Angeles, where you can enjoy a stroll around the tree-filled plaza, before finding somewhere to dine in what is a very traditional Chilean town. Your lovely hotel set amidst the vineyards of Santa Cruz. With the weather likely to be warm, you can ease any aches from the journey in the welcoming pool.
The town of Santa Cruz is hemmed in on all sides by a selection of Chile’s finest wineries, so we assume you'll spend the day heading out to whichever takes your fancy. Spend the day discovering some of the big hitters of Chilean wine, such as Lapostolle, or a couple of the lesser-known smaller vineyards in the area. Your hotel can help you with this, as well as arrange transport if you'd like to leave the car behind.
Enjoy another day exploring the vineyards, or venture further afield. A little over an hour's drive west brings you to the Pacific, where you'll find the laidback town of Pichilemu, a regular host of surfing world championships. It's also a fantastic spot to tuck into some of the freshest fish and seafood, such as pink clams, ceviche and sea bass. A number of artisans live and work in the nearby villages. While you could have a go at surfing here, it's perhaps more rewarding to watch the pros at it, especially as the sun goes down.
It's a couple of hours or so back up to Santiago so, if you have an evening departure, you can squeeze in another winery visit or perhaps a trip to the museum if you haven't yet been. Set off later for the airport, to drop off your hire car and check-in for your flight home. We have a more detailed PDF itinerary of this trip that we can share with you by clicking the link just below. Ultimately, we'd love to discuss the itinerary with you to tailor it to your exact requirements.
Chile is regarded as one of the world's greatest destinations for stargazing, given the low population density and the unpolluted skies over the Andes. The fact it sits so neatly on the path of the 2020 total solar eclipse is therefore particularly serendipitous.
Of course, Chile is also famously diverse on the ground, with a bewildering range of landscapes and ecosystems scattered throughout its vast length. Rather than trying to squeeze too much in, this trip focused on the beautiful central south, a land of snow-capped volcanoes, monkey puzzle forests and vineyards.
The focal point of the trip around the Eclipse takes place in the little-known Conguillío National Park, where you will join with other Pura guests, including an escorted group. Here you can paddle on the lakes and hike to the summits for wonderful views over the volcanoes and forests, as well (of course) as the special phenomenon that is the solar eclipse.
Aside from the days you'll spend in the Conguillío National Park, which are fixed around the eclipse, the remainder of this trip can be tailored to you. We have a detailed PDF itinerary that we can send you, based on the trip as set out here, which we can then adjust to suit your dates, desired trip length and particular interests once we have discussed your requirements.
This trip is designed to depart on 7th December 2020, but as a tailor-made holiday, it can be adjusted to suit your dates. The caveat to this is that you obviously need to be under the path of totality for the eclipse on 14th December, so the Conguillío National Park section is the only 'fixed' point of the trip. Please note that space for the eclipse section of the tour is limited, so we advise getting in touch quickly if you are interested in joining us.
The holiday price is a guideline per person, based on four people travelling and two people sharing. Please enquire for the price based on two travellers. The trip as set out here includes:
Accommodation and meals as detailed
Car hire for two drivers with full insurance
Guiding, activities and excursions as described
Chile Holiday Guide with personal recommendations
Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout
International flights are quoted separately; best routing is into and out Santiago (SCL)
In Santiago you can expect a well-equipped modern hotel with plenty of character, and ideally located for exploring the city on foot. In the lakes your first stay is in a comfortable lakeside hotel a little way outside the busy town of Puerto Varas.
In Conguillío our base is inside the national park. The cabin types are three bed/one bath cabins, i.e. they can sleep 6, but we assume they will be shared by 4. Cabins will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
In the winelands you stay in a first class hotel in a lovely setting among the vines just outside the sleepy town of Santa Cruz.
Because we work directly with local partners, rather than a distant agency, you are connected with local communities throughout. We encourage you to eat at local restaurants throughout your trip and to integrate yourself into the local way of life, contributing both to the economy and the preservation of traditional lifestyles.
For example, for much of this trip, you're in the heartland of the Mapuche, Chile's most significant indigenous group. As you move on up through the Chilean lakes, from Puerto Varas towards Los Angeles, you are travelling in Mapuche lands. In recent years the Mapuche have reasserted their cultural heritage so there is more evidence of traditional crafts, food, and language than was previously the case. Around this area there are various ethno-tourism sites you can visit for greater insights into your surroundings.
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