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Vineyards & Volcanoes

A drive through southern Chile | View photos »

From the colourful stilt houses of Chiloé to the world class wines of Colchagua via the smoking volcanoes of the Lake District, this mostly self-guided trip introduces you to the wonders of central Chile.

16 day trip described, guide price £2,240pp i

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"Best holiday ever"

"Best holiday ever"

Fantastic! We have been to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and all of Europe - this was the best. We had our best holiday ever and from us that some accolade. Linda M

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Sample itinerary

Travel to South America

Fly overnight to the Chilean capital, Santiago. Please note: international flights are quoted separately for this holiday.

Land in Chile

Land in the Chilean capital this morning. Transfer to your comfortable hotel where you spend tonight. The rest of today is yours to relax and recover from your journey.

To Chiloé Grande

Fly south today to the Chilean Lake district– a landscape of high Andean lakes, snow-capped volcanoes and forests. Your time is flexible here, but you will have time to explore Chiloe’s culture and nature in depth with your expert guide. Explore the rugged Pacific coast of the island. Here is where Chiloe is at its wildest and most beautiful, a land of empty beaches and coastal forest. You stay two nights here in a pretty house located on a tranquil, 4km long beach.

Explore Chiloé

Today will be spent exploring the “cultural” side of the island; the East Coast’s small villages, fishing towns and secluded bays. The villages here are known for their UNESCO World Heritage churches - testaments to the island’s missionary past. Continue to the regional capital of Castro later, and visit its pretty wooden cathedral (another UNESCO site), and its palafito stilt houses.

Independent exploration

You spend this morning with your guide before heading back to the mainland where you pick up your car to drive the 50km to Puerto Varas, on the shores of Lake Llanquihue. From here until Santiago you explore independently but with our advice and contacts all the way. The activities, visits and walks mentioned in the itinerary are suggestions of how we think you might like to spend your time.

Walk in Vicente Perez Rosales national park

A relaxing day to visit the Vincente Perez Rosales National Park which includes the Lago Todos los Santos, often referred to as the most beautiful lake in the world. There are many trails in the park but most deliver 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.

Walk in ancient alerce forests

Visit the Alerce Andino National Park to walk amongst the oldest trees on earth – some up to 4,000 years old. The trees are incredibly slow growing, making their wood very valuable indeed. Thankfully this huge National Park, and the work of individual citizens, means that vast areas are now safely protected.

Drive north to Pucón

It’s time to pack up your things and head 4 hours north. The town of Pucón is surrounded by a beautiful combination of mountains, lakes, forests and the active volcano of Villarica. It is something of a magnet for active people as within a compact area you can walk, ride bikes, raft, kayak, climb a volcano, windsurf and ride horses.

Activities to choose

There are many choices of things to do, from soaking in hot springs to riding horses. One thing that you might like to consider today is the walk up the smoking, snow-capped Villarrica volcano. The average slope is 25-35 degrees so it's a steep, slow and steady 4/5 hour hike to the 2,600m summit. From the top you have views right across the Andes, with five other volcanic cones of the area as well as three lakes.

Raft the Trancura

For a great fun adventure today, why not raft the Trancura River? This glacier-fed river is the perfect place to raise your pulse while letting you appreciate the beautiful scenery. Take your eyes off the river in front of you to see Villarica behind, dominating the horizon. All necessary equipment is provided and you are briefed before you start. No experience is needed.

Into the winelands

We’d suggest a fairly prompt start this morning, as today you have the longest drive of your trip, as you emerge from the Lakes District into the southerly part of Chile’s main wine region. For the next three nights you stay in the town of Talca, at the heart of the wine producing Maule Valley.Stop to see the spectacular Saltos de Laja waterfall along the way.

Walk in the Altos de Licaray

Spend today walking in the forests of Altos del Lircay reserve on the slopes of the Andes. This park is really very little visited so you can enjoy a relaxed though long day of walking through beautiful wooded surroundings. From the top you can have spectacular views, along the way you can enjoy the variety of native flora and fauna, particularly birds.

Visit vineyards

After breakfast take a tour of local vineyards. Here in Maule they really are not set up for visits in the same way they are further north in Colchagua. This tends to give visits in this area an unpolished charm. In addition, the vineyards you visit today are very small, family run operations. Start the day with a stroll through vineyards to the colonial estate house where you taste their wines.

Explore the Pacific coast

It’s a much shorter drive today, so you can afford a leisurely start. This part of your journey takes you well off the beaten track. You might like to stop off in the fishing village of Duao. Here you can enjoy the chaotic and colourful scenes of the fishing boats lined up along the shore, and relax over a first rate seafood lunch on the beach.

Colchagua wineries

The town of Santa Cruz is hemmed in on all sides by a selection of Chile’s finest wineries. Today you might like to start with a walk through the vineyards of the Montes estate – producer of some of the highest quality wines in Chile. The tour ends with a tasting which includes a couple of their premium Montes Alpha wines. This afternoon, visit the stunning Lapostolle estate. The execution of this structure is striking. Basically it is a large well, dug down into the granite hillside.

Travel home

Leave the Colchagua Valley this morning for the final leg of your journey back up to Santiago. At around 150km, again it’s a fairly short drive, which should take around two hours. Drop off your hire car at the airport before flying home (flight times vary, you may need a final night in Santiago). Again, please note international flights are quoted separately for this holiday.

About this trip


From the colourful stilt houses of Chiloé to the world class wines of Colchagua via the smoking volcanoes of the Lake District, this mostly self-guided trip introduces you to the wonders of central Chile.

How adventurous?

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1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5

Best time to go i

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Level of activity

This holiday is a carefully chosen combination of walking, wine and relaxation. Because it is largely self-guided and you have a rental car, you ultimately choose the level of activity each day. The places you visit on this trip can be explored in a relatively non-active way or you can be very active on almost every day of the trip. The suggested itinerary is primarily based around walking although you can make things more adventurous with horse riding, mountain biking and white water rafting available in both Puerto Varas and in Pucon.

To get the most out of this holiday you want to spend as much time as you can in the great outdoors, from the long, deserted Pacific beaches of Chiloé to the monkey puzzle forests of the Huerquehue National Park or outdoor hot springs of Huife. Being able to walk for at least a few hours at a time will mean that you have the best possible time.

The accommodation on this journey is picked primarily for its charm and the warmth of the welcome you receive. These are small, locally owned, in fact usually family run, hotels and inns which we have chosen carefully and have worked with for years. From the home stay comfort of Chiloé to being hemmed in by vines in the Colchagua Valley, we have chosen places which best reflect their surroundings. Sometimes that means a bed and breakfast type place, other times it means a more formal small hotel.

Temperatures throughout this trip should be moderate, ranging from 10°-20° but getting gradually warmer as you travel north towards Santiago. The southern end of this trip, Chiloé and Puerto Varas, are the most likely to bring rain - you have thousands of miles of exposed Pacific ocean to the west so conditions can tend towards the very wet. Think Ireland.

Within the months we offer this trip, in theory January and February will be warmer and drier but there's no guarantee of that. January and into February are also the busiest time of the year for domestic tourism so you will see more people around during this period.

Level of culture

While the landscapes and activities are the most obvious elements in this holiday, the cultural aspect gives it all colour and meaning. Chile is a country made up largely of a mestizo population, which is to say that indigenous populations and Spanish colonists mixed from the start. By and large, racially, a Chilean is a Chilean is a Chilean. The exception to this is that in the far north of the country you have more obviously high Andean, Aymara people. Indeed it is probably from here that the name Chile derives - the place the world ends.

The other, indeed largest defined cultural group in Chile, are the Mapuche. It is through the Mapuche lands that you travel over the course of the first week or so of this holiday.

At the start of your trip, rather than your picking up your car straight away, you have a couple of days with one of our guides looking after you. During this time, you will experience the unique culture of Chiloé with its colourful fishing communities and remote farms.

The Chilote culture is quite distinctive, with a very particular set of traditions from food to dance, song and particularly story telling. Famous too on Chiloé are the wooden churches, recently granted UNESCO world heritage status.

As you move on up through the Chilean lakes, from Puerto Varas through Pucón, you are travelling in Mapuche lands. In recent years the Mapuche have reasserted their cultural heritage so there is more evidence of traditional crafts and food, and language, than was previously the case. Around Pucón there are various ethno-tourism sites you can visit for greater insights into your surroundings.

Pushing on north and you are very much into the Central Valley where the culture on show is viticulture, some of the finest wines in Chile originate from the vineyards to the south of Santiago where you stay.

In addition to the guiding at the start of your holiday, we provide you with all the maps, walking notes and local information you will need to make the most of your time in Chile.

Throughout this holiday, the food is a notable and delightful highlight. Chile is blessed with remarkable natural resources - from the green grazing land of the foothills of the Andes to the endless expanse of the Pacific to the incredibly fertile Central Valley. Buen provecho!


We have a detailed itinerary for this trip, as set out above. If you would like a copy, please get in touch and we can email it over to you.

Ultimately though, this is a tailor made trip so we would love to have time to talk to you in order to send the most appropriate proposal to you.

In the form set out above, the holiday price includes first class hotel accommodation, breakfasts, internal flight and car hire (one-way drop-off fees may be payable locally), guided activities, excursions and entrances as set out in the detailed itinerary. Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.

Flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best flight routings are to fly in and out of Santiago (airport code: SCL).


Departs on a date to suit you, from October through March.

Next steps...

Contact us today to start planning your own personal adventure

01273 676712

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The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.


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A rare still, clear day over Puntiagudo Volcano in the Chilean Lakes The skyline of Santiago de Chile The lively barrio of Concha y Toro in Santiago The calm waterways of eastern Chiloe Grande Palofito houses on the island of Chiloe Grande The snowy peak of Osorno Volcano over Lake Llanquihue A rare still, clear day over Puntiagudo Volcano in the Chilean Lakes Mists drifting through the Alerce forests of southern Chile Jetty on Lago Villarica near Pucón Sitting at the top of Villarica Volcano, Pucón The white waters of the Trancura River, Chile The waterfalls of Saltos de Laja in Chile's lake district The Andes near Maule in Chile The vineyards of the Maule Valley Fishing communities of Chile's little visited Pacific coast Looking out from Colchagua Valley's vineyards towards the Andes Chilean flag