Chile self drive vacation, Patagonia, Torres del Paine & lakes
Spend 14 days careering through Chile on a self-drive vacation, discovering its most gorgeous national parks en route.
Santiago Lake District Temuco Pucón Valdivia Osorno volcano Petrohué Puerto Varas Puerto Montt Punta Arenas Torres del Paine National Park Lago Grey Possible extension to Santiago wine regions
Description of Chile self drive vacation, Patagonia, Torres del Paine & lakes
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) vacation so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.
PlanetYour vacation starts in the Chilean capital Santiago, a dynamic, multi-layered city at the foot of the snow-capped Andes, with a tight colonial core surrounded by elegant riverside suburbs, well-tended parks, dilapidated low-income quarters and industrial complexes.
While it is true that car hire is not the most responsible use of natural resources, it gives you freedom to travel independently, engage and interact with local people, get away from heavily trodden routes to stop and support local business such as artisan shops and smaller restaurants - all in all it can mean a smaller impact on the environment than that which you’d have traveling in a large group. With a few words of Spanish it can be an incredibly rewarding way to travel.
In the northern lake district you will have the privilege of visiting some of the most immaculate virgin landscapes in the country. The rugged, temperate rainforest-smothered hills, diverse flora and fauna, rivers and emerald lagoons constitute the attractions of visits to the area. Much of the region you’ll have the chance to explore has national park status.
In the south, this self-drive vacation visits the Torres del Paine National Park. The administrative body of this protected wilderness area of outstanding beauty, with its glacier-stubbed cobalt lakes, needle-sharp mountain peaks and wind-buffeted grassy plains, takes management of tourist visits extremely seriously. Torres del Paine gained national park status in 1959, and in 1978 was declared a UNESCO Biosphere reserve. Simply by paying the entrance fee to visit these parks you are helping contribute towards the preservation and conservation of these fragile regions.
PeopleAs is the case with all our private journeys, we adopt the services of locally recruited guides and drivers in each location in order to promote local employment. This also ensures that you have face to face contact with people who are intimately familiar with their environment and community, and have a vested interest in protecting it so as to ensure the future of tourism in their region. This will help to put a brake on the current tendency for people to leave their homes to seek work in the large urban centers, which harms the socio-economic viability of the countryside and smaller settlements and puts pressure on the infrastructure of the larger cities.
Where possible, your accommodation is in locally owned and operated properties, where the income filters through to the local community.
The majority of hotels used in this vacation are constructed in keeping with local architecture traditions. Your hotel in Santiago, Altiplanico Bellas Artes, was one of the first properties to open during the regeneration of the Lastarria neighbourhood of Chile’s capital city, occupying a restored mansion. Your hotel in Pucon is a family-run property. In Valdivia, enjoy a couple of nights in a simple but characterful riverside hotel faithful to the Germanic architectural heritage of the city.
You’ll stay for several days within Torres del Paine National Park itself. Low-rise Hotel Las Torres is one of the original pioneers of tourism in the Park its own organic garden, providing ingredients for the restaurant. Meat is also provided from their own livestock. The use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides on the property is not permitted.
Hotel Las Torres was founded by Croatian immigrant cattle farmers, and has retained its traditional ranch roots. The property has a declared principle “to share the warmth of the people and customs of Patagonia”. A number of baqueanos (cowboys) are employed locally to care for the horses, continuing the Patagonian traditions of horse and livestock raising. They accompany guests on riding excursions, wearing their traditional costumes. Locally recruited guides are trained by scientists and others employed by the hotel to increase their knowledge.