Chile and Argentina self drive vacation

“16 day road trip featuring short distances, free days and accommodation situated close to the national parks, lakes and coastline of Chile and Argentina.”


Santiago de Chile | Chilean Lake District | Puerto Varas | Carretera Austral coastal route | Ferry ride along the Leptepu Fjord | Free time to explore Pumalin National Park | Chaitén ghost town | Optional white water rafting in Futaleufú | Los Alerces National Park, Argentina | Artisan adventures in El Bolsón | Free day in Bariloche | Optional activities around Lake Villarrica, including: water skiing, horse riding, caving, fishing, and hot springs | Osorno, Chile |

Travel Team

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your vacation will help support conservation and local people.

In order to ensure we protect the environment and minimise our ecological footprint we have a recycling system in our UK office and use recycled ink cartridges. We also minimise our waste by limiting the number of vacation brochures we print. Instead, we refer customers to our online resources and send most of our vacation information via email.

We always recommend overland travel using local transportation as opposed to short domestic flights where possible, however due to the vast distances covered during this trip flying is unavoidable. To put it into perspective the journey from Santiago to Puerto Varas is over 1,000km. The rest of the trip involves traveling by hire car as opposed to flying.

Many of the accommodation options for this itinerary are locating in or near a national park, with a focus on sustainability. One example of this is the Cabañas Caleta Gonzalo in Pumalin national park. These log cabins are located in the park itself and constructed from local materials in a traditional style. There is also the option to camp here in a designated area, which prevents visitors from wild camping, providing them with disposal areas and facilities. This protects the delicate balance of the national park. The park also often hosts volunteers with an interest in areas such as organic gardening and reforestation.

We work with the Cumbres Puerto Varas hotel, which has a mission to raise awareness of environmental issues and aims to be a greener alternative. This mission includes using more environmentally friendly cleaning products, educating employees about recycling, and using switching to energy efficient light fixtures and computers.

Other hotels worth mentioning are:
. Hotel Patagonia in Pucon, who have taken inspiration from the Mapuche ethnic groups for their design, which encorporates local handicrafts and natural building materials.
. Las Escampada in El Bolson, which is a small, locally owned hotel, with a commitment to energy saving, recycling and reusing. They also arrange outdoor and nature-focused activities for guests.

The Impacts of this Trip

In order to ensure we have a positive impact on local economies and provide socially responsible vacations we only use local suppliers, which helps keep the money generated through tourism within local communities through employment of local guides and drivers.

We, where possible, use hotels with interesting historical significance, such as the Estancia 440 hotel in Puerto Varas, which is located within a traditional 1940's German wood house. We do this in order to help preserve the history and cultures of our destinations. Other similar hotels in this programme include the Hotel Patagonia in Pucon, whose decor and construction is inspired by the cultures of the Mapuche ethnic group, showcasing some of their local handicrafts.

Most hotels and accommodation options for this itinerary are locally owned, small establishments. This helps support local economies who rely on the small amount of tourism generated in their area. We include plenty of free time to allow customers to shop and do activities in the local areas, and we offer suggestions as to how to do so. An example of this is the lodge of Yelcho en la Patagonia, which is located in an extremely remote area that doesn't see much passing trade. Fishing is a popular activity here for tourists, and the lodge arranges these activities with local enthusiasts.

We also give customers more time in some of these remote towns, such as at the Plaza Esquel hotel, which is located in a small town with little infrastructure for tourism. The hotel is working to offer more activities so customers can stay longer and spend more money in the local community, including the use of a spa, skiing activities, and promoting sights of interest, such as the La Trochita steam train.

We always recommend locally-owned restaurants and hotels where possible, aiming to support local communities and give tourists the opportunity to ‘travel like a local’. We also provide customers with a list of recommended restaurants tailor-made to their destination and dietary requirements but with a focus on family-run restaurants.

We are a member of Sustainable Travel International, a leading not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting awareness, appreciation and respect for local people and the environment through education and outreach programmes.


2 Reviews of Chile and Argentina self drive vacation

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 31 Mar 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Conversing with the locals.
Experiencing different cultures and environments.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Pack an open mind, converse with the locals ( learning a bit of Spanish opens
so many doors). Plan a few rest days without activities to recharge .

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It certainly supported the local economy.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Fantastic experience and one we would love to repeat. The support from Dan
Clarke at the operator was brilliant. We will certainly use them and responsible travel again to help us find the perfect travel agency.

Reviewed on 28 Nov 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Torres del Paine and the drive to and from Argentine/Chile border which was absolutely wonderful

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Make sure (a) hotels are quiet and everything (inc. hot water) works and (b) where your room is

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Well it certainly put money in their pockets.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I won't star it, because is some ways first class, but in other ways not so. Let me explain. You were all really helpful, and that was mightily appreciated and yes I would use you again. But what checks/controls do you have over hotels? Do you know what sort of room your client will end up in? Ushuaia was simple, but everything worked, it was clean and quiet. Absolutely fine. Largo was wonderful, but because we had a super room, and everything worked....we could easily have been in one of the "Portakabins" which would have been with no view and gloomy. Cyan at Calafate was a complete disaster, one of the worst hotels we have ever stayed in. Dirty, noisy (very noisy- so much so that you moved us out for the last night to the Rochester which was excellent in every respect), and in a horrid location. Bariloche Huinid room was at the back of the hotel up against
a bank, very dark, and we were moved (eventually at no cost) after complaining to the reception to a terrific front room with a marvellous view. They actually were first class and so much so that the receptionist traveled to the airport on our last day to hand over my hearing aid which I had left behind. St Martin Hotel fine..again everything worked, decent view. Last night in Angostura Hotel was potentially fine with lakeside views, but again we were in a dark rather gloomy room at the back, and the whole night there was an infuriating buzzing noise, which I went down to reception to complain about at 2am. They could not
explain it, and the receptionist spoke in such a loud voice that I had to give up for fear of waking other guests. The buzz was even there when we went down to breakfast then mysteriously stopped. It was only in the hotel, but everywhere! This sort of hotel hassle is really extremely wearisome, so I do wonder what checks you have in place, and why you would have someone at the back of a hotel when there is a wonderful view at the front. If we go to South America again with you, there would be these sort of things that I would want guaranteed beforehand. One does want to have each day worrying about what the night holds for you. Have tried to send review but it won;'t send unless I give a star, so I have put an inbetween rating, but ignore it

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