Chile: Luxury & Private Trips
Stretching 2,700 miles like a ribbon along South America’s Pacific Coast, Chile is a kaleidoscope of landscapes. Within a land area measuring just larger than Texas and bookended by latitudes of 17° and 56°S, portraits of Chile are startlingly diverse: the Atacama Desert’s lunar landscapes; a volcano-peaked Lake District blanketed by primeval forest; wind-chilled fjords and glaciers of Patagonia.
Perhaps most remarkable is that it all fits into a country no wider than 150 miles at any point. To the east, the drumming Pacific Ocean; to the west, an imposing wall of Andes Mountains. The influence of Chile’s mountainous sawtooth spine imparts an isolation that has made it linguistically and culturally unique from its neighbors.
Blessed with natural wonders, a vibrant capital city, tantalizing wines, and world-class outdoor recreation, Chile appeals to active travelers, oenophiles, foodies, stargazers, road trippers, and photographers alike.
What is Chile best known for?
Chile offers so many ways to experience the country, from desert lodges to Patagonian eco-domes, cruising to hiking, refined vineyards to rugged steppe. We can’t emphasize the variety of experiences in Chile enough—it’s the perfect destination if you want to get out and explore.
Chile travel highlights
- Star gaze in the Atacama Desert
- Walk among the moai of Easter Island
- Board the teleférico (cable car) for a bird’s eye view of Santiago
- Sip wine in the shadow of the Andes in Chilean Wine Country
- Hike, fly-fish, mountain bike, or white-water raft in the Lake District
- Hang out in bohemian Valparaíso, a coastal enclave that’s inspired writers and poets.
- Kayak to the marble caves in northern Patagonia’s Aysén region
- Road trip the scenic Carretera Austral (“Southern Highway)
- Puma tracking or hiking to the Base de las Torres in Torres del Paine
- Cruise your way through the Chilean Fjords, spotting penguins and whales
- Visit Patagonia National Park, the newest of Chile’s 42 national parks
Take a deep dive, read: 15 of the Best Things to do in Chile
What to expect on a luxury trip to Chile
- Memorable luxury accommodations: From charming boutique hotels (Boutique Bidasoa and the Bauhaus-inspired Hotel Antumalal) to the rustic luxury of Hotel Awa and Mallin Colorado Ecolodge, and experiential all-inclusive hotels such as Explora and Tierra, Chile’s accommodations are anything but an afterthought. If you’re looking for over-the-top luxury properties enveloped by nature, look no further than Vina Vik and Awasi properties.
- Exclusive experiences: Every trip we design is bespoke; there are no copy-and-paste itineraries. Your luxury Chile trip will be as relaxing and slow-paced as you wish, or as active as your adrenaline levels can handle. You can expect private tours, classes or workshops, and excursions; we’ll even handle dinner reservations. Share your niche interests with your Chile travel specialist and we’ll do our best to unlock exclusive experiences with our golden concierge key.
- Seamless, worry-free travel: Chile is a long, mountainous country with cities and regions of fascination in the very north, the very south, and everywhere in between. There are some scenic drives, but for the most part, travelers will rely on domestic flights to travel between regions. Extraordinary Journeys will coordinate all connections and transfers so you can enjoy seamless, worry-free travel.
- 24/7 in-destination support: Our job doesn’t end when your boarding pass is printed. Extraordinary Journeys is always by your side—even while traveling. We have reliable boots-on-the-ground support and a 24/7 concierge just a phone call away.
Chile’s highlight-reel attractions include the Atacama Desert, Torres del Paine (Patagonia), and Easter Island.
Chile is among the safest countries to travel to in Latin America. When visiting any large city, exercise caution and situational awareness. Beyond Santiago, Chile is extremely safe.
Chile uses the Chilean peso. ATMs are available in major cities and towns, and credit cards are widely accepted. Keep some cash on hand for tipping and local markets.
In Chile, Spanish is spoken with a distinct accent. The dialect is full of “chilenismos,” words that are unique to Chileans, and it has its own distinctive rhythm, pronunciation, and lexicon. Guides and some hotel staff will speak English, while drivers and shop owners may speak limited English but enjoy trying to communicate with foreigners nonetheless.
Chile is 2,700 miles long. Visiting this long and narrow country requires some strategizing to explore its diversity of landscapes and experiences in an efficient way. Whether you’re flying to the extremities of Patagonia or taking it slow and traveling by car, an Extraordinary Journeys specialist can help you navigate the unique geography of Chile to make the most of your time.
Chile is blessed with remote tracts of pristine wilderness, but reaching them will require multi-hour travel. Between regions, you’ll take commercial domestic flights. In Patagonia and the Lake District, be prepared for some lengthy car rides. Prepare for road transfers anywhere from two to five hours long to enable you to visit some of these incredible corners of the country. (Don’t worry, we will coordinate it all!)
While Chile boasts incredible natural scenery, there are a few possible wildlife sightings to put on your list. Patagonia is revered as a nature lover’s ultimate playground, with its towering granite peaks, lakes, rivers and verdant forests home to over 500 species of wildlife. Guanaco, the llama’s southern cousin, appear in abundance in various areas of Patagonia all year long. There are several species of fox, the Patagonia Mara, a large and rather cute rodent and armadillos. Finally, you will have the chance to see the elusive Patagonian Puma, the most sought-after animal for most visitors to the Southern end of South America. The puma of Patagonia, once almost hunted to extinction, has made a phenomenal comeback in the last three decades thanks to safeguarding measures. Although sightings in the above-mentioned areas are not guaranteed they are not all that rare.
The bird life will also leave birders and non-birders alike excited, with a plethora of birds to spot. A few favorites are the Andean Condor, Chilean Flamingo, Darwin’s Rhea (a cousin of the Ostrich!), Magellanic Penguin (found at the very southern tip of the country) and the Southern Crested Caracara.
When is the best time to travel to Chile?
Peak season in Chile runs from late October to early April. We recommend visiting during South America’s fall and spring for the pleasant weather and thinner crowds.
It’s important to remember that Chile is in the Southern Hemisphere, so the seasons are opposite of those in North America, and the temperature can drop significantly as you travel south. The desert towns in the north are situated on a high plateau (more than 8,000 feet above sea level), but the rest of the country is nearly at sea level.
The North: North of Santiago (including the desert) and Easter Island are temperate and can be visited year-round.
Central Chile: The Lake District is lovely in Chile’s spring and fall. The region is warm from December to February, making it a popular vacation destination for Chileans during their summer months.
Patagonia: Fall and spring are best in Patagonia. Springtime begins in October, which is delightful: trees are blossoming, grass and shrubs are green, and sheep get sheared. Between March and April, there is less wind, and forests and grasslands begin flourishing with color. Cruises between Cape Horn and Ushuaia run between October and March, and penguins can be seen from October onward. The important thing to remember about Patagonia is that the weather changes quickly and frequently, so no matter the month, it’s possible to experience all four seasons in a single day.
Where to travel to in Chile
Since Chile is so diverse and spread out, most itineraries will run anywhere from six to 12 days long. Santiago will likely be your arrival city, with domestic connections departing from here. A typical luxury Chile itinerary might include the Atacama Desert, Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Lake District, Easter Island, and/or Aysén Region.
The Atacama Desert is a mesmerizing landscape of otherworldly beauty characterized by its vast stretches of arid terrain and curious geological formations. With clear skies and minimal light pollution, it’s one of the world’s top stargazing destinations, offering breathtaking views of the night sky. Celestial wonders aside, travelers can explore salt flats and visit bubbling geysers, petroglyphs, milky-colorful lagoons, and the enigmatic Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon). Adventure-seekers might enjoy sandboarding, off-roading, hiking, and floating in buoyant saline lagoons.
Santiago, Chile’s dynamic capital, captivates with its natural beauty, postcard-pretty architecture, and a buzzy social culture. Cradled by the Andes, a jaw-dropping panorama can be enjoyed from Cerro San Cristobal, while its historic heart showcases neoclassical gems like La Moneda Presidential Palace. Modern icons like the Sky Costanera and Titanium La Portada skyscrapers offer a contrasting narrative to the city’s colonial heritage. Spend time admiring art and antiquities in galleries and museums, nosh on small plates in trendy bistros, and people-watch in plazas and leafy parks.
Lake District & Chiloé
The charming Lake District is in an idyllic setting enveloped by snow-capped volcanoes and forests punctuated by monkey puzzle and ancient alerce trees. Home to seven national parks, emerald glacial lakes and threaded by wild rivers and wilderness trails, the area is a siren’s call to outdoor enthusiasts. Travel at your own pace—whether that’s a thrilling mountain bike descent along flowy single track or the leisurely amble of a trail ride on horseback through dreamy woodlands. Lake District is the ideal place to sink into a laidback luxury lodge with cozy amenities like outdoor fire pits and wood saunas.
Chilean Wine Country
Oenophiles’ palates will have traveled to Chile well before ever having their passports stamped. A major exporter of wine, Chilean wines grace the aisles of shops around the world. Sip vintages at the source on your luxury Chile trip to Wine Country. North and south of Santiago, you’ll find fertile growing regions like Casablanca, Colchagua, and Maipo. Harvest, during Austral fall (March and April), is an exciting time as vineyards jump into action. Luxe lodges, tastings in gorgeous cellars, farm-to-table dining, and slow, sunbaked picnics round out a visit to Chilean Wine Country.
Chile’s fjords stretch all the way to the country’s southernmost tip in Tierra del Fuego, a scarcely explored region that feels every bit the end of the world that it is. Cruising is the best way to appreciate this wild coast. On Zodiac excursions, you might spy caravans of migrating whales, penguin colonies, cormorant, and seals. Four-night, three-day cruises typically depart from Punta Arenas and finish in Ushuaia, Argentina.
The bohemian port town of Valparaíso is a charming stop filled with street art. Its vibrant buildings, fresh, pulled-fresh-from-the-ocean seafood, and steep hills accessible by a funicular are a must-see on your Chilean sojourn. The color bock city was also the home of the eccentric and legendary poet Pablo Neruda. A visit to his nautical-inspired home-turned-museum makes for a delightful afternoon.
Exciting and ambitious conservation efforts in Chilean Patagonia are reclaiming ranchland to reestablish wildlife corridors and rewild biodiversity. In partnership with the Tompkins Conservation, Chile joyously added a 42nd national park to its collection in 2018. The opportunity to experience the jaw-dropping wonder of Patagonia in an ethical, sustainable way has never been easier. Exquisite luxury eco-lodges are embracing local communities and engaging in conservation while offering all-inclusive, expert-guided, and tailormade excursions.
Torres Del Paine
Visitors to Torres del Paine National Park are awestruck by its famously rugged environs. Imagine, soaring granite peaks, glaciers, turquoise lakes, and pristine wilderness valleys. Its iconic landmarks include the three towering granite spires of the Torres del Paine, the massive Grey Glacier, and the serene Lago Nordenskjöld. Travelers can partake in a range of outdoor pursuits such as multi-night trekking along the renowned W Circuit, observing wildlife like guanacos and Andean condors, kayaking among icebergs, and softer activities like horseback riding and photography.
Aysén Region (northern Patagonia)
The Aysén Region captivates with its dramatic fjords, imposing glaciers, and lush forests. Visitors gravitate to highlights that include the marble caves of General Carrera Lake, Patagonia National Park, the snow-clad Northern Patagonian Ice Field, and the Carretera Austral (“Southern Highway”)—one of the most famous road trips in the world. Spend your time hiking, kayaking, multi-night trekking, wildlife watching, and fly fishing. Aysén’s outstanding beauty, shaped by its isolation, is a haven for travelers who want to feel as if they have Patagonia all to themselves. Read more about the Aysén Region best eco-lodges.
Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
Easter Island—Rapa Nui—is famous for its beguiling maoi (stone monoliths) and isolated location, but don’t discount its other merits. After all, it’s a subtropical island in the South Pacific Ocean! White sand beaches hemmed by warm, crystalline waters are framed by palm trees and a gently undulating volcanic landscape. On land, take it all in by bike or on foot. Offshore, board a marine safari by boat or peek underwater while snorkeling or scuba diving. Your Easter Island visit will be accompanied by knowledgeable guides who will explain the mysteries that vexed scientists for years. You’ll also meet indigenous Rapa Nui islanders who will share their culture and traditions.
Santiago is a significant hub within South America, so adding extra time in Peru, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia is straightforward. Additionally, there are many border crossings along the length of the country with Argentina. Onward travel to Antarctica is easy, too, with ships departing Punta Arenas and Ushuaia, Argentina.
Some of our favorite luxury Chile trip itineraries
Marvel at the mysterious Moai up-close and navigate the moon-like landscapes of the Atacama Desert
A Chilean blend of wine, lakes, and volcanoes
Wild Patagonia meets the lunar landscapes of the Atacama and lush wine valley of Millahue