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Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • All internal flights
  • All hotel/airport transfers
  • Local guides in Chile and Argentina
  • Good standard hotel accommodation on a twin share basis
  • Meals as shown in the detailed itinerary
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Carbon offset for clients taking our flight-inclusive option
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms micro fleece
  • The opportunity to attend one of our pre trip meets in the Cotswolds

Gentle Walking Atacama & Northern Argentina

Walking & Trekking

Argentina, Argentine Patagonia, Chile | Walking & Trekking

New for 2018
Gentle Walking Atacama & Northern Argentina
Gentle / Moderate

Gentle: Suitable for people who enjoy easy-paced walks or exploring the countryside on foot.

Moderate: Suitable for anyone who enjoys hill walking.

Find out more...

Grade: Gentle / Moderate ? Gentle / Moderate
Duration:  15 days from the UK


Land only from £4,250

Book now or call 01453 844400

Wonderful walking trails through the spectacular rock formations of the Atacama Desert, and the enchanting landscape of El Norte.

Highlights

  • Hike in Moon Valley and Rainbow Valley in Chile
  • Walk through stunning, multicoloured valleys and gorges in Argentina
  • See the dazzling Atacama Salt Flats
  • Sample some superb wines and traditional cuisine and enjoy a tango show

Reviews          

I was blown away by the beauty and variety of the Atacama Desert, its canyons, wildlife and plants. It really was not what I expected when I thought 'desert'.
L Noakes, Operations Manager

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What better way to start your holiday than in the famous Chilean wineries of the Maipo Valley, Chile. Flying north, you arrive in the somewhat drier environs of San Pedro de Atacama, one of the oldest and driest places on earth. The Atacama landscape is characterized by high altitude desert, volcanoes, salt lakes, lagoons, hot springs, strange rock formations and sand dunes. Famous natural landmarks include Licancabur Volcano, Valle de la Luna, the Tatio Geysers and the Atacama Salt Flat. Atacama also has a lot of indigenous culture and pre-Colombian archaeological relics which have been perfectly preserved by the dryness and minerals.

During your visit to the desert you will encounter some fantastic desert walking, exploring beautiful canyons and altiplano with far reaching views of snow-capped volcanoes. You will pass through Rainbow Valley to Yerbas Buenas with its famous prehistoric rock carvings, make a dramatic dawn visit to the third largest geyser site in the world, and learn about the surprising variety of flora and fauna that is found in this region.

The brilliant clear sky makes Atacama a famous place for star gazing and and you will enjoy a guided astronomical tour of one of the observatories near San Pedro. The low moisture content and lack of light pollution make this one of the best places in the world to view the night skies.

For the second half of your holiday you head across the border to the El Norte region of Argentina. The landscape here is truly extraordinary and we will explore hidden valleys, wind-sculpted canyons, glittering white salt flats and vivid striped gorges which resemble something out of a Hollywood western. You will enjoy walks to view the region’s scenic highlights as well as sampling some superb wines and discovering much of the local traditions, communities and history.

Your holiday concludes with a tango show and tour of beautiful Buenos Aires.


At a glance

Grade: Gentle / Moderate
Gentle / Moderate

Duration:  15 days from the UK

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 5 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Santiago

Accommodation types: Hotels

Meal arrangements: 12 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 7 dinners are included.

Itinerary overview
DayActivity
1-2
Fly to Santiago. Visit wineries in the Maipo Valley.
3
Fly to Calama in the Atacama region. Hike in Moon Valley.
4
Walks in Rainbow Valley and ebas Buenas.
5
Visit Salt Flats and San Pedro. Evening astronomy tour.
6-7
Walks at Taito Geysers, Copa Coya, Tulor Dunes and Gatchi Gorge.
8
Drive to Purmarmarca, Argentina, Walk at Salinas Grande Salt Flats.
9
Walk to a local community. Drive to Salta through the Yunga region.
10
drive to cafayate. Hike at Las Conchas Gorge.
11
Drive to Cachi and visit the Colome winery and James Turrell Museum.
12
Walk in the Cachi Adentro Valley. Visit the Obispo Gorge.
13
Fly to Buenos Aires. Tango show and dinner.
14-15
Fly overnight to London.

Gentle Walking Atacama & Northern Argentina Itinerary

  1. Day 1 - Fly London To Santiago

    Fly overnight from London to Santiago in Chile.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Overnight Flight London To Santiago
  2. Day 2 - Arrive Santiago, 520m/1,706ft. Transfer to Maipo Valley for tour of wine estate. Return to Santiago.

    Arrive in Santiago early in the morning. After passing through immigration you will be met by your guide and board the bus. Your luggage will go directly to your hotel whilst you enjoy an excursion into the famous Chilean wineries of the Maipo Valley. You will have the option to explore the Santa Rita winery by bike.This a great way to see the beautiful Maipo Valley and this renowned wine estate, at the same time as learning of its history and wine making practices. Of course you will get to sample some of the wines too!

    Lunch will be taken in a local restaurant during your tour. Returning to the bus you will be transferred to your hotel in Santiago in time for dinner.

    Note - If you do not wish to cycle this is not a problem.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Torre Mayor or Similar
  3. Day 3 - Fly to Calama. Drive to San Pedro 2,400m/7,874ft. Kari Canyon walk. 2 hours walk. Maximum altitude 2,550m/8,366ft.

    Upon arrival at Calama Airport, 2,299m/7,543ft, you are driven straight to San Pedro de Atacama, past the impressive rock formations of the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountains). Once in San Pedro you check into your hotel, where you can have a short rest before it's time for the first excursion in the vast desert ripples of Kari Canyon. You will drive 20 minutes to a viewpoint where you can look out over the majestic Cordillera de la Sal and the huge sand dunes leading to Kari Canyon. From here you will begin your moderate hike (3.5km, approx 2 hours) initially along a rocky plateau before dropping down a small rocky climb onto the magnificent sand dunes which you then walk along before descending into the Kari canyon. The canyon set at 2,550 m altitude, is an old dried riverbed with beautiful rock formations, grottos and caverns.

    At the bottom you meet you vehicle and after a short drive you will arrive at a lookout point where you will witness one of the world's most beautiful sunsets over Moon Valley, intensified by the warm colours of the sand dunes stretching out to the horizon.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Kimal San Pedro or Similar
  4. Day 4 - Walk the Rainbow Valley and Yerbas Buenas, 12kms, 3,100m/10,170ft.

    Today you will trek into one of the canyons and valleys of the desert. Following a short transfer you will start by crossing rocky, scrubby ground on a wide jeep track very rarely actually used by vehicles. After climbing a small hill the effort is rewarded by the fantastic view down into Rainbow Valley. This is aptly named due to its spectacular rocks and cliffs eroded into spiky shapes and in all shades and colours, including beautiful greens, purples, browns and blues. A place to linger and enjoy the marvels of nature. From here you transfer a short way past the village of Yerbas Buenas, 3,000m/9,840ft, and on to the site of the rock art.

    Here you will visit the site of some pre-Columbian ruins featuring over a thousand ancient stone carvings from the ancient "atacameño" people. They have been created over the time period from the first caravaners to the Incas. Your guide will be able to help interpret the meanings of the messages and drawings, which include local animals such as llamas and flamingos.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Kimal San Pedro or Similar
  5. Day 5 - Walk around Menique and Miscanti Lagoons, 4,200m/13,779ft - 1-2 hours. Visit Atacama Salt Flats. Evening astronomical visit.

    A drive of around 2 hours brings you to the lagoons of Miscanti and Meniques considered to be one of the undisputed highlights of the region. From the parking spot you are greeted by a spectacular mountainous landscape with high snowy peaks of over 5,000m surrounding the lagoons.

    These lagoons are home to a variety of local fauna and are full of turquoise which creates a truly incredible landscape, creating an unforgettable memory of the region. The mountains are reflected in the still waters as you walk down to the Miscanti lagoon. This is a protected area where the rare horned coot nests and you are only allowed to walk on the pathways. As you walk on to Miñiques you might see herds of Vicunas grazing on the clumps of yellow grass growing here, a particular favourite of these protected animals.

    You will continue in the vehicle to Laguna Chaxa, a national reservation in the middle of the Atacama Salt Flat, home to beautiful Chilean, Andean and the rare James flamingos. There are also many other wading birds e.g. avocets and plovers feeding here in these salt lakes. The salt flat measures 100km x 50km and the ground is in shades of grey/brown/white due to the salt crystals which have formed into twisted shapes. The salt grass growing here is the only plant which can exist in such a harsh environment. Walking from the information centre you can marvel at this unique landscape and beautiful bird life.

    On the return drive you may, if time, stop at Socaire, a small village with an interesting 200 year old church.

    Returning to San Pedro you will have time to relax and have dinner before being taken on a guided astronomical tour at one of the local observatories to view the stars and planets through one of the impressive telescopes. The tour starts with an introduction to the night sky by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide and you will then have the chance to gaze at the incredibly clear skies found here in the desert.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Kimal San Pedro or Similar
  6. Day 6 - Walk to Taito Geysers and Copa Coya, 4,500m/14,100ft - 5 hours.

    Today starts with a 1 hour 45 min and 100km drive to visit the celebrated Tatio Gesyers. These are some of the highest geysers in the world and it is the third-largest geyser site on Earth, with over 80 active geysers. By arriving just after the vast sunrise crowds have dispersed the Gesyers can be appreciated in sunlight at a more relaxed pace. It is also a more pleasant temperature, as situated at an altitude of 4,300 m it is a very chilly experience before sunrise! The geothermic field is truly incredible, from almost 900 meters below the earth, boiling steam bursts up to 40 meters above the surface of the earth. In this area it is typical to find wild vicuñas, an endangered Andean camelid that are highly protected in Chile and were rescued from the verge of extinction thirty years ago.

    From the geysers your walk will begin, lasting approximately 3 hours, towards a high Andean plateau with the same name as the trail - Copa Coya 4,500m/14,764ft.

    The puna played an important historical role centred around the llareta plant which was used traditionally for fires, although nowadays its slow growth means it's not a feasible fuel option. During the walk you will pass through typical Andean vegetation and maybe see some vizcachas, a small mammal similar to a chinchilla. Lunch will be taken along the trail with time to rest and enjoy the amazing surrounding views. The walk finishes with a steep uphill climb made worthwhile as it leads to a wonderful view of many Alto Loa villages which shows a different view of Atacama than normally experienced. The day ends by returning to the hotel at around 4pm.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Kimal San Pedro or Similar
  7. Day 7 - Archaeology hike at Tulor Dunes. Vilama river gorge walk.

    This morning you will leave your hotel on foot walking through the oasis of San Pedro until you reach Tulor village. The site, which has numerous circular adobe structures surrounded by a perimeter wall, was abandoned ca. A.D. 300 when the oasis dried up and dunes advanced. En route to this ancient village there are various archaeological artefacts which will help understand the Atacamenian lifestyle, both past and present. This area is not frequented by many tourists so you will be able to gain a more genuine insight into the culture. There is a small museum in the village well worth a visit for a small fee, the money going directly to the village. After lunch you will return to San Pedro for a few hours before, later in the afternoon, you take a walk along the canyon of the Vilama river. Here you will be able to see the Cardon Cactus famous for its outrageously slow growth, forget about the tortoise and the hare, this cactus takes 300 years to grow just 3 meters! There is also a wealth of other plant and wildlife to observe in this area.

    Return to San Pedro for your final evening in this remarkable part of Chile.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Kimal San Pedro or Similar
  8. Day 8 - Drive to Purmamarca, Argentina - 6 - 7 hours. Stop in Susque Village for lunch. Short walk at Salinas Grande salt flats.

    Please note that days 8 to 13 of this itinerary are subject to change.

    Today you will make the long drive across the border into Argentina. En route you will stop at the village of Susque where you will have lunch and meet your Argentinian guide and driver.

    You will then continue to Purmamarca and stretch your legs on a welcome short walk on the nearby Salinas Grandes - salt flats. You will spend the night in Purmamarca.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel La Comarca Or Similar, Purmamarca
  9. Day 9 - Walk to the village of Tumbaya - 5 hours. Drive south to Salta through the Yunga region.

    After the long drive yesterday, you will walk directly from your hotel in Purmamarca though Los Colorados, taking a local path to reach the community of Tumbaya. The walk is around 15 km long and will take approximately 5 hours to complete.

    In the afternoon, you will drive south to Salta along National Road 9. This route takes you through the Yunga region - one of the most verdant and picturesque regions of Salta.


    Overnight iconOvernight: Del Virrey Hotel Or Similar, Salta
  10. Day 10 - Drive to Cafayate. Hike at las Conchas Gorge. Afternoon winery visit.

    After breakfast, you'll depart for Cafayate wine country in the Calchaqui Valley. Along the way, once in the heart of the colorful Las Conchas gorge, you'll stop to embark on a 2 to 3 hour hike through this breaktaking Martian-esque landscape, walking from from La Yesera to El Paso.

    After lunch, and the end of your walk, you continue on to Cafayate, arriving in the afternoon, when you'll have the opportunity to visit one of the local wineries and sample some of the their superb wines. Most notably, you may taste-test the world famous Torrontes wine, a sublime varietal originating from the surrounding lands.

    Dinner will be taken tonight in a local restaurant.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Cafayate Or Similar, Salta
  11. Day 11 - Drive to Cachi through the Calchaquies Valley, visit Colome winery for lunch and James Turrell museum. Afternoon at leisure in Cachi

    There's a further opportunity today to taste some of the excellent local wines when you visit Colome winery. Located in the Calchaquies Valley, the winery is one of the most renowned in the area. Here you can sample wines and enjoy lunch.

    After lunch you will visit the James Turrell Museum which is also at the winery. This is the only museum in the world dedicated to the massive light installations of the American artist James Turrell. Both the Colome vineyard and the museum were created by Swiss tycoon and international winemaker, Donald Hess.

    You will then have the remainder of the day free to relax or explore the small Indian town of Cachi. You may enjoy a stroll round the town's lovely colonial main square, take a look round the chapel or drop into the small museum if open.

    Overnight iconOvernight: El Cortijo Hotel Or Similar, Cachi
  12. Day 12 - Hike in Cachi Adentro Valley. Return to Salta. Visit the Obispo Gorge in the Cardones National Park.

    This morning you will walk in the picturesque Cachi Adentro Valley following a trail that will take you to a local Indian community where you can take lunch with the local people. The walk will take around 3 hours to complete.

    After lunch you will return to Salta and visit Los Cardones National Park, famed for thousands of cacti which stand sentry here, and for the stunning Obispo Gorge. We'll enjoy views of the gorge and its 'Enchanted Valley'.

    This evening, you will dine at a local restaurant known as a 'Pena Folklorica'. Here, good food, wine and traditional music combine to make for a very enjoyable and entertaining evening.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Del Virrey Hotel Or Similar, Salta
  13. Day 13 - Fly Buenos Aires to London.

    Overnight iconOvernight: In flight
  14. Day 14 - Arrive London.


2018

DatesAvailabilityLand OnlyFlight Inclusive from
Sat 14 Apr - Sat 28 Apr 2018Available£4350 BookContact us
Sat 6 Oct - Sat 20 Oct 2018Available£4250 BookContact us

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No Surcharge Guarantee

No surcharges will be applied to your holiday after you book. Prices on this website are updated regularly. The Flight Inclusive holiday price, or Land Only holiday price, will be confirmed to you at the time you make your booking. There will be no surcharges after your booking has been confirmed.

Flight inclusive holidays

The 'flight inclusive' holiday prices shown on this website are based upon our preferred airlines and the best priced economy class fares we are able to secure at the time of publication.

We will be able to advise on fares with alternative airlines, upgrades to Business Class, and the options for flights from regional UK airports, please contact us for more details.

What’s included

  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • All internal flights
  • All hotel/airport transfers
  • Local guides in Chile and Argentina
  • Good standard hotel accommodation on a twin share basis
  • Meals as shown in the detailed itinerary
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Carbon offset for clients taking our flight-inclusive option
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms micro fleece
  • The opportunity to attend one of our pre trip meets in the Cotswolds

What’s not included

  • Meals not indicated on the itinerary
  • Tips
  • Personal spending
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees – if applicable
  • Any optional excursions


Review your holiday

Reviews

Read holiday reviews by Mountain Kingdoms travellers.

Overall score:           (Based on 1 reviews)

Atacama Desert          

I was blown away by the beauty and variety of the Atacama Desert, its canyons, wildlife and plants. It really was not what I expected when I thought 'desert'.


Extend your holiday

There are many ways you can extend your holiday with Mountain Kingdoms: book extra hotel nights, relax at a beautiful beach resort, take a warm-up trek, arrange a personal sightseeing tour or enjoy specialist activities such as rafting, birdwatching or a safari.

We're happy to suggest ideas, provide quotes and make all the arrangements. We can also assist with flight and hotel upgrades. Just call us on +44 (0)1453 844400 or email info@mountainkingdoms.com and we will be pleased to help.

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