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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
  • A single, timed group hotel/airport transfer at the start and end of the holiday
  • 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 (except for the transfer to the tango show on day 14 which will be on a shared coach)
  • 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  
Walks on: 9 days

Flight inclusive from £5,820,
Land only from £4,850

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

  • Enjoy superb walks to Moon Valley, Rainbow Valley and the Taito Geysers
  • Walk through stunning, multicoloured valleys and gorges in northern Argentina
  • See the dazzling Atacama Salt Flats
  • Discover ancient rock paintings and visit an observatory
  • Tour renowned wineries and take in a tango show in Buenos Aires

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'.
Liz Noakes, Operations Manager

The far north of Argentina is my idea of trekking heaven - amazing, truly colourful mountain scenery , warm friendly people and delicious wine!
Seraphina Berry, Reservations Manager

View All

What better way to start your holiday than in the famous Chilean wineries of the Maipo Valley. 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 fascinating 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 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 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 you 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 through the spectacular scenery, have the chance to sample some superb wines in the region’s celebrated wineries, share lunch with a local family and attend a traditional ‘Pena Folklorica’ on your last night - all the while discovering the traditions, culture and history of this absorbing region.

Your holiday concludes in the fabulous city of Buenos Aires with its engaging Latin spirit and cultural elegance.

 


At a glance

Grade: Gentle / Moderate
Gentle / Moderate

Duration:  15 days from the UK  
Walks on: 9 days

Max. Altitude: 4,500m/14,100ft, Copa Coya, day 6

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 4 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Santiago

Accommodation types: Hotels

Meal arrangements: 12 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 6 dinners are included (lunches may be a packed lunch or taken in a local restaurant/cafe).

Itinerary overview
Day Activity
1-2
Fly to Santiago. Group transfer from airport. Winery tour in the Maipo Valley.
3
Fly to Calama in the Atacama region. Hike in Moon Valley.
4
Walk in Rainbow Valley and to Yerbas Buenas.
5
Visit the Atacama Salt Flats. Evening astronomy tour.
6-7
Walks at Taito Geysers, Copa Coya, Tulor Dunes and Vilama Gorge.
8
Drive to Purmarmarca, Argentina. Walk at Salinas Grande Salt Flats en route.
9
Walk through Los Colorados. Drive to Salta.
10
Drive to cafayate through the Quebrada de las Conchas. Hike on the way in el Paso. Visit winery.
11
Drive to Cachi and visit the Colomé winery and James Turrell Museum.
12
Walk in the Cachi Adentro Valley. Drive to Salta.
13
Fly to Buenos Aires. City walking tour. Evening tango show and dinner.
14-15
Group transfer to airport. 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 3 - Hotel Torre Mayor or Similar

    This is a 4* modern hotel with a small roof top swimming pool, a restaurant, bar, and coffee shop. The building is 20 years old with tasteful décor and is well located in a tree lined boulevard.

  3. Day 4 - Fly to Calama and drive to San Pedro 2,400m/7,874ft. Kari Canyon walk - approximately 2 hours.

    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 amidst 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 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 dry riverbed with beautiful rock formations, grottos and caverns.

    At the bottom of Kari Canyon you meet your vehicle and after a short drive you 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 Poblado Kimal, San Pedro or Similar
  4. Day 5 - Walk the Rainbow Valley and Yerbas Buenas, 12kms, 3,100m/10,170ft.

    A short transfer takes you to the start of today's desert canyon walk. You start by crossing rocky, scrubby ground on a wide jeep track very rarely used by vehicles and then climb a small hill. Your efforts are rewarded by a fantastic view down into Rainbow Valley. The valley is aptly named due to the amazing colours of the eroded rocks that appear in all shades and colours, including beautiful greens, purples, browns and blues. It's a place to linger and enjoy one of the wonders of nature.

    From here you drive a short way past the village of Yerbas Buenas, 3,000m/9,840ft, to visit the site of some pre-Columbian ruins featuring over a thousand ancient stone carvings from the "atacameño" people. The paintings were created over the time period from the first caravaners to the Incas. Your guide will help interpret the meanings of the messages and drawings which include local animals such as llamas and flamingos.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Poblado Kimal, San Pedro or Similar
  5. Day 6 - 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 picture perfect lagoons create a truly incredible landscape, and you can see the surrounding mountains reflected in the beautiful still waters as you walk down to 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 vcuñas grazing on the clumps of yellow grass growing here, a particular favourite of these protected animals. Vicuñas are an endangered Andean camelid that are highly protected in Chile and were rescued from the verge of extinction thirty years ago.

    You will continue in the vehicle to Laguna Chaxa.This national reservation in the middle of the Atacama salt flat is home to beautiful Chilean, Andean and the rare James flamingos as well as many other wading birds such as avocets and plovers. The salt flat measures 100km x 50km and the ground appears in shades of grey, brown and 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 have time to enjoy the unique landscape and beautiful bird life.

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

    Returning to San Pedro you can 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 an expert and you will then have the chance to gaze at the incredibly clear skies found here in the desert.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Poblado Kimal, San Pedro or Similar
  6. Day 7 - Walk to Taito Geysers and Copa Coya, 4,500m/14,100ft - 3 hours.

    Today starts with a 2 hour drive to visit the celebrated Tatio Gesyers. This is the third-largest geyser site on Earth with over 80 active geysers, some of which are among the highest in the world when they erupt. By arriving just after sunrise, the vast crowds will have dispersed, the temperature will be warming up and the gesyers can be better appreciated, especially if there are blue skies emerging above. The geothermic field is truly incredible, from almost 900 meters below the ground boiling steam bursts up to 40 meters above the surface in an explosive display of nature's force.

    Your walk starts by heading from the geysers towards a high Andean plateau, or puna, with the same name as the trail - Copa Coya 4,500m/14,764ft. During the walk you will see some typical Andean flora and fauna such as the llareta plant, once used to fuel fires, and maybe some vizcachas, a small mammal similar to a chinchilla. Lunch will be taken along the trail with time to rest and enjoy the amazing views. After around 3 hours the walk finishes with a steep uphill climb made worthwhile by the expansive views of the Atacama dotted by small Alto Loa villages.

    You will return to your hotel in the late afternoon.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Poblado Kimal, San Pedro or Similar
  7. Day 8 - Archaeological walk at Tulor dunes in the morning. Afternoon walk along the Vilama river gorge.

    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 around A.D.300 when the oasis dried up and the dunes advanced. En route to this ancient village there are various archaeological artefacts which will help you understand the Atacamenian lifestyle, both past and present. There is a small museum in the village that is well worth a visit for a small fee - the money goes directly towards 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 Poblado Kimal, San Pedro or Similar
  8. Day 9 - Drive to Susques in Argentina. Stop for lunch then drive to Purmamarca along the Cuesta de Lipan, 3896m/12,782ft. Short walk en route at Salinas Grande salt flats.

    Today you will make the long drive across the border into Argentina. Your first stop will be at the border town of Susques where you will have lunch and meet your Argentinian guide and driver.

    You will then continue to Purmamarca and stretch your legs on the way on a welcome short walk at Las Salinas Grandes - the Great Salt Flats. Covering an area of 6,000 sq km/2,300 sq mi, at the foot of the Cordoba Mountains, the dazzling white salt provides an incredible contrast to the blue sky if it's on a clear day.

    The drive from Salinas Grandes to Purmamarca follows the spectacular Cuesta de Lipan highway which winds its way through beautiful mountain scenery and past eye-catching rock formations including, near the end of the drive, the aptly named Hill of Seven Colours.

    Arriving at Purmamarca, which sits at an altitude of 2,324m/7,625ft, there should be time to take a short walk above the town to enjoy the sight of the sun setting on the breathtaking landscape.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel La Comarca Or Similar, Purmamarca
  9. Day 10 - Walk from the village of Tumbaya, 2,820m/9252ft, to Purmamarca - 5 hours. Drive south to Salta through the Yunga region.

    A short 20 minute drive after breakfast takes you to Tumbaya for the start of today's walk. An ancient path leads past an old abandoned mine to the pass at 2,800m. From here you enter Los Colorados - a striking area of rock coloured in all shades of red which is at its most impressive and colourful in the morning light. The path through the rock eventually takes you back to Purmamarca. In total the walk is around 15km long with a height gain of 700m and takes approximately 5 hours. Lunch today will be a packed lunch.

    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. Your overnight stop is in the small town of Salta at an altitude of 1,190m/3,904ft.


    Overnight iconOvernight: Del Virrey Hotel Or Similar, Salta
  10. Day 11 - Drive to Cafayate. Hike at Las Conchas Gorge, 1,800m/5,906ft. Afternoon winery visit.

    It's an early start today to make the drive south from Salta to the Calchaqui Valley and the village of Cafayate. The route passes from the green tobacco producing towns of the Lerma Valley and into the breathtaking Quebrada de las Conchas - a region of weird and wonderful rock formations caused by wind and water erosion over many years. The different formations have been given various names that reflect their shapes and you will stop to see El Anfiteatro (the amphitheatre) and La Garganta del Diablo (the Devil's Throat). There are also panoramic views to be enjoyed across the Quebrada from the point known as Tres Cruces, the Three Crosses. You will enjoy a packed lunch today which may be taken during or after your walk.

    Your next stop is in La Yesera where you break your journey with a great two hour walk through a magnificent multi-hued gorge. After your walk, you return to your vehicle and drive to Cafayate where you will visit a celebrated winery, tour the bodega and have the option to taste the wares. If you opt for the winetasting (payable locally) be sure to try the Torrontés wine which is only produced in Argentina and for which the region is famed. At a height above sea level of 1,620m/5,249ft, Cafayate is known for the production of high altitude wines which have a higher alcohol and sugar content. Dinner will be taken tonight in a local restaurant in Cafayate.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Los Sauces Or Similar, Cafayate
  11. Day 12 - Drive to Cachi. Visit Colome winery and the James Turrell Museum.

    After breakfast you take to the road again heading north past the villages of Animana and San Carlos, also known for their wine production. En route you will pass through the Quebrada de Las Flechas, or the Gorge of Arros, famous for the arrow like shape of the towering rock fins which line the gorge. Following the course of the Calcahqui River you arrive at the colonial town of Molinos which used to be part of the Inca Trail. Though small, the town is full of history and culture and you will have a little time to stroll round its atmospheric streets.

    From Molinos you continue south to reach the Estancia Colomé which is a winery and also home to the James Turrell Museum. The museum is dedicated to the work of James Turrell, an American artist who is best known for his work with light and space. The estancia has an informative visitor centre and there will be time to tour the winery and enjoy lunch in its delightful restaurant. You will have the option to taste some of the wines (payable locally). After lunch you return north, passing Molinos again before entering El Camino de los Artesanos famous for its loom woven ponchos that are traditional to the region. You continue to Cachi, your final destination today, which is an attractive town with white houses, cobbled streets and a pleasant central plaza. The town is set at 2,531m/8,304ft.

    The rest of the day is at leisure and you may like to walk up to the town's small cemetery on top of a hill which offers great views of the surrounding area.

    Overnight iconOvernight: El Cortijo Hotel Or Similar, Cachi
  12. Day 13 - Walk in the Cachi Adentro Valley, 3,348m/10,984ft - 3 hours. Scenic drive to Salta. Dinner at a traditional ‘Pena Folklorica’.

    After breakfast you will enjoy a walk through the gorgeous green valley of Cachi Adentro. The trail crosses land rich with a variety of crops including alfalfa, paprika and corn. You will see how local farming communities work and their traditional methods of cultivation. After the walk, you will stop at a house for lunch with a local family where you will no doubt be served a delicious meal.

    In the afternoon you return to Salta. The road crosses the Parque Nacional Los Cardones reaching its highest point of 3,348m at Piedra del Molino; a stunning viewpoint. The road continues through the Obispo slope and the fertile Valle Encantado before entering the Quebrada de Escoipe where condors are often sighted. After the gorge you will enter the Valle de Lerma, known for its production of tobacco, and continue to Salta.

    This evening you have a special treat with dinner at a 'Pena Folklorica' where you can enjoy traditional live music with your meal.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Del Virrey Hotel Or Similar, Salta
  13. Day 14 - Transfer to Salta airport. Fly to Buenos Aires. Half day sightseeing tour. Evening dinner and tango show.

    After breakfast, you'll be transferred to Salta airport for your flight to Buenos Aires. On arrival you will be met by a city guide and taken to your hotel. You will then enjoy a tour of this fascinating city which combines European style with Latin American spirit. The tour will begin on foot, giving an introduction to the main cultural and historic sights in the city centre and San Telmo district. It will then continue by taxi or public transport (payable locally) to explore some of Buenos Aires' other key attractions and areas such as Caminito and Boca. The tour will last around 4 hours after which you return to your hotel.

    Your holiday concludes in style this evening with a dinner and tango show.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Patios De San Telmo Hotel Or Similar, Buenos Aires
  14. Day 15 - Transfer to International airport for flight to London.

    Depending on your flight time today, there may be time for some last minute shopping or sightseeing in Buenos Aires.

    There will be a single timed group transfer to the airport in good time for your overnight flight back to London.

    Overnight iconOvernight: In flight
  15. Day 16 - Arrive London.

Map

Map Key

  • AirportAirport
  • General point of interestPoint of interest
  • Mountain RangeMountain Peak
  • TrekDay walk in this area
  • FlightsFlights
  • Internal TransfersInternal Transfers
  • Trek routeTrek

2019

Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Sat 13 Apr - Sat 27 Apr 2019 Available£4850 Book£5820 Book
Sat 5 Oct - Sat 19 Oct 2019 Available£4850 BookContact us

2020

Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Sat 11 Apr - Sat 25 Apr 2020 AvailableContact usContact us

Hold your place

Not quite ready to book? Why not call us on 0044 (0)1453 844400 to hold a no obligation place while you make up your mind?

 
Insurance
  • Cover starts from £124
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
  • A single, timed group hotel/airport transfer at the start and end of the holiday
  • 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 (except for the transfer to the tango show on day 14 which will be on a shared coach)
  • 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
  • Drinks with meals
  • Tips
  • Personal spending
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees – if applicable
  • Any optional excursions
  • Any entrance fees and taxi/bus fares on the tour of Buenos Aires


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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