QuarkExpeditions_ Essential Patagonia

Expedition Cruises to Chile

Discover Patagonia and more during an expedition cruise to Chile

Information about Chile

You can discover almost every climate and biome in South America by visiting just one country - Chile. This remarkably shaped country is over 2,600 miles long from north to south, and yet beverages only 110 miles across from west to east. Over its length, Chile encompasses some of the driest deserts in the world, lush subtropical forests, delightful Mediterranean climates, alpine conditions, and ice caps and glaciers!

As well as being geographically diverse, Chile is the world's most southerly country and the closest to Antarctica. It's also one of South America's most developed and economically and socially stable nations.

Chile is also a departure point for two of the world's most exotic destinations for travelers - Antarctica and the mysterious Easter Island with its remarkable carved heads. Also known as Rapa Nui, Easter Island is one of the world's most remote places, and this Chilean territory is over 1,300 miles from the nearest inhabited land and more than 2,000 miles from the Chilean mainland.

Chile is special for so many reasons, and it's one of our favorite South American destinations. Why not let our travel experts help you plan the perfect trip to Chile today?

Our trips to Chile

Pictures of Chile

pinguino rey
Santiago de Chile

Destinations you will visit in Chile

Time to travel in Chile

Chile is a land of extremes! As you would expect for a country that spans almost 40 degrees of latitude there’s no single “Chilean climate”. We’ll split the country up into 3 main sections to help you discover the best time to visit Chile.

Chilean Patagonia Unless you are ready to tackle vicious winds and biting cold temperatures, you’re best exploring the far south in the summer, which is November to February. You’ll also find that many of the best sites are closed or inaccessible in winter, which means high summer is also the peak time for tourists to Patagonia, so if you want to avoid the crowds you could make a late spring or early fall trip in October or March.

The weather is still unpredictable at any time of year, so pack layers and waterproofs even at the peak of summer. You can have rain, hail, winds, or bright sunshine at any time - and sometimes all together!

The Atacama and the salt flats This region boasts some of Chile’s most dramatic and beautiful landscapes. As well as volcanoes, stunning salt flats, and hot springs and geysers, this area is one of the driest anywhere on Earth. Some areas of the Atacama have had no rain for more than 400 years. Unlike Patagonia, this is one place where you probably won’t need your wet weather gear!

Daytime temperatures are constant all year round, although night temperatures often get below freezing during winter. Given the dry climate, there’s no snow to worry about. In summer, daytime highs are around the mid-70s, and the nights are cool, but usually not freezing. This makes ideal stargazing weather given the crystal clear desert skies. Bring warm layers.

Santiago and Valparaiso The capital Santiago and the port city of Valparaiso (the port city) are great to visit all year round, with moderate weather as you’d expect for the seasons. Whether you want to experience great wine and good food or some amazing skiing or snowboarding, just pick the season that suits your needs. We highly recommend a trip to Santiago in March and April - the leaves will just be turning and the famous wine festivals will be underway. You can also tour vineyards to watch the harvest, and then drink some of the last year’s vintage too!

Eat in Chile

Chilean cuisine is as diverse as the country itself. With the widest part of Chile being only 220 miles from its Pacific coast (and the average width of the whole country just over 100 miles) seafood and fish is a dominant part of the food culture here. The more mountainous regions and the dry Atacama have distinct regional specialties, with influences from both indigenous culture and later colonization.

Pebre This salsa is found everywhere. No self-respecting table goes without a bowl of Pebre! It’s made with chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, chilis, chives, garlic, coriander, oil, and vinegar, and it lends everything a deliciously spicy kick. You can often find it served with warm bread as an appetizer or a snack, as well as being a universal side dish.

Empanadas de Pino Chileans take their empanadas seriously! In comparison to those from other countries like Argentina, the empanadas you’ll find in Chile are giant! Our favorite recipe is filled with ground beef, boiled eggs, black olive, and raisins. You can find them both deep-fried and oven-baked. Seafood-filled empanadas are also delicious.

Porotos Granados This is a Chilean bean stew that’s very popular in the summer when all the ingredients can be freshly picked. Fresh beans are soaked overnight, and when combined with mashed corn and pumpkin with tomato, basil, and garlic it becomes a thick and tasty stew. The freshness of the ingredients and its filling nature make this a tasty and perfect one-bowl meal for a hungry traveler!

Sopapillas These delicious pumpkin fritters are a great street food snack that you can find all over Chile. Mashed up pumpkin is combined with flour and butter and formed into small circles which are then deep-fried. Sopapillas can be eaten as a savory snack (often topped with pebre) or they can have sugar added and made into a desert!

Cazuela de Mariscos This is a seafood stew made with whatever is fresh and tasty at the market that day. It’s unpretentious “home-style” cooking that’s tasty and filling, like a lot of Chilean food. Depending on the season you might find your stew contains shrimps, clams, or oysters and might also have fish. It’s made with stock using fresh local vegetables. You won’t find stews like this on the menu of expensive restaurants as they aren’t fancy enough but stop at any cafe or street food place the locals eat at and you’ll find a delicious bowl of Cazuela awaits!

Chorrillana If you want some simple comfort food to go with a cold beer you can’t do better than Chorrillana. This is a large plate of tender sliced beef served with fries that are smothered in fried eggs and fried onions. Healthy? No. Tasty? Yes! If you need a high-calorie meal to see you through the day’s adventures, then a plate of Chorrillana for lunch will see you through until well after dark!

Chile Highlights in Chile

There’s so much to see in Chile. Stunning natural history sits alongside fascinating human history. Subtropical jungle and grasslands in the north, and glaciers and ice floes in the south. We couldn’t possibly list everything Chile has to offer, but here a just a few special places that our South America experts recommend for your next visit to beautiful Chile.

La Luna Valley, San Pedro de Atacama You must visit the Atacama Desert. The sight of the sun slowly setting over this stunning region is one everyone should have. La Luna Valley in particular offers a remarkable vista over a lunar landscape formed over millennia by volcanic activity. Whatever you do, don’t forget to bring your camera.

Cerro Playa Ancha, Valparaíso This port city, built over a number of hills, is a work of art. Vintage funicular elevators can take you to the top of the hills, but we recommend the one up to the “Playa Ancha” viewpoint for the best city views. If you’re lucky enough to here for New Year you can witness the largest firework display in South America,

Volcán Villarrica, Zona de los Lagos The Villarrica volcano is not easy to reach. You’ll need to be in good shape to tackle the 6-hour ascent to the rim. But if you are good for the challenge you will be rewarded with the breathtaking sight of a seething cauldron of lava below you. If you can turn away from this fascinating (and a little frightening) sight you’ll be greeted with stunning views over the other volcanic cones and the Pucón lakes.

Patagonian boat trips The wild beauty of the Patagonian fjords and glaciers can only truly be appreciated on a boat trip. You can take day trips or even multi-day cruises to marvel at the power of ice to carve through rock, and where the glaciers meet the sea you might be lucky enough to see one calving a new iceberg.

Mirador de los Fósiles viewpoint, Puerto Guadal, Carretera Austral Visited on a guided trekking tour that lasts about 5 hours, this viewpoint is the climax of a visit to Carretera Austral. There are simply breathtaking views over Lake General Carrera, the San Lorenzo and San Valentín mountains, and the Hielo Norte. Another one where it would unforgivable to forget your camera!

Lake Pehoé, Parque Nacional Torres del Paine Probably one of the most photographed views in Chile. The dramatic mountain skyline of the Cuernos del Paine reflected in the turquoise waters of Lake Pehoe is an iconic sight. Take a ride on the catamaran that leaves twice a day to get the very best experience of the beauty of this place.

Mirador Cerro de la Cruz, Calle Fagnano, Punta Arenas Here in the southernmost town on the Chilean mainland, you can find a sheltered terrace with views over the town. There’s also a handy cafe which lets you shelter from the ever-present Patagonian wind if you need to! This is overlooking the famous Straits of Magellan, and you can see supply vessels for Antarctic bases as well as adventure cruise ships making their way to and from the open ocean here.

Reviews of Chile

Simone B. aus Burg


Es war eine tolle Reise von Nord nach Süd , einmal längst durchs Land. Den Anfang machte die unvergeßliche Atacamawüste, gefolgt von der ursprünglichen Insel Chiloe bis zum Nationalpark Torres del Paine. Der krönende Abschluss war die Schifffahrt an der Abruchkante des Grey Gletschers. Ein Lob an alle Busfahrer, Stadtführer und Guides. Die Reise war vom Veranstalter sehr gut organisiert. Das größte Lob gebührt unserer Reiseleiterin Kathrin, die uns jeden Wunsch von den Augen abgelesen hat. Durch sie waren wir in diesem fremden Land wohlbehütet. Viele vielen Dank, es war eine gelungende Reise und der Wettergott war uns auch hold. Für uns ist ein langgehegter Traum in Erfüllung gegangen.

Birgit B.


Eine außergewöhnliche, eindrucksvolle Reise von der Wüste bis zu den Gletschern ... Die Atacama-Wüste und der Torres del Paine-Nationalpark waren ein einmaliges Naturerlebnis. Die Städtetouren haben ebenfalls einen guten ersten Eindruck in das Leben und die kulturelle Vielfalt des Landes geben können. Die Reise war im Vorfeld perfekt organisiert. Wir waren in sehr schönen Hotels, mit sehr aufmerksamen und freundlichem Personal untergebracht. Die lokalen Tour Guides vor Ort waren ebenfalls alle super, sehr freundlich und haben uns ausführlich über die jeweilige location informiert. Unser Reiseleiter Maximiliano hat uns die ganze Reise über bestens betreut und informiert. Auch hat alles - vom Hotel Check-in über die Bus-Transfers, Ausflüge, Flüge, etc. - immer absolut reibungslos funktioniert. Als wir wegen der Corona-Krise die Reise leider vorzeitig abbrechen mussten, hat das ganze viventura-Team eine Riesenleistung vollbracht, dass wir alle wieder schnell und reibungslos nach Hause kommen konnten. Vielen Dank an alle dafür. Das war sicherlich nicht meine letzte Reise mit Viventura. Ich kann Viventura mit bestem Gewissen empfehlen. Daumen hoch, I like :-) und ich komme wieder!!!

Hans Joachim R.


Fantastische Reise durch fantastische Landschaften. Reiseablauf gut gesteigert. Perfekte Organisation durch unsere Reiseleiterin Erica, die sich mit großer Leidenschaft für die kleinen und großen Belange der Mitreisenden einsetzte. Perfekt! Die Unterkünfte waren durchweg in Ordnung. Kulinarisches Highlight: „El Boliche de Alberto“ in Bariloche! Persönliche Highlights: Perito Moreno, Laguna de los Tres und Laguna Azul Adrenalin Highlight: Cagliero mit Klettersteig und Adventure-Hängebrücke

Sabine M.


Für mich war es sowohl die erste Reise nach Südamerika als auch die erste Gruppenreise. Ein voller Erfolg! Jeder Tag hatte seinen eigenen Höhepunkt. Die Ziele und Aktivitäten waren sehr gut ausgesucht, dabei erhielten wir jedes Mal noch zusätzliche Informationen über lokale Reiseführer. Unter den vielen schönen Erlebnissen und Eindrücken sticht die Kreuzfahrt auf der Ventus Australis, eigentlich eine Reise in der Reise, nochmal hervor. Unser "Hauptgewinn" als Reisegruppe war unser Reiseleiter Pedro, der uns mit seiner sympatischen, klugen, empathischen und geduldigen Persönlichkeit durch die Naturwunder von drei Ländern führte.

Stephane C.


Ce circuit s'est merveilleusement bien déroulé accompagné par notre guide David. David est vraiment exceptionnel de gentillesse, sympathique et professionnel. Il a géré de manière tout à fait remarquable le problème de la grève des bagagistes à Buenos Aires en fin de circuit Patagonie pour le transfert vers l'extension à l'île de Pâques. Beaucoup de moments forts pendant ce circuit : la balade en vélo de Buenos Aires & la visite du quartier Isla Maciel et de la Recoleta, la découverte du canal du Beaggle, l'asado (barbecue) suivi de la soirée à Ushuaia, la traversée du détroit de Magellan, le parc Tores del Paine avec son Puma et son renard, la découverte et les navigations auprès des glaciers Grey et Perito Moreno, la randonnée vers le Fitz Roy, la soirée Tango et enfin les découvertes des chutes d'Iguaçu. En ce qui concerne l'extension à l'ïle de Pâques, je mentionnerais la découverte des Moais, Ahus et les volcans !!! Beaucoup beaucoup de superbes paysages. Que du positif ! Deuxième expérience avec Viventura et toujours aussi bien. Un régal, des guides accompagnateurs vraiment exceptionnels.

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