Journey Northern Chile and Argentina

22 days - from € 3,975 per person

Driving - active - Andean mountains - nature - ancient civilizations​

During this trip you will discover the beautiful landscapes in the north of Chile and Argentina. From Santiago you will fly to the north of Chile, from where you will continue by rental car. You will discover the towns and nature parks in the north of Chile. Then it is time to cross the border as you travel in the direction north Argentina. The route will take you over a spectacular mountain pass, passing an altitude of 4,800 metres. After you have crossed the border, the surroundings will change again and you will even pass a salt plain. Here you will drive through a subtropical rainforest and visit a few typical Argentinian towns before you head back to Chile. 

Travel description

Day 1: Amsterdam - Santiago

Your unique journey through Chile and Argentina starts today. You will board your intercontinental flight in Amsterdam to the Chilean capital Santiago, where you will arrive the next morning.

Day 2: Santiago

You arrive in Santiago today. Upon arrival at the airport you will be welcomed by one of our local staff and taken to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure, where you can relax after your flight and/or get to know the city in advance. You will stay in the charming neighbourhood of Lastarria, the heart of the city of Santiago, with several restaurants and museums in the immediate vicinity. This district is synonymous with the pride and creativity of the inhabitants of this city.
Accommodation: Casa Bueras Boutique Hotel | bed & breakfast

Day 3: Santiago - Arica

You are flying to Arica today on a domestic flight. Upon arrival at Arica airport you will pick up your rental car and drive to your hotel (approx. 18 kilometres | 30-minute drive). Arica is located in the north of Chile, very close to the border with neighbouring Peru and is also called 'the city of eternal spring'.
Accommodation: Hotel Apacheta | bed & breakfast

Day 4: Arica

This day is at your leisure. Arica has a nice centre where you can take a look at the old train station where the line Arica - La Paz once left. Arica also has an interesting archaeological museum about the different ethnic groups that have populated the area over the centuries. Here you can also see the well-preserved Chinchorro mummies, which are older than the mummies from Egypt and therefore the oldest in the world, about 7,600 years old.
Accommodation: Hotel Apacheta | bed & breakfast

Day 5: Arica - Codpa valley

(approx. 120 km | 2-hour drive)
Today you will continue to your next destination, the Codpa valley. When you leave the town of Arica it is a must to visit El Morro, a steep slope, situated on the south side of the town. From here you can see part of the Azapa valley. The valley is framed by two hills and is separated by the San Jose river, which flows during the summer season.  It is a fertile and narrow oasis and due to the unique climate, a wide variety of fruit and vegetables can be grown here all year round. For example, the Azapa olive is grown here, known for its violet colour and bitter taste, which gives a firm oil.
Accommodation: Aruma Codpa lodge | bed & breakfast

Dag 6: Codpa vallei

This day is at your leisure. You will find yourself in a surprisingly green oasis in a deep gorge at an altitude of 1,850 metres. The village of Codpa is known for its church, fruit culture and its artisanal wine called Pintatani. From here you can visit the Surire salt lake and the surrounding national parks.
Accommodation: Aruma Codpa lodge | bed & breakfast

Day 7: Codpa valley - Putre

(approx. 160 km | 4.5-hour drive)
Today you get back in the car to drive a nice route from the Codpa valley to Putre. On the way you will pass the petroglyphs of Ofragía and some interesting little towns. Once arrived in the highland village of Putre, situated at an altitude of 3,600 metres above sea level, you will be amazed by the surrounding sights and the nearby snow-capped volcano peaks.
Accommodation: Hotel Qantati | bed & breakfast

Day 8: Putre

Today’s schedule is cleared, and you can plan various activities. For example, you can visit the national parks Las Vicuñas and Lauca. In these parks you will see large groups of guanacos, vicuñas (camelids) and ñandus (species of ostrich). The Lauca National Park has been added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites because of its spectacular landscapes, unique flora and fauna. You can also visit Lago Chungara, the highest lake in the world. We also recommend a visit to the village of Parinacota, situated in the national park Lauca at the foot of the volcano of the same name. This village is still authentic and the inhabitants will offer you their products such as hand-woven rugs and coca leaves.
Accommodation: Hotel Qantati | bed & breakfast

Day 9: Putre - Arica

(approx. 140 km | 2.5-hour drive)
Today you drive back to Arica. You can also choose to visit the Pukara de Copaquilla fort, where you can walk around on your own. Towards Arica, follow the road to Poconchile, where you can visit the San Gerónimo church, built in 1580, and the immense cemetery that goes with it. On the way to Arica you will enter the Lluta Valley and here you will see many traces of the ancient Inca route that ran from the coast to the highlands. During a stop in Rosario you can take the time to see the geoglyphs made by the Incas.
Accommodation: Hotel Apacheta | bed & breakfast

Day 10: Arica - Iquique

(approx. 315 km | 4.5-hour drive)
Today you will continue to Iquique, situated in the desert, on the coast. On the way you will pass some places that are worth a visit. For example the Cuevas de Anzota and the abandoned mining town (also called ghost town), Humberstone. The climate in Iquique is very pleasant and you can relax by the sea. Iquique has reinvented itself as a commercial centre. The hot springs and thermal baths attract visitors because of the mud baths and healing properties of these oases. The Andes mainly attracts many mountaineers, hikers and photographers. The city has many shops and a large shopping centre, as Iquique has a free trade zone and is tax free, shopping here is a good choice.
Accommodation: Hotel Hilton Garden Inn Iquique | bed & breakfast

Day 11: Iquique - San Pedro de Atacama

(approx. 490 km | 6.5-hour drive)
From the coast you drive through the driest desert in the world to the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Along the way take a look at Chiquicamata, one of the largest copper mines in the world. San Pedro de Atacama is a small oasis in this sometimes bizarre and vast landscape and lies at an altitude of about 2,500 metres. This village is an attractive base from which to discover the special surroundings. The Atacama desert is located in the northeast of Chile on the border with Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. This desert has an area of 105,000 km2.
Accommodation: Casa Solcor Boutique | bed & breakfast

Day 12 and 13: San Pedro de Atacama

There is plenty to do in this unique environment. Visit the El Tatio geysers with no less than 40 geysers and a large number of hot springs and mud pools. At sunrise these hot springs are at their best. You can also visit the Atacama salt plains, which were created millions of years ago when huge inland seas dried up. Furthermore, visiting the Valley of the Moon is also more than worthwhile. This valley dates from between 250 and 200 million years ago, when all continents were still united. Now you will discover different rock formations, in which different familiar figures. Because of the constant erosion, new palaeontological discoveries are made all the time. Various dinosaur species, reptiles and plants from times long gone have been found here almost intact. This makes the Valle de la Luna one of the most important palaeontological sites in the world. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Accommodation: Casa Solcor Boutique | bed & breakfast

Day 14: San Pedro de Atacama - Purmamarca

(410 km | 5.5-hour drive)
Today your trip by rental car will continue and you will leave Chile, crossing the border with Argentina, to the town of Purmamarca. The route you will take today is without a doubt one of the most spectacular routes in South America. Just outside San Pedro, the road quickly climbs up. The landscape is impressive. You will pass majestic volcanic peaks and small mountain lakes, where large swarms of flamingos and groups of vicuñas gather to feed. When you arrive at the Chilean/Argentinean border, you have passed an altitude of over 4,800 metres. In Argentina the landscape changes again and on your way to Purmamarca you will pass the Salinas Grandes, a huge salt lake. Purmamarca lies at the foot of the 'Cerro de Siete Colores', the impressive mountain that actually has 7 colours. The colours in the rocks are caused by oxidation of the different minerals in the soil. It is a perfect place to acclimatise this day and get used to the peace and space that the far north of Argentina offers.
Accommodation: Hotel Manantial del Silencio | bed & breakfast

Day 15: Purmamarca

This day gives you the opportunity to explore Purmamarca and its surroundings. For example, visit the central square where many products are traded; ponchos, rugs and souvenirs or the little church of Iglesia Santa Rosa de Lima. But you can also visit the more northerly town of Humahuaca and drive to Abra Pampa via route 9. During this tour you will drive through an impressive plateau landscape and you will reach the salt plain.
Accommodation: Hotel Manantial del Silencio | bed & breakfast

Day 16: Purmamarca - Salta

(approx. 198 km | 3-hour drive)
Today you will drive to Salta. This route takes you through a beautiful subtropical rainforest. The route is well paved, but it is a very narrow road, with many curves so take your time. However, the route is beautiful and along the way you will certainly find places to stop, so you can enjoy the overwhelming nature at your leisure. Eventually you will stay in a rustic 'finca' just outside Salta. Situated on the green foothills of the northwestern Andes Mountains. The owners Valentina and Fabrizio came from Italy to Argentina in 2006 to make their dream come true. Here you can hike, go horseback riding and enjoy a traditional 'parilla' with a good glass of wine. In the beautiful garden there is an unheated swimming pool. From here you can enjoy the majestic view of the mountains.
Accommodation: Finca Valentina | bed & breakfast

Day 17: Salta

This day is at your leisure. Salta in Quechua, the language of the Incas, means 'very beautiful' and the province certainly lives up to this name. The region has beautiful canyon landscapes with multicoloured mountains, but also highlands (punas) with metre-high cacti. Salta is a beautiful colonial city with an attractive central square, the Plaza de Armas, which is also home to a number of good restaurants. You can visit the most important sights of Salta, such as the cathedral, the San Francisco church and the San Bernardo mountain, from where you have a great view over the city. You can also choose to explore the wine region around nearby Cafayate and take part in a wine tasting.
Accommodation: Finca Valentina | bed & breakfast

Day 18: Salta - San Antonio de los Cobres

(approx. 170 km | 3-hour drive)
Today you will continue your journey to San Antonio de los Cobres. You will again travel in the direction of Chile, spending one more night in San Antonio de los Cobres before crossing the border. San Antonio de los Cobres is a native mountain village, where the pre-Columbian culture is well preserved. 
Accommodation: Hotel De las Nubes | bed & breakfast

Day 19: San Antonio de los Cobres - San Pedro de Atacama

(approx. 350 km | 5-hour drive)
After breakfast you will leave for the Chilean town of San Pedro de Atacama. Again you will pass the salt plain Salinas Grande and travel through the spectacular plateau landscape, which, this time, you will see from the other side. In San Pedro de Atacama you can visit the Padre le Paige museum. The museum has a large collection of mummies and is more than worth a visit. 
Accommodation: Casa Solcor Boutique | bed & breakfast

Day 20: San Pedro de Atacama - Calama - Santiago

Today you drive to Calama airport (approx. 100 km | 1.5-hour drive), where you will return your rental car. Here you will board your domestic flight to Santiago. Upon arrival at the airport one of our local staff will take you to your hotel. You will stay another night in Santiago before you travel back to the Netherlands the next day.
Accommodation: Casa Bueras Boutique Hotel | bed & breakfast

Day 21: Santiago - Amsterdam

Your journey through northern Chile and Argentina comes to an end this day. You will be picked up at your hotel and taken to Santiago airport, where you will board your intercontinental night flight to Amsterdam.

Day 22: Amsterdam

You arrive in Amsterdam today.

Travel sum

From € 3,975 per person

  • Based on 2 persons travelling together
  • Depending on the time of booking, availability of local flights, availability of accommodation and period of travel

Included:

  • domestic flights, economy class
  • 19 nights in a hotel, meals as stated
  • 18 days rental car (Cat. G: Toyota RAV 4 or similar alternative) incl. insurance from Arica with drop-off in Calama.
  • all transfers as stated
  • 24/7 our backup; locally and in the Netherlands
  • Comprehensive travel document package with small attention

Not included:

  • international flights, if desired we can reserve these for you
  • early check-in / late check-out, based on availability this is sometimes given by the hotel. If you want to be sure you have this, please enquire about the surcharge.
  • (Dutch) public contribution Calamity fund; € 2.50 per booking
  • travel and cancellation insurance

Request travel proposal

Do you also want to make this trip? We can naturally arrange the above trip for you, but we are also happy to put together a programme based on your wishes and ideas. Feel free to contact us. Call +31 73 610 62 04, send an email to info@sapapanatravel.nl or request a tailor-made offer below. We are happy to help.

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