Chile Self-drive: Santiago, The Lakes and Patagonia

Your 12-day trip through Chile visits the cosmopolitan capital of Santiago, travelling south through the Lake District and national reserves to Pucon and the shimmering lakes. Patagonia’s glaciers and national parks are the culmination in a trip that includes contrasting landscapes as diverse as waterfalls, steppes, granite towers and glacial lakes.


  • Dine on fine Chilean cuisine with a backdrop of the Andes in sophisticated Santiago
  • Drive from Temuco to Caracautin and visit the Malalcahuello National Reserve
  • Enjoy adventure activities on the shimmering blue lakes of the Lake District
  • View Patagonian glaciers up close on thrilling boat tours
  • Snap your own photographs of Torres del Paine’s famous trio of granite pillars
chile self drive holiday map



Day 1 – Arrive in Santiago

Take an overnight flight direct to Santiago with British Airways.

Day 2 – Discover Santiago

Santiago’s capital is the foodie epicentre of South America, packed with street-side cafés and upscale restaurants. Landing in the leafy capital in the morning you’ll check into your hotel and have a chance to refresh in one of the city’s bistros before you’re taken on a guided tour of the city.

Day 3 – Exploring the coast

Chile’s long, thin size means that it has an extensive coastline, and you’ll get to visit some of the country’s most vibrant coastal cities.Valparaiso is famous for its colourful, tumbledown houses – including Pablo Neruda’s former home, La Sebastiana. Explore the city by its network of steep funiculars before visiting the airy resort city of Viña del Mar and a winery on the return to Santiago.

Day 4 – Fly to Temuco

Fly to the city of Temuco, with its palm tree-filled plaza, and collect your hire car to begin your self-drive adventure. The industrial city was once the home of Pablo Neruda, who called it the ‘Wild West’.

Day 5 – Driveto Malalcahuello National Reserve

With the flexibility of your own car to navigate around the region, your day is free to explore Malalcahuello National Reserve at your own pace. The national reserve is made up of rolling volcanoes and craters, with a huge variety of plant life including ancient trees that thrive at high altitude. Trekking is a popular pastime year round, and in season you can ski on the side of the Lonquimay volcano.

Days 6-7 – Adventures in Pucon

Drive to Pucon on the shores of Villarrica Lake. Overlooked by snow-capped volcanoes and surrounded by diverse landscapes that range from temperate rainforest, hot springs and lakeside beaches, the area is an adventure tourism hotspot with hiking, rafting, kayaking and winter sports accessible to visitors. You’ll have two days to enjoy the outdoor pursuits and staggering scenery – we’d recommend the thundering waterfalls of Petrohue.

Day 8 – Visiting the Lake District

Chile’s Lake District can be found in the south of the country, amid the foothills of the Andes. Lake Llanquihue is one of the district’s most beautiful bodies of water, with vast, turquoise waters and volcanic black sand beaches.You’ll drive to Frutillar, on the shores of the lake, where you’ll stay amid the Alpine-style buildings.

Day 9 – Fly to Patagonia

Drop your car off at Puerto Montt airport, in the Lake District, for your flight to Punta Arenas on the Strait of Magellan: the gateway to Patagonia. From here you’ll transfer to Puerto Natales, which is the jumping off point for tours of the
Torres del Paine.

Day 10 – Explore the glaciers of Patagonia

Patagonia is a dramatic land of wild steppes, granite rock and freezing glaciers. Today you’ll explore the latter, visiting the toothpaste-blue Balmaceda Glacier, and neighbouring Serrano Glacier, before boarding Zodiac boats to head into the Torres del Paine National Park.

Day 11 – Uncovering Torres del Paine National Park

The most famous national park in South America covers almost 2,000 square kilometres, so make the most of your full day to explore. Sights not to be missed include the towering, horn-shaped granite pillars that give the park its name, grazing guanacos, golden stretches of pampas and glaciers which regularly cleave vibrant blue icebergs into azure lakes. Keep your camera handy – you’re going to need it!

Day 12 – Return flight

You’ll be taken to the airport for your flight home via Santiago.


For more information please contact us directly for a tailor-made travel quote.