All the following operators are permanently based in Chile, though not all are Chilean. When phoning or faxing an operator from outside Chile, use the Chilean country code 56 as a prefix.
AlSur Expediciones (Del Salvador 100, Puerto Montt, tel./fax 065/232300, www.alsurexpeditions.com) operates tours and activities in the Andean lake district and specializes in Parque Pumalín, Douglas Tompkins’s private nature reserve.
Based in summer only at Dalcahue, on the Isla Grande de Chiloé, Altué Sea Kayaking has itineraries around the archipelago’s eastern shore. Their Santiago contact is Altué Active Travel (Encomenderos 83, Las Condes, Santiago, tel. 02/2332964, www.seakayakchile.com).
Antares Patagonia Adventure (Barros Arana 111, Puerto Natales, tel. 061/414611, www.antarespatagonia.com) operates activities-oriented trips to Patagonia—ice hiking, kayaking, and mountaineering—mostly but not exclusively in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Packages range from 4 days/3 nights to 13 days/12 nights for US$690–1,900 per person, depending on the number of clients. Its U.S. representative is Americas Travel (348 Hayes St., San Francisco, CA 94102-4421, tel. 415/703-9955, mdiaz [at] antarespatagonia [dot] com).
Atacama Desert Expeditions (Casilla 10, San Pedro de Atacama, tel. 055/851140, fax 055/851037) organizes all-inclusive, 3–6-day excursions, with accommodations at its Terrantai Lodge in San Pedro.
U.S./Peruvian-run Austral Adventures (Cochrane 432, Ancud, Chiloé, tel./fax 065/625977) offers custom boat tours from Ancud south to Parque Pumalín, as well as land-based programs on the Isla Grande de Chiloé. Full-day tours with bilingual guides in the vicinity of Ancud start around US$50–60, while six-day expeditions to Parque Pumalín, with gourmet meals, cost around US$1,540.
French-owned Azimut 360 (General Salvo 159, Providencia, Santiago, tel. 02/2351519, www.azimut360.com) offers Patagonian excursions ranging from traditional lake district trips to northern Patagonian ice fields and technical climbs of summits such as Aisén’s 4,058-meter Monte San Valentín.
Putre-based, U.S.-run Birding Altoandino (tel. 099/2826195, www.birdingaltoandino.com) conducts birding, botany, and even archaeological tours of the Norte Grande, with special options available for those who cannot or prefer not to deal with very high elevations. Operator Barbara Knapton has an exceptional library of Andean natural-history books at her Putre house, where her clients usually stay.
Campo Aventura (San Bernardo 318, Puerto Varas, tel./fax 065/232910, www.campoaventura.com) offers four-day, three-night horseback explorations of the spectacularly scenic Cochamó backcountry southeast of Puerto Varas, for US$370 per person, but shorter and longer options are possible.
German-run Casa Chueca (tel. 071/ 1970096, tel./fax 071/1970097, cellular 099/ 4190625 or 099/8371440, www.trekkingchile.com) organizes backcountry trips in the vicinity of Talca and Curicó, an area that gets fewer visitors than it deserves.
Santiago-based Cascada Expediciones (Don Carlos 3219, Las Condes, tel. 02/2329878, www.cascada.travel) offers activity-oriented excursions from the city and, during the summer season, trips farther afield to destinations such as Pucón, Futaleufú, San Pedro de Atacama, and Torres del Paine (where its domed EcoCamp is the most distinctive accommodations option).
October–April, Cruceros Australis (Av. Bosque Norte 0440, 11th floor, Las Condes, Santiago, tel. 02/4423110, www.australis.com) offers three-, four-, and seven-day cruises from Punta Arenas through southern Tierra del Fuego’s fjords to Ushuaia and Cape Horn on its twin luxury vessels Mare Australis and Via Australis. Rates change from low-season (October and April) to midseason (November–mid-December and all of March) and high-season (mid-December–February). Cruceros Australis also has offices in Miami (4014 Chase Ave., Ste. 202, Miami Beach, FL 33140, tel. 305/695-9618 or 877/678-3772).
September–May, Cruceros Marítimos Skorpios (Augusto Leguía 118, Las Condes, Santiago, tel. 02/2311030, www.skorpios.cl) operates small cruise ships (around 100 passengers) from Puerto Montt and Puerto Chacabuco to Laguna San Rafael, and from Puerto Natales to the fjords of the Campo de Hielo Sur, the southern continental ice field.
Explora Hotels (Américo Vespucio Sur 80, 5th floor, Las Condes, Santiago, tel. 02/2066060, www.explora.com) offers very expensive packages, ranging from three days to a week, at its magnificently sited hotel in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. It also has permanent facilities in San Pedro de Atacama and temporary quarters on Rapa Nui (Easter Island, where it’s building a large permanent facility). Both the latter have drawn considerable criticism for their impact on local communities and the environment.
In the Norte Chico east of Ovalle, German-operated Hacienda Los Andes (Correo Hurtado, tel. 053/691822, www.haciendalosandes.com) runs horseback and other excursions through a truly off-the-beaten-track part of the Andes. Rates for day trips run around US$25–95 per person, overnight excursions US$135–252 per person; these include transfers from either Ovalle or Vicuña. Four-day, three-night backcountry trips cost US$506 per person. B&B accommodations in colonial-style rooms are also available from US$35 per person.
Chile’s flagship airline also operates LAN Vacations (toll-free tel. 877/219-0345 in the United States, www.lanvacations.com), with individually crafted itineraries in its home country and other destinations that it serves.
Navimag Ferries (Av. El Bosque Norte 0440, Las Condes, 11th floor, tel. 02/4423120, fax 02/2035025, www.navimag.com) sails between the Patagonian town of Puerto Natales and the mainland city of Puerto Montt. While these are not cruises in the traditional sense, they are more than just transportation as they pass through Pacific Chile’s spectacular fjordlands. For details and fares, see their website and the Chile’s Inside Passage sidebar in the Sur Chico chapter.
Pachamama by Bus (Agustinas 2113, Santiago, tel. 02/6888018, www.pachamamabybus.com) is a weekly hop-on, hop-off backpackers’ bus between Santiago and San Pedro de Atacama (to the north) and Santiago and Puerto Montt (to the south), which visits and even stays at destinations such as Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar and Pichilemu. While it’s more expensive than regular buses, it has English-speaking guides, stops at roadside attractions, permits clients to stop over and board a subsequent bus at no additional charge, and has no time limit. Scheduled trips leave even with one passenger; the maximum is 13.
Patacam (Walker Martínez 845, Puerto Varas, tel. 0800/100333, www.patacam.com) resembles Pachamama by Bus, but works only the southern lake district, from Pucón south to Cucao, on the Isla Grande de Chiloé.
Patagonia Connection (Fidel Oteíza 1951, Oficina 1006, Providencia, Santiago, tel. 02/2256489) offers four-day, three-night to six-day, five-night packages based at its Termas de Puyuhuapi hot-springs resort in Aisén; these include a full-day catamaran excursion to Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael. Prices are lower in the fall and spring shoulder seasons than in the January–February summer peak.
Based in Puerto Montt, British-run Travellers (Bulnes 1009, tel./fax 065/262099, www.travellers.cl) is an experienced resource for the southernmost Sur Chico, setting up adventure travel excursions with the most reliable local operators.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition