Can't decide whether to partake in a hardcore bike holiday, or an elegant wine country affair? This Chile gay trip offers both, for an unforgettable taste of South America's wild west. We kick off with a couple days in wine country, then visit Atacama Desert - the driest place ON EARTH - with great bike rides and a trek thrown in. We'll also get a taste of Santiago, Chile's sensational urban center.
In 2015, Chile legalized same-sex civil unions lifting the nation one step higher on the list of gay travel destinations. Chile’s energetic capital city Santiago has been the epicenter for the country’s flourishing gay culture with a multitude of hotels, restaurants, bars, and adults-only places to visit.
Bellavista is known as Santiago’s bohemian quarter, with new hip restaurants, boutiques, and avant-garde galleries occupying loft spaces and lordly mansions that punctuate tree-lined streets awash with colorful antique homes. Nightlife explodes on the weekends in Santiago, so make sure you are well rested. Luckily, bar crawling is quite easy if you stay in the “gayborhood” of Bellavista. Many of the bars and clubs are on Bombero Núñez, a street which shines with colorful graffiti by day, and colorful Chilenos by night.
• Sample local brandy with a master distiller
• Taste some of Chile's finest vintages
• Cycle the country's acclaimed wine regions
• Trek unforgettable landscapes
• Stargaze from the driest place on Earth
• Visit Chile's largest salt flat
• Appreciate local wildlife at the National Flamingo Reserve & Moon Valley Nature Sanctuary
• Explore the El Tatio geysers
• Group leader from beginning to end of tour
• Professional, bilingual local guide
• Airconditioned vehicle
• Flights during tour from/to Santiago
• Arrival/Departure Transfers to/from accommodation booked through OUT Adventures
• 9 nights hotel
• Almost all meals (noted in itinerary)
• Tips at included restaurants
• Entrances Fees to Parks
• Transportation to/from the airport
• International Airfare
• Meals & Activities not mentioned in itinerary
• Optional activities
• Gratuities for Group Leader
• Gratuities for drivers, hotel staff, porters
• Visas required
Hola! Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, meet your guide and head to the hotel.
Chile's capital is a vibrant city full of character with thriving arts and culture, a trendy restaurant scene, and lively nightlife.
Tonight, as part of our complimentary Welcome Dinner, we'll sample pisco - a local brandy - with Master Distiller Rodrigo Bauzá. Rodrigo is the grandson of Pisco Bauzá, who founded the distillery in 1925.
Meet your guide after breakfast - we're off to Maipo Valley. Chile's second-oldest wine region is among the most traditional, hence its glorious Cabernet Sauvignon (the Carménère is also divine). Architecture fans and horse lovers will enjoy the setting at our first winery, which is transitioning to organic production.
Then we lunch at a fifth-generation family-run winery that honours the people, traditions, and environment of the Colchagua Valley (each wine must be unanimously approved by a five-member tasting panel). Today's final winery opened as a retirement project by a winemaker returning from life abroad in Canada. The visit begins with a carriage ride around the property and ends at a traditional bodega.
Our first day by bike features an area long celebrated for ripe and juicy reds. Even the region's Malbecs get noticed, though its traditionally an Argentinean varietal.
Our first stop is Chile's first winery dedicated to assemblage, aka blending. The architecture is avant garde; the equipment cutting edge. Lunch will be served at a winery that honours tradition while embracing innovation.
Our final stop was founded on one of the valley's oldest vineyards. Then, after an industrious day of wine and shine, we'll be driven to the hotel for dinner.
Today's Distance: 17.5 miles / 28 km. Pedaling Level: Moderate-Difficult.
Today we rest our weary legs and lean into the vintages. The first winery has won acclaim in local and international press since opening in 1993. For an unforgettable souvenir you can even blend, label, and cork your own bottle.
Up next is lunch at a winery owned by Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle (of Grand Marnier fame). It produces some of Chile's best values.
After a lovely day of devouring, dinner awaits at the hotel.
This morning we fly from Santiago to Calama, then transfer to San Pedro de Atacama (just over an hour away). Take the day to explore this oasis amidst the world's DRIEST desert.
At 4PM we visit the Moon Valley Nature Sanctuary in the nearby Salt Mountain Range.
We will also see Dinosaur and Death Valleys, then savour sunset aperitifs before a barbecue dinner.
Our 8-hour visit to Salar de Atacama, Chile's largest salt flat, begins early in the morning. First stop is the National Flamingo Reserve, where we can observe the James, Andean and Chilean varieties of the bird.
Then we continue to Altiplano, the high Andean plateau (max elevation 4,200 meters/13,780 feet above sea level), with a stop in Socaire village to acclimatize our bodies and photograph a small church. Crystal blue lagoons await; home to the parina, playero and horned crane among others.
On our way back we pass through Toconao, a small town whose inhabitants make a living through agriculture and handcrafts.
STAR GAZING: As the driest place on earth, the star gazing from Atacama Desert is second to none. Why not spend tonight observing splendid nebulas and constellations while hot cocoa and sweet snacks are served?
Today's bike ride brings us to lagoons north of the Atacama Saltpan. We'll float in Laguna Piedra, thanks to its salt-dense waters, then walk a few minutes to Cejar Lagoon for a box lunch.
In the afternoon we'll visit the most important sites of San Pedro de Atacama (it's considered Chile's archaeological capital): the Pukara of Quitor, a pre-Hispanic fortress built by the Atacameñans, and the hamlet of Tulor, the oldest settlement in the basin. We only can see about 3% of the village because the rest is buried under sand.
Today's Distance: 22.3 miles / 36 km round-trip. Pedaling Level: Moderate-Difficult.
Today we trek by foot for two hours, hitting 3,200 meters above sea level. It begins in the ancient Atacameñan village, Guatin, where old shepherds' and farmers' homes dot the land. Upriver along the Puritama, we discover how the riverbed is the ideal environment for a range of plants, like the Foxtail, Ojalar, Tikara and Cardon cactus.
The trek ends at the Puritama Thermal Springs. Be sure to unwind in the mineral-rich, 33°C (90° F) water while a symphony of birds like the Andean Ibis and Yellow-Finch serenade you. En route you'll also see Guatin Canyon, where a lukewarm stream flows.
Rise and shine extra early to explore the geysers, fumaroles and mud baths of some nearby geothermal fields at dawn.
After breakfast, dip into a rustic hot spring before we visit Machuca village.
Then we fly to Santiago (2hrs flight) for one last night in the city and our Farewell Dinner.
As the last day of our tour, there is nothing planned. Please confirm departure transfers with your trip leader, and safe travels home.