cactus-covered hillsides, Carrizal Bajo, Chile

Central Chile and Atacama - wild flowers, wildlife, wine and astronomy

We are heading back up along the north coast and to the Atacama desert, in search of wild flowers, while also visiting some of the astronomical observatories and fine wineries that Chile is famous for.

From Santiago, we will travel through the Mediterranean regions of Central Chile, enjoying some of the country’s finest wineries along the way, to the spectacular coastline, where we will explore the unique ‘lomas’ vegetation, rich in bulbs, cacti and other endemic plants.

The Atacama Desert has some of the most unusual and attractive landscapes on the planet, full of salt pans, geysers and ‘lunar landscapes’. It is by far the driest place on Earth, a sparsely populated plateau, extending from the coast of the Pacific to the high altiplano. Although the average width of the Atacama is less than 100 miles, it extends more than 600 miles south from the Peruvian border. To the east this barren landscape changes abruptly as it rises through the foothills of the Andes and becomes the impressive altiplano, with its alluvial salt basins (salars), snow-capped volcanoes and a surprising variety of wildlife, including three species of flamingo.

The dry, pollution-free atmosphere and high altitude makes this the perfect location for some of the world’s most important astronomical observatories, and we will visit of two of these cutting-edge scientific facilities. As well as the endemic plants, we will find a variety of birds and butterflies, reptiles and mammals along the way, from penguins and hummingbirds to herds of Vicuna and the characterful Vizcacha.

Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.

pink flowers of Alstroemeria pelegrina in Chile
Copiapoa serpentisulcata growing on sandy ground, Chile
two Andean Flamingos in evening light in Chile