After a 14 hours flight, the trip starts with the most cosmopolite of the Chilean cities – Valparaiso – and its maze of chaotic alleyways. Proudly nestled in its forty-two Cerros, trendy suburb hooked on the hillside, the city discovered by the conquistadors has a bohemian mood to it. A multitude of funiculars and stairs open up to a panorama made of multicoloured houses. The surprising urban mural paintings, made by the students of the “Beaux-Arts” school, lead us to the cafes, restaurants and designers shops. It is at the heart of the historical town of Cerro Alegre, that stands the Relais & Châteaux Palacio Astoreca, a former Victorian palace. Following our stroll at the heart of this little pearl of a city, we leave for Calama, located in the extreme North of the country. Despite the flow of travellers, the birth place of the Atacama culture managed to keep its autochthones architecture in adobe, and the charm of his shopping streets. Although the Explora hotel is no longer the main hotel in San Pedro, the pioneer hotel continues to deliver and offers explorations with an unequalled expertise. Each night, the experienced guides, draw tomorrow’s journey on the glass table equipped with the area’s topography. If you like contrast, you must prolong your trip to visit the two neighbours : the Awasi and Alto Atacama hotels. For people looking for a friendly and intimate stay, the Relais & Châteaux Awasi is the federating hotel of San Pedro de Atacama, whose particularity is to offer some totally private explorations. The hotel only has 8 rooms built in a circular geometry, replicating the shape of the former shepherd’s houses. Alto Altacama, makes one with the Cordillera de la Sal and surprises with its organic fusion with the surrounding gorges and canyons landscapes. The numerous swimming pools which have been digged directly in earth, echo the famous Puritima, these hot geothermal water sources emerging from the Atacama Desert. At dawn, the activities start again with a range of playful expériences : tumble down, barefoot, the sand dunes of the Death Valley, admire the fumaroles of the geysers del Tatio or bike ride towards the Cejar lagoon. After a quick stop at the hotel Singular in Santiago de Chile, we speed up to Temuco, in the lake’s region. It is 25 km away from the active volcano Villarica, in one of the stronghold of the Mapuche culture, that we can enjoy the last stage of your Chilean journey. Pucon, former resort town for the Chilean upper middle class, is an inescapable rendezvous for the traveller in love with wild nature, indigenous culture and outdoor sports. As soon as you go through the doors of the Hacienda Vira Vira, you will feel the strong need to disconnect. A large family farm made of 22 suites and cottages, remarkably kept by the owner Michael & Claudia Paravicini, spans on a 23 hectares park. Here the days are spent between cooking classes, visit of the cheese factory on the estate, walks in the forest in the National Park Huerquehue or an unheard range of activities such as high level kayaking, horse riding in the mountains, fishing in the lake or the river, aerial walk in the canopy, and climbing for the adventurous kind. A precious place really hard to leave…
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