Alpaca Your Bags to Flamingle and Chile

Trip Region: South America
Country(ies): Chile
Partners Trek? Yes
Cost: $2343
Airfare Estimate: $1000
Structure:   •   Lodging:   •   Nightlife: 5   •   Activity: 8

Are you ready for a bold, spicy trip, with notes of salt, sand, and adventure?  We’re headed to Chile to experience the best the country has to offer! We’ll start in Santiago, exploring the city and the beautiful surrounding area. We’ll visit stunning wineries in the Maipo Valley, wander around “The Jewel of the Pacific”, Valparaiso, and do some more wine tasting in the Casablanca Valley before we head north, where adventure awaits in the Atacama desert! We’ll head to San Pedro de Atacama to soak in volcanic hot springs, take a quad buggy tour, hang out at a flamingo preserve, and do some late-night stargazing.  We’ll return to Santiago for one last dinner and night on the town before we head back to Ann Arbor.  If you’re looking for the perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, and quality time with your new MBA best friends, this is the trip for you!

Day 1 — Sunday, Aug 16

Welcome to Santiago! We’ll gather together at our hotel to meet our guides and get all the need-to-know information before we begin our adventures. We’ll have dinner and then rest up for our first full day.

Day 2 — Monday, Aug 17

Today, we get to know the city of Santiago! We’ll start at the Mercado Central and La Vega markets to learn all about local flavors and ingredients. We’ll then put our new-found knowledge to use during a culinary workshop, creating several delicious Chilean dishes. At the end of the class, we’ll feast to fuel up before our afternoon walking tour of the city. We’ll visit many of the most famous sites including the Plaza de Armas and Cerra Santa Lucia, the hill on which Santiago was founded in 1541 with panoramic views of the city and the Andes mountains. We’ll end the day with our official Welcome Dinner.

Day 3 — Tuesday, Aug 18

Winemakers in the Maipo Valley take advantage of the excellent weather conditions between the foothills of the Andes Mountains and the coast to grow grapes that become the finest wines in Chile. We’ll hone our sommelier skills by visiting two wineries along the Maipo River in the valley. We’ll enjoy lunch in the area before heading back to Santiago for a free evening of leisurely dining and exploring.

Day 4 — Wednesday, Aug 19

We’re off to the Pacific coast! On the way, we’ll stop at Emiliana winery in the Casablanca Valley for a premium wine tasting while making friends with local alpacas. We’ll continue onto Valparaiso, a stunning and colorful coastal city. The historic quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its unique architecture and design. We’ll wander the town full of galleries, cafes, museums, and breweries, and spend the night just blocks from the old city’s port.

Day 5 — Thursday, Aug 20

Today we’ll say goodbye to Valparaiso and fly north to San Pedro de Atacama, our base for the next three days. After getting settled, we’ll see the Salt Mountain range and the Moon Valley, an otherworldly landscape of craggy peaks and canyons. We’ll hike the area and stay until sunset, where the desert lights up with red, orange and purple hues.

Day 6 — Friday, Aug 21

Have you ever imagined yourself driving through wind-carved canyons, in the driest desert on earth, on your way to an unbelievably beautiful lagoon? If so, today is for you! We’ll take 4WD ATVs and Buggies on a desert tour, ending in a salt-lagoon where you can float like a cork. In the afternoon we’ll visit the desert oasis of Tocanao town, see the birds of the Flamingo National Preservation, and watch the sunset reflect off the mirror-like surface of the Atacama Salt Flats.

Day 7 — Saturday, Aug 22

We start our day hiking in the Guatin area, renowned for its natural beauty. The hike will include a visit to the Puritama canyon and hot springs, where we can relax in 90° water as local birdlife sings around us. After dinner in San Pedro de Atacama, we’ll venture back out to the desert for an Astronomy Tour. The Atacama is one of the best locations on earth for stargazing, and we’ll observe the Milky Way and various constellations with warm drinks before returning home.

Day 8 — Sunday, Aug 23

Today, we bid farewell to the Atacama and fly back to Santiago. You’ll have the afternoon free before having our final dinner together as a group, reflecting on all the fun we’ve had, before exploring more of Santiago’s nightlife.

Day 9 — Monday, Aug 24

Today we head back to Ann Arbor with great memories, new friendships, and stomachs full of empanadas and terremotos!