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Freedom in ChileJune 3, 2009 By: Joe Pike, Jena Tesse Fox Travel Agent
There are tours and packages in South America to suit every kind of traveler, but if your client has an adventurous nature and would not be well served by a group tour, consider suggesting an independent vacation in Chile.
Patagonia's natural vistas include mountains, glaciers, lakes and wildlife
“Chile is typically a destination selected by seasoned travelers,” says Harry Dalgaard, president of Avanti Destinations. “[These] types of vacationers want the option to go places that interest them the most, to travel at their own pace and without the constraints of a group. Also, the vacation can be of any length and with virtually any departure date.
Monolithic statues at Ahu Nau Nau in th enorthern part of Easter Island in Chile
“We have seen consistent growth in our Chile programs over the past eight or nine years,” Dalgaard continues, noting that the destination has also received increased media attention during this time. “Until the most recent economic recession, we have been looking at a growth of 10 percent per year. We expect after the economy turns around somewhat, we will be at these levels again.”
Chile can also appeal to clients keeping an eye on their budget, with prices dropping in regions ideal for vacations. “In recent months,” Dalgaard says, “the greatest price reductions have been in areas around Patagonia—Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales. These areas provide spectacular scenery with majestic mountains, lakes, glaciers and an abundance of wildlife. Punta Arenas is at the foot of the Andes and is the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park.”
“The best way to experience an authentic visit to Chile is with an independent vacation,” Dalgaard believes—and Avanti offers plenty of these, with packages ranging from a wide selection of hotels in Santiago, Viña del Mar and Valparaiso. Wine-tasting tours of the Three Fertile Valleys, visits to Atacama, the Lake District and Southern Patagonia are also available and visitors can also explore Easter Island with extensions to their trips.
New for 2009 is Avanti’s six-day “Central Valley Self-Drive Tour,” which combines Santiago, the Wine Country and Valparaiso. It has a newly reduced price of $899 and includes one night in Santiago, two nights in the wine country and two nights in Valparaiso—plus an airport arrival transfer and a compact car for five days. (Make sure that your clients can drive manual transmission.)
Hotels in the Central Valley featured in this independent vacation are the Santa Cruz Plaza, a charming, first-class property; the Casa Silva, a boutique hotel in the restored farmhouse of one of Colchagua Valley’s oldest wineries; and the Casa Lapostolle, a small luxury hotel with impressive views of the valley.
The Vineyards of the Three Fertile Valleys package includes tastings at several popular wineries
In addition to the Central Valley self-drive, there are lots of other independent packages, including the Vineyards of the Three Fertile Valleys package, which is four days and starts at $1,677; the Atacama and Northern Chile package, which is also four days and starts at $1,391; the Lake District Crossing package is the same length and starts at $649; the four-day Torres del Paine package starts at $1,474; and the 13-day Ultimate Chile package is $2,954. Avanti’s Easter Island package, which also runs for four days, starts at $485.