I was invited to participate in a travel agent familiarization trip to Chile on behalf of Bear & Bear Travel, a Tzell Travel Group Affiliate.
Chile is a stunning county filled with friendly people and every type of geography, from snowcapped volcanoes to the driest desert in the world. LATAM flies direct from JFK to SCL and the Business cabin is spacious with new planes (although no wi-fi) and great lounges. Its important to note that connecting in SCL from an international flight to a connecting flight can be very busy and stressful though they are building a new terminal to fix this.
First stop was the fabulous AWA hotel in the lake region of Puerto Varas, architecturally stunning with views of Orsono Volcano from every room! You can travel from Chile to Argentina from here via a series of boat trips through the lakes.
Next stop was Santiago and the charming Singular hotel in the bohemian district of Lastarria. The rooftop bar is a nice touch as is the popular ice cream shop across the road!
Last stop was the marvelous Atacama desert. Alto Atacama is 10 minutes outside of town in a stunning location with great views. Stargazing at the hotel with an astronomer was a highlight! We saw Mars, Venus, Saturn & Jupiter in one (chilly) night. Since the altitude ranges from 9000 feet to 13000+ feet, do follow the advice of the knowledgeable guides on the order of your tours and do the more strenuous trips (i.e. the Geyser fields) on day 3 or 4.
My top tips are to pack plenty of layers as the temperature drops sharply at night and make sure you have shoes with good grips. Also, if you are obsessed by astronomy (like me) get an app that shows you the stars in the sky before going to Atacama. Ensure that you have plenty of storage space for photos as you will take 100s!