Chile is a country of incredible geographic diversity, flanked by the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean, and featuring the world’s driest desert in the north and the rural wonders of Patagonia in the south. So, for travellers seeking remote places to explore in a new world of social distancing, Chile has much to offer. In this quick guide, we pick out some of the best small group tours in Chile to explore its vibrant cities and most far-flung corners. We also take a look at why small group tours are an excellent option for travelling in a world adapting to new circumstances.

For more exploration in neighbouring countries and combined itineraries, see our recommended small group tours in South America.

This article contains links to tours we recommend, which we may make commission from at no extra cost to you.

Reasons for taking small group tours in Chile

A quick glance at a map shows why Chile’s conditions for travel are unique. A long and thin strip on South America’s Pacific coast, the country is over 4,000 kilometres long but averages only 180 kilometres in width. This setting brings some logistical challenges for travel, not least because of the long distances involved in getting around, and the rural landscapes found throughout the country.

Combine this with the new travel considerations in a post-pandemic world, with hygiene and safety standards more important than ever before. In this context, small group tours are an enticing option for getting the most out of a trip to Chile. Here some of the reasons why:

  • Large tours and independent travel both present safety and hygiene challenges, and the measures to address this can be disruptive and ineffective. Travelling in an organised, concentrated small group means most of the issues can be managed with minimal impact on the experience.
  • The logistics of planning a trip to Chile, especially a multi-stop itinerary, can be complex and time-consuming, especially given the safety factors to consider for accommodation and transport. Travelling with a reputable small tour company takes away the stress of this.
  • For social travellers looking to meet people and share experiences, small groups provide the perfect environment for balancing community with personal space.

Lisa and I (the Career Gappers team) have travelled to over 50 countries, and extensively throughout South America. We have taken many small group tours with different operators over the years, and learned a lot about what makes a good experience. As a result of this background, and our research into the new safety measures that operators are implementing, we recommend G Adventures for small group tours in Chile.

The team at G have worked carefully in the pandemic aftermath to adapt their tours to the new circumstances. As part of a ‘travel with confidence’ policy, they have introduced extensive measures to ensure safety and hygiene. This includes a training programme for staff, increased level of cleaning and sanitisation, assigned seating arrangements, and more.

Of course, the quality of experience is one of the biggest factors in choosing a tour company. It’s precisely because G Adventures have taken the time to implement these measures that we believe they will provide one of the most seamless travel experiences going forward. This is in addition to their long-standing approach of working with the most trusted and knowledgeable local guides. For example, read about how G’s guides gave us confidence and support throughout our Inca Trail tour.

Group sizes are another important factor. G caps sizes at 16, and average around 10–12. We think this is just about right to create a positive team dynamic while preserving everyone’s personal space.

Small group tour discounts

G Adventures is offering a 15% discount on selected tours for departures in May–July 2021. This is the case for several of those we pick out below. Check the details on the tour information page, and where applicable use the code G20GAA015ADV02 when prompted.

View all G Adventures tours in Chile

Small group tours in Chile: bucket list adventures

1.  Easter Island Independent Adventure

Small group tours in Chile Easter Island

At a glance:

  • Length: 4 days
  • Starts and ends: Hanga Roa
  • Highlights: exploring the beaches, volcanoes and legendary Moai statues of Easter Island
  • Physical difficulty level: light
  • Prices: view and book

Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, is one of the world’s most isolated civilisations, located in the Pacific Ocean some 3,600 kilometres off Chile’s coast. This G tour explores the island in depth, including the mysterious Moai statues. Find out more and see the full itinerary. You can also choose an upgraded tour with premium hotels and van transportation.

2.  Torres Del Paine W Trek

Lisa Torres Del Paine National Park

At a glance:

  • Length: 6 days
  • Starts and ends: Puerto Natales
  • Highlights: the classic hike in Torres Del Paine National Park, including Las Torres and Grey Glacier
  • Physical difficulty level: demanding
  • Prices: view and book

The Torres Del Paine W Trek is Chile’s most famous hiking route, and one of the world’s greatest treks. The trail meanders between the three prongs of Las Torres, the French Valley and Grey Glacier, with stops at sheltered campsites, and passing through mesmerising forests, granite towers and lakes along the way. Find out more and see the full itinerary.

3.  Torres Del Paine O Trek

Alex Lago Nordenskjold

At a glance:

  • Length: 11 days
  • Starts and ends: Puerto Natales
  • Highlights: the full circuit hike in Torres Del Paine, including a stay in G’s secret campsite
  • Physical difficulty level: challenging
  • Prices: view and book

A challenge for the most physically active hikers, the full circuit in Torres Del Paine (or the ‘O Trek’ as it is often called) is an extended route that loops around the north of the park in addition to the classic W Trek. G Adventures’ expert guides lead the way to the most stunning and remote sections of this celebrated national park. Find out more and see the full itinerary.

Small group tours in Chile: routes with other countries

4.  The scenic route: Lima to Buenos Aires

Small group tours in Chile Valle de la Luna

At a glance:

  • Length: 30 days
  • Starts and ends: Lima / Buenos Aires
  • Highlights: cross-continent route, Chile section including Atacama Desert, Valparaíso, Santiago and Pucón
  • Physical difficulty level: average
  • Prices: view and book

One of G’s most extensive South America itineraries, this mammoth journey weaves from Peru to Argentina over 30 days, absorbing Bolivia and Chile on the way. The Chile leg includes visits to Valle de la Luna in the Atacama Desert, the historic cities of Santiago and Valparaíso, and the lake district from the base of Pucón. Find out more and see the full itinerary.

5.  Highlights of Chile and Argentina

At a glance:

  • Length: 10 days
  • Starts and ends: Santiago / Buenos Aires
  • Highlights: Chile section includes cultural discovery in Santiago and Valparaíso, and rafting in Pucón
  • Physical difficulty level: light
  • Prices: view and book

One of two G tours focusing on Chile and Argentina, this option is designed for travellers who love getting active outdoors. The Chile section begins with exploration of the capital Santiago and cultural hub Valparaíso, before journeying south to the lake district for rafting in Pucón and a hike up Villarica volcano. Find out more and see the full itinerary.

6.  Explore Chile and Argentina

At a glance:

  • Length: 8 days
  • Starts and ends: Santiago / Buenos Aires
  • Highlights: Chile section includes an immersive day discovering the history and culture of Valparaíso
  • Physical difficulty level: light
  • Prices: view and book

The more laid-back option for exploring Chile and Argentina, this tour focuses more closely around the cities and their surroundings. It begins in Santiago before a day exploring the colourful coastal city of Valparaíso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has played a key role in Chile’s cultural and political history. Find out more and see the full itinerary.

For independent travel, see our guide to our recommended two-week Chile itinerary which also includes essential tips for travel in the country.

Several of the small group tours in Chile we have highlighted include free time for exploring the cities and towns. Find ideas on things to do in our articles on Santiago, Valparaíso and San Pedro de Atacama.

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Chile offers fabulous options for exploring remotely in a fun, safe environment. We pick out six of the best small group tours in Chile for your next trip. #chile #chiletours #chiletravel #visitchile #travelchile

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