The Cacti of Chile – Cross Country Explorer Overview

Posted On: Dec 30, 2019

The Cacti of Chile – Cross Country Explorer Overview

A comprehensive tour for the cactus obsessed, this 13 day/12 night journey begins in Santiago and ends in Calama, Chile.

*Group Tour dates for 2021:

November 10th – 22nd. Price $4,320 All inclusive. See payment options below.

Featured plants:

More than 65 different Chilean cacti species! Including;

Copiapoa: cinerea, columna-alba, solaris, kranziana, scopulina, haseltoniana, montana, tenuissima, atacamensis, laui, dealbata, longistaminea, calderana, griseoviolacea, echinoides and more! Eriyosyce: aurata, esmeraldana, napina (+ various subspecies), odieri (+ various subspecies), subgibbosa (+ various subspecies), curvispina (+ various subspecies), senilis, villosa, chilensis, taltalensis + many more! Eulychnia: acida, breviflora, iquiquensis and castanea. Trichocereus: deserticola, coquimbanus and chiloensis. Echinopsis (various species). Miqueliopuntia miquelii. Oreocereus leucotrichus. Euphorbia lactiflua (Euphorbiaceae), Deuterocohnia chrysantha and various Puya species (Bromeliaceae), various bulbs from Amaryllidaceae, Bomarea (Leontochir) Ovallei (Alstroemeriaceae), Jubaea chilensis (Arecaceae) + more!

This morning we meet at your hotel in Santiago and venture into La Campana National Park. This is a diverse area where we find Eriosyce curvispina var. robusta, Echinopsis chiloensis, Puya berteroniana and alpestris subsp. zoellneri plus the spectacular Chilean Wine Palm – Jubaea chilensis! We trek through the park to a stunning lookout, finding refreshing waterfalls and an incredible vista of the park and Cerro La Campana (Bell Mountain), which Charles Darwin climbed in 1834. We then take a drive delving deep into the Andes to find beautiful golden Eriosyce aurata and curvispina variations in some dramatic settings! O/N Los Andes.

Today we take the coastal route to to Los Vilos. Expect to see lots of Echinopsis and Eriosyce species! You’re going to love seeing the showy Eriosyce chilensis and subgibbosa thrive on the coastal rocks! Not to mention more Puya and coastal succulents such as Cistanthe grandiflora. O/N Los Vilos.

Today we explore Valle del Encanto Natural Monument and various other locations on our way to La Serena. Valle del Encanto not only features ancient forests of Eulychnia and Echinopsis, but also has great examples of pre-Columbian petroglyphs! Trichocereus chiloensis ssp. skottsbergii, Eriosyce aurata, Puya berteroniana (Bromeliaceae) and various forms of Eriosyce curvispina and subgibbosa make appearances throughout the day. O/N La Serena.

This morning we set out to explore the Chanaral Valley and Huasco Valley to see over fourteen unique species of Copiapoa and Eriosyce! Some highlights being Eriosyce napina and the newly described Copiapoa corralensis and griseoviolacea. O/N Huasco.

Today we travel into to Llanos de Challe National Park, seeing everything from huge clumps of Copiapoa dealbata to the smallest subspecies of Eriosyce napina! We continue north to find more geophytic Eriosyce in some of the most barren areas of the Atacama Desert and interesting forms of Copiapoa before arriving in the coastal oasis of Bahia Inglesa. This area also showcases some of the most spectacular beaches (and cacti) in the country! O/N Bahia Inglesa.

Today we take the coastal route to Chañaral. On the way we explore a nearby monolith to find the biggest Copiapoa marginata you’ve seen in your life, to the small geophytic wonder which is Eriosyce oderi. We continue into to nearby valleys to see several forms of Copiapoa and then hunt again for another geophyte, Eriosyce oderi subs. krausii on our way north. We finish off the day by seeing Copiapoa hypogea and the southern form of C. cinerascens, plus a spectacular view of the Atacama coastline! O/N Chañaral

Today is one of our personal favourites and includes the picturesque locations including Pan de Azucar National Park and Cifuncho. We see classic Chilean cacti including Copiapoa cinerea subs. columna-alba, longistaminea, cinerascens, grandiflora, serpentisulcata and laui among many others. Eriosyce esmeraldana and odieri ssp. malleolata are special finds on the way too! O/N Taltal.

Today we will explore one of the most famous places in the world for cactus lovers – Taltal! We start of with a morning hike into a nearby valley to find Copiapoa kranziana, montana, cinerea, haseltoniana and of course more forms of Eriosyce! We will also find some other botanical gems in this area such as Euphorbia lactiflua (Euphorbiaceae) and Deuterocohnia chrysantha (Bromeliaceae). O/N Taltal.

Continuing north, we visit some more classic and enchanting places along the Atacama coast where cacti literally grow up to the oceans edge. We thoroughly explore the northern Taltal and Paposo areas to see various Copiapoa, including: solaris, ahremephiana, tenuissima, humilis, and cinerea ‘Albispina’. Eriosyce and Eulychnia species also make an appearance of course, as well as more incredibly large and thriving populations of Copiapoa haseltoniana/gigantea! O/N Antofagasta.

We begin today by driving along a spectacular peninsula north of Antofagasta. Here we will trek to see an incredibly intact but delicate ecosystem that relies on the formation of dense, stratocumulus cloud banks known locally as camanchaca. These places encompasses large populations of Copiapoa atacamensis together with Eriosyce recondita, Eulychnia iquiquensis and many other botanical wonders. This day trek has spectacular views the entire way! On our return to the city we visit La Portada, which is a spectacular coastal sedimentary rock formation and wildlife conservation area. We relax in Antofagasta afterwards to enjoy a well-deserved meal and drink! O/N Antofagasta.

Today we make the drive to San Pedro de Atacama and visit the spectacular Death valley and Moon Valley. We then visit Laguna Cejar, the Floating Lake, which is famous for its high salt content and is a great way to relax as you effortlessly float along the lagoons surface! We then make our way into the charming pueblo where we relax for the evening. Stargazing at night is also amazing here too! O/N San Pedro de Atacama.

This morning we have a worthwhile early rise to visit the El Tatio geyser field! We then explore some nearby valleys, showcasing Oreocereus leucotrichus, Echinopsis formosa and the impressive Echinopsis atacamensis which stand over 7 metres tall! We then make our way to the Puritama Thermal Springs which are also a great way to relax after exploring! This evening we celebrate the end of our journey together while enjoying the sights, sounds and traditional Andean food in San Pedro. O/N San Pedro de Atacama.

This is our final day and farewell which includes a transfer to the Calama Airport (CJC), Antofagasta Airport (ANF) or bus terminal.

What’s Included?

All private transportation, transfers and excursions. Bilingual English/Spanish speaking guide. Admission fees to all nature reserves. Accommodation on a twin/double basis. All breakfasts, box-lunches, dinners. Fresh water in the vehicle. Emergency supplies. All tour inclusions will begin from lunch on day one to breakfast on day thirteen. Your full time tour leader will be your primary contact, accompanying you from your arrival to departure.

What’s Not Included?

International/domestic airfares, airport taxes. Tips to guides, drivers, hotel & restaurant staff etc. Drinks with meals in restaurants. Personal travel and medical insurance. Anything not specified under “What’s included?”

Arrival and Departure

Santiago International Airport – SCL, Calama Airport – CJC. It is recommended that you arrive at least one day before your tour begins, however we accommodate any travel arrangements you have. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about our tours or need assistance with planning.


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Tour Details

  • Tour Interest: Cacti and flora
  • Tour Type and Mode: Overland, all inclusive
  • Tour Duration: 13 days - 12 nights
  • Tour Dates: Private tours run on request all year. Small Group Tour dates for 2021 (max 6 people): November 10th - 22nd. Price $4,320 USD All inclusive. See payment options.
  • Starts/Ends: Starts in Santiago, ends in Calama Chile
  • Difficulty: Moderate but can be adjusted depending on fitness level
  • Best time to Go: September - February to see the most cacti in flower
  • Price: Private tours based on group size. Larger groups reduce cost per person. Email or send us a message for pricing.
  • Objectives: