Vira Natura

Flowering Desert Special - Chile

29 September - 8 October 2022
From $4,850.00 per person

There has been rain in the Atacama this year and we are offering this flash tour to anyone wishing to experience a phenomena that only comes around every five years or so. Although, we will visit well known flowery locations (Chris counts himself fortunate to have seen this wonderful display) twice before), just what will be in flower and how much is unpredictable. With some certainty the displays around Vallenar will be spectacular and as will coastal locations as far as north as Antofagasta.  This is a unique and seldom offered tour. Remember it could well be 2027 when the next rain comes!

A 10-day tour with Chris Gardner


Because of the unusual nature of this tour we require all registration by 31 August 2022.




Day 1     Arrive Antofagasta

After arriving in Santiago, you will take an internal flight north to Antofagasta, where you will meet up with Chris. If we arrive in time then we can have a quick look at nearby La Chimba. Overnight Antofagasta

Day 2    Paposo

Our route south will take in areas to the south of Antofagasta and overnight at a simple guesthouse in Taltal. Expect to see the vivid pink Rhodophiala laeta, Alstroemeria violacea, Leucocoryne spp abundant Argylia radiata and more. Overnight Taltal.

Day 3     Pan de Azucar

A botanically rich national park with large cacti populations and there should be abundant Argyll radiate, showy blue Nolana rupestris, yellow Cistanthe littoralis, Cristaria spp, and more. The diminutive Eriosyce oederi occurs here, only revealing its’ whereabouts by its lovely pale yellow flowers. We will walk up to a fine view point along the coast and see big colonies of Copiapoa cinerea too. Overnight Copiapo.

Day 4      To Vallenar

We’ll take the back road to Llanos de Challe, passing big drifts of Cistanthe spp., Nolana acuminata, Rhodophiala bagnoldii, Alstroemeria violacea, the unusual yellow violet; Viola polyphylla and the big white bristly poppy Argemone huehmanniana. There are flat plains near Vallenar that have dazzling displays of Cistanthe longiscapa. Overnight Vallenar.

Day 5     Llanos de Challe

A full day on this superb area where the main target is the amazing Garra de Leon, Bomarea ovallei, an astonishing relative of the alstroemerias with big spherical heads of blood red flowers. This area also has amazing Copiapoa dealbata colonies, Aristolochia chilensis, masses of Rhodophiala bagnoldii, Zephyra elegans, Alstroemeria kingii, Leucocoryne narcissiflora, Lobelia polyphylla and rich more. Dunes near Huasco are a good site for slender Alstroemeria werdermanniana. Overnight Vallenar.

Day 6     Paso Chungungo

Taking a cross country route we’ll see varies displays en route to a low pass with Alstroemeria magnifica, A. philippii, A. schizanthoides and pink forms of A. diluta. Hidden among the rocks are the lovely little cactus Eriosyce heldreichiana too. Overnight La Serena.

Day 7     Andacollo

Inland the hills rise and we find various Leucocoryne, large flowered forms of Alstroemeria pulchra, Echinopsis chiloensis with big trumpet flowers. We’ll come down via Ovalle and stop at the petroglyphs if there is time. Nearby fields have abundant Schizanthus porrigens and stands of fiery Rhodophiala phycelloides are possible anywhere, whilst R. ananuca grows around the hotel. Overnight Socos.

Day 8     Fray Jorge & Mina Talca

The national park of Fray Jorge preserves a precious fragment of laurel forest nurtured by the frequent fogs. This are is good for Alstroemeria diluta. Nearby Mina Talca has many Puya chilensis which should be in flower with towering torches of yellow-green flowers, Alstroemeria magnifica, Leucocoryne purpurea and cliff tops covered in bushy white Ambrosia, blue Nolana and interesting cacti. Overnight Socos.

Day 9     Cuesta La Espina & Pichidangui

Hopefully the localised Placea amoena will have started flowering and unusual Tropaeolum hookeri should be in bloom with Calydorea ixioides and the unusual orchid Bipinnula fimbriata. With luck lovely Alstroemeria peregrina might have started flowering too, though it is early for this species. South of here the season will only just be starting. Overnight Santiago Airport.

Day 10    Flights

International return flights.

Tour cost

4850 USD (twin share)
Single supplement 600 USD

Group size: minimum 4; maximum 15


29 September - 8 October 2022 


Per person: 4850 USD

Single supplement: 600 USD


  • 9 nights of accommodation
  • All food
  • All ground transport (within specified airport pick-up/drop off times)
  • Guide services
  • Entry fees

Not included:

  • Flights (International & Domestic)
  • Travel/Medical Insurance
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks
  • Personal expenses
  • Other entry fees to museums, etc.


Minimum number of participants 4; maximum 15.  

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