One of the most geographically distinct countries in the world Chile stretches over 2,600 miles North-South and yet averages only about 110 miles East-West. Flanked on the East by the highest peaks of the Andes the diversity from the Atacama Desert to sub-polar Patagonia ensure a series of truly unique landscapes. Famous for it’s wines, mountains, seafood, deserts, volcanoes and clear skies – for the trip of a lifetime consider adding in remote Easter Island with its iconic statues.
Atacama Desert and the North
The remote Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth, is full of an extraordinarily beautiful landscapes. Enormous valleys, salt lakes, turquoise lagoons and active geysers. With charming colonial towns and adobe villages the usual base is San Pedro de Atacama with a wealth of unique accommodation options. There are a host of active, and less-active options during the day and at night you have some of the clearest skies on the planet. Head further north still to the snow-capped volcanoes of Lauca near the Peruvian border.
Santiago, Valparaiso and the Winelands
The bustling capital Santiago have an enviable position nestled beneath the snow-capped mountain ranges. Increasingly vibrant in recent years the city’s compact historic centre has been rejuvenated and with an improving food and hotel scene. In winter skiing is close to hand and it’s a good jumping off point for the wealth of vineyards and wineries of the central valley region. A two hour drive away is the bohemian city of Valparaiso – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The colourful hotch-potch of housing tumbles down the coastal amphitheatre, the are ancient funiculars to ride and a choice of mansions converted into character hotels.
Patagonia & the Lake District
The jewel of Chilean Patagonia is the Torres Del Paine National Park with its views, lakes, trails, waterfalls and glaciers – the highlight being the Torres del Paine tower -like massif itself. Further south explore the ice-fields and Tierra del Fuego – there are a number of coastal cruising options here including the Straits of Magellan. North of here, and very distinct, is the strikingly beautiful Lake District which can be easily combined with the mysterious island of Chiloe with rich folklore and indigenous history.
In a country of superlatives the isolated Pacific Ocean Easter Island takes the biscuit. This small volcanic rock, 5 hours flight away, hosts a vast collection of archaeological sites with the iconic Moai shrouded in mystery. The culture of this fascinating island becomes apparent as you discover more about its traditions and at the same time it also offers excellent beaches and hiking opportunities
- Chile connects well with neighbouring countries such as Bolivia through the Atacama region or Argentina through the Lakes (Bariloche), Mendoza (Wines) and Patagonia.
- You can get some of the world’s very best astronomical views in Chile.
- Take an iconic self-drive trip along the Austral Road
- Chile can offer you a (European) off-season skiing fix.
- There are outstanding & unique accommodation options in Atacama, Chiloe and Patagonia
- The surreal landscapes and clear skies of the Atacama
- Stunning mountains of Torres del Paine in Patagonia
- The mystical Polynesian Easter Island
- Chilean Winelands of the central valley
- Colourful Valparaiso
- Excellent walking and trekking in Patagonia
- The beautiful Lake District
- Visa Required: No
- Population: 18 million
- Capital City: Santiago
- Best time to go: Year round except for Patagonia and Lakes (October to March)
- Currency: Peso
- Classic Dishes: Cazuela, Asado and seafood
- Cost of Local Tipple: Cristal beer (£2.00)