Reasons to Visit
Endlessly referred to as the "driest desert in the world" the Atacama is a great base for the outdoor enthusiast. Mountain biking, walking, visits to salt pans and bubbling geysers are just a few of the possibilities whilst staying here.
The bottom third of Chile is home to numerous fjords, islets, archipelagos and peninsulas to explore. There is no better (in fact no other!) way to explore these fascinating territories than by taking to the water. Whether it is exploring the northern ice fields, travelling down through fjords or cruising around the southern tip of South America to Cape Horn there is a journey to suit all interests.
The most famous National Park in Chile and all of Patagonia, Torres del Paine is remote, rugged and windswept. The eponymous "Torres" or towers and uniquely smooth and twisted cuernos (horns) of the Paine Massif are unforgettable. Once there, the incredible landscape is waiting to be explored, either by foot, boat, bike, horse or vehicle.
By comparison to neighbouring countries, Chilean roads are generally a good standard and well-signed, making it an excellent choice for self drive. Opportunities extend from heading out of Santiago, through the Winelands down to the pretty Lake District through to self-exploration of the Patagonian Steppe around Torres del Paine National Park.
The mighty Andes create a magnificent natural border between Chile and neighbouring Argentina, running the full length of the country. They loom up from the Pacific providing a breathtaking backdrop to desert, vineyard and glacier and isolating the Chilean people from most of the rest of the continent.
From gentle strolls in the lush green hills of the Lake District, to hiking a volcano in the Atacama or climbing to the base of the famous towers in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile offers some of the best opportunities in Latin America for walking and trekking at all levels.
Chile has been making wine for over 400 years and now produces some of the best Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the world. It is also very reasonably priced. Chile's most famous vineyards and wineries are generally located in the valleys around Santiago and make excellent day trips from the city whilst many have their own accommodation.
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Our country specialists have travelled the length and breadth of Chile - here are a few of their favourite things to do
Chilean legend has it that when God had finished creating earth, he walked back across the heavens and a little of everything that was left; mountains, deserts, lakes, glaciers, volcanoes and valleys, trickled out through a hole in his pocket, and thus Chile was born.
This implausibly long and thin ribbon of land that unfurls down the Pacific coast of South America compresses an extraordinarily diverse range of terrain between its Andean spine on one side and the ocean to the other. Sweeping from the world’s highest and driest desert down through rolling vineyards, past snow-dusted volcanoes, narrow fjords and turquoise lakes to sharp granite peaks towering above blue icebergs, this slender slice of land is also bursting with culture and charm.
Chileans are proud and friendly, fiercely protecting their traditions, keen to boast about their two Nobel prize winning compatriots; Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, and more than happy to enjoy a glass of the fiery national cocktail, pisco, with visitors. Add to all this the mysterious statues of Easter Island marooned five hours’ flight away out in the Pacific Ocean, and you have every imaginable ingredient for a wealth of sights and experiences.
This stunning valley is best known for its crisp white wines, most notably Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
The Colchagua Valley lies to the south of Santiago and makes up a major part of the Central Valley. It makes up a vital part of the Chilean economy as a producer of fruit to be exported around the world.
A tiny speck of volcanic rock in the middle of the Pacific a five hour flight from the Chilean mainland, Easter Island has, for centuries, fascinated travellers and scholars alike. This is due to the squat bodies and brooding faces of hundreds of stone statues or ‘moai’ that gaze from all corners of the island.
Pucon is nestled on the shores of the mighty Lake Villarrica, with views of the perfect snow-capped symmetry of Volcan Villarrica.
Curving around the southern shore of Lake Llanquihue, with breathtaking views of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes, Puerto Varas is a pretty little town with a lovely, welcoming feel.
Another highly recommended antidote to the bustle of Santiago’s streets is to journey a little way south to taste some fine Chilean wines at nearby Concha y Toro, just outside the city.
The capital of Chile is a modern metropolis, but a charming one with many landscaped parks, peaceful hilltop sanctuaries offering calm amid the chaos and Snow-covered Andean peaks providing Santiago’s backdrop.
The Aisen region lies to the north of Torres del Paine and the most frequently visited parts of Patagonia and with an average of 300 days of sun a year it has its own specific micro climate.
Eerie, austere, remote yet beautiful, no more so than at sunrise and sunset when the surfaces and the skies turn all manner of improbable hues of orange, crimson and gold, Chile’s Atacama Desert is so dry that there are many parts of it in which no rainfall has ever been recorded.
The Lake District is an impossibly pretty region of the bluest waters, white-tipped volcanoes, waterfalls and ancient forests, perfect for gentle hiking, bike riding, fishing, relaxing in thermal pools and languorous cruises around fjords and glaciers.
The most famous national park in Chile and all Patagonia, Torres del Paine is remote, isolated, rugged and windswept, yet while all this makes it lengthy to reach and demanding to explore, it is at the same time the very essence of its appeal and there is no doubting that it is worth the effort.
Chile’s Southern Highway snakes south from Puerto Montt through the country’s remote Aisén region down to southern Patagonia. The landscape through which you pass is dramatic, pristine, and enticingly studded with waterfalls, rivers, forests and lakes.
16 hours (Santiago via Madrid, Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires)
British Airways, Iberia & LAN
The best time to travel.
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of.
Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year.
Travel is not recommended.
Snow or ski season.
Read first-hand tips and advice from our travel specialists.
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