At 2,500m, the Atacama Desert is both the driest and highest desert on earth. In this harsh, often eerie, yet starkly beautiful desert landscape there is a lot of sunshine, and although the temperature drops below zero at night, generally the year-round climate is pleasant and the transparency of light, unique. The mixture of volcanoes, salt flats and high altitude wetlands is unparalleled. With so much diversity in this small part of Chile, the excursions on offer are endless. We’ve whittled down our top five must-do excursions…
Here, Suzie our Marketing Executive (and foodie) gets our taste buds tantalised as she writes about her top places to eat, drink and be seen in the cosmopolitan capital city of Santiago.
Chilean Patagonia is the perfect destination for nature and outdoor enthusiasts who want exploration and adventure. It’s all things majestically alluring and one of our favourite places to dream of. See below the Latin America teams’ top five reasons to travel to this pocket of South America.
Chile is a land of extremes. A frayed ribbon down the west coast of South America, Chile is so diverse and breathtakingly beautiful it should be visited by everyone at least once. Below the Latin America team introduces you to two of its most extreme areas, going from the very bottom to the very top.
Chile is a land of contrasts packed with staggering landscapes, outdoor adventures and vibrant-friendly people. Extending like a frayed ribbon down the west coast of South America, it’s revered as the world’s longest country, home to the world's driest desert in the north, lush vineyards in the centre, and glaciers, fjords and glistening lakes in the south. With some of the most remarkable lodges on the continent and its world-class infrastructure, a holiday to Chile ticks all the boxes- from family fun to romantic getaways, this superlative country has it all.
Teeming with awe-inspiring scenery and natural wonders, this thin sliver of land offers a dizzying array of holiday attractions. It is a country of the great outdoors and offers limitless opportunity to explore its rugged and wild terrain. Until you have navigated around sprawling glaciers, climbed its rugged mountains, sampled an array of world-class wines and marvelled at the lunar-like beauty of the Atacama, you have not really captured its soul.
Chile’s capital Santiago is where any Chilean adventure begins. Nestled in the centre of the country, it is the cultural centre and home to a third of Chile’s population. Boasting a mixture of first-rate museums, fantastic art galleries and trendy restaurants, it is a city worthy of a visit. Surrounding Santiago lays the fertile valleys and picturesque vineyards of the Central Valley. Famous for producing the world’s best vintages, touring its wineries offers the chance to experience traditional Chilean hospitality and indulge in relaxed country life. Equally appealing is the nearby colourful port town of Valparaíso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and most revered for its flourishing urban art scene, steep hills, colourful clapboard houses, and avant-garde culture.
Tucked away in the north of Chile, is the highest and driest desert in the world: the Atacama Desert. With its dry and barren terrain, it hosts an array of lunar-like landscapes found nowhere else on earth. Rusty-coloured ravines, multi-coloured rock formations and the vast open Altiplano, form a natural playground. It boasts the world’s largest spurting geysers, the clearest starry-night skies, volcanic bubbling hot springs and majestically coloured lagoons. In the South is Chile's Lake District, an extreme contrast to the Atacama Desert. Defined by its glacial lakes, ominous volcanoes and evergreen wild forest, it provides fertile ground for a plethora of adventure activities. White-water rafting along rushing rapids, horse-riding through the Andes and hiking through the untouched trails of an array of national parks can all be enjoyed. Chiloé Island oozes a unique mythology of witchcraft and reveals a very spiritual culture, as well as boasting an untouched terrain and unique architecture, where colourful houses (Palafitos) perch on stilts along the water’s edge.
To experience the best of Chilean Patagonia, take a cruise to see its maze of fjords, mountains, rivers, granite towers and glaciers. A must-see is the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park, designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 for its beauty and diversity, it is undoubtedly the most iconic national park in Chile and renowned for its world-class trekking and hiking. Overflowing with jagged mountains, snow-capped peaks and blue glaciers, it’s all things dramatic, raw and vibrant. With such rugged terrain, it is an adventure wonderland and like its counterparts offers an endless array of activities. As well as outdoor adventure, the area is also home to an abundance of flora and flora such as the Andean condor, guanaco, ostrich-like rhea, flamingos and the elusive puma. Further adding to Chile’s variety is Easter Island, one of the most isolated and mysterious islands on earth. Located 3,700 kilometres away from Chile’s mainland, it is home to an abundance of bizarre Moai stone statues, which have been puzzling anthropologists, archaeologists, and visitors for years.
Chile is the perfect destination for those looking for a mix of nature, adventure and spectacular landscapes. Revered for its natural splendour, luxury accommodation and developed infrastructure; holidays to this part of the world offer a unique and unmatched experience.
Take a look at our blog where our Chile expert Eli tells us why the enticing island of Chiloé blew her away…
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