Travelling in Chile or even a holiday in Chile will always involve covering large distances. It has affectionately been tagged ‘the thin country’, the longest and narrowest on the continent, with a length of 3,230 miles and an average width of only 120 miles. It is land of extremes, both in terms of geography and climate. It has a long tradition of democratic government, a strong economy and a solid infrastructure; it is one of the most stable in Latin America.
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The North has the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth, scattered with a lunar like landscapes and home to the ancestral indigenous Inca and pre-Inca civilisations. Central Chile is similar to the Mediterranean, containing the nation’s capital Santiago, a city surrounded by fertile wine producing valleys and world-class ski resorts.
Continuing south takes you through Chile’s Lake District, 12 beautiful lakes create a line running north to south surrounded by lush green forests, rapids, waterfalls and active snow capped volcanoes that dominate the landscape.
From Puerto Montt Chile’s land has been broken up into a land of glaciers and fjords, with access to the south being solely by boat or plane.
2. Explora Rapa Nui
3. Explora Patagonia
Torres del Paine
4. Quincho Country home
The Lake District
5. Casa Higueras
Chilean Patagonia is almost a separate country, and at one time even had its own government. Offering unrivalled views, untouched wide-open spaces, and the spectacular Parc Nacional Torres del Paine, it is one of the world’s last true wilderness retreats.
Deep into the Pacific Ocean lies Easter Island, the worlds largest ‘open air’ museum, and home to over 600 Moai – giant stone statues thought to be over 800 years old. It is one of those places that stir the imagination.
WHEN TO GO
NORTH. November to May
CENTRAL. All year
PATAGONIA. October to March
EASTER ISLAND. All year with the hottest months being January and February
Chilean Patagonia is one of the most remotest and beautiful areas of the world, with lush forests, deep fjords, spectacular shaped mountains and awe inspiring glaciers. Amongst the scenery is also an abundance of exotic wildlife.
Situated in eastern Polynesia some 3,700 km (5hr flight) from mainland Chile it was discovered in 1771 on Easter Sunday by Spanish conquistadors on their way to the Indies. Easter Island is a World heritage Site, but also the most isolated place on the planet. It has been called an ‘open air museum’ on account of the Moai, or stone statues, of which there are over 600 that can be found on the island, with 300 Moais on one volcano!
Chile’s southern region is a multitude of lakes and volcanoes and is also home to one of the most remarkable indigenous cultures, the Mapuches, who, for nearly 3 centuries, defended their homeland from the Spanish conquistadors. Of particular interest is the chain of national parks that extends along the Argentine border, with wonderful scenery of lakes, forests and volcanic plateaus.
Valparaiso is an enchanting and bohemian city, which is characterised by its many ‘elevators’ that tirelessly climb and descend the cities slopes which are dotted with picturesque multi coloured buildings, each of which command a view of its pretty harbour. Nominated a world heritage site in 2003, this curiously beautiful city is well worth a visit.
The Atacama Desert is the driest place on earth, offering amazing scenery, numerous activities, and year round good weather. The best base for exploring the Atacama region is the remote town of San Pedro, made almost entirely of adobe mud brick.
Santiago sits in a valley between the coastal mountain range and the mighty Andes, all reaching altitudes of over 7000m, with constant snow capped summits that can be seen year round. Among Santiago’s sights are the neo-classical architecture of the Presidential Palace, the Plaza de Armas and the Pre-Columbian museum with over 700 exhibits. There is also the opportunity to shop through one of its many traditional handicraft markets
Mountain peaks reaching for the clear blue skies, fertile valleys with rivers winding through, spacious terrain and green rolling hills heading towards the ocean – these are the wine valleys of Chile. It is the perfect setting to let you sample and taste superb wine; enjoy marvellous food and stay overnight at a boutique vineyard.
Chile featured lodges:
Torres del Paine
Explora Patagonia is a luxurious lodge in the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park, where a day's exploring of this incredible environment is made even more enjoyable by the comforts of the evening
This is the smallest and most intimate luxury lodge in San Pedro, Awasi meaning home in Quechua has eight cabanas (5 circular and three rectangular) with pointed thatched roofs which mimic the neighbouring historic village