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 town of San Pedro, made almost entirely of adobe brick – a mix of local mud and straw. The archaeological museum holds an extraordinary collection of artefacts, whilst its streets are lined with indigenous handicraft markets and its outskirts contain ancient ruins and thermal springs.
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!
Chilean Patagonia is one of the remotest and beautiful areas of the world, with lush forests, deep fjords, spectacular shaped mountains and awe inspiring glaciers. Amongst the scenery is an abundance of wildlife including llama, guanaco, rhea, condors and Magellan penguins.
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
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.
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.
Manor Cottage, Papermill Lane, South Moreton, Oxfordshire, OX11 9AH