Why visit Chile
A local Chilean legend says that when God finished creating the wonders of the world, there were many pieces left over…
He put them together and called it Chile.
Sprawling glaciers and icy fjords, fertile valleys and dry deserts, soaring mountains and snow-capped volcanoes, beautiful forests and sandy beaches… it is this unique combination of sights and experiences that makes Chile so extraordinary for travellers.
With territory in three world regions – South America, Oceania and Antarctica – Chile has a special geography that sets it apart from other destinations. It reaches over 4,300 km from north to south in a narrow strip of land between the rugged Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Chile invites you to live adventures in the middle of the world’s driest desert, in the unique rainy temperate forests of South America, in front of millennial glaciers that are waiting to be discovered or under the watchful eye of the Andes in the middle of the buzz of modern cities like its capital, Santiago.
The Chilean people are warm, energetic, approachable and kind. They share the love for their land with visitors, opening the doors to truly discover the Chilean experience.
Escaping the tourist trail in Chile
The region offers a rich depth of culture, history and breathtaking natural wonders to cater to any interest or desire.
In Chile, the 30 islands that make up the archipelago of Chiloé will take you off the tourist trail to villages filled with brightly coloured wooden houses, home to the Chilotes, the hospitable and charming descendants of Spanish colonists and the Huilliche people.
Sixteen of the iconic 18th and 19th century wooden churches are World Heritage sites and certainly worth the visit. And the market in Dalcahue is one of Chile’s best…
Heading south to Patagonia you will be stepping off the beaten track altogether.
On the Chilean side of Patagonia, Aysen will capture your heart with its pristine landscapes and possibly the freshest air in the world!
Opt for a self-drive to explore The Carretera Austral or explore the deepest reaches of this magical region with one of the many trekking options available.
Aysen is the perfect place to enjoy adventure sports with white-water rafting down one of the world’s most renowned routes, past majestic glaciers and the amazing Tortel Cove with its cypress footbridges and remarkable landscapes.
If you are after a quieter experience, Parque Patagonia is an idyllic, extraordinary natural beauty spot to take in the amazing wonders of nature.
Cruising in Patagonia offers access to areas only accessible by boat, where the loudest noises are the ice crunching underneath or the delighted cheers when the wildlife comes out to play. There are no villages and no crowds, only the whales, seabirds, penguins and seals that call these waterways home.
When to visit Chile
In Chile, the weather is part of the adventure! Throughout the country there are places that have not seen a drop of rain in decades… while others rely on the rain to reveal lush, green millennial forests.
As a consequence of its geography, Chile has four, well-differentiated seasons… the warmest season is between October and April and the coldest, from May to September.
In the south, expect cooler temperatures with recurring rainfall throughout the year… while in the north you will find hot days contrasted against cold nights. The central area has more of a Mediterranean climate.
Winter is the best time for skiing in Chile and a great time to visit the north of the country. Although mountain passes can be blocked by snow in the Patagonia region at this time of year, there are few travellers who venture there in winter so it is appealing for visitors who want to feel like they have the place to themselves!
Spring and Autumn (Sep–Nov & Mar–May)
Temperature-wise, these are the best times to visit the central region of Chile and Santiago. Lakes District is pleasant from September to November. October to November brings out wildflowers and March to April brings fall foliage. In March you experience grape harvests and festivals in the wine country.
Patagonia is best – and busiest – from December to February.
This region is all about the outdoors and natural wonders, and the long daylight hours at this time of the year allow extra time for exploration.
Must see Chile
There is a reason why we send so many of our travellers to Chile… it has something for everyone!
North and Atacama Desert
It has been 400 years since it has seen regular rainfall… but the Atacama Desert is a fertile oasis that sustains an astonishing diversity of life in what is the driest desert on earth.
Home to endless salt marshes and dormant volcanoes, the experience of the Atacama Desert is like stepping into another world… the region is known for its crystal clear skies with many astronomical observatories allowing you to journey to the stars.
And the landscapes are quite unlike anywhere else on earth. Visit San Pedro de Atacama and explore its vast salt flats, active geysers and intense blue lagoons… or venture to the high Andean plateau where you’ll find small villages at up to 4,000 metres above sea level where timeless traditions linger in extreme and wonderfully photogenic settings.
Santiago, Valparaiso and Central Chile
Twenty-first century global sophistication blends seamlessly with time-honoured local tradition in the central heartland of Chile.
In Santiago – the multi-faceted capital of Chile – you’ll enjoy fabulous food in the city’s many and varied restaurants, as well as a thriving nightlife scene. Lose yourself in the hilly port city of Valparaiso in amongst an intense palette of flavours and colours.
For the skiers, The Andes offer some of the best slopes in South America. Just two hours’ drive from the coast, visit in winter for the ski season of a lifetime.
This region is also Chile wine country, where some of the world’s best wines are made.
Chiloe Island offers travellers a blend of culture, history and natural wonders, completely unique to the region.
From World Heritage listed sites to the lush, evergreen Chiloé National Park, Chiloé is a magical experience. Explore by kayak or hiking, taking in the stunning landscapes of the archipelago and the flora and fauna native to Chiloé.
The Chilotes – the people of Chiloé – are a warm and hospitable people, known for their legends and their crafts. They welcome visitors with open arms, proud to share their beautiful home and culture.
Lakes and Volcanoes
Chile is home to a vast number of volcanoes and lakes where you can breathe in the earthy scents of the forest and meet some of the warmest, friendliest people on earth.
As you explore the lakes and volcanoes of the region you can experience some of the indigenous traditions, sleeping in a ruca and feasting on typical regional dishes.
Trek to the top of volcanoes, ski through ancient native forests, enjoy a day’s fishing, get your heart rate up with adrenaline-filled water sports or relax and recharge at one of the many natural spas found in these breathtaking landscapes.
Take note: Patagonia is a must visit destination for all travellers. Even if you have stepped foot in every country in the world, Patagonia will still blow your mind.
Words can’t do justice to this region which is vast, exotic and wild in its beauty. The unspoiled wilderness of mountains, fjords, glaciers, forests and steppes are home to an array of wildlife and the Patagonian gaucho lifestyle in far-flung cities and pioneer towns that are untouched and unfazed by the tourist dollar.
The Carretera Austral is the road trip of a lifetime, taking you through northern Patagonia’s landscape at its finest. Or if you prefer to immerse yourself in the wonder of nature, the trekking options are endless, allowing you the opportunity to explore magnificent forests, mountains, waterfalls, lakes and stunning views of the Southern Ice Fields.
Cruising the Patagonian fjords is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure where you explore the southernmost extreme of the American continent, navigating through countless sea fjords and channels and crossing the famous Straits of Magellan.
Marvel at the hundreds of imposing millennial glaciers and experience close encounters with dolphins, penguins and killer whales.
Torres del Paine
Standing in amongst the turquoise waters, glaciers and towering granite horns of the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, you will feel completely insignificant in comparison to nature. The jaw-dropping landscapes of this eighth wonder of the world are humbling indeed.
A backpack and comfortable shoes are all you need to immerse yourself in the park where you will see condors, foxes, guanacos and – if you’re really lucky – pumas up close.
Historically intriguing, culturally compelling and scenically magical, Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is a unique and special place. This blissfully isolated, tiny speck of land looks like it’s fallen
off another planet… and it is full of surprises.
Just a short flight from Santiago, there are extinct volcanoes to climb, islets to dive or snorkel and bikes and horses to ride. It’s all about low key eco-travel – mainly run by local families – ensuring an authentic experience.
Chile offers 37 ski runs covering 900 hectares of terrain with options for beginners to advanced skiers… and plenty for snowboarders too.
Valle Nevado is the largest mountain resort in the southern hemisphere with off-piste skiing and bumps as well as heli-skiing. Sixty kilometres from Santiago, you can ski and stay in Santiago, or you could go up and stay on the snow for a few days to really make the most of skiing the Andes.
Located in Tierra del Fuego where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet, Cape Horn has a rich maritime history.
Take to the seas and experience this nautical adventure for yourself, navigating the currents, winds, waves and icebergs of one of the southernmost points of South America. Or, if you’d rather keep your feet on dry land, Cape Horn offers spectacular scenery and historical attractions such as the Cape Horn lighthouses and memorial.
Luxury travel in Chile
Chile is the master of the mini break. If luxury is what you are after, luxurious lodges in remote areas offer fantastic escapes. Beautifully designed and sympathetic to their location, they include all meals, drinks and excursions, along with return transfers from the nearest airport, some up to five hours away. With five star service and comfort, excellent inclusions and unique experiences, luxury travel in Chile is amazing value.
If you are thinking of indulging in the Chilean luxury, we recommend three destinations with exceptional luxury accommodation options.
In the Atacama you are spoilt for choice with Cumbres, Alto Atacama, Awasi, explora and Tierra Atacama. Whether you want to immerse yourself in the natural surrounds of the desert, an intimate personalised experience, modern or eco luxury, the Atacama Desert has an option to suit.
Moving south to Patagonia, the experience of this breathtaking place alone is a luxury in itself. In terms of accommodation, we recommend The Lodge at Valle Chacabuco, explora Patagonia, The Singular, Rio Serrano, Tierra Patagonia and Awasi. Each option offers exceptional service and a luxury experience that extends beyond the physical location of the hotel to encapsulate a full experience of the region.
On Easter Island, explora Rapa Nui is the ideal place from which to explore the island.
The restaurant serves modern Chilean cuisine and wine and you can indulge in a luxurious spa treatment or enjoy the Explorer’s Bar at night.
We can happily make recommendations from our own experiences as to the best luxury options for you.
Accommodation in Chile
Finding the right accommodation is an important aspect of any holiday, and thankfully, there are options to suit all tastes and budgets as you travel throughout Chile. Aside from the luxury options, accommodation in Chile has seen a recent hotel boom. These new offerings complement the existing supply of hosterias, campsites and cabins that have been popular with tourists and locals for decades. Think rustic, but sophisticated. There truly is something for everybody.
Wine tasting in Chile
Chile unquestionably produces some of the best wine in the world… and wine tasting in Chile is an experience that takes you to fertile valleys nestled between the mountains and the ocean.
Casablanca in Valparaiso is one of the 10 great wine capitals of the world where you can tour underground cellars and old vineyard manors.
A foodie’s delight, you can enjoy exquisite food and wine pairings at the stately vineyards in the region.
For a truly unique experience, visit Chile between March and April when the grape harvest festivals take place throughout the country. What better way to enjoy a long lunch blended with one of Chile’s deepest-rooted traditions?
Hiking in Chile
Clear your thoughts, test your stamina and get right back to nature… hiking in Chile is easily the best way to enjoy its magnificent landscapes.
For a real adventure, take the superb trek that begins at the Lejía Lagoon, high above San Pedro de Atacama. At more than 4,000 metres, the impressive views include mighty volcanoes, rugged hills and the extraordinary Miscanti Lagoon.
In the central region, don’t miss hiking the trails of the La Campana National Park close to Valparaiso. Designated a World Biosphere Reserve, the eight-hour Palm Tree route is a unique experience for nature lovers. Closer to Santiago, in the Cajón del Maipo Valley, the reward waiting on the El Morado Natural Monument is the spectacular vistas of its snow-capped peaks.
Hiking and trekking enthusiasts are spoiled for choice in Patagonia, which has dozens of national parks and reserves with trails of all levels of difficulty. Aysen in northern Patagonia has hiking trails on Cerro Castillo, the castle like mountain, and throughout Parque Patagonia, the world’s newest National park. In the south, Torres del Paine National Park boasts some of the finest trekking routes in the world… its glaciers and lakes, set against the backdrop of the famous granite towers, are memories you will never forget.
South America offers a diverse experience for visitors… and it is certainly worthwhile to combine multiple destinations in your journey. But trust us, once you have the South American travel bug, you will want to go back for more!
One of the largest countries in South America, Argentina is full of vibrant colours and wonders of nature.
There are many points along the Chile/Argentina border that are well worth crossing… over The Andes from Santiago to Mendoza… across the Andean lakes from Puerto Varas to Bariloche… through the Patagonian Fjords from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia… or across the Atacama desert from San Pedro to Salta.
What can we say about Antarctica other than WOW. It would be a crime not to visit Antarctica when you are just a short trip away.
We’ve been to Antarctica multiple times… and we just can’t get enough. Nothing compares to sailing past towering glaciers as they creak and groan, with only the whales and seals as your companions.
From Chile, fly from Punta Arenas to Antarctica or The Falkland Islands. You will not regret it!
Bolivia is wild and diverse… a charming jewel of South America.
Trust us when we tell you that crossing the Atacama Desert from San Pedro de Atacama and travelling through the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia will be a highlight of your South America trip.
Ready to explore Chile? We are the South America travel specialists and can help you plan a journey completely tailored to you.