Chile

This remarkable ribbon of land, barely more than 250 kilometres wide, stretches almost 4,500 kilometres from the Atacama Desert to the glaciers of Patagonia. Chile’s vast length is home to a huge variety of landscapes from snow-capped volcanoes to the vineyard-packed Central Valley, and from the striking Lake District to the narrow fjords of the south, all sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the mountainous spine of the Andes. Elsewhere, the mysterious Moai statues of Easter Island offer a fascinating glimpse into an ancient and unique civilisation.

With this natural diversity, the country also lends itself to myriad adventure, relaxation and indulgence opportunies – including hiking, fly fishing, wine tasting, glacier-viewing boat cruises, and forays into the untamed wilderness.

What’s on offer in Chile?

El Tatio Geysers Atacama Desert

Atacama Desert

The most arid region on earth, the Atacama Desert is a desolate wonderland of dramatic scenery and captivating attractions. Its remote landscapes range from the pale beauty of salt flats dotted with the ostentatious pinks of flamingos and the surreal, steamy landscape of the Tatio geysers at sunrise, to the bizarre rock formations of Moon Valley and the ancient archaeological sites of Tulor and Quitor Pukara.

Los Glaciares National Park - Chile

Southern Andes

The Andes are the longest continental mountain range in the world, stretching for 7000kms. The southern tip of this majectic mountain range lies south of Llullaillaco in Argentina and Chile and is home to the Southern Andean steppe, a unique ecoregion defined by its cold desert climate and tough montane grasslands and shrublands. Because of these chilly, arid conditions much of the vegetation here is endemic (unique to the region). Some of the larger mammals that have adapted to this harsh environment include the puma, the Andean fox and two relatives of the llama – the vicuna (the national animal of Peru) and the guanaco.

Santiago - Chile

Santiago

The Chilean capital is a cosmopolitan and atmospheric city where ancient architecture meets modern skyscrapers, historical attractions are interspersed with contemporary art galleries, and people of all cultures, colours and religions live side by side. It is considered Chile’s most important financial and business centre and offers an almost inexhaustible range of leisure and entertainment options. Its backdrop of mountains makes it strikingly scenic, while its diversity is at once fascinating and refreshing.

Puerto Varas - Chile

Puerto Varas

Many German families settled in this southern Chilean town at the end of the 19th century and their influences are still evident in the local architecture, cuisine and traditions today. Set on the shores of vast Llanquihue Lake, Puerto Varas features an excellent range of restaurants, guesthouses and hotels and is surrounded by the dramatic mountainous scenery of the Lake District.

Chiloe Island - Chile

Chiloe Island

Chiloe is the biggest island in the Chiloe archipelago and a popular tourism destination, renowned for its beautiful scenery, pristine national parks, quaint stilted homes and numerous wooden churches – including 14 that are classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The local culture is subtly distinct from that of the Chilean mainland, featuring unique culinary specialties, specific architecture and complex folklore, and a visit here is a refreshing and fascinating experience.

Easter Island - Moais in Tahai - Easter Island

Easter Island

This remote Chilean island – located some 3200 kilometres from the South American mainland in the Pacific Ocean – is one of the most isolated populated places on earth, endowed with a rich and enigmatic heritage. Historians believe the first inhabitants were Polynesians from neighbouring islands who travelled for days on open seas in crude catamarans and canoes to settle on what locals call Rapa Nui, known to the Western world as Easter Island. The destination is best known for the hundreds of huge, ancient statues that surround its coastline, believed to have been carved by the island people to represent ancestral deities.

Fast Facts

BEST TIME TO VISIT: The Atacama Desert receives virtually no rain and can be visited year-round. Santiago & Central Chile enjoy a Mediterranean-type climate with mild winters and warm summers, and is at its best during spring (Sep-Nov) and autumn (Feb-Apr). The Lake District & Patagonia are more seasonal and best visited during the summer months (Dec-Mar). Easter Island is sub-tropical, meaning warm weather year-round, with gentle winter rains and torrential summer downpours.

TIME DIFFERENCE: Mainland Chile GMT -4; Easter Island GMT -6 hours.

VISAS: A visa is not required by UK citizens for tourist stays of up to three months.

LANGUAGE: Spanish is the official language but English is widely spoken in larger hotels and tourist areas.

CURRENCY: Chilean Peso.

FLIGHT INFORMATION: TAM and British Airways fly via Sao Paulo, Aerolineas Argentinas, Air France and Lufthansa with a European stopover. Continental, United and American Airlines via the United States.

FLYING TIME FROM UK: Approx. 16 hours to Santiago.


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