If you love adventure and love nature, Chile is the place for you. This long, narrow country, snaking down the western side of South America, has parched dunes, fertile valleys, volcanoes, ancient forests, massive glaciers, fjords and 4,300km of coastline – unifying climates, terrains and landmarks which feel like they should be worlds apart.
The capital of Chile is Santiago. It is home to La Chascona which was one of the homes of the world-famous poet Pablo Neruda; the Museo National de Belles Artes which features an excellent collection of Chilean art; Gran Torre, the tallest building in South America with 64 floors; and the Museum of Memory and Human Rights which focuses on Chile’s recent past including the death of Allende, the rise of Pinochet, the disappeared and the transition to democracy. A really fascinating place to visit to learn more about this incredible country’s history.
Not far from Santiago is the port city of Valparaiso. This UNESCO recognised city is known for its colourful houses; the network of funicular railways going up and down the steep hills; the wonderful colonial architecture; the regular craft and food markets; and the street art.
One of the most famous landmarks is Torres del Paine, a national park in Chilean Patagonia. With an abundance of glaciers and glacial lakes, wildlife and mountain backdrops, the scenery is enough to make your jaw drop. You can go on two world famous multi-day treks called the ‘W’ and the ‘O’ to see the best of what Torres del Paine has to offer.
Not only can you go hiking in Chilean Patagonia, but you can also go on a 3-day boat journey through the Patagonian fjords to get up close to glaciers, visit tiny, inhabited islands and look out for whales and dolphins – a must do!
From the coastline, we then travel to the mighty Andes where you can climb one of its 3,000 volcanoes, 36 of which are still active. The southern Andes mountains are home to the world’s highest active volcano, Ojos de Salado. You can climb to the top of this volcano for some impressive views of its lake and the surrounding mountains.
The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world. Here you can go to the moon-like landscape of El Valle de la Luna (“The Valley of the Moon”); see the contrast of the fabulously pink flamingos on the saltwater lakes; go sandboarding; and watch the unfiltered night sky at San Pedro de Atacama. The Atacama Desert is known as one of the best locations in the world for stargazing – the Milky Way feels so close when you’re there that you could almost reach out and touch it.
Our final stop is the most remote inhabited island in the world, Easter Island. Known as “Rapa Nui”, this island is home to over 800 moai statues which were made out of volcanic rocks hundreds of years ago. Like Stonehenge, no one really knows what these manmade statues represent, whether they were statues of gods, how they were moved or what importance they held. The mystery behind them brings tourists from all around the world to come and see this impressive feat of sculpture.