Why travel to Chile?
Chile is a land of absolute extremes. Offering you everything from blustering desert, to icy glaciers and intriguing cities. Shouldered by the Pacific Ocean on the West, and bordered by Peru, Argentina and Bolivia, Chile is known to be a bit of a record breaker! Not is it home to the largest dry desert in the world, Chile also boasts the world’s highest lake (Ojos de Salado) and the world’s highest volcano (Nevado Ojos de Salado)! How’s that for starters?
Tours of Chile generally start in the capital city of Santiago and snake down the length of the country to the ‘end of the world’ in Patagonia. The country covers a vast landscape, so trips are often split between the Northern regions (including the Atacama desert and Santiago) or the southern areas of Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego.
For an ‘out of this world’ experience, head to the Atacama Desert. A vast, moon-like landscape peppered with countless geysers and hot springs. Torres del Paine is a stark contrast to the desert! Arguably one of the most beautiful national parks in the world, its rugged appearance has a haunting appeal which is made all the more addictive due to its isolation from civilisation. And then there is Easter Island. A fascinating volcanic island with mysterious statues gazing from all corners of the rock. Be mystified!
Click on the orange circles to read more information about the location and its highlights.
A remote yet stunning spectacle, where you can explore countless archaeological sites, eerie ghost towns and geothermal wonders. Home to the highest active volcano, bubbling hot springs and crunchy salt flats. Don’t expect to need your raincoat!
Snow-covered peaks welcome you to South America’s version of the Swiss Alps. A beautifully tranquil landscape with fast-flowing rivers, hot springs and volcano hikes to engage you at every step. Explore quaint fishing villages and local towns to absorb the tradition and cultural heritage that surrounds the region. And for the more active amongst us … there’s plenty of adrenalin filled activities for you here!
Perhaps the most iconic and easily recognisable island on earth, Easter Island is home to the haunting stone statues of brooding faces or ‘Moai’. Ponder on their origins and wonder at the sheer size and purpose as you explore the island. Let your imagination run wild!
Located deep in South Patagonia, sitting at the edge of the ‘end of the earth’ and home to pink flamingos, pumas, condors and the strangest of animals …guanacos. This is the most stunning trekking country, with magnificent landscape, towering waterfalls, crystal lakes and magnificent mountains at every turn. Remote, isolated and rugged!
An enigmatic, colonial city full of vibrant sounds, tastes and people. Uncover the buzzing party spirit, sample the mouth-watering seafood cuisine and pick up some expert salsa tips as explore the heart of Santiago. Take a break from exploring the cultural sites and historic monuments with a visit into the nearby mountains and vineyards.
This delightful town is arguably one of the most enchanting (cities in South America. Originally one of the richest cities on the continent, Valparaiso has transformed from its shipping-industry roots to become a colourful and quirky destination. Its chaotic streets, adorned with bright colours and street art, meander across the city quarters, giving way to the towering hills that boast far-reaching views across the old city and port. A place to take your time and absorb the bohemian atmosphere.
Separated from mainland South America by the Magellan Strait, Tierra del Fuego (‘Land of Fire’) is named after the native fires of the native Selknam tribe. Split North to South between Chile and Argentina, the island shows Patagonia at its desolate best. Home to condors, eagles, sea lions and countless hiking trails, Tierra del Fuego is a ‘must-visit’ destination for travellers to Chile
Home to over 150 wooden churches, countless bird species and world-renowned oysters, this secluded island is the largest in Chile. Chiloe Island is a place of fairy-tales! From enchanting wizards to mysterious ghost ships – this is a place where it is easy to believe that the magic is real.
For Patagonia the most accessible times of year are between October and March. The busiest time tends to be in December as the weather gets warmer, so beware of larger crowds at this time. The Lake District is open all year, but we recommend visiting in the Spring or Summer (October to April). Whilst Santiago and Atacama are year-round destinations, we recommend the shoulder season due to the lower number of visitors. Try to visit between Sept-Nov or Mar-May.
Temperature and Rainfall
Click a location to view temp and rainfall for that area
- Atacama Desert
- Tierra del Fuego
- Explore the Valley of the Moon
- Unworldly terrain deep in the Atacama Desert. Best seen in the amber glow of the Chilean sunset.
- See the Moai of Easter Island
- Visit the enigmatic stone heads (Moai) in the rocky wilderness of Easter Island
- Travel to the end of the earth
- Explore the wilderness of Patagonia, visiting the southern-most tip of civilisation in Ushuaia
- See flamingos in the salt flats
- Venture from San Pedro de Atacama to the salt flats where pink flamingos flock to the 'salar'
- A meat, potato and seafood stew traditionally made on heated rocks on the island of Chiloe. A real Chilean ‘meat feast’.
- Pastel de Choclo
- Translated as ‘corn pie’, this dish is consists with egg, olives and ground chicken or beef on a corn base.
- Arrollado de Huaso
- Chopped pork, mixed with bacon, chilis and spices, before being rolled in pork skin. Often served with an avocado salsa and most common in the southern regions of Chile.
- Do we need to explain any further?
Modern day Chile is a welcoming and evolving South American country, boasting a healthy economy and improving lifestyle. The growth in adventure tourism has served the country well and Chile is becoming an increasingly popular destination for travellers with an active mind-set.
Chile has a markedly positive approach to sustainable tourism and the government actively supports and promotes the potential of eco-tourism. In 2010 the National System for Distinction of Sustainable Tourism was created to support and reward local tourist operations. This system, alongside strict government sanctions, supports their vision that ‘by 2020, Chile will be recognized as a world class destination, being admired and known for its attractive, varied, sustainable and high-quality tourism.’
That said, the country does face significant challenges in respect of how it land is used to support economic development and the negative impact that this is having on their eco-system, pollution and the rights of indigenous populations.
Protecting the Land– for many years now, land across Chile has been subject to deforestation, aggressive agriculture and mining. Notably, millions of acres of land were sold to private investors, leading to an influx foreign companies purchasing land for the development of luxury lodges and golf courses.
Doug Tompkins (co-founder of The North Face) and his partner were one of these investors. Thankfully their intentions were purely about conservation and rebuilding the Chilean wilderness than they were about corporate profit. Notably, the Chilean government have recently launched a programme to create two new national parks to increase park land by over 38% – this included a donation of over a million acres from Tompkins surviving partner (Kristine Tompkins, founder of Tompkins Conservation). This programme is leading the drive in Chile to promote long term bio-diversity conservation.
As a tourist we can help to promote this kind of initiative by visiting the parks and contributing to the financial stability via park fees and recommendations.
- Capital city Santiago
- Currency Chilean Peso
- Language Spanish
- Time difference GMT-3
- Flight time 14.5 hours
- Best time to visit Oct-Mar
- Chile Eclipse: Elqui Valley
View a total solar eclipse in Chile and explore the stunning Atacama Desert
- Witness a total solar eclipse at Chile's beautiful Elqui Valley
- The colourful Pacific Coast city of Valparaiso
- Sunset over the Valley of the Moon in the Atacama Desert
- Fly & Cruise – South Georgia in Depth
Witness massive numbers of polar wildlife, spectacular scenery and historically significant sites from early explorations to the Antarctic region.
- Explore South Georgia, with its remarkable history and spectacular wildlife
- Incredible wildlife viewing including seabirds, penguins, and seals
- Fly between Punta Arenas and Stanley, Falkland Islands
- Fly & Cruise: Antarctica-in-Depth (Extended Peninsula Voyage)(Cruise South)
Maximise time exploring Antarctica on this unique expedition
- Fantastic glaciated scenery of the Antarctic Peninsula and Gerlache coastline
- Outstanding wildlife observation on shore, Zodiac cruising and from the ship
- Visits to historic sites and science stations
- Discover Chile
Visit four distinct regions to see deserts, glaciers, volcanoes and lakes
- Visit the unique and colourful Pacific Coast city of Valparaiso
- Excursions to Atacama salt flats, altiplano lagoons, El Tatio geysers
- Sunset over the Valley of the Moon in the Atacama Desert