A Chile vacation is a guarantee of an inspiring adventure. You will not just be returning home with a camera full of photos, this trip should leave you feeling different to when you went away with memories that will last a lifetime. 4300 kilometres from top to bottom and averaging 175 kilometres wide, Chile gives the appearance of being squeezed into the sea by Argentina. Don’t let the dimensions fool you; depending on where you go, the territories of Chile present a range of options from arid deserts in the North to the outer reaches of Polynesian islands to the grey-white walls of glaciers in Antarctica. Try any of the following three options for a Chile tour to be inspired.
1) Atacama – The driest place on Earth
Long, bone-dry valleys running into the middle-distance of nowhere, the Atacama desert will inspire you with its long expansive stretches of nothingness. Blocked from moisture on both sides by the Andes mountains and by the Chilean Coast Range, Atacama is virtually sterile and the sense of remoteness that this gives the visitor inspires a pause for thought. Rich in minerals, the desert is covered with approximately 170 abandoned nitrate mining towns, almost all of which have been shut down. Industry still continues however, demonstrated by the Copiapó mining accident on August 5th 2010, which left 33 miners trapped 700 metres underground. Industry in conflict with barren landscapes at thousands of metres above sea level; worth a look, no?
2) Colchagua Valley – The source of superb wine
Brought over by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century and welcoming French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the 18th century, the Chilean wine scene entered a renaissance in the 1980’s with the introduction of stainless steel tanks for fermentation and oak barrels for aging. With the scientific advances of the wine industry, wineries such as Viña La Playa are making the most of the conditions about 80 miles southwest of Santiago in the Colchagua Valley.
The Valley enjoys a balmy, Mediterranean climate matched in only a few other places on earth and the air is clear and clean. Feeding the vines, the deep sedimentary soil of the Colchagua Valley contains a mixture of fine-textured loam clay and loam silt, bordered by medium-textured volcanic soil in the foothills. The 14,038-foot Tinguiririca Volcano melt water feeds the Tinguiririca River, carrying pure water to the valley below. These conditions combine to provide a long, warm and dry growing season that produce very, very good wines. If you want evidence, try this; in Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 list, Colchagua wines were #3 in the world in 2003, and #2 in 2004. In search of an inspiring wine, how does Colchagua sound for delivering the goods?
3) Rapa Nui – Life lessons from the ‘Navel of the World’
Most of us are aware of the tall, slender grey faces of the moai statues of Easter Island, the southeastern most point of the Polynesian triangle. The 887 statues that litter the island serve as the basis for a tragic history of fierce tribal war that brought a civilization to an end. The imposing gallery of stone statues only form a moment of Rapa Nui’s history, which also tells of famines, epidemics, civil war, slave raids and colonialism. Despite a tiny population, Rapa Nui will give you a thought-provoking look at the rise, fall and clashes of civilizations through the landmarks and people that you see and meet on your vacation.