A Chile tour has something for everyone. Described by many as “The Long thin country”, a quick look at a map will explain why. Over 4000 km long and on average 180 km wide Chile lies between the Andes mountains and the sea. From desert to vast glaciers, from vineyards to vast desolate spaces, a Chile tour has enough to keep anyone delighted, whatever kind of vacation you like to take.
Atacama Desert Tour:
Here you will find the world’s highest and driest desert, where sand dunes, volcanoes, jetting geysers and crusty salt lakes make for an amazing collection of geologic episodes. The desert stretches along the coast of Chile to the south where one of the highlights must be a visit to the village of San Pedro de Atacama. The Atacama Desert is over 15-million years old and offers some of the most fascinating and dramatic visual treats for visitors of the area.
The altitude and dryness of the area also make it a top stargazing site and a visit to the Moon Valley promises breathtaking views of the salt ponds and surrounding snow-capped volcanoes. Another highlight of the area are the small geysers situated on a geothermal field of fumaroles, namely, the El Tatio Geysers. Take a dip in the nearby hot springs before making your way to the Los Flamencos Natural Reserve where flocks of flamingos and rare birds can be observed.
Easter Island – Rapa Nui:
Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is the world’s most remote inhabited island where explorers can move more than 1900km in any direction without seeing another human being. There are about 2500 people living on the island, most of whom live in the small town of Hanga Roa. The island’s tourist draw card are the fascinating stone sculptures called moai which can spotted along the coastline. The people of Rapa Nui are incredibly friendly and while most of their culture and way of life has been destroyed, they still dedicate most of their time to traditional woodcarvings, tattooing, string figures, music and dance.
The island is populated by horses who like to graze in the grassy plains and the many maoi that are on the island have been left in the natural landscape. An alternative and unusual attraction off the island is to go on a dive and visit the submerged maoi that was used for Kevin Costner’s film Rapa Nui. The Easter Island is truly one of the most fascinating places on the planet as its 1200-year-old culture is still largely unknown and the landscape is more than enough to fascinate even the most wordly traveller. Volcanic craters, lava formations, shimmering blue water and plenty of archaeological sites make this sub-tropical island a traveller’s dream.
Santiago de Chile:
Chile’s capital city is a modern metropolis with a population of nearly six million and one of the most dynamic economies in South America. the city is filled to the brim with museums, art galleries and theatres, and its literature and music are well recognised internationally. The architecture, streets and squares give it a colonial atmosphere but its proximity to the Andes remind one that you are in fact in South America!
Several excellent ski resorts are located on the eastern side of the mountain and the seaside of the central region offers many chamring cities and glorious beaches. Vina del Mar and Valparaiso are just a couple of the interesting towns which surround the city and the latter is home to South America’s Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda’s own house, which is now a museum.
The Colchague Valley is home to some of Chile’s top red wines and is also incredibly well developed for visiting tourists. The steep hills which surround the valley block the cool breeze from the Pacific and make Colchagua’s hot climate perfect for “big” red wines which need heat and sun to mature. Syrah, Cabernet and Malbec are all grown in the area and the Carmenere variety is best grown here.
The valley is also home to Chile’s boutique wineries which export almost all the wine grown in the region. Country traditions, hospitality and modern winery are setting Colchagua Valley apart from the rest of the country’s wine region as it sets new standards in wine production. A brilliant way to experience the valley is on the steam engine train “Tren del Vino”, which offers passengers wine tasting and local entertainment as you wind through the vineyards of the area.
Lake District – Northern Patagonia:
The “Switzerland of Chile” is renowned for its spectacular scenery which consists of blue mountain lakes, snow-capped volcanoes, forests, resorts and traditional folklore, to name a few. The region stretches from the Pacific east to the Andes and there are 12 major lakes in the districtd, as well as plenty more that dot the landscape. While exploring the lakes, one can find rivers, waterfalls, forests, hot springs and volcanos – Villarica being the highest at 2 847m above sea level.
The area is home to the Mapuche people and the town of Temuco is a great market town where locals sell traditional wares which include crafts in silver and wood. You will find that each destination in the Lake District offers impressive accommodation, food and shopping and manages to combine outdoor activity with luxurious comforts. Puerto Montt, in the south of the district, provides the gateway to some of the regions most magnificent cruises which take you through fjords and hanging valleys. The area is teeming with manmy varieties of fauna, flora, birds and marine animals. The Lake District is a superb destination for lovers of the outdoors, as well as those who enjoy the creature comforts of home.
Legend has it that Patagonia received its name after Spanish navigators first saw the native hunters of the area and thought they had “big feet”. This urban myth has largely been disqualified and logical interpretation has led researchers to believe the name came from the character Patagon in the novel “Primaleon” which general Fernando de Magallanes was apparently quite partial to at the time of discovering the region. Here, the continent disappears into an area filled with islands, glaciers, icerbergs and mountains.
The area has two sub regions: the Aisen Region in the north and the Magallanes Region in the south. The former is home to the Laguna San Rafel National Park and the Austral Road which is ideal for those interested in adventure tourism, outdoor activities and witnessing some of nature’s most spectacular flora and fauna. In the south, one can find the magnificent Torres del Paine National Park, which is undoubtedly one of Chile’s greatest tourist attractions.
The Elqui Valley:
The Elqui Valley is supposed to be the most energetically charged place on earth. Situated to the west of the Andes, in central Chile, scientists first discovered the area’s magnetic forces in 1982. Satellites discovered that the Earth’s greatest point of energy is situated in Chile’s Elqui Valley. The region is also home to one of the clearest atmospheres in the world and makes for perfect stargazing.
It’s not surprising then that many international onbservatories have been built in the area. While stargazing is a prime activity in the region, its temperature and location make it the perfect place for growing grapes. The valley is also Chile’s number one producer of the national alcohol of choice: Pisco. A visit to the area will not go unrewarded as clear skies, a sip of Pisco and the esoteric waves felt in the Elqui Valley make it an interesting and relaxing travel destination.