Chile, stretching along South America’s western coast, is a minefield of diversity. Its outstanding natural attractions span from vast deserts to pretty waterways and active volcanoes to soaring mountains. Chile is an inspiring destination waiting to be discovered. The capital, Santiago, offers fine restaurants, a buzzing nightlife, limitless cultural attractions and easy access to world-class ski resorts, beautiful beaches and white-water rafting opportunities.
Perhaps the country’s most attractive feature is its beautiful natural environment, which is complemented by abundant adventure and leisure opportunities. Its pretty coastline encompasses nearly 5,000kms of golden bays and beaches while the mighty Andes offer further possibilities for activity and sightseeing. The vast Atacama Desert, the fascinating volcanic regions and the desolate landscapes of Patagonia are other draws.
In the north is Arica, which lies near to Lauca National Park and its archaeological and natural sights including Putre’s geoglyphs. An unmissable heritage site, La Serena is also within reach and one of Chile’s oldest post-Colombian areas.
Chile’s national parks are outstanding. Puyehue National Park in the Lake District is the most visited. Its unusual volcanic landscape and thick forest conceal a diversity collection of wildlife. At Chile’s southernmost tip is the remote region of Patagonia, where Laguna San Rafael National Park offers sightseeing of fjords, icebergs and mountains.
Featuring 150-plus wooden churches, the compact island of Chiloé is home to Chiloé National Park, an extensive woodland area. Easter Island rests 3,700kms west off the mainland and is where hundreds of huge hand-carved statues constructed from volcanic basalt are found. How these artworks were transported from inland quarries to the shoreline remains a mystery.
Leisure and sporting opportunities include climbing, hiking, rafting, diving and mountain biking. But you can also relax in the sun and sample world famous Chilean wines.
Chile is easily accessible by air via Santiago International Airport and by bus from neighbouring countries. It offers every class and style of hotel from pampered luxury in the main cities and ski resorts to home stays and more basic hostels in less populated areas.