03 January 2018
From snow-capped peaks to arid deserts, Chile is a land of incredible diversity. Visit this intriguing place, a solid favourite among travel enthusiasts, and prepare for the trip of a lifetime.
Cosmopolitan Santiago is a must for anyone’s itinerary. Delve into the city’s traditional dance scene and watch salsa demonstrations at venues such as Klub Mangosta. Indulge in unique culinary experiences by dining at Aqui Esta Coco, Chile’s first sustainable restaurant which serves delicious seafood and Bocanariz, a fine dining establishment which features one of the best wine lists on earth. Pick up fresh produce like persimmons and figs at the La Vega central market, buy ornate jewellery and ceramic art at the Artesanías de Chile, or browse the Bio Bio Flea Market for antiques.
Your kids will love Santiago’s Fantasilandia amusement park which is filled with twisters, coasters and carousels, while at the Chilean National Zoo they can meet creatures like lions and kangaroos. The city hosts a range of cultural gems including The Museum of Memory and Human Rights which honours those who suffered during the Pinochet regime and colonial-era structure San Francisco Church which is famous for its neoclassical tower. Other sites of interest include Presidential residence the La Moneda Palace and scenic Santiago Metropolitan Park, where you can ride by cable car to the summit of San Cristóbal hill and see the iconic statue of the Virgin Mary.
Take the ride of your life in Chile with various adventure activities. Indulge in a spot of kayaking on Chiloe, South America’s second largest island. While you’re here visit the local people, and listen to traditional legends about sea monsters with your kids, or view the famous ‘palafito’ buildings which are based on stilts at the water’s edge. Head to the Chilean Lake District and engage in pursuits like hiking, volcano-climbing, fly fishing and skiing. Raise your heart rate with a spot of white water rafting on the Futaleufu river in Northern Patagonia, or cable ride in the Cajón del Maipo canyon.
On Chile’s Southern tip you’ll discover Patagonia, a snowy wonderland where you can try various thrilling activities. Head to the region’s picturesque Torres del Paine – a UNESCO-appointed biosphere reserve – and see species like flamingos and andean condors, as well as its famous granite towers, snow-capped mountains, placid azure lakes and impressive glaciers. Brave the elements and trek across the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, sail across the vivid waters of General Carrera Lake and meet endemic penguin species like Magellanic penguins throughout this unspoilt region.
Travel further north and discover a sunnier side to Chile. A must for your itinerary is Atacama, the world’s driest desert. Here you can tour scenic white salt pans, sand-board across giant dunes, catch spectacular sunsets at Valle de La Luna, soak in thermal pools at the El Tatio geyser field and float on the intensely salty waters of Cejar Lagoon. Deep in the desert you’ll find the town of San Pedro de Atacama, a pre-Incan settlement known for its otherworldly rock formations and pretty local church.
Chile is fast becoming a popular beach destination. Find the perfect sunny paradise at Bahia Inglesa, a stretch of shore based on the edge of the Atacama Desert famous for its warm shallow waters and soft white sands. Visit the town of Punta de Lobos and you’ll discover a world-class surfing beach where professional competitions are often held. Playa Amarilla in the coastal resort of Concón is ideal for families with its fine sands and calm waters, while more adventurous swimmers should head to Valparaíso, Chile’s main sea port, where the public beaches often have steep drop offs.
Chile hosts even more fascinating attractions for your itinerary. Head to the Conguillío National Park where you’ll find araucaria forests, rare pudú deer, glacial valleys and the active Llaima Volcano. When you’re in Santiago travel to La Chascona, the former home of iconic poet Pablo Naruda which now serves as a museum where you can learn about his life. Treat your kids with a trip to Aviva Water Park near Valparaíso where they can enjoy wave pools, splash areas and high-speed water slides, or embark on a trek through the majestic Chilean Andes.