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Where to go in ChileScroll

Where to go in Chile

CHI Jorge Montesinos Htgcfgfbam Unsplash

Where to go in Chile

Chile’s vast length and varied geography means it plays host to a variety of natural and cultural wonders. From the dramatic, awe-inspiring lunar landscapes of the Atacama Desert, to the ice capped valleys of Patagonia, Chile boasts some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. The famous Torres Del Paine National Park and Lake District invite trekkers and other enthusiasts from across the planet, as does Rapa Nui (Easter Island) with its gigantic and mysterious statues. Others come in search of the perfect wine or some time in the bustling, European style city of Santiago.


Possibly the most famous region in Chile, it is the natural world in its full glory. Located at the end of the earth, Mother Nature has truly worked her magic, where imposing granite towers overlook turquoise blue glacial lakes, raging rivers rush along valley floors past evergreen forests, and majestic glaciers carpet mountain valleys. Endless expanses of flat plains are occupied by cattle and their hard working ‘baqueanos’ (cowboys), dramatic fjords create awe-inspiring vistas, and penguins make their homes on remote islands. Chilean Patagonia is a harsh environment but infinitely beautiful.

Making up an area which is roughly the size of Britain, over half of Chilean Patagonia is Protected Wilderness Area, and there is less than one person living per square kilometre. The area is broken up into two parts; the northern Aisen region and Magallanes to the south. The Magallanes region, or southern Patagonia, is famed for the incredible Torres del Paine National Park. Trekkers from all over the world converge from October to March, to catch an up-close glimpse of the monumental towers, or the infamous horns. The elusive puma roams in the valleys, as the guanaco keeps watch. Flamingos frequent glacial lakes and the condor soars high above the peaks.

Atacama Desert

Chile’s northern reaches are now famous worldwide due to the rescue of the 33 miners from the San Jose mine in Copiapo in August 2010. It is home to the highest and driest desert in the world, the Atacama Desert, and stretches roughly 500 miles from Copiapo to the northern tip of Chile. Flanked by the Andes, it plays host to hot springs, geysers, salt flats and dramatic scenery that has been compared to that of the Moon and Mars and there are parts of the desert where rainfall has never been recorded.

A number of National Parks protect the beautiful landscapes of this area, home to a variety of unusual wildlife. Wild vicunas and guanacos roam the Puna de Atacama whilst herds of domesticated alpaca and lama graze on the desert vegetation. Small rabbit like creatures scurry around on rocky outcrops, flamingos frequent mineral lakes, and Andean condors soar above the snow-capped volcanos.

Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, its indigenous name, is a tiny volcanic island sitting in the Pacific Ocean roughly 2,000 miles off the western coast of Chile. As one of the most remote inhabited places on the planet, it is shrouded in mystery, due to more than 800 iconic statues, known as Moai, scattered all over the island. It is still unknown how the massive stone men came to be, with theories stretching from alien invasion to the more probable creation by ancient Polynesian tribesman. Although now part of Chile, it is heavily influenced by its Polynesian heritage, and it is believed that 60 per cent of its 5,000 or so inhabitants are descendants of the aboriginal Rapa Nui.

It is believed that the first settlers of the island came from the Marquesas Islands in the sixth century. Here they lived in absolute isolation for over a thousand years before Jacob Roggveen of the Dutch East India Company stumbled upon the island on Easter Sunday 1722, and its European name ensued. Such isolation created an obscure culture, which was compounded by food shortages and the inevitable tribal warfare followed. But the island spirit lives on its people, and their traditions are celebrated every year in February when the annual Tapati Rapa Nui festival is held. Here you will see ancestral traditions such as singing, dancing, body painting and the selection of their new queen.

Lake District