People often choose to skip over Chile in favor of the larger South American countries, but this destination should be at the top of everyone’s travel list. Discover glaciers, mountains, volcanoes, deserts, tropical islands, and urban cities all within a single country. If you’re an outdoor person, try taking a tour through enchanting Patagonia. Wine connoisseurs should visit the incredible Central Valley. Maybe a vacation is a way for you to unwind, so you should visit a hot spring spa. Regardless of how you choose to enjoy your journey, you’ll learn Chile itself is an adventure just waiting for you.
Sometimes Mother Nature proves to be a better artist than any human. Over the past 6,000 years, waves have crashed against the marble walls within one of the world’s most beautiful lakes, the General Carrera Lake. These waves have slowly carved a series of smooth caves that perfectly reflect the calm, blue water below. Between September and February, the ice around the lake melts, and the water gains an incredible turquoise color.
Chile’s Central Valley is world-famous for its wines and its beauty. There is no wrong way to enjoy the wines while you’re in this majestic valley. You can take a bicycling tour and go wine tasting, or you can visit the architectural wonders of the modern showcase wineries. Alternatively, you could ride in a horse-drawn carriage and enjoy a rodeo show while at a winery. You have an endless number of choices for how you would like to enjoy Chile’s finest wines.
Between the border of Argentina and Chile is the breathtaking Patagonia region. Not only is this one of the most ridiculously dazzling locations the world has to offer, but it also has a famous hiking trail. This circuit, the W, involves seven days of hiking and trekking, making it an ideal way for adventurers to experience the wonders of Patagonia. You can scale mountains, kayak through rivers, and ride horses over the trails.
At the top of almost every world-traveling surfer’s list are the waves around Punta de Lobos and Pichilemu. These are the waters where one of South America’s greatest surfers, Ramón Navarro, developed his skills. This area is not for beginners, and simply getting from the rocks to the water is a challenge in itself. However, once you take to the water and catch a wave, you’ll realize why this region is a favorite stop on many surfing world tours.
There are few things in this world as relaxing as natural hot spring spas, and the 17 pools of Termas Geometricas are some of the best in the world. A maze of bright red walkways winds through the forest like something out of a fairy tale. The spa sits near the bottom of a canyon, and a warm fog gently envelops the entire area. With the beautiful architecture and enchanting Chilean forest around you, these spas are the perfect place to unwind after a long day.
Though it belongs to Chile, Easter Island is so remote that it takes a five-hour flight from Chile to visit, but it is worth it. Easter Island is home to gigantic stone Moai sculptures that sit at the center of myth and legend, but they are true signs of human ingenuity. The largest of these sculptures, El Gigante, was too ambitious even for the master sculptors who created the Easter Island Heads. Despite being unfinished, El Gigante still towers over you with a height of 72 feet and makes for an incredible photo.
If you’re trying to find a place where you can purchase traditional goods and souvenirs to remember your journey, look no further than the market of Pueblito Los Dominicos. This pseudo-village contains dozens of small stores, cafes, restaurants, and art galleries, all in a charming and rustic location. Visitors can find everything from jewelry and ceramics to wood carvings and Andean textiles. You can even try mouth-watering traditional foods like Chilean empanadas and pastel de choclo.
Many people mistakenly believe that penguins thrive exclusively in the frozen fringes of Earth, but Chile is a prime region for spotting these adorable birds. The waters around and within Chile are home to over one million penguins across a wide range of species. Around Seno Otway, Magdalena Island, and Playa Mar Brava, you’ll be able to see Gentoo, Magellanic, southern rockhopper, Humboldt, and King penguins. If you visit the penguin colony of Isla Damas, you may also discover dolphins and sea lions.
If you’re taking the time to visit Easter Island, you need to spend some time at the extinct volcano, Rano Kau. Within the volcano is a crater lake with a mass covering of floating totora reeds. The edges of the crater wall plunge sharply into the enchanting, cobalt waters of the ocean. Along the slopes are the ruins of the ceremonial village of Orongo, where people once worshipped as part of a bird-man sect. Rano Kau is the perfect blend of a picturesque location, interesting history, and adventure.
Chile was once home to one of the 20th century’s most influential poets, Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda. Now his three homes serve as insights into his life as well as places for writers and fans alike to see just how his surroundings might have inspired him. Each house is in a radically different location: La Chascona is in sunny Santiago; La Sebastiana lies amid of hills and the colorful surroundings of Valparaíso; his home in Isla Negra overlooks the roaring waves of the Pacific Ocean. Not only does a tour of his homes inspire, but it also takes you to some of Chile’s most interesting cities.
Many people see the seaside city of Valparaíso as the cultural heart of Chile, and for a good reason. It's one of Earth’s most colorful cities with a variety of vibrant buildings and stunning street art murals. You could spend days just walking through the city and discovering the stories behind each mural. Valparaíso is like an open-air gallery that exhibits some of the best street art you can find.
If you’re used to living in a city, you probably don’t realize how much light pollution there is and just how much of the night sky that it obscures. Far above Chile are perfect, clear skies that will leave you speechless. For an authentic, stargazing experience, you should visit the ALMA observatory in the Atacama Desert. This observatory is home to the VLT--Very Large Telescope--and it sits in a location that is the perfect combination of dry weather, low light pollution, and altitude for mesmerizing stargazing.