Chile the land of deserts and glaciers
Chile occupies a long north-to-south strip on the southwest coast of South America and offers the visitor over 5,000 kilometres of Pacific coastline. In the north, the desolation of the Atacama Desert is relieved by the opportunity to surf or sunbathe at La Serena or Arica, ‘The City of Eternal Spring’. The Central region has a Mediterranean feel; it features the Garden City of Vina del Mar and the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Valparaiso and Rancaguar. Santiago de Chile is the capital city and it offers the unique combination of skiing in the Andes in the morning and swimming on a Pacific beach in the afternoon! The Southern region offers the lush beauty of the fjords and the opportunity to ski on a volcano at Mt. Osorno. In the extreme south, visit the Tierra del Fuego National Park or examine the world-famous Moia statues on Easter Island.
A journey down through Chile on the southernmost stretch of the Pan American Highway will reward you with some of the most stunning scenery in South America. To the east, you will see the snow-capped peaks of the Andes; to the west, admire the beauty of the Pacific Ocean coastline.
When to Go?
The north has a desert climate, but most of the rest of the country has four seasons, with summer running from December to February and winter falling in the period June-August. The main annual attractions are the famous Vina de Mara music festival in mid-February and the Valparaiso festival: in the last week of each year, the town invites a different country to showcase its culture, including music, dance and theatre.
How to get there?
The main airport, at Santiago (SCL) welcomes flights from all over South America, from numerous locations throughout the USA and also from Toronto, Paris, Madrid and Auckland. You can also fly into the north - Arica Airport (ARI); and in the south, Concepcion (CCP). There are a further 50 airports dotted across the country.
Tour Santiago Centro by bus or ascend by cable-car to the Parque Metropolitano, with its Botanic Gardens and Zoo. In the south, go to Easter Island, visit the penguin colony at Punto Arenas and admire the Andean/Patagonian Forest at Tierra del Fuego. Examine the southern hemisphere’s clearest skies at La Serena observatory. Gaze on the ramshackle, chaotic streetscape of Valparaiso from an ascensore cable-car. Visit the UNESCO-listed Sewell Copper Mine near Rancaguar. In Concepcion, tour the captured Peruvuan ship Huascar. Visit the National Park in Puerto Varas, or take a bus-tour from Valdivia to view 17th Century Spanish forts.