Discover Chile Attractions: Top 10 experiences in Chile you can’t Afford to miss
1. Hiking in Torres del Paine, Patagonia
Hiking in Torres del Paine is a lifetime must-do. With the snow-capped Paine Grande mountain, the majestically jagged Torres, and the picture-perfect view of the granite-topped Cuernos, you have to be careful to look down at your feet once in a while to check you’re not heading towards a cliff edge in your awestruck state! The W Trek and Paine Circuit are classic trekking routes that can be enjoyed from October to April and if you’re after most relaxed hiking with an emphasis on wildlife then a Patagonian Wildlife Safari is perfect for you. While in Torres del Paine you should also make time for a day of Fly Fishing and a trip to Perito Moreno glacier just across the border in Argentina.
2. Exploring Easter Island in the Pacific
Easter Island is a mystical place, steeped in rich Pacific history. The most isolated inhabited island on the planet, Chile has laid claim to this 164 km2/ 63 sq mi island 3700 km / 2300 miles off the Chilean coastline since annexing it in 1888. The most famous feature of the island is the Moai stone statues as tall as 10 meters, with some weighing over 70 tonnes. These statues have been the topic of much controversy concerning the supposed ecocide which occurred on the island, provoked by the ancient Polynesians. To check out the stone statues and wild beaches for yourself go on a Rapa Nui Explorer program and discover the island’s mysteries.
3. Trekking in the Atacama Desert
The world’s oldest, the driest desert is located in Chile’s northern sector, covering 105,000 km2 / 40,600 square miles of land. So dry in fact that scientists have been searching for what could be similar to live on Mars, hoping to find the closest thing to a Mars martian. Yet one of Atacama’s most attractive features is its diverse scenery, not encompassing only dunes and sand flats but rivers, gorges, and an abundance of wildlife. Trekking through the desert close to San Pedro de Atacama brings a surprise at each corner and lets you explore the natural, cultural and archaeological highlights of the region.
4. Marveling at Monkey Puzzle Trees in the Lake District
Chile’s Lake District is a wondrous combination of active steaming volcanoes, vast blue lakes, and dark green forests. Many forests are lined with Araucarias (aka monkey puzzle trees) which are hundreds of years old. Kayaking, rafting, and hiking are particularly popular activities in the Lake District, as well as exploring the old German architecture towns such as Puerto Varas and Frutillar. The Lake District is at the northern peak of Patagonia and is the point of embarkation for ships heading south down to the depths of Patagonia.
5. Drinking Pisco Sour in Santiago’s Bohemian Neighbourhoods
Santiago might not have always had the best reputation compared with its Latino Licious neighbors, but today it is considered an upbeat cosmopolitan South American capital. First came the New York Times ranking it no.1 in their list of 41 places to go in 2011, then came National Geographic ranking Santiago’s Central Market number 5 in their top 10 food markets, then came CNN ranking Santiago at number 3 in the world’s most loved cities (then came to the Chileans saying we told you so). The city’s unique bohemian neighborhoods make up a lot of downtown Santiago and are the perfect spot for enjoying Chile’s national drink, pisco sour.
6. Dining in Valparaiso overlooking the Pacific
Valparaiso – the jewel of the Pacific, famous calling port for sailors having survived Cape Horn, the eclectic multi-colored city spread out over interconnecting hills… (ever so slightly run-down coastal city but we love it anyway). No trip to Chile’s capital is complete without at least a day trip to Valparaiso to walk up and down the winding hills and enjoy some Pescado (fish) overlooking the Pacific bay. It’s also a great opportunity to get in touch with Nobel prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda’s literature and to check out neighboring upmarket town Viña del Mar.
7. Horseback Riding through the Andes Mountains
Another unmissable day trip from Santiago is a hiking, rafting, or horseback riding in the Andes Mountains. There’s a real feeling of adventure as you ride or hike through valleys steeped with vegetation, shadowed by arid mountain cliffs with condors flying overhead. El Colorado is a popular horse-riding and hiking spot (popular for skiing in winter) while further south in Cajón del Maipo there are popular trails with hot springs at the end of them. A great warm-up for your Patagonia hike or Atacama trek, or just a nice day trip away from the city to explore the Andes Mountain wildlife.
8. Wine Tasting in Chile’s Central Valleys
Chilean wine has a fine reputation – good quality, low price, and very tasty! Where better to sample the delights of Carmenere and Chilean cabernet than amid Chilean vineyard land? Wineries vary from small boutique vineyards (some including adventure activities such as zip-lining in a warm-up to the wine tasting) to famous producers like Concha y Toro. Half-day, full day and multi-day trips are all on offer.
9. Skiing in world-class resort Valle Nevado
Got a craving to go skiing out of season? In the northern hemisphere’s summer, Chile’s ski season is in full swing, welcoming skiers and snowboarders from across the globe. El Colorado, Farellones, La Parva, and Portillo are all popular resorts close to Santiago but the most well-renowned resort in the Andes Mountains has to be Valle Nevado. With pistes for all levels of expertise, a snow park, and an array of cafes and restaurants, Valle Nevado makes an ideal day trip from Santiago between May and September. The best part? You can now combine skiing in the Andes with a Patagonian Wildlife Safari throughout September!
10. Border hopping into Argentina and Bolivia
OK, so it’s not strictly Chile, although hopping across the border into neighboring countries is a highlight of being at one of Chile’s extremes. From Torres del Paine in southern Chilean Patagonia, it’s just a short journey across the border into Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. So easy in fact that you do the first-ever Torres del Paine – Perito Moreno glacier – Torres del Paine is just one day! At Chile’s northern end you can do a great 4×4 trip across the Altiplano from San Pedro de Atacama through the Bolivia Uyuni Salt Flat, ending in La Paz.