Chile

Published on March 24th, 2016 | by Nick Dall

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Introducing Chile: Land of extremes

Measuring 2600 miles from North to South but averaging only 110 miles in width, Chile is home to both the driest desert on the planet and some of the world’s most prolific glaciers. Wedged between the bountiful Pacific Ocean and the towering Andes, this is Nature on a grand scale. There’s kayaking, skiing, fishing and trekking galore but there’s also oodles of culture, food and fun.

For nature lovers

Chile spans nearly 40 degrees of latitude, and it offers some of the most diverse climates and landscapes on the planet. The town of San Pedro de Atacama in the Atacama Desert is like Arizona on steroids: some weather stations have never recorded precipitation, and the snow-capped volcanoes, high altitude geysers, and freakish rock formations make it a fantastic place for photography, star gazing and contemplation.

atacama_sample_18

A little further south you come to the beaches of La Serena (rustic) and Viña del Mar (snazzier), but be warned: the water in Chile is almost as cold as an Oregon beach in January. The pastoral Central Valley surrounding the capital, Santiago, is known for its wine and apple farms – with the ever-present Andes providing a spectacular and unexpected backdrop.

South of the capital is the magnificent Lake District; a fairytale land of Halcyon lakes, evergreen forests, jagged peaks and crystalline rivers. “Like Switzerland without the Swiss,” a jovial Irish hostel owner told me. You could easily spend two weeks in the Lake District and not run out of beautiful places to see.

Next is Patagonia proper, a vast underpopulated region which spans the southern halves of both Chile and Argentina. In winter Patagonia can be pretty rough but in summer its fjords, islands, glaciers and cliffs put on a show that’s far better than anything Hollywood could come up with. The whole region is incredible but the Torres del Paine National Park, with its fairytale peaks and mirror smooth lakes, will redefine your understanding of the word ‘stunning’.

Patagonia_cabalgata

Finally you reach Tierra del Fuego, a mythical island of extreme beauty and hardship. Tierra del Fuego is the closest continental landmass to Antarctica, and even today it retains an air of adventure and heroism which more than justifies the extremely high prices!

For thrill seekers

All that nature means Chile has an outlet for every kind of adrenaline junky, but it does have a self-proclaimed adventure capital.  Pucón is located on the shores of picturesque Lago Villarica, and surrounded by forests, mountains and national parks.  Pucón’s biggest drawcard is hiking to the edge of the crater of still-smouldering Volcan Villarica, which at 2800 metres above sea level can be reached in a day – be sure to hire a guide, though, as the hike requires crampons and an ice axe. In summer the kayaking and rafting on the Colaico River is out of the very top drawer, while there’s great skiing in the winter months. Year round attractions include mountain biking , canopy (whiz across valleys while strapped to a metal cable) and numerous hot springs.

Atacama_cabalgatas

But of course Pucón is not the only place to get your kicks. Other bucket list experiences include horseback-riding in the Atacama Desert, going on a multi-day trek through Torres del Paine and casting a fly for the jumbo trout of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.

For culture vultures

The majority of the population lives in the fertile Central Valley where they have been making art, poetry and wine for millennia. Santiago is home to some fantastic colonial architecture, art galleries and museums as well as a thriving food and wine scene. Chile’s best wineries are also found close to the capital, and every itinerary should include at least one day of wine-tasting.

Wine Caliterra Vineyard

The ramshackle port town of Valparaiso, with its colourful houses and hair-raising funicular has attracted loads of creative souls and it boasts an energy that’s second to none. On the other end of the spectrum the simple wooden churches on the remote archipelago of Chiloe are evocative in the extreme.

Chile is known throughout South America as ‘The Land of Poets’, but far and away the most famous of these is the Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda. Neruda was a national hero and all three of his houses – in Santiago, Valparaiso and Isla Negra – have been turned into truly exceptional museums. His quirky sense of architecture and design and his obsession with all things maritime have stuck with me forever.

pablo-neruda_0

As if this isn’t enough Chile has one more ace up its sleeve: rugged and enigmatic Rapa Nui (Easter Island), located 3500km from the mainland, is home to the mysterious carved heads or moai which have fascinated explorers and academics for centuries. Most people don’t have the time or money to include Rapa Nui on their itinerary. But those who do never forget their time on the mysterious island.

Chile is so vast and so diverse that you can’t possibly experience everything it has to offer on one holiday. But choosing which spots to visit is half of the fun, isn’t it?

Rapa Nui_moai

With the exception of the image of Neruda (stock) and the wine country (supplied by Caliterra Vineyards) all other images were supplied by Explora Hotels.

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About the Author

Nick is a nomadic freelance writer with a particular passion for Latin America. He has lived in Argentina and Bolivia and traveled just about everywhere else. He gets excited about wine, language, literature, trout and cheese.



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    Nick is a dreamer, a thinker, someone that will always wonder at what lies beyond. It’s why he conceptualizes his position as Chief Explorer, a role that feeds the soul of our organization with adventure and curiosity. His most recent and most ambitious exploration yet will bring the world on a 2,000 walk across the Andes along the great Inca Road, known as the Qhapaq Nan. He will be taking his grand tour of that faraway place, to better understand our world and how our clients can play a role in it.

    Cheers to Nick! The #saexpeditionsuniverse looks forward to continuing our journey of enlightenment through travel with you. See more

    3 months ago

    6 women to thank every time you fly

    March 8th 2017 is International Women’s Day. Here are six women to thank every time you fly.
    #internationalwomensday #trendsetters #aviation #changemakers

    Thought aviation was a man’s world? Think again. These six women transformed the way you fly today

    3 months ago

    CLIENT REVIEW: Trip planned by destination expert Staci Steele.

    “My husband and I just returned from an absolutely spectacular trip to Chile and Argentina planned by SA Luxury Expeditions. Not only

    The thing that really blew me away, though, was the crescendo of the trip. While everything we did and everywhere we stayed was top-notch, each successive stop and activity just got a little more wonderful than the last. The result was a truly fantastic week and a half that we’ll always cherish. I highly recommend SA Luxury Expeditions to anyone looking to travel in South America, whether you’re looking for a low-key trip or an action-packed adventure. We got a wonderful mix of both and enjoyed every second of it!”
    #chile #argentina #patagonia See more

    3 months ago

    ‘We are rewriting the textbooks’: first dives to Amazon coral reef stun scientists

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/17/we-are-rewriting-the-textbooks-first-dives-to-amazon-coral-reef-stun-scientists

    Scientists have discovered the river reef is far bigger, and more important, than first thought – a biodiversity hotspot on a par with the Great Barrier Reef. Now they face a race to protect it See more

    3 months ago

    Timeline Photos

    The Copacabana neighborhood is located in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is known for its 2.5 miles Balneario Beach, one of the most famous in the world. During the 2016 Olympics in See more

    3 months ago

    Timeline Photos

    Ecuador, traditionally a prominant South American producer of cacao is stepping into a new light as its chocolateers are gaining noteriety on the world stage.
    #chocolate #ecuador #pacari See more

    3 months ago

    Friday February 24th marked the start of Carnival 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The lively celebration which includes live music, street performances, dancing, floats and costumes, attracts

    The word Carnival originates from the Portuguese ‘Carne Vale’, interpreted as ‘Farewell to meat’. The phrase refers to the Carnival as being the ultimate celebration before a period of abstinence from alcohol, meat and pleasure during Lent. Brazil’s Carnival began in the 1830s as a continuation of the Portuguese tradition, though, Rio’s Carnival has a unique style, which is mainly attributed to the influence of African immigrant slaves, famous for their spectacular musical abilities which gave life to the first samba rhythms.

    #Rio #Carnival #Samba #Brazil See more

    4 months ago

    The science behind why you should spend money on family holidays instead of toys

    #familyvacation #happychild #giveexperiences

    Parents have been wasting hundreds of pounds on toys, according to one of Britain’s leading child psychologists and should be spending their money on holidays instead.

    4 months ago

    CLIENT REVIEW:
    One of our favorite travel testimonial comes from Danielle Vogel of Virginia. Her trip to Argentina and Chile was planned by our destination expert Staci Steele.

    “My husband and I

    The thing that really blew me away, though, was the crescendo of the trip. While everything we did and everywhere we stayed was top-notch, each successive stop and activity just got a little more wonderful than the last. The result was a truly fantastic week and a half that we’ll always cherish. I highly recommend SA Luxury Expeditions to anyone looking to travel in South America, whether you’re looking for a low-key trip or an action-packed adventure. We got a wonderful mix of both and enjoyed every second of it!”
    – Danielle V
    #chile #argentina See more

    4 months ago

    Jaguar vs. Giant Anteater

    ‘Insane’ camera-trap video captures rare battle in the Amazon.
    Jaguar vs. Giant Anteater. Anteater wins!
    #amazon #jaguar #anteater #moveoverhoneybadger

    4 months ago

    Chilean dreams of rescuing box camera photography

    No need to pack the selfie stick if you’re headed for Santiago, Chile
    #santiago #chile #boxcamera

    Luis Maldonado is the last remaining photographer in the main square of the Chilean capital still using a wooden box camera.

    4 months ago

    Timeline Photos

    CLIENT REVIEW:
    “Jeanie: Our trip was absolutely magical thanks to all the great organization, preparation, wonderful suggestions and impeccable professional services we received from SA…starting

    Our hotels were fantastic… the food was fantastic…. even though there were unforeseen circumstances such as a protest that shut down all tourist roads throughout the Sacred Valley, SA Expeditions reacted with quickly. I cannot say enough about the drivers (Louis especially) and all the guides who were with us. They were knowledgeable, gracious, always willing to go the extra distance and warm lovely friends. We loved them all. The horse back/hiking trip to Choquechaca was an experience we will never forget. It was Peter’s 65th birthday in Cusco and SA even arranged to have the meal paid for by our thoughtful children.

    In short, it was the best trip we have experienced and we look forward to many more!

    Thanks so much for creating a truly memorable experience…we only regret we did not get to meet you in Lima!

    Thanks again,
    Pam and Peter”

    #peru #peruvianfood #machupicchu #sacredvalley #choquechaca #cicciolina #birthdaytrip See more

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