Chile’s geography is one of the most unique in the world with 5,302 km in length and an average width of 200 km boasting an amazing variety of landscapes, from its incredible beautiful desert and highlands in the north and its spectacular geysers, to the south with some of the world's largest "active" glaciers, as well as beautiful lakes and fjords, and not to forget the remote Easter Island and its mystical Moais.
Within a few hours drive from the capital you are able to ski in the Andes, lunch on a delicious seafood platter facing the Pacific Ocean, mountain climb the highest peak in the Americas, or simply enjoy some premium wines in a state-of-the-art winery.
Eating out in Chile is good value, with a wonderful choice of restaurants offering both Chilean and international cuisine, including fresh fish and superb seafood dishes, or try the local parillas for a delicious barbecued steak.
For accommodation, choose from international hotels, locally-run smaller hotels, eco-lodges and country hotels. Some superb hotels have opened in recent years in the Atacama Desert and also in Patagonia and the Lake District.
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Where to go in Chile
Official language: Spanish
Currency: Chilean Peso (CLP)
Time zone: GMT −4 hours (- 6 Easter Island)
International dialling code: +56
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Santiago is a very pretty, modern city with elegant parks, walkways, colonial architecture and fantastic seafood restaurants. It's the perfect base to explore the nearby vineyards and countryside. Take a wine-tasting tour en route to Viña del Mar, the "Garden City", and Valparaíso, one of the most picturesque ports, beloved by artists, just 90 minutes' drive from Santiago.
Lake District & Patagonia
Chile’s Lake District and Patagonia, in the south, boasts some of the biggest active glaciers in the world as well as crystalline lakes, fjords, bays, volcanoes and snow-capped peaks.
Enjoy a vast array of outdoor pursuits in the Lake District from fishing to horse riding and exploring the surrounding waterfalls and forests. Or simply relax, take in the wonderful pure air and enjoy the views!
In Patagonia, enjoy hot springs and a catamaran trip to San Rafael Lagoon to watch the ice floes break away from a thousand year old glacier. Or, hike the trails of southern Patagonia’s most famous attraction, Torres del Paine, with its impressive peaks, lagoons and Grey Glacier.
The driest desert on earth. Explore the spectacular geysers, hot springs, amazing rock formations and Paleolithic ruins from your hotel base in the remote oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes. A truly unique place.
Located in the Pacific Ocean 3,700 km west of Chile’s mainland, about 5hrs flight from Santiago, Easter Island is one of the most isolated inhabited places on the planet and a spectacular outdoor museum, famous for its Moai (giant statues of carved heads) set in a remote and unspoilt landscape. Join some of the escorted tours with the locals to discover the beauty and the secret of this mystical island.
When to go
The seasons are opposite to those in the Northern hemisphere with a Mediterranean climate in Santiago’s central valley, with hot summer days and cool nights from November to March and mild winters.
In the south in Patagonia, winters are harsh and windy (mid-May to mid-September) whilst the summer is mild with temperatures around 20°C and long sunny days (with more than 20 hours of sunlight per day!).
The best time to visit the Chilean Lake District is in the summer from November to March which also coincides with the fishing season. Bear in mind that it is rainy in the Lake District from April to October.
The Atacama Desert is a year-long destination with temperatures ranging between 15-24°C, blue skies and sunshine and no rainfall.
Easter Island has a subtropical, very pleasant climate with temperatures ranging between 17-25°C.
Where to go next
Combine Chile with Bolivia for a spectacular Andean Traverse through the salt flats, or with Argentina crossing the border in Patagonia or in the Lake District (crossing the expansive shimmering lakes between Argentina and Chile is a popular way to cross between the two countries).
You can also cross the Andes from Mendoza in Argentina to Santiago – a scenic full day’s bus drive.
Map of Chile
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