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There’s nowhere in the world quite like the mystical Valle de Elqui. Driving through the vineyard-filled valley and gazing up at the stars in the velvet sky are essential to the Chilean travel experience. Attracting hippies, hipsters and international travelers, the valley offers magical camping experiences, unforgettable stargazing and the chance to learn about the production of the Chile’s national liquor, pisco. Mistral pisco is produced in the valley, where pisco grapes are grown.
Valle de la Luna is a must-see for anyone traveling northern Chile. Located eight miles from San Pedro de Atacama, these unique stone and sand formations attract visitors from all over the world. These strange shapes and textures come from weathering caused by both water and wind. The moon-like landscape is what inspired the valley’s name, which translates literally to ‘valley of the moon’. Sunsets here present golden opportunities for photographers. Just don’t forget the sunblock and a bottle of water – the Atacama desert is one of the driest places on Earth.
In Chile’s central Valparaíso region the Laguna de Incas is one of the country’s lesser-known natural treasures despite its breathtaking beauty and proximity to the capital. The small Portillo ski resort is located at the south end of the Inca lake, which offers a stunning view of the Andes mountains. Just over a two-hour drive from Santiago, the lake isn’t far from the capital in comparison to other sites of natural beauty. There’s also the possibility of stopping on the way for a weekend of wine tasting in Mendoza, Argentina.
Towering above the vast Villarrica Lake in the tourist city of Pucón, Chile, the Villarrica Volcano is one of Chile’s most active volcanoes. It’s also one of the few volcanoes in the world with a lava lake within its crater. Last time the volcano erupted was in 2015, but that usually doesn’t stop trekkers from climbing it when it’s inactive. Besides the volcano, Pucón attracts tourists due to its black pebble beaches, with gorgeous hikes and fishing and rafting opportunities for the more adventurous.
This stunning glacier in the Torres del Paine National Park entices adventurers from all over the world. Forming part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, it’s the largest ice mass in the world outside of the North and South Poles. Over time, pressure builds expelling any air trapped with fallen snow, which gives the glaciers a unique blue hue. Excursions on the Grey Glacier are available through Bigfoot Adventure Patagonia, who offer kayaking trips and hikes across the glaciers. But be warned: the hikes are physically demanding so make sure you’re in good enough shape for the challenge.