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Boasting nearly 4,000 miles of coastline, some of the clearest desert skies on the planet and the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park, it’s no wonder Chile is an international destination for nature lovers. With such unique geography and an excess of natural beauty, there’s too many epic places in Chile for even Chileans to explore.
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Catch a view of four different Chilean volcanoes at the El Mirador lookout in Sanctuario El Cañi. This 1,500 acre nature preserve is located 13 miles east of Pucón, one of southern Chile’s leading cities for adventure tourism. The private nature preserve offers camping facilities, nature guides and incredible views. Hiking up to El Mirador lookout takes around four hours surrounded by a forest of gorgeous araucaria, or monkey puzzle trees. Well worth the climb, the view of volcanoes Llaima, Villarrica, Quetrupillan and Lanín is hard to beat.
Located in the stunning and relatively untouched Aysén region of southern Chile, Queulat National Park is a quiet and gorgeous park filled with waterfalls, ice fields, rivers and virgin forests. The park’s most notable feature is the Ventisquero Colgante glacier wedged between two mountains.
The Mapu Lahual park in the southern Osorno province is a leading ethnotourism destination in Chile. The park aims to protect Chile’s Huilliche culture, a group of Chile’s indigenous Mapuche people. Located on the southern Chilean coast, Mapu Lahual park offers stunning and secluded ocean views.
A list of Chile’s lesser-known natural treasures wouldn’t be complete without Laguna de Incas. Located relatively close to Chile’s capital Santiago, in the central Valparaíso region, Laguna de Incas is a short trip for centrally-based travelers short on time. Visit the Portillo ski resort at the south end of the Inca lake and soak in the calming view of the Andes mountains.
This gorgeous natural park located on Chile’s northern coast is an often overlooked destination among Chileans. Pan de Azúcar National Park is ideal for spotting local wildlife like the guanaco, a llama-like camelid. Over 27 types of cacti can be found in the coastal desert park, which offers a stunning view of the ocean. Boat trips to Pan de Azúcar Island to see the breeding grounds of the Humboldt penguins are also available.
On the edge of Laguna San Rafael National Park, a trip to the Catedral de Mármol and Capilla de Mármol islets makes for a truly unique outdoor experience. These awesome cathedral-like structures made of calcium carbonate have been named a national monument of Chile. On the General Carrera Lake, South America’s second largest lake, impressive views of the surrounding Andes mountains add to the magic of this gorgeous area.
In the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park, a less-common trek to the Glacier Grey provides the unique experience of climbing a real-life glacier. This glacier forms part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and is the largest ice mass in the world outside of the North and South Poles. Trapped air under fallen snow is what causes the glaciers’ gorgeous blue hue. Excursions on the Glacier Grey can be booked through the tour company Bigfoot Adventure Patagonia.