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Chile stretches down the edge of South America and hosts a huge variety of ecosystems just itching to be explored by the intrepid traveler. From the incredible wilderness of southern Patagonia to the surreal, barren landscapes of the northern Atacama Desert, read on to discover eight reasons why Chile should be the next stop on your travel agenda.
With its gigantic creaking glaciers, majestic snow-capped peaks, crystalline blue lakes and sweeping lush forested valleys, Patagonia is one of our planet’s most pristine wilderness regions. Anyone in Chile with even a passing interest in the great outdoors has a duty to pay her a visit. The best way to enjoy such beauty at its rawest is to hire a tent, put on some comfortable shoes and set off on one of its many amazing hiking trails.
Chile’s southern fjords are one of the most isolated regions on Earth. This endless archipelago of scattered islands and scraggly cliffs is home to nothing more than the odd sea lion and a few flocks of migrating birds. Take a three day cruise right through the heart of the fjords to get to know this magical region for yourself, up close and personal.
A windy, mostly desolate island is the middle of the Pacific, thousands of miles from anywhere. Sounds boring, right? On the contrary, Easter Island is an international tourism hit thanks to a series of mysterious stone statues known as the Moai. The statues were carved hundreds of years ago by the native Rapa Nui people, but apart from that, much of their history remains a mystery. Aside from the Moai, the island boasts incredible sunsets and some remarkable indigenous culture.
Llamas roam freely in the mountains, wildcats lurk through the plains, penguins huddle together in their thousands, and foxes forage farms for grains. Chile’s incredible climatic diversity means the country is home to a staggering number of fascinating animal species. No matter which part of the country you choose to explore, you’re bound to make contact with a member of the animal kingdom.
With over seven million inhabitants, Santiago is Chile’s biggest urban center by far. This modern and economically prosperous metropolis is absolutely brimming with modern urban culture. From hip cafes to busy skate parks and weekly political magazines, Santiago is the true heart of Chile. Valparaiso is another city dweller’s dream, with a more artsy bohemian vibe, it’s perfect for those searching for a little creative inspiration.
Chilean cuisine might not come to mind when compiling a list of international culinary destinations, but it should. With fresh seafood scooped up daily from the country’s 2,600 miles (4,200 km) of coastline, delicious avocado accompanying just about everything, and a number of world class fine-dining restaurants gaining an international reputation, foodies will rejoice on a trip to Chile.
Chilean wine has really started turning heads in recent decades, gaining international acclaim and capturing a sizable export market. Every restaurant and liquor store in the country will sell you some delicious velvety goodness, but the best way to truly appreciate the industry is to visit a vineyard for yourself. If this happens to be around harvest time, then all the better. Salud!
A world away from the glacial lakes of southern Patagonia, northern Chile is home to the driest place on earth – the Atacama Desert. The main attractions here center around the tourist magnet of San Pedro de Atacama, a place where you can enjoy high altitude lagoons, bizarre geological marvels and some of the best stargazing opportunities on earth.