Chile was a country that really took me by surprise, and I am often asked why? I am not sure what I expected Chile to be like but at the same time, I feel like my expectations were blown out of the water when I visited. Therefore check out this extensive Chile travel guide to witness such a diverse variety of culture, landscapes and wildlife. From north to south it spans a whopping 4,270 km meaning that it is home to one of the driest desert regions in the world as well as glaciers and mountain ranges that look like they’ve just jumped off a polygraph test, meaning Chile has something for everyone. In no particular order, here are 8 reasons to add Chile to your bucket list explaining why we feel you need to get Chile right now.
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Glaciers, Waterfalls, Hummingbirds and Enchanted Forests
Queulat National Park is a small national park located right on the Carretera Austral in Southern Chile; though fairly small in size, it packs a lot of punch. Just a 300m hike will bring you to the Ventisquero Colgante (Hanging Glacier) or, if you prefer, get lost amongst hundreds of hummingbirds in the Enchanted Forest.
Torres Del Paine National Park
Torres del Paine truly is the tourist trap of Chile; located in the Patagonia region (a huge area spanning over one million kilometres in southern Chile and Argentina), it is easy to see how why thousands of people flock to here and in particularly, to this particular national park. There are two main routes that are chosen to explore Torres Del Paine and that is the W Trek (4-5) days and the O Trek (7-10 days). Others also include day hikes such as the French Valley Hike. After a long slog in the mercy of the Chilean wild, nothing quite beats getting up to Las Torres in time for sunrise on your final day to witness the rocks turn a fiery red. P.S; this means we recommend hiking west to east.
Needing more information? Check out this comprehensive guide on Torres Del Paine W Trek.
You Can Hike an Active Volcano
No joke, hike an active volcano! Situated in the small and cosy town of Pucon in the heart of the Los Lagos region of Chile lies the Villarrica Volcano. Prepare for rocks, snow, crampons and ice picks as you ascend your way to the lava filled summit. The journey back down is just as unforgettable; get ready to literally slide down the mountain on a plastic seat through trails dug out in the snow. Cool Runnings anyone?
Chile has its own version of Yosemite
Those who have visited the natural wonder that is Yosemite in Northern California know that it is a maze of towering granite peaks, 1000ft waterfalls and a sanctuary for wildlife. Cochamo Valley is located in the Los Lagos region of Chile close to the Argentinian border and is literally the Yosemite of Chile. The valley, which was once a popular drug smuggling route between Argentina and Chile is home to colourful granite cliffs and lush green forest. It is the perfect place for rock climbers, though there are some pretty awesome hikes there too; think mud, scrambling and hoisting yourself up questionable looking ropes as you ascend to the peak of Cerro Arco Iris.
You can see the closest place on earth to the stars
Not only is the Atacama desert the driest in the world, it is also the closest place on Earth to the stars. The lack of light pollution and its geographical position contribute to making this place one of the best stargazing spots in the world. It is also home to the European Southern Observatory who were responsible for the recent discovery of the TRAPPIST-1f system. Though it’s a few hundred kilometres from San Pedro which is where you will do most of your stargazing.
For those who will travel Chile on a budget, empanadas will be your life. Although, even if you’re not on a budget you need to have these delicious little treats in your life. Empanadas are pastries filled with a variety of different flavours; common options include Napolitana (Ham, Cheese and Tomato), Carne (usually ground red meat) and Pollo (Chicken). Unlucky for us we had our best empanada on Easter Island, which was the first stop on our Chilean adventure, every single one we tried after that just wasn’t the same. But they were still pretty tasty and I definitely gained a few lbs.
El Tatio Geysers
Now don’t get me wrong, if you’ve been lucky enough to marvel in the likes of Yellowstone National Park, then the El Tatio Geysers may not be the best geyser field that you will have experienced. However, there is something quite majestic about watching the steam rise from the world’s highest geyser field at sunrise. If you want to avoid the crowds though, head there in the height of the day. You will have the place to yourself and get to swim around a delightfully hot spring with this as your backdrop.
Those famous heads of Easter Island. Though this 24.6 x 12.3 km (at their largest points) blip in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is a 5 hour flight from Santiago, it is Chilean owned. Home to the indigenous Rapa Nui people, no one truly knows the reason for these building these fascinating statues that circle the island. Or the reason why many of them have been destroyed. The Rapa Nui people pass on their history/knowledge through storytelling and due to many of the population being killed or taken as slaves back in the 19th century, the stories behind the Moai have got lost in translation. At the quarry, it looks like they left work one day for lunch and never came back. Common theories include that they were there to protect the island, they represented powerful people, they were knocked down by a huge tsunami and that they were pulled down by the Rapa Nui themselves due to conflicts between different tribes. Flights to Easter Island will set you back around $300-400 with Latam, but it is definitely worth it. Who doesn’t love a good mystery?
About Lady And The Tramper
Sally and Jay are the travel bloggers behind Lady And The Tramper and have been on the road since November 2013. Working and traveling around the world, they want to inspire others to do the same and experience the world through adventure, hiking and the great outdoors! You will likely find them pitching a tent out in the backcountry of the Pacific Northwest.