Stretching over 4300 km from North to South, Chile is second only to Brazil as the longest country in the world. Experts say it has as few as 5 and as many as 9 separate climate zones. From desert to rain forest to ice tundra and more—to say that Chile’s landscape is diverse is a major understatement.
2. Atacama Desert
Home to Moon Valley and Mars Valley (Death Valley), the Atacama Desert is made up of 1000 kilometers of the world’s driest desert land (excluding polar deserts). It once went nearly 6 months (173 days) without rain. With an annual average of 15 mm of rain, it’s the closest thing to Mars on Earth.
Here’s Why You Need to Go to Chile’s Atacama Desert, in 17 Spellbinding Photos.
If you could only visit one part of Chile, it should be the Patagonia region. Experience the Torres del Paine national park, famed for the 3 Towers of Paine and the Paine Horns. You’ll be blown away by the rolling plains and icebergs.
One stay at the Montaña Mágica rainforest ecolodge will have you convinced that you’ve walked out of real life and into a storybook. See Brüggen Glacier (Pio XI) go against the principles of climate change as it continues to grow despite global warming. And if you’re lucky, you may even spot 1 of roughly 50 pumas.
Here’s your Guide to Patagonia: what to do, how to do it, and where to stay.
Creating an enormous wall between Chile and Argentina primarily, the Andes mountains are a winter lover’s wonderland. Blinding white peaks, bold glaciers and seemingly endless bends make it the ideal place for avid skiers. If you love winter sports, you can’t plan a trip to Chile without considering the slopes.
Here’s a list of the Best Chile Ski Resorts, according to readers reviews.
5. Cities and Towns
Featuring the Grand Torre Santiago (South America’s tallest tower), Santiago, the capital of Chile and its largest city, rivals the world’s most developed cities on all fronts. Enclosed by the Andes and the Chilean Coast, packed with modern and colonial architecture, and home to more than 40% of the Chilean population, Santiago is a must-see for anyone planning to visit Chile.
Awarded the title of Leading Cruise Port in South America for 2018, Valparaiso, the small town with big color, is one of several delightful and less populated locations scattered across the country. The Valparaiso Historic Quarter is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Check out Touropia’s list of the 12 Most Charming Small Towns in Chile.
6. It’s Narrow
A living, breathing world record, Chile is the narrowest country in the world 350 km from East to West.
If you like romantic starry nights, the North of Chile has the best stargazing on this side of the world. With very little light pollution, nights are a special part of any day. Get a closer look by visiting one of Chile’s many sky labs and observatories, of which, the ALMA is the most incredible.
Explore and be inspired with the Top 5 Spots for Stargazing in Chile.
8. Maipo Canyon
Located in central Chile, this giant gorge is a trip all on its own. Surrounded by quaint towns, home to the El Morado Natural Monument and rare birds like the Andean condor, there’s no shortage of interesting discoveries to be had. It’s also the ideal location from white water rafters of all levels. Animal and adventure lovers, schedule some time in your itinerary to visit Maipo Canyon when you plan your next trip to Chile.
Read Cajon del Maipo: How to Get There & What to Do for more information.
9. Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
Known for its ancient (over 800 years old) statues called moai, Easter Island is one of the most famous archaeological sites and remotely inhabited places in the world. It’s home to a national park of the same name and is a one-of-a-kind experience. Cross your fingers and you may get to see a blue humpback whale.
Plan your trip with these 30 Awesome Things to Do in Easter Island.
10. Second Largest Swimming Pool
Before being surpassed by Egypt’s Crystal Lagoon, Chile’s Crystal Lagoon at San Alfonso del Mar resort held the world record for the largest swimming pool in the world. It’s just over 3323 ft long. It covers 20 acres, and contains 250 million liters of filtered, treated water from the Pacific Ocean
Chile is the birthplace of adventure travel. Trust us!CLICK TO TWEET
Experts say there are currently more than 500 active volcanoes in Chile. In the last 450 years, 60 or more of these volcanoes have erupted. Thrill seekers go to Villarrica volcano to trek, see its snowy slopes and crater bubbling with lava. Or head to Llaima volcano and camp out to some of the best views in Chile.
Read Tripsavvy’s piece on the Most Active Volcanoes of Chile.
12. Surf Culture
Where there are waves and sunny weather, surfers are never far behind. Thanks to its peak weather conditions, surf fans can catch swells for up to 300 days each year. Chile’s surf culture is still young, but it’s growing quickly, so much so, it’s already being dubbed as the best surf country in South America.
Top surf beaches in Chile:
Here’s a Chile Travel & Surf Guide courtesy of Surfline.
13. Pablo Neruda
In Chile, and most of the world, the name Pablo Neruda is synonymous with poetry. A politician and a diplomat, he is hands down one of the most important poets of our time. Get a glimpse into his life and mind by visiting one of his playful and inspiring homes that have been turned into a museum.
14. Delicious Food
Chile’s food landscape is almost as great as its natural one. If you love meat and seafood, your appetite will thank you as you devour plates of Chile’s beef and fish. A combination of some of the best coastal beef farms, miles and miles of coast to grab fresh fish and perfected cooking techniques, make Chile a foodie’s playground. Food lovers, you can plan a trip to Chile based solely on food. You won’t regret it!
Here are the Top 10 Popular Chilean Food Dishes You Must Try.
15. Low Population Density
With a population density of less than 25 people per square kilometer, most of Chile is entirely uninhabited. Hikers, tree-huggers and anti-socialites feel right at home in the middle of Chile’s scarcely peopled wilderness.
16. Wide Range of Wildlife
The varied wildlife in Chile would make the animal kingdom proud. From llamas to condors to penguins, thanks to its length and highly varied climate, literally thousands of animal species call Chile their home.
Travel and tourism are important to every nation, but in Chile, it’s not as important as other countries who rely heavily on tourists to strengthen their economy. Chile has several consistently strong industries, as such, the lack of emphasis on mass tourism allows the country to remain as close to authentic as possible.
18. Adventure Tourism
If this list doesn’t convince you to pack your bags and book a cheap flight to Chile, maybe the opinions of other travel experts will. Since 2015, Chile has been crowned best adventure tourism location in the world by World Travel Awards. It was also awarded Lonely Planet’s number 1 country to visit for 2018.
- Mountain Bike
- Scuba Dive
19. Wine Culture
Once again owing to its polarized climate, Chile is a haven for wine growers, lovers and sommeliers alike. Some of South Americas most delicious wines are produced just a few kilometers away from the ocean in this wonderful coastal country. Paired with incredible local food, Chilean wine is a true delight.
Here’s a list of the 10 Best Wineries in Chile, South America.
20. UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Chile is home to 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Along with the previously mentioned Rapa Nui national park and Valparaiso Historic Quarter, there are 4 others: the Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, the Sewell Mining Town, and the Humberstone and Santa Laura Ghost Towns (saltpeter works).
They each give insight into the human history as well as the natural history of Chile, and all are worth a visit.
21. Hot Springs
Take a load off in 30-degree water at one of Chile’s over 270 natural hot springs, many situated at the base of imposing mountains or in lush grasslands. The high number of hot springs are due to the amount of seismic activity in the region. They’re essentially a gift from nature.
Here are the 10 Best Chilean Hot Springs.
22. Biosphere Reserves
A part of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere program, Chile’s biosphere reserves (mostly national parks) are part of a larger initiative created to better our relationship with the environment through science. If you’re interested in the preservation of ecosystems (and life as we know it), these biosphere reserves are worth the time.
Learn more about the ten biosphere reserves in Chile.
By surface measure, roughly 80% of all glaciers in South America are in Chile. The Andes and 5 major ice fields are largely responsible for this occurrence. Despite the cold, glacier exploration is a popular tourist activity. Ice rivers, frozen tunnels and huge amounts of polar desert ready to explore, just another one of Chile’s natural jewels.
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