A narrow sliver of land between the towering Andes and the Pacific Ocean, Chile is blessed with natural beauty far beyond her size.
Take an adventure through this extraordinary land, from the fiery hues of the Atacama Desert in the north to the icy beauty of Patagonia in the south.
Nestled in a bowl created by the Andes Mountains, whose peaks are easily visible throughout the city, cosmopolitan Santiago pulses with a love for life. Each of its vibrant neighbourhoods leaves a unique impression, from stately Centro (downtown), which is full of colonial architecture; to Bellavista with its relaxed and bohemian vibe; and boisterous Barrios Brasil.
Many travellers like to take in the sunrise at El Tatio Geysers. El Tatio, or ‘the grandfather’, is a geyser field on the Chilean Andes, a staggering 4320 metres above sea level. The highest geothermal field in the world, El Tatio has over 80 active geysers constantly letting off steam and spouting water, sometimes up to seven metres into the air. There are also thermal baths on site, heated to a toasty temperature by all the volcanic activity taking place underground and rich in minerals deposits.
Also hidden in the majestic Andes mountain range near the Argentine border, Portillo is one of the most unique ski resorts in the world. The resort stands alone – with no town or village – on the edge of Inca Lake which provides one spectacular vista reflecting the towering Andean peaks that surrounds it.
Like a cruise ship in the sky, Portillo envelops its guests in world-class views and extraordinary beauty.
Two and a half hours drive south of Santiago is one of the best wine regions in the world, the Colchagua Valley. There are some majestic accommodation options in this area for travelling foodies.
Further afield, the Atacama Desert is exactly what you’d imagine Mars to look like. The simplicity of its shapes and colours affords the landscape a stark, crimson-hued beauty. Jagged triangles of rock form otherworldly valleys and ridges, while perfectly symmetrical volcanoes are brushed with the same red tones that shift to purple and black with the setting sun.
Within the Atacama Desert, Awasi is a tiny outpost of eco-wise luxury.
The cluster of traditional, red-adobe cottages are set within a compound with a plunge pool for day and a fire for chilly desert evenings. Local marble, rough-hewn ceilings, native grasses, Andean textiles, alpaca throws and artisanal pottery are part of Awasi’s sustainable mantra.
Thanks to a long resistance to the advances of both the Inca and the Spanish, Chile’s Lake District was long a region of simple farming settlements and the indigenous Mapuche people. Much of its thick forest remains today, dotted with deep lakes and watched over by snow-capped volcanoes. Towns such as Puerto Varas, on the banks of Lake Llanquihue, charmingly blend in with their surroundings and offer a gateway to the gorgeous nature they reside in.
Encompassing the tip of the South American continent, Patagonia is a region of wild grey seas, ice and rock. Its landscapes are pristine and, thanks to its huge scale, incredibly diverse.
Declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, Cape Horn is rich in maritime history that dates back to the 1600s when it was first discovered and used as a navigation route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
From the colourful town of Puerto Natales, you can cruise the desolate waters of the Ultima Esperanza Fjord to spot sea lions, snow-capped mountains and glaciers, before heading to Chilean Patagonia’s headline attraction, the Torres del Paine National Park.