The Key Chile Travel Itinerary Destinations of Interest
Chile is an incredibly long country passing from the tropic of Capricorn in its north right the way down to the freezing Antarctic in it southern-most extreme. Within this natural band of latitude are stunning landscapes that are so dramatic and beautiful it is impossible not to be awestruck.
Here below we have a pictorial illustration of the various locations of interest for those wish to travel to Chile accompanied by a brief summary of that sector. Then, further below we list the main activities you can do during your trip to Chile.
Hotels and Accommodation
When you travel through Chile you will have a whole host of hotel types, levels and categories to choose from. Here at ExperienceChile.Org, we have spent literally years visiting destinations and hotels, as well as staying overnight to know what the accommodation is really like. Pretty pictures on web sites and elsewhere do not always reflect the true reality.
There are simple-level hotels that we call “rustic”. Places with “no frills at all”. Then there are the “mid-level” types. These properties are between the rustic and the top end. Often a mid-level hotel will be quite bland. At the higher end of the scale are the “top end” hotels and these are usually very nice, but the room price is also high.
In another category are the top-end all inclusive hotels. Such properties are in the luxury level band and come with top-end comfort, furniture, and fittings along with educated guides and premier services all around. In order to stay at one of these places you need to consider at least 4 nights and the cost will be in the several thousand USD per person. However, they are very much worth it because the experience adds another dimension to your Chile Travel trip.
See out Hotel Accommodation descriptions and categories here
One of the best ways to enjoy your travel to Chile is to combine sectors together. For example, a 4-night stay in Torres del Paine will combine perfectly with a 4-night Patagonia Cruise, or even an expedition trip to Antarctica.
Alternatively, 4 nights in Torres del Paine can be combined with 4 nights in the Chilean Lake Region and / or 4 nights in the Atacama.
Chile Travel Itinerary Types
Remember, here at ExperienceChile.Org, as specialists and experts in this part of the World, we can make the right combination according to your time, budget and logistics involved. However, we also offer more than that. Therefore, here is a brief list of the services we can offer you.
Custom (tailor-made) - Created Itinerary to YOUR specific requirements. Email us
Fixed Date Group – An already set-up itinerary, ready to go
Itineraries for a few days or for a few weeks.
Itineraries with or without Cruises included.
Itineraries that include one sector only or a mix of two or more sectors.
The best way to understand Chile is if we break it into the sectors that contain the destinations that people wish to visit. Running from north to south there are:
Sector 1: Atacama
Sector 2: Central Valley that includes Santiago, Wine and Ski Valleys
Sector 3: The Pacific Coast
Sector 4: Lake Region
Sector 5: Patagonia
Sector 6: Easter Island
Sector 7: Antarctica
Brief Description of Each Sector
The Northern, Atacama Sector
Known as the “driest place on Earth”, the Atacama Desert officially runs from just north of La Serena all the way up to Arica, Chile’s most northern city on the border with Peru.
Within the Atacama Desert are two, particular places of interest. One is the oasis village of San Pedro de Atacama, and the other is the Pacific Coastal city of Iquique.
Central Valley and Santiago – the Capital
Located almost in the middle of mainland Chile (not considering the area south of Puerto Montt), the city is a mix of an older, historic downtown area to a first-world, very modern eastern sector. Dwarfed by the incredibly high Andes mountains on the east and the lower, coastal mountains on the west. Long, hot and dry summers, easy access to the coast, nearby wineries and ski centres in the Andes.
These days, dues to Global Warming, the snow does not fall as regularly, nor as much as it used to. However, when it does, the ski centres of Valle Nevado, Portillo, Farellones, El Colorado and La Parva offer the best Southern Hemisphere ski resorts. In addition, further south is Chillan and Pucon.
Located approximately 670km (420 miles) south from Santiago is the start of the Lake Region. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty comprising green fields, forests, lakes, volcanoes, rivers, hot springs and waterfalls. Naturally this area is also a haven for active adventure seekers.
Chiloe Island Patagonia
The northern shore of Chiloe is very close to the Chilean mainland, south-west from Puerto Montt, which marks the southern end of the Lake Region. Chiloe is a green, fertile, hilly island with an interesting history. The Island is home to numerous Jesuit-built churches and known for its rural, slow way of life.
Carretera Austral Patagonia
Patagonia is an exceptionally beautiful place. One way to describe this wild, windy and unpredictable land is to say that it is “raw nature”. Whereas the Chilean Lake Region could be categorised as “tamed nature”.
The Carretera Austral is a road that cuts through what can still be considered as “pioneer” land. Not many people here, apart from a few outposts all set amid jagged mountains with steep valley sides, hanging glaciers, fiords, waterfalls, raging rivers and forests. Patagonia, and he Carretera Austral specifically, is a “feat for the eyes” as well as white water rafting, fly fishing, trekking and the place where you can touch a tree dating back several thousand years.
Torres del Paine Patagonia
Here we have the jewel of Patagonia and, as has been touted, “the 8th Wonder of the World”. Through the remarkable power of nature and the patience of millions of years of mother nature at work, here you can see the results of the collision of tectonic plates and volcanic eruptions, that have then been sculptured by ginormous ice sheets into “jaw dropping” shapes.
The end result is a “mini-looking” mountain range that has been gouged out to leave two enormous, towering rock formations (called “Cuernos” or “Horns”), with other vertical, needle-like towers in the background (“the Towers”). In between this marvel are still some glaciers and waterfalls that cascade down into the lakes and meandering rivers filling the flatter areas at the base. In addition, it is still possible to see active, massive ice sheets come down from the Andes into glaciers, such as Glacier Grey, that then break up into icebergs that float in the lake.
The consequence of this is a place that offers a unique scene for trekking (the W and Circuit treks), ice hiking, kayaking, fly fishing and options to experience Patagonian life.
Patagonia Expedition Cruises
For those who like the water or wish to see Patagonia from a different perspective, there are various cruise options that will allow passengers to get up close to the flora and fauna. These mid-sized passenger ships can enter fiords, channels and inlets allowing access to the remotest places on Earth. One option includes the chance to see or set foot on the fabled Cape Horn.
For many a visit to Antarctica is the ultimate destination. Considering that southern Chile is the closest country to Antarctica it should be no surprise that many Antarctica Expedition trios depart from Punta Arenas, as well as Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. Trips range from a few days, with a combined air and cruise option, to a few weeks where the navigational route may take in the Falkland and South Georgia Islands.