Joanne Ruddell, who grew up in Chile, gives us the inside scoop on the best places to visit there.
In recent years, Chile has become a highly sought after tourist destination for travelers around the world. This could be attributed in part to the country’s unique geography. It stretches over 4,300 km (2,672 mi) down the western coast of South America with an incredible diversity in regions and climates. In Chile, you can see magnificent volcanoes (many of them active), the Andes mountain range, beautiful deserts, national parks, lakes, islands (this is where Easter Island is) and much more. There are also cities like Santiago and Valparaíso where you can get a taste of Chilean culture and cuisine. Are you looking to visit Chile sometime soon? The weather should be great.
Kicking Off Your Trip in Santiago
Santiago is a great place to start off your trip because there are so many flights available that go there. The city is not only an exciting place to visit, but it serves as an excellent jumping off point to other places of interest in the country. There is an elaborate network of public transportation that makes it easy to get around the city, where you can reach the Estación Central train station, or one of many bus stations that can take you to other parts of the country. South of the city and west to the coast, you can find ports if you are looking to travel by boat as well. You can also take flights from the airport if you are in a hurry, though you will be spending more.
The city itself has lots to see and do. Santiago has taken on a unique character of its own and is now recognized as a global city. There are plenty of high-end hotels to stay at, such as Le Reve, and as for something on a lower price range, the Andes Hostel is a great place to stay. Santiago is home to many restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs, museums, and other places of cultural interest for you to explore and get to know the locals.
The Sights of Valparaíso
Not far from Santiago on the coast is the beautiful city of Valparaíso. In this city, you can take several trams up to the top of hills. From there, enjoy great views of colorful buildings built on steep hillsides and the gorgeous Pacific. Browse local restaurants and shops, and enjoy the cool ocean breeze and laid back lifestyle of this beach town.
Chile is located within the Pacific Rim of Fire, so needless to say, there are plenty of magnificent volcanoes to see in the country, many of them still active. One of Chile’s most active volcanoes (and most popular) is the Villarica volcano which looms over the town and lake of Villarica. The region is of exceptional beauty, and there are guided ascents of the volcano, with ascents all the way to the top of the volcano in the summer.
There is a wonderful chain of volcanoes to see in Lauca National Park as well, and the actual park itself is worth visiting on its own. Besides containing several beautiful volcanoes, such as Parinacota, Pomerape, Acotango, and the Guallatiri, the park has a breathtaking lacustrine plain that is formed by the Cotacotani and Chungará lakes, where you can see plenty of wildlife.
Valle de la Luna
This region in the Atacama Desert is named “Valle de la Luna,” which translates to “Valley of the Moon,” and if you visit the place, you will immediately see why. The sand and rock formations have an almost otherworldly beauty that you really have to see to appreciate. Walking around in the desert, you feel as if you really are on the surface of the Moon.
And Much More
There is so much more in Chile to see if you have the time. Easter Island is accessible by plane – there are some boats that go there, but plane is preferable as the island is far off the coast – and is well-worth seeing. Also try to plan a trip to the Torres del Paine national park, which features spectacular views and hiking trails. The list goes on and on. You can see now why Chile has become such a popular destination.
When will you take your trip there?
Joanne Ruddell was born in Peru, grew up in Peru and Chile, and uses her extensive knowledge of those regions to assist travelers in planning exciting and culturally/ecologically sensitive trips. She is the co-founder of Turpial Travel a travel agency dedicated to sustainable travel in South America. Keep up with Joanne on Facebook!