The dramatic Chilean landscape is literally alive. Geysers burst from the earth in the north, 50 of the country’s 2000 volcanoes are still erupting, and as the sun goes down over the Salt Mountain range, you can hear the white-crusted rock formations cracking as they contract. This is a wild country of never-ending horizons, the world’s driest desert, snow-capped mountains, and folk tradition.
Despite dark periods of military dictatorship under Pinochet, Chileans are warm, friendly, and open to visitors; descended from the Spanish, they are also known for their looks. Traditions include playing panpipes and bamboo flutes known as quenas, and, aside from football, the national sport is the controversial Chilean Rodeo.
Being the longest country in the world vertically, Chile varies hugely in landscape and culture along its 2700 miles, making it a vastly diverse and fascinating destination. The mighty snow-capped Andes run like a spine down the length of the country, passing alongside the world’s driest desert, the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park and humid monkey puzzle rainforest, all the way to the southernmost point of civilization, Tierra Del Fuego.
The scorched Atacama is filled with surprising rock formations, and if you look a little closer you may find faces carved into Incan forts and flamingos gathered around its bordering oases. Walking, riding, and 4x4 tours are the best way to see these up close, after which, a spot of Class III white water rafting will be the refreshing antidote you need.
Whether you’re looking for a photographer’s dream trip, a wild desert adventure, complete escapism, or an unusual cultural experience, Chile has it all.