5 Reasons to Visit Chile
Polar and Latin America Product Manager, Gary, explains why Chile is the hottest place to visit in 2018…
1. Environmental Diversity
Its long elongated shape means Chile contains an incredibly diverse array of environments for such a relatively small landmass. In the north are the dry desert sands and stark alien landscapes of the Atacama. Further south, Santiago, Valparaiso and the central regions enjoy a warm Mediterranean style climate, perfect for the cultivation (and consumption) of wine. Below them, the Lake District’s cool temperatures and stunning mountain scenery make it ideal for water sports and lake side strolls. Patagonia’s sub-Antarctic feel makes it home to some of the world’s biggest glacier fields and its towering peaks are pure hiking paradise. And far off in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, lonely Easter Island provides a very pleasant sub-tropical backdrop as you roam around its ancient treasures.
2. Rich and Varied Culture
The oceans to the south and west, the desert to the north and the Andes Mountains to the east, enabled Chile to develop in relative isolation from the rest of the world for thousands of years. This allowed a few distinct cultures to emerge and while the influx of Europeans over the last two centuries has irrevocably changed Chile’s future, it has not entirely erased its past. Remnants and descendants of a history quite unlike that of any other nation still remain to this day and make for a fascinating journey among fantastically warm and friendly locals. When you add in some Germanic efficiency, ample Spanish flair and, on Easter Island, a pinch of Polynesian charm, you have all the ingredients you need for an unforgettable experience.
3. Extraordinary wildlife
Such environmental diversity and formidable geographic barriers have paved the way for a genuine assortment of wildlife to exist and thrive in Chile’s contrasting lands – much of it endemic. The sun baked days, cloudless cold nights and lack of any large quantities of vegetation on the Altiplanic plains have made life there impossible for most fauna. But some have adapted, and their survival against all the odds makes watching species like Andean, Chilean and James’ flamingos paddling in salt laden lagoons, even more mesmerizing. Further south, life is far more abundant, but no less extraordinary. Everything from the elusive puma, to the llama’s wild cousins the ‘guanacos’ can be spotted throughout Patagonia. While all along the ocean shores and sheltered fjords, pockets of penguins squawk and squabble in their thousands. Beside them, hordes of marine mammals also take advantage of the cool Antarctic currents flowing northwards from the white continent. Elephant seals, sea lions, sea otters, dolphins and whales – including the mighty ‘blue’ can all be found near the coastline.
4. Excellent Accessibility
In early 2017 British Airways began flying direct from London Heathrow to the Chilean capital, Santiago, 4 times a week, making access to Chile easier than ever before. Aside from this, regular flights are also available via Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam and a small selection of other major cities. Once you have arrived, the local airlines LATAM and SKY offer generally reliable and frequent services between many of the gateway hubs – even Easter Island enjoys a year round daily service. Roads are, mostly, excellent compared to Chile’s Latin American neighbours and are often on a par with those in the UK. Expedition ships offer many departures across a range of itineraries throughout the Patagonian fjords and ferries plug the series of gaps that these and other waterways have created in the southern half of the country.
5. Picture Perfect Views
Few, if any, other countries can claim to offer budding photographers a better array of opportunities for boastful Instagram images. The Sun’s decent behind the rocky crags of the Atacama’s Moon Valley is just one of the many ways to fill your memory card, so be sure to bring a plentiful supply. At night the high elevation, lack of light and vast open skies also make the northern desert arguably the best place in the world for star gazing. Add to that the colour filled bohemian streets of Valparaiso, the rolling hills and sumptuous ‘lagos’ of the Lake District, the imposing granite spires and glistening glaciers of Patagonia, and the enigmatic allure and mystery of Easter Island’s eye catching moai, and you have all the ammunition you need to finally top that picture of your friend’s dog wearing a big hat.