An introduction to Chile
We have put together this guide to introduce Chile to you knowing that is very easy to get bamboozled by too much information. We hope this short guide will be enough to set you on the right course, without being too detailed. As such it is not meant to be definitive – for further details we strongly recommend that you look at southamericaodyssey.com/chile or get in touch as we would be delighted to talk to you all about Chile.
Chile is an elongated country that measures 4,300km in length and only 177km wide. Chile is all about the great outdoors. In southern Chile you will find Patagonia and the world renowned National Park of Torres Del Paine.
Contrastingly, in the north the arid deserts and salt flats make for a great combination.
Surrounding Santiago there are a number of marvellous wineries and lodges for some rest and relaxation. For a lover of the outdoors in search of stunning and dramatic scenery then look no further and put Chile place on your list.
Contrastingly, in the north the arid deserts and salt flats make for a great combination. Surrounding Santiago there are a number of marvellous wineries and lodges for some rest and relaxation. For a lover of the outdoors in search of stunning and dramatic scenery then look no further and put this place on your list.
Highlights of Chile
The following locations have proven very popular with those that have travelled with South America Odyssey to Chile. We know the pros and cons of each destination and if you have any further questions about these locations, as well as other destinations, please do get in touch as we would love to speak to you about them.
This is a wild and truly stunning area of Chile – a wilderness lover’s dream. Ice capped mountains dominate the skyline, whilst on the ground find vibrantly coloured lakes, hidden waterfalls, cool forests, meadows and roaming hardy wildlife. For lovers of a unique and spectacular environment then Patagonia is a must. There are lots of lodges to select from depending on your preferences. Tierra Patagonia, Explora and Awasi are all first class properties that operate on an all-inclusive program so once there you do not need to worry about extra costs.
The Lake District
Sometimes the beauty of the Lake District gets overshadowed by the renowned Torres Del Paine National Park in Patagonia. However, this area is equally worth considering a visit as it is abundant in lakes, volcanoes and general natural splendour with some of the best food in Chile influenced from European immigration and an abundance of fresh local produce. The area is excellent for mountaineering, hiking, water rafting, fishing and horseback riding. There are lots of smaller, boutique hotels abundant in local character in the area. Hotel AWA located on Lake Llanquihue with views out over the Osorno Volcano is a gorgeous option that combines modern luxury with local interior décor. For a home away from home then the tiny Quincho Hotel is a favourite with those seeking seclusion and a luxury guest house like feel. The new kid on the block located on the unique island of Chiloe is Tierra Chiloe- a beautiful property that operates on an all-inclusive program with meals, transfers and a variety of excursions included.
The Atacama Desert
This eerie and awe-inspiring desert – the driest place on earth – is not a wasteland, but a peaceful location with fantastic star gazing, sunsets over “The Valley of the Moon” and rough edged horizons sitting on expansive flat plains. Choose from the stylish Alto Atacama which lies just outside the small town of San Perdo de Atacama for a remote stay, or the Tierra Atacama which boasts a luxurious and modern feel. For uber luxury then Awasi is a hotel where you have a private driver and guide for the duration of your stay creating a very personalised and exclusive trip.
Santiago is a fantastic cosmopolitan city overlooked by the snowy-peaked towering Andes and coastal mountain range. We believe that the beauty of Chile lives in the great outdoors beyond the bustle of Santiago so a couple of nights at most in Santiago will suffice. We suggest staying in Luciano K or the Singular hotel which are both perfect situated in the bustling Lastarria neighbourhood and further afield.
An hour and a half’s drive North-West of Santiago is the attractive and (quite literally) rainbow coloured bohemian city of Valparaso. It is nestled on a hillside resulting in its ever famous escalators which tirelessly scale up and down the city. Check out the social scene in Victoria Square, or bargain hunt for gems through O’Higgens Square’s cluttered and vibrant flea-markets. There are a couple of standout properties located with views over the port-Palacio Astoreca being the most luxurious and Relais & Chateax hotel. A slightly more economical option is the family run Casa Higueras.
The wine region
Chile is famed for boasting some of the world’s finest wines and the Central Valley has multiple wineries with accommodation on the property for a wine experience. VIK Chile is a super contemporary winery with immaculate rooms with an artistic feel throughout. For a winery that is more classical and traditional in fell then La Casona at Matetic is a great option. Sipping some vino whilst soaking in the brilliant views at the start, middle, or end of your trip is a relaxing and delicious way to get a good understanding of one of Chile’s most popular exports.
If you have time, fly over to Easter Island off the coast of Chile, which is home to the world’s largest open-air museum consisting of 600 Moai stone statues. We would recommend visiting here purely for those with an active interest in the statues – otherwise you may be disenchanted by the long 6 hour flight from Santiago to arrive at a tiny island with very cold beaches, and little shelter. But for the keen historians, accommodation on Easter Island cannot beat the fantastic Explora Easter Island hotel.
When is the best time to visit Chile? If you want to include Patagonia in your trip then the best time to visit is from October to March. During these months the weather is most agreeable. Although you can still experience four seasons in one afternoon. Other areas of Chile can be visited year round.
We are thinking of also visiting another Latin America country whilst we are that side of the world. Where combines well with Chile? Crossing the Andes from Chile into Argentina is possible at a number of points. One especially popular combination is to cross the border to visit the Glaciers at Calafate and then fly up to the fantastic Buenos Aires for further exploration of Argentina.
How much dos a trip to Chile cost?
There is no easy answer to this one as all of our itineraries are designed from scratch to suit your interest and budget. As a general guide then, a two week trip to Chile staying in top range hotels would cost from about £6,000/$7,800per person excluding international flights. For a full itinerary please see here.
Is the altitude a problem?
Some Northern parts of Chile such as areas in the Atacama Desert are in high altitude, which can cause altitude sickness. A holiday in Patagonia will not be so, but it is important to be aware of the altitude in your specific destinations as some of Chile’s attractions are over 3,000m. but just something to be wary of. Even if you are very fit, keep in mind to always stay hydrated and hopefully you will acclimatise quickly. Talk to your GP if you have any medical conditions prior to your trip.
What is the currency?
Chilean Peso is the currency. Credit or debit cards are accepted in larger towns and cities.
What is the language?
Spanish is the official language. English is widely spoken in hotels and tourist destinations.
What is the time difference?
GMT -4 hours.
How do I get there? If you are flying from the UK then British Airways fly direct on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There are also lots of indirect options from the main European hubs. Flying from the US there are multiple options also.