Heading south; Discovering Chile

From north to south Chile is a fascinating place which packs in a continent’s worth of climate and scenery in one long, incredible country. If you are a fan of nature, yet like to keep your creature comforts close by, there are a number of natural wonders to be seen in one of Latin America’s most developed countries. Thisarticle will summarise four incredible natural places to visit, two north of the capital Santiago, and two further south.

The North

San Pedro de Atacama
What to do?
Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna): Can you imagine standing on the surface of another planet here on earth? The Moon Valley in the north of the country actually resembles Mars more than the moon, but its beauty takes your breath away with its rugged, untouched landscapes. With a mixture of red coloured sand and rock and the beautiful background of the Andes Mountains, you will feel as if you have been transported to a different world.

Geysers: An early start and a few layers of clothing? are required to see the geysers in all their glory. However, as you see the steam shoot several metres in the air, it will surely feel worthwhile. There are also hot springs to warm up in after the geysers have finished their display.
Laguna Cejar: Chile’s version of the Dead Sea and just a short drive from San Pedro, the Laguna Cejar offers you the chance to relax as you float and catch some rays. Many of the tour guides offer a glass of Pisco Sour, a lemon flavoured cocktail, as you watch the sunset over the Andes.
Getting There: LAN Chile flies from Santiago to Calama. Many tour groups offer the transfer from Calama to San Pedro.
Stay: Explora The hotel is a small distance outside of the town, but comes complete with unspoilt views of the desert.

Elqui Valley (Valle del Elqui)
What to do
Relax: The Elqui Valley is a place to get back to nature and enjoy some peace and quiet. The town of Pisco has a small river running through it which is perfect to cool off in in summer. The evenings tend to be calm with the possibilityof drinking the local produce, Pisco whilst stargazing. The air is so clear in this part of the world that there is an observatory, and those feeling slightly more adventurous can tour the Mamalluca observatory at night to have the best possible vantage point to see what our galaxy has to offer.
Pisco Tour: The aforementioned Pisco, a delicious liquor (liqueur?) made from grapes, is produced in the region. The town which shares its name, is home to one of the most famous producers in the country, Mistral, which has interesting guided tours of its vineyard. The tour comes complete with a taste of some of the more elaborate Piscos, which have been in the barrel for 12-18 months, a free pisco sour at the bar and the possibility to try/of trying some local specialities in the restaurant.
Where to Stay: Elqui domos offers accommodation with a twist from a classical hotel.
How to get there: LAN Chile flies to the coastal town of La Serena from Santiago which is around an hour’s drive from the valley.

The South
Valdivia
Valdivia is a small, lakeside town in the south of Chile which has been heavily influenced by the German population that migrated there last century. Although an interesting town in its own right, with plenty of things to do, such as a visit to the craft beer Kuntsmann brewery, the most spectacular part of the region is the countryside which surrounds the town.
The Valdivian forest: Valdivia sits next to a temperate rainforest which is home to the Pudú, the world’s smallest deer, as well as a series of spectacular waterfalls and endangered flora. Alerces (a type of Patagonian cypress tall and long-life tree) are common, and protected by the authorities. If you would like to have an extraordinary experience and enjoy the sights, we would recommend you to take a look at the impressive Huilo Huilo nature reserve that comes with a range of luxury hotels and spas to enjoy. The most impressive one of these hotels “Montaña Mágica Lodge” (?italics) features rustic decors and its own waterfall!
How to get there?

Patagonia, closer than ever to the Antarctica
In 2013 Parque Nacional Torres del Paine was voted the 8th wonder of the natural world making it a must see if you come to Chile. Located about 400 kilometers from Punta Arena, which is the closest airport to land in when flying from Santiago; it is an impressive location of unspoilt nature and breath-taking panoramic views. A minimum of three days is needed to visit and fully enjoy the sights. There is plenty to do and see, as the park features a unique flora and fauna, impressive hikes and if you are fond of fishing, the Serrano River is stocked with plenty of rainbow trout, brown trout and salmon.

Feel free to try and drink some of the fresh water running through the thousands of small waterfalls and rivers. It is among the purest water in the world and is safe to drink without needing any filter. If you are looking for the ultimate luxury retreat, “Hotel Explora Patagonia”, is the place to stay. The simple architectural lines blend perfectly with the environment and have given the hotel its distinctive look.

 

How to get here?
LAN flies from London Heathrow to Santiago from £650 in economy and £2500 in Business Class. Connections in Sao Paulo.
British Airways also flies to Santiago, with connections in either Sao Paulo or Madrid. Flights from £500 in economy and £2000 in Business class. For flying in Chile, please visit www.lan.com
Where to Stay
The list of the hotels mentioned in this article:
Hotel explora San Pedro de Atacama: http://www.explora.com/explora-atacama/
Hotel Domos, Elqui Valley: http://www.elquidomos.cl/site/
Huilo Huilo national Park and Hotels: http://huilohuilo.com/accommodations/
Hotel explora Torres del Paine: http://www.explora.com/hotels-and-travesias/patagonia-hotel/patagonia-south-america/

All of the photos are courtesy of flickr and Pexels.

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