Chile is an adventurer’s paradise, stretching from the Peruvian border to the tip of Patagonia, and spanning three continents; America, Oceania and Antarctica. Its unique placement creates the ultimate journey through extremes. Nestled between the Andes and Pacific, the Atacama Desert is the highest, driest habitat on earth. Surprisingly, beside the shifting sand dunes, its white salt flats teem with wildlife – flamingos and waterbirds – thanks to ocean fog nourishing the vegetation clinging to edges of deep turquoise lagoons. The lunar landscape of Moon Valley is extraordinary, with its twisting, multi-coloured palette of rock formations, and regular morning displays of surging plumes of steam from the bubbling El Tatio geysers.

The salt lakes of Salar de Atacama, the world’s largest, and Laguna Cejar – the ‘floating lagoon’ – are a photographer’s dream. The latter’s white shoreline of crystallised salt, enhances the turquoise of the water. With pink flamingoes against this vibrant backdrop, you can imagine the contrast. Wander through typical Andean villages, some built from white volcanic stone and bustling, others abandoned, crumbling and derelict from the nitrate industry of old. See remnants of ancient civilisations, geoglyphs etched into dry desert from the pre-Hispanic era. Journey through snowcapped volcanoes and forest-lined waters of the Chilean Lake District, learning about Mapuche Indian culture. Explore Santiago, Chile’s cosmopolitan capital, along with Valparaiso, on the nearby coast, with its cobbled maze of streets and quirky, colourful architecture.

The southern wilderness of Torres del Paine National Park and ice-fields of Tierra del Fuego are an unforgettable jewel that barely needs introduction. The breath-taking vistas of jagged, mountain spires, glaciers, fjords and rolling valleys here make you feel as if you’re standing on the world’s edge. Easter Island is another fascinating and unmissable gem. Two time zones away from the mainland in Pacific waters, the mysterious Chilean territory is home to a distinct Polynesian culture and infamous ‘moai’ lining its rugged shores – giant, monolithic human statues carved by the Rapa Nui people.

The people of Chile are peaceful and welcoming, and proud to extend their hospitality and share their heritage. Chile is perfect for the wild at heart, for active explorers – if you like your scenery raw and unspoilt and your adventures untamed, it’s the perfect destination for you.

Top highlights on Chile holidays and tours

  • The extraordinary landscapes of the Atacama Desert
  • The mountains, fjords and lakes of Patagonia
  • The mountains, fjords and lakes of Patagonia
  • Look for unique wildlife in the Andes

Culture

Chile’s population has largely European roots – out of all the south American countries it has the smallest population of indigenous inhabitants, at around 10%, and culturally is the most homogenous compared to its neighbours. Its climate meant that few plantations were established here, and so it’s also lacking in an African heritage. As such, it’s a bit of an outlier – it’s the one place on the continent that feels more like Europe than any other, at least in terms of culture.

Most people here are Catholic, and most speak Spanish – the Araucanian Indians are the only sizeable indigenous group in Chile. As you might expect for a Catholic country, religious festivals are important, with locals taking to the streets and plazas to celebrate.

The national dance is the cueca, which dates back to1824. Music is very important to Chileans, as during the 1970s any type of opposition against the military junta was outlawed – consequently protest songs began to circulate clandestinely.

When to go on holiday to Chile

Chile stretches a long way between north and south and as you might expect, includes a range of different climates. Generally speaking, the best time to visit is in its summer, from November to March, although the north of the country can be visited year round

Start planning your trip to Chile

Check out our small group tour to Chile and Bolivia, Altiplano Adventure. Although many of our trips are small group adventures with set departures, as a bespoke operator, we can design and create trips to suit any traveller, from solos to larger group. If you would like to find out more about tailor-made holidays to Algeria or our group tours, call us on 01473 328546 or email us via our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

Chile

Good for:Incredible landscapes and wilderness exploration