Chile is currently one of the fastest countries in the world to be vaccinating, with over 40% of the country’s population already having received their first jab. On April 12th, the UK government is set to announce how international travel will restart, and with this in mind, we want to tell you why Chile should be high on your list for a post-lockdown getaway. To make the most of the warmer months in the southern hemisphere, our Chile holidays run from October to April, so you can plan to travel to Chile in late 2021 or 2022. From the moonlike landscapes of the Atacama to the lakes and mountains of Patagonia, keep reading to find out how you can discover Chile’s wide open spaces and nature at its best.
1. Trek through the lakes and mountains of Chilean Patagonia
Torres del Paine is defined by its soaring peaks, glittering lakes and sweeping valleys. Choose from two hikes of differing levels in the national park. The easier of the two treks is a three-hour walk taking you from the serene Amarga Lagoon, with a backdrop of the Paine Massif, on a pleasant trail to Lake Sarmiento, where a fabulous view awaits. The more difficult trek ascends for around seven hours through mountain ridges and beech forests, across streams and past waterfalls to reach the iconic granite towers of Torres del Paine. During the Las Torres trek, you’ll spot condors soaring overhead, and if you’re lucky you might spot pumas, guanacos and rheas along the way.
Read more about the Las Torres trek here.
2. Go horse riding in Torres del Paine National Park
One of the most magical ways to experience Patagonia is on horseback, led by a gaucho through the Magellanic forest and across a lagoon towards the Serrano River. Taking in the majestic granite towers that dominate the skyline from horseback, as condors soar overhead and guanacos cry in the distance, is an unforgettable adventure. The horses are friendly and suitable for any aged rider, including beginners.
If you’d like to go horse riding in Patagonia, click here to view all our Torres del Paine trips.
3. Kayak through fjords in the Chilean Lake District
Often overlooked by travellers to Patagonia, who favour the southernmost tip of the country, the Chilean Lake District is a pristine land of unspoiled natural wilderness, with amazing landscapes, warm people, a strong cultural identity and a range of adventure sports and outdoor activities to appreciate the picturesque landscapes. One way to take in the region’s beauty is by kayaking through the fjords, enjoying the silence of the lakes with a volcanic backdrop as you spot penguins, cormorants, sea lions and dolphins around you. On our kayaking excursion, you paddle across the picturesque waters of the fjord, stop for lunch and coffee, then kayak back to a village known for its impressive granite structures.
Read our blog about the Chilean Lake District here.
4. Journey from Chile's Atacama Desert to the Salt Flats of Bolivia
The best way to take in the otherworldly scenery of northern Chile is to travel overland across the border to Bolivia. Along the way you’ll see bright red lakes filled with flamingos who get their vibrant colour from the plankton in the waters, steaming geysers were chutes of steam rise out of the earth, thermal springs, a bright green lake and the Dalí Valley, named after its surreal rock formations. The overland journey between Bolivia and Chile is truly the trip of a lifetime, and you can get a personal insight about it here.
Our Incas & Conquistadors of Peru + Salt Flats of Bolivia to the Atacama Desert is an amazing way to explore the diversity of three different countries in 17 days.
5. Meet the mysterious moai in Easter Island
The most isolated inhabited island on earth, located 2,000 kilometres from the nearest landmass, and only 25 kilometres long, Easter Island (or Rapa Nui to the locals) is high on many people’s lists due to its sheer remoteness. The main reason to visit Easter Island is the enigmatic Moai, the monolithic stone head statues mysteriously created by an ancient civilization. The main place to stay in Easter Island is Hanga Roa. Although technically the capital of Easter Island, this tiny town can barely be compared to the bustling capital cities dotted throughout Latin America. With a population of just 3,000, Hanga Roa is a great base from which to explore Easter Island, with its pretty harbour and moai statues overlooking the locals. As well as the Moai statues, the unique island boasts volcanic craters, palm-fringed beaches, lakes and the remains of a ceremonial village.
Find out more about a Llama Travel trip to Easter Island.
6. See flamingos and geysers in the Atacama Desert
Explore Chile’s Atacama, the highest and driest desert in the world. Using the charming adobe town of San Pedro as your base, head out each day to explore vast salt flats, the otherworldly Valley of the Moon and some of the highest geysers in the world. The town thrives as a tourist hub mainly due to the surrounding area which is full of barren moonscapes, fiery red canyons, flamingo-filled salt lakes, unique rock formations, turquoise thermal lakes and rising geysers.
Read our top five things to do in San Pedro here.
7. Take a boat trip to the Grey Glacier in Patagonia
One of the most astonishing things about visiting Chile is that you can be sipping wine on a sun-drenched vineyard one day, then watching glacial chunks of ice crash into the water on a boat trip the next. The cruise across an icy lake to the Grey Glacier is Patagonia at its best, getting you close enough to the glacier that you can hear it cracking, rumbling and breathing. The scenery along the way is stunning too, with the snowy peaks of the Paine Mountain looming in the distance.
Check out all our Chilean Patagonia trips here.
8. Explore Santiago de Chile on foot
With a snow-capped Andean backdrop, Santiago boasts one of the most spectacular natural settings of any capital city. Get a feel for local life and find your bearings on our brand new walking tour, for a fabulous introduction to the capital and a great starting point to any Chile holiday. Learn about one of South America’s most important buildings, the Palace of the Mint, watch local life unfold in the central plaza and climb the steps to reach Santa Lucia Hill for speactacular views of the city and snow-capped Andes in the background.
All of our Chile holidays include a few days to settle into Santiago. View them here.
9. Sip Sauvignon in the Chilean vineyards
Alongside neighbouring Argentina, Chile is famous around the world for producing high-quality wine, grown on its sunny vineyards dotted throughout the long, thin country. You may associate Chile with red wine, but the Casablanca Valley near Santiago has become known internationally for producing excellent quality whites, including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Reds are produced here too, with Pinot Noir coming out on top. The sunlight, sea breeze and ancient soils are the key ingredients for why the wine in this region is such excellent quality. You can take a tour of the vineyards, visit the cavernous wine cellar, sample some of the produce and have a leisurely lunch on the vineyard.
A vineyard tour is a fabulous way to relax at the start of your Chile holiday. Find out more here.
10. Ride the funiculars in colourful Valparaíso
Perched on a hillside an hour and a half up the coast from the Chilean capital, Valparaíso (or ‘Valpo’ to the locals) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see port city. Valpo is known for its unique ‘ascensores’ (funicular trams) which do the hard work of climbing the hills for you as they trundle from one brightly-coloured street to the next. The ambience here is laidback and bohemian, with enthusiastic buskers and street artists around every corner, charming cafes with terraces spilling onto cobbled streets adorned with bunting, and endless photo opportunities. Valparaíso is small, and by climbing to the next level up of this multi-level city, you are rewarded with magnificent views of the colourful houses tumbling down the hills to the harbour below.
Browse our Chile holidays which include an optional daytrip to Valparaíso.
Most of the Llama Travel team have travelled to Chile at least once. Call 020 7263 3000 to speak to one of our friendly travel consultants, and don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter for the latest offers and news. Our flexible booking conditions mean you are guaranteed a full refund or option to rebook if we cannot operate your holiday due to Covid-19.