The thin strip of land that Chile is, stretches all the way from the borders of Peru and Bolivia, running parallel to Argentina, ending at Cape Horn, the last point on the continent of South America. Chile boasts of immense diversity, landscapes, colourful urban cities like Santiago, historic Incan sites, vintage vineyards and warm & friendly people. A trip to Chile promises to be an amazing mix of adventure and incredible experiences. Chile is also one of the few countries on the planet which provides access to the far-flung continent of Antarctica and the enigmatic Easter Island.
To make things easier, we have compiled a list of 9 incredible experiences that only Chile can offer you. When it comes to adventure and nature activities, Chile’s vast untamed wilderness are ideal for back country hiking, mountaineering, camping under the stars and adventure sports like climbing the world’s tallest volcano! You name it and Chile has it.
9 Incredible Experiences You Can Have Only in Chile
1. Walk across the driest place in the world
The Atacama Desert in Chile is the driest place in the world. In fact, some areas are even dead zone for vegetation and haven’t received rainfall since eternity. This vast desert covers an incredible area of over 105,000 square kilometers. Hike across the Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna) and the Mars Valley (Valle de Marte) to admire unique extraterrestrial landscapes. The area is also devoid of any light pollution, allowing spectacular opportunities for stargazing. The Atacama Desert is also ideal for adventure sports including hiking and trekking, landscape photography, mountain biking, sandboarding, and camping.
2. Visit the absolute end of the world
Chile and Argentina stretch all the way to a narrow thin strip of land at the end of the South American continent. This point is known as the Cape Horn, the southernmost point of South America, which is almost the edge of the world with Antarctica further down south. The area has claimed over 800 shipwrecks and deaths of over ten thousand sailors. Today, one can take a boat tour to reach the Cape Horn and pay homage at the Cape Horn Monument. It represents a flight of the albatross – a maritime symbol honoring the souls of sailors lost at the sea.
3. Climb an active volcano and toboggan down!
Chile’s Villarrica Volcano in Pucon last erupted in 2015. Today, this active volcano is a major tourism hotspot in the country! The sleepy town of Pucon is the base of Villarrica and allows hiking and summiting the snow-covered volcano. At the top, you can go face to face to see the large volcanic cauldron and then take a toboggan ride to descend quickly!
4. See the monolith statues of Easter Island
Fly off the coast of Chile to the Easter Island – one of the most remote yet inhabited islands on earth! The island is home to nearly 1000 colossal statues called moai, which are among the greatest mysteries in our world. The mysterious island of Rapa Nui, commonly known as Easter Island, is known for these giant stone statues weighing between 14 to 20 tons. How and why these rock statues were constructed and who erected them is still a mystery.
5. Hike through the lush Torres del Paine National Park
The Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most beautiful places on earth and is part of the Patagonia region. Even though vast areas of Patagonia are in Argentina but most beautiful parts of the region – the vast acres of unspoilt Torres del Paine National Park, are in Chile. Lush green landscapes, dotted with lofty and craggy mountains, glaciers and meadows are perfect for scenic hiking and trekking in the region.
6. Kayak under the Marble Cathedral
The General Carrera Lake is the largest lake in Chile and is known as Lake Buenos Aires in Argentina. This Patagonian Lake is shared by Argentina and Chile. The lake is also known for its beautiful marble caves, known as the Marble Cathedral. It’s a network of smooth, natural caves with different shades of colours. Go kayaking under the Marble Cathedral and witness the sheer beauty of this wonderful natural landform.
7. See the world’s oldest mummies
Egypt is known as the land of mummies, Pharaohs, majestic pyramids and temples. But did you know that the world’s oldest mummies are found in Chile? The oldest mummified human remains are found in the north of Chile. The Museum of Archaeology in the small town of San Miguel de Azapa has mummified bodies of the Chinchorro people, the native tribal people of the region. Surprisingly, the radiocarbon dating has confirmed that the mummified bodies are from around 5000 BC. Almost 2000 years older than the Egyptian mummies!
8. Climb the world’s tallest volcano
The world’s tallest volcano at 6893m, Nevado Ojos del Salado is located on the border of Argentina and Chile. It’s also home to the world’s highest altitude lake, perched in its crater. The name “Ojos del Salado” translates to “Eye of the Salty One” due to the high saline content of the lake. Climb the mountain (it’s not a very difficult climb) and get inspired by breathtaking landscapes of the Andes.
9. Drink a long-lost wine from France
Chile has carved itself a niche for its high-quality wine. The country is the market leader when it comes to mastering the Carménère grape. Originally grown in France, this variety of grape was abandoned and forgotten. The grape was thankfully revived in the regions of Santiago in Chile. Today, Chile is the main country producing the Carménère wine and reviving the lost grape of France.
So if you’re planning to explore the continent of South America, and are not sure which country to start with, choose Chile!