The island of Chile has over and over again drawn attention to itself for its utterly incredible silhouette. Barely hanging on to the rim of South America, it’s a slim piece of land almost impossible to believe. With a peculiar and most unbelievable outline, it is approximately 4000 kilometers in length and only 180 kilometers in width. To understand the absurdity of its shape, think of a country that’s as long as the distance between Norway to Nigeria but only as a wide as the distance between Brussels and Duisburg. However, fantastical as it may sound, you have to visit Chile to understand how its unbelievable shape makes perfect sense. Tourists are quick to understand that Chile is an autonomous entity. This small country is protected by the mighty mountain-range of the Andes on one side; a harsh and unforgiving desert, the Atacama Desert, on another side; and a very few islands on the Pacific side that makes it accessible to antagonistic forces.
Weather – Bolivian Winter to Blistering Summer
Chile’s north has wonderful weather throughout the year and can be visited any time. Don’t get too hasty though. Although the weather is mostly very tourist-friendly, yet if you plan on renting a 4 wheel-drive to explore the altiplano beware of the Bolivian Winter. Bolivian Winter is hard to predict and can produce very heavy and erratic rainfall during the months of January, February and December leading to communication disruptions as well as the washing away of roads.
This may come as a surprise to some but in Chile the harshest summer months are January and February. Lodging and traveling rates are usually highest around this time. If you want to enjoy the Chilean summer but at a budget try visiting in March, November or December. You will find the weather bearable and the costs much lower. The mountains are usually inaccessible from June to September due to heavy snowfall and only people looking for skiing should head for the south and center of the country during those months.
Be it desert, mountains or the ocean – Chile has something to offer all its visitors. Here are some places you should visit to get a good taste of Chile.
Exploring the Wacky Streets of Valparaíso: The rickety, vibrant, and graceful streets of Valparaíso present a foot-trip that’s unlike anything you have experienced before. Historic Victorian buildings stick on to sheer hillsides, roads and walkways twist chaotically around the hills, and wobbly funiculars raise tourists to the hilltops. Once you are tired from discovering little nooks and crannies you can relax at some of the area’s finest restaurants and hotels.
The Captivating Valley of the Moon: The Valle de Luna or The Valley of the Moon is situated in the Atacama Desert. If you are into space adventure you must visit this place. The valley hasn’t seen any rain in a hundred years; it has dry lakes and the most amazing sand-formations due to wind making it look a lot like the surface of the moon. Mesmerizing colors and breathtaking sunsets will make this one of your favorite places in the world.
Lake Chungará: Experience the dizzying heights of Lake Chungará which is grouped among the World’s highest water-bodies. A word of caution – take it slow. The quick rise in altitude can make you feel woozy. Climb slowly enjoying the scenery on the way. The beautiful Lluta Valley is worth spending a little time in. Appreciate the churches along the way and look out for the pink flamingos, the tagua-tagua and the black and white geese that form part of the area’s exotic wildlife.
Easter Island: Named Easter Island because it was discovered on an Easter Sunday, the island is one of the main tourist attractions in Chile. The famous moai sculptures give off a mystical energy that lingers on for a while after leaving the place. The island also offers two breathtaking beaches and a scuba-diving facility.
End of the World: For a long, long time the Chilean Pantagonia was considered as the end of the world – the last bit after which there was emptiness. Somehow this rustic place still gives the feel you may have reached the very last place in the World. You can reach the area through different routes but be sure to rent a car otherwise it will take you forever to reach here. Don’t be in a hurry to get there or you will miss out on some of the most gorgeous sites along the way like the Pumalin forest, Lake General Carrera and the Futaleufú valley.
The rich history, culture and geography of Chile makes it a unique experience which is hard to forget. Be it stargazing in some of the clearest skies in the world or quietly sailing through the southern fjords, or just breathing in the ancient spirit of the Easter Island it will take you a while to come out of the enchantment it casts around its visitors.