Feb 17, 2019

2030 FIFA World Cup

View EMOL Original Source

Estadio Nacional (National Stadium), Santiago, Chile.
A current view of the "Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez P."
SANTIAGO.- The Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, surprised by announcing that Chile, along with Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, will present a joint bid to organize the 2030 FIFA World Cup. Although the election of FIFA to host the World Championship will be known by 2022, the announcement of President Piñera has generated positive comments from various economic sectors.

The Undersecretary of Tourism, Mónica Zalaquett, told EMOL that "major sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, Football Championships, Marathons and Car Races, have become powerful attractions for travelers, contributing very positively to the tourist image of the destinations that host those events ". In this line, she mentioned that "the nomination of Chile as one of the organizers of the 2030 World Cup is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the bonds between Tourism and Sport. We must not forget that Sports Tourism currently mobilizes 25% of tourism in the world, so to host a World Cup is to position Chile not only as a venue for sporting events, but also as a tourist destination. "

Bernardita Silva, Research Manager of the Camara Nacional de Comercio, Servicios y Turismo (CNC), indicated that the realization of an event of this magnitude "is in any case an engine" for the economy, and in particular for the sector, which was evident in the Copa America held in Chile in 2015.

"We saw it for the Copa America, there were positive results in Retail, Restaurants and Hotels. There is a multiplier effect for every foreigner who comes to the country, because for every dollar spent, that multiplies in our economy and also has a positive effect on employment, both in direct and indirect jobs created, "said Bernardita Silva.

Estadio Bicentenario German Becker, city of Temuco.
Estadio Bicentenario German Becker, Temuco
  For its part, the Executive Vice President of the Federacion de Empresas de Turismo de Chile (Fedetur), Helen Kouyoumdjian, said that the realization of a World Cup "has a positive impact everywhere" and also places Chile in the orbit to host other important events. Kouyoumdjian added that although Santiago is the best prepared city in terms of infrastructure and hotel capacity, the cities of Concepción, Antofagasta, Valparaíso and Viña del Mar are also outstanding in this regard. "In these areas there is also a very good tourist facility, the infrastructure and accommodation levels are excellent to receive an international event",  she said.

Finally, Kouyoumdjian said that now there should be a joint public and private work to begin planning what will be the candidacy of Chile. "In effect, the role of the private sector in an organization like this is key, then we must start working together from the first moment in a joint table, we will be from the start," she said. 

It should be noted that the infrastructure of the stadiums covers 35% at the time of choosing the venue and the remaining percentage is distributed on topics such as "accommodation, transportation, IT and telecommunications", according to FIFA.

Jan 5, 2019

Chile Tourist Attractions

 Note: This article consists of two parts, follow the link to visit the first section North of Chile, Santiago and Central Chile.

Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

The Submerged Moai, Easter Island, Chile.
The Submerged Moai
Impressive imitation of the natural statues
 Undoubtedly, one of the most exotic tourist destinations in Chile is the volcanic, enigmatic and beautiful Easter Island, native, official name Rapa Nui. Although not easily accessible, it has become one of the major Chile tourist attractions. It is located in the South Pacific, 3700 km. from the continental shelf, occupies an area of 163.6 km2. and there is a population of 7,800 inhabitants concentrated in the town of Hanga Roa, capital of the island. The climate is of a subtropical nature and rain can occur at any time of the year. 

According to archaeological research, the origin of the Rapanui ethnic group would come from Polynesia, possibly from the Marquesas Islands, this is evidenced in the Polynesian traits of the islanders. The more than 900 Moai, emblematic stone statues scattered throughout the island and the Ahu (ceremonial platforms), are silent witnesses of a mysteriously extinct culture that developed mainly between the XIth and XVIIth centuries. Until today, this exceptional cultural landscape continues to fascinate people from all over the world.

How to Get There

Due to its remote location and the lack of a large commercial port, the most common way to get to Easter Island is by air. The flights are by LATAM Airlines, departing from Arturo Merino Benitez Airport in Santiago and arriving at Mataveri International Airport, the duration of the outward flight is just over 5 and a half hours, and the return is almost 1 hour shorter due to the influence of the wind. The infrastructure to receive tourists is good because the main source of income in Easter Island is tourism. You can choose from luxury hotels to hostels and cabins. The tour of the island can be done with Rent-a-car vehicles, bicycle, horseback or simply walking. 

Easter Island, mixture of a millenary extinct culture and 
an untouched Nature

Tourist Places in Easter Island

Rapa Nui National Park

Created in 1966 and declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1995, the Park covers an area of 7,130 hectares, 43 percent of the territory of the island. Since 2017, and for 50 years, renewable, the administration is in charge of its own inhabitants through the Ma'u Henua Community. The Natural Sanctuary includes the Sacred places, Moai and the  most visited spots in Easter Island. Outside the park limits there is a good offer of accomodation places: boarding houses, cabins and hotels.

Rano Raraku Volcano

One of the most mysterious and archeologically most important sites of Easter Island since this was the quarry for the construction of the world famous Moai, which were later moved to the ceremonial platforms or Ahu. However, the construction seems to have been abandoned suddenly, without a clear explanation until now. Rano Raraku is one of the most visited places by tourists who arrive to Rapa Nui, on the way you can see many sculptures that have remained there over the centuries, some lying down, others standing, others half finished or broken.  Inside the crater there is a 3 meters deep freshwater lagoon.  

The Moai

There is not only one place to see the centuries-old stone sculptures, these are scattered or placed on the Ahu (Altars) throughout the island. We must remember that the figures carved in volcanic stone total more than 900, and the apogee of the construction was developed between 700 and 1600 A.D. The monolithic statues also wore a kind of headdress or red stone bun weighing more than 10 Tons known as Pukao, whose material was extracted from the Puna Pau quarry. Once carved the Pukao, they had to be raised to the right height to place them on the heads. How did they do it? Another of the questions for which there is no satisfactory explanation until today.

The Ahu (Ceremonial Platforms) 

One of the Ahu (Ceremonial Platform or Altar) in Easter Island, Chile.
Photo: despegar.com.ar
  There are approximately 300 Ahu, rectangular platforms or altars made of stone, mainly of a funerary nature around the whole island. On the main platform were placed the stone sculptures or Moai. Among the most noteworthy are the Ahu Tongariki, the most imposing ceremonial platform on the island; Nau Nau, just 150 meters from Anakena Beach; Vai Uri, a row of 5 Moai facing the Ocean, of the total only four are left, with different degree of conservation; Tahai, with a lone Moai of more than four meters high;  Ko Te Riku, this Ahu is part of the Tahai Ceremonial Complex. Ko Te Riku is one of the most impressive and photographed because it has the only Moai on the island with restored eyes, part of the work was carried out by the American archaeologist William Mulloy between 1968 and 1970. Akivi, the first group of monolithic sculptures scientifically restored in 1960. It is a platform with 7 Moai, the only one facing the Ocean, although it is not near the coast; Akahanga another of the important altars of the island, which has not been restored, with 13 Moai lying down but preserved almost to perfection. According to tradition, at this exact point on the southeast coast of the island are the remains of Hotu Matua, the first King of Rapanui; Hanga Te'e, another platform not restored, in the area known as Vaihu, with 8 Moai lying down; Huri a Urenga, one of the few platforms that is not close to the coast but to the interior of the island, of 13 meters long by 4 meters wide, with a single Moai that has the characteristic of presenting two pairs of hands; Hanga Kioe, an archaeological complex composed of two Ahu, Ahu Akapu and Ahu Hanga Kioe, the Moai on the Ahu Akapu with a height of 4 meters is complete, only missing the "Pukao" (headdress) the Hanga Kioe is half-destroyed, only has a part of the back on the platform; Ature Huki, on the beach of Anakena, a platform with a single moai more than six meters high that was the first to be scientifically restored and stood up again. As a result of its recovery, carried out in 1956 by the Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl along with several natives of the island, came the repair of many other monolithic sculptures of Rapa Nui.

Orongo Ceremonial Center

Orongo, on the top of the Rano Kau volcano, was an ancestral ceremonial center and represents the largest archaeological site of Easter Island. It is the reconstruction of 54 houses made of stones that still maintain their original boat design. Its use was seasonal, only a few weeks a year, in the beginning of spring. The village was built to venerate Make-Make, considered the creator of the World and also related to fertility and to perform the Tangata-Manu (Bird-Man) competition. Near the Rano Kau volcano there are three Motu (small islands), towards which the candidates to rule the island for one year (from one Spring to the next) had to swim,  the chosen one was the first to return from the Motu Nui, the largest islet, swimming with an egg in his hand. The last competition was held approximately in 1867. The event was narrated on the stones of the Rano Kau volcano. From the summit there is a magnificent view of the Ocean.

Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum

Founded in 1973 by the Capuchin priest Sebastian Englert, it is located a few meters from the center of Hanga Roa, currently the gallery also houses the William Mulloy research Library. The museum has a collection of more than 20 thousand objects discovered at different times, which tell the History of Rapa Nui. Among the pieces that can be seen stand out an original eye belonging to one of the many Moai scattered around the island, this authentic eye made of coral is the only existing in the World. The Rongorongo Tablets,  pieces of wood with a writing system discovered in Easter Island, a vestige of what until now is the only organized writing system in all of Oceania. Unfortunately, those exhibited in the gallery are only replicas, the 27 original tablets are scattered all over the world. Anyway, it's worth seeing them and learning from this ancestral system of glyphs. The Feminine Moai, discovered in 1956 in the Anakena area by the Norwegian adventurer and ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl. Of the 12 that have been found on the island, this restored piece is one of them. The Female Moai, discovered in 1956 at Anakena area by the Norwegian adventurer and ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl. Of the 12 that have been found on the island, this restored piece is one of them.

Other Recommended Site:  Parque Nacional Rapa Nui

Anakena Beach

Anakena Beach, Easter Island.
Anakena Beach, Easter Island.
Photo:  https://www.biobiochile.cl
  Anakena,  is a small beach, one of the most touristic places on Easter Island. Recognized for its white sand, coral and Palm Trees brought from Tahiti, ranked number 16 among the 25 most outstanding beaches in the 2017 version of the Travelers Choice Awards. The environment is very quiet, with few people and noise, you can rent an equipment to explore the colorful marine species that live underwater. Nearby, as a backdrop, are the ceremonial sites Ahu Ature Huki with the first Moai restored in modern times and the Ahu Nau Nau, consisting of 7 stone giants, the best preserved Moai of Rapa Nui. For the islanders the place is of great importance because the tradition says that here, coming from Polynesia, disembarked and established Hotu Matu'a, precursor and first Ariki (Noble) of the Rapanui people.



Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Chile.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
Awarded as "The Eighth Wonder of the World"
  Patagonia is a geographic region of little more than 1 million km2, at the South end of South America, shared between Chile and Argentina. We will focus here on detailing some of the main tourist attractions of Patagonia, Chilean side, of smaller extent yet full of countless places of incomparable beauty. Because of its wild geography, this is one of the least polluted and intervened regions all over the World. The main city is Punta Arenas, on the shores of the Strait of Magellan, with an important history and traditions, a starting point for many regional tours. Other principal cities are Puerto Montt in Los Lagos Region, Puerto Aysen and Coyhaique in the Aysen Region, Puerto Natales in Magallanes Region.

Torres del Paine National Park

One of the largest and most important National Parks in Chile, tourist destination recognized worldwide. Located in the province of Ultima Esperanza, Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica Region. The closest city is Puerto Natales, known as the gateway to Torres del Paine. This natural wonder of Patagonia borders to the North with the also renowned Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, both countries promote unified tourist circuits.

Carretera Austral (Southern Way)

The Carretera Austral or Chile's Route 7, with its more than 1200 km. between Puerto Montt and Villa O'Higgins, is considered one of the most beautiful scenic roads in the World. Much of the route lacks paving, although due to the difficult geography of the area the road is in constant maintenance. The Carretera Austral gathers an incredible amount of natural beauty as the Alerce Andino National Park, with larche trees of more than 3000 years old, Hornopiren National Park, a pristine and little visited place,  Pumalin Park, one of the largest conservation projects in South America, Queulat National Park, famous for its Hanging Glacier, Laguna San Rafael National Park, with one of the largest Glaciers of the Northern Ice Fields and remote places such as Caleta Tortel, with its picturesque walkways made of Cipres de las Guaitecas (Cypress from the Guaitecas Archipelago).

Kaweskar Navigation Route

Kaweskar Navigation Route, Chile.
Photo: www.skorpios.cl
Kaweskar Route is the name given to the sea tour that today takes place through the same Patagonian channels that the Kaweskar natives sailed centuries ago. This is the star trip performed by the Chilean tourist navigation company "Skorpios" with its ship Skorpios III. The 380-nautical-mile route begins in Puerto Natales, Magallanes Region, 2500 Km. South of the Chilean capital making cruises to the Glaciers of the Southern Ice Field, with a duration of 4 days and 3 nights. It operates between the months of October to April and sets sail twice a week, Tuesday and Friday.

Laguna San Rafael National Park

Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael lies in the Aysen Region. With 1,742,000 hectares, it is the largest in the region, of which 400,000 correspond to the Northern Ice Field, one of the largest ice masses on the planet. Within its limits is also Mount San Valentin, sometimes called San Clemente, 3,910 meters above sea level, this is the highest peak of the Southern Andes and a magnet that attracts mountaineering enthusiasts from Chile and the World. 

The great attractions of the park and icons of the regional tourism are the San Rafael Lake and the namesake Glacier. San Rafael Lake (Spanish "Laguna San Rafael") is actually a bay connected through a channel to the sea.  In the bay there are boat trips, from where it is possible to observe the huge floating icebergs and the fall of large masses of ice from the glacier to the lake.

City of Punta Arenas

Monument to Schonner Ancud and taking of possesion of the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas, Chile.
Ancud Schooner and Possesion of the Strait Monument
Photo: www.comapa.com - Patagonia & Antarctica
  Punta Arenas is the capital of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica Region and one of the main cities of Patagonia. We must remember that Patagonia is a binational region shared between Chile and Argentina. Although its population is only 150,000 inhabitants, its rich history of great explorers and daring pioneers, its strategic location on the shore of the Strait of Magellan joining two Oceans, the fact of being a gateway to the magnificent natural landscapes of Southern Patagonia and many other reasons, make this city the perfect destination to start an unforgettable journey through the end of the World. The main point of arrival and departure is Carlos Ibañez del Campo International Airport, 22 K. North of the city. There are also 2 important ports, Jose de los Santos Mardones and Arturo Prat, which each year receive a growing number of cruise ships sailing through the South American southern cone.

Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego  

Isla Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire Island) lies in the southern tip of South America, separated from the mainland by the Strait of Magellan. The western part belongs to Chile, with 51.49 % of the total area, and the eastern side corresponds to Argentina, with 48.51 % of the territory. On the Chilean side, the capital is the town of Porvenir, with 5,500 inhabitants. At the beginning of the 20th century Tierra del Fuego experienced a so-called "Gold Rush", attracting many dreamers from different parts of the World, then, during the second half of the 20th century, a boom period is repeated with the peak of the oil industry. Today, under the protection of special laws, the island has resumed a slow but constant growth. 

The most common way to get to the Chilean side of the island is leaving from the Tres Puentes Ferry Terminal in Punta Arenas, the journey lasts approximately 2 hours or making a much shorter voyage taking the Ferry at Punta Delgada Terminal, 170 Km. North of Punta Arenas. DAP Airways also performs daily flights departing from Carlos Ibañez del Campo Airport in Punta Arenas.

Globally, Tierra del Fuego is one of the great destinations for sport fishing lovers. Famous places are Lakes Blanco, Deseado, Despreciado, Fagnano (whose largest extension is on the Argentine side), the rivers Blanco, Condor, Azopardo, Paralelo, Chico and Rio Grande, the largest on the island and known as the Trout's International Capital. There are several Fishing Tours available both in Punta Arenas and Porvenir. The official season is from October to April of the next year. Another interesting place to visit in Tierra del Fuego is the private initiative Parque Pinguino Rey (King Penguin Park), located in Bahia Inutil, 114 Km. South of Porvenir where every year nest specimens of this beautiful and colorful bird, the second largest after the Emperor Penguin. 

In the Southwest part of the island, within the Alberto de Agostini National Park, the third largest in Chile, lies the Darwin Range, snow and ice fields-covered mountains which have the highest peaks of Tierra del Fuego. There are great attractions related to the Darwin Mountain Range, such as the Avenida de los Glaciares (The Glaciers Avenue), giant ice masses that break off into the Beagle Channel from the Darwin ice field. These glaciers are named after the nationality of the first explorers in the area such as Germany, Italy, France, Holland, Spain and Romanche. The visit to the Glaciers Avenue is carried out through the Australis Cruise Line between Punta Arenas and Ushuaia through the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel.


Southern Chile

Town of Puerto Varas, South of Chile.
Puerto Varas and Osorno Volcano
Photo: biobiochile.cl
Chile's Southern Zone, is another of the emblematic tourist areas in Chile, where you can find countless places as beautiful as they are interesting. Commonly, the term Southern Chile refers to the regions immediately North of Patagonia, including Biobio, Araucania and Los Lagos Regions. Here are just some of the most recognized sites to visit in this part of the country:

Pucon, one of the Adventure Capitals of Chile

Pucon is a small tourist town in La Araucania Region, located on the shores of Villarrica Lake and a few kilometers away from the namesake volcano. It is the most important lake resort in Chile and one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the country. The town of approximately 25,000 inhabitants is a sought-after adventure tourism center famous for the Villarrica Ski Center managed by the Gran Hotel Pucon Resort and Club, hiking trails, hot springs, water sports, descent down the rivers, kayaking, etc. 15 km away is the town of Villarrica, another of the main tourist destinations of La Araucania Region.

Chiloe Island and Archipelago

The Archipelago of Chiloe is a place full of mild landscapes, deeply rooted traditions and customs, rich folklore and gastronomy, amidst the geography dominated by marine views and the dozens of surrounding islands. Many of its particular characteristics had their origin in the isolation and the fact that Chiloe was the last refuge of the Spanish crown in Chile even after Independence. Chiloe does not have large geographic features or a hectic nightlife so it can be said that the Archipelago is a tourist destination for the whole family. Regarding the weather, it is very changeable, even in Summer. To get to the island, you must cross the Chacao Channel by ferry, leaving from Pargua, 60 km from the city of Puerto Montt to arrive to the Greater Island of Chiloe after a crossing of approximately half an hour.

There are innumerable places that could be listed, stand out the city of Ancud, which for its location is the most accessible on the island, with Fortresses erected by the Spaniards at the time of the Conquest; Castro, the provincial capital and largest city with around 45,000 inhabitants. Castro is famous for its Palafitos (Stilt Houses) the San Francisco and other Churches in the Commune declared as a World Heritage by UNESCO; the Museo Historico Etnografico de Dalcahue, with diverse collections that represent the evolution of the Chilote people and how the activities of agriculture, fishing and handicrafts have evolved, from the ancient ethnic groups of the Chonos and Huilliches; the Churches of Chiloe, wooden temples built according to a traditional design belonging to a school of architecture typical of the island. The oldest buildings still standing and repaired date from the middle of the 18th century and the most recent, from the beginning of the 20th century. In total, sixteen of these churches are considered National Monuments of Chile and, since 2000, a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Chiloe National Park, another must-see destination for visitors to the Greater Island, located on the Pacific coast, it is divided into two sectors, the smallest portion called Chepu, located in the commune of Ancud and the largest part known as Abtao in the communes of Dalcahue, Castro and Chonchi; Parque Tantauco, a private initiative located in the Commune of Quellon, extreme south of Chiloe, with ecosystems of great ecological value, among the richest in endemic biodiversity worldwide. The access can be by sea or land.

Huilo- Huilo Biological Reserve

Huilo Huilo Falls, South of Chile.
Huilo- Huilo Falls - Photo: huilohuilo.com
  Huilo Huilo is a private initiative, a world-class tourist destination awarded with several international prizes including The World's Best Sustainable Travel Destination. The Reserve is located 860 km South of the Chilean capital, in the Region of Los Rios, Panguipulli Commune, bordering Argentina. It is an area of 100,000 hectares of temperate forest housing a great biological diversity, volcanoes, lush waterfalls and innumerable lakes and water courses of glacial origin. The infrastructure to serve tourists is 100% eco friendly, everything is made with native materials and designed to not interfere with nature. In Huilo Huilo you can perform entertaining activities immersed in the pristine nature and wonderful landscapes of this remote corner of the World. More information on  Huilo Huilo official Website.

Salto del Laja (Laja Falls)

Salto del Laja is  an imposing combination of four waterfalls of the Laja River, one of the tourist icons of the Biobio Region and all the Central- Southern Zone of Chile. Its location is 480 km South of Santiago and 30 km North of Los Angeles. Currently there are a number of tourist services, including Hotels, Restaurants, Campsites and Picnic areas, Cabins and Crafts, implementation for Adventure Tourism, Bike Touring, Hiking, Zip line, etc.

Los Lagos and Los Rios Regions

Los Lagos and Los Rios are 2 Administrative Regions of Southern Chile, with one of the major tourist potentials in the country. The influence of German immigration throughout this part of Chile is very strong in all fields. The capital of Los Rios Region is Valdivia, one of the rainiest cities in Chile, founded in 1552 and full of interesting places to visit. Click on the link to go to What to see in Valdivia.  Another fascinating attraction in Los Rios Region, of great Hotel capacity and in the middle of exuberant nature is the one described above, Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve.

Puerto Montt, on the shores of the Reloncavi Sound, is the capital of the Region de Los Lagos (Lakes Region). Puerto Montt is a city of approx. 250,000 inhabitants which attracts a lot of visitors especially for its typical activities related to the rich sea that surrounds it, its fish and seafood market of Angelmo, the connectivity with the Isla Grande de Chiloe and for being the starting point for touring the great attractions of the surroundings. The Tepual Airport, located 16 km from the city center is the main regional air terminal, you can also arrive to Puerto Montt by land to the Bus Station, from where depart and arrive Rural, Interregional and International bus lines.

Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, with an area of 231,000 hectares is the oldest National Park in Chile, it is almost entirely in the province of Llanquihue, municipality of Puerto Varas, with the exception of a small part that corresponds to the province of Osorno. It is one of the most visited natural areas in Chile because it houses places of outstanding beauty, framed within a landscape of snow-capped mountains and volcanoes, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and evergreen forests. On the shores of Lake Llanquihue, stand out the small tourist towns of Puerto Varas and Frutillar, beautiful cities which offer great infrastructure of tourist services, having the Osorno Volcano as a gorgeous backdrop. On the eastern side of the lake is the rural town of Villa Ensenada, another key point to reach the innumerable attractions of the region. From here you can make ascents to the Osorno and Calbuco Volcanoes, Rafting and Fly Fishing on the Petrohue River. Another unforgettable experience in this area is the navigation of Todos Los Santos Lake, of emerald waters, surrounded of dense vegetation and volcanoes, one of the most beautiful and photogenic lakes of the many in the South of Chile.

Nov 25, 2018

Places to Visit in Chile

Note: This article consists of two parts, follow the link to visit Easter Island, Patagonia and Southern Chile.

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
     If you have planned traveling to the South of the World, specifically Chile and you need to know what places are the most interesting to visit, here you will find a guide with the best places to visit in Chile. The country has a wide variety of tourist attractions as well as a range of environments and climates, a condition that few places can offer. In recent decades, Chilean tourism has received more and more recognition, to the point that only in 2017 the country received 27 International Awards in various categories, including Destinations and Infrastructure.  Without going any further, the famous Lonely Planet Tourist Guide recently classified the Elqui Valley, in the Coquimbo Region, Chile, as one of the Top 10 UNMISSABLE places to visit in 2019.

Northern Chile 

 Archaeological Wealth     

Atacama Desert, North of Chile
Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth 
Photo: telegraph.co.uk 
     First of all, we must say that in Chile is often talked about two Norths, the "Norte Grande" (Big, Great or Far North) and the "Norte Chico" (Small. Little or Near North). The Norte Grande is mostly occupied by the Atacama Desert, a place so arid that it has been used by NASA to test its Mars Rovers, this very special condition makes the region a place of great attractions, as well as being a territory of great archaeological wealth where have been found Mummies much older than the Mummies of Ancient Egypt. (See Wikipedia's article on Chinchorro Mummies).  Certainly, Atacama Desert and the Altiplano are the places where most of the tourist attractions of the Norte Grande are concentrated although the Norte Chico does not lag behind, the aforementioned Elqui Valley being one of the most renowned.

Parque Nacional Lauca

One of the most beautiful Natural Sanctuaries in Chile, located in the commune of Putre, Arica y Parinacota Region. The Park highlights the archaeological wealth, the dominant Aymara culture of the area, the rich wildlife of the Altiplano, and the many places that can be seen such as Lake Chungará, the Cotacotani Lagoons and the Payachatas (Parinacota and Pomerape) volcanoes. This is also a great destination for lovers of mountaineering. The surface area is 137,883 hectares and the altitude varies between 3,200 to 6,342 meters above sea level, so you should avoid rough exercise.

Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum

This Museum depends on the Universidad Catolica del Norte and is located in San Pedro de Atacama, known as the "Archeological capital of Chile".  Named after the distinguished Belgian Jesuit priest Gustavo Le Paige, who devoted most of his life to the search, collection and study of archaeological remains in Northern Chile. It keeps about 380,000 pieces belonging to the Atacameña Culture, (300 B.C. - 900 A.C.), strongly influenced by the Aymara and Quechua cultures.

Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon)

Valle de la Luna, situated 13 Km. West of San Pedro de Atacama, is one of the most famous tourist spots in the North of Chile, an unmissable tour when visiting this part of the country. Its main features are its huge sand dunes, valleys, hills and formations of rock and salt. The landscape resembles a view of the Moon, as a result of the fusion of the Desert with the Mountains, which gives rise to strange formations of sand and rock. Very close, just 2 km from San Pedro de Atacama, is located El Valle de la Muerte (Valley of Death), in the middle of the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountain Range). Its name comes from ancient times, when the one who tried to cross it, died in the attempt. The place is so dry, that no vegetation grows nor any insect lives there.

El Tatio Geyser Field

El Tatio Geysers, North of Chile.
Photo: www.chilesustentable.net

  El Tatio Geysers, a view like from another Planet... Located 95 km East of the town of San Pedro de Atacama, at about 4,200 meters above sea level (the height here makes the water boil at only 86° C.) El Tatio is the largest group of Geysers in the Southern Hemisphere (about 80 active fountains) and the third largest in the World. Its name in the extinct Atacameño or Kunza language would mean "the crying grandfather". Tours leave very early in the morning, between 04.00 to 05.00 as the best view is achieved between 06.00 and 09.00 hrs.  

Astrotourism in Chile

The skies of Northern Chile (Norte Grande and Norte Chico) are considered the best in the World for Astronomical Tourism. It is worth mentioning that currently, Chile has 70% of the world astronomical instrumentalization in its territory. Countless Research Organizations and Tourist Companies are installed here taking advantage of the conditions offered by this part of Chile  either by its atmospheric environment, economic considerations (of the country), stability, etc. Many of these Observatories can be visited making the corresponding reservations in advance via Internet. However, in most cases you can hire a tour in the local agencies to visit one of the many Tourist/Educational Observation Centers.  Outstanding are the scientific facilities such as the ALMA, the largest radiotelescope in the World, consisting of 66 high-precision antennas. You can request a free of charge entry pass to visit the ALMA Operations Support Facility Here.  Detailing a complete list of observation points of scientific and touristic nature would be very long, let's leave this in the hands of a specialist in Astronomical Tourism Here.

Beaches of Northern Chile

Playa Cavancha (Cavancha Beach), Iquique, Chile.
Cavancha Beach, Iquique.
    With more than 4,000 km of coastline, Chile has beautiful beaches that are worth to visit and enjoy. The beaches of the North of Chile, all bathed by the South Pacific, are characterized by their warm waters. Currently, one of the most popular beaches is Cavancha, located in the center of Iquique, featuring gentle waves, white sands, recreational areas, Palm trees and Restaurants very close, suitable for the whole family. Like all the beaches in this part of Chile, the waters are warm in Summer and cold in Winter, but never like in the South of the country. The nearby dunes allow the practice of paragliding, a very common sport in Iquique. In the city of Arica, following Comandante San Martin Avenue you can go to the beautiful La Lisera Beach, of semicircular shape and approximately 150 meters long, without large waves, suitable for swimming and diving. Because of its mild climate, it can receive visitors throughout the year. Another great tourist destination is the city of La Serena, in the "Norte Chico" (Smal North). Along the Avenida del Mar, there are 12 beaches, almost all suitable for swimming and with first class facilities to receive bathers. In the Third Atacama Region, 6 km South of Caldera is the Resort village of Bahia Inglesa, famous for its white sands, turquoise, warm and gentle waters. With approximately 12 km long it is ranked as one of the best in the country featuring several beaches: La Piscina (surrounded by rocks) ideal to go with children; Playa Blanca, Playa El Chuncho and Las Machas.

Valle de Elqui

A separate chapter for this place in Norte Chico, a great tourist destination located along the Elqui River basin that flows into the city of La Serena. Here you can visit Valle de Elqui 


The capital Santiago and Central Chile

Santiago, the Chilean capital.
City of Santiago, Chile, 
at the foot of the Cordillera de Los Andes
    Santiago, the Chilean capital, because of its surroundings full of attractions and its own attributes is considered one of the best tourist destinations in the World, because of its privileged location in a fertile valley at the foot of the Andes Mountains, as well as for its historical heritage, dynamism, quality of life and great progress in all aspects. The city of about 7,000,000 inhabitants is composed of a historic center and around by many communes from popular to very modern districts with large skyscrapers, shopping malls and financial centers that have nothing to envy to the great capitals of the world. Here you can see the main places to see in Santiago. Santiago also offers a wide variety of Museums where you can learn more about its History, people, natural wonders, art and culture, etc. Click to see the main Museums in Santiago de Chile.

Urban Parks in Santiago

There is a vast network of Parks within the city and natural areas in the vicinity, to name just a few: Parque Metropolitano also known as Cerro San Cristobal (San Cristobal Hill), the fourth largest urban park in the World an one of the must-sees in Santiago, halfway up the hill you can visit the National Zoo, and at the top, the Sanctuary and statue of the Inmaculada Concepcion. In the summer season you can also visit the Tupahue and Antilen Swimming Pools and year round take and enjoy the Cable Car, recently modernized and re-inaugurated. The park is also made up of Chacarillas, Los Gemelos hills and other areas that constitute a small mountain range within the city. In the heart of Santiago is located Cerro Santa Lucia (Santa Lucia Hill), much smaller than the San Cristobal but not less beautiful, also with a wonderful view from the top and a great historical value because, sheltered by this hill, the city was founded in 1541. Another old urban park of the city is Parque Forestal, on the South bank of Rio Mapocho. Important cultural and recreational activities are carried out here. Throughout the Parque Forestal, from its western limit with the Parque Balmaceda to the Parque de los Reyes on the eastern end, you can find important places that make it even more attractive, like the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, important sculptures and monuments such as the Fuente Alemana  (German Fountain).

Bicentenario Park, Santiago, Chile.
Bicentenario  Park - Commune of Vitacura, Santiago de Chile 
Photo: beethovenfm.cl
  Another of the top parks in Santiago is Parque Bicentenario de Vitacura, a public green area of 27 hectares along the Eastern bank of the Mapocho River. It has approximately 4,000 trees, of which more than 1,300 are native species. Among its main attractions are the North and South Artificial Lagoons, where you can see Black-necked Swans, Flamingos, Taguas, Herons, Triles and Koi fishes swimming among Lotus flowers. Parque Bicentenario is visited by about 28,000 people a month. At the entrance of the park is the Restaurant Mestizo, designed by the renowned Chilean architect Smiljan Radic. Mestizo, considered by many as the best restaurant in Santiago is the ideal place for lunch, have a drink and enjoy the view taking advantage of its innovative architecture. Towards the opposite side of the city you can visit the Parque Quinta Normal, the oldest and one of the most interesting urban parks in Chile, founded in 1841. The Quinta Normal also constitutes an important cultural center because inside there are 5 Museums: the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Museo Ferroviario (Railway Museum), Museo de Ciencia y Tecnología, Museo Infantil (Children's Museum) and the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, also in the surroundings there are other important Museums and Cultural Centers of the city of Santiago. In summary, Santiago is a city with plenty of green areas, and even more are projected in the near future. To avoid making a long list, only a few more are detailed below:
Parque Fluvial Padre Renato Poblete (Father Renato Poblete River Park), Commune of Quinta Normal, with water play areas and more than 2000 species of trees and plants,
Parque Araucano, another of the large and major parks of Santiago, located in the Commune of Las Condes, with lots of attractions for all ages.
Parque de los Reyes, Covering 31 hectares of gardens and green areas in the Commune of Santiago. It was built for the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America and in honor of the Monarchs of Spain on their visit to Chile. It has an athletic circuit, playgrounds, an artificial lagoon and the Fuente de España.

Near the Capital

In the outskirts, on the foothills of the Andes Mountains there are world-class Winter Centers, which receive skiers and tourists from all over the globe. The main and best equipped facilities are Valle Nevado, La Parva, El Colorado/Farellones all at an average of 50 km East of Santiago. A little further North (147 Km., in Valparaiso Region) is located Portillo Ski Center, the oldest in South America, also with excellent facilities and where national teams from Europe and North America come every year to train on its slopes. Cajon del Maipo is one of the most visited natural areas around the Chilean capital. It is a canyon located only one hour away from Santiago, along the basin of Rio Maipo at the foot of the Andes Mountains, being a frequent destination for lovers of ecotourism and adventure tourism. The main town is San Jose de Maipo. Here you can see the main points of interest of Cajon del Maipo. 

Chile is a country renowned worldwide for the production of quality wines. Most of the Tourism Agencies offer innumerable tours to visit the vineyards in the surroundings of Santiago and Central Chile. These itineraries through the wine producing regions are known as Rutas del Vino (Wine Routes). Another typical place near Santiago, just 50 km away is the small town of Pomaire, on the side of Route 78 or Autopista del Sol, on the way to San Antonio. Pomaire is the symbol of Pottery in Chile, besides being well known for its traditional cuisine. Click here for more information about Pomaire.

Cities of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar

A beach of Viña del Mar, Chile.
A Beach of Viña del Mar
Photo: www.vinadelmarchile.cl
   Although with marked differences, the cities of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, located only 120 Km. from Santiago, are also icons of tourism in Central Chile. Because of the growth they have had, the cities are currently united, only administratively apart. Valparaiso is the main port of Chile, its historic center was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and has many interesting places to tour. Visit this page for more tourist information about Valparaiso. For its part, Viña del Mar, known as La Ciudad Jardin (Chile's Garden City) is, without a doubt, one of the capitals of national tourism. Viña del Mar is mainly known for its beaches, its large number of green areas, beautiful buildings looking directly to the Pacific Ocean and the excellent infrastructure to receive tourists. Here you can find more tourist information on Viña del Mar.

Other Attractions of Central Chile

Central Chile, the country's region between the Aconcagua and Biobio rivers (including Santiago), has other important tourist destinations as well, some of them world-class. Some of the most renowned are:

Campamento Minero Sewell (Sewell Mining Camp), today uninhabited, it was the first Copper- mining settlement in Chile. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006, it can be visited throughout the year because it is open to tourism. Its location is in the middle of the Cordillera de los Andes, 150 km South of Santiago and 64 km from Rancagua, the regional capital. A must-see in Sewell is the Museo de la Gran Mineria del Cobre (Large Scale Copper Mining Museum).

Museo de Colchagua (Colchagua Museum), a private institution, managed by the Cardoen Foundation, located in the commune of Santa Cruz, Region of Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins. It was inaugurated in 1995, the main construction that houses the Museum and 60 percent of its collections were damaged by the February 2010 earthquake. It stayed closed for several months and was reopened in October of the same year. Colchagua Museum is one of the most comprehensive in Chile, very well organized, covering a variety of topics and it is very easy to get there from Santiago. Here you can learn more about Museo de Colchagua.

Lago Rapel (Rapel Lake, Chile).
Photo: amuraworld.com
  Lago Rapel (Rapel Artificial Lake), is an 80 km2 artificial reservoir located in the O'Higgins Region, bordering the Santiago Metropolitan Region. It was built in 1969 to feed the Rapel Hydroelectric Plant. Because of its attractive environment, in recent decades, tourism has developed significantly in the place to become an important destination for lovers of sport fishing and all kinds of water sports, at any time of the year. There are varied facilities of good level such as Marinas, Hotels, Restaurants, Camping sites, Cabins, Rental Equipment, etc.

Pichilemu, the Chilean Capital of Surfing, small town and commune located in O'Higgins Region, also known as Chile's Sixth Region. Its main point of attraction is Punta de Lobos Beach, located 6 km. South of Pichilemu. Depending on the time of year, the waves can reach from 8 to 10 meters in height, in 2013 Punta de Lobos was named World Surfing Reserve by Save the Waves Coalition, a title that has made it one of the favorite destinations for surfers from around the world.

Parque Nacional La Campana, located in the so-called Cordillera de la Costa (Coastal Mountain Range), Region of Valparaiso, 160 km. Northwest of Santiago and 29 km. from the city of Quillota. This National Park is managed by CONAF (National Forest Corporation). The Protected Area includes fauna and flora representative of Central Chile, its Palm forests are the largest in the country. In 1834 the English naturalist Charles Darwin reached the hill top that today gives the name to the Park, La Campana (The Bell). La Campana was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1985 and defined as a Place of Scientific Interest for mining use in 1989. Another interesting fact is that from the top of the hill, on a clear day, you can see the Andes Mountains to the East  and to the West, the Pacific Ocean, 2 natural borders of Chile. 

Las Siete Tazas National Park, Chile.
Siete Tazas National Park
Photo: www.diariolaprensa.cl
  Other important National Parks of Central Chile are Parque Nacional Radal Siete Tazas, located in the commune of Molina, Maule Region, 100 km. from Talca, the Regional Capital and 275 km. South of Santiago. The main attraction is Rio Claro (Claro River), whose bed of basaltic rock has been molded by water over the centuries, forming a series of waterfalls and pools, surrounded by vast vegetation. The name of Siete Tazas (Seven Cups) is precisely due to the sequence of 7 waterfalls in the middle of the magnificent natural environment.

On the distant Easter Island, located 3700 km. from the coast of continental Chile, lies Rapa Nui National Park, occupying a little more than 40 percent of the surface of the volcanic origin Island, including much of the most important tourist and archaeological sites. Let's remember that the mysterious Rapa Nui culture had its maximum splendor between the IX and XV centuries, when the carving of Moai reached its maximum apogee. Click to learn more about Easter Island National Park.

Parque Nacional Archipielago Juan Fernandez, another remote National Park, declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1977. It is located at Juan Fernandez Archipelago, 667 kilometers from the coast of San Antonio, Valparaiso region, continental Chile. It covers a total area of 18,300 hectares, distributed between the main island of Robinson Crusoe and the islands Alejandro Selkirk and Santa Clara. This Natural Sanctuary contains one of the most unique and surprising ecosystems on the planet, it has its own flora, being one of the richest places in native plant life around the World. Here tou can learn more on Juan Fernandez Archipelago.

Salto del Laja (Laja Falls), 4 waterfalls belonging to the Laja River, located in the region of Biobio, sometimes considered within the Southern Zone of Chile, (not Central Chile). Laja Falls are located 479 km. South of Santiago and 31 km. from Los Angeles, the nearest city. The view of Salto del Laja is one of the iconic postcards of tourism in Chile. In the place there is a complete infrastructure to serve tourists: Hotels, Restaurants, Camping areas, Trails for trekking, Canopy, Horseback riding, Sailing, etc. The tours to visit Saltos del Laja depart from the Bus terminals of Los Angeles or Concepcion, the regional capital.