Torres del Paine National Park

21 Reasons for a Holiday in Chile

City of Puerto Varas

When in 2017 British Airways announced the resumption of flights between London and Santiago de Chile, The Telegraph published a list detailing 21 reasons for the British to visit Chile. Both then and now, these and other reasons continue to be valid.

The country offers visitors a large number of places to visit and a good infrastructure in terms of hotels as well as connectivity between the different regions. From the Atacama Desert in the extreme north to Patagonia, the end of the Americas and the immensity of the white continent. The charming, enigmatic Easter Island with its Moai; the Chiloe Archipelago, full of mythology, folklore and culinary delights; the beautiful Lakes Region; Central Chile with its valleys and winter centers, etc.

Nor can we fail to mention Santiago, the country's capital and one of the largest cities in Latin America. It is an important commercial, financial and business center, a modern and historical city at the same time, at the foot of the Andes mountains, with important winter resorts. Here are the places highlighted by British Airways:   

1.- Atacama Desert 

Atacama Desert, North of Chile
      One of the driest places on Earth, although there are parts where every few years takes place the strange but beautiful phenomenon known as "The Flowering Desert". In some parts the landscape seems unreal, to the point that NASA has made practical use of the similarity of this area with the surface of Mars. 

In addition to the geysers, salt flats, volcanoes and lakes of the Andean plateau, Atacama is also archaeologically one of the richest places in South America. Equally, the Astronomical Tours are a good choice, as the clear skies of the desert make it a perfect location to scan the Universe. In fact, Atacama is considered the best place on Earth to observe the firmament and to the date there are about fifty operators who offer tours related to this topic.

2.- Visiting the "Palafitos" (houses on stilts) of Chiloe Island

Chiloe Archipelago is a group of islands full of traditions and mysteries. One of its charms are the typical "palafitos". These stilt houses are constructions on wooden pillars in the water which are not native to Chiloe architecture, but were adopted in some coastal towns of the Archipelago for a better use of the coastline during the trade expansion in the nineteenth century and continued to be built until the middle of the last century. Today, along with the Churches of Chiloe, the "palafitos" are among the most representative postcards of the main and adjacent islands.

3.- Traveling to Patagonia     

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine
A view of Torres del Paine and Salto Chico Hotel
One of the emblematic tourist places throughout the World. Located at the southern tip of South America, it is shared between Chile and Argentina. The Chilean side is smaller and less promoted than the Argentine Patagonia, however has a great diversity of spectacular landscapes,  not only Torres del Paine National Park, recognized as the Eighth Wonder of the World by

Notable places to visit in the Chilean Patagonia are also the Carretera Austral, a new tourist destination where you can travel more than 1,200 kilometers through a route of asphalt and gravel starting in Puerto Montt and whose end is in Villa O' Higgins. The Carretera Austral is considered one of the most interesting and beautiful routes throughout the Americas, although sometimes you can find little difficulties, since tourism is just taking off in this region and not always all the required services are available in the area. Among its main attractions can be highlighted Parque Nacional Pumalin Douglas Tompkins; Queulat National Park; Puyuhuapi Fjord with cozy facilities amidst lush nature; San Rafael Glacier; the beautiful mineral formations known as The Marble Cathedral, Marble Chapel and Marble Caves at General Carrera Lake, shared with Argentina, the second largest in South America, etc, etc. 

Further south is located Punta Arenas, known as "the capital of Patagonia", starting point of many tours that travel the South American southern cone. Punta Arenas offers cultural and tourist alternatives starting from the center of the city to its nearby natural attractions such as the navigation through the Strait of Magellan and Southern channels, excursions to the amazing Tierra de Fuego Island, the Antarctic Province, Torres del Paine and others.    

4.- Chile's Ski Resorts      

Due to its geographical location and the presence of the Andes Mountains in most of its extension, Chile is a privileged country in terms of ski slopes (among other things). Depending on the meteorological trend of every year, the season can last from June to September, even some resorts are equipped with snowmaking machines. There is a long list of places to ski in Chile. The best known and equipped in Central Chile are Portillo, La Parva, El Colorado, Farellones, and Valle Nevado. In the south Nevados de Chillan and the recently created Corralco Mountain and Ski Resort stand out.

5.- The colorful houses of Valparaiso 

Valparaiso, 119 km. from the capital Santiago, is the main commercial chilean port and the second largest city in the country. One of the features that most attracts the attention of visitors are the colorful houses that sometimes seem to be hanging of the intricate geography full of hills, each with a different name. Striking are also its funiculars, historical means of transportation used by the inhabitants of the hills, given that the first dates from 1883, born on the initiative of European immigrants. Next to Valparaiso you can visit the beautiful city of Vina del Mar, the main tourist center of Central Chile.

6.- It is the narrowest country in the World

We would rather say: according to its length Chile is the narrowest country in the World, with a maximum width of 445 km. and an average of 177 km. But in contrast to this condition, it is also one of the longest countries on Earth because without considering its Antarctic territory on which claims sovereignty, Chile has a length of 4270 km.

7.- You can spot a Puma when visiting Torres del Paine

If you go to Torres del Paine, a National Park of exceptiomal scenic beauty in Patagonia, you can see a Puma. The population of this protected species in the natural area is app. of 50 specimens, but if you are lucky, you will be able to see them in their natural habitat. The Pumas of this part of the World are among the largest of its kind.  

8.- Stay at " La Montaña Magica" Eco- Lodge

Montaña Magica Hotel, southern Chile.
Montaña Magica Eco Lodge - Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve 
The mountain-shaped hotel is covered with vegetation, everything is made of wood and has a permanent waterfall outside. A better connection with nature is difficult to find anywhere else. "La Montaña Magica" is only one of several eco-  friendly hotels located in Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, one of the best natural destinations in southern Chile, year after year visited by thousands of people who are seeking to escape the city and connect with nature.

9.-  Discover "The End of the World" by visiting Cape Horn

Cabo de Hornos (Cape Horn) is the name that receives the most southerly headland of the Hornos Island, belonging to the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, traditionally considered the southernmost point of the  Americas.

10.-  "Reaching the Stars" by visiting the Observatories in Atacama

The skies of the Atacama Desert are privileged because of its zero pollution and absence of clouds almost all year round, which makes them the cleanest in the world. For this reason, the Chilean desert concentrates 40% of the largest telescopes on the planet and today, Astronomical Tours are one of the many tourist activities that take place in northern Chile.

11.-  Rafting in "Cajon del Maipo"  

Known as one of the best rivers in Chile for rafting and located just an hour East of Santiago, going down the Maipo River is one of the most incredible and entertaining experiences you can perform in central Chile. In Rio Maipo, with sections of rapids II, III and IV there are several companies that offer their services to enjoy this sensation in a truly unforgettable panorama at the foothills of The Andes.

12.- Visiting Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Together with Patagonia and the Atacama Desert, Easter Island forms Chile's tourist trilogy. Although geographically it belongs to the Polynesia, administratively it depends on the Chilean Valparaiso Region, under the regime of "Special Territory". Because of its remote location, traveling to Rapa Nui, one of the most mysterious places on the planet, is like a dream that perhaps can be performed once in a lifetime.

13.- You can visit the largest Glacier in South America

Unlike most ice masses all over the world, Pio XI Glacier, also known as Brüggen Glacier, has undergone significant progress in recent decades.  Its approximate surface is 1300 km2., with a length of 64 kilometers, front of 6 kilometers and ice towers surpassing 75 meters in height. Pio XI is one of 48 glaciers that come from the Southern Ice Field, a great glacial mass of 350 km. long located in the Patagonian Andes, of which about an 85% belongs to Chile and the rest to Argentina.

14.- The ghost mining town of Humberstone

Humberstone is an old mining town in the Atacama Desert, named after James Humberstone, a British chemical engineer who emigrated to South America in 1875 and made his fortune from saltpeter. Nowadays, far from its flourishing past lived between the late 1800s and the early decades of the 1900s,  the town that housed more than 3,700 people is just a legend, considered one of the ten most ghostly places on the planet, what has encouraged tourist agencies to perform different tours through its dusty streets and corners. Humberstone and the neighboring Santa Laura Salpeter Work are National Monuments of Chile and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

15.- A swimming pool of colossal dimensions

In the commune of Algarrobo, within the "San Alfonso del Mar" Hotel Complex on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, you can visit the World's largest swimming pool, recognized by the Guinness Book of Records. To get an idea, this is an artificial lagoon of more than one kilometer in length, covering an area of about 8 hectares and of more than 250,000 cubic meters of seawater. All equivalent to about 6,000 "normal" swimming pools.

16.- Trekking around Villarrica Volcano 

In Winter, its snowy slopes are an invitation to visit the Ski Center, although guided trekking around Villarrica Volcano is available all year round, starting from the tourist agencies of Pucon and Villarrica. This trekking is one of the main adventure activities for tourist since it is said that Villarrica is the most spectacular volcano of Northern Patagonia, besides being one of the most active in South America and the World. At the summit of 2847 mts. you can enjoy a panoramic view of the lakes and other mountains of the region.

17.-  Taking a bike tour through the Carretera Austral

The Carretera Austral is one of the most spectacular roads in South America, an ideal setting for adventure tourism as it is a journey through the most attractive landscapes of Patagonia. Although the route is quite demanding in terms of effort (mostly of gravel), more and more people choose the option to tour it by bicycle.

18.-  A Paradise for Surfing Lovers

Pichilemu had until now been a little-known town, nevertheless it is becoming one of the best tourist places of the Central Chile. It has many attractions but by far the most outstanding are its beaches, which today are known worldwide for being among the best for surfing. It is located on the coast of O'Higgins, Sixth Region of Chile,  227 km. SW of Santiago.  For those who want to surf, the best place in Pichilemu is Punta de Lobos, 6 km. to the South where the crests of up to 8 meters have turned this place into a dream beach for all lovers of waves and adrenaline.

19.-  The peculiar houses of  poet Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda, one of the two Chilean Nobel literature laureates, had 3 residences, named by himself as "La Chascona" in Santiago, "La Sebastiana" in Valparaiso and the third, which today its ownis  mausoleum in the village of Isla Negra. The bard's houses are now Museums open to the public and can be visited without prior booking. Each residence is like a Neruda's poem but without words, full of stories, souvenirs, documents, secrets and magic, that will surprise and amaze the visitors.

20.- A Tour around Cerro Santa Lucia      

Cerro Santa Lucia, Chile.
Cerro Santa Lucía is one of the most accessible tourist attractions in Santiago as it is located in the heart of the Chilean capital. It is a small hill (69 mts.) that was remodeled in 1872 but today, it has become an important tourist center because of its fountains, gardens, terraces and balconies, it is also a historical place, on its hillsides the conquistador Pedro de Valdivia established his camp before founding Santiago in 1541. 

21.- Chilean Cuisine

Until a few decades ago, gastronomy in Chile was rather modest in variety, especially in restaurants. Along with the country's economic growth, the number of good restaurants has grown significantly and the quality and variety of food has evolved to unexpected levels. The Barrio Bellavista (Bellavista Neighborhood), one of the bohemian centers of Santiago, also stands out for offering one of the best gastronomic options in the capital of Chile. In this neighborhood, as well as in Santiago in general, there is certainly a large number of restaurants that could be named, but The Telegraph makes special mention of "Peumayen Ancestral Food", specialized in a menu that combines original products and techniques from the main cultures of pre-Hispanic Chile.