Chile Travel GuideEdit This The best resource for sights, hotels, restaurants, bars, what to do and see
Parts of the Atacama desert in the North have reportedly not seen rain (at least not since 1870 when a weather station was put there) while other parts enjoy the "desierto florido" or "flowering desert." For the mystery check out the site about the Atacama desert. San Pedro de Atacama is a very small, picturesque town about an hour out of Calama. It is the base town to explore the Valley of Moon and the Tatio geysers and the beautiful scenery in the area. In the city of Calama, you can visit the largest open pit copper mine in the world at the city of Chuquicamata. They offer an interesting tour, and you will learn a little about the history of copper mining in Chile. Further north, near the Peruvian border, you will find the city of Arica .Arica has some nice beaches, in the coastal desert and from there you can also explore inland and 3000 meters up the Parque Nacional Lauca and the Lago Chungara, this place has breathtaking scenery, with snowcapped peaks and beautiful lakes, near the Bolivian border. From Arica, you can cross into Tacna, Peru. Nearby you will find the mysterious Nazca lines that are absolutely worth a visit as well. The best way to appreciate the lines that where made by the precolumbian civilization of the Nazca Indians is by plane or helicopter. Only from above you can fully see how special they are. The Nazca lines are located in Peru, south of the city of Ica, from where you can hire small airplane rides.
Also in the Atacama desert you will find Copiapó, an early mining town and site of the first cultivation of grapes in South America. From Copiapó you can travel eastward to the San Francisco pass (into Argentina) and see the highest mountain in Chile: Cerro Ojos del Salado. Beware, however, that the high altitude and very dry air does not sit well with everyone. But a visit is often worthwhile, with opportunities to see wild guanacos and Chilean flamingos as well as other wildlife.
In the middle of the country the capital of Santiago is a very stylish city that deserves to be explored. It has the best nightlife of the country, most of the cultural institutions and some of the finest restaurants. From there you can visit Valparaiso as well as make some great hiking trips in the high Andes. Chile offers some of the easiest ascents to mountains above 6.000 meters in the world.
South of Santiago, on Region VIII and IX, you will find the Region of the Bio Bio River and the Lakes Region. Concepcion is the second largest city in Chile and it has a well known University. There are some great coastal areas worth checking, towns such as Tome and also the city of Lota, which has a history as a coal mining town, has a very nice park, you can actually take a tour to visit the former coal mine, Chiflon del Diablo.
Further south is the city of Los Angeles, and a beautiful waterfall named Saltos del Laja. South from here you will find Temuco, and east from there the City of Pucon with the Villarica Volcano. By the time you go deep in the Region IX, you will run into the city of Puerto Montt. This is the gateway to Chiloe Island and its Mapuche culture, and also the place where Navimag boats do their 3 day trips south to Puerto Natales and the Patagonia. East from here is the "germantown" called Puerto Varas, on the shores of Lago Llanquihue with its imposing Volcan Osorno (similar to Mt Fuji) in the distance. This surrounding area between Puerto Varas and the Argentinian border in Peulla is worth exploring as it has some great forests and parks.
The Arctic south (Patagonia Chilena) offers the opportunity to explore the incredible beauty of gigantic glaciers, the wildlife of birds, seals, sea lions and whales. You can go down to Puerto Natales and visit Parque Nacional Torres del Paine... great place for hiking.... very scenic place... Next door to Puerto Natales is Puerto Bories, a formerly large sheep processing plant that is now a national monument and recently converted to a museum.
And, if you go further south, you can visit Punta Arenas, the southernmost tip of continental Chile (4 hr flight from Santiago) and the Straits of Magellan. You can also see the penguin colonies on an island in the Straits of Magellan, or on the mainland at Otway Sound. There are two ferry locations along the straits for regular transportation to Tierra del Fuego.
If you have the chance to visit the Easter island you will be sure to be surprised by the beauty of the place. It is way out in the Ocean and the island has had culture of its own for centuries.