Starting at the top of Chile and working our way down we begin with the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world. In fact, Atacama has less than a millimeter of rainfall a year and some areas have never had rain at all. So it’s safe to say that you’re going to encounter good weather. Spend the day exploring the desert with endless opportunities either by 4×4, foot, bike or horseback. Check out the salt flats, geysers, multicolored lakes, and trek to the top of volcanos, or watch the sunset over the Valley of the Moon. At night get ready to enjoy the amazing show in the sky. Atacama is a stargazer’s paradise and once you witness it for yourself, you will understand why NASA has one of their largest observatories there.
Head on down to central Chile where you will discover the city of Santiago. A modern day city with great culture, galleries, museums, theaters, shopping, restaurants, nightlife and skyscrapers that are dwarfed by the breathtaking Andes Mountains in the distance. Spending a few days here will allow you to explore the many distinct neighborhoods that Santiago has to offer. Visit Bellavista for a trendy bar and club scene, Barrio Brasil offers a bohemian and art buzz, Providencia has great restaurants and sidewalk cafes perfect for people watching, and Las Condes is where the elite call home. When it’s time to get out of the city, head in any direction and you will find vineyards and wineries that are in a class of their own. The climate is perfect for growing grapes. Hot summers, cooling coastal breezes and just the right amount of rainfall allows wineries to produce amazing selections of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay and Malbec. Enjoy the wine region as a perfect day trip out of the city or spend several nights visiting the different valleys and staying at beautiful haciendas or wine lodges.
Looking to explore further? Hop over to the coastal cities of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. Valparaiso, Chile’s second largest city, is known for having two types of personalities: a machismo, rough and tumble port city and a vibrant and edgy artistic vibe. Ride the Funicular (elevator car) up the hills and walk the streets that never seem to stop reinventing themselves. Colonial architecture that is part of an ambitious urban renewal project has gained the world’s attention and earned the city an UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 2003. Want a more laid back and beach town feel? Drive up the coast to Vina del Mar or just “Vina.” This bustling little city has beautiful parks, gardens, plazas and resorts to meet every budget. Spend a few days exploring what Vina has to offer culturally or perhaps spend that time with your feet in the sand.
Continuing our journey south, we arrive at the stunning Lake District of Chile, an area that surpasses most travelers’ expectations. Snow capped volcanos give way to dense forests, lush pastures, deep clear lakes and thermal hot springs. The region starts in the north at Temuco and works its way south to Puerto Montt, connecting small towns that are flanked by lakes, volcanos and further in the distance, the Andean range. The area has a strong European influence of the Swiss, Germans and Austrians, which is evident in the architectural designs, food and culture. Today the Lake District has become the adventure sports capital of Chile, offering excellent hiking, climbing, canyoneering, skiing, and some of the best whitewater rafting and kayaking in the Eastern Hemisphere. If you’re in need of some relaxation and wellness, then check into one of the many resorts and spas that have natural healing springs, and soak your worries away.
If you were to ask anyone who has spent the better part of their lives traveling this great world of ours what is their favorite place, the place that makes it to the top of most people’s short list is Easter Island, Isla de Pascua or Rapa Nui. Don’t be confused, they’re all the same small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The reason why Easter Island has so many names is because it’s just downright awesome and anytime you’re downright awesome you’re allowed to go by multiple names. If you have ever wanted to feel that you’re in the middle of nowhere, then here is your chance. Easter Island is the most isolated island on Earth. The closest inhabitable island is a mere stone’s throw away at 1289 miles, however the isolation is not what makes Easter Island so special, it’s the people, the landscape and the Maoi’s. Not sure what a Moai is? They are the mysterious giant heads that are scattered throughout the island. There are more than 800 in total, and for a long time archaeologist thought that they were just the heads until they discovered that many of them have full bodies that are buried underground. Allow yourself to live in the moment as you hike to the top of a volcano and take in the 360 degree view of this magical location. There are green rolling hills, groves of eucalyptus trees, beautiful wild horses and blue ocean as far as the eye can see. Easter Island is one of those places that can bring you peace, allowing you the time to reset, recharge and reinvent yourself. If you take one bit of advice from The Escape Artist, let it be this….at some point in your life, GO THERE!
Last but not least we arrive in Patagonia! Not exactly sure where Patagonia’s located? Look at a map of South America and you will notice that the continent resembles an ice cream cone. Patagonia is the bottom section of the cone that incorporates both Chile and Argentina. Patagonia is much more than just ice and glaciers. It’s grasslands, deserts, temperate rainforests, sparse coastlines, countless islands, and fjords. Torres del Paine National Park happens to be the jewel of the Chilean side of Patagonia. The phrase Torres del Paine loosely translates to towers of blue, and that becomes obvious once you arrive. Large granite peaks rise in all directions with electric blue glacier waters forming lakes at the base of the mountains. There are two iconic features in the park that attract travelers from all over the globe, the first is Cuernos del Paine, also known as “the horn” and the Towers. Both of these can be seen from different vantage points throughout the park, however if you are willing to make the 6 hour trek to the base of the Towers for sunrise, you will be treated to a scene that will take your breath away. Speaking of trekking, some of the best trails in the world are here. Challenge yourself to the classic “W” circuit which normally takes 5 days. It’s worth it as the views get better with every corner you turn. Don’t think your feet are up to such a task? Don’t worry, there are plenty of easy hikes and walks for all levels that offer amazing views. In fact, it’s impossible not to find stunning views from wherever you are inside the park.
If you’re not already convinced that Chile is a bucket list on steroids, then the only other advice we have for you is that seeing is believing. Let us help you create that list and let the checkmarks begin.