South American elicits various images as we mull over the possibilities of travel; from the rollicking and sometimes risky streets of Colombia, to the architectural magnificence of Macchu Picchu, we often think we have our tour plans covered – after all, what else is there to see? Chile rarely gets a look in, not quite holding up against the tourist trade of well-known cities and attractions, commonly mentioned but quickly forgotten in favour of BIGGER adventure dreams. Ignore prevalent attitudes for a moment and tune into the diversity, beauty and thrills Chile can offer those willing to delve deeper over its borders. You won’t regret it. And check this list of things to see and do in Chile to help plan your adventure.
Though rarely featured on sanitised travel shows, the Atacama Desert is the second driest region in the world, rivalled only by the icy continent of Antarctica; a barren, forbidding wasteland of indescribable beauty, seam to seam sunsets and some of the most striking rock formations you will ever lay eyes on, Chile possesses a power over the sense many would have not anticipated – the natural artistry on display in the Atacama Desert will haunt you long after you leave. It’s certainly an outer this world experience, with many travel critics and writers trying to find a way to communicate the landscape to the unacquainted, settling on a galactic comparison: Mars on Earth. Its atmosphere is unsettling and quite wondrous. Be sure to visit Laguna Verde, a picturesque salt lake framed by the highest active volcano globally, the Ojos del Salado. And if you’re lucky, witness the yellows and purples of a flowering desert. It’s definitely a must for any list of things to see and do in Chile.
If you’re keen to adventure away from civilisation and cut yourself off from the rat race running your life, Easter Island is the perfect solution. Located in the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Chile and Tahiti, Easter Island is a sacred site of Polynesian history. The Moai statues are iconic, carved between the 12th and 15th centuries to embody deceased ancestors, standing atop of an ahu – important motifs of culture and tribal status, it is highly disrespectful to touch a Moai or step on an ahu. Instead, you must satisfy yourself with a few snaps and apprise yourself of the islands origins. It really is a fascinating lesson.
Torres Del Paine
Four seasons in one day is a commonly turned phrase when describing changeable weather – one never really expects to take it quite literally, though Chile doesn’t disappoint. The granite obelisks of Torres Del Paine reach for the sky in one of South America’s most expansive and lustrous national parks, often running the gamut from fine and pleasant, to cloudy and forbidding in less than 24 hours. Naturally panoramic, bountiful forests and glassy, sapphire lakes are framed by the snow-capped Andes ranges, radiating beauty and wonder. Take a tour on one of the many trails, and be calmed by the rushing rives and the panache of a pink flamingo – there exists a sense of awe around every bend, even if you get your feet a little dirty in the process.
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