CHILE CITY STOP OVERS
- Santiago Stop Over, 3 days
- Andean Traverse, 5 days
- Antarctica by Air, Land and Sea, 6 & 8 days
- Atacama Experiences
- Chile & Argentinean Classic , 8 days
- Chilean Fjord Adventure, 4 days
- Chilean Wines - Explore Like A Local, 7 days
- explora Easter Island - Rapa Nui, 4 days
- explora Patagonia - Torres del Paine, 5 days
- explora San Pedro de Atacama, 4 days
- Falklands Wildlife, 8 days
- Hotel Las Torres , 4 days
- Lost Civilizations of South America Classic, 9 days
- Patagonia Complete, 8 days
- Rapa Nui - Easter Island, 4 days
- Rapa Nui Basics, 3-4 days
- Santiago - Mendoza Transfer, 1 day
- Santiago Like A Native, 1 day
- Southern Patagonia Cruise, 5 days
- The Best of The Lakes District, 4 days
- Tierra Atacama Activities
- Tierra Chile - Top to Bottom, 8 days
- Torres del Paine Eco Explorer, 4 days
- Unique Dining Santiago, 1 day
- Valparaiso Like A Native, 1 day
- Wildlife and Battlefields, 8 days
CHILE VALUE GROUP TOURING
- Argentina & Chile Patagonia Explorer, 14 days
- Atacama to Sugarloaf Explorer, 16 days
- Santiago to Rio Explorer, 12 days
- South American Explorer, 22 days
CHILE STAYS OF DISTINCTION
- Cumbres Patagonicas, Puerto Varas
- explora Lodge Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
- explora Lodge San Pedro de Atacama
- explora Lodge Torres del Paine National Park
- Ritz-Carlton, Santiago
LATIN AMERICAN DESTINATIONS
- Antarctica (12 trips)
- Argentina (28 trips)
- Belize (6 trips)
- Bolivia (10 trips)
- Brazil (28 trips)
- Chile (30 trips)
- Colombia (9 trips)
- Costa Rica (7 trips)
- Ecuador (13 trips)
- El Salvador (4 trips)
- Falkland Islands (2 trips)
- Galapagos (14 trips)
- Guatemala (7 trips)
- Honduras (2 trips)
- Panama (6 trips)
- Peru (36 trips)
- Uruguay (3 trips)
- Venezuela (2 trips)
HOLIDAYS OF A LIFETIME
- Splendours of South America (2012), 17 days
- Splendours of South America (2013), 15 days
- Magical Ecuador and Peru (2012), 20 days
- Magical Ecuador and Peru plus Bolivia (2013/2014), 23 days
- Best of Ecuador, 11 days
- Cradle of the Incas, 13 days
Trekking, walking, wildlife encounters, cycling, rafting, sailing, cruising, camping, safaris, overland journeys and more.
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Country General Information
Discovering Chile is to enter a new world of attractions; deserts, lakes and volcanoes, vineyards, glaciers and an incredibly varied gastronomic choice. It is the perfect combination of undiscovered landscapes, ancient cultures and modern metropolis. All this is to be found in a safe and trustworthy environment, 365 days a year in a modern tourist infrastructure.
Chile offers the opportunity to have a really different vacation. There is no other destination on the planet that offers such a variety of scenery and climate. From the driest desert in the world to the ancient ice of Patagonia, Chile can satisfy the needs and meet the expectations of the most demanding traveller.
In the North are desert lands, abandoned villages full of history such as the former saltpetre town of Humberstone, and oases and cultural centres such as San Pedro de Atacama. In the central valleys, Santiago the capital hosts an attractive mix of historic buildings and modern amenities. From there it is possible to visit the nearby Andes Mountains, ski resorts in the winter, discover the famous Chilean wines at historic colonial wineries or spend a pleasant day on the central coast with attractive beaches and towns known for their history and tradition, such as Valparaíso.
Chile is also a land of nature. Amongst the many National Parks to be found here, the best known is the Torres del Paine, where the condor lives in harmony with the spectacular peaks of Patagonia. In the Lake District the native forest offers the opportunity to practice a wide variety of adventure sports and enjoy rich ecological surroundings, where the blue of the waters reflects the volcanoes which are covered in snow all year round.
- Country Facts
- Food & Drinks
- Travel Info
- Passport & Visas
West coast of South America.
756,096 km² (291,930 sq miles).
16,888,760 (July 2011 est.)
21 per km².
Santiago (de Chile). Population: 5.5 million (UN estimate 2003).
Republic. Gained independence from Spain in 1810.
Chile is situated in South America, bordered to the north by Peru, to the east by Bolivia and Argentina, to the west by the Pacific and to the south by the Antarctic. The country exercises sovereignty over a number of islands off the coast, including the Juan Fernández Islands and Easter Island. Chile is one of the most remarkably shaped countries in the world; a ribbon of land, 4,200km (2,610 miles) long and nowhere more than 180km (115 miles) wide.
The Andes and a coastal highland range take up one-third or half of the width in parts, and run parallel with each other from north to south. The coastal range forms high, sloped cliffs into the sea from the northern to the central area. Between the ranges runs a fertile valley, except in the north where transverse ranges join the two major ones, and in the far south where the sea has broken through the coastal range to form an assortment of archipelagos and channels.
The country contains wide variations of soil and vast differences of climate. This is reflected in the distribution of the population, and in the wide range of occupations from area to area. The northern part of the country consists mainly of the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world. It is also the main mining area. The central zone is predominantly agricultural. The south is forested and contains some agriculture; further south, the forests on the Atlantic side give way to rolling grassland on which sheep and cattle are raised.
Spanish (official), Rapanui (Easter Island) and Aymara.
Christian, of which the majority are Roman Catholic.
Mainland and Juan Fernández Islands: GMT - 4 (GMT - 3 from second Sunday in October to second Saturday in March);
Easter Island: GMT - 6 (GMT - 5 from second Sunday in October to second Saturday in March)
Handshaking is the customary form of greeting. Most Chileans use a double surname and only the first part should be used in addressing them. Normal courtesies should be observed when visiting local people. It is very common to entertain at home and it is acceptable for invitees to give small presents as a token of thanks.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. European plugs with two circular metal pins are used
Head of State
It doesn't sound like much: a small child's footprint left in a marshy field. However, it took just one little huella found in Chile's Monte Verde, near Puerto Montt, to rock the foundations of archaeology in the Americas during the 1980s. The footprint was estimated to be 12,500 years old, and other evidence of human habitation in Chile dated back still further - perhaps as far as 33,000 years.
These highly controversial dates pooh-poohed the long-accepted Clovis paradigm, which stated that the Americas were first populated via the Bering land bridge some 11,500 years ago, after which the Clovis people scattered southwards. This footprint suddenly opened the way for a wave of new theories suggesting multiple entries, different routes, or coastal landings by the first peoples. Following a landmark 1998 convention, the Monte Verde site was acknowledged as the oldest inhabited site in the Americas, although more recent discoveries, notably in New Mexico, are now thought to date back as far as 40,000 years.
Most pre-Columbian remains have been recovered in the north of Chile, preserved by the extreme desert aridity. Most famous is the nomadic Chinchorro culture, which left behind the oldest known intentionally preserved mummies.
In the canyons of the north desert, sedentary Aymara farmers cultivated maize, grew potatoes and tended llama and alpaca; their descendants still practice similar techniques in Parque Nacional Lauca. Another important civilization in Chile's northern reaches was the Atacameño culture. They too left remarkably well-preserved remains, from mummies to ornate tablets used in the preparation of hallucinogenic substances. Other important cultures that left enormous geoglyphs, rock etchings and ceramics still visible in Chile's northern reaches include the El Molle and the Tiwanaku. Meanwhile, Chango fisherfolk occupied northern coastal areas, and Diaguita peoples inhabited inland river valleys.
The invasive Inka culture enjoyed a brief ascendancy in northern Chile, but their rule barely touched the central valley and the forests of the south, where the sedentary farmers (Picunche) and shifting cultivators (Mapuche) fiercely resisted any incursions. Meanwhile the Cunco fished and farmed on the island of Chiloé and along the shores of the gulfs of Reloncaví and Ancud.
In 1495, unbeknownst to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the land was already being earmarked by two superpowers of the day - Spain and Portugal. Thousands of miles away, the papal Treaty of Tordesillas was signed, sealed and it delivered all territory west of Brazil to Spain. By the mid-16th century, the Spaniards dominated most of the area from Florida and Mexico to central Chile. Few in number, the conquerors were determined and ruthless, exploiting factionalism among indigenous groups and frightening native peoples with their horses and firearms. But their greatest ally was infectious disease, to which the natives lacked immunity.
The Spaniards' first ill-fated foray into northern Chile was led over frozen Andean passes in 1535 by Diego de Almagro. He chose the harshest of routes, and many men and horses froze to death. However, his subsequent retreat north laid the groundwork for an expedition by Pedro de Valdivia in 1540. Valdivia and his men trawled south through the parched desert, reaching Chile's fertile Mapocho Valley in 1541. There they subdued local indigenous groups and founded the city of Santiago on February 12. Only six months later, the indigenous peoples struck back, razing the town and all but wiping out the settlers' supplies. But the Spaniards clung on, and the population burgeoned. By the time of his death in 1553, at the hands of Mapuche forces led by the famous caciques (chiefs) Caupolicán and Lautaro, Valdivia had founded numerous settlements and laid the groundwork for a new society.
Lust for gold and silver was always high on the Spaniards' agenda, but they soon realized that the true wealth of the New World consisted of the large indigenous populations. Disdaining physical labor themselves, they exploited indigenous peoples through the encomienda system, by which the Crown granted individual Spaniards rights to indigenous labor and tribute. This system was established in northern Chile (then part of Peru). The indigenous population in this northern region was easily controlled, ironically because they were highly organized and more accustomed to similar forms of exploitation.
The Spaniards also established dominance in central Chile, but the semi-sedentary and nomadic peoples of the south mounted vigorous resistance and even into the late 19th century the area remained unsafe for white settlers. Crossing the Andes, the Mapuche had tamed the feral horses that had multiplied rapidly on the fine pastures of the Argentine pampas; they soon became expert riders, which increased their mobility and enhanced their ability to strike.
Despite the Crown's distant disapproval Valdivia began rewarding his followers with enormous land grants, resembling the feudal estates of his Spanish homeland of Extremadura. Such estates (latifundios), many intact as late as the 1960s, became an enduring feature of Chilean agriculture and society.
Mestizo children of mixed Spanish and indigenous parentage soon outnumbered the indigenous population as many died through epidemics, forced-labor abuses and warfare. Chile's neo-aristocracy encouraged the landless mestizo population to attach themselves as inquilinos (tenant farmers) to large rural estates.
Independence movements that sparked into life between 1808 and 1810 were born from the emergence of the criollo (creole) class - American-born Spaniards who increasingly longed for self-government. To facilitate tax collection, Madrid decreed that all trade to the mother country must pass overland through Panama rather than directly by ship. This cumbersome system hampered commerce and eventually cost Spain its empire.
During colonial times, Chile was judged a subdivision of the ponderous Viceroyalty of Peru, which was based in Lima. This sub-division, called the Audiencia de Chile, had jurisdiction from present-day Chañaral south to Puerto Aisén, in addition to the present-day Argentinean provinces of Mendoza, San Juan and San Luis. But, despite formally being under the thumb of Lima, in practice Chile developed in near isolation from Peru, creating an identity that is distinct from its northern neighbor.
Independence movements ignited throughout South America to expel Spain by the 1820s. From Venezuela, a criollo army under Simón Bolívar fought its way west and south toward Peru. The Argentine liberator José de San Martín marched over the Andes into Chile, occupied Santiago and sailed north to Lima.
San Martín appointed Bernardo O'Higgins second-in-command of his forces. O'Higgins, the illegitimate son of an Irishman who had served the Spaniards as Viceroy of Peru, became supreme director of the new Chilean republic. San Martín helped drive Spain from Peru, transporting his army in ships either seized from the Spaniards or purchased from Britons or North Americans who knew that the Spaniards' loss could mean their commercial gain. Thus it was that Scotsman Thomas Cochrane, a colorful former Royal Navy officer, founded and commanded Chile's navy.
The early republic
Battered, bruised, but buoyed up by their newborn independence, South American republics began to shape themselves in line with the old Spanish administrative divisions. Chile was but a fraction of its present size, consisting of the intendencias (administrative units of the Spanish Empire) of Santiago and Concepción, and sharing ambiguous boundaries with Bolivia, Argentina, and the hostile Mapuche nation south of the Río Biobío.
Chile managed to wriggle free of the economic black hole suffered by many Latin American countries during this period. It achieved relative political stability, and set about rapid development of agriculture, mining, industry and commerce.
O'Higgins dominated Chilean politics for five years after formal independence in 1818, but the landowning elite that first supported him soon objected to increased taxes, abolition of titles and limitations on inheritance. O'Higgins was forced to resign in 1823, and went into exile in Peru where he died in 1842.
The embodiment of landowning interests was Diego Portales, interior minister and de facto dictator until his execution following an uprising in 1837. His custom-drawn constitution centralized power in Santiago, limited suffrage to the propertied and established indirect elections for the presidency and senate. Portales' constitution lasted, with piecemeal changes, until 1925.
Expansion & mineral wealth
A pivotal boost to the country's fortunes came with the War of the Pacific (1879-84), in which Chile annexed vast areas of land from Peru and Bolivia. The battles began after Bolivia prohibited a Chilean company from exploiting the nitrate deposits in the then Bolivian-owned Atacama. Chile retaliated by seizing the Bolivian port of Antofagasta and wresting the Tacna and Arica provinces from Peru; thus they robbed the Bolivians of all access to the Pacific. This fiercely fought campaign is still celebrated by Chileans with as much gusto as it is bitterly resented by Peruvians and Bolivians.
Santiago's intervention proved a bonanza. The nitrate boom brought great prosperity to Chile, or at least to certain sectors of Chilean society. British, North American and German investors supplied most of the capital. Railroads revolutionized Chile's infrastructure, and the economy boomed. Later, when the nitrate bubble burst, this land would again provide Chile with a get-out-of-jail-free card: copper is still the power behind the Chilean economy. The development of northern ports such as Iquique and Antofagasta also added to Chile's success.
In this era of shifting boundaries, treaties with the Mapuche (1881) also brought temperate southern territories under Chilean authority. At much the same time, Chile had to abandon much of Patagonia to Argentina but sought a broader Pacific presence, and annexed the tiny remote Easter Island (Isla de Pascua, or Rapa Nui) in 1888.
Mining expansion created a new working class, as well as a class of nou- veaux riches, both of which challenged the political power of the landowning oligarchy. The first political figure to tackle the dilemma of Chile's badly distributed wealth was President José Manuel Balmaceda, elected in 1886. Balmaceda's administration undertook major public works projects: revolutionizing infrastructure and improving hospitals and schools. However, he met resistance from a conservative Congress, which in 1890 voted to depose him. Naval Commander Jorge Montt was elected to head a provisional government.
More than 10, 000 Chileans died in the ensuing civil war, in which Montt's navy controlled the country's ports and eventually defeated the government, despite army support for Balmaceda. After several months' asylum in the Argentine embassy, Balmaceda shot himself.
Although they weakened the presidential system, Balmaceda's immediate successors continued many of his public works projects and also opened Congress to popular rather than indirect elections. Major reform, though, wouldn't come until after WWII.
The Chilean economy soon suffered for its crippling dependence on nitrate revenue. New petroleum-based fertilizers were developed making mineral nitrates all but obsolete. To add to the country's misery the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 nearly eliminated traffic around the Horn, which had been so important to ports such as Valparaíso, Antofagasta and Iquique.
Despite economic hardship, the election of President Arturo Alessandri Palma seemed a hopeful sign for Chile's working class. To reduce landowners' power, he proposed greater political autonomy for the provinces, and taxes to finance better working conditions, health, education and welfare. However, conservatives obstructed the reforms and army opposition forced Alessandri's resignation in 1924.
The dictatorial General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo held power for a few years, but his poor economic policies (exacerbated by global depression) led to widespread opposition, forcing him into Argentine exile in 1931.
After Ibáñez's ouster, political parties realigned. Several leftist groups briefly imposed a socialist republic and merged to form the Socialist Party. Splits between Stalinists and Trotskyites divided the Communist Party, while splinter groups from radical and reformist parties created a bewildering mix of new political organizations. For most of the 1930s and '40s the democratic left dominated Chilean politics, and government intervention in the economy through Corfo, the state development corporation, became increasingly important.
Meanwhile, the early 20th century saw North American companies gain control of the copper mines, the cornerstone - then and now - of the Chilean economy. WWII augmented the demand for Chilean copper, promoting economic growth even as Chile remained neutral.
A revealing set of statistics from the 1920s state that around 75% of Chile's rural population still depended on haciendas (large rural landholding), which controlled 80% of the prime agricultural land. Inquilinos (tenant farmer) remained at the mercy of landowners for access to housing, soil and subsistence. Their votes belonged to landowners, who naturally used them to maintain the status quo. Haciendas had little incentive to modernize, and production stagnated - a situation that changed little until the 1960s.
Former dictator Ibáñez del Campo started land reform when he returned from exile and won the presidency back democratically in 1952; he tried to reduce landowners' control over the votes of their tenants and laborers. He also revoked an earlier law banning the Communist Party, before his government faltered and fell.
The subsequent jostling over power brought several important figures into the spotlight. In 1958 socialist Salvador Allende headed a new leftist coalition known as FRAP (Frente de Acción Popular, or Popular Action Front). Meanwhile Eduardo Frei Montalva represented the newly formed Democracia Cristiana (Christian Democrats), another left-leaning reformist party whose philosophical basis was Catholic humanism.
The old order feared these new leftists, and the conservative and liberal parties decided to join forces as a result. They chose Jorge Alessandri, son of former president Arturo Alessandri, to head a coalition between the two parties.
Alessandri scraped through the election with less than 32% of the vote, while Allende managed 29% and Frei 21%. An opposition Congress forced Alessandri to accept modest land-reform legislation, beginning a decade-long battle with the haciendas.
Christian Democratic period
The 1964 presidential election was a choice between Allende and Frei, who drew support from conservative groups who detested the leftist physician. During the campaign, both parties promised agrarian reform, supported rural unionization and promised an end to the hacienda system. Allende was undermined by leftist factionalism and Frei won comfortably.
Genuinely committed to social transformation, the Christian Democrats attempted to control inflation, balance imports and exports, implement agrarian reform and improve public health, education and social services. However, their policies threatened both the traditional elite's privileges and the radical left's working-class support.
The Christian Democrats had other difficulties. The country's economy had declined under Jorge Alessandri's presidency, and limited opportunities in the countryside drove the dispossessed to the cities, where spontaneous squatter settlements, or callampas (mushrooms), sprang up almost overnight. Attacks increased on the export sector, then dominated by US interests. President Frei advocated 'Chileanization' of the copper industry (getting rid of foreign investors in favor of Chileans), while Allende and his backers supported the industry's nationalization (placing the industry under state control).
The Christian Democrats also faced challenges from violent groups such as the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionario (MIR; Leftist Revolutionary Movement), which began among upper-middle-class students in Concepción. MIR's activism appealed to many urban laborers who formed the allied Frente de Trabajadores Revolucionarios (Revolutionary Workers Front). Activism also caught on with peasants who longed for land reform. Other leftist groups supported strikes and land seizures by Mapuche Indians and rural laborers.
Frei's reforms were too slow to appease leftists and too fast for the conservative National Party. Despite better living conditions for many rural workers and good gains in education and public health, the country was plagued by inflation, dependence on foreign markets and capital, and inequitable income distribution. The Christian Democrats could not satisfy rising expectations in Chile's increasingly militant and polarized society.
Ranges from hot and arid in the north to very cold in the far south. The central areas have a mild Mediterranean climate with a wet season (May to August). Beyond Puerto Montt in the south is one of the wettest and stormiest areas in the world.
Lightweight, natural fabrics. Rainwear for the wet season. More substantial waterproofs are needed in the south.
Chilean Peso (CLP; symbol CH$) = 100 centavos.
Notes are in denominations of CH$20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500.
Coins are in denominations of CH$500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1.
Foreign exchange transactions can be conducted through commercial banks, casas de cambio, or authorised shops, restaurants, hotels and clubs. Visitors should not be tempted by the premiums of 10 to 15% over the official rate offered by black marketers. Casas de cambio are open daily 0900-1900.
Credit / Debit Cars
Credit/debit cards (Visa, Diners Club, MasterCard and sometimes American Express) are widely accepted in towns and cities, where Redbanc ATMs are also largely available.
The government does not regulate the market of foreign currency in Chile, making it possible to exchange money and traveller's cheques at any casa de cambio at market-driven exchange rates. There may be some difficulty exchanging traveller's cheques outside major towns. Traveller's cheques in US Dollars offer a better exchange rate.
Food and Drink
Table service is usual in restaurants. Santiago has many international eateries.
Empanada (combination of meat, chicken or fish, with onions, eggs, raisins and olives inside a flour pastry).
Fish and seafood, including clams, sole, sea bass and oysters, are very good, particularly in fishing villages on the coast.
Cazuela de ave (soup with rice, vegetables, chicken and herbs).
Bife a lo pobre (steak with French fries, onions and eggs).
Parrillada (selection of meat grilled over hot coals, often including delicacies such as intestines, udders and blood sausages).
Chile is famous for its wine.
Pisco (a powerful liqueur distilled from grapes after wine pressing).
Grapes are also used to make the sweet brown chicha as well as aguardiente (similar to brandy).
Chilean beer brands are Kuntsman, Crystal and Escudo.
Restaurants and bars add 10% to the bill. However, waiting staff will expect a 10% cash tip in addition.
While many restaurants and hotels offer entertainment, there are also a number of nightclubs. Santiago gets lively at the weekends, especially in the zonas of Bellavista, Providencia and Nuñoa. Bands and acts frequently perform; listings sections can be found in Friday's La Tercera and El Mercurio. Things don't usually get going until around 2200 or 2300 in restaurants, and 0100 in clubs and bars. Visitors should be aware that the English word 'nightclub' means 'brothel' in Chile.
Special purchases include textiles such as colourful hand-woven ponchos, vicuna rugs, alpaca jumpers and copper work. Chilean stones such as lapis lazuli, jade, amethyst, agate and onyx are all good buys. Camping and other outdoor equipment can be bought in Santiago as well as in areas where the activity is practised.
Mon-Fri 1000-2000, Sat 1000-1400. Large shopping malls are open daily 1000-2100
1 Jan New Year's Day; 2 Apr Good Friday; 3 Apr Holy Saturday; 1 May Labour Day; 21 May Navy Day; 3 Jun* Corpus Christi; 29 Jun* St Peter and St Paul; 15 Aug Assumption; 11 Sep Reconciliation Day; 18 Sep Independence Day; 19 Sep Army Day; 11 Oct* Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day); 1 Nov All Saints' Day; 8 Dec Immaculate Conception; 25 Dec Christmas Day.
NOTE - *If Corpus Christi, St Peter and St Paul and Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day) fall on a day other than Saturday, Sunday or Monday, the holiday is usually held on the nearest Monday.
Things to Do
Strut round Viña del Mar, Chile's principal and most fashionable seaside resort with casinos, clubs and modern hotels.
Trek in one of Chile's most popular regions - the Lake District, with beautiful national parks offering spectacular scenery and abundant flora and fauna.
Spot flamingos, rheas (an ostrich-like bird) and llamas at the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve - the Parque Nacional Lauca.
Marvel at Magellanic penguins in Chiloé Island, a region of evergreen forests and fjords. The abundant coastal wildlife of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego includes large colonies of sea elephants, sea lions and penguins.
Climb the Lake District's Volcán Villarrica and Volcán Osorno. Various companies offer guided ascents, but ice gear is required. Guides are compulsory.
Fish in the Lake District and in Patagonia. The lakes near Puerto Montt, a port city whose economy is mainly based on fishing, offer excellent trout fishing. In Arica, near the northern border with Peru, conditions in the area are ideal for deep-sea fishing.
Go white-water rafting down the Maipo, Claro, Trancura and Bio-Bio rivers. Specialist operators can organise week-long trips. The scenery around the Bio-Bio includes hot springs and waterfalls. Swim, dive, water-ski and sail in one of the many bays and fjords of Chile's coastline.
Ski at the world-famous resort Portillo or ice skate on the spectacular Laguna del Inca. Other ski slopes in the area can be found at Farellones-El Colorado, La Parva and Valle Nevado. The ski season runs from June to September.
Be in awe of huge icebergs from a glacier cruise, which follows a spectacular route through Chile's Inside Passage, the Beagle Channel and around Cape Horn, passing through glacial valleys (notably at Laguna San Rafael), fjords and past huge icebergs. Passengers can disembark at various points en route, notably at Puerto Natales and on the Argentinean portion of Tierra del Fuego.
Set out on an expedition to Antarctica from Chile's southernmost city, Punta Arenas.
Things to See
Visit Arica, with its good beaches and the famous San Marcos Cathedral. Nearby, wonder at the unique landscape of Altiplano with its vast volcanoes, salt marshes and lakes existing together upon a high plateau, and home to the indigenous Aymara Indians. Through the Atacama Desert, excursions can be made to the hot springs of Mamina and to the oasis of the Pica Valley.
From the port of Antofagasta, visit Chuquicamata copper mine; the archaeological oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama; and the El Tatio geysers.
Get some sea breezes at Coquimbo and Los Vilos. Wander fine streets lined with attractive Spanish colonial style architecture in La Serena, the provincial capital. The town is at the mouth of the Elqui River and excursions can be made from here to the rich fruit-growing region of the Elqui Valley.
Explore the Central Region and the Islands, the most temperate and pastoral regions of the country, where the snow-capped peaks of the Andes provide a backdrop to rolling green fields, vineyards and orange groves. Valparaíso, the principal port, has many attractions.
In Santiago, visit sights such as the Virgin Mary on the peak of the 860m (2,822ft) Cerro San Cristóbal (Saint Christopher's Hill) and get great views of the city and the Andes. At the foot of the hill, in the Latin Quarter of Barrio Bellavista, nose round one of poet Pablo Neruda's houses - La Chascona (website:www.fundacionneruda.org).
Sample Chile's wine at vineyards in the heartland of the country.
Journey out to the Juan Fernández Islands (650km (403 miles) west of Valparaíso). Alexander Selkirk was shipwrecked here in the early 18th century, and Defoe based his novel Robinson Crusoe on Selkirk's adventures.
Fly to Easter Island, another Pacific Chilean possession, situated 3,800km (2,361 miles) west of the mainland. Puzzle over the famous, yet mysterious Moai, gigantic stone figures up to 9m (30ft) tall which can be found all over the island. Other sites to investigate include the volcano crater Rano Kao, the Oronco rock carvings, and the museum in the main town of Hanga Roa.
Be amazed by the waterfalls at Laguna de La, in the Southern Region.
Admire the Lake District, where Lake Villarica and the Trancura and Cincira rivers combine to create beautiful scenery, and an angler's paradise. Don't miss Lake Todos los Santos either.
Travel right to the southernmost end of the railway line or the Pan American Highway, where visitors can find the picturesque town of Puerto Montt and, nearby, the colourful small fishing port of Angelmo.
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|Upon arrival at the Santiago International Airport, citizens of Canada will be required to pay a reciprocity fee of USD 70 in cash. This fee is payable ONLY at the international airport and is valid for the life of the passport. If entering Chile by land there is no fee nor is a visa required.||
Upon arrival at the Santiago International Airport, citizens of United States will be required to pay a reciprocity fee of USD 140.00 in cash. This fee is payable ONLY at the international airport and is valid for the life of the passport. If entering Chile by land there is no fee nor is a visa required.
1 city stop over(s) and 25 itineraries are available for Chile
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