"You have to be thin in Chile," the American journalist John Gunther once said, "otherwise you fall off". But this long, thin country - 4,350 kilometres long but never more than 180 kilometres wide - is also a land of tremendous contrasts and adventures.
Chile tours provide the chance to take in some of the country's many travel highlights, which range from superb wine-growing lands and breathtaking desert terrain, to beautiful mountain lakes and some of South America's most captivating cities.
Chile's eastern flank is dominated by the South American continent's rugged spine, the Andes mountains, where alpacas and trekkers roam amid stunning scenery. To the west is the Pacific Ocean, in which the far-off speck of Easter Island - Rapa Nui - is Chile's most remote outpost. Towards Chile's northern tip, meanwhile, is another geographical extreme, the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth, a hotbed of mining but also of adventure travel.
Finally, travel to Chile's southern extreme and you'll be confronted with the vastly different, but equally dramatic landscapes of Chilean Patagonia - with its enormous glaciers, deep fjords and wind-swept channels where vast penguin colonies and large numbers of whales, seals and seabirds can be sighted on expedition cruises. The Torres del Paine National Park and the Lake District are two of the most popular attractions on a luxury cruise route that continues to the continent's wild, southernmost tip, Tierra del Fuego.
Click on a place name below to find out more. Alternatively, to start planning where to go in Chile, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0623.
The Practical information displayed here is taken from The Traveller's Handbook, published by WEXAS (2009). While all possible care was taken to ensure accuracy at the time of publication, we are aware that situations change, so for the latest information and up-to-date visa requirements, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0623.
Hot and arid in the north. Very cold in the far south. Central areas have a mild Mediterranean climate with a wet season from May to August. Beyond Montt in the south is one of the stormiest, wettest areas in the world.
The Easter and Christmas holidays are the most important celebrations. There are also many secular holidays, including Independence Day in September, a day of partying and rodeos. At the Fiesta de la Virgin del Rosario held each December in Andacollo, pilgrims follow a colourful procession of the Virgin's image to a huge shrine, while vast crowds camped on nearby hills watch horse races and cock fights.
Typical national dishes include empanadas (filled pastries), humitas (seasoned corn paste, wrapped in corn husks and boiled), cazuela de ave (soup with rice, vegetables, chicken and herbs) Meat and seafood of good quality. Chile is well known for its wine, and for pisco, a powerful grape liqueur.
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. Informal, conservative clothes are acceptable in most places, but women should not wear shorts outside resort areas.
Santiago (SCL), 21 km from the city.
Frequent air services between main towns. The state railway runs throughout Chile, from Santiago to Puerto Montt in the south. The Pan American Highway runs from the Peruvian border to Puerto Montt. Fast and comfortable buses on main highways. Although most of the roads in Chile are in good condition, it is advisable in remoter areas to carry spare petrol and a spare tyre. Car hire available in major towns. Fast and comfortable buses on main highways.
The itinerary ideas listed below are designed to give you a flavour of the things to do in Chile. We can adjust any element and tailor-make your trip though, to suit your individual needs and available time. To start planning your trip, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0623.
The places to stay listed below only represent a handful of the accommodation options available in Chile. We can also recommend and arrange accommodation to suit your personal tastes and budget. To start planning where to stay in Chile, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0623.
Alex Brossler - South America Specialist
To make an enquiry or to start planning your trip talk to our team of specialists on 020 7590 0623