Chile

Comprising a long, narrow strip of land along the Pacific coastline of South America, Chile is a land of superlatives just crying out to be visited. The thinnest nation in the world, with an average width of only 110 miles, Chile contains both the world’s driest desert and the largest swimming pool. That should give you an idea of the sort of contrasts you can expect.

Chile’s wild, windswept landscapes have inspired artists, poets and travel writers for generations. Although it’s starting to attract more visitors, there will still be plenty of times when you get to enjoy an amazing vista that’s entirely free of other people. Parts of Chile can feel like the ends of the Earth, and in some ways, they are: Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America, is as rugged and wave-washed as it was when the first explorers attempted to sail around it.

Patagonia’s wild spaces inspired Bruce Chatwin’s finest writing, which in turn put Patagonia on the map for armchair explorers and anyone who loves to feel free – and feel the wind in their hair.

There’s an otherworldly feel to the Atacama Desert, too. This is a place so dry that some of the official weather stations there have never recorded a single drop of rain, and the entire region receives just half an inch of precipitation annually. You can leave your umbrella at home, and instead enjoy landscapes (and stargazing) so uncannily Martian that you half-expect to see Matt Damon in his spacesuit.

For adventure sports fans, Chile offers both excellent breaks for surfing and great skiing, with some of the best runs featuring volcanic peaks and craters rather than the more usual pine trees. It is, however, Chile’s rugged, mountainous terrain that will make the greatest impression on you – especially the jagged, snowy peaks of Torres del Paine National Park.

Once you’ve had your fill of dramatic natural scenery, return to the coastal town of Valparaiso to enjoy the colourful clifftop houses and vertiginous funiculars. Or, for the ultimate adventure, board a flight or cruise ship for Easter Island (Rapa Nui), some 2 000 miles to the west. This island, administered by Chile, is famous for its stern-faced stone statues, or moai, which have captivated and intrigued visitors for centuries.

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Travel Information

Electricity

For the most part, electrical sockets (outlets) Chile are the “Type C” European CEE 7/16 Europlug. Also reported to be in use is the “Type L” Italian CEI…

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Banking

Currency – Chilean Peso (CLP; symbol CH$) = 100 centavos. The local symbol is simply $. Notes are in denominations of CH$20,000, 10,000,…

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Cuisine

Standards of hygiene are generally reasonable in Chile, and should not cause visitors any undue concern. Tap water in the cities is fine to drink but it…

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Climate

Due to its long coastline, clearly Chile’s weather is extremely diverse and unpredictable although it is seasonal in much of the country. Summer…

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Transport

There are frequent services between main cities. The southern part of the country relies heavily on air links and reservations are essential. Flights are…

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Dress

When visiting the warmer areas of the country during the warmer months, bring lightweight, natural fabrics. During the wet season, you’ll need to…

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