There is nowhere on Earth quite like Chile. For those unaware of its geographical uniqueness, have a quick Google… Lying on the western edge of South America, the continent’s thinnest nation boasts almost 3,000 miles of Pacific coastline, but at its widest point east-west, it notches-up just over 200 miles. Quite remarkable. Because of its unique shape – namely the extreme longitudinal coverage – Chile is home to an incredibly varied climate. This, naturally, makes it a wonderful place to visit.
This is a country that truly has it all – deserts, mountains, forests, lakes, tundra… the list is seemingly endless. Indeed, the technical specifications of its various climates include: warm desert climate, cold semi-arid climate, warm Mediterranean climate and cool oceanic climate. There are actually nine in total, but we won’t list them here. Put simply, this is a country that has the geographical variety normally found across an entire continent. Setting aside the dilemma that poses when packing (thermals or swimming trunks, sandals or walking boots), there is no question that this is place that offers travellers plenty.
The capital city of Santiago perhaps best epitomises what Chile is all about. Nestled in the country’s central valley, visitors can easily access both the Andes and the Pacific beaches – both are just hours away. Although a drive, the Andes are ever-present, looming large over the city and visible from almost anywhere within Santiago’s sprawl. If you’re a mountaineer and a surfer, then this place could well be your paradise. If you’re a casual rambler and a beach walker, then this place could just as easily be your paradise. From sea level to lofty heights, it’s stunning.
But it’s not just about hiking and beaching. Santiago’s outskirts are littered with vineyards and beautiful valley countryside. For those who prefer the mellower side of life, a stunning glass of Chilean red and a famous South American steak is never too far away. Chilean wines are famous the world over, so if you enjoy a tipple, why not sample it at the source?
Don’t hurry to get out of the city though – having been the capital of Chile for hundreds of years, Santiago is packed full of heritage and culture. For those who enjoy a spot of architecture, the variety of building styles will have you enraptured.
Of course, there is plenty of reason to head out into the less-populated areas of the country too – and not just for hiking, surfing or wine-tasting. Chile’s smaller towns and communities are just as stunning as the capital. Traditional towns on lakesides and communities nestled in forests provide an insight into life outside the country’s major conurbation, and if you have the time, are well worth seeing.
With vast distances to cover in order to get a feel for the true variety of this place, Chile is likely a country most travellers will have to visit several times – or do in one extended trip. Ultimately though, if you’re an admirer of the natural world and its extreme environments, this is a country that has to be on your list.