For the third year in a row, from 2015 to 2017, Chile has been named the best adventure travel destination in South America at the World Travel Awards, an award ceremony that is known in the industry as the “Oscars of tourism”.
We can’t say we’re that surprised, though. With diverse and varied landscapes covering the entire country from top to bottom, each destination offering unique opportunities for exploration and fun, it’s no wonder that Chile walked away with the top prize!
The driest desert in the world, the Atacama
Starting in the Atacama Desert in the north of the country, visitors are entranced by the Martian quality of the landscapes, with its red sand and bizarre rock formations, valleys of towering, rippling rock in a variety of colors, shimmering high altitude lakes that attract local wildlife like flamingos and vicunas (a relative of the llama), volcanoes, geysers, and much more, there’s no other place like it on Earth!
Santiago, skiing, and wine
From there, guests can head to the central zones, home to the cosmopolitan, storied streets of the capital city of Santiago, full of art, culture, a blossoming restaurant scene, hip bars and more. All this just short drives away from the Andes mountains, where during the winter you can shred the slopes at two of South America’s best ski resorts, Valle Nevado and Portillo, the wine valleys where you can go on tours and tastings, or Valparaiso on the coast, the heart of Chile’s bohemian scene with its vibrant houses, street art, and funiculars.
The Lakes District
Heading further south, you’ll find the Lakes District, home to volcanoes, pristine lakes and rivers, Germanesque architecture and food, temperate rainforests, and wild forests teeming with life. Verdant and rich with wildlife and culture, it’s a superb place for an adventurous getaway.
Torres del Paine and Patagonia
From the Lake District, there is only one place left to go: Patagonia. Home to Torres del Paine National Park, the eighth natural wonder of the world, Tierra del Fuego on the tip of the continent, and countless mountains, lakes, glaciers, and sprawling pampas, it’s the end of the line, the last pure wilderness on Earth. Drawing people from all over the world and all walks of life to its splendors and opportunities for adventure, it’s a truly once in a lifetime experience!
All this, and so much more, is what Chile has to offer.
Hiking and Trekking
If you’re a hiking junkie and love nothing more than hitting the trails, Chile has you covered! The Atacama Desert is crisscrossed by innumerable great hiking trails, taking trekkers through slot canyons, valleys, open plains, and along desert trails, passing by ancient petroglyphs and archeological sites, lakes, mountains, valleys, rivers, and wildlife, perfect for hardy trekkers looking for a challenge.
Further south, the forests of the Lakes District offer cool shade and fantastic views, offering trails that showcase the almost obscene biodiversity that Chile is blessed with. Glimpsing volcanoes through the trees while walking alongside roaring rivers, past turquoise lakes, and under ancient trees, it’s a walk through history and time.
But Chile’s hiking mecca is undoubtedly in Patagonia. Torres del Paine National Park is home to two of the most popular and frequented treks on the continent: the W Trek and the Paine Circuit. Visit the wonders of Torres del Paine, like the Grey Glacier, the base of the Torres, and French Valley, on the W, or go for the whole enchilada and circle the ENTIRE Paine Massif on the Paine (or “O”) trek. Or, become part of a small but elite group to hike the Dientes Trek, a stunning circuit located on Navarino Island in Tierra del Fuego, that has been lauded as one of the best treks in South America, but hardly anyone has heard of it!
Cycling and more!
But if you’re not so hot on hiking or want to experience Chile differently, fear not! There are activities here for every interest!
Cycling is also hugely popular and available all over the country, where you can mountain bike through the slot canyons of the Atacama Desert, the forests of the Lake District, or the pampas of Torres del Paine. Or, if you prefer something more relaxed, go on a bike and wine tour of the vineyards in Chile’s central wine valleys, where you get to spend a day biking between vineyards for tours and tastings!
Chile also has some of the best whitewater rafting and kayaking in the world, such as the legendary rivers of the Lakes District, whose rapids are world-renowned for their ferocity and fun. Kayaking can also be found, from the Lake District down to the lakes of Torres del Paine, where a popular activity is renting a kayak and paddling close to the face of the mighty Grey Glacier!
Prefer winter sports? Visit during the winter months of June to August to go skiing at some of the best ski resorts in South America, such as Portillo and Valle Nevado near Santiago for downhill, or Corralco and Chillan in the Lakes District for its cross-country trails…plus the chance to ski on a volcano!
But there’s even more that you can experience here! There’s horseback riding, ziplining, canoeing, rafting…the list is endless! That’s why Chile is proud to offer the ultimate in adventure travel!
What is Adventure Travel?
But what exactly is adventure travel?
Adventure travel is defined as “a type of tourism involving travel to remote or exotic locations in order to take part in physically challenging outdoor activities.”
So, if you love traveling all over the world to unknown locales full of wonder, and availing yourself of outdoor sports that both challenge and thrill you as a way to experience the landscapes, culture, and activities that that place has to offer, then you’re an adventure traveler, and we bet you’d love Chile!
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