Chile stretches from its northern border with Peru, through the arid, desolate Atacama Desert, down to the frozen tip of Patagonia encompassing mountains, lakes and a friendly, generous spirit along the way. The “New Zealand of South America” offers adventure sports, wonderful outdoor opportunities and the most majestic night sky you might ever see.
Chile runs in a thin sliver down the west coast of South America. Starting around half-way down the continent, it borders Peru in the north, then drops down by Bolivia and Argentina, mainly bordered by the Andes mountain range. Its proximity to the Pacific tectonic plate makes for some shaky times, with small earthquakes being a regular occurrence in most of the country.
There is an amazingly diverse set of ecosystems to be found in Chile, although travelling hours through the desert might make you think that’s not quite the case. However, the deserts and oases, forests, mountains, estuaries and coastland, plus the icy tundra and permafrost of Patagonia all add up!
Adventure sports are plentiful, with climbing, skiing and kayaking available plus amazing hiking, especially in the south. The “W” trail through Patagonia is one of the world’s most popular hikes. The wine regions surrounding Santiago are well worth visiting, with malbec, torrontes and cab sauv being amongst our favourite local drops.
Getting to and from Chile
There are numerous flights into many parts of Chile from other South American nations, especially nearby Argentina, Peru and Bolivia.
Most of these flights are controlled by LAN Chile, the national monopoly, so don’t expect cheap flights, although cheaper Sky Airline flies to a limited number of international destinations in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina as well as running national flights. Flights from North America are most likely to land in the capital Santiago, as are those from the Pacific — routes from Australia normally involve a stop-over in Auckland, New Zealand. European flights are likely to depart from London, England or from Spain.
If you are already in South America, crossing a border by bus is easy and safe. There are daily trips from many bordering cities in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. You will have to disembark from the bus to handle your paperwork and clear your baggage with customs. See how to catch a bus in Chile.
Many South Pacific and South American cruises include a stop or more in Chile.
Chile travel resources
Check out our South America travel podcast or browse the articles below.