Located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, Easter Island or Rapa Nui is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. Not surprisingly, the well-publicized moai have overshadowed the island’s other tourist attractions. But Easter Island also offers some great diving and surfing as well as two volcanic craters and several sandy beaches. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.
Santiago de Chile
Set on a wide plain near the foot of the Andes, Santiago boasts one of the most dazzling backdrops of any capital city on earth. The city itself is a rapidly expanding metropolis of around seven million people, and though long in the shadow of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro has its own proud identity. Santiago is a cultural, economic and educational hub, and the best place to get a handle on the country’s identity. Dipping into the city’s vibrant cultural scene, checking out its museums, and dining at its varied restaurants will really help you make the most of your time in this kaleidoscopic country.
The Central Valley
This is Chile’s most productive and internationally known wine region. It is a long, narrow plain hemmed in by the Andes to the east and the coastal range to the west, with lateral river valleys running between the two. This is the most fertile land in Chile, and the immense orchards, vineyards and pastures that cover the valley floor form a dazzling patchwork of greenery.
Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego
Separated by the Magellan Strait, both territories hold a fascination for many travelers. The main attraction: Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, the undisputed queen of Chile’s national parks lies at the southern tip of the Andes mountain chain. It can only be visited comfortably in the southern hemisphere summer (Dec–Mar), but it offers exhilarating walks amid scenery of unparalleled beauty. As locals say “Nothing really prepares you for your first sight of the park”
The Lake District
It is a region of lush farmland, dense forest, snowcapped volcanoes and deep, clear lakes, hidden for the most part in the mountains.
The Atacama Dessert
The driest desert in the world, it contains areas where no rainfall has been recorded – ever. Formidable and desolate as it is, the region contains a wealth of superb attractions, and, for many visitors, constitutes the highlight of a trip to Chile. The Pacific seaboard is lined by vast tracts of stunning coastal scenery, while inland the desert pampa itself impresses not only with its otherworldly geography, but also with fascinating testimonies left by man, like ghost towns and geoglyphs left by indigenous peoples on the hillsides and ravines of the desert.