Few countries in the world are as geographically diverse as Chile. From the lunar landscapes of the north to the glacially capped mountains of the south, Chile is for the photographers and adventurers.
Stretching 4300 km in length, Chile is a long, narrow stretch of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountain range found at the Argentine border. The widest point of the country is only 350 km. Located within the ring of fire, Chile is home to nearly 2000 volcanoes although most of these are dormant or extinct.
In the Atacama region, found in the extreme north of the country, our Chile tours could resemble a trip on another world. The Salar de Atacama, the world's largest salt lake is rich in minerals, including borax and lithium, and is home to flamingos as well as many other bird species. Formed by waters flowing down from the Andes that, unable to escape from the basin, were forced to evaporate creating the large salt basins.
Further northeast are the spectacular geysers of El Tatio (elevation 4400 m / 14,500 ft) located within the Andes mountains. Super-heated water gurgles in the frozen ground and emerges violently as steam in over 100 geysers, boiling pools, and fumaroles. El Tatio is the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere and the third largest in the world.
A highlight for any photographer on Chile tours would be watching the sunset from the Atacama’s Valley of the Moon, a bizarre lunar landscape formed by erosion of the salt mountains.
As the Andes mountain range rise to spectacular heights of more than 6000 m (19000 ft) and create a stunning snow capped backdrop on the eastern flanks of Chile, further south the country becomes less lunar and more polar. The Chilean lakes region comes complete with lush forests, pristine waterfalls, and crystal clear lakes.
In places such as Puerto Chacabuco and Laguna San Rafael, adventure awaits for those who wish to get off the Austral Road, walk in native woodlands, zodiac up close to glaciers and enjoy the wonderful scenery of the lake, river and hills that make up the Andes mountain range in Northern Patagonia.
Nearer to the extreme south, just north of Tierra del Fuego, is one of Chile’s most iconic mountains. Not a part of Patagonia, Torres Del Paine National Park features spectacular granite pillars that soar almost vertically more than 2000 m (6,000 ft) above the Patagonian steppe landscape.
Chile tours don’t just feature dramatic landscapes, cities such as Santiago often prove to be one of South America’s favourite cosmopolitan centers. Dubbed the city with a view, the Andes mountains are never far away in this once Spanish colonial city that was founded in the 16th century. Outside the city limits is the Maipu Valley, home to some of the country's most prestigious wines.
While the influence of Spanish and European colonization is still felt to this day, Chile has a number of sites that showcase its pre-Columbian history such as the 2,800-year-old site at Tulor. Chile itself has become a colonizer, encompassing Easter Island into its territory. One of the most isolated places on Earth, this triangle of volcanic rock in the South Pacific is best known for the giant stone monoliths, the distinctive Polynesian sculptures known as Moai, that dot the coastline. Almost 900 giant stone figures dating back many centuries reveal their creators to be master craftsmen and engineers.
With such an abundant mix of nature and culture, Chile tours offer a truly remarkable experience for the traveller.