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From the glacial landscapes of Patagonia to the hidden canyons of the Atacama desert and the mysterious monoliths of Easter Island, Chile is full of surprises.

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The ‘Thin Country’ as it was christened by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, stretches along a 4,300km Pacific coastline from northern deserts to spectacular southern glaciers. In between are stunning fjords, lush forests and 55 active volcanoes. Santiago, the capital, lies roughly in the centre of the country between the snow-capped Andes to the east and the Cordillera de la Costa (coastal mountain range) to the west. Although a large city, with a population of some seven million, the vineyards of the famous Maipo Valley and trails through the peaks and glaciers of the Andes are easy day trips. To the north of the city the terrain becomes increasingly arid until it reaches the spectacular Atacama Desert. Known as the driest place on earth the landscape here is hauntingly beautiful with broad salt flats, contorted rock formations and ice-capped volcanoes.

South of Santiago lies the Chilean Lake District, whilst further south again, from the fishing port of Puerto Montt, the plains of Magallanes stretch up to the incredibly dramatic scenery of Patagonia. Here glaciers have sculpted the southern peaks of the Andean range into fjords, islands and broad U-shaped valleys. The Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, alongside Los Glaciares in neighbouring Argentina, is a World Biosphere Reserve, preserving fragile eco-systems inhabited by an abundance of wildlife including guanacos, òandus, pumas, condors and flamingos. This world famous park also contains the colossal and spectacular rock towers, which give it its name as well as the striking ‘Horns of Paine’. One of the acknowledged great treks of the world is the Torres del Paine Circuit Trek a circumnavigation of the spectacular glaciers and spires of the Paine Massif. Or, for a shorter classic trek combined with walks at the 'end of the Earth' Patagonia's W Trek & Tierra del Fuego is a great alternative. Or, you can discover the many wonders of the Patagonia region - in both Chile and Argentina -n on our Complete Patagonia - Paine & Fitzroy walking holiday.

Fly five hours west and you will arrive at the Chilean territory of Easter Island a remote volcanic island in Polynesia. Here you can discover the mysterious and imposing Moai statues created by the Rapa Nui people and explore the rugged coastline and trails by foot, horse and bike. For a varied trip, combine the remarkable land of the Moai with the rock pinnacles of Torres del Paine National Park on our Easter Island & Patagonia trip.

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Our top 5 reasons to visit Patagonia

Easter Island - the Mystery of the Moai

Key Facts

  • Capital city: Santiago
  • Population: 17,216,945 (est 2013)
  • Size of country: 756,102 sq km
  • Currency: Chilean Peso
  • Power supply: 220-240 Volts
  • Sockets: two round-pin plugs (as in Continental Europe).
  • Language: Spanish
  • Time difference: GMT -4 hours
  • Visas: British nationals may visit Chile as a tourist with a valid passport without a visa for a maximum stay of 90 days.
  • Religion: Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 15.1%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.1%, other Christian 1%, other 4.6%, none 8.3% (2002 census)
  • Popular dishes: Empanadas (pastries traditionally filled with beef, onions, raisins, black olives, and a hard boiled egg)
  • Popular drinks: Red wine or pisco sour cocktails
  • Did you know: Although the country is over 2,700 miles long, it is only 110 miles across at its widest.
  • FCDO advice: FCDO travel advice


When is the best time to travel to Chile?

Our climate charts will give you a guide to the weather conditions of Chile. Chile's seasons are the reverse of the UK, with summer during the months of December to March. This is thought to be the optimum time to travel to Patagonia on a trekking holiday, but this is also when the wind tends to be strongest. Temperatures are in the mid teens to twenties. This is also the busiest time of year for tourists in Patagonia so do book ahead if you want to travel during these months as hotels and flights fill up quickly. Patagonia in spring and autumn can be just as good, although temperatures will be lower the wind also tends to be reduced.

Santiago and the surrounding area is at its best in our spring and autumn months, whilst the Atacama desert is temperate and attractive at any time of the year - although nights can be very chilly at the higher altitudes you find there. The premium months to visit Easter Island are those in the spring and autumn - April and September.

The months of June to September should be avoided in central and southern Chile as heavy snowfall can block access.

If you can't make the dates of our group departures, then take a private departure on dates to suit you, or we can create a Tailor Made holiday to Chile, especially for you and your family or friends.

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