Our grading system explained
- Expedition Grade
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. Alternatively you can discover the many wonders of the Patagonia region - in both Chile and Argentina 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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