Southern Comfort: Travelling Chile And Beyond

Spending your days wishing summer into existence? You’re probably not the only one. With spring slow to start, memories of hazy, hot days seem like a distant dream; at this time of year, it can feel as though things are simply never going to defrost.

It’s time to make like the birds and migrate south.

The spoils of South America are out there for the taking, helping to heat up the bleakest time of year. Want a different kind of fiesta in 2017? Try setting your sights on Chile, one of the continent’s most diverse countries. Packed with natural landscapes, national delicacies, and beauty spots like no other, Chile is just itching to be explored further, holding the keys to some of your finest adventures yet.

With the Andes taking in a huge stretch of the Chilean landscape, you’re more than likely to stumble across a mountain or two during your stay. When the vertiginous heights of the country make their way into your system, you might be more than willing to put on your walking boots and take a stab at your own trekking adventure. If that’s the case, you can’t get much better than the hiking trails of Villarrica, a giant volcano in the Chilean town of Pucòn. While the climbs do get testing the higher you get, they give way to some of the most stunning views in the country, overlooking a series of crystal clear lakes.

If, of course, you prefer the safety of a sturdy vessel, you might be tempted to take to the waters to see the sights of Chile by ferry. Taking the same route as Darwin and the crew of the HMS Beagle, you too can embark on a journey across the Beagle channel and discover the marvels that await. Embarking from Puerto Williams, the trip follows the glacial route along the island series, landing finally at Puerto Arenas. The boat departs every other day and is on the waters for 32 hours, so make sure you pack your most seaworthy gear.

If your sea legs aren’t quite as sturdy as you would like, however, you can take to terra firma and feast your eyes on Santiago. Hiking in the Aguas de Ramón is a fantastic way to get acquainted with the wilder side of the country without investing a whole lot of time. With three different routes on offer, you can decide how much time you want to spend in this stunning natural setting, and just how far you want to push yourself. Just lace up your hiking boots and explore the dusty trail.

When it comes to cities, Chile is bursting with potential, and while you might set your sights on any number of bustling urban spots, you should schedule in a little time to traverse Valparaiso. A seaside town, Valparaiso has become something of a celebrity in the realm of Chile’s urban landscapes, offering up a cityscape that is unlike any other place on the planet. Its hilly setting is accessible by foot or, more famously, cable car, giving you panoramic views of the coastal setting for miles around. If you’re there for a few days, be sure to catch a fresh bite at the local fish market. With fresh fare coming in directly from the boats, you’re guaranteed a dish that has more than a little bite.

Taking to two wheels is another great option in the foothills of the Andes, giving you the chance to traverse more space in a shorter period of time. If you’re spending a little time in the Colchagua valley, be sure to make a beeline for the Hostal del Centro, which houses a local bike rental service. Cycling around the valley is a simple affair, and with two major routes to choose from, you’re not likely to veer too wildly off track. Both circuits take in a number of local wineries, which are just begging to be sampled. Take a tipple at the stop of your choosing and continue to drink in the sights around you. 

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.