Must-see Chile

By | Category: Travel destinations

The reaction of most people to the question of what do you know about Chile is the memory of all those trapped miners being brought to the surface earlier this year. Ask them what else they know and thoughts are few and far between.
Over the next year that will change as Chile tries to persuade us to visit them and explore six different themes that they have identified as good reasons to go there. And with both Lonely Planet and the New York Times listing the country in their “must-see” lists, there will be more than the 46,000 British visitors that went last year. Over a fifth of all the European visitors to Chile come from the UK and this year it looks like a further 10% will have gone as well.
The deterrent to going to Chile is the long flight; the advantage is that, being in the southern hemisphere, it becomes a warm destination in our winter and a ski destination in our summer.
As the advertising hits us, the sixth themes are “Inspired by Nature,” Wines and Flavours,” (and who hasn’t marvelled by the rapid acceptance of Chilean wines as being some of the best anywhere in the world,) “History and Culture,” Adventures and Sports,” “Wellbeing” and Urban Life and Health.”
The capital is Santiago which this year celebrates its 470th birthday after having been founded by a conquistador, Pedro de Valdivia. Being a “Spanish” city it has little indigenous heritage other than found in museums. But Spanish buildings from the era of occupation remain despite many earthquakes. It is an easy city to get around with a widespread underground rail network, buses and dedicated cycle paths.
It is also a jumping off point to the Andes for skiing destinations in their winter and walking in the summer. Valparaiso on the Pacific Ocean coastline is the other city than many will have heard of since it has had many European migrants over the year. As a port, this is a cruise destination but it is also a world heritage site due to the European architecture and history that it possesses. Being as hilly as it is, there is no surprise in its other name, little San Francisco!
But it is to the countryside that most people will go, to the Andes and Patagonia to see mountains, waterfalls, glaciers and fjords, 32 national parks and 48 natural reserves. Then there is the Atacama Desert where you will find the Chinchorro mummies, the oldest mummies in the world as well as other legacies of earlier civilisations. And, of course, this was where Alexander Selkirk, the marooned sailor on which Robinson Crusoe wound up, on the island of Más a Tierra. And yes, you can do obinson Crusoe tours.
But there is much more and the promotions that the tourism board will highlight over the next year will show more. there are no direct flights from the UK. You can either change in Madrid, Paris or Amsterdam to get there.

For more information see the website

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