Chile’s Unparalleled Beauty
Chile – the world’s narrowest country – is a destination which is often overlooked by travellers. It’s vast and changeable landscapes include humming cities, thick forests, towering mountains, parched desserts, glassy lakes, and glacial fjords. Chile is perhaps one of the only destinations on earth where you can find all these marvels of nature in one country.
Colonised by the Spanish in the 16th century, Chile’s culture is a rich and colourful blend of colonial architecture and Mapachue, Aymara, Quechua, Chango, and 6 other indigenous peoples’ way of life. The second safest country to travel to in South America – according to the Global Peace Index ratings for 2021 – travellers who love their bread will also feel at home here, with Chileans being the second biggest consumers of bread in the world.
There are a variety of exciting and culturally colourful destinations throughout the country, including the historic city of Valparaíso. Located on the coast of central Chile, this city is an authentic sea port and one of Chile’s most important docks, as well as being the ‘first merchant port of the pacific coast of South America that linked the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, via the Strait of Magellan.’ With this historic background, it gained UNESCO World Heritage City status in 2003, and the fond nickname ‘Jewel of the Pacific’.
An amalgamation of old and new architecture, narrow streets and funicular elevators, this city is full of historic and colourful buildings which come alive at night. Spend your days at the Mercado Cardonal, which offers a selection of fruit and vegetables as colourful as the buildings which surround them. Or make your way to the Museo Marítimo Nacional; a colonial style building built with bright white stone and with imposing cannons placed by the entrance. Here, travellers can spend the day educating themselves on the historic importance of this sea port city, currently still the headquarters of the Chilean Navy.
A roughly 1.5 hour car journey heading South East from Valparaíso will bring you to the cosmopolitan capital city of Santiago – so called as it sits in the Santiago basin. The frost covered peaks of the Andes can be seen from most points in the city and are a constant reminder of the magnificent scenery which Chile is made up of. The largest city in Chile, Santiago is a perfect blend of metropolitan city – with skyscrapers to match – colonial buildings, and public parks.
Santiago has something to intrigue every tourist. Spend your days wandering around the famed Lastarria district, weaving in and out of quaint bookstores, admire the brilliant work at art galleries which showcase local artists, and cultural centres.