Skip past the photos to the Chile tips, reasons to go and highlights here.
Chile – Should You Go?
Perhaps, depending on what you want to do. After travelling overland through Peru and Bolivia, arriving in Chile feels a bit like arriving back in Europe. It’s a bit surreal at the border as you go from a crappy road on the Bolivian side to a nice smooth tarmac literally just over the border in Chile. The capital Santiago has Starbucks and everything! I have to say though – Chile seemed rather tame after Bolivia and Peru.
We travelled overland, coming in from Bolivia and down to the capital. Buses were modern and comfortable.
Must do sights & activities
San Pedro de Atacama
This charming little town serves as a base for exploring The Atacama Desert and Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon). If coming in from Bolivia overland then it is impossible to miss. We were there during the 2010 world cup, when Chile qualified from the group stages to the second round. The street party that followed was a lot of fun.
The Valle de la Luna is a real highlight. So called for the moon-like landscape, it’s one of the driest places on Earth. Some of the weird rock formations resemble various animals and people and have been given their own names. We stayed for sunset which was beautiful.
An evening trip up to an observatory is well worth it, especially if you’ve never been before. A combination of low pollution, not many clouds and altitude give northern Chile clear skies that are ideal for looking at the night sky. There are many observatories in the region around the town of La Serena and finding a tour is no problem. Once inside you get to see some serious telescopes and stuff like Saturn, complete with rings and moons, all in high detail.
Also see or maybe do
Santiago has a good collection of typical capital city sights and an excellent variety of decent food. Go to Cerro Santa Lucia for great views of the city set against the backdrop of the snow peaked Andes. The national history museum is a good way to spend an afternoon. Chile is renowned for lapis lazuli and you can get a good bargain in the markets. Wine tours are available too. The airport is of course the gateway for the 5 hour flight to Easter Island.