LIFESTYLE

CHILE – A LAND OF CONTRASTS

Chile is a country rich in diversity and contrast. It possesses a special geography that distinguishes it from other world destinations. One of its most unique features is having territory in three world regions: South America, Oceania, and Antarctica. Its continental length from north to south reaches over 4,300 kilometers in a narrow strip of land between the rugged Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Such a great expanse gives way to an array of privileged landscapes, beginning with the planet’s most arid desert, transitioning through a fertile central valley, down through a land of lakes and volcanoes and ending in the glaciers, fjords, and granite mountains of wild Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego – the farthest reaches of the continent.


UNFORGETTABLE SCENERIES

The Atacama Desert amplifies sensations, especially with the striking differences encountered between the desert lowlands and the unique life and natural formations in the Andean Plateau perched high above it. Santiago is full of energy, culture, history, and special neighborhoods filled with character. It’s a city best explored by foot! The Andes Mountain Range forms the country’s central backbone, and within its heights are the southern hemisphere’s top ski resorts, while in its foothills lie many of the country’s best wineries. The south of Chile is a whole new world of lush green forests and wild waterways, brought to life by a humid, rainy climate, which also fosters a rich ecological diversity. The region also stands out for its cultural and historical heritage, which is steeped in ancient Mapuche tradition.


UNIQUE GASTRONOMY

Chilean cuisine is a rich mixture of old traditions and ingredients used by the country’s indigenous people and European preparations and style. The country’s extensive Pacific coastline also gives it one of its greatest culinary treasures: an incredible array of seafood! A good Chilean meal is never complete without a glass of Chilean wine, produced in one of the country’s many wine valleys, and renowned throughout the world for its flavor and color. There are 11 different wine routes in Chile: Aconcagua, Cachapoal, Casablanca, Leyda, Colchagua, Curicó, Elqui, Limarí, Itata, Maipo Alto and Maule, all excursions equal in scenic beauty, history, tradition, and wine-tasting opportunities.


ANCESTRAL CULTURES

The Mapuche people are the largest group of indigenous group of the country, and have been able to preserve their ancient traditions in many parts of the south. Their profound spiritual relationship with the Earth, deep connection to the land, and art inspired from ancestral beliefs, are elements of their unique culture. This unique people can be visited in places such as Lago Budi or Curarrehue, in the Araucanía Region. Further to the north the indigenous culture is dominated by the Aymaras, who inhabit the Andean Plateau in Chile. Far out in the Pacific, Easter Island preserves the mythical Rapa Nui culture.


STARGAZING

Experiencing the universe through some of the planet’s clearest skies is an unforgettable experience. The extraordinary atmospheric conditions of the Atacama Desert, with over 300 clear nights a year, and scarce light pollution, has fostered one of the world’s largest astronomical centers. ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array) is the largest radio telescope in the world, and is made up 66 different parabolic antennae, each one over 12 meters in diameter. It spurred an astronomical revolution in the Chilean Altiplano, at 5,000 meters above sea level. The observatories operate throughout the year with a number of them offering stargazing tours where you’ll experience the universe like never before.


HERITAGE & MODERNITY

Chile offers the perfect balance of tradition and modernity. The country has 6 unique sites that have been recognized as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Chile has also been internationally recognized for its modern development, including its architecture, design, and road and housing infrastructure – in projects spanning an incredible variety of geographical conditions. Traveling throughout Chile is comfortable, easy and safe, thanks to excellent land transportation and domestic flight infrastructure. The subway in Santiago is considered one of the world’s best, obtaining international recognition.


SAFETY & QUALITY OF LIFE

Chile was ranked by Newsweek as South America’s top place to live, in a worldwide study analyzing factors such as health, education, quality of life, economic competitiveness and environmental policies. While The Economist placed Chile among the 25 best cities to be born in, leading the region. Chile stands out as well for its advances in communication. Satellite information and internet connection are available throughout the country, with increasing access to public spaces where offering wireless connectivity.


CHILE IN 5 ZONES

The country divides itself into five distinct geographic and climatic zones. The north, influenced by the presence of the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world; Santiago, Valparaíso and the Central Valleys, defined by its Mediterranean climate and its wine valleys; towards the south, the Lakes and Volcanoes region marvels with its exuberating beauty and pristine landscapes; in the far south, Patagonia and the Antarctic Territory and finally the Oceanic Islands, highlighting Rapa Nui and Robinson Crusoe, characterized by their local tradition and marine diversity

North & Atacama desert – every July 16th the town of La Tirana receives around 200 thousand people to celebrate the most important religious festivity of the country honoring the Virgen del Carmen or Virgin Carmen. Religious fervor and altiplanic culture are mixed in this colorful fiesta.

Lakes & volcanoes – discover the Mapuche culture through its traditions in southern Chile. Don’t miss out on sleeping in a ruka or trying their traditional dishes, like the soup with piñones, the catutos or wheat coffee. Take a look at their medicine gardens and have some mate, a classic hot beverage of the area, sitting around a fireplace. There is nothing better here than skiing admidst millenary forests. Or do you prefer to ski on a volcano with views of lakes and rivers? In this area, there is skiing for all tastes: Chillán, Pucón, Osorno Volcano, Antillanca, Huilo Huilo, Las Araucarias, Corralco and Antuco. All excellent ski resorts that will put you right in there with nature.

Patagonia & Antarctic – between mid November and March, numerous ships go to the Antarctic, period in which the weather conditions are optimal for navigation in these extreme southern seas of the planet. Its landscapes are really marvelous and unique, with a varied fauna to observe, photograph and film. The cruises have programs that go from five to eleven days navigating along the Chilean Antarctic Peninsula, including the main attractions of the Southern Shetland Islands.

Oceanic islands – these mysterious sculptures made of stone are known throughout the world. There are over 600 pieces distributed throughout the island and most of them were sculpted on the quarries of the Rano Raraku Volcano. Through trails that unite this part of the park, you can admire these enormous statues, some of them over eight meters high.

Photos credits: WWW.SERNATUR.CL

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