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Inspiration Odyssey: Chile

From North to South

Stretching 2400km, from the arid Atacama Desert in the north to the alpine tundra of Patagonia in the far south, Chile is the spine of South America. Here almost every possible geographic feature is squeezed impressively into an undulating ribbon of land less than 200km wide, flanked in the east by the majestic Andes mountain range and in the west by the Pacific Ocean.

A country of soaring volcanic peaks and vast salt flats, of rich forests and barren deserts, of rushing rivers and slow-moving glaciers tumbling into twisting fjords and inlets. It is a land of adventure, just waiting to be explored.
 
Despite its extraordinary length, a carefully crafted journey will maximise the impact of Chile’s diversity, as you find yourself gazing at the star-filled cosmos over the Atacama one day, and hiking into the Patagonian wilderness the next.
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Atacama Desert
Gaze in awe at the kaleidoscopic colours and almost Martian landscapes of the Rainbow Valley, or visit the Valley of the Moon at sunset when the moonlight reflects off millions of salt crystals, illuminating this vast wind-sculpted series of rock formations.
Atacama Desert
Under a cobalt blue sky, launch yourself fearlessly from 120m high sand dunes, free-styling down undulating ridges on an exhilarating sand-boarding excursion.
Atacama Desert
Every morning, as the sun creeps above the horizon, the mighty geysers of El Tatio display their geothermal power by spouting magnificent columns of steam hundreds of feet into the sky.
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Santiago
Elegant colonial architecture, bustling pavement cafes and colourful street performers give Santiago a cosmopolitan feel. A big city with a provincial atmosphere, it is compact enough to explore much of it on foot, where the sights, sounds and smells are at their most vivid.
Santiago
The vast Cerro San Cristobal looms large over Santiago; an atmospheric funicular ride to the top will be rewarded, amid acres of green space, with spectacular views over the city, before you swoop back down the other side via cable car.
Santiago
Become an honorary Santiaguino by heading to a local café and asking for a Terremoto. Translated as ‘earthquake’, this potent mix of sweet fermented wine, pineapple ice-cream and grenadine is surely one of the most unique local delicacies in South America!
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Chiloe Island
Chiloe is a land of myth and legend, unique folklore and culinary traditions, stunning UNESCO wooden churches and cathedrals, and quaint ‘palafito’ houses perched precariously on stilts above the water, in all manner of eye-popping colour combinations.
Chiloe Island
Move between the ocean and the land to build a complete picture of this magical island, heading out on foot, on two wheels, in a kayak or by boat to explore myriad forests, glistening waterways, and hidden inlets, where welcoming Chilotans share their traditional fishing waters with inquisitive humpback whales and frolicking dolphins.
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Lake District
The famous Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) runs for over 1000km through this stunningly beautiful region, and makes for an excellent jumping off point to pristine landscapes, fast-flowing rivers, dense forests, snow-capped volcanoes and quaint, but welcoming local villages.
Lake District
General Carrera, the largest lake in the country, is home to the Marble Chapels, a site of unique beauty. The passing of time, alongside wind and water erosion, have removed the impurities from the marble, creating impressive caves and rock formations in dozens of dazzling shades of blue, silver, white and green.
Lake District
From the emerald green waters of Todos Los Santos flows the crystal clear Petrohue River. Here, thrill-seekers can embark on an adrenaline-filled rafting adventure, balancing the excitement of tumbling over churning rapids, with swimming and cliff-jumping in tranquil spots of natural beauty.
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Patagonia
Covering over a million square kilometres of southern Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is a region of striking contrasts, extreme seasonal changes, and pure and immaculate beauty. Where sky-piercing mountain-tops look down upon a patchwork of ever-changing grasslands, and ancient blue-grey glaciers crash and spill into icy lakes and fjords.
Patagonia
Home to over 500 species of wildlife, Patagonia is a nature lover’s paradise. The ubiquitous guanaco are ever-alert in their efforts to elude elegant and agile pumas, supremely well-camouflaged against the terrain. Andean condors and caracaras swoop high above, training their laser-guided eyesight on maras and other rodents, while the frigid waters of the Pacific are home to dolphins, whales, seals and penguins in huge numbers.
Patagonia
Trekking to the ‘Torres del Paine’ is one of the world’s greatest “bucket list” hikes, a steep trail through unspoiled forest and over rocky hillside, culminating in a truly spectacular view of the iconic blue towers, where you can appreciate both the peaceful isolation and the imposing grandeur of the mountains.
Patagonia
Making these lands their home for hundreds of years, hardy gauchos will showcase their traditional lifestyle when spending a day on their Estancia. Learn the intricacies of sheep-shearing, taste succulent and tender meat, perfectly cooked on a simple barbecue, and head out on a gentle horseback ride as a hazy sunset throws its shadows across the serene landscape.
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