ABSOLUTE TRAVEL’s experts share their 5 favorite things to do in South America’s skinniest country
Though Argentina seems to get all the press, we think neighboring Chile is equally deserving of attention! (Full disclosure: our South America division manager, Matt Flynt, is a former Santiago resident who remains passionately devoted to the country, so we may not be entirely impartial.) The long, narrow strip of country offers a magnificent range of landscapes — from mountains and beaches to desert and fjords — as well as a blossoming wine scene and some of the most beautiful properties we’ve ever seen.
Here, Absolute Travel offers our five favorite things to see and do on a privately guided tour of Chile:
Ski in summer
Hate the sweltering summers in the States? Hit the ski slopes of Chile’s Andes Mountain range! The seasons are reversed in South America, so July and August are prime times to play in the snow there. Once you’re off the mountains, the weather is pleasant and mild, so don’t fret about having to wear your snow parka for the whole visit. An added bonus: because our summer months are considered low season in Chile, it’s easier to get availability at top hotels and there are fewer tourists then.
Enjoy the vino
The vineyards of the Maipo River Valley are an easy day trip from Santiago and are a recommended excursion for anyone interested in wine. In addition to the famous Concha y Toro are a few equally excellent but lesser-known wineries, including Santa Rita and the family-owned Cousino Macul. As part of a private tour, Absolute Travel routinely arranges visits to several of the best wineries to learn about the winemaking process and enjoy a gourmet tasting lunch (accompanied, of course, by local wines).
Live it up at the Explora Lodges
In northern Chile lies the arid and starkly beautiful Atacama Desert and at its southern tip are the rocky glaciers of Patagonia. Visitors may argue about which offers more dramatic scenery but nearly everyone agrees that in both places, Explora’s lovely lodges are the place to stay. Expertly guided small group activities are organized daily and both properties are designed to showcase (but not compete with) the magnificent landscape. Explora’s properties are not the only luxury hotels in Chile, though — see our other Preferred Properties.
Visit Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
This remote island may be located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean but it belongs to Chile. We recommend at least 3 nights on Easter Island, which would give visitors enough time to properly inspect the ahus (platforms) and moai (statues) that are sprinkled across the island and marvel at the engineering and artistry involved in their construction. Many people have an intense, almost spiritual response to Easter Island — and a pleasant year-round climate means it’s always a good time to go! Check out our Wine and Roses tour, which features Easter Island.
Ride the Futaleufu River
Considered one of the most exciting rivers in the world for kayaking and rafting, the mighty Futaleufu will not disappoint whitewater buffs! The upper portion of the river is sedate enough for most levels while the frighteningly-named “Infierno Gorge” is a Class 5 thrill-ride for very experienced kayakers and rafters only. Whether you choose an easy or challenging section, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular scenery and the time of your life.
Call us at 212-627-1950 to discuss a privately guided tour of Chile
For more on Chile at ITKT