With territory covering three different continents – South America, Oceania and Antarctica – and spanning a length of 4,300km but only 350km at its widest point, Chile’s geography is rather unique.
The country has a diverse range of amazing landscapes and climates, and a number of natural wonders to explore – from the driest desert in the north down to glaciers and straits that melt into the Pacific Ocean.
These factors have made Chile one of the most intriguing destinations to visit and 2020 promises to be an interesting year. With this in mind, we asked the travel experts at chile.travel for their top 10 things to discover and enjoy in Chile over the next 12 months.
1. Take a cruise in Magellan’s wake
October 2020 will mark the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s discovery of the stretch of water off the tip of Chile that joins the Atlantic and the Pacific – a strait named after the intrepid explorer himself.
Magellan described Southern Patagonia as fierce and untamed, owing to the dramatic landscape of mystical fjords, crystal glaciers, jagged snow-dusted mountains and wild shores which remain largely unchanged to this day – earning its reputation as ‘the end of the world’. With a number of epic cruises departing from Chile’s Punta Arenas, there’s never been a better time to set sail from the vast Patagonian wilderness.
2. Witness a total solar eclipse
With over 70% of the astronomical observatories in the world located in Chile and 300 days per year of clear skies, Chile is widey regarded as the ‘astrotourism capital of the world’.
Following the total solar eclipse in July 2019, best viewed from Chile’s Elqui Valley, the phenomena is set to continue in 2020. Pucon, in the Araucanía Region, south of Santiago will be the best place to view the total solar eclipse due in December 2020.
In December 2021, a total solar eclipse will take place over Antarctica, with cruise itineraries on sale now.
In addition, the evening before the eclipse aligns with the peak period of activity of the Geminid meteor shower, where observers have the chance to see a stunning 120 meteors per hour in the starry sky.
Visitors to Chile can also delve into deep space at the ALMA observatory in the Atacama Desert, home to the largest radio telescope on Earth. Guided tours and public visits are available to learn about the observatories discoveries relating to galaxies, mass stars and black holes in space.
3. Visit the best ski resort in Chile
For the third consecutive year, Nevados de Chillán has been voted as Chile’s Best Ski Resort in the 2019 World Ski Awards. Located a six-hour drive south of Santiago, the resort area sits atop three active volcanoes – Nevados de Chillán, Chillán Nuevo and Chillán Vejo.
Set at an altitude over 3,000m high, skiing is available June to October across the skirt of the volcanoes and the slopes offer unrivalled panoramic views of the surrounding area. Nevados de Chillán is home to 30 slopes including the longest run in South America, the 13-kilometre-long ‘La Tres Marias’.
Visitors can also relax and rejuvenate in one of the resort’s four volcanic thermal springs, with a pisco sour in hand after a hard day on the slopes. The resort is also home to Chile’s Best Boutique Ski Hotel 2019, Hotel Nevados – a 70 room property, with an excellent on-site spa, restaurant and cosy common areas.
4. Push yourself to the limit in the world’s leading adventure tourism destination
Chile has once again been voted the best destination in the world for adventure travel, in the 2019 World Travel Awards. It’s no wonder that a country spanning three continents, home to a strikingly diverse landscape and abundance of natural wonders is every adrenaline junkie’s dream!
From glacier hiking in Patagonia and the longest zipline in South American in Pucón, sandboarding in the Atacama Desert and scuba diving in Rapa Nui – there’s an adventure for everyone.
5. Stay at South America’s first Mandarin Oriental
The five-star luxury Mandarin Oriental, located in the upscale neighbourhood of Las Condes, is now welcoming visitors. Recently completed, the impeccable property offers a beautiful outdoor pool area, award-winning restaurants and exquisite rooms.
Lying in the lush gardens overlooking the pool and waterfall, the hotel’s AKO Wellness and Spa enjoys a uniquely peaceful setting. Spread over three floors, the spa features five treatment rooms, all with their own sauna facilities.
Mandarin Oriental’s second project, an oceanfront resort in Viña del Mar, north of Valparaiso, is also scheduled to open in 2020.
6. Cross the desert in a 4×4: Explora adds new atacama – Uyuni tour
Explora, voted the World’s Leading Expedition Company in the 2019 World Travel Awards, adds a brand new tour for 2020. Guests will cross from the terra-cotta mountains of the driest desert in the world, Chile’s Atacama Desert to the infinite whiteness of the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia.
Visitors can discover a landscape like no other, on a once-in-a-lifetime journey, led by an expert Explora guide and driver as they make the remote crossing in a 4×4 vehicle. The route traverses the spectacular highlands, past geothermal fields and impressive volcanoes, through wildlife hotspots and along the shores of beautiful mirrored lagoons.
The new tour will be available from June 2020 as an eight or ten-night package.
7. Discover Patagonia in the summertime
LATAM Airlines announces a daily service from Santiago to Puerto Natales during January and February 2020. The three-hour domestic flight will give visitors better access to the vast Patagonian wilderness this summer, via the gateway of Puerto Natales – located 112 kilometres from the world-famous Torres-del-Paine.
For those looking to get a taste of true, unspoilt Patagonia (away from the tourist hotspots), there’s an abundance of remote National Parks, pristine glaciers, breath-taking fjords, ancient caves and lesser-known wildlife watching spots away from the main tourist sites to discover. latam.com
8. Embark on a group tour with Latin Routes
Latin Routes, the South America tailor-made specialists, will operate escorted group tours for the first time in 2020. Founded in 2012, Latin Routes has unveiled two Chilean itineraries from their launch of nine itineraries, across six South American countries.
The Chile Explorer itinerary, a 14-day tour, will feature Santiago, Atacama, Puerto Varas and Torres del Paine National Park.
In addition, the Pure Patagonia itinerary, a 17-day tour will visit Argentina and Chile, with Chilean Patagonia highlights including Puerto Vara, Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine. Departures for both tours start in November 2020.
9. Enjoy a luxury stay at the Puro Vik glass houses in the valley
Vik Retreats launch Puro Vik: Working in tandem with Vik Chile, a remarkable collection of glass houses offers a new way to experience Chile’s breath-taking landscapes.
Seven new glass houses form the highest category of accommodation on site. They hang from the steep hills just below Vik Chile, in the stunning nature and vineyard of Chile’s Millahue Valley.
The hotel is carefully positioned to offer the best vantage points for living in exquisite, cool and romantic luxury while capturing the magnificent dramatic natural surroundings.
10. Celebrate Lollapalooza music festival’s 10th anniversary
Celebrating its 10th anniversary next year, this international music festival will welcome 200,000 people over two days with a winning formula combining great music, visual arts and food and drink.
The festival is set to take place in the picturesque Parque O’Higgins in Santiago, Chile and will run from 27-29 March 2020. This years’ incredible line-up includes Guns n’ Roses, Travis Scott, The Strokes, Lana Del Rey, Gwen Stefani, Vampire Weekend and Rita Ora – plus many more!