And now possibly the most prestigious and far reaching guide book in the world has named Chile their top choice for 2018! There really should be no more excuses! Come quick, before the rest of the world does!
To quote Traveller Australia, “There's almost an embarrassment of natural riches in Chile. From top to bottom of this pencil-thin land, stunning landscapes abound – there's the lunar desolation of the Atacama Desert, the rugged, snowy peaks of the Andes, the wineries of Colchagua Valley, the volcanoes and pastures of the Lake District, and famed Patagonia in the south. Chile, often overlooked in favor of its neighbors, is ripe for exploration”.
It is true there is so much to see. How can you begin to create an itinerary with that much going on in one long thin country you may ask?! The growing travel trend is not to even try to fit the whole of the country in, and opt for a more in-depth journey around a specific area of the country.
This emerging travel trend coincides with that of return trips to the same far flung destination. Once upon a time a trip to Chile from Europe or the States would have been a once in a lifetime trip. A mammoth undertaking of long haul flights, detailed itinerary planning with something happening every day. Amazing as trips like those are, they do often leave your body exhausted and your mind saturated by all the wonderful views and experiences it has been bombarded with. Maybe you have been to San Pedro de Atacama and Torres del Paine before, maybe you did that with an escorted group trip. Maybe now you want more freedom as you now know that Chile is a safe and easy place to travel around. Maybe you are happy to come back yourself and let you days shape themselves…
If that sounds like you, read on for some great tips of how to make an unforgettable experience out of a couple of weeks stay in our lakes and volcanoes region.
#1. Get into Santiago and get straight out to Temuco. Just a 1hr 15 min flight and you are in the heart of the lush green countryside of the south. Of course you will want to experience a little of the cosmopolitan culture of Santiago, but may we suggest you do that when you return to Santiago before your outward flight home. That Jacuzzi in the 5 star hotel with a view of the jagged Andes surrounding the city will be much more rewarding as you reminisce about your southern adventure.
#2. Hire a car from Temuco airport (ZCO) for full flexibility and plan a route that covers Pacific to Andes and even includes a border hop.
#3. From Temuco head to Conguillio National Park. There are some great hiking trails and volcano views. Accommodation is available in cabañas or there are camp sites if you have all the right gear with you.
#4. Pucón should be you next stop for a good few days to really get to know the wilds, out and about in the national parks, up the volcanoes, into the hot springs, onto the lakes and down the rivers. Lake Lodge is the perfect place to use as your base. Just 3 km from the center of town and with panoramic views over the lake, homemade breakfast and super snuggly duvets to curl up under, your only regret will be not staying for longer!
#5. From Pucón you can hope over to San Martin de Los Andes for a couple of days passing right underneath Lanin volcano. The border is easily manageable and the journey time is around 4 hours, Do check in advance with your car hire providers if the insurance and paperwork to cross the border is included because if not you will be turned back.
#6. If you choose to stay in Chile, an alternative after leaving Pucón is to head out to the coast and enjoy a few days in Valdivia or the more remote Niebla overlooking the crashing waves of the Pacific.
#7. Continue south by meandering towards Puerto Varas on the country back roads rather than sticking to the main Pan American highway. That way you will enjoy surprising views at every turn of the lakes and rivers that make the scenery of our area so lush and beautiful.
#8. After some waterfall visiting and maybe some more hiking around Puerto Varas, if you have time to spare, do add on a visit to Chiloé island. This magical archipelago marches to a different song to the rest of the country. Filled with myths and legends revolving around the ocean, Chiloé offers great seafood, penguins up close, deserted white sand beaches and some really quirky places to stay.
#9. From Puerto Varas or back to the mainland from Chiloé Island, Puerto Montt (PMC) will be your southern airport ready for a return flight back to Santiago or further south down to Punta Arenas.