Chilean Charms: Visiting the Edge of the Earth
Squeezed between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Chile is a country comprised of geographical extremes. From its arid Atacama Desert in the north, to its vineyards and rich agricultural lands in its Central Valley, down to its towering glaciers in its southernmost tip, Chile boasts one of the most geographically diverse landscapes in the world. Its mineral-rich and fertile lands contribute largely to the country’s booming economy, a true testament of the nation’s bounty and natural abundance. Because of its astounding geographical makeup and picturesque terrains, Chile is a must-see destination for nature lovers everywhere. Although its culture, people, and first world cities are all worth mentioning and seeing, we will only be covering a select few destinations in the country’s wide array of flora and fauna. Here are just 3 beautiful sights to check out while traveling down the Andean nation’s twenty-five hundred mile stretch.
The Atacama Desert
Chile’s Atacama Desert is considered to be the driest place on earth, with an average rainfall of about 15mm a year. In fact, some areas of the Atacama desert have recorded zero rainfall since rainfall measurements first took place in the region. The landscape consists of gravel-littered plains, rocky plateaus, as well as salt flats ringed with snowcapped volcanos. As desolate and harsh as it seems, it contains a plethora of travel attractions for visitors. Whether it’s taking a stroll through its mesmerizing salt flats, exploring its eerie abandoned mining towns, or seeing the geoglyphs left by ancient indigenous peoples, there is plenty to do in the Atacama Desert. South of the Atacama, but still in northern territory exist some of the most powerful astronomical ground-based observatories on Earth, making it a must-travel destination for star gazers around the globe.
Las Torres del Paine National Park
Las Torres del Paine National park is a distinctive national park that encompasses, lakes, rivers, pampa, and towering steppes and peaks in southern Chile’s Patagonian region. The scenery is dominated by the three distinctive granite peaks of the Paine mountain range that rise dramatically over its vivid blue and turquoise lakes. The park’s beauty is internationally acclaimed, even being elected the 5th most beautiful place in the world by the National Geographic. It is also one of the most important hiking destinations in Chile, where over 140,000 visitors travel to hike and camp.
Punta Arenas and Tierra del Fuego
The southernmost provinces of Chile, both Punta Arenas and Tierra del Fuego are considered by many as the southernmost tips of the populated world. The region is largely made up of archipelagos and island chains, giving tourists and visitors wonderful opportunities to travel via boat, ferry, and even canoe. It is one of the few places on earth to see Penguins in their natural habitats, specifically in Isla Magdalena, where Penguins come home to their birthplace to breed. Whale-watching is also a must-do activity while exploring the region’s vast cold lakes and bays. Skiing of course is a popular activity in Punta Arenas, as it is through all of Chile.
It’s difficult to fully and fairly address the Andean nation’s beauty in just one blog post. We’ve barely scratched the surface just now, so we’ll touch upon some more Chilean travel destinations another time.
To learn more about world travel, check out Anne Strebinger’s travel blog.