Sabbatical & Experiential Travel to Chile
Holidays & Sabbaticals to Chile – In a Nutshell
Is this the world’s most beautiful country? We think so. Stretching from the dry, arid Atacama Desert in the north, through turquoise fjords in the Lake District and Patagonian wilderness right down to the Tierra del Fuego archipelago on the southern tip, the dramatic landscapes will stir your soul. En route, you’ll see snow-capped volcanoes, dense pine forest, glacial lakes, erupting thermal geysers, otherworldly salt flats and lenga rainforest, all pristine. Cities are cosmopolitan; Santiago sits in a bowl cradled by the spectacular Andes, while colourful Valparaiso has an easy boho vibe. The desert oasis village of San Pedro de Atacama is a jumping-off point for the cactus-strewn desert of the same name, with its mystical landscapes and magnificent star gazing. Pretty Pucon, home to the Machupe people, is a base for watersports: white-water rafting and kayaking across mirror-still lakes. But the biggest lure in our eyes is Patagonia, a vast wilderness of mammoth glaciers and rugged mountains, the most extraordinary terrain you’ll ever see.
How to Get to Chile
You can travel overland from Argentina, Bolivia or Peru as part of a longer South American itinerary. If you’re arriving by plane, you’ll likely fly into Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport. You can fly direct from the UK (15 hours) but most airlines go via the US or mainland Europe. If you’re coming from the US, flight times range from 8-17 hours. Once in Santiago, there are 84 domestic airports you can hop between; handy, as distances are huge. Most popular are Punta Arenas for Patagonia and Calama for the Atacama Desert. Alternatively you can travel overland, which most visitors do, to soak up the incredible landscapes. Long-distance buses are excellent; their salon cama have seats that fully recline.
When & Weather – Chile
Chile’s climate is dramatically varied due to its length and range of altitudes. The north tends to be very hot, with hardly any rain; the centre is warm all year round, but wetter between April and Sept; the south can be very cold and windy and the rains fall in the winter months (June-Aug). Summer (November to March) is the overall warmest time to come and the best time to go to Patagonia. The shoulder seasons (Oct, Nov, March, April) are the best times to visit the rest of the country. Temperatures range between -1°C (30°F) and 30°C (86°F)!
Who will Chile Appeal To?
The country’s breathtaking natural landscapes are best suited to:
- Active travellers
- Solo travellers
- Adventure seekers
- Intrepid Families
Chile has some incredible luxury hotels and lodges, particularly in Patagonia, the Lake District, wine region and the Atacama Desert. We also work with beautiful boutique hotels, adobe cabanas and estancias from remote Easter Island to hidden pockets of Chiloe Island.
Off The Beaten Path
- Watch the sun set over Moon Valley in Atacama Desert, an otherworldly lunar landscape with ever-shifting colours
- Kayak down the Rio Exploradores to the turquoise San Rafael Glacier. A towering 70m tall, it’s the nearest tidewater glacier to the equator, and far less touristy than the Grey Glacier in Torres del Paine
- The remote Chiloe archipelago is wildly beautiful, with rich folklore traditions and unique palafitos (stilted houses). Most of the islanders are hand-to-mouth fishermen or farmers so visiting gives a really authentic view of local life
- Boat around the epic Marble Chapels of Puerto Tranquilo, which jut out of an icy-green glacier lake
- Ski down an active volcano; Villarrica near Pucon is one of the only places in the world you can do this
- Humberstone is a ghost town in the Atacama Desert, founded around the saltpeter mines then abandoned after the Great Depression of 1929. A Unesco site, its old-fashioned saloon bars and schools have been abandoned for almost a century yet remain eerily intact
- Marvel at the moai on Easter Island, a far-flung offshore territory peppered with 600+ giant stone statues, carved from volcanic rock. At 32ft each, it remains a mystery how these megaliths were transported from the inland quarries to their coastal positions
- Visit a distillery and sample various pisco in Coquimbo, birthplace of the pisco sour
- Migrating humpback whales can be seen in Cabo de Hornos National Park, as can leopard seals and dolphins. This is the only place in the world where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet
- There’s a local population of pygmy blue whales in the waters around Chiloe and Humboldt penguins nest on its shores
- Chiloe Parque Nacional is home to twisted tepú forest, where Chilote foxes and rare pudú hide (the world’s smallest deer)
- 95% of the world’s population of Magellanic penguins live on Magdalena Island. In breeding season there are up to 100,000 pairs
Chile Experiences you shouldn’t miss:
- Watching the El Tatio Geysers erupt in the Atacama Desert at sunrise, then swimming in the geothermal hot springs
- Riding funicular railways and spotting beautiful street art in Valparaiso
- River rafting (or river floating) around Pucon
- Cycling the wine regions of Casablanca, Rosario and Maipo
- Hiking, hiking and more hiking in Torres del Paine National Park
- Road tripping through the Carretera Austral
- Star gazing in the Elqui Valley
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003 for its architectural and cultural significance, Valparaiso is one of Chile’s most interesting cities. The history of “Valpo” and its century-old hillside funicular railways lead into the city’s steep hills which reveal a labyrinthine maze of crumbling neighbourhoods with brightly coloured buildings where graffiti street art is used as an expression of social identity. Learn about the work of local NGO Valparaiso In Colour which uses art as a way to integrate social and community development and promote a positive future for the local neighbourhoods.
Our experienced team will guide you through a number of ideas based on how you would like to experience Chile. Consider visiting Chile in combination with Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.
Browse our gallery for inspiration and read the sample itinerary below to whet your appetite.
No matter how long you have to travel, we’ll guide you through the planning process to ensure a trip is carefully pieced together to suit your interests, pace of travel and budget.
Contact us to start planning a holiday or sabbatical to Chile.