Chile

Chile is the longest and thinnest of all the South American countries with a history that still separates the country’s population. It has a lot of great places but the most visited are in the north of the country. In the  beautiful south of below Bernard O’Higgins Park backpackers will find  one of the most magnificent trails in South America. The W trek part of Torres del Paine is where where travelers flock from all corners of the world to make the journey. It can be completed in as little as 4 days but a lot of trekkers like to take their time. 
While some backpackers have travelled the length of the country many start in Pucon and travel North to the desert while even more start or end their time in Santiago.

Santiago

Santiago is located central Chile, only a few hours away from Mendoza Argentina. Santiago is a busy city with a great underground system connecting to all corners of the city. In early 2015 Plaza de Armas has been redeveloped with an abundance of seats letting visitors of all kinds enjoy the ambiance of the city. Art lovers will find a special treat from INTI Castro’s dotted around the city which represent the Chilean history and culture. Another part of the Santiago culture is the abundance of stray dogs that simple “belong” to the city. Residents feeding and caring for them all year long makes the city feel like a warmer understanding nation. The main chill out area for backpackers is called Bella Vista with relaxed vibe with clubs and resto-bars a plenty. Be sure to check out a “coffee on legs” café something quite unique to Santiago.

Must do’s

  • Go on the Tips for Tours afternoon tour to giving you a complete tour of the city including the cities political History.
  • Visit Plaza de Armas where you will find tasty cheap food stalls and cafes.
  • Visit the Museum of Memory and Human Rights (Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos), take the subway to Quinta Normal which is right opposite the museum.
  • Stay in Bella Vista Area if you want to party until the early hours of the morning
  • Try a Terremoto, Borgoña or piscola , some drinks treasured by the Chileans.
Chile

Valparaiso

Valparaiso is steeped in history as it was once the busiest harbour in South America. Lying approx an hour and 30 minutes away from Santiago it was once the main port for Europeans trade until the Pan America Canal opened as well as  it been the hometown of President Allende, one of the most significant leaders in Chilean history. Today as you arrive in Valparaiso you will see many murals representing many famous artists from around the globe. At its busiest time many decades ago it had 33 "Ascensores" or funiculars but unfortunately now there are only a few working today. The city itself has a huge historical culture with many buildings protected by UNSECO Heritage sites so a lot of the old architecture can still be seen today. Modern architectures have fused the old with the new to transform a lot of the port. The only way to experience this city so emerged in the Chilean history is to take a walk around the city and truly appreciate it and all that it offers. 

Must Dos

  • Take a tour for tips tour. There is so much to learn about the history of Valparaiso and their murals why not have a native Chilean take you to all the best parts of the city.
  • Take a boat tour, where you might be lucky enough to see some sea-lions.
  • Take a ride on the funiculars leading you to different parts of the city.

 Walk to the top of Cummins St. and see the street performers at the top of the square. 

Pucon

Pucon is packed full of adventure, so if you love the outdoors Pucon has it all . Like Mendoza in Argentina, there are so many adventurous activities to do in this small lakeside town. About 12 hours south of Santiago and 3 hours from Osorno the town is action packed. The lake itself has a shore of dark stone but this does not take away from its beauty nestled between the mountains its surrounded by. The town itself is lively, full of the hustle and bustle of a holiday town. The one distinct feature of Pucon is Volcano Villarica can be seen from anywhere in the town but it's only when you climb to the top it can make anyone feel like their standing on the shoulders of a giant force of nature.

Must do’s

  • Climb Vilarica! It closed in 2015 because of 2 eruptions, but so far in 2016 it open for business. 
  • Take the time to indulge in a thermal bath. Every tourist agency in town has trip to a thermal bath facility just be sure to pick a day, time and price that suits you.
  • Visit the nearby lake Caburgua to enjoy a relaxing sandy beach with picturesque scenery that surrounds it.
  • Check out Informaciones Serivcios Turisticos agency. The tour guides here have many years experience with all activities but most importantly climbing. The owner has now survived the last 2 eruptions of Vilarica and even has photos of the eruption from 30 years ago. Canyoning with these guys is a great experience, that no-one should miss. A little surprise for backpackers at the end where the guides visit small cottage serving tea and traditional homemade Chilean donuts. 

San Pedro De Atacama

San Pedro De Atacama is located right in the top corner of Northern Chile. It is a popular border town for travelers crossing into Bolivia. Death Valley and Moon Valley are two of its most treasured attractions with unique attractions. See the llamas, wild flowers, flamingos and more. Rent some bikes, visit a hot spring or see the geysers among some many incredible things to do in this small town.

Must do’s

  •  Try sand-boarding in Death Valley, the large sand dunes are deep in the valley so take a tour or bike it but remember to bring plenty of water.
  • Take a tour through Valle de Lunar seeing oddly shaped rock formations that really make you feel like you are on another planet.
  • Eat in one of the town’s small local restaurants with really great food at the back of the town. Simply walk through the market to get here and you will find traditional Chilean cafe’s for a great backpacker’s price.
  • To see Earth’s true moon and learn about the constellations from the southern hemisphere check out a star gazing tour, there are many agencies so shop around for the best deal.

Punto Arenas

Punto Arenas is the capital of the most southern region in Chile. It lies approx 190km north of Punto Natales. Many backpackers travel here to visit the penguins Isla Magdalena(Magdalena Island.

Must Do’s

  • If weather permits take the boat to see the penguins. There are a lot of places to see penguins south of Chile and Argentina but here you will see the penguins undisturbed in their natural habitat. The trip takes a half day altogether.
  • Visit the outdoor Nao Victoria Museum where you can find replicas of ships including La Victoria, a monumental ship in Magellan’s crusade. Worth a visit as proceeds will go towards keeping the museum open to the public.

Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales is a town located in Patagonia in Southern Chile. This town is where most backpackers rest too before they start their trip through Torres del Paines. To get here, it's easiest to travel bus from El Calafate which is about 4.5 hours. The most popular activity here is to trek the “W” where you can see the most spectacular views. From Glaciers to mountains it almost looks like you are standing in a beautiful scenic painting.

Must Do’s

  • Trek the “W”. Take a bus to the start of the trail. Book your camp spot and Refugio’s in advance as it can become quite crowded. Be sure to have lots of snacks too. You can stock up on essentials but try to be prepared.
  • In Torres del Paine seek out the Glacier Grey. Stunning views of yet another magnificent piece of nature.

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