There are so many amazing things to do in Chile. From exploring the Atacama Desert, 1000 year old glaciers, forests, lakes and volcanoes to sampling internationally renowned Chilean red wine, Chile truly has something for every adventure/wine-loving visitor. Not to mention the vibrant city of Santiago, home to the National History Museum and the 18th-century Metropolitan Cathedral. So here is what we consider to be the top things to do in Chile, certainly worthy of a place on your South America Bucket List that’s for sure.
Here’s our pick of the top things to do in Chile
Stone Moai of Easter Island
Everyone has seen the iconic images of the stone Moai of Easter Island. Besides its remoteness, Easter Island is famous for these massive stone sculptures also known as “Moais”. Using basalt stone picks, the Easter Island Moai were carved from the solidified volcanic ash of Rano Raraku volcano, by the people of Rapa Nui between 1250 and 1500. The largest of these is “El Gigante” located near the Rano Raraku Quarry, which stands 72 feet tall.
Cajon del Maipo
The snow-capped mountains of Cajon Del Maipo are southeast of Santiago and the perfect weekend city break for Santiaguinos. Visit this dramatic gorge to camp, hike, climb, cycle, raft and ski. It’s home to El Morado Natural Monument, with trails to the San Francisco Glacier and Laguna Morales. There’s also the Baños Morales thermal springs nearby. While here, don’t miss the towns dotted about the Gorge such as San José de Maipo with its adobe houses.
Valley of the Moon
Valle de la Luna, aka Valley of the Moon, is a valley in Los Flamencos National Reserve, in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chile due to its dramatic, moonlike landscape of rugged mountains and peculiar rock formations. Bike trails lead to the valley from the nearby town of San Pedro de Atacama where you can also take a Moon Valley & Death Valley Tour.
Tour El Tatio
El Tatio is a geyser field located in the Andes Mountains of northern Chile at 4,320 meters above sea level. This is the third-largest geyser field in the world and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. El Tatio is ringed by volcanoes and fed by over 80 gurgling geysers and a hundred gassy fumaroles. Rise before dawn and enjoy the show as the sun rises with the craters of El Tatio as the main attraction. The best time to visit these geysers is early morning for the most incredible views.
Hike Pumalin Park
One of the largest and most diverse conservation efforts in South America, Pumalín Park lies in Chile’s Palena Province, south of the city of Puerto Montt. The trails of Pumalin Sur are well marked and mostly well maintained so it isn’t necessary to have a guide. There is however, a lot of diverse bird and plant life so if you really want to make the most of your hike a guide is recommended. Opposite the park is the Pumalin Project which is a group of organic farms restored with the help of local people.
Surrounded by unique fauna and located in the highlands, the Chungara Lake is one of the main attractions of Lauca national Park. Situated in the extreme north of Chile at an elevation of 4,517 meters, in the Altiplano of Arica y Parinacota Region, Chungara Lake is one of the highest lakes on Earth. While on your tour look out for llamas, guanacos, foxes, and alpacas.
The Marble Caves
The Marble Caves (Capillas de Mármol) are a series of sculpted caves in the General Carrera Lake in Patagonia, Chile. These are Chile’s magical caves which have rock formations in natural marble-style swirls. The Chapel, the Cathedral and the Cave are the three formations that make up this natural spectacle that is definitely worth visiting. You can reach these stunning caves by boat and several local tour companies take visitors through the caves and the connecting tunnels.
Santa Lucia Hill
Santa Lucía Hill (Cerro Santa Lucía) is a hilltop park on the eastern edge of downtown Santiago that draws visitors looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. The climb up this natural 230 foot hill offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city.
Museum of Memory and Human Rights
Chile suffered immensely during the years of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship and in an effort to reflect on the horrors of those years, between 1973 and 1990, the Chilean government founded the Museum of Memory and Human Rights (El Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanos). Take a walking tour around this Chilean museum which is located in Santiago.
Chilean Museum of Fine Arts
The Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts, located in Santiago, Chile, is one of the major centers for Chilean art and for broader South American art. The museum is managed by the ‘Artistic Union’, and was built in 1880 making it the oldest museum in South America.
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There is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Plan ahead so that you can take your time exploring and be prepared to be flexible because sometimes travelers you meet along the way will have the best suggestions for undiscovered gems and awesome things to do in Chile.
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