Often dubbed “the thin country”, Chile’s appearance on a map might be gaunt but everything else about it is robust and thriving with natural beauty. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Andean highlands and bordered by Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, its contrasting topography of desert, rainforests, peaks and glaciers makes it the one of the most visually distinct countries in South America. But because of its length – a staggering 4,000 kilometres – it’s important to decide what kind of trip you’re after when booking a flight to Chile.
Santiago, the capital, is a good base and provides easy access to other areas in Chile. From there, wine lovers can visit the colonial towns of the Central Valley and tour the lush vineyards surrounding them. While adventure seekers should head up north to the Andes where the gurgling geysers of El Tatio live, and avid skiers can get their adrenaline going on the slopes of Farellones, La Parva, and Valle Nevado.
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Much of Chile is covered with mountains and snow. The deserts in the north are warm in the day and cool in the night. The centre of the country has a more Mediterranean climate, with rains from May to August. The south is very cold, especially in the winter, and rainy.
Domestic flights are available throughout the country with airline LAN. If you’re planning on making lots of flights, consider getting the LAN “Visit South America Air Pass” which will give discounted tickets within Chile and also to Peru and Ecuador. There are other regional airlines flying to different destinations.
The bus system in Chile is very good. The network covers much of the country and service is cheap and efficient. In comparison, trains are poor; many lines are used only for freight.