Ten top reasons to visit Chile

Ten top reasons to visit Chile

Ten top reasons to visit… Chile

KAREN COE

The west coast of South America is bordered by 4,300km of the glory that is Chile. Here you will find simply astonishingly beautiful and diverse landscapes, from arid desert and lush winelands to temperate rainforest and sparkling glaciers, an amazing diversity and richness of wildlife and a fascinating culture – plus some great food and excellent wine. What’s not to love?  We could spend many thousands of words enthusing about this unique country, but – not without difficulty – we’ve boiled it down to 10 key reasons. There are plenty more of course – just contact us and we would be delighted to expand further….

1: Atacama Desert

The unique lunar landscape of the Atacama Desert’s Moon Valley is something no visitor to Chile should miss. The Mars Rover was tested here because NASA says the landscape closely resembles that of the ‘Red Planet’. Atacama is also home to the El Tatio geysers, which regularly erupt in immense columns of steam, and to the crisp, white hexagons of the 300,000-hectare Salar de Atacama salt flat and the vast Surire Salt Lake, which sustains the ostrich-like suri birds, together with flamingos, llamas and vicunas. The Andes watch over Atacama like silent guards, while snow-topped volcanoes occasionally remind us that some are still active. In Atacama you can also visit charismatic villages and towns such as San Pedro de Atacama and swim in thermal pools fed by warm-water waterfalls.

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Atacama is also one of the world’s foremost stargazing centres, which brings us to….

2: Stargazing

Atacama sits at almost 2,500m above sea level and has very few clouds and even less light pollution, which explains why a number of super-observatories have been established here and astro-tourism has become a serious ‘thing’. Chile is the astronomy capital of the world and travellers here have the chance to visit observatories such as ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) which is the world’s biggest astronomical project, Cero Tololo Inter-American Observatory and Cerro Paranal observatory.  San Pedro de Atacama, Elqui valley, Iquique and Antofagasta are all fantastic locations for stargazing; Elqui was the first-ever International Dark Sky Sanctuary.

The Chilean night sky is almost beyond description. With your bare eyes you can perceive a vast wealth of lights above you; with a DSLR camera, a little know-how and some patience you can capture photographs to be proud of, and through the telescopes of the observatories you can witness planets and stars billions of light years away.

Tribes’ Paul Cook was lucky enough to go stargazing with his camera in the Atacama Desert in 2018 – read his blog post here.

3: Mountains, Glaciers and Icebergs

The Andes mountain range runs along Chile’s eastern border and some 80% of the landscape of this ribbon-like country is mountainous. In addition to the vast mountains of the Andes there are traverse chains that thread out to the coast, with lush valleys in between, and coastal mountain ranges such as the Cordillera de Nahuelbuta. Chile’s highest mountain –  Ojos del Salado – towers to 6893m and is the world’s highest active volcano. Mountainous regions are home to a number of the national parks, most notably Torres del Paine with its three iconic granite peaks.

The mountains of Chile form the ‘skeleton’ of so much of its beautiful landscapes, from their role as sentinels at Atacama to that of the frame of the stunning Lake District with its sparkling lakes and rich forest.

The glaciers and icebergs of Chile are another glorious reason to visit this country and the islands and inlets of Chilean Patagonia are places of astonishing beauty. A boat trip on Lago Grey in Torres del Paine will show you the Grey glacier, while the less-visited Pingo Valley has its own beautiful glaciers. San Rafael Lagoon National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in remote Aysen, houses the entire Northern Patagonian Ice Field and on a boat trip on the lagoon you may be lucky enough to witness ice blocks calving off the glacier.

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4: Wildlife

With such a fabulous diversity of geology and ecology it’s no surprise that the wildlife in Chile is equally diverse. Chilean mammals include armadillos, pumas, guanacos, vicunas, alpacas, huemel deers, skunks, the hare-like Mountain Vizcacha, Geoffroy’s cats and Andean foxes, while the waters along the country’s coastline are home to elephant seals, sea lions, sea otters, humpback whales, dolphins, sperm whales and blue whales. Chile is also where you will find the puda, the world’s smallest deer.

Birdlife is even more diverse; from the majestic Andean condors and charismatic Humboldt and King penguins to flamingos, black-chested buzzard eagles, red-legged cormorants and red-masked parakeets, there are nearly 500 different species in Chile. Lacuna National Park – on the border with Bolivia – is one of the best birding locations in Chile and is home to more than 140 species including Andean condors, puna ibis and Chilean flamingos.

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5: Easter Island

Enigmatic, centuries-old ‘moai’ – towering volcanic stone statues – are the first things that spring to mind when one thinks of Easter Island. 3500km off the west coast of Chile, the island is home to nearly 900 of these mysterious figures, created by the Polynesians who were the original inhabitants of this remote, bleakly beautiful place. They are a once-in-a-lifetime sight, a real ‘bucket-list’ item, and they are well worth the journey. And there is more to Easter Island – excellent snorkelling and scuba diving, a subtropical climate, fantastic eco-lodges, great horse riding, hiking and biking. It is a unique place.

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6: Colourful Chiloe!

Chiloe is the fifth largest island in South America and has a culture all of its own. It has lovely, hilly scenery, beautiful forests, fanastic birdlife and marine life – blue whales visit its northern coastline from January to April and Humboldt and Magellan penguins live here. . It’s particularly known for its musterious, fascinating myths and legends, brightly-painted stilted wooden houses and historic wooden churches. Don’t miss the craft markets – chileo is also renowned for the colourful woollen jumpers, blankets and ponchos produced here.

7: For activity lovers

If you’re not the active type you can still enjoy a magnificent holiday in Chile. And if you are up for activities, Chile won’t disappoint! Water and snow skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, white water rafting, fly fishing, sailing, ziplining, kayaking and hiking are all eminently possible here…

8: Food and wine

The Spanish conquistadors brought grapevines to Chile in the 16th century and Chilean wines have a long-established reputation for excellence. The Chilean winelands are beautiful; the lush, fertile landscapes of the Casablanca, Aconcagua, Maipo, Cachapoal and Colchagua valleys have innumerable rows of vines, handsome wine estates and rich avocado plantations and peach orchards. The vendimas – wine festivals – of March and April are great occasions, and there are wineries of all ages and sizes to visit. Some of the most historic are in the Maipo valley, famed for its Cabernet Sauvignon, while the Casablanca valley is renowned for its white wines. The Cachapoal valley is a great place for horse-loving wine fans to visit; fine horses are bred at its historic haciendas, and huasos – cowboys – work here and take part in rodeos

Chilean food is another great treat – from the freshest seafood such as octopus carpaccio and razor clams to juicy steaks and tasty street food such as empanadas. Pastel de Jaiba, Chilean crab casserole, is a creamy, cheesy crustacean delight, while the local speciality on Chiloe island is curanto – seafood cooked on hot stones placed on the ground and covered in large leaves.  You will also find curanto featuring fish, meat and/or sausage in markets across the south of Chile. If you have a sweet tooth and are in the north of the country, look out for chumbeque, a rich, sweetmeat traditionally flavoured with cinnamon and honey.

9: Culture

In addition to all that natural beauty and wildlife, Chile also has a rich pre-Colombian and colonial culture to explore. The Chinchorro people were practicing mummification two millennia before the Egyptians, and the world’s oldest mummy, dating back to 5050BC, was found in Arica in Northern Chile.

The capital city of Santiago has some excellent museums, art galleries and theatres. You’ll see superb pottery and textiles in the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, while much more recent Chilean history is documented in the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos which tells the story of the human rights violations experienced from 1973 to 1990.

The country’s main port – Valparaíso – a bohemian city overlooking a bay, is a great place to see present-day Chilean artists, poets and musicians and houses La Sebastiana. The modernist home of Pablo Neruda, the poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature is now a museum to Neruda’s work and life.

The Aldea Intercultural Trawupeyum Museo-Centro Cultural in Curarrehue is a living museum is based on a traditional Mapuche village, while the town of Castro on Chiloe Island has no less than 150 historic wooden churches, 16 of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the Colchagua Museum in Santa Cruz houses an important collection of pre-Hispanic art. 

10: Outstanding Accommodation

Finally, Chile has some simply wonderful accommodation in all price ranges, set in glorious locations.  There’s a fantastic number of high-end properties such as the elegant Palacio Astoreca in Santiago  and in  Looking for luxury in the wilderness? Try the Explora Rapa Nui, the supremely relaxing Alto Atacama, The Singular Patagonia  or Tierra Patagonia.

Heading to Chiloe Island? Tierra Chiloe is a gorgeous eco-lodge with great ocean views and a relaxing spa.

As well as luxury eco-lodges, Chile also boasts some comfortable eco-camps such as EcoCamp Patagonia, where guests sleep in geodesic domes in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park.

There’s also a great choice of ships for cruising the ice fields from the mid-range Skorpios vessels  to the deluxe Antarctica 21.

 

Who needs a lie-in anyway?!

Who needs a lie-in anyway?!

Who needs a lie-in anyway?!

ANITA CROWSON

I have just returned from my first visit to the Galapagos and whenever anybody asks me how it was I struggle to put into words what a truly amazing experience a visit to this destination is. In my previous job, I sold holidays to the Galapagos but it was never a destination that had made it onto my bucket list. All I can say is: ‘big mistake’!

I am going to describe a typical day for you on a Galapagos cruise to give you a bit of insight as to what is involved on a day to day basis.

A typical cruise day normally begins with an early wake up ready for your first visit of the day. On my boat the actual departure time was discussed as a group with the guide at dinner the night before. He would always recommend the ‘best’ time to embark on our first adventure of the day. This varied from 6.00am – 7.00am most days.

The Passion

There are numerous reasons why such an early start is important and the number one reason in my opinion is so that you benefit from seeing the wildlife when they are at their most active. I mean the wildlife is the number 1 reason that we travel to these amazing far-flung Islands isn’t it?

So as mentioned, you are up rather early and, on my boat, there was always coffee and biscuits available before we boarded the ‘panga’ (small boat) for our adventure ashore. We were always advised if this would involve a ‘dry’ or ‘wet’ landing. The difference is – wet landings tend to be in a shallow area close to the shore where you will get your feet wet, as you disembark into the water and a dry landing will be either onto a pier or rocks hopefully without getting your feet wet!

“I can truthfully say that the Galapagos is actually the best destination that I have travelled to so far”

You will normally partake in a short walk where you often meet a variety of different creatures. During your walk your experienced guide will fully explain the geology, flora and fauna along with the history of the island you are visiting. Depending on the island and time of year that you visit, you may witness birds doing their mating dances and are very likely to see sealions basking on the rocks or swimming in the sea.

After your visit it is back to the boat where breakfast will be ready and waiting for you. This was often taken ‘alfresco’. Depending on your next destination/activity you may stay moored in the same area or start to motor onwards.

Normally around 11am, your next activity for the day begins. This is often snorkelling or kayaking which will give you a totally different perspective of the area. I was amazed by the variety of fish that I saw along with sharks, numerous types of rays, marine iguanas feeding and lots of sea turtles. In fact, I actually felt like I was swimming in my own personal aquarium.  

After this it is back onto the boat in time for lunch. You may then motor on to your next destination and this is a superb opportunity to relax on deck looking out for dolphins and, if you are lucky, whales. I loved watching the frigatebirds following the boat and even taking a cheeky ‘lift’ on the yachts radar.  

When you arrive at your next destination your routine is very much the same as your earlier visit in the day. I can honestly say that no two destinations in the Galapagos are the same. The landscapes and wildlife differ considerably from one island to the next and as it is nature at its best you never quite know what to expect.

Frigatebird

After your final visit of the day it is back to the boat in time for a shower and dinner. After dinner you then have time to sit and relax with a drink discussing your day’s adventures with your fellow travellers or you can retire to your cabin because you are going to be up early the next day ready to do it all again!

I can truthfully say that the Galapagos is actually the best destination that I have travelled to so far (and I am very fortunate in that I have travelled to quite a few places). I would certainly advise that this special place is added to your ‘bucket’ list. I would also go as far to say that a holiday to the Galapagos would suit families with teenagers (this is not an opinion I held before my trip) and my only observation is that you do need to be able-bodied to negotiate the ‘pangas’ and the majority of landing sites.  I certainly aim to return one day!

Serious ‘chillaxing’

Serious ‘chillaxing’

Serious ‘chillaxing’

 

With Mother’s Day this Sunday, March 31, a straw poll of the mums in the Tribes office revealed (not surprisingly!) that the chance to relax would be a most welcome gift. This then set us off onto a conversation about some particularly relaxing holidays or holiday experiences, with spa treatments topping the list  – we’re talking serious ‘chillaxing’!

‘In India they quite rightly take relaxation very seriously.’

Images © Ananda in the Himalayas

In India they quite rightly take relaxation very seriously, and just reading about the Ananda Wellbeing Holidays had us feeling tensions diminish.  Ananda in the Himalayas is a splendid palace set in 100 acres of grounds high above the Ganges River Valley. It’s a true sanctuary where you feel miles – and years – away from the stresses of 21st century life. There’s a range of programmes to choose from, including Yogic detox, stress management, Ayurvedic rejuvenation and even an active programme for those who want to combine spa therapies with circuit training, white water rafting etc.  Expert therapists, doctors and chefs collaborate to provide an immersive experience – all in a beautiful setting.

Another wonderfully relaxing location in India is SwaSwara, which overlooks Om Beach. This sanctuary is focused on refreshing you mind, body and soul, with three programmes that range from five to 21 nights in length.

A river cruise is, by its very nature, usually pretty relaxing, but an Irrawaddy River cruise in Burma on board the elegant Sanctuary Ananda is another thing entirely in the relaxation stakes. Seeing the sun rise over the temples of Bagan is a glorious way to start a day, and, while the trip has a fabulous range of activities to make the most of your being in this fascinating part of the world – including ox cart and rickshaw rides, pagoda and temple visits and demonstrations by local artisans – life on board the Sanctuary Ananda is designed to make everyday cares float away. Styled rather like a 1930s steamer, this luxurious craft has its own spa offering a range of theraputic and beauty treatments,  plus a plunge pool and a sundeck, which is a perfect spot for yoga.

‘Life on board the Sanctuary Ananda is designed to make everyday cares float away.’

Image ©Sanctuary Ananda

‘Spa treatments with organic, locally-grown Andean plants and herbs..’

Images © Sol y Luna

A number of the hotels in Peru’s Sacred Valley have spas, making them the perfect place to relax after exploring the stunning landscape and remarkable Inca archaeological sites. The charming Sol y Luna, for example, sits in a wonderfully relaxing location in the Sacred Valley, set in 25 acres of flower and bird-filled gardens. The Yacu Wasi spa of this Relais & Chateaux property offers daily yoga sessions as well as spa treatments with organic, locally-grown Andean plants and herbs. Tribes’ travel experts would be only too pleased to help you plan an itinerary that includes not only Sol y Luna but also the Belmond Andean Explorer – this luxury sleeper train has its own spa car!

Nyara Springs in Costa Rica (pictured above and in the image at the top of this page) is in a fabulous setting in the Arenal Volcano National Park. The mere fact that each room has its own private plunge pool fed by natural mineral hot springs is sufficient to initiate the relaxation process. Add a beautiful spa perched above the rainforest, with open-air treatment pavilions and a stunning yoga pavilion, and you’re likely to find it very hard to leave!

Having a spa treatment while on safari is a great treat, and there are some excellent spas to be found amongst the safari lodges of South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia, including The Elephant Camp (Zimbabwe) , Saruni Samburu (Kenya), Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve (South Africa), and Lemala Kuria Hills in Tanzania. This overlooks the plains of the Northern Serengeti. The Melengali Spa at Lemala Kuria Hills is a very relaxing place for a muscle-soothing massage – and the views from the bathrooms of the tented suites are fabulous too!

Or how about a classic Indian Ocean getaway? The White Sands Villa and Spa boutique hotel on the east coast of Zanzibar offers barefoot luxury and a beautifully-located spa in lush, colourful gardens a stone’s throw from the beach

Want to get even further away in search of peace and quiet? There’s no spa or massage service at Fanjove Private Island (pictured above) but, with just six guest bandas and requiring a flight in a small plane then a boat trip to get to it, this 1km x 300m piece of castaway seclusion in the Indian Ocean is hugely relaxing.

Or, if you want to get away from – pretty much – it all but still have a spa to hand, may we suggest Easter Island? A five hour flight from the Chilean mainland, Rapa Nui is an intriguing place to visit, and the Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa is a fantastic place to stay on the island. Spa Manavi overlooks the Pacific Ocean – fabulous!

‘Chillaxing’ at Lemala Kuria Hills in Tanzania…

Chiloe, Where Moving House Means Something Different

Chiloe, Where Moving House Means Something Different

Chiloe, Where Moving House Means Something Different

PAUL COOK

I didn’t really know a great deal about Chiloe before I went to Chile. I knew it was the second largest island in South America and that there was a great hotel there, but what I didn’t know is just what a unique place it is, and how different if feels from the rest of Chile.

“There were even daffodils breaking though the grass, which seemed wrong in September”

I was staying at Tierra Chiloe, which is one of the most impressive looking hotels I’ve ever stayed in. Many years ago I trained to be an architect, and was immediately struck by the harmonious blend of local materials and modern design principles. With its sharp angles and exposed concrete, the design is unrelentingly modern, yet it is clad in the wooden shingles which are commonplace on Chiloe and raised up on stilts like many traditional Chilote houses. Perched on a hill top, floor to ceiling sheets of glass take advantage of the impressive view out to sea. The attention to detail is carried through inside, with furnishings from traditional materials and artwork made by local craftsmen.

As I arrived at my hotel, the sun was shining, but a few minutes later the rain came down, bringing with it a dramatic rainbow, the first of many I saw on Chiloe. The west side of the island is exposed to the Pacific and swept by impressive storms, but a range of hills protects the eastern coast where almost all the population live and where Chiloe breaks up into an archipelago of small islands dotting a sheltered bay. The green rolling hills and unpredictable weather reminded me of Wales where I lived for several years. There were even daffodils breaking though the grass, which seemed wrong in September.

“It seems Chiloe is due to change, and it is worth experiencing it while it retains its isolation”

PAUL COOK

There was something of the Welsh atmosphere that carried on in the culture of Chiloe as well, with its people asserting their difference form the rest of the country and nurturing a unique culture. Chile is not really known for its indigenous communities. Much of the rugged country was largely uninhabited before the arrival of the Spanish, and the interaction between the Spanish settlers and the dominant Mapuche community in central Chile was not a harmonious one. However, on Chiloe the first arrivals were the Jesuit priests, who built the first churches and paved the way for a more peaceful settlement of the islands which mixed the Spanish and indigenous cultures. Today, the traditional wooden churches remain, many of them preserved as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the myths and traditions of the community remain strong.

Everywhere I went on Chiloe my guides told me the local legends, which mix traditional indigenous and Spanish beliefs. Phantom ships are said to sail the Pacific, while mermaids patrol the beaches and demons inhabit the forests. On this isolated island, the sense of community is strong, with villagers helping each other and sharing resources and work. They even have their own word for it – minga. This can cover a variety of communal events, but which is most famously associated with the tradition of moving house, which can mean something completely different in Chiloe. When it is time to move house, the entire village works together to literally move the entire building to a new location, mounting it on wooden rollers and pulling it behind a team of oxen, or even floating it across the water to its new location. The tradition is not as common in the current generation, although I was told of a recent case where a house was moved to prevent it from being seized by the banks!

At the moment, the ferry from Puerto Montt is the only way to reach Chiloe, but a bridge from the mainland is due to be completed in the next few years. Like many such projects, the bridge is being greeted by the people of the island with a mixture of hopefulness for the prosperity it may bring and trepidation for the threats it could bring to the unique environment and community. It seems Chiloe is due to change, and it is worth experiencing it while it retains its isolation.

You can read Paul’s various blogs from this journey if you’d like to know more, he’s always happy to chat about Chile if you’re considering a trip here.

Other Chile blogs by Paul include:

Santiago, Parks and Politics

Santiago, Parks and Politics

Santiago, Parks and Politics

PAUL COOK

Everything in Chile revolves around its capital, Santiago de Chile. With over seven million people, nearly half of country’s population live in the city, with many more in nearby towns and cities. As a visitor, there is no getting away from Santiago. It is the only international airport, and with its central location you are bound to have to pass through a few times. During my time in Chile, I had a short time to discover what there is to see and do in the city.

“so had arranged a tour of Santiago
by bike”

It is often said that Santiago is a good place to live, but not a great place to visit. An efficient metro means Santiago avoids the gridlock common elsewhere in South America, and with its strong and stable economy crime and corruption is uncommon. With its mix of 19th century architecture and modern high rises and its temperate climate, only the occasional glimpse of the distant snow-capped Andes reminds you are no longer in Europe. I wanted to get a little beneath the skin of the city to see what makes it different, so had arranged a tour of Santiago by bike. I’m a keen cyclist, but rarely get to ride in South America. However, Santiago is largely flat and with its good network of cycle lanes, there are plenty of other bikes on the road. With my young and enthusiastic guide Stefano, I set off on what was called the “Parks and Politics” tour to learn what makes Santiago tick.

We started with an easy ride through Parque Florestal, which is a notable and much-loved feature of Santiago, running the length of the city along the course of an old river bed. My guide pointed out the many fine pavilions, museum and fountains, but what really stood out on a warm spring day was how busy the park was. As Stefano explained, most Chileans live with their family until they are in their late 20s, so the parks are one of the few places they can find privacy and young couples occupied the park benches and picnicked on the grass.

“My tour happened to coincide with the 45th anniversary of the day Pinochet took power, and so everyone in Santiago was talking politics.”

PAUL COOK

Locking up the bikes, we joined the students in the nearby GAM Cultural Centre. This massive modern building is a landmark of Santiago, but Stefano explained how its history reflected the chequered political history of Chile. Built by volunteer labour to act as a showcase of the country’s culture, it had been taken over by Pinochet’s secret police and later largely abandoned before before it was rebuilt and reclaimed by a new generation. My tour happened to coincide with the 45th anniversary of the day Pinochet took power, and so everyone in Santiago was talking politics. My tour concluded with a cycle into the centre of the city and the political heart of Chile, the Presidential Palace. 45 years early President Salvador Allende had made his farewell speech from inside as bombs fell and Pinochet’s soldiers advanced. Today, at the end of a peaceful sunny day I watched the crowds gathering outside the restored palace to lay flowers at the base of the former president’s statue and felt I understood the city a lot better.

You can read Paul’s various blogs from this journey if you’d like to know more, he’s always happy to chat about Chile if you’re considering a trip here.

Other Chile blogs by Paul include:

The Colours of Chile

The Colours of Chile

The Colours of Chile

PAUL COOK

One of the things you quickly realise about travelling in Chile is just how different each part of the country looks. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise. In a country that spans over 2,500 miles from north to south, there’s bound to be a lot of variation, but it is still quite startling. One thing that stood out is how each part of the country seemed to take on a different colour.

“each part of the country seemed to take on a different colour”

Atacama was red. Actually there are lots of colours in Atacama. After all, this is a region which contains an area called Rainbow Valley which has rocks of vivid shades of green and purple, and there are vast areas of white salt plains, but it is the red that stands out. Great swathes of Atacama are covered with reddish rocks that would not be put of place on Mars. Indeed, Hollywood comes to Atacama to make movies set on the Red Planet and NASA tests their Mars-bound rovers here. At sunset, the desert is stained an even deeper hue of red as alpenglow lights up the mountains of the Andes. The sky is mostly a deep shade of blue that shades to a dark indigo when in one of the many canyons, but rare clouds can turn the sunset into a psychedelic display of reds, oranges and purples. The final red from Atacama is of course the excellent local vinto tinto served in the lodges – there is no better way to end a day exploring the desert than with a good meal and a glass of red wine.

The colour that stands out from Patagonia is blue. When covered by snow, the mountains of Patagonia take on shades of black and white, but Torres del Paine National Park is more than mountains. It is a land of blue lakes, blue rivers and blue ice. Indeed,“paine” actually means blue in the native Tehuelche language. I knew that glaciers and icebergs were blue, but I wasn’t prepared for just how intense the colour is. Under the bright sunshine, the icebergs that dotted Largo Grey took on an azure hue rarely seen in the natural world. While Largo Grey was indeed grey, other lakes in the park took on other tones from the minerals released into them by the glaciers which feed them. Against the monochrome mountains, Lake Pehoe stands out with a deep blue that feeds into the aquamarine of the wide River Paine.

“brightly coloured murals turn the streets of this bustling port into an open-air museum”

PAUL COOK

After ten days in Atacama and Patagonia, I did not realise how much I missed green until I flew into Puerto Montt, the gateway to the Lake District and Chileo Island. In the extreme environments of the far north and south of Chile, vegetation is fairly scarce, but the middle parts of Chile have a climate similar to Britain, with lots of rain and lots of greenery. As I headed off to Chileo, my eyes feasted on field of green pasture and trees coming into leaf at the start of spring, with the sunshine and rain bringing a succession of rainbows.
Of course, it is impossible to write about the colours of Chile without mentioning the many colours of Santiago and nearby Valparaiso. Street art developed in Chile as a protest against Pinochet’s dictatorship and reached its peak in the university town of Valapariso. Brightly coloured murals turn the streets of this bustling port into an open-air museum that is a great introduction to the many different colours of Chile.

You can read Paul’s various blogs from this journey if you’d like to know more, he’s always happy to chat about Chile if you’re considering a trip here.

Other Chile blogs by Paul include: