Chile has very diverse landscapes, including a desert that looks like Mars, glacier-fed fjords in Patagonia, the Andes Mountains and old-growth forests. Natural landmarks and lush parks attract people from all around the world. The Patagonian peaks have given Chile the name "Switzerland of the South." However, visitors should research the best times of the year to visit specific landmarks.
The Atacama Desert is the highest and driest desert in the world. The desert is home to Moon Valley, Dinosaur Valley and Death Valley. The desert also contains salt flats, extensive plains called the "pampas," hot springs and geysers. The Atacama Desert stretches from the Andes Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. You can also see the geoglyphs, which are ancient drawings incised into the ground that date from 1400 to 1000 B.C.
Easter Island is the most famous tourist attraction in Chile. This island has several giant statues called "moais," built from volcanic rock. Easter Island is one of the most isolated places in the world. Only LAN Airlines flies to Easter Island from Peru or Santiago; once there, you can tour the island on bicycles. The island is located 2,000 miles away from the closest city.
Valle Nevado, at an altitude of almost 10,000 feet, is one of the most popular skiing attractions in Chile and draws skiers from around the world because of its high-quality snow and modern facilities. It offers more than 23,000 acres of skiable area and is the largest ski resort in the southern hemisphere. The skiing season runs from June through October.
Patagonia is a region of attractive snow-capped mountains. This area has a very large number of lakes, some of which have islands. Many of the lakes are ideal for fishing. The Austral highway is the most popular route through Patagonia, a mostly unpaved road that will take you through most of southern Chile.
Torres del Paine National Park
The Torres del Paine National Park has been designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It contains mountains, glaciers, lakes and river valleys, as well as a great variety of plants and animals. The area has many clearly marked paths for hikers; however, they may not stray away from the paths and camping is allowed only in designated areas. Due to its extreme southern latitude, summer and longer daylight hours occur from late December through late February, which would be the best time to visit the area.
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