Backpacking Chile – Solo Guide

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I backpacked through Chile and loved exploring this beautiful South American destination. Here are the top things to do while backpacking Chile:

 

1. Exploring the Atacama Desert in San Pedro

Valle De La Luna, Chile

Valle De La Luna, Chile

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, is like nothing I have seen before. Imagine descending from the Andes Mountains in Bolivia into the vast Atacama Desert of Chile, the driest place on Earth. What makes the place strange and unique is the bitumen roads leading into San Pedro de Atacama are of fantastic quality, however, once you enter the tourist centre of San Pedro de Atacama you find yourself enjoying nothing but dirt roads as you wander around the mud huts of the town. The city itself is great to explore with its primitive feel, however, on venturing out of San Pedro de Atacama is where the real excitement starts. Valle de la Luna, or Valley of the Moon, blew my mind. Never having heard of it before visiting the scenery left me breathless. You can easily see why this place is named after the moon. I have never witnessed anything like it before, and I highly suggest visiting this magical spot, especially at sunset. Other must-dos include the geysers on volcano Tatio and star gazing. With minimal towns and cities in the Atacama Desert areas out of San Pedro de Atacama make for an incredible place to stargaze due to their incredible clear skies. On a side note when it comes to food ensure that you eat as many delicious empanadas as you possibly can. I have fond memories of this delightful South American delicacy in the town of San Pedro de Atacama along with the many other memories made in the memorable town.

Lauren, hashtagljojlo.com

 

2. Easter Island

Easter Island Moai, Chile

Easter Island Moai, Chile

Easter Island was on the top of my bucket list for more than a decade before I could finally travel there. Located in the Pacific Ocean, Easter Island is a territory of Chile and is one of the most remote places in the world. It easily takes between a day to two days for most people to travel to Easter Island, if you are traveling from outside South America. Then why do so many people travel to this tiny volcanic island? The answer lies in its famous stone statues called the Moai or the Easter Island heads. They are the island’s major tourist attraction. Visiting Easter Island and seeing the gigantic Moai is a memorable experience. Most of the island is protected by Rapa Nui National Park and important archeological sites are spread all over the island. The statues were created by ancient Rapa Nui people who lived on the island many years ago. A lot of mysteries surround the island and its statues including why they created the massive Moai, how they moved to the statues to their platforms and what happened to almost decimate the civilization. The enigmas surrounding the statues are a major reason why so many people have Easter Island on their bucket list. Easter Island is not just a cultural destination but also offers a lot of activities for outdoor enthusiasts including snorkeling, horse riding, hiking, and surfing.

By Ketki, dottedglobe.com

 

3. Chiloe Island

Chiloe Island, Chile

Chiloe Island, Chile

For us, one of the best places in all of Chile was the island of Chiloe. Located at the midpoint of the countrie’s coast, the island has a rich history and a culture that is completely different to mainland Chile. Here things are done a little differently. Churches are made from the designs of upside-down fishing boats, houses are built on stilts, food is cooked underground and the forests have been taken back by the sea. For sure the best way to see the island is to rent a car, as it gives the opportunity to explore all of the small towns and villages. The first stop would be the city of Castro to see the photogenic palafitos, wooden houses built above the water on stilts. From here you travel along the coast while looking out for any of the 150 churches on the island. Try to stop and visit one or two and you will see how the fishing community used their boat building skills to build the church roofs using the same designs as their boats, just upside down! Continue around the island and you will find forts built to protect the people from colons and kayak through a strange sunken forests. In fact, on the west coast, part of the island sunk after an earthquake. This and the following tsunami meant that the forest was submerged in water. These days the trees are dead and you can rent a kayak to explore the eerie waters. All of this should be followed by tasting some of Chiloe’s excellent food. For a quick bite, taste the salmon ceviche and for dinner, a Curanto is a must. This traditional meal is made of seafood, shellfish, meat, potato and vegetables cooked in a pit in the ground. A must try. If all this has whetted your appetite and curiosity, then check out Tales From The Lens’ post on exploring Chiloe by car.

By Jenny & Steven, talesfromthelens.com

 

4. Hiking in Patagonia

Hiking In Patagonia, Chile

Hiking In Patagonia, Chile

One of my favorite things to do in South America is hiking in Patagonia. Patagonia is a wild region shared by Chile and Argentina with endless hiking opportunities. The Patagonian Andes are not as high as in the northern part of Chile and Bolivia. The highest peaks in Patagonia include Fitz Roy (3405m) in Argentina and San Valentin (4058m) in Chile so generally speaking, hikes in Patagonia are easier. What can you see in the Patagonia region? There are beautiful forests, lakes, rivers, glaciers, ice fields, volcanoes, interesting wildlife and more! The main hiking centers in Patagonia are Puerto Natales in Chile, and El Calafate and El Chaltén in Argentina. The hikes in these areas tend to be more popular, and sometimes more crowded. On the other hand, there are more accommodation opportunities for all budgets and also more transportation opportunities. The most famous hikes in Patagonia are the Torres del Paine W Trek, starting from Puerto Natales in Chile, and the day trips around Fitz Roy and Cerro Grande, starting at El Chaltén in Argentina. The high season in Patagonia is from November to March which is perfect for a break from winter in Paris or the Northern Hemisphere in general. Avoid going to Patagonia during the first two weeks of January, when locals have their summer holidays and everything is booked out (sometimes, it is also more expensive).

By Elisa from worldinparis.com


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