Chile is a perfect multi-climate adventure travel destination. Located on the Pacific Ocean in South America, this very long, very thin country has incredibly varied terrain from the Atacama Desert in the north, to the wine country in the center, and the iconic Patagonia region in the south, with the massive Andes Mountains lining the eastern edge.Last month I spent eight days with my family in Chile – three days in the Atacama Desert, and five days in Central Chile skiing in the Andes and visiting the capital of Santiago. Patagonia is worth a two week trip all to itself (next time!).Late August is late winter / early spring in Chile. I’d recommend going a bit earlier to catch some better snow, but Santiago was significantly more pleasant than it would have been in the dead of winter.
THE ATACAMA DESERT – A STARGAZER’S PARADISE
The Atacama Desert is one of the highest deserts in the world. At the feet of the Andes, it ranges from 7,000 to 14,000 feet above sea level. San Pedro de Atacama is the largest town in the area. The Atacama is known for incredible star gazing due to its clear skies, dry air, and minimal light pollution.
Where to Stay: Tierra de Atacama in San Pedro de Atacama. Ranked by National Geographic as one of the most unique hotels in the world, it was built using local materials. The furniture and accessories are all handmade, giving it an authentic local feel. For a bit lower cost, there are several other hotels and hostels in San Pedro.
VALLE NEVADO SKI RESORT
Where to Stay: The resort offers 3 hotels at varying price points. However, they all sit right now to each other and funnel into the same ski lifts and social scene. Other than skiing, the resort offered nightly wine tastings and had a great, heated outdoor pool. The après-ski scene on the deck wasn’t too shabby either.
Cool Stuff to Do: Heli skiing! Valle Nevado Heli Skiing is run by incredibly experienced backcountry and heli ski guides, including X-Games Gold Medalist Reggie Crist (see his ski films here) and Mike Barney of Colorado.