The land of poets and wine, there’s no denying that Chile is also home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world which has inspired explorers and writers alike for centuries. Here are just a few of those landscapes highlighted by our Product Manager, Anna, who recently returned from her first trip to this beautiful land.
WHERE THE DESERT MEETS THE OCEAN
Having connected through Santiago, our first stop on the trip was the Atacama Desert. Lucky for us we flew the slightly less frequented route via Antofagasta, a port city and the regional capital in a mining area in the northern part of the desert. Flying up the coast we then turned east onto the mainland, which offered up this spectacular view of where the vast desert meets the Pacific Ocean.
VALLE DE LA MUERTE
Having transferred from the airport to our hotel and after a quick freshen up, we headed out into the desert for sunset. We could not have been luckier with the weather as we were awarded with these incredible views over Valle de la Muerte, also known as Mars or Death Valley. As the sun set the valley was bathed in the signature soft pink glow of the Atacama, set against a perfect cloudless blue sky.
SALAR DE ATACAMA
Located just north of San Pedro de Atacama, we explored one of the driest places on Earth – the Salar de Atacama, also known as the Atacama Salt Flat. Covering an area as large as 3000 square kilometres, the salt flat is the largest of its kind in Chile, and the third largest in the world, after Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia and Salinas Grandes in Argentina. Even with an overcast sky the view was epic, with miles of salt flat in front of us leading up to the imposing Andes mountain range in the distance.
EL TATIO GEYSERS
One of the highlights of visiting the Atacama is El Tatio Geysers, the second highest and third largest geyser field in the world. Today was an early start as we needed to get there by sunrise, the prime time to see the geysers at their best. At an altitude of 4320m, early morning temperatures are cooler, and as the sun rose the light gently spread across the geyser field, creating a stunning otherworldly display of steam columns as they condensed into the cold morning air.
From the high desert plains of the Atacama we flew south to the epic Torres del Paine National Park, located deep in the wildest of landscapes in southern Patagonia. Here we stayed at the exceptional Tierra Patagonia Hotel and Spa. Although the property is located just outside the national park, its unimposing design and position on the edge of the mystical Lake Sarmiento, with sweeping views of the iconic Torres del Paine National Park in the distance, sets it apart as one of my all-time favourite properties in the world.
No visit to this part of Patagonia would be complete without getting up close and personal with one of its natural wonders – the Grey Glacier. Part of the Southern Ice Field and located inside the national park, a 3-hour boat trip is the only way to truly experience the magnitude of this glacier.
Although it was another overcast day, this meant the glacier’s striking blue ice was even more emphasised by the swirling grey clouds up above, resulting in a spectacular contrast that only enhanced the feeling of nature’s power and beauty in this area.
The surprising thing about Patagonia are the rapidly changing weather patterns, where one morning you can be battling a mini snowstorm, and by the afternoon you can be down to a t-shirt and shorts and looking at views like this. Never before I have I experienced such an incredible collection of varying landscapes all in one country, the kind of landscapes that remind us how small we are and how utterly breathtaking nature can be, and how we need to do all we can to keep it that way. This was my first trip to Chile and it certainly won’t be my last.