The Atacama Desert in the north, the Pacific Ocean that stretches along the entire coastline of more than 4,000 kilometres in the west, the imposing Andes Mountains in the east and Patagonia with the Antarctic region in the far south, give the country a distinctive character that has established Chile as the absolute destination for limitless adventure.
At the World Travel Awards (WTA) 2022, Chile was the unchallenged winner in the category “Best Adventure Destination in South America” for the eighth time in a row, and has already received the award as the world’s best destination for adventure tourism six times since 2016.
Skiing in mountains and volcanoes, hikes through the desert, water sports such as rafting, diving, surfing and kayaking, or fly fishing in the rivers of Patagonia are just some of the ways to enjoy adventure and sports during your trip. Each activity is accompanied by the view of unique landscape panoramas.
NORTH AND ATACAMA DESERT
The northern coast of the country, with its warmer temperatures, is a paradise for surfers. The city of Iquique is also one of the top 10 places in the world for paragliding.
A few kilometres further south is San Pedro de Atacama, a city in the middle of the driest desert in the world, an ideal starting point for excursions into unique surroundings such as the Salar de Atacama, the Moon Valley, the spouting geysers of El Tatio or lagoons at more than 4000 metres of altitude.
Climbing the volcanoes in this area is undoubtedly an exciting and adventurous experience, rewarding you with fantastic views of the desert landscape. Or pedal through the Atacama Desert. Horse riding enthusiasts can explore this exciting area on horseback.
The hiking trails of La Campana National Park, near Valparaíso, are not to be missed in the central region. Declared a World Biosphere Reserve, the park invites you to hike for 8 hours along beautiful trails lined with centenary Chilean palm trees.
The rivers in central and southern Chile, with rapids of varying intensity, offer the ultimate rafting experience and are guaranteed to give you an adrenaline rush. Beginners can test their skills on a slower rapid such as the Maipo River, just a few kilometres from Santiago.
Kayaking is concentrated from the central region to Patagonia and is always accompanied by beautiful landscapes and a fauna rich in species. As in the north of the country, here are the ideal conditions for another water sport, surfing. About 200 kilometres south of Santiago is the so-called world capital of surfing. Punta de Lobos in Pichilemu welcomes surfers with waves over 4 metres high. In the near of the port city of Valparaíso, Los Molles is a beach that is well known for having several diving spots in Chile.
You may not expect to find any glaciers near Santiago, but some are just a few kilometres from the capital, such as the El Morado glacier in the Cajón de Maipo or the impressive Universidad glacier about 150 kilometres south of Chile, close to the country’s best wine regions. Here you will feel like you are in Patagonia and can visit the ice cave on site on an excursion or even hike on the glacier.
In the Chilean winter, the country has even more to offer. The snow that falls in the central part of the Andes provides the best ski slopes in the Southern Cone, inviting you to a winter sports adventure.
SOUTHERN CHILE AND PATAGONIA
In the south of the country, with its vast lakes, evergreen forests and surrounding volcanoes, there are numerous opportunities for outdoor activities and adventure tourism. Hiking, climbing, rafting, horseback riding, sailing, kayaking or fishing between Araucania and Chiloé offer a fantastic landscape panorama and flora and fauna rich in species.
Experienced rafting lovers will find perfect conditions in the Lake District near Pucón on the Trancura and Liucura rivers, or in northern Patagonia on the rapids of the Futaleufú River with exciting descents. Another must is the Baker River in the heart of Patagonia: its turbulence and turquoise waters make this an unforgettable adventure.
The Carretera Austral of more than 1,200 kilometers is ideal for an adventure trip on a bicycle, surrounded by partially untouched nature with forests, rivers, waterfalls, lakes and mountains. Equally exciting, of course, is a self-drive tour in a rental car, where you can explore the area at your own pace and take numerous excursions.
Patagonia is without a doubt a paradise for hiking and trekking excursions. In the national parks you will find different routes with varying degrees of difficulty. The best known is probably the Torres del Paine National Park. It has some of the best hiking trails in the world. One of its most famous circuits, the W, was named one of the 10 best multi-day hiking trails in the world by Lonely Planet. Chilean Patagonia is also home to one of the largest ice sheets in the world, an ideal location for ice trekking.
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