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Chile Travel Guide

flights to Chile

Despite Chile's reputation as possibly the most European community in South America, the traditional way of life can still be found in the Andean Foothills and southern plains. In stark contrast, Chile's cities are modern often sprawling metropolises that despite their appearance remain quintessentially Chilean at heart. Away from civilisation you'll discover some of the best national parks on the continent - lush mountain forests, volcanoes, vast lakes, glaciers, waterfalls and breathtaking geological phenomena. Amongst all these natural wonders lie small towns and villages, many wearing their colonial hearts on their sleeve, all of them unquestionably friendly and fascinating. The Chilean people are nothing if not resilient having survived a history of violent conflict and natural disasters with their intellect and zest for life firmly intact. Despite the influence of colonial Europe they still, on the whole, retain a distinct identity, embracing change whilst understanding the importance of traditional culture and the preservation of the natural surroundings.

Santiago, the capital, is vast and suffers all the indignities of any modern megalopolis - gridlocks, pollution, poverty, overcrowding and crime. But at it's heart the relatively small central core remains an impressive colonial town filled with grand thoroughfares and plazas lined with lovely public buildings. Around the centre is the wonderful Parque Metropolitan locale of the Cerro San Cristobel with it's statue of the Virgin Mary watching over the City from the top. Only 74 miles north west of the capital is Valparaiso, Chile's principal port and second largest city. One of the most distinguished cities in South America it's centre is an unfathomable labyrinth of cobbled streets overlooked by imposing cliffs and hilltop suburbs. Valparaiso has it's rich heritage adequately represented in it's museums of history, fine art and maritime history. A recent addition to it's myriad attractions is the Muelle Prat a newly developed pier on the harbour, which hosts a lively market.

Six miles to the north is Chile's premier beach resort Vina Del Maralso named 'Garden City' because of the plethora of palm and banana trees that give it a distinctive personality. You can wander past turn of the century mansions - many of which contain museums; take a horse and carriage ride through one of the parks; visit the 151acre botanical gardens or relax on white sand beaches. La Serena

The crown of Chile's Lake District is Parque Nacional Puyehue, 264,290 acres of luxuriant mountain forests and bizarre volcanic scenery. The dense forest is home to the very best of the country's wildlife - puma, pudu and a vast array of birdlife. For the nature lover this is heaven, the terrain running the whole gamut of natural phenomena - forest trails, thermal springs, waterfalls, exotic plant life and magnificent mountain vistas. It is also home to Chile's premier ski resort http://www.geographia.com/chile/portillo/ . Parque Nacianol Torres Del Paine is home to Chile's natural pride and joy - the incredible granite pillars that rise vertically from the Patagonian Steppes for 6560ft. The region is also famous for it's spectacular waterfalls, awe-inspiring glaciers and impenetrable forests. Lake Chungara in Parque Nacional Lauca is not only one of the highest lakes in the world it also enjoys one of the world's most spectacular locations, at the foot of the dormant twin Pallchata Volcanoes. Nearby the Cerro Guane Guane rises an impressive 17,384ft,dominating the skyline for miles around. There are too many wonderful national parks to mention here, each with their own appeal all of them indisputably beautiful. Be it adventure, sport, trekking, camping or wildlife, there is somewhere to suit you to perfection.

Chile is nothing if not impressive. The sheer diversity of things to see and do is almost beyond comprehension. From the rich wonders of it's countryside to the intriguing beauty of it's cities, towns and villages it has more to offer than many countries twice it's size. The rich culture, mouth-watering cuisine, fine wine and faultless hospitality is simply the icing on the cake. A visit to Chile is not to be taken lightly it should be savoured like a beautiful meal and treasured like a magnificent living, breathing, ever-changing work of art.

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