The Republic of Chile is a country that occupies the long, narrow strip of land in South America, right between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes mountains to the east. It is bordered to the north by Peru, north east by Bolivia, and east by Argentina. Chile's northern desert is a rich source of copper, along with other mineral wealth. This is no surprise, as Chile is bountiful in terms of nature; the country boasts of anything from massive glaciers, numerous passive and active volcanos, frontier rainforests, to the driest desert on earth. Due to this, Chile was coined as a Land of Extremes.
Atacama Desert – Though this 1000km plateau is deemed as the driest non-polar desert in the world, bearing the heat is worth it even for just a little while in order to witness the stunning lunar landscapes, unusual stone and sand formations, and strange desert critters in the Atacama Desert. It is composed mostly of sand, salt lakes, stony terrain, and felsic lava. In the desert are the out-of-this-world landscapes of Valle de la Luna, as well as Laguna Verde, Valley of Death, and Desierto Florido.
Marinelli Glacier – In contrast, located in Alberto de Agostini National Park in the Tierra del Fuego region of Chile is a tidewater glacier in a state of retreat that spills out from the Cordillera Darwin into Ainsworth Bay.
Easter Island – The Polynesian island originally dubbed 'Navel of the World' by early settlers is well-known mostly as the site of the great stone moai, which are monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people sometime between 1250 and 1500. Apart from their most recognisable icon, Easter Island also offers beaches, caverns, and volcanoes, and is always inviting visitors to come and discover more about the unique culture of Rapa Nui.
How to get around within Chile
Going from one tourist attraction to another in Chile can entail long-distance travels, and the quickest way is really by air. Apart from regional airlines, air taxis are also at your service. If time is not so much an issue, long-distance buses offer excellent services at reasonable prices, depending on which class and comfort level you prefer. Tickets should be purchased in advance, ideally a day before or a few hours prior to the trip. There are also local buses that link city centres with suburbs and nearby villages. Overcrowding may be an issue at times, and taking colectivos (shared taxis with fixed fares and a set route) would be more convenient. If you're taking a regular cab, always check to make sure that the meter is on to avoid getting overcharged. Those planning to explore the wilderness areas might be better off renting a car for more independence in terms of time and destinations.
How to get there
There are literally hundreds of airports in Chile, but the primary international gateway is the Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, also known as Santiago International Airport, located in Pudahuel. It gained its title as the busiest international air passenger gateway to the country with the help of numerous airlines that operate in the airport, including but not limited to Air France, Air Canada, Air Europa, Avianca, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, KLM, LAN Airlines, PAL Airlines, and Qantas.
Images by Flickr/martingarri
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