Imagine stepping off your flight and seeing water blowing up into the air from the lake right in front of you. This is how Southern Chile greets its tourists.
If you haven’t put going to Southern Chile for adventure travel on your radar you may want to reconsider. Tour guides from around the world have been discovering the area’s majesty and planning numerous eco-friendly tours over the past few years.
Why should you visit Southern Chile?
Southern Chile is a world-class destination with it’s own unique culture and history. Not only that, but the region has excellent infrastructure to support tourism.
“Some of the best hiking trails in the world are in Southern Chile, together with the kayaking experience in fjords and canals, and the opportunity to horseback ride in Patagonia, these are once in a lifetime opportunities.” says Cyril Christensen of Chiloe Natural.
Chiloe Natural operates a variety of tours in Southern Chile from horseback riding to kayaking and makes a point to enrich travel experiences with local cultural events. The company participates in numerous events to showcase the region’s natural grandeur.
The area has everything an adventure traveler could be looking for with natural diversity that includes unique landscapes, pristine forests, glaciers, volcanoes, islands, fjords and snow-capped mountains!
Chile can accommodate any traveler’s needs
Not only are the natural landscapes paramount, but also the area has seen an increase in travel that’s made it easier for travelers to visit.
According to Cyril, the region is now equipped to receive travelers from all over the world with a whole spectrum of comfort and quality expectations. In the past, the area was only accessible to adventurous travelers prepared for rugged living off-the-beaten path. Now higher end services are offered in lodging, dining and tour operators to cover traveler needs for any budget or interest.
Southern Chile is also amazingly safe to travel to. It’s been listed in the top 10 safest countries to travel to by the Adventure Travel Trade Association in 2016.
There’s never enough time!
Vacation days are predacious but all of the tour operators we spoke with agreed that you have to lengthen your trip in Southern Chile.
The three regions we talked about specifically with them were Los Lagos, Magallanes, and Aysen. Most tour operators said that you needed to spend a minimum of 5 days in each region to understand the depth of the regional culture. However, if you’ve got time to spare, a week in each area would make for the ideal trip. This way you would be able to wander about the region and sample the diversity.
If you can only choose one…
Many people are limited in how many vacation days they can take and so we asked our tour operators where they would recommend people spend their time.
Daisy Hebb of Andean Treks Inc. was one of the most passionate tour operators we’ve talked to. The company has worked with a number of outstanding operations teams in Chile for many years and focuses on hiking. When asked to pick her favorite of the three regions she quickly picked Magallanes.
“The Magallanes region with Torres del Paine National Park is perhaps Chile’s greatest treasure for the recreationist. With its towers, glaciers, wildlife, and ever-changing weather, it dazzles both the artist and adventurer. Our teams in this region offer visits customized to our individual travelers, from those who enjoy relaxed sightseeing to others who love those deep breaths of fresh air on the trails and sleeping up in the mountains.”
The Chiloe archipelago was another area that came highly recommended. This is the transition between the Lake District and Patagonia (Aysen and Magallanes). Cyril mentioned that this region is often referred to as the gateway to the Chilean Patagonia.
Of course, where you should travel depends largely on what you want to see. The operators we talked to mentioned that Los Lagos had phenomenal hotels and rich culture where as Magallanes excelled at providing breath-taking natural landscapes. Aysen was seen as a blend of natural beauty, culture, and comfort, which just might make it the goldilocks pick for you!
Sustainable tourism that preserves local culture
One of the best parts about visiting Southern Chile is that they’ve grown their tourism in such a way as to preserve their local culture.
Kieron Weidner founder of First Nature Treks & Tours has dedicated her career to tourism and worked primarily in Latin America. She’s been a guide for Adventures by Disney in Ecuador and the Galapagos, a cruise director for Cruise West in Costa Rica and Panama and a development specialist for EverGreen Escapes. In other words, she knows a thing or two about travel destinations in Latin America and she has shed some light on why the area is experiencing such a travel boom.
“Southern Chile is one of the safest and comfortably modern regions to visit, and with a fair number of at least basic English-speakers. Furthermore, the traditional hikes are all at low elevation so, for anyone who is nervous about altitude or has struggled at altitude, this region is for you. Chile can offer a unique world-class hiking and up-close glacier experience to both beginning and experienced outdoor enthusiasts. For experienced trekkers, the extreme weather casts a new, exciting, and beautiful perspective on hiking as you see powerful storm systems blow though and flora and fauna responding to this rugged environment. For novices and experienced alike, getting to see the towers and the glaciers up close, maybe even from a kayak, is breathtaking and unlike anything in the continental USA and much of the rest of the world.”
“Chile is on the top of my list of destinations that I would like to continue bringing groups to,” said Kieron. “Being on the Southern tip of South America was an incredible experience. It felt so remote and the natural beauty was breathtaking. We took a small boat across a partly frozen lake to visit an outfitter that took us kayaking around glaciers in the Torres del Paine range.”
It’s the balance of remote seclusion and comforting amenities that allow adventure travelers to have a unique and meaningful experience. After hosting multiple events for the adventure travel industry, Chile has seen a dramatic increase in tourism across all regions. Yet, it retains its scenic natural landscapes!