Aussies are flocking to Chile in record numbers, according to the latest stats released by the country’s tourism body. And for good reason: Chile has just about everything to appeal to the modern traveller.

The destination delivers on value for money, its infrastructure and safety are at an all time high, and its natural landscapes – diverse as they are majestic – has earned it the nickname “the Switzerland of South America.”

It’s totally accessible too, with daily – that’s right – daily direct flights from Sydney and thrice-weekly direct services ex Melbourne with LATAM Airlines.

The fact that Chile is the same distance away as Los Angeles should definitely make you reconsider your American escape: do you go north, or do you go south? Hint: go south!

Why? Well for these reasons and more…


1. Chilean food & wine – mmm!


Due to its lands stretching all the way down the coast and incorporating different climate zones, Chile’s culinary landscape is amazingly diverse, and foodies could spend weeks just sampling some of the country’s national dishes, such as pastel de choclo (corn casserole with meat stuffing) and cazuela (homemade stew with beef, chicken, corn, rice and potatoes).

In Santiago, head to the Mercado Central for a typical Chilean seafood lunch and wash it all down with some local Chilean wine – up there with the best of them!

If the crowds get a bit too much, escape to the gorgeous Casablanca Valley and sip on some local chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, or perhaps some hearty reds such as a pinot noir or merlot.


2. Trekking in Patagonia anyone?


Once in a life time; must do; on my bucket list.

Even just mentioning Patagonia is enough to send some people into a fit of excitment about how they’ve been dreaming of trekking through this untouched and gorgeous part of the world ever since they knew it existed.

In southern Chile, the Torres del Paine National Park has become a Patagonia icon offering a plethora of hiking opportunities for every skill level, taking hikers through this magical work of snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes, rivers and glaciers.

Trekking in Patagonia is perfect for the adventurous traveller, which has recently been reflected in Chile winning the “South America’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination” at the 2016 World Travel Awards.


3. Visit the Atacama desert


As the driest hot desert in the world, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve somehow ended up on another planet. But no, you’re still in Chile, just in an incredibly remote 1,000-kilometre chunk of it west of the Andes mountains.

Besides exploring the desert’s salt plains, looking for Atacama Desert Flamingos, or just sitting down with a cold drink and taking it all in, you can also visit the local indigenous cultures that have been surviving in this part of the world for centuries.


4. Explore Chile’s fjords – yes, fjords!


From desolate dry deserts to towering snow-covered mountains that cast giant reflections in still water, Chile’s landscape really is that diverse.

To describe the fjords of Tierra del Fuego as “stunning” simply wouldn’t do this region in southern Patagonia justice. These fjords, with their placid waters, granite cliffs and glacial waterfalls, present the kind of scenery that makes you go “ooh” and “ahh” about every five seconds.


5. Delve into Santiago’s tantalising history & culture


Set against the stunning backdrop of the Andes mountains, Santiago is the main entry point into Chile for visitors from across the Pacific. But don’t for a second even think about exploring the rest of the country before spending a few days delving into this historic and artistic city.

Home to just over 5 million friendly and cosmopolitan souls, the city’s colonial history has been keenly preserved. Yet this is a city with its eyes set firmly on the future, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised over Santiago’s penchant for the sophisticated and the cool.

Are you excited about ticking Chile off your bucket-list but now sure how to take the next step?

Chimu Adventures’ 8-day “Secrets of Chile” (from AUD 3,720**) leads travellers through the best of Chile whilst taking in all the colours and flavours of this increasingly popular destination. From exploring the fascinating history and culture of Santiago, to hiking and sampling delicious food and wine in Casablanca Valley, exploring UNESCO World Heritage site Valparaiso and discovering Atacama Desert with its ancient cultures and traditions, this tour offers an in-depth exploration of all there is to love about Chile.

Learn more about what you can do and where you can go in Chile here and finally see what all the fuss is about.

Have you explored Chile yet? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments below.

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