If you haven’t booked your summer holiday yet and you’re in search of a unique adventure, you need look no further. It’s low season in Chile right now and a fantastic time to visit, with fewer crowds, amazing seasonal activities and of course, irresistible savings. Our South America Expert, Drew, gives his insider tips on where to go in Chile's low season.
Visiting Chile’s Atacama Desert is the closest you can get to holidaying on another planet. The lunar terrain is simply spellbinding – it really is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Getting all this ethereal landscape to yourself is what makes it really special, which is why low season is a great time to go: whether you’re one for adrenaline-pumping extreme sports like sand-boarding, or prefer gazing up at the immensity of Atacama’s clear night sky, contemplating the luminous Milky Way and Magellanic clouds. The Alto Atacama is great for this, as it has its own open deck observatory and provides a host of all-inclusive excursions.
Snow-carpeted volcanoes, steamy hot springs, roaring log fires... This is Chile’s Lake District in winter and it’s absolutely magical. There’s still plenty of action to be had, like horse riding, kayaking, or skiing down Villarica volcano, while back at the luxury hotel there’s nothing I like more than curling up with a glass of wine by the fireplace, or tucking into lip-smacking Chilean dinners prepared with fresh, organic produce. Vira Vira Hacienda Hotel is perfect for this, and its all-inclusive activities – from reinvigorating yoga sessions to cookery classes – really give it the edge.
Flying into Santiago, the sight of snow-dusted mountains encircling the capital is an exciting introduction to your holiday in Chile. It’s always a pleasure to spend your days skiing or snowboarding, only to return to the city for its thriving night scene. Santiago is very up-and-coming, with a string of cool bars and hotels that cater to well-heeled travellers and locals alike. The newly opened Singular Santiago hotel has its own rooftop bar and pool, one of the best spots to watch the twinkling city lights at night.
Valparaiso must be one of the most colourful cities in the world! It’s amazing to while away the hours meandering up and down Valparaiso’s cobbled lanes, and dipping into its superb restaurants – one of which is the acclaimed Alegre restaurant at Palacio Astoreca, with Michelin-star chef Francisco Araya at the helm. Chile’s wine region, Casablanca Valley, makes for a great day trip from here, and then there’s La Sebastiana – Pablo Neruda’s house and museum which is unmissable for those curious about Chilean poetry and politics.
It might be wet on Easter Island in winter, but the lack of tourists really adds to the eeriness of this otherworldly place. The Moai statues really take your breath away, and having the sight of them all to yourself is very special indeed – I can put up with a little rain for that atmosphere!