Gems of Southern Chile
(by Vincent)

South of the skyscrapers and traffic of the Chilean capitol, Santiago, you will find what seems like a totally different country.  Southern Chile is remote and wild, characterized by landscapes of wind-swept plains, cerulean highland lakes, and snow-capped Andean peaks.  If you're looking for an adventure, you are guaranteed to find it here.  Be sure not to miss the sublime sights listed below:

Reserva Nacional Malalcahuello-Nalcas:

Situated in the beautiful Araucania, characterized by virgin forests and lush, rolling hills, this national reserve is truly a Chilean jewel.  The national reserve is an excellent place to catch a look at the towering araucaria up close and personal.  The araucaria, sometimes known as the monkey-puzzle tree, is an enormous species of evergreen tree, often growing to more than 130 feet tall.

The tree's fruit, a type of pine nut known as pinon, is a staple food for Pehuenches, the indigenous people native to the area.  You will also want to make sure to take the two-hour trek to Crater Navidad.  On a clear day, you will be able to clearly see Volcan Lonquimay, Volcan Tolhuaca and Volcan Callaqui looming in the sky, a truly spectacular sight.

El Tatio Geysers:

An enormous geyser field situated in the Chilean Andes, El Tatio is truly a spectacular sight.  It is the largest geyser field in the entire Southern Hemisphere, with over 80 geysers, and it is also one of the highest elevation geyser fields in the entire world, situated an astounding 4,320 meters above mean sea level.  Most visitors prefer to arrive to the geysers in the early morning, just before sunrise, as it is the optimal time for viewing.

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine:

This is truly a Southern Chile hiker's mecca and potentially the continent's best national park.  Situated between the Magellanic sub polar forest and the Patagonian Steppe, Torres del Paine boasts pristine rivers, sublime mountain peaks, and enormous, sparkling glaciers.

Rio Cochamo Valley:

The Cochamo Trail, a 19th century log road constructed for oxcarts, takes you deep into the Chilean wilderness, across indigo ravines, rolling hills, and thick pine forests.  The endpoint is the spectacular Rio Cochamo Valley, a magnificent piece of land often likened to a Chilean version of Yosemite.

The valley has been gaining popularity in the past several years, especially with rock climbers.  However, given that it is a bit difficult to access (you will need to trek in or hire an ox) it is still pretty remote.  Perfect if you are looking for vast, open, and empty spaces.

Dientes de Navarino:

A Patagonian island, Navarino is situated directly between Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn.  It is one of the closest landmasses in the world to Antarctica.  The island boasts a beautiful mountain range, Los Dientes, along the Beagle Coast.  The name of the mountain range means "teeth" and is likely derived from the mountains' spiny, spire-like peaks.  The multi-day trekking route through the mountains is one of the best routes southern Chile has to offer.  You're guaranteed spectacular views. 

Patagonia Southland Expeditions

(Andres Oyarzun Gonzales, Professional Tour Guide)

Enjoying local cuisine with travelers from Canada in Angelmo Market

Trekking in Torres Del Paine National Park, Southern Pagagonia

Andres with clients in Concha y Toro Vineyard, Maipo Valley, Santiago

Gorgeous sunset view of Osorno Volcano, Lake District, Northern Patagonia

Andres & travelers enjoy a day in the National Park "Vicente Perez Rosales", Lake District

Colony Penguins in Chiloe, Lake District, Northern Patagonia

WEBMASTER NOTE:  Hiring a local guide is recommended in remote areas of Chile's southern half.  Check out this website for more information:  They offer Chile Tours as well as customized travel packages.  Photos were provided by Andres. (this is an unpaid promotion for a fellow traveler)

Typical Farm near Languihue Lake, Lake District, Northern Patagonia

Farmer of Chiloe Island, Lake District, Northern Patagonia

Gauchos and "Pingos" (a lot of horses), Austral Highway, Patagonia

Mapuche Woman making local bread of "Rescoldo"

Whether you are an independent traveler looking for new adventures or a cruise ship passenger stopping for a day, excursions can be planned for expanding your cultural awareness and enjoyment. 

Try the local cuisine, enjoy the panoramic vistas and mix with the friendly locals...or visit a vineyard. Your options are many in southern Chile's Patagonia.

Market in Valdivia, South of Chile, Patagonia

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     By Carolynne Woods, © Copyright 2010-2020. International Travel   All rights reserved images and text