Central + South America EXPLORING THE LENGTH + BREADTH OF CHILE Jeff cohen, client Chile is a long way away from everywhere, other than South America. Santiago, the capital, is a 14 hour flight from Sydney, 12 hours from Auckland and if you could fly direct, about 14 hours from London. We do not know anyone who has been there, let alone travelled through the breadth of this 4500km long country. Chile is a very diverse country – from the Antarctic in the South, to the islands and lakes in Northern Patagonia, to the wine regions surrounding Santiago, to Valparaiso on the coast and on up to the Atacama Desert in the very North. We were fortunate to visit the latter four during January 2014, all with excellent guides provided by your local ground colleagues. Despite the cooler and slightly wetter weather, the islands and lake district around Puerto Varas were stunning. We saw sights ranging from volcanoes, to pretty lakes and old German towns; and of course the wooden churches and penguins on Chiloe Island. Quincho Country Home, the private house we stayed in, was super; great food and an amazing 75sq m bedroom complete with dressing room, and double bath with Jacuzzi. We stayed and explored Santiago. It is a beautiful city with great history, exceptional climate [30 by day and 15 by night], wide open streets and parks. We spent several hours in Valparaiso, now a World Heritage site, seeing the amazing multi-coloured hill houses with its 19th century British-made funicular railway system. We even managed lunch in the beautiful nearby beach resort of Vina Del Mar, well worth a longer stay for another trip. However, all of this was dwarfed by the sheer beauty and sheer size of the Atacama Desert. This is a must for any traveller and a minimum of four nights would be recommended to catch just the bare bones of what there is to see and do in the San Pedro area, plus allowing for time to acclimatize to the 14,000 feet altitude in the surrounding areas. The volcanoes, the salt flats, the mountains, the geysers, the birds, the animals, the hot springs, the salt baths; all nearby Bolivia, all breath taking. San Pedro itself cannot be explained unless you go there and see for yourself. The Hotel Awasi is a stunning place, a full adobe building on the edge of the town, where we enjoyed a lovely circular suite with professional staff and super food. It was an ideal haven with an excellent pool and bar[!], after a long day trekking at 14,000 feet. We returned home having visited 4 countries in this trip. Saying that, the most amazing of all was Chile. A definite must for another trip!! To organise your own tailor-made holiday to Chile contact the team on +44(0)20 7384 2332 or fill out the online form.