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Chile-medium Chile

Land of fire, ice - and award winning Riesling

You might think you know Chile, but what about its growing reputation as a culinary destination? The physical beauty and wine of Chile are perhaps well known, what is less expected is the fantastic quality of the food, the remarkable standard of the places to stay, and the warmth of the people who look after you. Imagine being wrapped up, sipping a glass of wine as you gaze up at the star heavy skies of the Atacama Desert, or watching the sun setting over mountains and glaciers as a gaucho roasts Patagonian lamb for you on an open fire. There is a reason we love Chile, from top to toe.

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Read our 7-part Expert Guide to Chile Get the guide

Chile at a glance

Capital city

Santiago

Famous highlights

Torres del Paine, Easter Island, Atacama Desert, Lake District

Hidden gems

Carretera Austral, Chiloe, Altiplano

Language(s)

Spanish (official), Mapudungun (Mapuche),Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Food & drink

Empanadas, asados, curanto, pisco sour and, of course, wine.

How far?

16½ hours from London to Santiago (shortest flight time, one stop)

Currency

Chilean Peso (US$1 = $700 CLP)

Timezone

GMT -3

When to go to Chile

January weather in Chile

In Santiago the weather is hot and smoggy, with temperatures often exceeding 30c in the city. Elsewhere, though, the weather in the rest of Chile is great, making it one of the most popular times to visit. Busy destinations range from Torres del Paine in the south to the bigger towns of the central Lake District, and San Pedro de Atacama up in northern Chile. Plan carefully if you would like to avoid the crowds, or visit lesser-known areas, such as the Carretera Austral in northern Patagonia. Wherever you are, the weather should be on its best behaviour.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
North 25 8 3 Good
Central 19 10 82 Best
Patagonia 15 6 38 Best
January events in Chile

Jan 20: Feast Day of San Sebastian
Jan 20: Mapuche Festival of the Holy Stone

February weather in Chile

The holiday season calms down a little in much of the country, though crowds flock to Easter Island’s Tapati festival in the first half of the month. In Patagonia, Torres del Paine is still pretty busy so if you are looking to get off the beaten track, now is a good time to explore the Carretera Austral. Horseflies may be a nuisance in the forests of the Lake District but light-coloured clothing keeps them at bay. In the Atacama desert, if it ever rains, it will probably happen in February. On these rare occasions, flowers appear overnight and you are treated to the spectacle of a ‘coloured desert’.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
North 24 8 4 Good
Central 18 9 86 Best
Patagonia 14 6 32 Best
February events in Chile

Jan 30 – Feb 14: Tapati Festival, Easter Island
Feb 22 – 27: International Song Festival, Viña del Mar

March weather in Chile

This is a great month to be in Chile. Depending on Easter dates, there will be interesting religious festivities going on, especially on Chiloé island and in the north. Weather-wise, rain increases slightly in Patagonia, but this is otherwise a beautiful and quiet time of year, with autumnal colours start to appear especially in the forests of northern Patagonia.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
North 24 7 0 Best
Central 16 8 113 Best
Patagonia 12 5 44 Best
March events in Chile

Mar 6-8: Colchagua Grape Harvest, Central Valley
Mar 27-30: Curico Grape Harvest, Central Valley

April weather in Chile

A lovely month in Patagonia with native trees turning beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. Days are shortening with sunrise well past 8am but the weather is often surprisingly good. In Torres del Paine pretty much all activities and services are still available; further north on the Carretera Austral and even Chiloé, some lodges and services will start to close for winter by the middle of the month. In the Lake District, the autumn colours are less dramatic but fresh snow on the peaks can make for beautiful conditions. Closer to the capital, it is lovely at this time of year - there are few visitors and it is harvest time in the vineyards. In the north, April is usually a great month.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
North 23 5 0 Best
Central 14 6 145 Best
Patagonia 9 3 34 Good
April events in Chile

Apr 10-12: National Rodeo Championships

May weather in Chile

In the central area of Chile you are likely to get more rain and cloudy days so it’s an unlovely time of year. May is a bit of a write off from the Lakes all the way down to Patagonia. Some lodges stay open year round down in Torres del Paine and it’s a great time to get away from everyone and everything, but you should be prepared for days spent tucked up inside watching the weather. Up north on the other hand, it’s all hunky dory.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
North 22 3 0 Good
Central 12 5 238 Okay
Patagonia 6 1 45 Okay
May events in Chile

May 21: Navy Day Celebrations, Valparaiso

June weather in Chile

Central Chile sees generally grey and cold weather at this time of year, though the start of the official ski season livens things up in the last week of June. Snow may not come to order, however, so if you are coming to ski, you might want to play it safe and aim for July or August instead. This is another very wet month in the Lake District. In Patagonia the days are at their shortest and coldest. The northern part of the country is still fine though night-time temperatures now verge on freezing.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
North 21 2 1 Good
Central 9 4 235 Okay
Patagonia 4 -1 36 Okay
June events in Chile

Jun 24: Mapuche New Year
Jun 29: Fiesta de San Pedro

July weather in Chile

Ski season brings lots of activity to the central mountain resorts of Valle Nevado, Portillo and Chillán, and these are amongst the best places in the country to be in July. In the north, it is another cold month but the skies should be clear at this time of year – great for stargazing. You do get occasional sandstorms, which explains the locals walking around with snorkel masks on. In Patagonia, this is another very cold and quiet month.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
North 21 1 0 Good
Central 9 3 228 Good
Patagonia 4 -1 35 Okay
July events in Chile

Jul 15-16: La Tirana Festival, Tarapaca
Jul 20-21: Winter Carnival, Punta Arenas

August weather in Chile

August is another full month of skiing with resorts in central Chile still at their peak. Though the depths of winter, this is a very beautiful and special time of year in Torres del Paine, with very calm weather, short days, and almost no-one else about. In northern Chile, this is another cold and clear month. The light at this time of year is particularly good for photography, providing there aren’t any strong winds.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
North 22 2 0 Best
Central 10 3 198 Good
Patagonia 5 0 36 Good
August events in Chile

Aug 25-30: Santiago International Film Festival

September weather in Chile

The first couple of weeks of September are still within ski season in central Chile. Around the Lakes, this can be a great month for a range of other activities too – particularly rafting. With luck, late September can often bring beautiful weather and this is a nice time to explore the region when few other people are around. In southern Patagonia, the weather is still very cold. Winds pick up now so it can be a challenging month. There is no great advantage weather-wise in pre-empting the start of the season, so wait another month until everything opens back up for spring.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
North 23 3 0 Good
Central 12 4 147 Good
Patagonia 7 1 30 Okay
September events in Chile

Sep 18-19: Independence Day (nationwide)

October weather in Chile

One of the best overall months to travel throughout Chile, October marks the start of spring in central and southern Chile. Though still wet around the Lake District, the rains have ebbed away a bit and it is a beautiful time of year with plenty of snow on the peaks and full-flowing rivers. Around Pucón, the meadows are full of spring flowers. In Patagonia, all of the lodges and activities in Torres del Paine are back open and this is an ideal time to enjoy spring-like weather without the crowds. On the Carretera Austral too, all services come back online after the long winter months. Temperatures are on the rise again in the north too.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
North 24 4 0 Best
Central 14 5 117 Best
Patagonia 10 3 26 Best
October events in Chile

Oct 7-11: Birds of Chile Festival, Viña del Mar

November weather in Chile

This is another excellent time to travel throughout Chile. November brings mild, spring-like weather to the central region, though there is still plenty of rain in the Lake District even during this relatively dry time of year. Down in the south, spring is in full flow though this is a famously windy month in Torres del Paine. In northern Patagonia, conditions are generally very good for visitors in November.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
North 24 5 0 Best
Central 16 7 107 Best
Patagonia 12 4 31 Best
November events in Chile

Nov 1: Day of the Dead (nationwide)

December weather in Chile

It is now very hot in the central valley around Santiago, the time for many locals to escape the capital and head for the coast. With summer holidays beginning across South America, the beach resorts fill up with their peak around Christmas and New Year. The wine valleys are lovely at this time of year, the vines heavy with grapes. This is one of the best months to be in the Lake District and Patagonia though if you can avoid the busy end of the month, so much the better. Expect these areas to be at their peak from now throughout January.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
North 24 7 4 Best
Central 18 9 95 Best
Patagonia 14 6 35 Best
December events in Chile

Dec 23-27: Fiesta Grande, Andacollo
Dec 29-31: New Year’s Festival (nationwide, especially Valparaiso & Viña del Mar)

Read our 7-part Expert Guide to Chile Get the guide

Top 7 things to do in Chile

Hike in Torres del Paine

Chile’s most famous national park, and one of the most iconic places in South America. All of Patagonia’s landscapes are here: glaciers, mountains, forest and steppe. Inside the park, glacial lakes of grey, turquoise and blue reflect dramatic black-tipped mountains. Because the massif emerges from the plains, it is easy to appreciate just how beautiful the place is. It also makes it relatively accessible.

To enjoy the sight of herds of guanaco grazing the grasslands as condors circle the mountain peaks and parrots squawk through the dwarf beech forests, exploring on foot is ideal. The full circuit of the massif remains one of the world’s great hikes. Even the shortened ‘W’ route offers almost incomparable variety in just four days of walking. Ultimately though, all roads lead to the Torres, the three 1,000m vertical granite fingers at the heart of Chile’s most beautiful mountains.

Discover the Carretera Austral

For those of you who want raw beauty and unguarded interactions with locals, Chile’s southern highway is a dream. The lack of tarmac along much of its 1,270km length certainly makes the going slow. Who wants to go fast when you are travelling along the Andes through a barely populated landscape of mountains, glaciers, river valleys, lakes, and forests?

This part of Patagonia is at a great moment in its evolution, with few visitors but some fantastic places to stay. Amidst the stunning scenery are incredible outdoor experiences, from walking on glaciers to hiking through the wildlife rich valleys of the future Parque Patagonia. Those who do get here are thoroughly spoiled.

Explore remote and mysterious Rapa Nui

This tiny island, thousands of miles from anywhere else, punches well above its weight in fame. The island’s dramatic clifftops and volcanic hills are an open air monument to its strange and violent history. The enigmatic stone faces of the giant moai are amongst the most iconic images of any civilisation.

The constant presence of the sea and sky also makes a lasting impression. From the top of Maunga Terevaka you can see the whole island stretch out beneath you, surrounded by an endless sea. At night, it is the sky that seems infinite.

There is plenty of life here though. The island’s population is small but cosmopolitan, reflecting connections throughout the Pacific and South America. Sit in a café overlooking Hanga Roa bay and watch paddle boarders drift by as locals converse around you in Spanish and Rapa Nui.

Venture into the northern altiplano

How can something so vast and beautiful remain largely unknown? The far north of Chile rarely gets a mention and few visitors venture here. The vast high desert of the altiplano is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the entire Andes range. Salt flats, emerald lakes dotted with flamingos, picture-postcard snow-capped volcanoes, and dazzling night skies.

The thin mountain air preserves the landscapes beautifully, the remoteness of it all means the people too keep their ancient traditions alive. The landscape is dotted with tiny Aymara villages, each with an immaculately whitewashed 17th century church.

Hike or bike through the Lake District

Snow-capped volcanoes, dense forests, roaring rivers, hot springs. There is more to the Chilean Lake District than just lakes. Think of it as a 400km long comb with the Andes as the spine and the teeth the lake filled valleys.

These are the traditional Mapuche lands, Araucania, named after the native monkey puzzle tree which grows high in the mountains. Being home to Chile’s largest indigenous community gives the Lakes a particular cultural flavour to sit alongside the beautiful, fairly accessible, landscapes. This is also a region of amazing activities, from skiing to horse riding, mountain biking to windsurfing which makes it a popular playground for Chileans as well as visitors.

Make time for Chiloe

Chile is a country of such dramatic landscapes that Chiloé can seem a little understated by contrast. But there is much more to the island than might be apparent at first. The dramatic high cliffs and wild beaches of the Pacific coast contrast with the still waters of the inland sea where sea lions play and fields drop down to calm inlets reflecting snow-capped volcanoes.

Primarily though, this is a place of incredibly rich culture and history. You can’t understand Patagonia without knowing Chiloé. This was the gateway to the south for centuries, Chile’s most southerly outpost and the first port of call for ships after rounding Cape Horn. It is boat building and carpentry for which the Chilote people were best known. And that’s why you see the beautifully crafted wooden churches and palofito stilt houses over the estuaries of the island, where carpentry defies gravity.

Immerse yourself in the Atacama desert

The melt waters from the nearby Andes make this a desert filled with beautiful variety. Enormous salt flats are broken by flamingo-filled lagoons. Snow sits permanently on the 6,000m cone of the Licancabur volcano. Steam erupts each morning from the Tatio geysers before flowing downhill to nearby Puritama hot springs. Salt mountains are sculpted into extraordinary shapes by wind. Inca roads wind down the hillsides past giant cacti, llama and terraces. The night skies are a spectacular show of their own.

Despite the fantastically remote feel of much of this area, you stay in the lively oasis of San Pedro de Atacama. It’s a town of adobe walls where stray dogs, backpackers and hippies stroll the dusty streets. It’s also a town with some beautiful small hotels and lodges which help you explore the great outdoors by day and sleep soundly in a proper bed each night.

Our top 5 memories of Chile

Sunrise over the Torres

I never thought I’d see it, except on a photo-shopped postcard bought in Puerto Natales. But then I did. The sun rising on a clear morning over the towers of Torres del Paine. Turns out those postcards are not photo-shopped after all – the mountains really do turn that colour.

Hiking in Patagonia is its own wonderful adventure, doing so in the dead of night made more so with the constantly fabulous star filled skies. To be treated to one of nature’s great spectacles at the end of the trail makes this one of those moments in life where you feel at once very small and also immensely privileged.

The sky at night

Walk out, wait…wait a little longer until my eyes are used to the dark…now, look up. The heavy blanket of stars dissected by the cloudy streak of the Milky Way spiralling around our planet. If ever there was a time to just stand and stare, this is it. With each minute that goes by, my eyes pick out another layer of stars.

If you haven’t experienced the night skies of the southern hemisphere, be prepared to duck your head under the sheer weight of stars above. There’s nowhere in the world better than the Atacama Desert to appreciate night skies.

Puma tracking

The crunching of splintering guanaco bones reminds us both to lie perfectly still in our tiny makeshift hide. New year’s eve 1994 and the sun is about to set over the Patagonian grassland. A puma with her two cubs is settling in for a feast.

Puma love to eat guanaco, but not in one sitting. A guanaco carcass covered over with brush hides it from the prying eyes of condor and that’s how we know to be here, not 25 metres from these beautiful, elusive animals. I didn’t know they’d be so big (easily as large as an African lioness), or that they would be so fast (up to 80 km/h), or that they would spend all night snapping bones. I also didn’t know I could lie so still for so long.

Fast food

An expert flick of the wrist and another glistening oyster is exposed to the warm summer sunshine. A bottle of Chilean white drips its cool beads onto the rough wooden countertop. Standing around a roughly thatched chiringuito, sand between our toes, being served by the fisherman who harvested our feast just a couple of hours ago - fast food doesn’t get better than this.

And it’s not only the Chilean coast where you can be treated to meals like this. Sitting around a campfire under Patagonian stars to tuck into a lamb asado or excavating a steaming curanto stew from the hot ground on Chiloé, Chile may have great restaurants, but it does al fresco dining like no other.

What goes up…

However good the views from the top, and they are phenomenal, I always maintain that the best bit about going up a mountain is the descent – it’s the skier in me. And so it is, after a lung-bursting, crampon clad slog up Villarrica Volcano, my mantra holds true, as we turn to hurtle down troughs of snow on our backsides. Graceful, it isn’t. Rapid, hilarious, exhilarating? Most definitely.

Our holidays to Chile

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Explore Chile on foot
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A drive through southern Chile
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Winter adventure in Chile
Chile’s most splendid winter adventure. Ski the Andes right from the wood panelled elegance of Po...
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Remote Chilean Patagonia
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Luxury lodges of Chile
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Patagonia at its purest
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Why us?

Because Pura Aventura grew out of our love for Chile, and it was in Chile that our concept of active holidays in comfort was born. It truly is a country where you can spend all day in the great outdoors but still come back to a warm bed and a decent meal at night. Pura's three founders met in Torres del Paine 20 years ago, and still visit as much as we can - though only one of us is still lucky enough to spend several months of every year there.

Because of our personal links to Chile, we maintain direct relationships with many guides, drivers, hoteliers, restaurateurs and activity leaders. These contacts allow us to deliver trips which are far more finely tailored than others. Our constant and ongoing investment in knowing the country helps us to keep innovating. Our holidays to Chile remain our blueprint for intelligently made, high quality, responsibly delivered holidays in the great outdoors.

Get our 7-part Expert Guide to Chile

Enter your email address below and over the next 7 days we will send you our free Expert Guide to Chile:

  • Day 1 - Ten traditional Chilean dishes you must try
  • Day 2 - Our top tips for getting around Chile
  • Day 3 - Visiting Torres del Paine, four different ways
  • Day 4 - Chile's animals & how to tell a guanaco from a llama
  • Day 5 - All you care to know about Chilean wine
  • Day 6 - Hidden gems you won't have heard of but will love
  • Day 7 - Our guide to Chilean customs, way of life and language

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Chile When to Go - Januar Chile When to Go - March Chile When to Go Map - July Chile When to Go Map - August Chile When to Go Map - May Chile When to Go Map- June Chile When to Go Map - September Chile When to Go Map - November Chile When to Go Map - December Chile When to Go Map - April Chile When to Go - February Chile When to Go Map - October Travelling through the Exploradores Valley Rapa Nui moai in the sunlight The Ojos de Caburgua pools and waterfalls near Pucón Hiking in the shadow of Paine's Cuernos (Horns) Incongruous flamingos are found throughout the near-empty altiplano of northern Chile. Walking across the lagoons of the Atacama Salt Flats Palofito houses on the island of Chiloe Grande A perfect sunrise over the Torres Fabulous night skies in Torres del Paine. Puma shellfish Skiing down the Villarica Volcano