Chances are if you’ve ever met a Chilean person before, they’ve talked about growing up with views of the Andes mountains and the adventures they had there or in Patagonia and/or the Atacama. Let’s explore the majestic adventure destinations and activities Chile has to offer.
Kite and windsurfing:
Chile’s coastline runs for about 4300 km. Because of the Humboldt current, the Chilean coast receives S-SW swells and winds from Antarctica, creating perfect waves and wind conditions. This wonderful sport is definitely for the solo adventurer. About 2 hours from Santiago is Puertecillo and Matanzas, where the wind and the waves unite. “Surazo” is the name of the wind that takes the kite or windsurf to reach 30 to 40 km per hour, which allows the surfer to perform some crazy tricks in the air. With the wind and swells, you’re definitely up for a unique adventure.
Our top 2 locations for surfing in Chile are Iquique and Pichilemu. These destinations are surfable all year round and because of the Antarctic Humbolt’s you will need to wear a wetsuit even in summer. What makes Iquique unique is the desert landscape of the north, there are about 10 beaches to surf with different surf levels and the waves hit closer to the shore. Pichilemu, 3 hours from Santiago, is famous for Punta de Lobos- a magical spot and perfect left point breaks. During autumn and winter, the pacific sea storm creates giant waves reaching the shore, which can reach up to 10 meters. Yet, all year round Punta de Lobos is a great place to surf for beginners and experts.
The climbing industry has grown and so have the climbing travellers searching for those perfect walls to climb. In Chile, there are hundreds of places yet to be discovered. Only 2 hours from Santiago you will reach Cajon del Maipo, ideal for day trips from the city. The climbs vary from beginner to expert too. Further south to the Patagonia region is Cochamó Valley, the Yosemite of Chile they say. A thousand-meter granite wall borders the valley along the Cochamo river. If you like long routes or creating new ones, this place is perfect for that. If you climb for the views then this place is a must. Finally, Cerro Castillo, 90 km south on the Austral Road from Coyhaique city. You begin on a hike before reaching the base to climb and because of the duration to get to the base of the Castillo you will have to set up camp. If you’re not an experienced climber it is recommended you book with a professional guide.
Carretera Austral is famous for long-distance mountain biking. Believe me, this sport is super popular, there are even cycling apps and Facebook groups where passionate cyclers exchange tips. This southern highway of Chile is famous for windy, rural and wild scenery in Patagonia, desolate lakes, mountainous landscapes, powerful rivers and glaciers all along 650 km of a deserted road. Depending on where you want to stop and your speed it can take up to 5 months, 2 months if you cycle faster. This wild road to the end of the world is without a doubt one of the worlds most exhilarating cycling adventures.
Rafting and Kayaking
There are 1,200 rivers of different levels to choose from in Chile all surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. Kayakers from all over the world come to work as rafting guides or plan epic road trips to experience the kayak adrenaline down these rivers. In the Cajon del Maipo is the Maipo river, where you can experience class 4 rafting with 34 rapids surrounded by dry rocky mountains and arid landscapes. The more south you go the more green it gets. Further south of Chile is Pucon town, where the scenery is completely different. Class 4-5 rafting down Trancura river with views of Villarrica Volcano and ancient forests. For experienced kayakers, Futaleufu River and Baker River, in the Aysén Region of Patagonia, are considered to be extreme rivers to run, with lots of waterfalls and narrow runs.
Three thousand meters above sea level, 1 hour from Santiago city you will reach Valle Nevado, El Colorado and La Parva, all three make up the central ski resorts of Santiago. It is the biggest and best ski resort in South America, with 37 ski runs, you’re literally skiing on the Andes, the top of the world, pretty neat. 6 hours south is the Nevados de Chillan. These southern Andean slopes are surrounded with snow-covered forests and the Chillan Volcano. Loved for its beauty, snow quality and spacious runs, Nevados de Chillan is also winning in the uncrowded department when compared to Santiago ski resorts. Another one, Corralco ski resort, is nestled in the Malalcahuello-Nalcas National Reserve surrounded by ancient Araucaria trees and on the slopes of Lonquimay Volcano. For southerners, Corralco is a lush ski destination. What’s loved about Corralco is the hotel and pool at the base of the ski slope. A real slope to spa experience.
Note; all of the above ski destinations are cross country skiable too.
Hiking and trekking
Did you know that during summertime there are 17 hours of daylight at Torres del Paine? If that’s not a reason enough to adventure over, maybe the unforgettable sunrise that hits the horns is. Depending on your level of trekking expertise there are a number of trails you can experience. The main 3, however, are the W, O & Q. The W trek is about 80 km (50 miles) long and can be completed in 3-5 days. On this trek, you see the park highlights, like Grey Glacier, Frances Valley, and the Torres towers. The O covers the same trail as the W, however, it circumnavigates the Cordillera del Paine and runs for 110 km (68 miles). It can take from 6-9 days and you’ll spend 2-5 nights camping. This route can also be completed counterclockwise. The O trek is more of a challenge but if you’re looking for more adventure, it’s truly a spectacular route away from the crowds. The Q trek is the O trek but with an added day where you hike the south of Refugio Paine Grande along Lake Pehoe. Lots more solitude around this trek and grandiose views of the entire park in general.
Off the coast of Chile is Easter Island. This beautiful mysterious island is famous for the gigantic volcanic stone statues, known as Moai. For the diving enthusiast, you can expect a different diving experience when compared to other South American diving destinations because of the 160 species, which 26% are endemic to Easter Island (meaning they aren’t found anywhere else). Pretty special we think. The stunning warm and crystal waters allow for incredible water visibility between 40 and 60 meters of depth. Furthermore, you can explore the caves and discover submerged Moui formations and the Ancoras reef.
According to the fly fishing lovers, the Yelcho Lake and River is the best and most beautiful place in the world to visit for this unique sport. Located in the Chilean Patagonia Lakes Region with the closest town being Chaiten, the area is surrounded by forests, glaciers and volcanoes. Getting to Yelcho river is not easy, it’s isolated and unpopulated, either you fly down to Puerto Montt, book with an agency or you 4×4 yourself down. You can catch all kinds of fish here like Atlantic salmon, Chinook, Brown and Rainbow trout, Steelheads and many other types.
These are some of Chile’s most adventurous travel destinations and activities. What a privilege to live in a country where adventure is at your doorstep. My mind is blown with awe as I wrote this because of the geographical beauty of Chile, so unique and prosperous and adventure travel opens your eyes to it. Of all I have listed I have been able to experience 3. Skiing in Corralco, Surfing in Pichilemu and Rafting in Pucon. Now it’s your turn. What will be your next Chilean adventure travel experience?