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A unique country of diverse landscapes
It is hardly surprising, given the length of Chile, that the country is such a land of contrasts. From the ice flows in the Antarctic South to the arid northern desert, Chile passes through a spectrum of geographical and cultural diversity. Some of the landscapes here will leave you feeling at home – with much of its scenery looks reminiscent of rural England or Highland Scotland – while others may make you wonder if you are on another world entirely.
Best time to visit
• The best time to visit northern Chile is in the Southern Hemisphere’s spring (Sep-Nov), when temperatures are pleasantly cool.
• Easter Island is best visited between January and March, although temperatures are agreeable for the rest of the year when the island will be less crowded.
• Southern Chile has reversed seasons compared to the Northern Hemisphere.
• The weather in Patagonia is unpredictable due to the South Pacific westerly air current, with high winds and occasional storms even during the summer. The region's high season falls in the months of January and February when the temperatures are slightly warmer. The months of October, November, March and April are cooler, however it is less windy and crowded.
Atacama in the north is the driest place in the world. Visit the Valley of the Moon, the Atacama Salt Flats and the Altiplanic lagoons. One of the remotest places on earth, Easter Island is covered in monumental volcanic carvings.
Discover the spectacular fjords and glaciers of the ice fields in the south or take in mind-blowing scenery at Torres del Paine National Park. Explore gateway town Puerto Natales, nestled at the foot of the Riesco Mountain range and the last settlement before you reach the wilderness of Chilean Patagonia.
Visit Puerto Varas, a small enclave of Germany in Chile's Lake District that's beautifully set on the edge of Lake Llanquihue opposite the perfect cone of the Osorno Vocano.
• Chileans' concept of personal space differs to ours; people stand closer to each other than in the UK.
• Punctuality is rarely observed and locals often turn up over 20 minutes late.
• Wine should be poured with the right hand and the glass held by its stem.
• Latin Americans are casual and relaxed. Expect loud talking, exaggerated gestures and physical contact.
• Learn a few Spanish phrases, such as 'buenos dias' (good morning), 'buenos tardes' (good afternoon) and 'buenos noches' (good evening).
The scorched Atacama Desert of Northern Chile attracted worldwide media attention with the disastrous partial collapse of the San José mine in August 2010. The world watched with bated breath on 13 October as the miraculous rescue of the 33 miners, who were trapped between 400 and 500 metres underground, began. At 9:55pm local time the final miner, Luis Urzua, reached the surface and parties began across Chile and all over the world.