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Chile's Unforgettable Experiences Beckon Travellers

Visitors to Chile were up 26% in 2016 to 5.64 million. European travellers, in particular -- with Italians leading the way (+24%) -- are boosting tourism to the country.

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:March 18, 2017, 1:22 PM IST
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Chile's Unforgettable Experiences Beckon Travellers
Mysterious stone statues on Easter Island. (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ Grafissimo / Istock.com)
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Visitors to Chile were up 26% in 2016 to 5.64 million. European travellers, in particular -- with Italians leading the way (+24%) -- are boosting tourism to the country. From the various volcanoes scattered across this South American country -- which stretches more than 2,600 miles (4,000km) from north to south -- to the arid Atacama desert and its salty scenery, Chile promises stunning natural scenery and unforgettable travel experiences.

Mysterious Easter Island

More than 2,000 miles (3,000km) off the Chilean coast, one of the world's most remote inhabited islands intrigues travellers with its mysterious stone statues. Whether arriving on Easter Island by plane from Santiago or by boat, visitors are curious to find out how these monumental statues, known as "moai," ended up on this isolated island. With a total area of just 63.2 sq mi (163 sq km) the island can be easily explored by scooter, for example. It has a selection of hotels, most of which require a comfortable budget, but lower-cost campsites are also available.

flamingo_AFPPink flamingos in the Atacama salt flats. (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ Grafissimo / Istock.com)

Sunset at the Salar d'Atacama

Starting from San Pedro de Atacama, adventurers can enjoy a day filled with amazing sights as they head off to discover one of Chile's most iconic natural attractions. This salt flat, which is one of the world's largest sources of lithium, is at its most stunning at sunset. The landscape seems unreal and otherworldly, with salty deposits that look almost like snow. Pink flamingoes are the star attraction, often seen strolling around the lagoon.

Villarrica_AFPHiking to Villarrica volcano. (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ Grafissimo / Istock.com)

Climbing the Villarrica volcano

Look out for organized hiking and trekking trips to the summit of one of Chile's most active volcanoes, rising to an altitude of 2,847 meters (9,341 ft). Accompanied by a professional guide, travellers can get an up-close look at the volcanic crater. The summit is reached by ski lift or on cross-country skis. In winter, it's possible to descend by snowboard or sledge. Once at the summit, visitors are rewarded with incredible views, looking out over the region's lakes and volcanoes.

chilean_AFPSample Chilean wine in Colchagua Valley. (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ Grafissimo / Istock.com)

Chilean wine tasting in the Colchagua Valley

The Colchagua Valley is a great place to combine wine tasting with a scenic excursion. Chilean wine is recognized for its quality all around the world, and the Colchagua Valley -- a two-hour drive from the capital, Santiago -- is a perfect place to sample the county's delights. Day trips take visitors around the region's cellars, sampling its renowned cabernet sauvignon.

geyser_AFPVisit the El Tatio geyser field at dawn. (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ Grafissimo / Istock.com)

Experience the El Tatio geyser field

San Pedro de Atacama, which shares its name with the famous Chilean desert, is also the starting point for excursions to another of Chile's sensational natural sights: its geysers. In general, tourists arrive before sunrise to admire the columns of steam rising from the geysers in the cool morning air. The steam plumes then disappear as the air warms up. Visitors can even take a dip in a thermal pool of hot geyser water.

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