Many Reasons To Explore Chile

Reasons To Explore Chile in South America

So Many Reasons To Explore Chile

We were delighted we found so many reasons to explore Chile when we made several stops on our cruise around South America with Oceania Cruises.  In fact, this part of South America was our favourite segment of the cruise.  When we went back to Chile to start and finish our cruise to Antarctica, we discovered a whole new part of this county. We saw enough to know we will head back for much more exploration.

Chile is the long, narrow country stretching along the southwest edge of South America.  It hosts a wide variety of outdoor nature sites, plant and animal life.  The Inca and native Mapuche people occupied Chile before the country became a Spanish colony. In 1810 the country gained independence from Spain. But the country still demonstrates this varied cultural past.

Chile Location

We loved all the amazing outdoor adventures we found.  On our day trips we enjoyed learning more about the history of Chile.  And we found some great Chilean wines and tasty food.  Small towns and larger cities each brought their own charm.  We sure found many reasons to explore Chile.

Explore The Chilean Fjords In Patagonia

We started our exploration of the Patagonia area of South America from Ushuaia in southernmost Argentina.  A day trip to the Tierra Del Fuego National Park from “Fin del Mundo” (the end of the world) gave us our first glimpse of the amazing outdoors found in the Patagonia region bordering Chile.  

Tierra Del Fuego Train
Tierra Del Fuego Macarena Waterfall - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America
Tierra Del Fuego Lake Acigami - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America
Tierra Del Fuego Sea Lions

From Ushuaia we cruised through the Chilean Fjords in Patagonia Chile.  The views in all directions as we moved along the narrow and deep channels were stunning.

Chilean Fjords
Chilean Fjords - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America
Fjords Sunrise

We had our first glimpse of a glacier entering the Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska.  On our cruise along the Chilean Fjords, we were again held spellbound at the sight of the Amalia Glacier.

Fjords Amalia Glacier - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America

Spending time on the water gave us unparalleled views of the waterways and scenery in the Patagonia region.  These views were one of the many reasons to explore Chile from the water.

Get Close To The Penguins

We saw penguins in the wild on our travels around the world.  The Jackass penguin colony at Boulder outside of Cape Town in South Africa was our first encounter with penguin antics.  When we visited Bluff Cove Lagoon for penguins in Stanley in the Falkland Islands we were entertained by both Gentoo and King penguins.  And of course we found more penguins when we cruised to Antarctica. But we could never get enough of seeing penguins in the wild!

Punta Arenas in Chile was a great base to use for a day trip to Magdalena Island for Magellanic penguins.  We were amazed at the size of the penguins colony that ran wild on the island.  And we never tired of the amusing penguins.

Magdelena Island Magellanic Penguins - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America
Magdelena Island Magellanic Penguins
Magdelena Island Magellanic Penguins - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America

We always loved the chance to see local wildlife and this was a great one of the reasons to explore Chile.  And penguins were always a treat.  But if we wanted more wildlife reasons to visit we could look for pelicans, sea lions and migratory whales.

See A Volcano From Every Angle

With over 500 volcanoes in Chile, there were many great volcano sites to visit.  And two of the volcanoes are the most active in Latin America (Villarica and Llaima).  So we did not pass on the chance to see a volcano up close.

When we visited the small town of Puerto Montt we got our first view of the Osorno Volcano on the skyline.  Our day trip took us to many spots for different views of the Osorno volcano.  We even enjoyed a hike in the Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales and saw the Osorno Volcano above the Petrohue Waterfalls.

Osorno Volcano from Puerto Montt
Osorno Volcano Llanquihue SIgn
Osorno Volcano Petrohue Waterfalls - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America

But we were most excited when we took a ski lift high onto the Osorno Volcano.  As we climbed higher we got amazing views out over the landscape.  And watched the clouds swirl above the volcano summit.

Osorno Volcano View - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America
Osorno Volcano View
Osorno Volcano - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America

We loved to travel to volcanic sites around the world.  So volcanos were definitely one of the reasons to explore Chile over and over again. 

Explore The History And Traditions In Chile

The Spanish history was evident as we travelled in Chile.  When we toured in the south of Spain, we enjoyed our first Andalusian horse show in Cordoba.  So we took the opportunity to visit the Puro Caballo Equestrian Centre on a visit to Casablanca in Chile for a local horse show.  We were intrigued with a flamenco dancer, dramatic costumes and an amazing demonstration of horsemanship.

Casablanca Puro Caballo Show - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America
Casablanca Puro Caballo Show

If our horse show demonstrated the Spanish past of Chile, our visit to the petroglyphs at the Enchanted Valley National Historic Monument gave us another perspective.  The vast open-air museum provided a view of the Molle indigenous culture from this area.  But we ignored the guide who tried to convince us that some of the petroglyphs showed an extra-terrestrial past!

Enchanted Valley Petroglyphs - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America
Enchanted Valley Petroglyphs
Enchanted Valley Petroglyphs

Learning about the history was certainly one of the reasons to explore Chile.

Great Wine Tasting Was One Of The Reasons To Explore Chile

We did wine tasting on trips in many countries.  Before our visit to Chile, we really had no experience with Chilean wines.  But on two different wine tours we learned a lot and found several new wine varietals to love.  

Our wine experiences started at the Casa Del Bosque Winery with a walk through the vineyard.  We saw the vast production facilities and wine cellar.  Our tour finished with 3 wine tastings.  And we were introduced to Carmanere wine.

Casa Del Bosque Winery - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America
Casa Del Bosque Winery
Casa Del Bosque Winery - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America

Our second winery was very different.  The Tabali Winery was deep in the dry lands of the Enchanted Valley and much of the production facility was outdoors.  We enjoyed a walk through the deep buried cellar for our wine pairing with some local treats.  

Tabali Winery
Tabali Winery - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America
Tabali Winery - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America

Wine tasting was definitely one of the reasons to explore Chile.  We loved the chance to find new tasty wines on our travels.

Learning About Pisco Sours Too!

We were interested in learning more about the wines of Chile.  But we were also introduced to the local Pisco Sour made with local Pisco liquor and citrus juice.  While it was not my favourite drink on our day trip to Casablanca, who could pass on our first Pisco Sour in Chile?

Puro Caballo Pisco Sour

When we enjoyed the luxury experiences at the Ritz-Carlton Santiago, we were delighted when we were treated to a private lesson on making Pisco Sours. We were walked through the steps to make a classic Pisco Sour with a tasty sweet foam on top.  Three shots of Pisco were added to one each of simple syrup and lime juice.  Powdered egg white formed the sweet foam on top after a vigorous shaking.   The sweet foam on top certainly changed our view of the tart Pisco Sour.

Ritz Carlton Santiago Pisco Sour

During our stay at the Ritz-Carlton Santiago, we enjoyed a private chef dinner. Throughout the dinner we were introduced to many local drinks. We tried a Pisco Sour made with a simple change. Pisco Sour del Campo replaced the simple syrup with honey and added ginger to open up the honey.  Much more to my taste than the classic drink.

Pisco Del Campo Ritz Carlton Santiago

We learned that in Chile Pisco was traditionally aged in oak barrels which resulted in a yellow hue.  But in Peru, Pisco was typically double distilled in stainless steel and was clear in colour.  An interesting twist was the Lapostolle Pisco XO that was aged in Cognac barrels and had a ruby tinge. 

Pisco Ritz Carlton Santiago - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America

We learned so much about Pisco Sours. Definitely one of the boozy reasons to explore Chile. 

Discovering Local Foods

When we travelled, we always enjoyed the local foods. With 6,435 km (4,000 miles) of coastline, it was not hard to find great seafood in Chile.

Mandarin Oriental Santiago Octopus Carpaccio
Ritz Carlton Santiago Estro Lunch - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America
Chef Dinner Ritz Carlton Santiago

We found Spanish treats at every stop. It was great to get empanadas and local cheese when we went wine tasting in Casablanca.

Tabali Wine Tasting Empanada - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America

We were spoiled when the chef at the Ritz-Carlton Santiago made a local dinner for our private enjoyment. The empanada was filled with tender beef and had a spicy chancho en piedra on the side.  We asked for the salsa-like side dish with less spice for us spice wimps.  For our main dish, we had a local corn cake (Pastel de Choclo).  Under the corn topping we found a tasty beef mix with small quail eggs.  This was served with a small a Chilean salad (tomato with onion) that we were told to put into the middle of the corn cake.  

Chef Dinner Ritz Carlton Santiago
Chef Dinner Ritz Carlton Santiago

We had lots to choose for desserts. The countries in South America were known for dulce de leche or milk caramel. It was even available for breakfasts. While this kept the caramel fan in me happy, we also found tasty dark chocolate. For our chef dinner, we even got a very local treat. The Leche Navala (snowy mountain) was a massive soft meringue in a very sweet creamy sauce.

Milk Caramel - Dulce de Leche
Chef Dinner Ritz Carlton Santiago - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America
Chef Dinner Ritz Carlton Santiago - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America

The variety in the local foods was one of the most tasty reasons to explore Chile. 

Charming Small Towns

We found many small towns on our travels around Chile.  There were interesting sights and great views.

Town Sights Coquimbo - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America
Town Sights Puerto Varas - Reasons To Explore Chile in South America

Every where we went we found colourful outdoor art.  The topics were varied and often told us tales of the region we visited.

The small towns in Chile were great to use as a base to explore the areas.  But discovering more about the small towns was one of the reasons to explore Chile more on a return visit.

Large Interesting Cities

On our cruise around South America, we missed the chance to explore Santiago when the pandemic changed our plans for South America.  But when we returned to South America to and started our cruise to Antarctica, we enjoyed a few days in Santiago before and after the cruise.

Santiago was a great place to enjoy a luxury hotel stay. We loved all the great pampering experiences available at the Ritz-Carlton Santiago. A great upgraded suite, welcome amenities, a rooftop pool with outdoor patio and amazing local food and drink treats.

Ritz Carlton Santiago Suite
Ritz Carlton Santiago Suite
Ritz Carlton Santiago Rooftop Patio

There were so many great spots to get panoramic views out over the city. We could choose from the the Sky Constanera Viewpoint, Cerro Santa Lucía or Parque Metropolitano (also known as Cerro San Cristóbal). Unfortunately, local fires reduced visibility on both of our stays and we never did get up for that great view.

Sky Constanera

The main square at Plaza da Armas offered much to see and do. The Santiago Metropolitan Church (Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago de Chile) dominated the square.  The bright yellow Museo Historico Nacional was found beside the historic central post office and national monument (the Correos Chile). Wandering around a few streets we found the National Congress, Tribunales de Justica and Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino).

We found lots to see and do on a visit to Santiago. Although we did sadly experience one of the downsides of big cities. While someone ran off with my iPhone, a chase and quick action by the police got it returned. Big cities are one of reasons to explore Chile but take care! It was certainly a lesson we took with us when we later visited Buenos Aires.

We Discovered So Many Reasons To Explore Chile 

On our first visit to Chile on our cruise around South America, we found so many reasons to explore Chile.  We were happy when we got to enjoy some time in Santiago when we started our cruise to Antarctica there.  But our short visits left much for a return trip.  

We definitely wanted to plan a trip to the Easter Islands on a visit to Chile.  And a visit to the Atacama Desert would lead right to the Salt Flats in Bolivia.  So many reasons to return.

Did you find lots of reasons to explore Chile?  Did we miss one to plan for our next visit?

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  1. Sounds like such a wonderful place to visit. My husband and I visited Ecuador many years ago and have wanted to go back to South America. Chile sounds amazing!

  2. Chile looks like an incredible country to visit. I think I’d most like to visit the fjords and see the nature of Patagonia Chile. The desserts I know well and would devour everything! Wine tasting would be a must here, Chilean wines are very good!

  3. What a wonderful, informative post! I love it because Chile is on my bucket list. I missed it last time in South America, but planning a long stay soon for more explorations. The food looks divine and so many great places to see and things to do.

  4. After having been to Patagonia in Argentina, Chile’s side of South America is way up high on my list. Therefore, reading your post was very informative and inspiring – albeit, I didn’t need more reasons to visit Chile – I’m just waiting to retire and go on my big South America trip. I’d also like to go to Antarctica like you guys – let’s see if I’ll be able to afford it. Have you also been to the Easter Islands? Because that’s high on my list as well.

    • We have certainly been ticking off the things high on our travel wish list in the last few years. Easter Island and Galapagos are still on the list. So many great spots still to explore. But we would definitely go back to Chile.

  5. This looks wonderful especially Patagonia! South America remains on my wish list, never been there but if I did travel there I would want to visit Chile. WOnderful detailed post on this very long country, thank you!

    • Glad to continue to spur your desire to visit Chile. Every place we stopped was so interesting and added more to our list of reasons to visit Chile. Hope you do get this on your travel plan.

  6. I’ve been wanting to go to Chile for a while especially because I’ve heard it’s one of the safer countries in South America. I’m so interested in their wine scene and their food looks so delicious! The fjords look so beautiful too. I need to book a trip ASAP

  7. We didn’t get deep into Patagonia when we were in Chile. I would definitely visit the Atacama desert and try to get to Purmamarca for the salt flats (or Uyuni in Bolivia if you have extra time).

  8. Chili looks amazing and I’d love to visit! Would be so interesting to explore the local cuisine and wines as well and the landscape looks stunning!

  9. Wow! This post makes me want to book a trip to Chile right now! I would love to see the penguins and taste some of those delicious Chilean food. So comprehensive. I am definitely saving this post for later.

  10. Chile is a wonderful travel destination, I agree. We spent 6 weeks traveling in Chile and visited most of the places you mention in your post! Interesting to read that you did a Pisco Sour course. We loved Pisco Sour and back home got a recipe from the Internet. It is actually the only drink we prepare at home. I would love to go back to Chile someday for more hiking.

    • We loved all the spots we visited in Chile and know there are many more to see on a return visit. The Pisco Sour demonstration was so fun. And interesting to try a different version too.

  11. Oh wow! I have soooo much to learn. I had no idea that Chile was a place to start and end Antarctic cruises, and I also didn’t realize that the Patagonia region was there. Yikes! I love pisco sours, too, but I’ve only had them in Mexico. They’re delicious! And penguins? Yes, please! I’m a big fan of anything that has to do with animals (as long as it’s ethical and sustainable). Thank you so much for this. I really hope to get to Chile someday. I’ve never even been to South America!

  12. I have been to Chile a few years ago and spent 3 weeks in the country. I experienced many of the things you’ve written about, and some more. I loved wine tasting in Chile, the country is so big and there are so many great varieties of grapes. Whilst I didn’t climb Osorno, I did climb Villarica and seen Osorno from the peak. And oh, the food was so good!I loved the seafood empanadas and the delicious pastel de choclo.

    • There were indeed so many great reasons to visit Chile and go back again and again. We were glad we discovered some Chilean wine varietals that we are now drinking more.

  13. Chile would be a dream vacation for me! You managed to see so much on your visit there and I’d love to see them too one day. I think my number one would be to see the Chilean fjords. Your photos look like something I’ve only seen in documentaries and it would be incredible to see it in person. Being in Italy I’d also be keen to try the wine in Chile, I know they have great varieties!

  14. I have always wanted to have a wine tour in Chile. But now, you have added more to my bucket list. For one, the volcanic sites. I must see those. And then the Pisco Sour, that too is a must try drink. And I am glad you got your phone back swiftly. It is certainly a good warning to take better care of your belongings. The penguin colony is also on my list.

  15. Recently Chile popped up several times from different people , all in a positive light. I love to combine travels with food and Chile looks to not lack delicious and interesting food. Seafood and empanadas is definitely on my list! Visiting Patagonia is on my wish list : and being able to take in the Fjords and the volcanos is an experience I would not like to miss.

  16. Chile, esepically Patagonia area and wow those Ffjords look amazing and what an incredible experience to take a cruise around there. Also the nature and wildlife is so appealing! I didn’t know there were so many volcanos, that’s incredible – also the food and wine looks amazing

    Laura Side Street x

  17. Wow! This is amazing. I realized I do not know much about Chile. The food, penguins and wines makes it worth the visit. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience.

  18. Your trip to Chile is filled with a smorgasbord of experiences. Starting your journey from the breathtakingly beautiful outdoors of Chilean Patagonia, to viewing the Magellanic penguin colony in Magdalena island, a bird’s eye view of the Osorno volcano , enjoying horse show in Casablanca and delving into the historic petroglyphs of indigenous Chile and not to forget the warm hospitality at Ritz-Carlton Santiago with mouthwatering treats on display definitely gives us more reasons to explore Chile.

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