After a long flight to Santiago, get your legs pumping and head to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (cerro means hill) for panoramic views of the city below and surrounding mountains. Hikers and trekkers should head to Torres del Paine, the national park in Patagonia or to the top of Volcán Villarrica, one of the most active volcanoes in the world (you can also toboggan back down!) Go wine tasting in the Rapel Valley or head to the northern part of the country for stargazing; this area is famed for having some of the clearest skies around and several observatories are open to visitors with guides on hand to point out the constellations.
For typical, home-cooked Chilean cuisine head to smaller, traditional restaurants. Here you’ll be served humitas (mashed corn, wrapped in corn husks and steamed) and pastel de choclo, a pie made with chicken or ground beef, topped with pureed sweet corn. Soups, broths and seafood (thanks to Chile’s lengthy coastline) are staples and as with the rest of Central and South America, empanadas are a popular snack food; these meat-filled pastries and not so dissimilar to a Cornish pastie! For a tipple, try a glass of Chilean wine (Carménère is one of the best) or a Chilean pisco sour, which unlike its Peruvian equivalent is made without egg whites.
Often ranked as one of the top attractions in Chile, take a flight from the mainland to one of the world’s most remote islands, Easter Island. Famed for its mysterious stone statues or moais, Rapa Nui has long been fascinating visitors. Head into the Atacama Desert, the world’s driest, to Moon Valley, named for its lunar-like dunes and mountains. Spend time in the port city of Valparaiso and its brightly coloured houses perched on the hillside or visit the Chileo Islands in the Chilean Lake District, an area that was cut off from the mainland for nearly 300 years and where timber houses (palafitos) are still built on stilts.
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