It was never in my imagination, to travel to Chile. If it wasn’t because Easter Island is a Chilean territory, I might never have reached it. But it is, so I was obliged to fly to Santiago to get to my longstanding bucket list destination.
Even then, I had not planned to see the Chilean mainland. I thought, for my first trip to South America, I might do Peru instead, or Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. After all, I may never come again to this continent. Surely I ought to see Macchu Picchu?
But logistical realities forced me to realise how big these South American countries really are. It simply wouldn’t fit in the time I had, unless I forfeit Easter Island, which I was not prepared to do. So I wondered if I simply ought to visit Chile itself.
What is there to see in Chile?
A relative South American underdog in terms of tourism draw and name recognition, all I knew about the long, thin country, was that Patagonia was at its bottom and incredibly beautiful. Its highway leading south, the Carraterra Austral, was a bike touring draw. And I only knew that, because I knew someone who planned to make that trip following his redundancy.
But only a slight research revealed many more deserving things in this severely underrated country. The nature attractions were varied, as the country is blessed with multiple climates and ecosystems, and a local population who still respects these gems of the nation. I realised, to my disbelief, that I would still be short on time even if I confined myself to Chile only.
In the end, I chose to visit the Atacama desert on the Chilean mainland, because it was both the most practical and the most desirable location. I mean, the driest place on earth? I’ve got to see that!