Experience the diversity of landscapes – from deserts in the north (and driest place on earth) , to majestic mountain ranges, formed by tectonic pressure. The geographic variety of this country, along with opportunity to discover the culture, world heritage sites, cultivated world famous wines, cruising and adventure escapes makes Chile another must see destination!

The driest place on earth (and the location was featured in the James Bond movie ‘Quantum of Solace’) is a place of dramatic scenery – the lunar landscape of the Valley of the Moon, the jagged edge mountains and parched red earth of Cordillera de la Sal, volcanoes, and the most intense blue sky! Fly to Calama, north of Santiago, which is the gateway to the desert town of San Pedro de Atacama – about an hour drive. With a variety of things to see and do, including visits to the hot springs, geysers, salt flats and wildlife viewing of the flamingos there. Or simply relax, and luxuriate in the calm surroundings and when night falls, this remote destination offers incredible star gazing.

Awasi Atacama

A member of Relais & Chateaux, Awasi is situated inside an ancient site surrounded by a historic wall which previously housed shepherds and herders, yet is just a stone’s throw from the centre of San Pedro should you want to enjoy local ‘town life’.  Each guest has their own dedicated guide and 4WD at their disposal.

Try checking into…Tierra Atacama

With bold architecture and amazing panoramic views, this contemporary boutique hotel offers an environment of calm, coupled with 5-star hospitality and service.

Hotel Alto Atacama

Completely enveloped by natual surroundings, located in the lush Catarpe Valley of the Salt Mountain Range and blends seamlessly with the terracotta ridge behind it.  Sweeping views, tranquillity and wonderful outdoor lounge spaces make this a perfect refuge to rejuvenate after a day of exploration.

Explora Atacama

A special mention as I know some of you are already familiar with Explora Rapa Nui on Easter Island and Explora Patagonia.  Currently being remodelled and due to re-open in January 2017 and to celebrate Explora are offering guests a complimentary first night for reservations made by 30 March, 2017.

Valparaiso or ‘Valpo’, as it’s affectionately known by the locals, is the UNESCO historic port town, famous for its kaleidoscope of colourful old houses and steep hillsides, and only a 90 min drive north of Santiago…great for a day trip or over-night stay. Despite the steep landscape, you don’t need to be super fit to walk everywhere, with the help of the cable cars (or funiculars), though Pablo Neruda, Chile’s great 20th century poet once wrote “If we walk up and down all of Valparaiso’s stairs, we will have made a trip around the Earth”. There are examples of gloriously dilapidated architecture (some hang perilously off cliff faces or are built into the cliff edge) and many feature interesting murals and street art.

Although Playa Torpederas is a nearby beach, the place to go for the beach scene is about 20 mins up the coast from Valparaiso, at Vina del Mar.

If you’re looking to stay a night or two, check out our picks on where to stay…

Palacio Astoreca

Set in a seaport-style colonial house overlooking Valparaíso Bay. With its contemporary decor, this boutique hotel offers a piano lounge bar (perfect to enjoy a pisco sour) and often with live jazz or a pianist. Also available is the elegant Italian restaurant, Alegre, and wine cellar, plus a cozy library with a fireplace. The terrace provides a lovely view of he bay, and a spa with a pool, a hot tub and a hammam.

Casa Higueras

The quiet calm of this 1920’s manor house that has been carefully restored with only 20 rooms and stunning views offering a depth of character and charm for discerning guests. Indulge in a candle-lit dinner on the terrace and views towards the evening lit port.

Hotel Boutique 17

An ultra-modern 10-room hotel with heart-stopping views from the ocean facing rooms.

Fauna Hotel

This is a fabulous 3-star boutique hotel, built on a hillside in Valparaíso’s colourful Cerro Alegre neighbourhood. Trendy rooms with recycled wood walls and floors and some rooms feature exposed rock walls from the original 1870s foundation. And a great rooftop restaurant/terrace bar, offering views of the city and Valparaiso Bay to enjoy.

For the foodies out there, try these dining experiences…

Alegre, located in the Palacio Astoreca Hotel is a culinary experience of avante-garde cuisine and top quality wines.
La Concepcion is located in the old part of Valparaiso with a stunning view.  Food is of the highest quality and excellent service.
Pasta e Vino is considered one of the best restaurants in Valparaiso so reservations are often necessary.
Cafe Turri, will almost always be a recommendation to foreigners with great views and incredible menu.

Santiago, the capital city has the back drop of the Andes at your doorstep so of course skiers and snowboarders flock to nearby Valle Nevado in season, and coastal towns and beaches are a 90mins drive in the opposite direction, so this is a great pit stop while enroute to checking out the diverse landscape offerings throughout the country.

Some of our hit picks on where to stay, before venturing further afield include…

Ritz Carlton

his elegant retreat is in the heart of El Golf, one of Santiago’s most prestigious neighbourhoods, and offers all the trimmings one would expect of a Ritz Carlton.

The Singular

This upscale hotel is located in the lively Lastarria neighbourhood, with great restaurants and nightlife.  Indeed the hip rooftop bar fits well in the local scene and yet another fabulous locale to enjoy a pisco sour or sumptuous red!

Luciano K Hotel

This quirky architectural design hotel is located in the Bohemian neighbourhood of Lastarria. The rooftop terrace is perhaps Santiago’s worst kept secret locale for an afternoon rendezvous for drinks,  offering  lovely views over Parque Forestal and Alameda Venue, and access to the hotel pool (albeit small), bar, spa and sauna.  This 38-room boutique hotel was named after the architect Luciano Kulczewski – considered the Chilean Gaudi.

For a shopping pit stop, Pueblito Los Dominicos is a lovely adobe and tile roof style craft market – great for picking up small gifts and souvenirs  with relaxing outdoor cafes.

MILLAHUE VALLEY – just a 2 hour drive from Santiago is the Millahue Valley, a renowned wine growing region of the Central Valley. Viña Vik is a stand out, sexy retreat and winery (some of you I know are already familiar with the Vik properties, having stayed at the sister properties in Uruguay). Owners, Alex and Carrie Vik had the hefty ambition of producing some of the best wine in the world….and I say cheers to that!

This stylish hotel has no intention of blending into the landscape whatsoever, but to command attention!  Each suite is utterly unique and evidence of the owner’s serious collection of contemporary art is showcased throughout.  The winery, where the serious enterprise of creating world class reds, was designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic.

An hour south of Santiago by flight is the Lake District – a region offering breathtaking views and landscapes of deep blue lakes and ice-capped volcanoes.  Pucon lies on Lake Villarica and is a tourism hub for its access to hiking trails, water sports, white-water rafting and kayaking, sailing and skiing and snowboarding in winter.

A must stay location has to be Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira, set along the shores of the Liucura River and is an oasis of peace and elegant adventure, and uniquely, has its own working farm and cheese factory.

An impressive jewel in Chile’s crown is Easter Island – the most isolated, inhabited island on the planet. The setting for the mysterious giant stone Moai, colossal statues carved some time between 1200 and the mid 17th century, weighing up to 20 tons and reaching heights of up to 10 mitres – to see these archaeological wonders in the flesh, make this an absolute bucket list trip! Indulge in various activities during a stay here, including fishing, snorkelling, hiking and biking, and of course taking in the Moai, including the impressive Ahu Tongariki, where 15 of them stand on a platform with their backs to the sea. Also, check out the Rano Raraku volcano, whose crater harbours a freshwater lake, surrounded by unfinished Moai.

Stay at the Explora Rapa Nui (some of you we have booked to stay here), located in a tranquil spot offering dramatic  views. The all inclusive rates offer guests all meals and beverages, transfers and  small group, daily explorations with guides (although often you may have a guide and vehicle to yourself).

This little known island escape in southern Chile is fast becoming a favourite destination – rich in folklore, art and mythology, beautiful scenery, cuisine and unique architecture with colonial wooden churches that have been declared World Heritage sites.

Tierra Chiloe is an exclusive hilltop property and in true Tierra style, the lodge has a distinctive architecture (Tierra also have distinctive 5-star properties also in Atacama and Patagonia). The lodge has it’s own boat, useful for navigating the inland waters to visit the unique sites of this archipelago, including the stilted houses (palafitos).