It could have been one of those ordinary holidays enjoying the Brazilian summer and spending time with family and friends, but ThinkBrigade reporter Diêgo Lôbo decided to do things differently this year. Going on a journey by himself for three weeks and travelling over 2,000 kilometres on the Chilean roads, he found not only the beauty of its landscapes, but also the sympathy of its people.
The Republic of Chile is bathed by the chilly Pacific Ocean on one side and on the other it borders the Andes, the longest continental mountain range on Earth. It is indeed a singular country: with 4,300km in length, it is only 175km wide, on average.
Because of such incredible geographical location, Chile offers a variety of landscapes: from the vast Atacama Desert in the north to the trendy Santiago and its neighbouring cities Valparaiso and Viña del Mar; further south, Pucón is one of the most visited city, where both Chilean and foreign tourists enjoy outdoor sports; Puerto Varas and Petrohué, over a thousand kilometres south from the capital, and at the most southern tip of the continent, Torres del Paine, in Patagonia, are also prime destinations.
Additionally, Chile’s islands can be taken into account: the peaceful Chiloé Island or the mysterious Easter Island, where the giant Moais are found.
Santiago, Chile's capital city, has around 6 million inhabitants – almost 40% of Chile’s population. Surrounded by the Andes, it also offers many parks and green areas, where cycling is encouraged. It is also common to see people enjoying the summer in the gardens with friends, or parents playing with their children until late at the night – the sun goes down around 9:30pm during this time.
On San Cristóbal Hill, around 860m above sea level, rests the Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception, considered to be the symbol of Santiago. A mark of the country's Catholicism, it was erected in 1908. The statue can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, especially at night when it receives a set of colourful lights.
The author at the Fonck Museum in the city of Viña del Mar, 100km from Santiago, which owns one of the two unique Moai statues outside Easter Island. Why the indigenous Rapanui people built and how they transported these enormous stone statues remains a mystery to this day.
Valparaiso hosts Chile's National Congress, responsible for the country's legislative processes. The port plays an important role in the transportation of goods due to its strategic position. Valparaiso is famous for its 42 hills and one of its main sightseeing site is La Sebastiana, house of the Nobel Prize winner Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.
“Palestine resists” say the words found in the narrow streets of Valpo, as the city is referred to. Over the last decades, Valparaiso has become a cultural centre and a cradle for both artistic and intellectual movements.
Pucón is a town with 20,000 inhabitants, situated 780km south from Santiago. Famous for its natural beauties, it is one of the main touristic destinations in Chile. During the winter, people go to the mountains to practise winter sports. However, it is in the summer that the city is seething with tourists. The most challenging tour is the climb of the Villarica Volcano, with an elevation of 2,847 metres.
The majestic Ojos del Caburgua waterfall is a must-see for anyone visiting Pucón. Situated 18 kilometres from the city centre, it can be reached by either car or bus – but anyone interested in exploring the sites and landscapes the region provides should really consider enjoying a cycling trip.
Known as the Chilean Capital of the Beer, the city of Valdivia, in the Region of the Rivers, was a strategic location during the colonial period, where a fort system composed of castles and forts was built for protection. Currently, their ruins are one of the main touristic destinations in the city, although Valdivia may go unnoticed by many unaware tourists heading south.
The city of Puerto Varas has a strong German influence which can be perceived in its food, drinks and even streets. It is a popular destination in the south of Chile as it is a gateway to many attractive places, including the border with Argentina. Pictured here is Lake Llanquihue and the Osorno Volcano.
Los Saltos del Petrohué (Petrohué Waterfalls) are situated on the road from Puerto Varas to the Todos los Santos Lake. It is formed by the water from the Petrohué River and rocks shaped with the lava of the Osorno Volcano (in the background). It is a must-see for anyone travelling around the region.
Situated in the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, the Todos los Santos Lake has a surface area of 178.5 km². More than just a tourist attraction, it also serves as a route from Chile to Argentina by boat – there are no roads – and the trip may last from five hours to one or two days depending on the traveller’s budget. (Photo: Alejandro Navarro)
The Atacama Desert is considered to be the driest place in the world. It does not rain here, but snow is common by the volcanoes. Its main village and the first point of contact with the desert for anyone visiting Atacama is San Pedro. (Photo: Alejandro Navarro)
All photos by Diêgo Lôbo, unless otherwise stated.