Spindly Chile stretches 4300km – over half the continent – from the driest desert in the world (near San Pedro de Atacama) to massive glacial fields in the Patagonian south . Filling up the in-between are volcanoes, geysers, beaches, lakes, rivers, valleys , dusty towns and countless islands. Slenderness gives Chile the intimacy of a backyard (albeit one fenced between the Andes and the Pacific).
With easy infrastructure ( only one main road ) , spectacular sights and very hospitable hosts, the hardest part is choosing an itinerary. Consider the sweeping desert solitude, craggy summits and the lush forests of the fjords. Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and the isolated Isla Robinson Crusoe offer extracontinental exploits.
But don’t forget that Chile is as much about character as it is setting. Its far-flung location fires the imagination and has been known to make poets out of barmen, dreamers out of presidents and friends out of strangers. A few wrong turns and detours and you too will be part of this tightly woven family who barbecues on Sunday. Don’t forget to bring an extra bottle of red to the long, lazy dinners that await.