AT THE EDGE OF THE EARTH
Its name is short but its geography is endless. Chile holds a kind of world record, stretching over nearly 40 degrees of latitude, from its desert frontier with Peru to the cluster of islands, canals and icefields that crown the southern tip of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego. This is not a country to be seen in a single trip, especially if the itinerary also includes more remote wonders like Easter Island or the Antarctic. This 4,200 kilometer (2,600 mile) strip of land offers an astonishing variety of scenery. To the north, the Atacama Desert is as sere and silent as the moon: barren rocky expanses in shades of ochre that shimmer in the suffocating heat, saltwater lagoons aflutter with pink and white flamingos, and the ghostly mist of geysers drifting through the cool dawn air. The Andes Mountains that mark the country’s eastern border are so fundamental to the national identity they are symbolized by the white on the Chilean flag.
Dotted with lighthouses perched on cliffs, and with the little wooden churches of Chiloé Island, fringed with sheltered bays and inlets, the western perimeter is lapped by the Pacific, whose waters here are the world’s richest fishing ground. The steep, rough terrain in between harbors a corner of earthly paradise, the Valle Central south of Santiago: a fertile basin with a Mediterranean climate, just right for ripening fruits worthy of the Garden of the Hesperides, whose wines rival those of Bordeaux or Chianti, and whose patios fill at sunset with devotees of the malbec and pisco grape. In Valparaiso, a sleeping beauty with a mythical name, the preferred quaff is mote con huesillo, a blend of peach nectar and wheat, and the ideal restorative after climbing one of the countless stairways that wind up the hillsides between the multicolored houses. Like all of Chile, this Unesco heritage site, the “crazy port” extolled in an ode by Pablo Neruda, the Cape Horners’ city that had lain dormant since the opening of the Panama Canal a century ago, is reawakening at last. After decades of indecision, many of its disused funiculars have now been recommissioned.
Hotel and restaurant in a village. Awasi, in the north of Chile, is a stunning spot, majestic in its beauty and hidden away in the immense Atacama Desert, the most arid place on earth. This tiny hotel, a cosy and secluded haven in a historic setting, has been designed to fit harmoniously into the local culture and environment. It offers its guests unique ‘bespoke’ experiences and a choice of customised packages and 4x4 excursions with their own guide (a guide is assigned to each guest room). Its ‘all-inclusive’ programme gives the traveller total peace of mind to enjoy a wonderful experience. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the mountains. To be alone, or virtually alone, facing the infinite land of Patagonia: Awasi Patagonia offers an experience unlike any other. A collection of independent villas, in a private reserve, offers total seclusion and stunning views of the forest, Sarmiento Lake and Torres del Paine National Park. Each villa is allocated its own guide and vehicle, allowing guests to explore the magnificent countryside at their own pace and see condors, guanacos and perhaps a puma. At the end of the day, they will return to a warm and cozy main lodge, restaurant and villas inspired by Patagonian shelters. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. In the heart of the historic center of Valparaíso, this small palace from the beginning of the 20th century, classified a national monument, offers a haven of peace and beauty. After spending the day roaming the hills of Valparaíso, what better than to enjoy the magnificent views over the bay from the terrace, or immerse yourself in one of the books from the library. By dinner time, once you have relaxed in the warm spa pool, you will listen to some piano music in the lounge bar and then go on down to Alegre restaurant serving top-quality, signature dishes. Works by contemporary artists hanging here and there add an artistic finishing touch to the décor. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a vineyard. Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle, great-granddaughter of the creator of Grand Marnier, is the force behind Viña Lapostolle, with a winery and hotel nestled in the hills overlooking Chile’s spectacular Apalta Vineyards in the Colchagua Valley. This unique setting, combining a respect for nature with cutting-edge design, invites you to experience Lapostolle. A team of chefs prepares a special menu for each wine, using organic vegetables from the garden and top-quality seasonal products. Biking through the vineyards and trekking the trails of the native forests are a good complement to the activities linked to wine, beginning with a tour and private tasting in the winery. ... Learn moreless