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Lonely Planet Chile & Easter Island

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Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Chile & Easter Island is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Museum-hop in Barrio Bellas Artes, kayak down the calm Rio Serrano, or marvel at the strikingly enigmatic moai of Easter Island; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Chile and Easter Island and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Chile & Easter Island Travel Guide:

  • Color maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets - including eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, and hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - including customs, history, literature, cinema, politics, landscapes, wildlife, and wine
  • Over 66 local maps
  • Covers Santiago, Vina del Mar, Rapa Nui, Arica, Anakena Beach, Northern Patagonia, Southern Patagonia, Chiloe, Sur Chico, Norte Grande, Norte Chico, Middle Chile, Tierra del Fuego, and more

eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet and smartphone devices)

  • Downloadable PDF and offline maps prevent roaming and data charges
  • Effortlessly navigate and jump between maps and reviews
  • Add notes to personalize your guidebook experience
  • Seamlessly flip between pages
  • Bookmarks and speedy search capabilities get you to key pages in a flash
  • Embedded links to recommendations' websites
  • Zoom-in maps and images
  • Inbuilt dictionary for quick referencing

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Chile & Easter Island, our most comprehensive guide to Chile & Easter Island, is perfect for those planning to both explore the top sights and take the road less traveled.

  • Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's South America on a Shoestring guide for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveler community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travelers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

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Santiago

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Surprising, cosmopolitan, energetic, sophisticated and worldly, Santiago is a city of syncopated cultural currents, madhouse parties, expansive museums and top-flight restaurants. No wonder 40% of Chileans call the leafy capital city home.

It's a wonderful place for strolling, and each neighborhood has its unique flavor and tone. Head out for the day to take in the museums, grand architecture and pedestrian malls of the Centro, before an afternoon picnic in one of the gorgeous hillside parks that punctuate the city's landscape. Nightlife takes flight in the sidewalk eateries, cafes and beer halls of Barrios Brasil, Lastarria and Bellavista, while as you head east to well-heeled neighborhoods like Providencia and Las Condes, you'll find tony restaurants and world-class hotels.

With a growing economy, renovated arts scene and plenty of eccentricity to spare, Santiago is an old-guard city on the cusp of a modern-day renaissance.

AMar–Aug The wine harvest kicks off, while May brings snow to nearby ski areas.

 

Middle Chile

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If you love wine, fine dining, never-ending springs, street art, skiing, hiking, mountain biking, surfing or just lazing for days on lost coasts, there's a spot in Middle Chile that was created just for you. This is Chile's most important wine-producing region, and the wineries and cozy bed and breakfasts of the sun-kissed Colchagua, Maule and Casablanca Valleys will tickle your palate and travel your senses. For board riders, there are killer breaks up and down the coast, with surf culture exploding in towns like Pichilemu and Buchupureo. Hikers and skiers will love the lost lagoons and steep pistes found eastward in the Andes, while cultural explorers won't want to miss the murals and tumble-fumble alleyways of Valparaíso and the hard-rocking musical exploits of Concepción. The 2010 earthquake hit this region especially hard, but the recovery continues, and most businesses are back up and running.

AJun–Sep Frequent snowfall brings skiers and snowboarders to the slopes in full force.

 

Norte Grande

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Devil dusters zoom wantonly through sun-scorched Norte Grande with its undulating curves of rock and stone, Andean lagoons, snow-capped volcanoes, salt flats and sensuously perforated coastline. Famous as much for its hilltop observatories as its massive copper mines, those vast, uninhabited spaces touch the soul and the imagination. Norte Grande's star attraction is the tiny adobe village of San Pedro de Atacama, just a day trip away from the world's highest geyser field and some astounding desert formations.

But there's more to Norte Grande than San Pedro. Go for lung-bursting, jaw-dropping adventure near the mountain village of Putre in the high-altitude reserve of Parque Nacional Lauca or further afield to Salar de Surire. Spend a week perfecting your tan on the beaches outlying Iquique and Arica, or make your own adventure in the lost ghost towns and hard-sprung mining centers that make this region unique.

AJan–Feb Vacationers hit the coast and some highland spots become impossible to reach.

 

Norte Chico

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For such a small sliver of land, Chile's Norte Chico (Little North) offers up fantastic diversity. La Serena, a coastal colonial capital and the region's largest city, is a must-see for anybody visiting. From there, move on to the mystical Elqui Valley: the verdant home to Chile's pisco producers, new-age communes and cutting-edge observatories. Further north are some amazing national parks, a trendy little beach hideaway, and kilometers of uncharted coastline just waiting for you to set up camp or charge out for an afternoon surf.

Wildlife lovers won't want to miss the playful penguins of Reserva Nacional Pingüino de Humboldt and Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar. And high in the Andes, the seldom-visited Parque Nacional Nevado Tres Cruces is a great place to spot vicuña and flamingos. Despite its diminutive moniker, the Little North is actually quite a bit bigger than most people expect.

AJan–Feb Chileans on vacation storm the beaches, making hotel options scarcer and sights crowded.

 

Sur Chico

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Hence begins the Chilean south. The regions of La Araucanía, Los Ríos and the Lakes District jar travelers with menacing ice-topped volcanoes, glacial lakes overflowing with what looks like melted jade, roaring rivers running through old growth forests and coastal enclaves inhabited by the indomitable Mapuche people. Sur Chico is home to eight spectacular national parks, many harboring exquisitely conical volcanoes, and is a magnetic draw for outdoor adventure enthusiasts and devil-may-care thrillseekers.

Peppered about sprawling workhorse travel hubs, you'll find well-developed lakeside hamlets, most notably Pucón and Puerto Varas, dripping in charm and draped by stunning national parks and nature reserves, each one like an Ansel Adams photograph leaping from the frame. But the region – call it Patagonia Lite – isn't all so perfectly packaged. Off-the-beaten-path destinations like the Cochamó Valley and Caleta Condor reward the intrepid spectacularly, their isolation fodder for that ever-elusive travel nirvana.

 

Chiloé

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When the early-morning fog shrouds misty-eyed and misunderstood Chiloé, it's immediately apparent something different this way comes. Isla Grande de Chiloé, the continent's fifth-largest island, is home to a fiercely independent seafaring people who developed culturally and historically in defiance of Santiago.

Immediately apparent are changes in architecture and cuisine: tejuelas, the famous Chilote wood shingles; palafitos (houses mounted on stilts along the water's edge); the iconic wooden churches (16 of which are Unesco World Heritage sites); and the renowned meat, potato and seafood stew, curanto. A closer look reveals a rich spiritual culture that is based on a distinctive mythology of witchcraft, ghost ships and forest gnomes.

All of the above is weaved among landscapes that are wet, windswept and lush, with undulating hills, wild and remote national parks, and dense forests, giving Chiloé a distinct flavor unique in South America.

AFeb The clearest skies of the year in Chiloé, but you’ll still need a poncho.

 

Northern Patagonia

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For a century, Northern Patagonia has been the most rugged and remote part of continental Chile, the place where scant pioneers quietly set forth a Wild West existence. While life here may still be tough for its residents, it doesn't lack for scenery. Exuberant rainforest, scrubby steppe and unclimbed peaks crowd the horizon, but the essence of this place is water, from the clear cascading rivers to the turquoise lakes, massive glaciers and labyrinthine fjords.

Southbound visitors often bypass Northern Patagonia on a sprint to Torres del Paine, but its backcountry treasures are pay dirt to the adventurous traveler.

The mostly gravel Carretera Austral rumbles from Puerto Montt to Villa O'Higgins, some 1200km south. Ferry connections are required for northerly roadless stretches where mountains meet the sea. Though sections north of Coyhaique are now being paved, the iconic challenge of driving the rest still remains.

ANov–Mar Warmest months and the best bus connections on the Carretera Austral.

 

Southern Patagonia

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Pounding westerlies, barren seascapes and the ragged spires of Torres del Paine – this is the distilled essence of Patagonia. The provinces of Magallanes and Última Esperanza boast a frontier appeal perhaps only matched by the deep Amazon and remote Alaska. Long before humans arrived on the continent, glaciers chiseled and carved these fine landscapes. Now it's a place for travelers to hatch their greatest adventures, whether hiking through rugged landscapes, seeing penguins by the thousands or horseback riding across the steppe.

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is the region's star attraction. Among the finest parks on the continent, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, even some towing wheeled luggage (though we don't recommend it). Throughout the region, it's easy and worthwhile to travel between Argentina and Chile. Included in Southern Patagonia are the highlights of Argentine Patagonia.

ADec–Feb Warmest months, ideal for estancia (grazing ranch) visits and backpacking.

 

Tierra del Fuego

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At the southern extreme of the Americas, the immense Fuegian wilderness, with its slate-gray seascapes, murky crimson bogs and wind-worn forests, endures as awesome and irritable as in the era of exploration. Shared by Chile and Argentina, this area is also lovely and wild. The remote Chilean side consists of hardscrabble outposts, lonely sheep ranches, and a roadless expanse of woods, lakes of undisturbed trout and nameless mountains.

In contrast, the Argentine side lives abuzz. Antarctica-bound cruisers arriving in Ushuaia find a lively dining scene and dozens of outfitters poised at the ready. Take a dogsled ride, boat the Beagle Channel or carve turns at the world's southernmost resort. When you tire of the hubbub, cross the Beagle Channel to the solitary Isla Navarino.

Uninhabited groups of islands peter out at Cabo de Hornos (Cape Horn). And if Tierra del Fuego is not remote enough, Antarctica remains just a boat ride away.

ANov–Mar Warm but windy, best for hiking, penguin-watching and estancia visits.

 

Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

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Few areas in the world possess a more mystical pull than this tiny speck of land, one of the most isolated places on Earth. Here, it's hard to feel connected to Chile, over 3700km to the east, let alone the wider world. Endowed with the most logic-defying statues in the world – the strikingly familiar moai – Easter Island (Rapa Nui to its native Polynesian inhabitants) emanates a magnetic, mysterious vibe.

But Easter Island is much more than an open-air museum. Diving, snorkeling and surfing are fabulous. On land, there's no better ecofriendly way to experience the island's savage beauty than on foot, from a bike saddle or on horseback. But if all you want to do is recharge the batteries, a couple of superb expanses of white sand beckon.

Although Easter Island is world famous and visitors are on the increase, everything remains small and personable – it's all about eco-travel.

AJan–Mar Peak season. Highest prices and scarce hotels around February’s Tapati Rapa Nui festival.

 

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