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Chile, that thin, long country with mountains to the east and the ocean to the west, has astounding geographic diversity as one of its principal attractions for travelers.

From the Atacama Desert of northern Chile — some parts of which have not received rain in 200 or more years — to the massive glaciers of the south, where visitors are likely to experience weather that takes them through four seasons in a single day, Chile delivers on its promise.

Here are 8 natural wonders that should move Chile to the top of your trip list:

Photos: Julie Schwietert

1. The sand dunes of the Atacama Desert

Photo: clearlycool

2. The massive glaciers of Tierra del Fuego
3. The 6000ft granite walls of Torres del Paine

Photo: winkyintheuk

4. The penguins of Punta de Arenas

Photo: Steve Deger

5. The active Volcán Villarica, just outside of Pucón
6. The surreal world of the Atacama Desert
7. The pristine beaches of Easter Island
8. The quiet bays of Chiloe

Photo: velazsolano

Photo: SFmatador

Community Connection

Have you been to Chile? Thinking about going? Share your favorite natural wonders or questions about Chile below. Read Matador member VickiElizabeth’s blog, “10 Things I Have Learned in Chile.” Check out Matador organization Patagonia Volunteer, which offers numerous opportunities for travelers to volunteer in the Southern Cone.

Parks + Wilderness


About The Author

Julie Schwietert

Julie Schwietert Collazo is a writer, editor, researcher, and translator currently in New York, formerly of Mexico City and San Juan.

  • Alan

    I'm not really that much of an outdoors type of person, but I would love going to Chile to check out some of that natural beauty. Also, penguins = awesome.

  • Hal

    Monumental photos! This has put ALL of Chile on my must-visit list for my trip to South America next year!

  • David_Miller

    # 9—incredible, untouched surf breaks. massive points.

  • tom

    This is perfect intel for my upcoming trip to Chile. I am about to start routing my trip so thanks!


    Wow these photos are incredible. Never really thought about Chile much, but now I gotta say, it's on my travel radar.

  • Benjamin10

    Seems like Chile is often overshadowed by Argentina and Brazil as a SA destination, but it easily rivals both. I spent some time there and had amazing adventures, but never got to the south, which I regret after seeing some of these photos. On my travel list again. Also, to echo David, there is some awesome surf in Chile.

  • geotraveler

    Stunning! Can't wait to go

  • Robyn

    I'm really amazed and delighted by those photos. So beautifully alien and surreal, especially Torres del Paine. And I feel a bit silly not knowing Easter Island was a Chilean territory. What wonderful geography.

  • joshwashington

    All those mountain pix got me in a mountain mood! It looks like Chile covers all the bases, desert, mountains, ocean… Chile anyone?

  • Tanya

    The penguin is really too cute. Never been to South America, but these photos give me something to shoot for!

  • RobynJohnson

    so alien and beautiful, especially Torres del Paine

  • voralak

    Wow, Chile looks incredible. Thanks for the highlights!

  • Delanie Borden

    Why did I not know that the Easter Islands were part of Chile. Never been south of Peru – but now I realize I have a long way to go. What's your advice on the weather/times to trek/travel?

  • Chad

    This just sold me. Planning a trip here for 2009!

  • ianmack

    They should have filmed Lord of the Rings in Chile…

  • cocktayl

    sold. see you there.

  • Helen

    These pics have me drooling and including Chile in my places to-visit list – thanks for sharing!!

  • cale margol

    wow. absolutely amazing.

  • Julie

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I've been many places, but Chile wins hands down for sheer beauty, especially in Torres del Paine. And Ian, I was definitely thinking a Lord of the Rings follow up should be filmed there! For all of you who are convinced to travel there, stay tuned– I'll be publishing a few more articles about Chile and trip planning.

  • aya

    So inspiring. I love the photos too. Chile is at the top of my places-to-visit-immediately queue.

  • Erin Granat

    Well, shove Argentina and Brazil out of the way, cause Chile now tops my Where I Want To Go in South America list. Thanks for the insight, I had no idea Chile was so diverse. Thanks for the info!

  • Julie

    Erin- If you want some city tips, let me know! ;)

  • Darrell Bibby

    OMG! Oh man. Looking at the pictures brings tears to my eyes. Chile is on my list.

  • Jen

    hi there- i’m trying to figure out a semester abroad next spring- right now, the decision is between santiago, valparaiso, mendoza, and buenos aires. chile is obviously STUNNING, but how easy is it to get to all these places from, say, santiago? and what’s santiago like for 5 months?

    any advice would be much appreciated. these pictures are incredible, btw!

  • sloan

    Beautiful photos. but no photograph can do the country justice! i was an exchange student for 6 months in 2004 and live on la isla Chiloe. i miss it and would give anything to go back…

  • Carolina

    I am from Chile and I loved the photos! There is a lot more than this, of course.
    Any question about my beautiful country can be sent to my mail: I hope you decide to come to Chile!

  • karen

    more pictures about The pristine beaches of Easter Island.


      Hi Karen….I’ve been to Easter Island twice. Anakana Beach is really the only sandy beach on Rapa Nui.  It is a beautiful area on the north side of  Rapa Nui. There are some Moai there, too! There is another beach, Bahia de la Perouse, nearby; however, its relatively small by comparison to Anakana and has no amenities and somewhat less accessible. Also, there are often sharks in that area!
      All in all, Rapa Nui is an incredible place to visit!

  • Israel

    Wow, Chile it’s a beautifull country, full of natural wonders.

    My name is Israel, and I live en Concepción, Chile. Your work it’s very good.
    I’m glad to see it

  • Vikram

    It is my dream to drive through the entire of South American continent and Chile is the longest part of this drive :) Got to save a hell of a lot of money and learn the language before I do that..

    I will MOST definitely do this before I die; writing from New Delhi, India, Asia.

  • Pingback: The 6 Best Barrios in Santiago de Chile


    You might want to include the Pintados near Poso Almonte as a site to visit! The Pintados are accessible from Iquique! How about Humberstone? If you’re driving from Iquique to Pozo Almonte, you’ll pass right by Humberstone just before you intersect with Route 5! San Pedro de Atacama is another spot to visit. The Valley of the Moon (Picture 1 above), El Tatio Geysers

    and hot springs and  the Salar de Atacama are special sites to visit. Perhaps, while in Calama, a tour of Chuquicamata copper mine facilities “might be” a good visit, too!
    I’ve been to Chile 10 times! I’ve worked as a volunteer for a non-profit building school buildings for  Aymaran youth smack dab in a valley in the Atacama Desert on the road from Huara to Bolivia.

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