1. Drive from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama in a combi.
This journey spans 1200 kilometers. There are a few great routes you can take. This first one is a little more interesting and get’s you off the highway; Los Vilos, Illapel, Combarbalá, Monte Patria, Ovalle with the nearby Embalse La Paloma and back to the highway or take Santiago to Copiapó (around 10 hours), Copiapó to Antofagasta (12 hours).
Little tip, don’t forget to keep the fuel tanks full, and don’t go past a pump without filling up, especially at Aqua Caliente where the next opportunity is more than 130 kilometers.
2. Surfing, Punta de Lobos, Pichilemu.
The world class waves of Punta de Lobos are located 3km south of the coastal town of Pichilemu. About three hours drive from Santiago. The entry to the break (as you will figure out pretty quickly) requires perfect timing otherwise you could be bashed against some gnarly rocks. Be brave, time it well and watch how the Chileans do it. In winter the water can be aggressively cold and wild. You can also paddle out from the beach if you want to play in the small swell. On a side note be respectful to area and the locals and get ready to be impressed by their fearless skills.
3. Primer día Temporada – first day of the ski season, Valle Nevado.
Popular haunt for attractive and well-off Chileans, Valle Nevado has 39 routes for all levels. If you’re friends with someone who has a house in the area, perfect! If not get ready to fork out a few Luca to rent an apartment for the weekend. You won’t be sorry though, the mountains are spectacular, the routes are challenging and the parties are a lot of fun.
4. Cross the Andes on horseback.
Crossing the Andes on horseback takes around thirteen days. It begins in the Maipo Valley (15 km from Santiago) and crosses to the Laguna del Diamante, in Argentina. You’ll witness the diverse and interchanging landscape from the volcanic Andes through a narrow pass in Icalma, to the open valleys of the Argentinean pampas. Not only is this a tremendous journey, the guides have outstanding knowledge of the local culture and history of the region.
5. Camp out at Parque Conguillio.
Parque Conguillio is located in the Araucania Region, northeast of Temuco. It is an UNESCO biosphere reserve. The core objective of the park is to achieve a balance between conservation of biodiversity, economic and social development and the preservation of local cultural heritage. Depending on the time of year you visit, there’s a range of activities; skiing, diving, trekking and nature and photography excursions. Here’s a short video showcasing what the park has to offer.
6. Rock Climbing, Valle De Cochamó.
Cochamó lies in the Northern reaches of Patagonia, in Chile’s Los Lagos region and offers some of Patagonia’s most incredible scenery. Follow the Al Centro y Adentro line if you are a seasoned climber or check out the local hiking maps for a less technical accent.
7. Whale watching, Punta Arenas.
Humpback Whales can be seen during the summer in the Strait of Magellan as part of a multi-day tour offered by Whale Sound.
8. Choriboulder, San Jose De Maipo.
This valley in the middle Andes merits a visit if only for the geographical beauty of the place, but for climbers it’s particularly attractive as there are countless boulders to scale.
9. Wine harvest, Casablanca.
Visit Casablanca for a long weekend anytime of the year, even in winter. However I’d personally recommend the festival celebrating the beginning of harvest in April. Shuttles go from Valparaiso’s Plaza Sotomayor and yes you get to crush grapes with your feet and savour some of the nation’s finest varietals.
10. Sand Surfing – San Pedro de Atacama.
Imagine cruising down the dunes under a blanket of stars in Valle de la Muerte (2 kilometers from San Pedro de Atacama). You can visit the gigantic dunes with guides, transportation and equipment and watch the sun sink over the Atacama Desert.
11. Randonee, Sollipulli Volcano.
Skiing inside a crater on a glacier? Need I say more? Sollipulli is a truly unique place to cross country ski. With guides you will be taken through pristine forests, Araucaria, Ñirres, Coigues, Lenga before meeting the slopes of the volcano. Little warning, this is not for the faint hearted and you need to have a reasonably high level of fitness.
12. Kayak, Pirihueico Lake.
This glacial lake is one of the seven lakes in Panguipulli region in the south of Chile. To kayak across the waterways is an ultimate experience. Take two days to explore the region. On day one paddle through the three bays and camp near the hot spring. The next morning follow to the narrow waterways to Puerto Pirihueico.
13. Festival de Musica – Lollapalooza.
If you are Chilean it’s unlikely that you’ve got through your 20’s without attending Lollapalooza. If you are visiting Chile in March it worth getting tickets. Kings of Leon, Jack White, Calvin Harris, Skrillex all graced the stage last year. The lineup for 2016 will be confirmed in the next couple of months and tickets are presale tickets are already available.
14. White water rafting, Río Futaleufú.
Known as one of the exciting and challenging rivers in the world, El Futaleufú flows through an isolated portion of the glaciated Andes. Expediciones Chile offer a awesome four day package.
15. Color Run, Santiago.
The Color Runo takes place on the 14th of November. It’s an easy 5k and it’s a lot of fun. You can register already for this year and grab your kits from the Costanera Center in Providencia.
16. Patagonian Marathon.
If you are looking for a more challenging run, I can recommend the Patagonian Marathon in Torres del Paine National Park of the Chilean Patagonia. The event takes place in September and there are four distances to choose from; 60K, 42K, 21K and 10K.
17. Valle la Engorda, San Jose Volcano.
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The valley sits at the foot of the San Jose Volcano. It’s possible to hike the region during the summer, between November and April. There are guided tours, but be warned they are not cheap. They will set you back around 80 Luca. However the walk is spectacular and is not too challenging.
18. Bike the Lake District.
The Seven Lakes are located in Panguipulli region. You can take around a week to cycle Panguipulli Lake, Calafquén Lake, Riñihue Lake, Pirihueico Lake, Neltume Lake, Pellaifa Lake and Pullinque Lake. There are tour companies that will take you on a 8-day journey around the lakes but it’s possible to do this solo.
19. Watch the boys take home the Copa America…
Photo: Sarah Twitchell