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The best of Chile: 9 highlights of this diverse country

With incredible wildlife, star-studded skies and an impressive wine selection, there's something for almost everyone in Chile. We've teamed up with Swarovski to help you find the perfect travel experience

Travel highlights Chile

3 incredible wildlife experiences in Chile 

1. Go birdwatching

Spot Condor (Shutterstock)

Spot Condor (Shutterstock)

Wildlife lovers rejoice! With its enormous biodiversity and huge range of green adventures, Chile is perfect for those wanting to immerse themselves in nature. Birdwatchers will be particularly delighted by Chile’s diverse feathered creatures. You may spot gem-coloured Martin kingfisher, the Chilean tinamou and the shy Chucao among many others. But the real jewel in Chile’s avian crown is the huge condors (Chile's national bird) that sweep across the skies. 

2.  Meet Llamas, guanacos and more

Meet guanacos in Chile

Meet guanacos in Chile

Over in west-central South America, the horizon-breaking Chilean Altiplano awaits exploration – and some rather cute residents can be found here. Keep your eyes peeled for llamas, guanacos, alpacas and vicuñas. It’s not just land animals you’ll see here. Head north of La Sernea to the Pingüino de Humboldt nature reserve to admire Chilean Penguins, bottlenose dolphins and sea lions in their natural habitat. During summer, you may also be lucky enough to see whales, albatross and coromorants.

3. See the world's smallest deer

Spot the world's smallest deer (Shutterstock)

Spot the world's smallest deer (Shutterstock)

You’ll need to keep your Swarovski Optik binoculars at the ready in southern Chile if you want to spot the Chilean pudú deer. At just 40cm tall, these are the smallest deer in the world and are unsurprisingly hard to spot. For your best chances of catching a glimpse of these famously shy animals, head to the Valdivian rainforest on Chiloé Island.

3 tips for stargazing in Chile 

4. Escape the bright lights of the city

Escape the bright lights of the city (Shutterstock)

Escape the bright lights of the city (Shutterstock)

Optimal conditions, including clean and clear skies, a low amount of dust particles and great weather make Chile a brilliant option for visitors seeking astronomical experiences. To enjoy a unique connection with nature, visit the rugged northern and central parts of the country and pause to take in the enormity of the universe, free from the buzz of the big cities.

5. The best places for stargazing 

Stars in the Atacama (Shutterstock)

Stars in the Atacama (Shutterstock)

Areas such as San Pedro de Atacama, Elqui Valley and Cajón del Maipo in Chile are ideal places to enjoy the mystery and romance of the night skies, thanks to their almost non-existent light pollution. Watch the stars, wish upon a shooting star and learn about the constellations and planets. Enjoy a nighttime excursion guided by experts in the middle of the world’s driest desert, or accompanied by the sound of water in some of the most fertile valleys in the country.

6. World-class observatories 

Visit an observatory

Visit an observatory

Chile boasts some of the best astronomical observatories on Earth, including the ALMA Observatory (home to the world’s largest radio telescope) and the Paranal Observatory, located in the Atacama Desert. Keen visitors can take part in observatory tours. Thanks to its star-quality centres for astronomy, Chile has seen a rise in astrotourism. Recent archaeological astronomy efforts in Atacama have sought to explore and explain the Andean Cosmo-vision of the past.

3 tasty wine experiences in Chile

7. Embark on a wine trail

Embark on a wine trail (Shutterstock)

Embark on a wine trail (Shutterstock)

No culinary journey would be complete without Chile’s wonderful wines; superlative whites, reds and sparkling wines of world-class quality. The first wines were born in the capital; visits to their characterful cellars are easy to arrange. The bucolic wine routes of the Maipo, Casablanca and Colchagua valleys offer daily visits, rewarding wine-lovers with tastings, tempting on-site shops and excellent wine-and-dine restaurants.

8. Learn the history of Chile's wine

Learn the history of Chile's wine (Shutterstock)

Learn the history of Chile's wine (Shutterstock)

Pick from underground cellars and old vineyard manors as you embark on a grape-flavoured voyage of discovery, learning how the experts elaborate the finest wines from sophisticated carménère – the ‘lost’ French variety – to the fuller-bodied cabernet sauvignon. El Valle del Choapa is one of the newest Chilean wine valleys, situated in the narrowest part of the country. The region is famed for its fruity table grapes.

9. Join in with the grape harvest

Join in with the grape harvest

Join in with the grape harvest

For an unforgettable, wine-centric experience, visit Chile between March and April, when the exuberant grape harvest festivals take place throughout the country. Salud!

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